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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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Deadman Wonderland: This Ain’t Your Average Alice…

This show was ridiculous. Not exactly a fall through the rabbit hole, but this was a wonderland all its own. Ganta Igarashi is not your typical Alice and there’s no white rabbit to lead him along his way. With a endless repertoire of  metal instrumentals and scenes of excruciating death, this show comes almost as close as Metalocalypse does with its protagonists, Dethklok. In some ways it almost goes farther. Pretty scary, right?

This show is sparked all by one little middle school massacre. A mysterious Red Man (if you remember way back when in my reviews, kinda looks like Skull Man) comes bursting through the window of Ganta’s school and kills all of his classmates. And you know who gets blamed? Ganta. Put on a trial and given the death sentence, Ganta must attempt to survive the Hell on Earth that is Deadman Wonderland.

And I would venture to guess that Deadman Wonderland is worse than Hell. There are dog races in which any participating runners have to dodge death in all forms and only one can survive to win cast points. Cast points are the

The Deadman Wonderland Prison. Fun, huh?

currency in which an inmate can buy and survive in Deadman Wonderland. It is especially important to gain cast points (not magically nerdy, mind you) so you can buy Candy. Candy are capsules of disgusting sweets that counteract the poison in your metallic neck leash. So despite being on death row to be executed, Ganta has to attempt to survive, every day.

Are we all really just prisoners of life? (Joke)

Inmates, other than being subordinate to the guard staff, are given free reign to destroy each other. