Friday, February 12, 2016

DEADPOOL!!!!! Movie Review

Deadpool is here! WHOO!

My fiancee has been pretty in love with Deadpool for years and it remains the only comic I can get her to read (Also, she's done some genderbent Deadpool cosplay HERE). (And of course her cosplay has gotten more views than the last two months of my blog) so needless to say the Deadpool movie has been a topic of conversation ever since the test footage leaked.

No need to worry about spoilers here and I can promise that some of the funniest parts of the movie remain firmly in the movie and not in the trailers (although in hindsight if Deadpool was like Captain America or the Avengers I would have been pissed I saw the trailers). I'll leave the decision up to you. Redband Trailer:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Erased is a must watch for Winter 2016!

Holy cow! How could I have overlooked this one? For some reason the description of a mangaka traveling through time to try to save a child abduction victim he knew as a child just came off as stupid in my head.

I could not have been more wrong. I was hooked 5 minutes into the first episode.

I feverishly devoured the first 5 episodes that are presently out and am waiting the sixth with bated breath.

Guys, it's so good. Sooo good.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

There's nothing like a new Evangelion — Evangelion 3.33

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: Q

If you're caught up with what Eva is, scroll down to the embedded video for the start of the review of Eva 3.33. Personally, I can't just jump into a review of a new Evangelion without talking about the past first.

I have a very long history with Evangelion. A VHS tape of Asuka's (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー) premiere in the original series was the very first anime I ever purchased and I was originally the same age as the characters when it came out. The characters go through a metric fuckton of crap concerning relationships and psychology, and the series became intertwined with my own identity. I would not be who I am today without Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE).

If you're not aware, the "mecha" genre (giant fighting robots) was completely revolutionized by NGE in the late 20th century. Mecha and anime today would be vastly different without NGE. If you were to go back and watch the original series after years of watching anime, you might think that it is unoriginal until you realize that everything you are seeing was the first time it was done or effectively the first time it was done. Also noteworthy, its airing on Japanese television prompted the JAPANESE to go and revise their rules for what can be aired on daytime television for its violence.

Unfortunately, the production was rather troubled. Failure to budget properly meant that the ending of the series was drastically lower quality than the beginning to middle, with an over-reliance on text and long shots on immobile backgrounds. For all that, it was and remains one of the all-time great anime series and one that I have never gotten tired of.

A few years later, Evangelion received two films designed to be a retelling of the end of the series. Death and Rebirth was a retelling of the first 20 episodes (Death) and a "director's cut" of episodes 21-24 (Rebirth). End of Evangelion gave alternate versions of episodes 25 and 26. I've heard it said that if the series was what happened inside Shinji's (碇 シンジ) head during the Human Instrumentality Project, then the movie was what happened in the outside world. It's an incredible movie that I've only been lucky enough to watch two or three times (due to production problems with the DVDs).

My largest complaint is that they do some really stupid, jarring things involving real-world images and shots partway through that really take you out of the experience. For all that, it is still an incredible experience.

Then, the Rebuild of Evangelion came into existence through Studio Khara (株式会社カラー). According to Hideaki Anno (庵野 秀明) (director, writer, producer of most Evangelion projects, but not directing these films), this is Evangelion as it should have been with all technical and budget restraints removed. Evangelion 1.0 came out in America in 2009, 2.0 followed in 2011. Evangelion 3.0 had a THEATRICAL RUN in 2013 and it's taken THREE YEARS TO FINALLY BE RELEASED YESTERDAY (in 2016).

My fiancee has had the third film (home releases differ in title by adjusting the numbers to 1.11, 2.22, and 3.33 and include improved graphics) on pre-order for over two years and was amazed that it was being shipped and arrived in the mail yesterday. She surprised me with it at the end of the night and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching the film I waited three years for.

Without further ado, let's get into it. Trailer for the dub:

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles — Have now watched more than I've read.

