Dream (Level 21)

Have a major announcement regarding my status for the site moving forward posted in the Anime Couples Tourney thread, as well as a possible opportunity for anyone interested.
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Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer is a three-episode action OVA series animated by JC Staff and is based on the fighting video game made by SNK for their Neo Geo game system in 1995. The series was animated from September 1996 to January 1997 and directed by Masami Ohbari. Gowcaizer was licensed for VHS and DVD release in America by Central Park Media in the late 1990s up to the company’s closing in 2009. Both releases are currently out of print.

The Plot

Ohbari's ridiculousness and T&A emphasis in action.
Ohbari's ridiculousness and T&A emphasis in action.

In a post-apocalyptic future, Shizuru Ozaki is hatching a plan to obtain immortality from a powerful force called Omni Exist that desires to wipe out humanity. To thwart Ozaki’s plans, teenager Isato Kaiza is given a powerful gem called the Caizer Stone by his best friend Kash that gives him the power to transform into the armored superhero known as Gowcaizer.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Isato Kaiza- A hot-headed young martial artist given a Caizer Stone that allows him to transform into the armored superhero Gowcaizer.
  • Kash Mizutani- Kaiza’s close friend with his own Caizer Stone that allows him to transform into Hellstinger, an armored hero capable of flight.
  • Shizuru Ozaki- The headmaster of Isato and Kash’s school, as well as the master of the Kaizer Stones. Also called Master Owga by his servants, Ozaki desires to obtain immortality from Omni Exist at the cost of humanity’s existence.
  • Karin Son- A female classmate of Isato’s with a crush on him. She is a high priestess who wields a golden staff to use in battle.
  • Kyosuke Shingure- A humble and courteous young man wielding a shinai that possesses divine powers. He seeks to avenge the death of his sister from the hands of Ozaki.
  • Shaia Hishizaki- The school’s popular idol and a capable fighter, who is accompanied by a robotic drone servant named Ball Boy wherever she goes.
  • Kubira- A demonic dog serving as Kyosuke’s familiar and is capable of taking on human form as an attractive and busty brunette.
  • Assahina Twins- Twin siblings Ryo and Suzu, serving as fighters fighting on Ozaki’s behalf. The two have an incestuous relationship with one another and are capable of combining together to form a large, powerful creature.

Why It Sucks

Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer’s biggest flaws stem from the typical issues that arise from anime adaptations of video games and Ohbari’s direction of the series.

Does this sports bra look good on me?
Does this sports bra look good on me?

As you would expect from a bad anime adaptation of a video game, Gowcaizer offers up a barebones plot with enough anime clichés laid out and pumping out as many characters from the video game as possible who either barely get fleshed out or serve little purpose for the anime’s main plot. The events of the anime breeze by at a fast pace, preventing any time to be devoted for proper buildup or depth on its characters and elements. The series quite often has some sloppy moments of consistency and focus in its narration. While action scenes are somewhat engaging at points, it does get silly seeing characters call out the names of their attacks from the video game and the animation is on the subpar side with still shots, speed stripes and other shortcuts employed throughout the title’s run.

Aren't we looking slutty today.
Aren't we looking slutty today.

What makes Gowcaizer stick out particularly as a bad anime comes from the direction of Masami Ohbari, an animator who is quite infamous for offerings of fan service in his works. Character designs are drawn in a way where portions of their bodies look anatomically incorrect in proportions and the clothes they wear are quite over-the-top, usually having you question the sexuality of the male characters with wearing midriff-exposing shirts and tight shorts/ pants. There is quite a bit of emphasis on getting as much T&A and scantily-clad shots of major female cast members as possible throughout the course of Gowcaizer. The series also sports infamy for two of its antagonists being siblings in an incestuous relationship with one another, shown quite blatantly in an implied sex scene with the two in an early scene in the series.

Central Park Media’s dub for the series is also worth mention for how bad it is with Gowcaizer, consisting of flat emotional delivery from the voice actors and awkward delivery of lines coming from moments of bad scriptwriting.

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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.

The Plot

Oh Logan, what have they done to you?
Oh Logan, what have they done to you?

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.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Wolverine/ Logan- A mutant who possesses the ability to regenerate damage from attacks, heightened senses, superhuman attributes, three retractable claws from each of his hands and a skeleton laced with the indestructible metal known as adamantium. His goal throughout much of the series is to rescue his lover Mariko from the crime syndicate Kuzuryu.
  • Mariko Yashida- Wolverine’s lover and the granddaughter of Kuzuryu’s leader. She is abducted and forced into an arranged marriage with Madripoor’s leader Hideki Kurohagi.
  • Shingen Yashida- The leader of the crime syndicate Kuzuryu and Mariko’s grandfather. A formidable swordsman and martial artist, Shingen has the ability to hurl thrusts of wind with his katana to cut apart his foes.
  • Hideki Kurohagi- The ruler of an island of criminals called Madripoor who is Mariko’s fiancée that she is forced to marry.
  • Yukio- A mysterious woman who comes to Logan’s aid to halt Shingen and Kurohagi’s criminal activity. She makes use of projectile weapons like throwing knives and chakrams in battle.
  • Kikyo Mikage- An assassin recruited by Shingen to kill Logan. He wields a pair of katana laced in adamantium infused in each of his arms which he can use to release cutting wind pressure at his foes and possesses regenerative abilities. Despite being a frequent enemy of Logan’s throughout much of the series, Kikyo has a personal code of honor that prevents him from desiring to kill his target while in weakened condition.
  • Arkady Rossovich/ Omega Red- A serial killer whose body was given superhuman attributes by the Soviet government in their efforts to replicate America’s use of the Super Soldier Formula. He wields a set of tentacles in each arm made of the metal carbonadium that possess the ability to drain the life force out of any foe he ensnares with the tentacles. Because carbonadium possesses poisonous properties, Omega Red must regularly drain the life force of his victims to sustain his health. A device called the Carbonadium Synthesizer was capable of stabilizing his condition, yet this was destroyed by Logan during one of his missions in the Soviet Union. This leads an enraged Omega Red to seek revenge on Logan during his current conflict in Japan.

