Dream (Level 21)

Year End Garbage Review on Pupa is up: http://www.animevice.com/profile/dream/ani-crap-year-end-garbage-review-ii-pupa/107-11977/. My 50th Ani-Crap Review poll will be up in two weeks.
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Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned was a 94-minute TV special that originally aired on Japanese TV on August 19, 1980. The TV special was adapted from Marvel Comics' “Tomb of Dracula” comic book series and was part of a business dealing between Toei and Marvel in the late 1970s where the former gained the rights to make several animated and live-action spins on Marvel Comics characters. The TV special was released on VHS in America in 1983 through Vestron Video and was dubbed by Harmony Gold, whom some older anime fans may know as the company who dubbed the popular 1980s animated mecha series Robotech. The VHS release for Dracula has been long out of print with the tape being very difficult to obtain through legal means.

The Plot

You'd think people would question why the couple is dressed in traditional vampire garb.
You'd think people would question why the couple is dressed in traditional vampire garb.

During a ritual by a Satanic cult to summon the devil, the vampire Dracula steals away their sacrifice in the form of a young woman named Dolores and makes her his wife. Wanting to live his life peacefully with his bride and their child Janus, Dracula finds himself hunted by vampire hunters seeking revenge on him and members of the Satanic cult wanting him killed as punishment for deceiving them in taking Dolores.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Dracula- The vampire of legend who gained his undead form from Satan centuries earlier due to the violent and depraved acts he committed in protecting his land from other empires. He tricks a Satanic cult in thinking he is Satan and steals away their sacrifice Dolores, whom he makes his wife.
  • Dolores- A female member of a Satanic cult whom Dracula steals away to become his wife and give birth to a baby son named Janus.
  • Janus- The baby son of Dracula and Dolores. He is killed during an attack by the leader of the Satanic cult and is resurrected into an adult body to serve God's will in slaying the creations of Satan that cause suffering on Earth, which include his father Dracula.
  • Satan- The living personification of evil dwelling in the underworld who is responsible for turning Dracula into a vampire.
  • Frank Drake- A human descendant of Dracula's who is a skilled martial artist who joins a pair of vampire hunters in slaying Dracula.

Why It Sucks

Dracula: Sovereign of the Dracula appears to be an attempt at compressing the events of its source material into a 90-minute film, resulting in really sloppy storytelling and rushed pacing of its events.

The major element of the film that was rather confusing was how the title attempted to depict Dracula. Sovereign of the Damned tries making efforts at depicting him as a tragic figure who wanted to live happily with his family, wanted to be left alone and experience life as a mortal man. Yet at the same time, he had no qualms with sucking on the blood of humans or killing others who threaten him and he tries regaining his immortality later in the film when he loses his vampire power.

Sure, join the vampire hunters when one of them is threatening you with a freakin' crossbow.
Sure, join the vampire hunters when one of them is threatening you with a freakin' crossbow.

Other sloppy elements to the film have to do with the implementation of its storytelling. The title's logic with elements to its world get messy, deus ex machina is employed quite often, questionable plot directions take place, certain characters who seem relevant in the film are actually mostly worthless, plot twists occur without any prior foreshadowing and an anti-climactic ending takes place with Dracula's fate. Adding more to this fun mess is that Toei attempts rendering a Western animation style with its character designs, yet this makes them appear more stiff and lifeless in appearance compared to conventional anime designs of the time period.

The English dub for Sovereign of the Damned is also a nice example of the rather low standards of anime voice acting in many 1980s dubs with two different types of acting from the voice cast: either bored and flat acting or over-the-top in an attempt at being dramatic, such as the case with Dracula's dub actor in many of the film's moments. Scenes in the film are also usually accompanied by a narrator who acts just as over-the-top as Dracula in attempting to give Sovereign of the Damned's events any sort of meaning or emotion.

