Wolverine is the second of four anime titles animated by Madhouse that are based on a Marvel Comics superhero character, which aired in Japan from January 7 to March 25 of 2011. The anime is loosely based on a four-issue arc from Wolverine’s first comic series released by Marvel Comics from September to December of 1982. The series premiered as an English dub in America on the cable network, G4, on July 29, 2011 and was later released to DVD the following year.
Logan’s lover Mariko Yashida was abducted a year ago by thugs involved with the crime syndicate Kuzuryu. Learning that she is being forced into marriage with the leader of another syndicate, Logan arrives in Japan to fight his way through various criminals to free Mariko from the marriage.
Wolverine’s biggest problem is that the plot arc it adapts from the comics is loosely adapted and mostly serves as a backdrop for the various battles that Logan faces throughout the series. A number of characters in the series like Kikyo and Omega Red only exist to put Logan in various battle scenes to drag the plot out, a good number of whom you don’t really get to learn much about or have no relevance to the main plot of the series.
The series also suffers in that it relies on too many convenient moments to advance the plot. For example, Logan finds himself in trouble at several points in the series yet winds up being saved in the nick of time from characters that happen to conveniently be there at just the right moment. Plus, one certain character’s appearance in the middle of the show is only to toss a bone at fans of the comics and to help get Logan and Yukio to another point in the anime’s plot.
Unlike Iron Man, Wolverine also has its issues with animation, faithfulness to elements of the titular character and accessibility to mainstream fans. While the series retains its detailed scenery and character designs from Iron Man, Wolverine tended to cut corners quite a bit for its animation as still shots, speed stripes and other shortcuts were employed for battle scenes. This made battle scenes feel flat and not as engaging compared to Iron Man’s battles with robots and battle suits in his series.
Logan’s character and appearance for this series also raise some red flags in how he is adapted in this series. While the series does retain his abilities from the comics and some of the history he has with certain characters, Madhouse’s design of the character is quite different from his Western counterpart looking like a bishounen and lacking the impressive physique he has from the comics. His restrained attitude in battle, habit of being conveniently saved in instances and the anime having some consistency issues with Wolverine’s abilities kills quite a bit of the badass vibe you would expect of the titular character.
Also depending on exposure, Wolverine’s accessibility may be a problem for fans not as familiar with the comics. While Iron Man made use of elements from its recent 2008 live-action film to give familiarity to casual viewers of it, Wolverine makes quite a number of nods to the comics involving certain characters, organizations and elements within them that would fly over the heads of those not as familiar with the source material.
Kampfer was a 12-episode action/ harem comedy TV anime aired from October 2 to December 17 of 2009 in Japan. The anime is based on a light novel series written by Toshihiko Tsukiji and illustrated by Senmu from November 24, 2006 to March 25, 2010. A manga adaptation of the series also written by Tsukiji and illustrated by Yu Tachibana is currently being published in the Japanese seinen magazine, Monthly Comic Alive, since April 2008. The TV anime is currently licensed in America by Sentai Filmworks and is available for purchase on DVD.
Ordinary high school student Natsuru Seno wakes up one day to discover he has transformed into a girl with a stuffed tiger called Harakiri Tiger telling him that he has been chosen to be a Kampfer, female fighters destined to fight each other. Natsuru comes to realize this problem when attacked by a mysterious Kampfer armed with a pistol while on his way to school.
If there are two words that come to mind with Kampfer, it would be wasted potential. While the series does have a somewhat unique premise with its battling schoolgirls story, the series rather quickly sets the premise aside to turn itself into yet another unwanted harem anime.
Natsuru plays out as your typical doormat to the perverted antics and misunderstandings he undergoes with the several girls who have interest in him and is ridiculously dense in knowing the affections of those not named Kaede Sakura. The gender-swapping element to his transformation into a Kampfer adds more mindlessness to the series as Natsuru finds herself (for lack of a better word) getting enough fangirls ogling for her and being subjected to varying degrees of sexual harassment and perverted antics from school club representatives and the female student body admiring her for outer beauty or using the attractiveness of her body to enhance club status. The main group of girls interested in Natsuru don't help matters either as they are mostly nothing more than archetypes that you would find in one form or another in other ecchi, harem, romantic comedy and/ or other high school-based anime.
The unwanted harem element to the series gets so bad that Kampfer is completely lacking a plot for much of its run. The series makes an attempt at a plot for three of its final four episodes regarding the origins of the Kampfer and another group of Kampfer that Natsuru and the girls encounter. But due to how rushed and poorly built up this plot element is and how the new characters get portrayed, the horrible plotting only adds to the mindlessness that Kampfer portrays throughout its run.
