Review of Batman Ninja

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This animated movie, featuring character designs from the creator of Afro Samurai, sees the Caped Crusader get transported back to Feudal Japan. Rather ironic, given that Batman is pretty much a modern day ninja. Just like a Japanese assassin, the Dark Knight uses stealth and martial arts to subdue his enemies… and they both look cool in black attire too. How did Batman end up in the past you ask? That’s all explained in the opening scene. Gorilla Grodd’s time machine is responsible for Batman’s historical trip and he didn’t go there alone. Catwoman, the Joker, Harley Quinn and various other villains have joined him along for the ride.

OVERVIEW

Batman Ninja’s plot follows Bruce Wayne who is stuck in the past. He has to find a way back to present day Gotham, but before that he needs to defeat numerous rogues who have taken over the land. Poison Ivy, Deathstroke, Two-Face and Penguin reached Japan two years prior to Batman’s arrival and in the interim they have managed to assemble sizable armies. Can the outnumbered DC hero triumph against so many adversaries? Usually I would say yes, but victory is far from assured as this version of Batman is dumber than Adam West’s rendition of the character. On more than one occasion he is outwitted by betrayals that even his young sidekicks can see coming a mile away.

Gullible isn’t a trait most people associate with Batman. The protagonist acts out of character throughout the eighty-five minute running time. He even losses confidence when the Batmobile is destroyed. Batman Begins to question how he can succeed without the aid of modern tech, which makes no sense. This is the guy who can topple the likes of Superman, even with a handicap of possessing no powers. Who cares about a car he can easily afford to replace? Guile and a few Chiropteran shaped boomerangs are the only things Batman usually needs to save the day. The tone of this motion picture isn’t faithful to the source material. It feels more like a low tier anime rather than a traditional Batman tale.

VERDICT

I watched the English language version of the movie and wasn’t too impressed with the voice acting. To be fair though, I think the poor performances were due to cheesy dialogue rather than a lack of talent. If you ask me the script feels like something penned by an amateur fanfic writer who grew up watching eighties action movies. Batman Ninja’s sole saving grace would have to be its visuals. The CG graphics are quite striking, although there are a few scenes were the animation would have benefitted from some more frames. Nothing major, but said moments made it seem like I was watching a 30 FPS video game rather than a movie studio production.

My rating for Batman Ninja is a one out of five. The movie didn’t do anything for me. During my screening I kept looking at my watch and for a brief moment I even fell asleep. Had I not committed myself to writing a review of this flick, for the billions of followers who read this blog, I doubt I would have lasted till the very end. Despite it not being my cup of tea I suspect that there will be an audience for this film. Some viewers will have fun with how “bat shit” crazy it gets. The finale for example features a giant mech fighting a swarm of monkeys. Nuff said. Overall, the action makes for a good trailer. Sadly however there isn’t enough substance here to carry an entire movie.

Review of Avengers: Infinity War

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Once again Earth’s mightiest heroes must unite to save the world from destruction in a crossover movie spectacular. This time round the Avengers band together to take on Thanos, an intergalactic overlord who possesses a chin that resembles a scrotum. Most of your favourite Marvel cinematic characters make an appearance in this film, with the exception of Scott Lang who is occupied with other matters in the upcoming Ant-Man and Wasp. Hawkeye is also absent, but who cares? I always found Clint Barton to be rather bland. Besides he doesn’t have any superpowers. Good aim? Bah, what’s so special about that? Call of Duty is full of people who never miss their target.

OVERVIEW

Avengers: Infinity War begins with Thanos establishing his badass credentials by effortlessly pounding the Hulk into submission. He is on a quest to acquire the six Infinity Gems, which will grant him the power to purge half of the universe’s life forms. Standing between Thanos and his insane genocide scheme is Thor, who has teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (led by a pudgy looking Star Lord.) Meanwhile on Earth – Thanos’ lackeys hunt down Vision, who is in possession of the Mind Stone. The underlings ask if Vision would “mind” parting with the Mind Stone, but he isn’t receptive to the idea as the jewel is the source of the android’s sentience.

