Sunday, June 29, 2014

Anime Review: Gundam Build Fighters

Last time I talked about the anime metaseries Gundam. Today we’re looking at the most recent addition to that series, Gundam Build Fighters. Like pretty much all Gundam series in recent memory it was produced by Sunrise and made its debut in 2013, making it the timeliest anime I’ve ever reviewed. As of this writing it has yet to be selected for import but there is some legal streaming of it around the web.

In the last couple of years Gundam hadn’t been doing super great and had not lived up to the runaway success of 2002’s Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The most recent TV show, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, ended up being a huge flop. Perhaps that’s why the creators decided to go in a different direction for Build Fighters. Like with Mobile Fighter G Gundam this anime threw out all tropes associated with the franchise but unlike G Gundam that included the space opera narrative. This series takes the concept first introduced in the OVA series Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G, an anime that is basically about fans of Gundam playing with the model kits associated with the show (which are nicknamed “Gunpla”), and takes it to its logical conclusion: have a whole TV show about young kids battling each other. To put it simply this show is basically a cross between Gundam and Yu-Gi-Oh! If reading that last sentence made you want to shake your head and close this window I don’t blame you as I had a similar reaction when I first discovered this show. Here’s the thing; it’s wrong to judge something before you check it out so let’s take a look at this crazy anime and then verbally rip it to shreds.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beta vs. Gundam

"Fly, Gundam!"
Today I was going to do a review of Gundam Build Fighters, the latest Gundam TV series which just finished up its run in Japan a few months ago. However it occurred to me that the Gundam metaseries is a pretty big deal but that a lot of people who read this blog might not know much about the franchise. So really I had two choices: either I write the review and have an intro that may be as long as, or longer than, the review itself OR dedicate a blog to talking about Gundam and get it out of my system. Since that’s something I’ve wanted to do for years anyway it seemed like a pretty good time to do so.

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m talking about Gundam is a large franchise, primarily an anime, that’s extremely popular in Japan and pretty darn popular in America as well with the right people. Although it’s a bit more complicated than that the most important thing to know about it that is it features giant robots (or “mecha” as they’re often called) fighting each other with beam rifles and laser swords….and usually in space. If that sentence doesn’t at least peak your interest than I’m unsure if you and I will get along.

So today I’ll be looking at the Gundam TV series. It’s important to understand though that there is a lot more to this franchise than just the cartoons. As a giant money maker for its parent company Bandai this series has taken just about as many forms as you can think of. However for the purposes of this article I won’t be going over every little thing. In fact I’ll likely be skipping or skimming over many of the spin-off movies or OVAs, of which there are a lot, so if I don’t mention a comic or a light novel series here or there just note that I likely am aware it exists and you don’t need to tell me how dumb I am for forgetting to mention it. And if I do skip your favorite Gundam related thing and it really bugs you feel free talk about it in the comment section (just don’t ramble; that’s my job and I’ll delete anything that tries to touch my Kool-Aid).

We all dig giant robots after the jump.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Godzilla (2014)

We all know about this franchise, right? Just in case you’re a hermit I’ll briefly discuss it. Godzilla is the American name for the fictional Japanese giant monster Gojira, star of a huge film series popular in both Japan and the United States (probably significantly more so in Japan) produced by the company Toho. Godzilla originally appeared in the self-titled film from 1954 where the creature was a metaphor for reckless use of nuclear weapons (this was a post-World War II Japan so nuclear destruction was a pretty terrifying concept). Since then Godzilla has appeared in a ton of films. The Japanese movies are split into three distinctive eras: the original Showa Era (where things were goofy and more often than not Godzilla is basically a superhero), the Heisei Era (which supposedly to be more serious yet still produced a film called Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla with a straight face) and the Millennium Era, which I know nothing about because I somehow managed not to see a single film in that series. Interestingly all eras seem to use the original 1954 as a starting point for their continuity.

In 1998 Hollywood made its first attempt to make their own fully American version of a Godzilla film directed by Roland Emmerich, who has pretty much never directed anything anyone has considered art ever, and while it did well financially it was a critical disaster that seemed to wipe it’s ass with everything that made Godzilla what it was in favor of, I dunno, a weird giant iguana thing that no one could possibly like (and thinly veiled potshots at Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel). The film to this day is considered one of the most hated movies of the 90s and a huge betrayal of the Godzilla franchise that even Toho openly mocks in their own movies.

Now let’s fast forward to 2014 and Hollywood is at it again. That’s what we’ll be looking at today. This time, with Gareth Edwards as director, they have sworn up and down that they had learned from their blunder from sixteen years ago. The marketing has at least proven that, yes, that’s totally Godzilla in that poster. So far so good.

I love Godzilla. My father was a huge Godzilla fan when he was a boy so when I was a little kid and expressed interest in it he gleefully fueled the fire by getting me access to lots of those old kaiju films from the 1960s and 1970s. This would lead to me having a casual Godzilla addiction during the mid-nineties. For the record my favorite film of the franchise is Godzilla on Monster Island, actually titled “Godzilla vs. Gigan”, which is goofy as hell (the villains turn out to be human size cockroaches and I’m pretty sure Godzilla and Anguirus have a conversation at some point) but I still have a lot of nostalgic fondness for it. But my point is that I’m a pretty big Godzilla fan and I, like all of the other Godzilla fans, hold a generous amount skepticism about this flick. Can Hollywood succeed where those before them (also Hollywood) failed to do; to create a good adaptation of a classic Japanese franchise? Or am I just a fanboy who will never be satisfied? OR WILL IT BE BOTH?!?!?

Yeah, this movie wasn't great
Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: X-Men - Days of Future Past (Film)

X-Men Month concludes! I wanted to throw up one more post, which would have been a Nerd Rage about something, but I couldn’t get riled up enough to do it which is probably for the best: one less nerdy rant on the internet.

But in any event we have come to the X-Men: Days of Future Past. Is there anything left to be said at this point? It’s a sequel to X-Men: First Class, a movie I LOVED and consider it to be the best X-film. It’s being directed by Bryan Singer who directed X-Men and X2 which were both great but hasn’t directed a ton of great stuff since then (and Jack the Giant Slayer was actively terrible). It’s based on the very classic X-Men comic storyline of the same name. The plot was pretty much the same; the future has been conquered by the Sentinels, mutant hunting robots, and a small group of surviving X-Men use their resident super psychic Rachel Summers to send the consciousness of Kitty Pryde (or “Kate Pryde” as she prefers to be known in the future) through time to 1980 (or “the present” as it preferred to be known at the time) into the body of her teenage counterpart to stop Mystique and her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from killing a specific dude which will cause a ripple effect that creates the terrible future. Of course this movie still takes place in the X-Men Movie Universe so the details would have to be drastically altered but the main crux of the story seems to be intact.

Anyway with two good movies, one awesome movie, one not terrible Wolverine movie and two absolute garbage flicks the X-Men Film Franchise has had its ups and downs over the years. BUT there’s been a lot of positive buzz about this movie where many people saying it’s the best X-flick to date. So it’s pretty clear that with so many people I like, trust or admire enjoyed it so clearly I’ll love this movie too, right? Right? Why are you just staring at me like that?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are a few spoilers throughout this review, though I avoid the really big ones. Still, read at your own risk]
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