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Suffice to say, this is a rather underwhelming way to go out on as this last title I'm covering isn't really as much of a dud as I've heard of it to be, even with my indifference on it. I don't feel like going out on this forgettable kind of note. So next weekend, I will have a better final review covering something I've wanted to cover on Ani-Crap Review for a while now that will make for a better swan song and being a fun way to celebrate my fifth year on Anime Vice. Otherwise for now, I will be tweaking my review format slightly to reflect my thoughts on Dog and Scissors.

Dog and Scissors was a 12-episode comedy TV anime series animated by Gonzo and aired on Japanese TV from July 1 to September 16 of 2013. The series is based on the ongoing light novel series that has been written by Shunsuke Sarai since February 28, 2011. The anime is licensed for American video distribution by Sentai Filmworks.

The Plot

Our novelist seems to have a bondage fetish.
Our novelist seems to have a bondage fetish.

Kazuhito Harumi is a high school student with a strong love for reading books who is killed while trying to protect a girl at a restaurant. Reincarnated as a dachshund dog, Harumi is adopted by the girl he tried to save in the form of Kirihime Natsuno, a popular novelist whom Harumi is a fan of. Unfortunately, Kirihime turns out to have a rather sadistic personality who lashes out at others with a pair of scissors.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Kazuhito Harumi- A high school bookworm killed while trying to protect Kirihime from a burglar and reincarnated into the body of a dachshund. He winds up under ownership to Kirihime as he regularly puts up with her sadistic personality.
  • Kirihime Natsuno- A popular novelist with a sadistic personality who is known to lash out at others with her thick pair of scissors known as Hasajiro. She is one of a few people capable of listening to Kazuhito's thoughts and has feelings for him.
  • Madoka Harumi- Kazuhito's little sister who is a bad cook and known to wield a technologically-advanced knife that can turn into a chainsaw and cannon.
  • Suzuna Hiiragi- Kirihime's editor sporting an unstable and masochistic personality who enjoys suffering abuse from Kirihime.
  • Hami Ohsawa- Kazuhito's female underclassman who is very shy and apologetic. The two met while he was still alive where he promised to read the completed novel she would write after he came across an unfinished script for it. She is capable of utilizing several mind control methods such as suggestion and hypnosis on others through her writing.
  • Maxi Akizuki- A popular idol and writer who fancies herself as a rival to Kirihime. As a running gag throughout the series, she attempts stealing the spotlight in an episode only to be dragged away by her bodyguards.

The Review

By the looks of it, Dog and Scissors' comedy stems from milking Kazuhito's unique predicament, his chemistry with Kirihime and his encounters with the several eccentric characters that cross paths with him and Kirihime. Kirihime and Kazuhito's chemistry consists of her milking the “tsun tsun” variant of the tsundere character in her abuse of Kazuhito and the latter serving as doormat to the antics of Kirihime and others that he encounters. The antics of these characters unfold either through self-contained episodes or episode arcs running for two to three episodes when Kazuhito encounters a new character.

These beefcake guys are in the anime. I kid you not!
These beefcake guys are in the anime. I kid you not!

This looks to be a case where Dog and Scissors is attempting to make itself unique as a comedy, which I will compliment it for as it doesn't fall under any conventional premise that is peppered in recent titles like harem comedies or slice-of-life comedies involving high school girls. Yet at the same time, it suffers from the shortcoming of any pure comedy title in that the title's enjoyment from audiences stems from how receptive one is to the show's style of comedy. This is a case where I'm not really into the show's style of comedy as Kirihime's yet another variant of the tsundere archetype and the comedy of the series mostly relies on the eccentricities of its cast to carry it along. Several of the characters in the series are notable for their violent tendencies with certain weapons and abilities that the show milked for much of its run for comedy, which killed my interest in the comedy as the show progressed when I realized that it was the dominant comedic element of the series and lacked much else to offer.

This isn't to say that Dog and Scissors is a horrible title as it does have a style of comedy that is a little different from the norm. But like any pure comedy title, your mileage will vary with how well you enjoy it.

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Recently, My Sister is Unusual (also known as Saikin, Imōto no Yōsu ga Chotto Okashiin Da Ga) was a 12-episode ecchi/ comedy TV series that aired from January 4 to March 22 of this year and animated by Project No. 9. The series is based on the ongoing manga series written by Mari Matsuzawa since November 9, 2010. The series was edited for television broadcast to censor some of its perverted content, which will be unedited for its video release in Japan.

