Tag Archives: Joel McDonald

Baccano!: You Just Have to Watch it.

I’m going to say as little as I possibly can about this show while trying to talk about this show and how interesting it was for me. Also, in this review, I’m going to attempt to talk about characters in such a vague way that I don’t reveal anything about the plot and just encourage you to watch the show. Impossible task? Challenge accepted.

This is an anime set in the Prohibition Era of America in the early 1900’s. There is an element of magic and mystery that intertwines itself in this show so that you have to accept what’s possible with the impossible. There are gangsters, and, orignally, magicians (of  a sort). The characters range from the mentally unstable to the kind and thoughtful. With inspiration from the film, The Untouchables, the gangster and his New York accent come to life in the world of the speakeasies.

There are a lot of characters...

When you first begin to watch this show, you may become frustrated. A lot of characters and events are thrown at you all at once. Told from so many perspectives, it can become overwhelming in the first couple of episodes. But have patience. In a nonlinear plotline that comes together in pieces, this show was ingeniously crafted to have the characters drive the story until the plot becomes clear. Just remember when watching that the Flying Pussyfoot (really don’t like the name though) is the central event of the series. Things occurring on the train, for the most part, are happening in the real time (I think…) while all other events of the early 1930s are flashbacks, or maybe even flashforwards. Still not entirely sure. It’s a show worth watching through more than once.

 

What's going on?

With all the gangster families, it can become hard to determine just exactly who is who and who did what and who is wanted for what purpose. With all the accents and the strange character names, (Jacuzzi Splot. Enough said.) with three different gangster mafioso families going on at once (the Gandors, the Genoards, and the Martillos) including Jacuzzi’s gang and the Russo family, toss in Isaac and Miria, and you have a lot of chaos all at once. Nothing is as it seems and nothing seems to make much sense in the Baccano! world. It’s all about the ending payoff.

A few noteworthy voice actors in the dubbed version to speak of. You have to start with Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent. J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass

Isaac and Miria. Best.

really branch their talents to their extremes with two ridiculous thieves with no care in the world and no idea what’s going on. John Burgmeier puts on an English accent as a character I can’t reveal (sorry). And R. Bruce Elliott places a mean old Russian bastard who is actually a terribly villainous magician. Joel McDonald in a surprisingly heartfelt performance gets his Brooklyn on as Jacuzzi and Nice, his eye-patched love interest and crime partner is nicely done by Colleen Clinkenbeard. Throw in a Frenchman in jail and you have the wide ranging and seductive talents of Eric Vale.  Throw in Todd Haberkorn and his always likeable goofy characters and you have a Baccano! cast.

I love this man so much.

But, I could never forget the big standout in the show. In a very underrated voice actor comes one of the best performances of his career. Ladd Russo, a highly skilled and highly delusional killer is voiced by Bryan Massey. His questioning and highly energetic character from My Bride is a Mermaid, Shark, returns as another kind of inhuman being. Ladd is vulgar, he is brutal, and he is one of the most likeable and sinister characters in the series. Any guy who can walk into a room and say, “I like you! F%*k you!” deserves respect.

Let's get to pokin'.

And for the rest, AKA the amazing plot, you have to watch it for yourself. In the same vein of shows as Durarara! (interesting, both are marked with exclamation points…) comes a character driven show with a great payoff. Watch it for the characters and voice acting. Watch it for the interesting non-linear plot. Watch it just to watch it. It’s well worth a shot. You just might find what you’re looking for in a show in this 16 episode anime, Baccano!

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Nabari no Ou: The Emotional Dance of Ninjas

Does everybody remember that Ninjas vs. Pirates debate a few years ago? During that whole ordeal, I never took sides. But now that I’ve watched Nabari no Ou, I’ve decided I would definitely side with the Ninjas. In this anime of love (the… strange kind), betrayal, and apathy, Miharu Rokujou (Brina Palencia) must discover just what it means to be a ninja and follow the path. In a war of ancient ninjas and the pervasion of the modern world, the Shinobi of the old ways must fight for a future which still finds ninjas to be relevant. And this is decided through the power of the Shinrabansho.

Miharu is a 14 year old apathetic middle schooler, floating through life. One day, one of the teachers at his school attacks him from nowhere, throwing shiuriken and jumping from tree to tree. Not fully

Miharu and his wily ways...

understanding what’s going on or why this man was attacking him, Miharu is saved at the last minute by one of his other teachers, Tobari Kumohira (Eric Vale). Hearing the word Shinrabansho and not fully understanding, Miharu is thrown into a dreamlike state in which a “fairy” speaks to him about his inner power. Meanwhile, outside, Tobari-sensei seals this hidden power inside Miharu, protecting him for a time from himself.

With the conclusion of this night fight, Miharu is from now on protected by Tobari and two of his classmates, Kouichi Aizawa (Chris Burnett) and Raimei Shimizu (Kate Oxley). With their help and the guidance of the Fuuma village ninjas, Miharu and his friends must find the forbidden secret arts of each ninja clan and use them in order to extract or use Miharu’s Shinrabansho. With a surprising ending and quite a few turns or loyalty, this show really delves into what it means to trust and believe.

The power of the Shinrabansho!

I really liked the fluidity of the fight scenes and the use of ninja arts in this show. This is coming from someone who just recently got into Naruto, the slightly retarded, childish version of Nabari without a whole lot of plot. (Well, I like it though…) With every character skinny as a pole, it’s almost easy to believe the gymnast like moves of these stylishly dressed ninjas. I was a big fan of the fact that not every character in this show was a ninja though. Yes, it’s hard to think that Miharu never really fights (a hard thing for me to get over when it comes to protagonists), but he makes it for it with his wiles. What’s great is the samurais,  Raimei and her badass bro, Reiko Shimizu (J. Michael Tatum). He’s said to have killed every member of the Shimizu family, by himself, when he was very young. Can’t get more destructive than that.

As with most shounen I’ve been watching, there’s a focus on an overarching plot with little sections running throughout, resulting in the product of the ending. I’m not opposed to this structure, but, coming from a movie lover, it’s slightly difficult in getting over a show that doesn’t trudge ahead by sticking to one linear plot. But I digress. There are a bevy of interesting characters in this show that really stand out to me. I would say Yoite (Joel McDonald) is the strongest of the crew. In what seems to be an antagonist role, Yoite slowly becomes an emotional character that lots of other characters begin to put stock in. In the end, Yoite becomes somebody that changes the face of all those involved, whether they realize it or not. Shifting focus between characters is an interesting tactic in plots, and this was pulled off well.

The Fuuma clan, ready to fight.

I had problems with Miharu, and its mostly due to his apathetic nature. With characters like this, they seem to let things happen to them without truly doing anything themselves. To not connect with others or attempt to find any form of help/solace really frustrates me as a viewer. Those who don’t attempt to find help in others or really care about anything leaves them floating in a void. And this helps no one. In contrast to that, Tobari-sensei attempts at every corner to help Miharu and the other because of the sins of his past. His caring nature and fatherly approach are really pronounced and worth admiring. (Some people may not like him, but I find him to be likable.)

With a more artistic, flowing feel, I found Nobari no Ou to be a compelling and interesting take on what it means to be a shounen about the popular topic of ninjas. From a emotional standpoint, the focus on characters rather than action is commendable. The use of powers and ninja arts is almost poetic in their symbolism and stand out in comparison to the actual weapons used. Not a bad voice acting crew with a lot of notable names, it is a decent body of work. Enjoy the boy on boy love too! (Not exactly, but you’ll see what I mean.) 7.1 out of 10.

A little bit of that boy love for ya.