Violence Jack is actually a trilogy of three stand-alone OVA titles featuring the titular character adapted from a series of manga publications created by Go Nagai since the character’s debut in Weekly Shonen Magazine on July 22, 1973. The OVAs were released in Japan in June 1986 (Harem Bomber), December 1988 (Evil Town) and November 1990 (Hell’s Wind). The OVAs were licensed by Manga Entertainment in the mid-1990s for dubbed VHS release, which underwent varying degrees of censorship to remove the more graphic content found in the episodes. The Evil Town OVA has a degree of infamy to it in Australia where its large number of rape scenes towards women led it to be banned from release in the country. Right Stuf would claim video distribution rights to the OVAs later in the decade and release them completely unedited on VHS in subbed and dubbed formats. Both the Manga and Right Stuf versions of Violence Jack are out of print. Like Angel Cop and Mad Bull 34, Violence Jack is notable for its inclusion among Manga Entertainment’s infamous “Holy Trinity of Suck”.
Following a large earthquake that wiped out much of humanity’s population, the remaining populace is now divided between the strong and the weak with depraved gangs coming together to inflict varying degrees of suffering to the innocent. A mysterious giant of a man who calls himself Violence Jack is unearthed from the rubble of the earthquake who helps aid the weak against evil threats.
Violence Jack- A mysterious giant of a man who wields a large jack knife. Despite his seemingly evil and intimidating appearance, Jack fights to protect the weak in the post-apocalyptic world that he inhabits.
Violence Jack has a bare bones plot that is simply an excuse for the different OVAs to show off the various depraved acts committed by the gangs and the gory ways in which Jack dispatches each of their members. The depraved acts depicted throughout the OVAs include sadomasochism, rape, cannibalism and torture. Women that exist in the series wind up getting raped, beaten and tortured on a regular basis throughout the OVAs
Like many 1990s Manga Entertainment titles, Violence Jack’s English dub is peppered with profane language not found in the original Japanese version. The addition of it here seems rather pointless considering the graphic violence and rape scenes found throughout Violence Jack would be more than enough to make it appropriate only for older viewers despite any censorship of said scenes being done in Manga’s dub.
Before we get to the review, I have an announcement to make. The review after this will be my 20th Ani-Crap Review and I plan on personally choosing the next title that I will be covering, which I plan on doing next weekend. As a result, I don’t plan on posting a new poll for readers to choose my next title until next weekend. So what do I plan on covering for my 20th review? I’ll give you guys a hint: there’s only one title among Manga Entertainment’s infamous Holy Trinity of Suck I’ve yet to cover and this one has a lot more infamy to it than the prior two I’ve covered. Look forward to next weekend! In the mean time, on with the review.
Astarotte’s Toy was a 12-episode ecchi/ harem comedy TV anime that aired from April 10 to June 26 of 2011. The anime is based on an ongoing manga series written by Yui Haga for the seinen magazine, Dengeki Maoh. Episodes of the series are legally available for streaming via Crunchyroll.
Astarotte Ygvar is a 10-year old princess in the kingdom of Ygvarland within the magical world of Alfheimr. Born a succubus, Astarotte is expected to begin organizing a male harem as she comes of age and needing the “life-seed”, otherwise known as semen, of men in order to sustain herself. The princess, however, has a hatred of men and only agrees to organize a harem if the first male she adds is a human, as those in her realm believe humans to be extinct. However, her followers encounter a human male named Naoya Tohara who, along with his daughter Asuha, is brought to Alfheimr to be part of Astarotte’s harem.
Astarotte’s Toy is a series that seemed unsure if it wanted to be a lolicon/ ecchi romp fest or a comedy-drama focused on the developments of Lotte’s character as she spent time with Naoya. Both elements fail at being appealing due to the former appealing to the lowest common denominator of Japan’s otaku fanbase and the latter being riddled with enough clichés you would see from enough similar titles that it lacks any type of freshness.
The ecchi content for Astarotte’s Toy is not as dirty as you would think for the premise for this series. It plays up the old nice guy/ tsundere character dynamic used in past romantic comedies in its focus on Naoya and Lotte’s relationship, with the latter being yet another Rie Kugimiya-style tsundere. To those unfamiliar with what I mean, Rie Kugimiya is the seiyuu for Lotte in this series who has acquired a rep for portraying a number of tsundere characters in her works such as Shana, Taiga and Nagi. The tsundere that Rie typically portray are teenage girls with a childlike appearance having long hair, flat chests and an aggressive “tsun tsun” type personality for their character.