Why It Sucks

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.

Omega Red not looking too good.
Omega Red not looking too good.

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 about to cross blades with Shingen.
Logan about to cross blades with Shingen.

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.

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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.

The Plot

Oh boy, I've got boobs!
Oh boy, I've got boobs!

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.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Natsuru Seno- The male lead of the series and the only Kampfer who is actually a male. While in Kampfer form, Natsuru is capable of throwing fireballs at her foes. To his dismay, Natsuru finds himself forced to enroll into his school while in female form that gets the admiration and various degrees of affection from those among the school’s female student body.
  • Kaede Sakura- One of the school’s three most popular girls who is Natsuru’s main romantic interest. However, she only has romantic interest in Natsuru’s female form. She has a large collection of a series of mutilated stuffed animals called Entrails Animals.
  • Akane Mishima- A shy and soft-spoken honor student who normally wears glasses. She takes interest in Natsuru and has the habit of misunderstanding what others say and interpreting them in an erotic context. Her Kampfer form is foul-mouthed and violent in personality, who wields a pistol for use in fights that she is quite trigger-happy with.
  • Shizuku Sango- The president of the school student council and one of the school’s three most popular girls. As a Kampfer, she wields a pair of two daggers that are linked together by a chain. Shizuku seeks to learn more about the reason why the Kampfer must fight one another as she hates being the tool of whoever arranged for the Kampfer battles. She is a close friend of Kaede and like the other girls, develops a romantic interest in Natsuru.
  • Mikoto Kondo- Natsuru’s childhood friend who has traveled the world and returns to see him later in the series. As a Kampfer, Mikoto wields a katana for use in battle.
  • Harakiri Tiger- A stuffed tiger with its intestines sticking out of its stomach and wearing an eye patch serving as Natsuru’s Moderator in the Kampfer battles.

Why It Sucks

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.

One of enough scenes featuring Natsuru being a doormat, with Akane along the ride.
One of enough scenes featuring Natsuru being a doormat, with Akane along the ride.

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.

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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”.

The Plot

Cannibalism in action!
Cannibalism in action!

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.

Notable Character

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.

Why It Sucks

Yeah, not even kids are safe from this baby's violence.
Yeah, not even kids are safe from this baby's violence.

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.

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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.

The Plot

Good children should not sexually harass their friends or dress like Lotte does.
Good children should not sexually harass their friends or dress like Lotte does.

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.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Astarotte Ygvar- Known as Lotte by those close to her, Astarotte is the 10-year old succubi princess of the kingdom of Alfheimr. She developed a hatred of men because of the large amount of time her mother spent with her harem. However, this hatred slowly goes away as she starts falling for Naoya as she spends more time with him.
  • Naoya Tohara- A 23-year old human brought to Ygvarland to be the first addition to Astarotte’s harem. He comes to bond with the princess, realizing she needs more emotional support than any male relationships.
  • Asuha Tohara- Naoya’s energetic and outgoing 10-year old daughter. She has the habit of running around without any underwear, much to her father’s dismay.
  • Judit Snorrevik- Astarotte’s head of staff responsible for bringing Naoya to Ygvarland. She is normally sought out by Naoya for advice regarding kingdom affairs and is implied to be a pervert as she has a personal room of various S&M items.
  • Olaf Frismar- Astarotte’s overly-emotional butler.
  • Elfleda Mirjasdottir- Also known as Effie, she is a well-endowed maid coming from a demon race with traits similar to cows, who is capable of producing high-quality milk through her large chest.
  • Ingrid Sorveig Sorgrims- Nicknamed Ini, Ingrid is Ygvarland’s most intelligent being, having access to nearly any type of knowledge imaginable within the world. Having lived a very secluded life, her later encounters with Naoya and Asuha lead her to develop a crush on the former.
  • Mercelida Ygvar I- Astarotte’s mother and the current queen of Ygvarland. A well-endowed and promiscuous woman, Mercelida has a harem containing over 3,000 men of differing races that she uses as a private army. Unknown to many, she is the biological mother of Asuha as she had intercourse with Naoya 10 years earlier during a visit to the human world.
  • Siguro Sveinnsson Svarthaeo- The second prince of the kingdom of Svarthaeo known for his perversion. He falls in love with Astarotte at first sight and desires her hand in marriage, while declaring Naoya a rival-in-love for her affections.

Why It Sucks

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.

Mama's got a huge rack.
Mama's got a huge rack.

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.

Mama's about to become a pedophile (which I'm sadly not kidding about).
Mama's about to become a pedophile (which I'm sadly not kidding about).

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.

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