The Shannara Chronicles premiered on MTV the other week and I've had a lot of ambiguous feelings about the show so far. We're currently three episodes in with the fourth available online and about to air tomorrow. Shannara airs Tuesdays at 10PM EST on MTV. Review after the trailer:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Japanese Voice Actors: Subtitles vs Dubs

The question of subtitles vs dubs is a divisive one in the anime community. Many are quick to claim if you don't watch anime in subtitles, then you're not a real fan of anime. I won't go that far, but I will say that you're missing out.

Look, if your reading comprehension isn't the best, or if you have visual issues with reading and watching, or if you just don't want to be distracted from what's on the screen, then dub is an option. However, voice acting in the English speaking world is nothing like what it is in Japan.

Anime is an artform and medium that is as appreciated as any other in Japan. Right now, the anime movie for Yo-Kai watch is beating out Star Wars Episode VII in Japan's box office. Princess Mononoke was the highest grossing film of all-time in Japan until Titanic beat it. Anime's acceptance and prevalence in Japan means that the quality of actor for the original run of an anime is almost guaranteed to be better than the quality of actor that a dubbing company is able to get.

For that reason alone, the Japanese voice track is superior, and in an ideal world, we would all understand every language and you could just watch it in Japanese without having to read.

That being said, there's nothing wrong theoretically with a dub, if the dub is done well. For most anime series made in the last 15 years, the dub is done OK. Japanese still has the edge over the English-speaking actors and if possible, I choose to watch it in Japanese. For big release films, the voice acting is usually much better on both sides, and the English speaking actors are maybe not as good as the Japanese speaking actors, but they're usually good enough to give them the edge if English is your first language. It's also nice to be able to have anime on in the background and not give it 100% of your attention (which is necessary for subtitles). One other issue you may run into is bad translation, but you run into this with subtitles just as much as dubs. There have been many instances where I'm watching an anime and the subtitles translate something one way when it really probably should have been translated a different way or it lacks the subtlety that the original Japanese intended. With dubs, you also get the translators trying to get the words to match the lip flapping of the characters. It's a mess, but they do it a lot better since the 2000s than they ever did when I was growing up.

Before the 2000s, in the 90s and 80s, the English voice track is nearly always grating and unwatchable for adults. Children may be able to get past the terrible voice acting, but even if subtitles aren't your thing, for anime that old, having to pause to read the subtitles would be preferred to listening to the terrible, terrible, terrible voice acting done by English voice "actors".

There are exceptions, but generally those exceptions are by actor and not by series. As in, there may be one character that is voiced well, while the rest of the characters are shrill and annoying and will give you a headache if you listen to them.

So yeah, in summary:

80s - 90s: Japanese voice acting all the way.
00s - Present (TV series): If you struggle with subtitles, your language of choice dub is probably OK, but if not, then treat yourself to the Japanese voice acting.
00s - Present (Wide Release Film): Your language of choice dub

(of course, how many wide release films are there? Only 10 anime have ever been given a wide release in America, and of those, 7 were based on TV shows (and so the voice acting rules don't apply) and 3 were Studio Ghibli films. I included Princess Mononoke when I spoke about good voice acting above, but really, they were just good actors that were lending their voices; the reality is that you are almost always better going with the Japanese performance).

So yeah, learn to read better I guess. But I won't hold it against you if you like the dub and anyone that does is an elitist jerk. We should be trying to get more people interested in anime, not keep people from it.

What are your thoughts on the dub vs subtitles debate? I haven't really even touched on live-action dubs which are often unintentionally hilarious and even worse than anime dubs (although some are intentionally hilarious, the Raid movies and Battle Royale for example were just bad dubs).

Star Wars Spoilers — Review, Analysis, and Predictions!

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars! Give me those Star Wars! Don't let them end!

Here's the long-awaited spoiler review of Star Wars, with my thoughts and predictions as well. Basically, this is you and I have both seen Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and are now talking about it; at least, that's the idea.

Spoilers after the jump . . .

Friday, December 18, 2015

No Spoiler Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

To the extent that it is possible, I will do my best to reveal no spoilers in this review. To the extent that it is possible, because from a certain perspective, just saying whether I like it or not could be considered a spoiler, and my opinions on the trailers after having seen the full film could be spoilery.