The show faced some controversy in its broadcast run on two Japanese TV stations, Tokyo MX and Sun TV, as it got subject to a broadcast decency investigation from a media watchdog group called Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization for its sexually explicit themes airing in an early evening time slot. In response to this, the mentioned networks moved the show to late night time slots.

The Plot

It gets worst for you from here, imouto.
It gets worst for you from here, imouto.

High school student Mitsuki Kanzaki gains an older stepbrother named Yuya when her mother remarries another divorcee. With both parents transferred overseas, Mitsuki is very distant in her relationship with Yuya due to the sudden developments. Her predicament becomes further complicated when a ghost girl named Hiyori starts possessing her body to try making sexual advances on Yuya and is stuck wearing a chastity belt. For the belt to be permanently removed and to get rid of Hiyori, Mitsuki must fill up a meter attached to the belt that rises whenever she experiences sexual feelings for Yuya.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Mitsuki Kanzaki- The female lead of the series. She has a strained relationship with her new stepbrother due to the sudden developments of her mother's remarriage. To her dismay, she is outfitted with a chastity belt and must help Hiyori in trying to start up a relationship with Yuya.
  • Yuya Kanzaki- Mitsuki's stepbrother who desires to have a good relationship with her despite their issues. He assumes that Hiyori and Mitsuki are in a lesbian relationship due to the number of misunderstood predicaments he sees with the two and Mitsuki's chastity belt.
  • Hiyori Kotobuki- The spirit of a dead girl who strongly loved Yuya in her former life and tries pushing Mitsuki in an incestuous relationship with Yuya to allow her spirit to move onto the afterlife, often possessing Mitsuki's body to accomplish this.
  • Yukina Kiritani- Yuya's well-endowed childhood friend, whom he sees as an older sister figure. Oblivious to him, Yukina has feelings for Yuya.

Why It Sucks

While I personally feel some of the infamy of this series is overboard, My Sister is Unusual is still rather bad quality wise and much of this has to do with Hiyori's character being the center of much of the perverted content of the series. Her character is rather obnoxious as she regularly lusts for Yuya and will possess an unwilling Mitsuki's body at points to accomplish this.

Might wanna run before she jumps your bones, boy.
Might wanna run before she jumps your bones, boy.

Most of the show's ecchi content involves Hiyori trying to seduce Yuya while in Mitsuki's body, the ghost girl molesting Mitsuki, predicaments involving Mitsuki's chastity belt or Yuya having misunderstandings about Mitsuki's predicament. The incest vibes that are caused from this title's predicament are mostly triggered by Hiyori's behavior and the show's ecchi content is light in many later episodes, despite the heavy loads that are immediately offered in the title's earlier two episodes.

Beyond the ecchi content, there isn't very much else My Sister is Unusual has to offer. Most of the other characters follow standard character archetypes found in romance titles such as this and for much of the attraction that Yuya gets from Hiyori and other girls, his personality is rather bland. The show has hints of depth it usually drops with Hiyori and Mitsuki that involve their possession and remarriage situations respectively. However, these get little focus due to the title's focus being more on Hiyori being her obnoxious and horny self. The ending to this is especially bad as it trolls the viewer into thinking it ends too conveniently, yet tosses in a poor plot twist that actually leads the series to end inconclusively.

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Ikki Tousen was a 13-episode ecchi-action anime animated by JC Staff and aired on Japanese TV from July 30 to October 22 of 2003. The series is based on the ongoing seinen manga series created by Yuji Shiozaki since October 2000 and the anime was followed-up with several additional TV and OVA seasons from 2007 to 2010. The series was originally licensed by Geneon in 2004 for American video distribution before the company's closure in 2007. Funimation currently has rights to distribute the series.

The Plot

The least you could do is get flustered or aroused, big guy.
The least you could do is get flustered or aroused, big guy.

