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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.

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The Shawshank Redemption: I Finally Saw It

As most gigantic film buffs know, this movie is top dog when it comes to classic films everyone has to see. And how long did it take me to see since I’ve been really into movies? 10 years. I know you may be thinking I might as well shut down my review website, but hold your horses Seabiscuit. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to see it and shrug it off as some dumb flick not worth my time. (Although… a bit lengthy.) This movie is across the board considered one of the best of all time, and it came out a mere 17 years ago. And there’s quite a few movies that would rival that from more than 50 or 60 years. But no, this movie, paid with a dollar to Stephen King with a single dollar bill, is now considered a masterpiece.

This movie in particular holds quite a bit of significance to me, but more to my father. So yeah, it’s pretty special. My father grew up in Mansfield, site of the Ohio State Reformatory, located just outside of downtown Mansfield. Coming from a low budget movie filmed in one location (Mansfield), I would call the achievement of this film phenomenal. And turning the old reformatory into Shawshank State Penitentary in Maine, and thus turning Mansfield into a hotspot location for film buffs: fantastic. The streets of Mansfield, some family friends staring down the camera, yeah, this film has some history with me.

Okay, basic plot. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of killing his wife all the way back in 1947. His wife was cheating on him with a golfer (naturally Tiger Woods) and she got what was coming to her. And it’s never really clear whether or not Andy committed the crime. Anyways, Dufresne is sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine, home of the writer of this short story, Stephen King. While there, Andy keeps his head down, stands up for others, and makes friends with Red (Morgan Freeman) the narrator of this fine film. Despite his status as convicted or not (all Shawshank inmates are innocent!), Andy Dufresne must stick by his beliefs and not get Shawshanked. Overused pun? Or am I the first? Let me know.

Of course, as expected with a great movie, there’s some great acting in it as well. It is Morgan Freeman. Known simply to most as “The Voice of God”, it was roles like The Shawshank Redemption that gave him the opportunity to narrate beyond a prison story. Tim Robbins, as I’ve figured from this movie, got into highly acclaimed, Oscar worthy roles because of this movie. Although Morgan Freeman won for best actor, it doesn’t demean Tim Robbins any that he was in a movie that was up for 7 academy awards.

Who else, you may ask, deserves a nod from this acclaimed film? I would tip my hat to William Sadler as Heywood, the bumbling idiot and all around good guy, just trying to get through prison life. The only life most of them know, and that comes across in this movie with James Whitmore’s performance as Brooks Hatlen, a role that would later be ironically poked fun at by a Robot Chicken sketch. (Get busy livin’, or get Kraken.) Come to think of it, there’s always the occaisional homage or spoof that comes up about this film, and now I can enjoy them more thoroughly.

So I give the biggest nod to Frank Darabont and his screenplay from the words of Stephen King, utilizing his Dollars to Direct program of all his short stories. I do wonder though if he’s kicking himself about missing out on this cash cow. But all-in-all, I’m sure this was a wonderful film to be a part of, and I know I’ll be watching it again in the future. 9.7 out of 10.

I also wanted to throw on this little clip from Seth Green’s Robot Chicken for a little quirky spoof that got me interested in The Shawshank Redemption. Enjoy!