Tag Archives: Cartoon Network

Naruto: The Realest

Cover of the first manga.

Naruto. What is there to say about Naruto? What is there to truly say about one of the most ballin’ animes currently running? Well there’s a lot more to say than that it’s just balling. This show fulfills every young boys’ dream of becoming a ninja. And not just any ordinary ninja, but a true Shinobi with Ninjutsu and Thaijustsu for days. You got the Kunai and Shuriken, and the classic substitution technique. These young children Shinobi put legitimate ninjas to shame. They are unstoppable. And this show is infectious.

But there’s just one debate we have to deal with before we move on to the plot of Naruto. And that is: Naruto Dubbed vs

Naruto and the power of his Nine-Tailed Fox.

Naruto Subbed? There are those younger kids who would argue dubbed, due to an ability to watch a show (not read, though not a valid argument) and a lot of younger kids watched this on Cartoon Network. There are a handful of good voice actors in the show that make it worth watching it. But there’s the flipside of the coin. The subbed version, when it comes down to it, is better done. There’s swearing, and Rock Lee’s secret technique isn’t called Loopy Fist. That was a bit of a disappointment. For a more serious tone for the older fans of Naruto should watch the subbed version. But it all comes down to a preference of English vs Japanese. It’s the same show, just a different feel. It’s all up to you.

The starring team: Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto!

So, Naruto is a show about Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan). He is a ninja in training and hoping to become the leader of the village he lives in one day, known as The Village Hidden in the Leaves. The Third Hokage, leader of the village, sees much promise in Naruto and hopes that his sensei’s, Iruka Umino (Quinton Flynn) and Kakashi Hatake (Dave Wittenberg). With his teammates Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal), the cool calm-headed prodigy out to prove himself, and Sakura Haruno (Kate Higgins), the hot-headed and pretty much useless book smart girl,  Naruto can’t fail in his mission to become the best. Believe it!

So many great characters in the world of Naruto!

There’s a lot of arcs and sections in this show. There’s the introduction of all the characters, the Chunin exams (the test that sees if you’re ready to become the next level ninja), and the battles between Orochimaru (Steven Blum) and his henchmen. With each trial for Naruto comes more responsibility and more powers. The show culminates in a huge twist and leaves more than 60 episodes of fillers that have nothing to do with the main plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t fillers throughout that aren’t cool and entertaining, I personally found a lot of the fillers to be funny and not so much a detraction from the show as an enhancer of the lesser characters. And how many cool characters there are.

There’s the 12 Ganin, 3 of which I’ve already mentioned. There’s Kiba Inuzuka (Kyle Hebert), the dog master of Akamaru and a master of, well, I’ll let you check everyone’s powers out. Shino Aburame (Derek Stephen Prince) is the master of bugs, and one of my favorite Shinobi in the show. Filling out Team 8 is Hinata Hyuga (Stephanie Sheh), the master of soft palm. She has a huge crush on Naruto but never

Team 10, led by the great Shikamaru.

reveals it in the original Naruto, an unfortunate thing.

Team 10 is made up of some real destructive masters as well. Choji Akimichi (Robbie Rist), the expanding fat kid with a penchant for lots and lots of niblets and chips. Shikamaru Nara (Tom Gibis) one of my favorite characters in the show and one of the only truly gifted in the series. His ability with shadows will leave you… breathless. And then there’s Ino Yamanaka (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the useless girl who is more useless than Professor X. (You’ll see why.)

Look at Shino back there, bein’ all wiznerd and whatnot.

And then there’s Team Guy, the most masterful of all the masters. Led by Might Guy (Skip Stellrecht), his mastering of the physical Thaijustsu is just too legit to quit. Under Guy’s tutelage is Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), the only kid who will never quit and always fights to the end with his Flying Leaf Hurricane. Tenten (Danielle Judovits) is a weapons master and is always twirling and releasing weapons on everyone’s asses. And the semi-leader of the team is Neji Hyuga (Steve Staley) master of his cousin’s soft fist and intelligent as Hell.