Thanos’ minions also strike The Big Apple, after learning that New York resident Dr Strange holds the Time Stone that they seek. Unfortunately for them NYC has more heroes than yellow taxicabs. Their attack catches the attention of both Iron Man and his wall crawling apprentice Peter Parker. Even with their combined might, the triple S group of Strange, Stark and Spidey struggle against Thanos’ army. If they are to have any chance of beating the invaders more help will be required. Captain America (the latest hero to rock an unshaven look) could potentially turn the tide. Tracking him down might be difficult though, given that he is lying low after the events of Civil War.

OVERVIEW

My rating for Avengers: Infinity War is a four out of five. Not the best Marvel movie perhaps, but a good popcorn flick nonetheless. The wafer thin plot is just an excuse for plastering the screen with 149 minutes of non-stop action. I usually suffer from battle fatigue when a movie is laden with fights, but this one managed to keep my interest from start to finish. The script keeps things fresh by switching locations at a good clip. Unlike some other movies, the bloated cast wasn’t a detriment and everyone involved gets a moment to shine. Marvel productions are known for their humour and Infinity War is no exception to that rule. Drax the Destroyer’s quips in particular made me laugh a lot.

The jokes help to balance out what would otherwise be a depressing tale. Younger viewers will know the pain I felt back in the eighties, when I watched Transformers: The Movie, as many popular characters meet their demise in this feature. Thanos stands out as a rare example of a Marvel villain done right. He is cruel and unpredictable, but also has a compassionate side as shown in his scenes with stepdaughter Gamora. In a warped way he believes that his cosmic cull is an act of mercy. He wants to spare other worlds from suffering the ruin that befell his planet due to overpopulation. All that said, he is still a dick… and no that isn’t a reference to his nut-sack lower lip.

 

Review of Batman: The Enemy Within

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I am the son of a chemist and a mathematician. People call me iron fifty-nine. What is my name? Leave your answer in the comments section below. Why am I opening this review with a riddle? Well, it seemed appropriate given that the first villain Bruce Wayne faces in Batman: The Enemy Within is the Riddler. I have to say that the aforementioned Edward Nigma is more bloodthirsty than I remember. This version of the character likes to place victims in death traps one would expect to find in a Saw movie. Fail to answer the criminal’s puzzles and you will get zapped or have your fingers sawn off. Ouch! That would make typing out reviews most difficult.

OVERVIEW

Batman: The Enemy Within is the follow up to 2016’s excellent Batman: The Telltale Series. This five-part adventure sees the Caped Crusader take on a group known as The Pact. Apart from the abovementioned Riddler, the group’s members include Bane, Harley Quinn and Mr Freeze. To this day my favourite take on Mr Freeze has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rendition of the character (due to the delightful ice jokes.) Sadly I can’t think of any ice puns to insert into this post, as they have all “slipped” out of my mind. From the rogue’s gallery of baddies Harley Quinn is the one who gets the most screen time. Interestingly she is an established criminal who the Joker has a crush on, rather than vice versa.

Ah yes, how could I forget the Joker. This game chronicles how a former Arkham inmate named John Doe transformed into the Clown Prince of Crime. John made a brief appearance in the last title – helping Bruce escape from the asylum he had been imprisoned in. The pair formed a friendship during the breakout, which carries over into this instalment. How the relationship develops will depend on the decisions made throughout the game’s five episodes. Play nice with John and he may become a vigilante who aids Batman. Betray him however and you run the risk of turning John into a crazed psychopath. Tread carefully when answering John’s questions… just like when your girlfriend asks if she looks fat.

VERDICT

My rating for Batman: The Enemy Within is a four out of five. When compared to other Telltale superhero projects it is a huge improvement over Guardians of the Galaxy and a worthy successor to their last Batman release. Like with most Telltale offerings the game would best be described as an interactive movie. You influence the outcome of scenes by picking from a list of dialogue options. Battles are resolved via quick time events. Compared to its predecessor there are fewer puzzles to solve. Going off memory, the crime scene investigation segments have been scaled down in this sequel. On the plus side The Enemy Within suffers from fewer bugs and visual glitches. You won’t see a pair of flying eyeballs in this one!

