Tag Archives: samurai

Bunraku: Paper Punishing Dolls

Suck it, R.T...

Alright, first off, death to Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not really sure where this website gets off giving this film 16% (why the hell a percent?) “approval” rating or however they go about rating all films. I’m just assuming at this point that they shit all over action films and take no account of the true purpose of an action film. Action. That’s what the damn genre is called and that’s what I expect. So this critique websites that don’t really go too hard into giving the least bit of credit where credit is due, need to re-evaluate what’s going on. Maybe I should rename my blog “Reviews from the Silver Lining,” cause there’s rarely a film I can’t take something away from and appreciate it for that fact. Even if it’s horrible, there are a lot of people whose blood, sweat, and tears went into that film. And they deserve at least a worthwhile evaluation of, I would suppose, a life’s pursuit. Come off it.

And I found a damn lot right with this movie. The title of the film coming from the Japanese art of paper doll plays, this movie created a landscape in which the actions and scenarios displayed on film could be believed. From one

The Drifter (Hartnett) and Yoshi (Gackt). A dynamic duo.

direction of town comes The Drifter (Josh Hartnett). The other, a Samurai named Yoshi (not Nintendo related) without a sword or honor. In a world without guns, an all out brawler and sword expert come together to absolutely Tech Deck wreck a bunch of foolish thugs.

And why do they come to this town? They come to kill the Woodcutter, Nicola (Ron Pearlman). With a debt to repay and a talisman to recover, these two must join forces in order to conquer the evil

Word Ron Pearlman. Choke a Demi.

that has taken of the East. Without a specific location, this movie took on a whole new post-apocalyptic world in which, finally, sissy-ass guns have been laid to rest. The only movies I ever want to see guns in are The Matrix and Equilibrium. Enough said. Upon this landscape of raised paper houses, anything and all can happen when you can swing like a prizefighter and run house like Kurosawa.

For a half arthouse, half action packed punch, this movie brings out the action side with a lot of action stars. From Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, and

I gotta say Hartnett worked shit in this one.

Lucky Number Slevin comes Josh Hartnett. His no talk, just rape (in whatever sick and twisted good way you can talk about utter destruction) this guy lays waste to those who would doubt him. Next up, and most notably, is Gackt, Japanese singing sensation and all around beautiful face. Among other talents, Gackt can speak English far more fluently and clearly than say, Ken Wantanabe in Inception (what happened between Last Samurai and that?). His sword skills are a bit jumpy at parts, but who wouldn’t expect that from a pretty boy singing prodigy? He is in his late 30’s…

Kevin McKidd as Assassin #2. What a character.

Throw in Ron Pearlman, face of Hellboy and a handful of other well known action films. There could have never been another soul alive who could have played Hellboy half as well as he did. And he wasn’t the worst at Nicola either. Give another little toss to Woody Harrelson of Natural Born Killers and more recently Zombieland. Not a big fan, but he did his part as The Bartender. He just never really stands out to me… Demi Moore for the old woman looks, and here’s the surprise. Kevin McKidd. This Scottish bastard had a cocky, yet strange way about him in this film that I found almost endearing. In quite a few period pieces and my favorite, Hannibal Rising, this is the first movie I think… (other than Trainspotting) that I knew this guy was from Scotland. A little bravo your way, McKidd.

Lovin' that background layout right there.

So we got the cast, the setting, and the situation. It’s all coming together. And what ties it up in a neat little bow? It for sure wasn’t the 2 hours this movie was allotted. It felt more like 3… It was the special effects. provided by Snoot FX, the locations and shooting styles felt action-y (?) and the fluidity of the fight scenes and the transitions (especially Hartnett’s fight scene in breaking out Yoshi from prison) was just top notch. It just gave such an interesting and non-retarded Sin City feel to it that I was hooked.

As Dennis Harvey of Varietysaid of the film about its fake flower feel, all color and no substance/life, I’d have to say he missed the point of the film. He was definitely batting from the ballpark of critical art film acclaim, when he should have been coming from what the essence of a Samurai/Western would be. Include the feeling of a theatrical Japanese paper doll show, and you have Bunraku. Not something tacky, but a whole new way to tell a story that I truly appreciate. That was its best part. A solid 7.6 out of 10.

Could it get better?

Advertisements

Kaze No Stigma: Avatar’s Estranged Cousin

Let me first start off by saying that the wikipedia description of this show really doesn’t describe what I actually witnessed in this show about wind and fire and earth powers (water was sadly left out). I must say that for an anime, straight out of Japan to pale in comparison to the Nickelodeon version of a similar show, is sad. But this show has achieved the impossible. And yet, this gives a lot of props to Avatar: The Last Airbender and the amazing creators behind it. It was a worthwhile show. But that’s not the point.

Let me kick something at you. “Kazuma Kannagi was considered useless within his family because he could not use “Enjutsu” (Blaze Technique), the power to control flames. When he was defeated by Ayano Kannagi, one of his very distant relatives, in a bout to decide

If only it were truly like this...

who would wield “Enraiha” (Blaze Lightning Supremacy), a sword that was wielded by the family heir, he was banished from the family. Four years later, he returns as a master of “Fūjutsu” (Wind Technique), the power to control wind, and with a new name: Kazuma Yagami. Soon after his return, he is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother, Ren, who is also gifted in Enjutsu. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are killed and the murder weapon is revealed to be Fūjutsu. Now Kazuma has to fight his family to prove that he is not the murderer and follow a series of adventures with Ayano.”

Okay, that is the bare bones plot… of the first 6 episodes. This show may start here, but it ends in a different dimension entirely. Thanks for not ruining the plot in your summary, Wikipedia, but you sure as Hell didn’t clue me in as to where this show was headed.

Stranger things have happened in this show.

And from that description alone, I got a different vision of what I thought this show would be. I was envisioning samurai fire sword wielders. Dynasty warriors shit. Real harcore fights. The reality? Modern day Tokyo with some decent fight scenes and not a whole lot about really redeeming himself with that murder on his hands. Nice.

That’s not to say that Kazuma Yagami (Robert McCollum) wasn’t a compelling character. He is by far one of the most compelling characters I’ve encountered in anime. Cast out by his family because of his differences at a young age, Kazuma must make his way in the real world with no real support. And he doesn’t just lay down and die. Oh no. He gets up, makes a pact with the Wind Gods, and comes back to lay waste to his family. Not actually kill them, but bleed them dry of their money by becoming hired help. And at every turn, Kazuma consistently tells the entire Konnagi family to go shove it. He truly doesn’t care if they live or die. Pretty much up until the last episode. You can’t deny that a character with those emotions shouldn’t be messed up. Well he isn’t, and he gets the job done when, with most other characters, he would sit down and cry about his dilemma. Job well done, Kazuma.

But back to the plot. After this little 6 or 7 episode arc of catching his framed killers, Kazuma and Ayano Kannagi (Cherami Leigh) go on random adventures that don’t come together into a coherent end that begins to form in episode 17 of 24. Yes, as small sections the first season and beginning of the second season seem

I bet you anything he's about to cry.

interesting. But when you see the leapfrog style of the entire anime, it almost seems senseless.

Other than that glaring problem, most of the voice acting in the english dub just doesn’t hold up. I know I really should’ve just watched this dubbed, but I wanted to give what I thought was going to be a decent anime a try. This anime that was neither here nor there in genre really took me for a loop. Wow. Cherami Leigh became an annoying time bomb, who, as in most shounen, couldn’t do a damn thing for herself. Ren (Josh Grelle) became a provincial crybaby over his big bro Kazuma, and most other voice actors fell by the wayside with their sub par performances.

I think that reason I’m tied up about this show is that it was so weak in plot, characters, and direction. It wasn’t what I expected and it showed. There’s a whole episode about perverts and panty shots for god sakes. I didn’t mind it for the comic relief, but a lot of this show, even in its most serious moments, came of as just plain comic and sad. I sadly give what I thought was going to be The Last Airbender, 4.1 out of 10.

I think this sums up everything about this show… And it’s not even good subbed…


Samurai Deeper Kyo

Okay, just finished this anime, have to review it. For sure. This show was great. It was like Dragonball Z with samurais.  The story follows Mibu Kyoshiro, a medicine man who we find out to be Demon Eyes Kyo, the slayer of a thousand men. Pretty intense right? Well a bounty hunter girl named Shiina Yuya wants the bounty on his head, and from there, their journey begins. I saw a lot of comparisons to other anime in the past I’ve watched. My favorite character Meigeira. Although he is not included in the manga, he is a great addition to the anime. If I had to compare him to a character, I would consider him a more merciful Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist. Akira, which appears later in the show, is a great character, on par with Trunks from Dragonball Z. Saizo and Sasuke, two loyal followers of the effeminately voiced Sanada Yukimura are what I would refer to as a combo resulting in Piccolo, my favorite anime character of all time. To be honest though, the main character Kyoshiro/Kyo, didn’t appeal to me at all. The whole, “I’m the bad guy with a heart of gold,” just wasn’t what I was looking for. The fight scenes were great, very DBZ like, although when I first saw swords I thought, “Yes, let’s get some intense fighting scenes going.” That wasn’t the case, but still very badass. The move styles were on par with DBZ and anything else of the sort. (Sorry, huge DBZ fan.) The freeze frames on the action with dialogue were great and took the show into a whole new form of media. The music was a bit corny, but once you’ve heard those songs at least a dozen times, they grow on you, including the theme. All in all the show was a great journey into what it would be like if Samurais were more than just humans. Definitely an 8 out of 10. Highly recommended. (Also, mention of the abyss in there, an actual one, not my review blog.)

Here’s an AMV to give you a little taste of Samurai Deeper Kyo. (Thanks to AlchemistOfRoses for the vid.)