All of these awesome characters flesh out a show about honor and friendship, being the best and doing everything in your power to prove your self worth. There’s self discipline, training montages, and

And Team Guy, they pack a whallup of a punch.

everything you wanna see in a shounen of this magnitude that needs to be seen by all young men out there that need a great role model in their lives, or just a great action cartoon/anime. Oh, and don’t forget the villains! I already mentioned Orochimaru, but there’s the best character and best voice actor that needs to be mentioned, nay, worshipped. Gaara (Liam O’Brien) is a disciple of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and a true beast of a fighter. With a gourd full of sand that does his every bidding, there’s more than meets the eye to this character. And he will completely slaughter you. Two words: SAND COFFIN.

And don’t ever forget Gaara. SAND COFFIN.

So watch this show for sure. The production value gets better as the show goes along, and for those that like dubbed anime, it’s not the worst in the world. And that brings up an issue. Maile Flanagan ruins this show. She may have a similar voice that can mirror the tone that Naruto Japanese version can do, but that’s just a bit of a stretch. Maile Flanagan’s whiney voice and childish lines leave a lot to be desired from a leading role. Oh, and, well, it’s just gross. Sorry there, Flannie old pal, but it’s probably for the best the dubbed version was cut off in the middle of Naruto Shippuden. But, for overall story and deliverance, Naruto as a whole, for all it’s worth, deserves a 8.8 out of 10. Definitely top 10 anime of all time to watch before you die. (You can skip the fillers.)

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Blue Gender

I’m not usually a fan of pre-2000’s anime. I love some of it, but a big killer for me of such a wide array of anime is the choppy animation. I know the times have been a-changin’, but that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m excited with the direction that anime is going, and this is one of those shows that kicked it off. Blue Gender is the show of a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been disheveled by gigantic bug creatures called the blue. One of those mecha shows in line with Evangelion and a little bit of Gundam, this show provided more than action, it provided mental breakdown and disaster.

Blue Gender is the story of one man, Yuji Kaido (Eric Vale). Let’s start off by saying I was happy to see Eric Vale do good justice to another hero in a series of heroic mecha shows I’ve seen him do. Anyways, Yuji is a sleeper, one of thousands of citizens of the world that were sent to sleep in the 2000’s. Now, 22 years after his slumber began, Yuji is abruptly awakened into a newly advanced world that is being slowly destroyed by a gigantic race of bugs. You may be wondering, “How did these bugs get so damn big? Are we in Honey I Shrunk the Kids?” No, that’s a strange assumption to be making. It will all be explained at the end.

Eight legged freaks?

So Yuji is accidentally awakened and he spends the first episode yelling and running around this scientific facility, trying to figure out what’s going on. He nearly dodges death and finds his way into the arms of a young, unfeeling cadet, Marlene Angel (Laura Bailey). The two of these spend a big majority of the show attempting to get into space to regroup on Second Earth. And that’s not where the show ends. That is a big discovery and a secret I will keep. Well worth the wait that this show still delivers all the way until the end.

Yuji, always emotional and humming.

At first this show started off similarly to Casshern Sins (refer to earlier blog if you need a refresher). Yuji and Marlene’s gang of soldiers are in a race to beat the clock back to Second Earth. But a lot of people die along the way. But a lot of new people are met at the same time. The first half of the show, basically, is Yuji’s discovery of just exactly the difference is between living on Second Earth. The schism between the two is brutal and astounding to him. This is where the heartfelt apathy is felt for humans in general. Then the show picks up with a lot of action and some role reversal, and you’re left with a “we must save the world” situation.

I don’t mind this construction in anime. What I did mind was a not so subtle undertone of sex in this sci-fi/horror/mecha anime. With this whole idea of

Yuji and his B.A. mech unit.

free love and no consequences came off as strange. Nobody cares about each other and this is really emphasized through Yuji’s eyes. But what I don’t get is that all this free sex is unabashedly displayed and done in front of everyone else. I get that this is a common theme in sci-fi novels, but I think it reflects poorly on the genre in that it really doesn’t have to do with anything and just comes off as awkward.

