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The Matrix: Reloaded

Okay, let’s think about this logically. I was just reading up (and I’ve been told) that The Matrix: Reloaded is considered a flop of a sequel. The first one set up such a good plot that the second detracted from that and focused solely on action. In essence, a stupid man’s film about boobs, guns, and fighting. Let’s rethink this, shall we? People always say that the

An all-star, stunner cast.

second film in a series flops in comparison to the first. But let’s think about a few trilogies followed the same principle.

The Lord of the Rings. There is an apparent escalation in the amount of action and violence in comparison to the first film. That Battle for Helm’s Deep? That’s a pretty damn good action scene. Star Wars. Both parts. Episode 4 has the Battle of Hoth and Episode 2 has the Clone Wars. Hell, even Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has more action and violence than the first. You wanna know why this is so common? Because the story is set up in the first, and the meaty middle of the story contains most of the action before the crescendo in the third. It’s just the way trilogies are set up. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

Get at me.

So, now that I’m done explaining that, plot.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back again with a vengeance. He has been releasing minds from the Matrix and kicking ass. He and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are a loving couple (I stress loving in the sexual sense of the word for some of the content rating) and are returning to Zion after a meeting with the other captain’s in the Matrix. With the sentinels digging into Zion and threatening the last bastions of humanity, Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity, and Link (Harold Perrineau) must find some way to beat the machines. It’s gonna be an all out brawl.

And this movie delivers on so many levels. Amazingly choreographed fight scenes, mind blowing CG graphics that broke ground, and great stunts throughout. This movie has it all for Martix and action fans

Straight out of anime. Word.

alike. Some revelation-level secrets are released and we all get to see why Neo is the one. What could be better?

The cool and suave acting is just as good in this one as the last. Everything about the movie just screams sleek and badass, but in a cool way. Keanu Reeves improves his performance from the last one in Reloaded as does Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Some newcomers to the film add some spice as well. Jada Pinkett-Smith, one of my Hollywood crushes, performs beautifully as the cold and intense Niobe, captain of the Logos. I loved playing as her in the Enter the Matrix game for Xbox, a game I would recommend re-releasing for the 360 or something. Please?

Wielding, like a boss.

Lambert Wilson was comedically enthralling as The Merovingian, an older program that has survived for years in exile. And Monica Bellucci, the drop-dead gorgeous Mary Magdalene from Passion of the Christ. She’s even sexier in this one, and I’m actually glad she’s in Revolutions as well. Collin Chou throws up a great fight scene (one of my favorites) with Neo as Seraph, the protector of The Oracle (reprised by Gloria Foster, sadly, for the last time). Throw in a cameo from Leigh Whannell, creator of Saw, and you have a great cast of Matrix familiars. A whole world is created with these interesting characters, and I can’t get enough.

Another great soundtrack from Don Davis and various Nu Metal/Metal bands I enjoy listening to, and you got yourself another amazing installment of the Matrix. I may just be a sucker for films like this, but I just can’t find very many flaws with these films at all. It’s a classic tale/archetype of the hero and his transformation/journey, and it just speaks to me on an epic scale of what a good movie and story is. So get at me about The Matrix: Reloaded. It blew my mind, and still does. 9.3 out of 10.

Bang on me!

 

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Mirai Nikki: Future Diary

Mirai Nikki, Future Diary.

From the get go I’m gonna call this the standout anime for 2012. Although it was done back in October through April, it’s the show that got me excited and entertained for hours. I pretty much watched this show in a few days. I haven’t done that since Death Note. And Death Note is my favorite anime, so you can see what that says about this one. Mirai Nikki (known in English as Future Diary) has an interesting concept, a wide array of characters (one for everyone to choose and root for), and great animation. I don’t know where the Japanese come up with ideas for shows like this, but these intricate plot anime are where it’s at.

Mirai Nikki is the story of Yukiteru Amano (Yukki for short) and his apathetic life of recording things around them. He never hangs out with anyone or does anything remotely social. I guess you could

You crazy, ninth…

count hiding under his blanket and speaking with Deus, the god of this world. One day Yukki visits Deus and Deus decides to give him a new phone diary, one that can tell the future of things around Yukki. Using this to his advantage over the next several days, Yukki finds himself being chased down by a serial killer. In the course of running away, Yukki runs into somebody he didn’t expect. Yuno Gasai, his obsessive stalker. Learning that there are other participants in this “game” with future diaries, Yukki must fight against others, even kill, in order to become the next god of this world. The game is on.

Some of the other characters of Mirai Nikki (they’re kinda better…)

Just from that last paragraph’s description of the story, don’t you want to watch this intricate plot to figure out what happens? And, for me, it’s all about exploring and discovering the world of this wide ranging cast of diary owners. I have to say something right here to speak to that. This show is about “dead ending”/killing the other owners of the diaries. Every owner has their own reason for participating, and, I’ll say, to a fault, Yukiteru doesn’t. It seems, throughout the entire show, that Yukiteru is only playing this game to not die. He had no aspirations of becoming god, and I guess that’s a reason for playing. But that is a faulted reason. Yuno on the other hand… is a bit more complicated.

But this is the first anime I’ve ever watched where I liked all of the other supporting characters, and absolutely hated the two main characters from start to finish. Yukiteru is apathetic and weak. He has nothing to fight for and no way to fight for it. Minene Uryu (the 9th diary owner) is a terrorist, and although she may want to make the world better, she goes about it all wrong. Every character I did like and I thought had a good

This is what Yukki sees under his blanket fantasy world.

reason for winning isn’t given enough time to do so or the means to do so. This constantly was thrown in my face and was quite frustrating. Yuno is manipulative and never allows Yukki to decide if he loves her or not. With such flawed main characters, I guess it’s okay to hate them to an extent. They have to redeem themselves after all.

And that’s why I was okay with liking this show, despite hating the characters who got 80% of the screen time. I don’t think any show has to adhere to the good/bad dichotomy between protagonists and antagonists. And they don’t have to be a good person to be a hero either. So that’s well done in itself. Nothing in life is black and white.

Pretty PC for 9th Graders…

But the plot! The plot, the plot, the plot! Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, you have no idea where the story is going or when it will end! The intricacy of everyone involved in the Future Diary game is complex and not so easy to decipher. No one is safe and everyone is at risk, even those people outside the game. Betrayal, complex love stories, murder, this show has it all (and not without a bit of sexuality and boobs you wouldn’t expect on 9TH GRADERS). Everyone is out for themselves and it is up to you to side with who you think is right. This show would function perfectly as a choose your own ending game (point and click, preferably) in which you take each character to their limits. And praise Jeebus that Funimation got ahold of this show for dubbing, although I think a Death Note cast would’ve worked just as well.

So watch this show if it’s the last thing you do. It is well worth it and brings a whole lot of genres of anime together into one storyline. Anyone who enjoys good adrenaline pumping television, great character driven stories, and an all around game of cat and mouse with human lives at stake, watch this. You won’t regret it. And I stand firm in this being one of the best anime of 2012, maybe the last few years. Mirai Nikki, I may not like Ninth, but this deserves a 9th out of 10.

Beware the love triangles…


Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.

Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being

Kenichi and the masters of Ryozanpaku!

threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.

Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.

Miu, the boob action in the show. Pretty ridonk fighter though.

What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better.¬† Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka¬† (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.

The Shinpaku alliance!

And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.

With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just

Niijima and his wonderfully alien good looks.

watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.

This show may floor you.

The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.