Seven schools are at war with one another to gain dominance over the Kanto region of Japan with each of the students for them being skilled fighters and their fates being influenced by mysterious jewels that contain the spirits and destinies of warriors within the Chinese novel series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. A teenage girl named Sonsaku Hakufu returns to the region, being destined to unite the schools under her leadership. However, her destiny carries a possible dark side to it that she must learn to struggle with as she becomes involved in the war between the schools.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Sonsaku Hakufu- The female lead of the series. With her body containing a dragon of one of the Three Great Rulers, she is destined to unite the seven warring schools under her control. Yet despite her great power, her idiotic personality and novice fighting skills lead her in many instances to be overcome by a school's more skilled fighters, leading to her dragon's sadistic personality to manifest itself to inflict harm upon anyone in her vicinity.
  • Koukin Shuuyu- Hakufu's cousin at Nanyo Academy who serves as her guardian against enemy fighters.
  • Shimei Ryomou- A third-year Nanyo student who specializes in submission wrestling. She has a taciturn and serious personality, normally wearing an eye patch and a French maid outfit in battle.
  • Housen Ryofu- A bisexual and promiscuous fighter from Rakuyo High School often engaging in sexual acts, having relationships with Nanyo fighter Saji and her childhood friend Koudai.
  • Chuuei Toutaku- One of the major antagonists of the series. The evil and cruel leader of Rakuyo who attempts to kill Hakufu through use of his cohorts.
  • Ukitsu- A powerful fighter from Gogun High School who observes Hakufu's actions throughout much of the show and desires to have a match with her.

Why It Sucks

Ikki Tousen was the anime title that popularized the whole ecchi-action genre that would be employed for later TV anime titles like Queen's Blade and Maken-Ki. Basically, these types of titles involve a tournament, brawling school students or some other gimmick getting employed as a very thin excuse to feature revealing shots and perverted shenanigans that involve those involved with a title's female cast.

Is there any real reason why you even wear a maid outfit if you aren't even a real maid?
Is there any real reason why you even wear a maid outfit if you aren't even a real maid?

For Ikki Tousen, its gimmick involves the mentioned fighters of high schools having a connection to a random warrior brought up from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This is brought up frequently by some of the characters in the show and a narrator explaining an event from the novel involving the mentioned historical character in a flimsy attempt to make it seem relevant as a plot element. Yet compared to the rich plot and characterization that Three Kingdoms provided, Ikki Tousen is rather barebones in whatever offering it has for a plot and all the characters don't have much to them beyond being one-dimensional archetypes that you would see from enough conventional anime titles.

Setting aside its horrible ploting and characterization, Ikki Tousen's major selling points of seeing T&A with its female cast and fight scenes are also quite unappealing in their own right. Like any ecchi title, the scenes involving female characters showing off panty shots, naked skin or being involved in perverted hijinks are overdone and not too appealing to visually see thanks to the title's subpar artwork. Some of said hijinks can even get demeaning at points as female characters occasionally get raped or molested. Not even the actions scenes are appealing as animation shortcuts are employed quite frequently with jump shots, speed stripes and still shots.

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A treat for Lupin III fans. Discotek just announced on their Facebook pagethat they will be releasing the Lupin film, Castle of Cagliostro later this year on DVD and follow up with a Blu-Ray release either later this year or in early 2015. The release will include both of the English dubs made by Streamline Pictures and Manga Entertainment, as well as the original Japanese audio and intro.

Castle of Cagliostro was the second film to be made based on Monkey Punch's famous international thief character in 1979 and is famous for marking the first animated film to be directed by future founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki. In this movie, Lupin tries to uncover the origins of a counterfeit money ring that brings him to the fictional country of Cagliostro where he tries to rescue a girl named Clarisse from being wedded to the villainous Count Cagliostro, who is connected to the mentioned counterfeit ring.

The movie was first brought to America by Streamline Pictures in 1991 with a New York City theatrical release and released to home video in October 1992. Manga Entertainment later obtained licensing rights to the movie in 2000 as they made a new English dub for it and released it on DVD.

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