For the character dynamic in this series, it looked like Astarotte’s Toy was ripping off Hayate the Combat Butler with the male lead (Naoya) being man servant to the demands of the rich and spoiled tsundere (Lotte). But while Hayate the Combat Butler had its effective comedic delivery to make the premise work with Nagi and Hayate at least being a few years apart in age, Astarotte’s Toy tries to be more focused on the developing relationship between Lotte and Naoya. The approach fails to work here because the character dynamic has been done enough times before where its quite stale and the creepy lolicon implications of the relationship are present since Naoya’s a full-grown adult (despite appearing much younger) and Lotte has yet to even approach adolescence.
Outside of the relationship developments, Astarotte’s Toy also suffers in its comedic delivery and having some questionable moral elements to its story. For the show’s humor, it dabbles into the typical and tiresome perverted gags and innuendo jokes you would find in ecchi titles that involve intercourse, certain bodily features, arousal and the sometimes too-intimate interactions between female cast members. The title’s moral elements also raise some red flags as it was implied Naoya was underaged when he had intercourse with Lotte’s mother and our male lead having some pretty lousy parenting skills considering he left his daughter to fend for herself during the first few episodes of the series when he entered Alfheimr and having very loose conduct with his parenting considering Asuha’s habit of not wearing underwear, allowing her to dress in some scanty clothing and her touchy-feely behavior with members of the female cast.
Looks like I have another situation where I found a series to be not as bad as folks were passing it off to be with Iron Man, as much mixed reception I’ve heard of Madhouse-Marvel’s anime work. This is still standard fare, but I don’t find it to be horrifically bad. With that in mind, I’ll be tweaking my review format slightly like I did with my Upotte review to reflect on what worked and not worked with Iron Man. Now onto the review…
Iron Man is the first of four anime titles animated by Madhouse that adapted a popular superhero franchise from Marvel Comics. The series originally aired in Japan for 12 episodes from October 1 to December 17 of 2010. It was licensed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, who aired an English dubbed version of the series on G4 starting in July 2011 and was released on DVD in 2012.
Tony Stark arrives in Japan with the purpose of building an Arc Station that will provide clean energy to the populace and claims to have retired as Iron Man as he is working on a mass-produced version of his armor called Iron Man Dios that will serve in efforts to curb any global threats. However, his efforts are sabotaged by a secret terrorist organization called Zodiac, who steal the Dios armor and plot to hijack the Arc Station for their own nefarious purposes. Tony resumes his guise as Iron Man in order to combat the robotic threats of Zodiac and figure out the organization’s motives.
Madhouse clearly put effort into the animation used within Iron Man and it shows with the visual presentation being above average for a TV anime. The scenery of the Tokyo landscape is vast with plenty of detail and vibrant colors shown with buildings and different locales. Character designs appeared to be going for a more Western style with facial designs looking more realistic in their proportions and details compared to more conventional approaches, with a good amount of detail depicted in their designs as well. CG animation was used in the rendering of Iron Man and other robots/ battle armors seen throughout the series which look slick, detailed and fit almost seamlessly with the anime’s regular animation. Battle scenes are well animated with movements looking fluid and intense, taking place on the ground, the air and even an episode occurring in space
With the series seeming to be made in mind for those who seen the 2008 live-action American movie or read the comics, fans will likely pick up on the subtle nods made to events and characters from both sources. And for those who haven’t seen neither source, there is an episode in the anime that focuses on exploring Tony’s origins as Iron Man and what led him to adapt his mentality to use his wealth for the better of humanity.
The main plot to Iron Man is a standard one that has been done enough times in conventional anime titles where the hero (Iron Man) is up against an evil organization seeking world domination (Zodiac). The series adapts an “enemy of the day” style plot for each of its episodes where Tony goes up against a different enemy threat from Zodiac for much of the show. In addition, the motives of the organization and the leader of Zodiac are rather predictable as the series presses on, killing much of the surprise the anime wanted to build up. While these elements are not so bad, they feel no different from the typical premises you can find in more popular anime titles and make the show’s plot feel kind of bland.
The weakest material coming from Iron Man comes in the motives of characters involved with Zodiac. Some of the enemies in the anime’s “enemy of the day” setup are human threats whose motives for joining the organization are poorly written and just an excuse to have them go up against Tony. This is especially a problem with Yinsen’s character as the anime effectively retconned his fate, just to create a weak twist in its plot when his actions and reasoning for involvement in Zodiac are contradictory to the type of character he was in the movie and comics.
While its plot is clichéd and rather forgettable, Iron Man is far from being a dud in my personal opinion. Action anime and Iron Man fans could clamor to the series for its well-animated battle scenes or just be giddy to see Tony Stark made into an anime character. Plus, the anime still has some respectability for its source material in depicting Tony’s character and origins, despite how Yinsen is depicted. However unless you come into this series looking forward to the fights or seeing Tony being Tony, Iron Man isn’t pulling anything groundbreaking with its plot and you will likely be disappointed with what it portrays.