If you enjoyed the first game or are a fan of the Dark Knight in general I can highly recommend Batman: The Enemy Within. Telltale once again delivers a great story that isn’t afraid of playing around with the Batman mythology. Character origins are tweaked and prominent figures get killed, leading to several surprises. My only gripe with the script is that for large portions of the game you play as Bruce Wayne, rather than his cooler masked alter ego. Sadly that can’t be avoided, as obese government agent Amanda Waller blackmails Bruce into going undercover. Grr, I hate her. Waller is so fat that when doctors diagnosed her with a flesh-eating virus they gave her 90 years to live.

Review of Metropolis: Lux Obscura

metropolisluxobscura

Puzzle games sure can be raunchy. First there was the sex filled HuniePop and now we get Metropolis: Lux Obscura. This debut title from indie developer Ktulhu Solutions features images of topless women and comic book panels depicting intercourse. Isn’t it silly how some publishers feel obligated to censor swimsuits in their games? Seems like a gross overreaction to me, given that Ktulhu Solutions can sell their mature wares on consoles without causing any controversy. Perhaps the video game industry has finally grown up, sparing us from Mass Effect style lovemaking where participants do the horizontal mambo whilst fully clothed.

OVERVIEW

In Metropolis: Lux Obscura players follow the exploits of a baseball-wearing chap named Jon Lockhart. The protagonist of this tale has returned to his old stomping grounds, after serving a lengthy prison sentence. Said stomping grounds happen to be a city where crime rates are so high it would make Detroit blush. It’s a place where bikers harass the populace, a homicidal Elvis impersonator roams the streets and corrupt cops beat up the citizenry (even the Caucasian ones). To make ends meet Jon does odd jobs for a Mafioso named Falcone. Most of the earnings he makes end up going towards booze and strippers.

The story is told through stylish graphic novel cut scenes and how it all pans out will depend on the locations you choose to visit. Every now and then Jon gets mixed up in a brawl. Whether he emerges victorious from these altercations will depend on how the player fares in battle sequences that are reminiscent of Puzzle Quest. To avoid a Game Over players need to knock out their foe before their adversary manages to deplete Jon’s health points. Lining up three or more fist icons inflicts damage. Conversely, forming a row of first aid kits replenishes HP. Watch out for the police badges. If you inadvertently match three of those Jon will suffer pain. The Police hurt because Sting has a bad voice.

VERDICT

My rating for Metropolis: Lux Obscura is a three out of five. I enjoyed the game, but was disappointed by the lack of content. Even with four endings to unlock I managed to platinum it all after just a few hours. I wouldn’t describe the game as challenging; even if I lost the occasional fight due to misfortune with the randomly generated tiles. Yes, bad luck is to blame. I didn’t lose because my puny brain struggles with puzzles! What helps counter the potential difficulty are the abilities Jon earns after every encounter. These upgradable perks allow him to increase the effectiveness of health packs, force enemies to skip turns and can even replace the detrimental police badges with anger themed damage boosters.

Anyone who dislikes match three games can safely give Metropolis a miss, because the story by itself isn’t worth the price of admission. The script feels like a poor man’s Sin City. It’s heavy on cliché and grit, but deficient in substance. I think the top-notch graphics and competent voice acting deserved a better plot. Perhaps that’s why the developer resorted to boobs and fornication? Distract the punters with eye candy and they won’t notice the narrative’s weaknesses. Maybe I am being a tad harsh, as puzzle games aren’t renowned for their fiction. At the very least I can say that Metropolis has a better story than Tetris. The strippers are also much hotter than L-block.

A Place Further than the Universe Review

aplacefurtherthanuniverse

If money were no object, what distant land would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments section below. Perhaps a trip to the sunny Bahamas, where you can soak up the rays, would be nice? Maybe you would elect to go on an anime merchandise-spending spree in Japan instead? If so please buy me some body pillows as a souvenir! For high school student Shirase Kobuchizawa her destination of choice is Antarctica. She dreams of seeing the South Pole as her late mother vanished there during an arctic expedition. It’s either that or she just wants to hang out on a continent where cute penguins are bountiful.