This show gets steamy.

Animation-wise, the show looked fine. There was a good deal of gore and mature content, and I was okay with that. I can imagine its stint on Cartoon Network’s Toonami must have been greatly edited. The recording of the dub was a bit low and I missed some key lines throughout. I don’t know if it was Netflix, but that was a bit of a problem and detracted from watching it. But that opening song sure is bumpin’.  Overall, I really enjoyed that this show was more than your average mecha fighter. The characters had fight and soul, and it made out for a better plot and drama. I’m sure some other anime could take some cues from this formation. A well deserved 8.4 out of 10.


Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Darker Side of a Magical Girl

Alright, I have to tell everyone now that, out of all the genres of anime out there, I am the least fan of magical girl anime. And the prospect of sitting down to watch this anime kind of gave me the willies. The misconceptions on magical girl anime run abound in our society and in Japanese society. Sailor Moon: A bunch of girls transforming without the power to beat the bad guy without the help of Tuxedo Mask. The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network and their original, scarier version of transformation from Powerpuff Girls Z. I mean, come on, those transformations take forever. And the bad guys are a joke. Mojojojo? (I gotta say, Him is the only good bad guy from that series.) But then I was presented a show that completely breaks the stereotype of what exactly defines a magical girl anime, even though it clearly stays in the boundaries… to an extent.

In the town of Mitakihara, there exists a school in which Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi, and Sayaka Miki, three young middle school students, exist in a world of evil. All around them, evil spirits known as witches cause havoc and chaos in the best way they know how. Murders and suicides. And the only way these beings can be stopped is by the power of the magical girls. And the only way these girls can become magical is through the power of through Kyubey, a creepy cat-like alien that will grant your wish.

Kyubey. Screw that little freak...

And that’s where the twist comes in. After encountering Mami Tomoe, a veteran magical girl who has lived the life of a magical girl, the true weight of just exactly what it means to fight the witches hits them. Sayaka and her love interest clashes with the use of her wish and his disability, and Madoka and her indecision leaves conflict in her wake throughout the show. The ending is slightly confusing, but there is a constant element of danger that is ironically juxtaposed (my least favorite word to use, sorry) against the comically drawn witches of innocence and childish fantasy. It all works out in the end, as expected from a magical girl anime, but not in a way that leaves everyone in a win-win situation. With that breath of fresh air achieved in 12 episodes, an amazing amount of twists and turns are evilly inserted in a short amount of time, really breaking away from what I would consider a bland form of anime into a more interesting one.

You know what caught my eye the most? The animation in relation to the witches. Every time in which the magical girls had to interact with the witches in their world, I was blown away by the different animated styles of the witches. Either crayon colored whimsy or a collage of layered paper, I was intrigued by the clash of anime and art. The fluidity of the two worlds combined was stylistically stimulating.

Some of the more interesting artwork in Madoka Magica.

The pain and anguish behind the show that permeates each episode is something one wouldn’t expect from a livelier, happy form of anime. The choices and decisions of the characters and the secrets they hide from one another leave gaps that none of the characters can cross in order to connect. Not as a

The interesting girls of M.M.

drawback, but more as a connection by separation. Feeling for the characters comes as a challenge for me (especially some of the more fated of characters like Sayaka and and Mami) but one character that stood out with her cruelty and activity was Kyoko Sakura. Although you don’t meet her until later, she’s well worth the wait.

So, all-in-all, Madoka Magica is a quick watch with a lot compiled into its short run. And, in this case, quality over quantity, one of the greatest assets of the anime. With an interesting plot scope and character development (for the most part) with the combination of fate and decision, the magical girl stereotype is effectively squashed. The powers are interesting and the tradeoff is quite good. Never sign the contract, but check this show out. A solid 7.3 out of 10.

This has nothing to do with the show, but it gives you a taste of the anime’s look, with some Suckerpunch 😛