OVERVIEW

A Place Further than the Universe is a thirteen-episode anime produced by Madhouse. To be clear, that’s the veteran animation studio… in case some of you think that the show was created inside a loony bin! Anyways, the series chronicles how Shirase teams up with three other ladies to make her chilly dream a reality. The first person that joins her cause is fellow Tatara West High School student Mari Tamaki. In the first episode viewers learn that Mari wants to go on adventure, as she hasn’t done anything memorable during her young life. She has a history of backing out of things. So much so that she doesn’t even have the courage to skip class.

Convenience store clerk Hinata Miyake is the next person to sign up for the Antarctica trek. She opts to tag along after overhearing Shirase and Mari discuss their journey during one of her shifts. For her, the voyage sounds like a fun distraction before she has to knuckle down with college entrance exams. The problem is that going to Antarctica isn’t something you can book at your local travel agent. Shirase is aware of a scientific expedition that is going to the region soon, but persuading the crew to take three untrained girls with them won’t be easy. Neither bribery nor awkward flirting can convince the researchers to give Shirase and company passage.

Thankfully for the determined trio the impasse is broken when they befriend teenage idol Yuzuki Shiraishi. It’s revealed that Yuzuki has been hired to go on the abovementioned expedition, where she can broadcast news reports relating to the trip. She isn’t keen on the assignment though, as she despises the cold. In the end she only agrees to accept the job under the condition that Shirase, Mari and Hinata accompany her. Like many actresses, Yuzuki is lonely. Constant travel and a packed itinerary have prevented her from making friends. She hopes that Shirase’s group will fill that void. Her craving for chums is so strong that in one episode she even begs the girls to sign a friendship contract with her!

VERDICT

My rating for A Place Further than the Universe is a four out of five. On the surface this appears to be another generic “cute girls doing cute things” series. In actuality the anime has more substance than that. The show is blessed with good production values and well written characters. I expect that many viewers will relate to the heroines’ struggles with bullies, shyness and loneliness. For the most part the tale is a lighthearted coming of age affair, packed with moments that will make you smile. On occasion it does however manage to tug at the heartstrings. Episode twelve in particular is guaranteed to make sensitive types blubber. Even on a frozen land there is no escaping those onion-cutting ninjas!

Review of Citrus

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Citrus is the long awaited sequel to Orange. Hehe. Just kidding! This twelve-episode anime, from the studio that gave us Rail Wars, is actually based on a Yuri manga. The story stars a trendy teenager, named Yuzu Aihara, who has transferred to an all girls academy after her mom remarried. Unfortunately for Yuzu, her first day at school doesn’t go well. Yuzu’s fashion sense earns her a tongue lashing, from those in charge, as it violates the high school’s strict dress code. To make matters worse Yuzu has her mobile confiscated by student council president Mei Aihara. Unlike best friend Harumi Taniguchi, Yuzu doesn’t possess the cleavage necessary to smuggle portable phones inside her bosom.

OVERVIEW

Eagle eyed readers may have spotted that Yuzu and Mei share an identical surname. In episode one it’s revealed that they are in fact stepsisters. Can the polar opposites cohabitate in their new home? Well, despite being at loggerheads in public they get surprisingly close. So much so that one evening, without warning, Mei plants a kiss on Yuzu’s lips. Despite her icy exterior, it appears that Mei is starving for affection. No surprise, given that her father neglects her in favour of foreign orphans. Deprived of wang at school is it a wonder that Mei turns out to be a lesbian? In hindsight Yuzu’s mother doesn’t help matters. She thinks that two hormone-fuelled teens sharing a double bed is a good idea!

Thus the stage is set for Mei and Yuzu’s hot/cold relationship. At times Mei is flat out rude to her sibling and on other occasions she forcefully locks tongues with Yuzu. I am amazed that Mei has romantic feelings for her new sis, given that Yuzu’s misbehaviour literally gives her grandfather a heart attack in one episode. Then again Mei is a very forgiving person. For example, she harbours no ill will towards Yuzu’s childhood friend Matsuri Mizusawa. During one story arc a jealous Matsuri tries to break up Yuzu and Mei. Her scheme involves using a compromising photo to blackmail Mei into a life of prostitution. Ah no biggie. Sex slavery is nothing major in Mei’s mind. Let bygones be bygones.

VERDICT

My rating for Citrus is a three out of five. It’s a decent series that should appeal to Yuri fans. Some viewers may however get frustrated with the script. Aside from the far-fetched melodrama mentioned above, the way that Citrus teases its audience can get grating. The writers routinely bait you with smut, but never deliver anything more than tame smooches and heavy breathing. Can’t romance anime find a happy medium? I don’t expect a hentai, where people bang after just five minutes of meeting each other. On the flip side however, is it really necessary to prolong things out for a dozen episodes? It takes months for Yuzu to confess her feelings and even then she needs the support of friends to do so.

It’s a shame that this cour didn’t cover the aftermath of Mei/Yuzu’s courtship. Given that love between stepsisters is taboo I am curious to see how their parents would react to the news. Would the pair try to conceal their status or be open about it? The relationship could also have some serious ramifications for Mei. I imagine the scandal may prompt her highly conservative school to remove Mei from the student council. Due to the anime’s slow pacing that question shall remain unanswered, unless you are willing to delve into the later chapters of the source material. That makes me feel sour… just like a lemon. Perhaps that’s where the title Citrus originates from?

Review of The Ancient Magus’ Bride

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a series that I recently finished watching, after spotting it in the “popular” section of Crunchyroll’s App. It’s based off an ongoing manga created by Kore Yamazaki, which began its run back in 2013. Crunchyroll crowned this show the Best Drama of 2017. The anime spans across twenty-four episodes and Funimation has already dubbed the vast majority of them. Studio Wit, who are best known for Rolling Girls, produced the cartoon. Much to my relief, unlike some other animated adaptations based on a comic that is still being published, I am happy to report that TAMB ends on a satisfactory note.

OVERVIEW

Finding love can’t be easy when you have a buffalo skull for a face. Like many ugly chaps, magic user Elias Ainsworth’s search for a spouse ended with him having to purchase a bride. Rather than picking the Russian variety, often advertised in the e-mails situated in my spam folder, Elias acquires a redheaded wife via an auction. Chise Hatori is the lucky girl in question. Apart from getting hitched, Chise has the honour of becoming Elias’ apprentice. She has a knack for spell casting, as she was born a Sleigh Beggy – a human who can generate bountiful quantities of mana. Her magical gifts come at a high price though.

Early on it’s revealed that Chise’s power is taking a toll on her lifespan. If a remedy cannot be found she is expected to perish within the next three years. Elias vows to save his missus, but doesn’t seem to be in a rush to do so. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a leisurely paced slice of life affair, were the couple spend most of their days doing chores at their countryside abode. Occasionally they’ll take a trip down to London, for some shopping, or visit Iceland’s dragon sanctuary to fashion a wand. Character interactions are given more prominence than story in this series. Just like Haley Joel Osment, many of the folks Chise converses with are invisible to regular humans. Instead of poltergeists, Chise’s “sixth sense” allows her to see members of the Fae race.

VERDICT

My rating for The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a five out of five. The series is certainly deserving of the accolade Crunchyroll bestowed upon it. Fans of fantasy and the supernatural are sure to enjoy the world Yamazaki has crafted. It’s populated with a diverse cast of characters who are brought to life thanks to Studio Wit’s beautiful artwork. Mischievous fairies fly through the air, along with adorable woolly bugs (I really desire a plush toy of the latter.) In the village where Elias resides spirits are abundant. His housekeeper is a banshee and one of his neighbours unknowingly cohabitates with a half naked Succubus. Sigh. Why can’t my own home be haunted by a cute waifu?

I am certain this series will be a contender for my annual anime top five, as it is rich in emotional moments. Some scenes will make you laugh and others will invoke tears. Surprisingly the romance is subtle. Don’t expect too much mushiness, as Chise is recovering from a tragic childhood whilst Elias is a creature who struggles to comprehend human emotions. Slowly however a bond does form between the pair. The blossoming love exposes how Elias isn’t the majestic sorcerer he initially appears to be. When others court Chise’s attention he isn’t above immature bouts of jealousy. He wants Chise’s affection all for himself. Old buffalo head is quite the horny devil… in more ways than one.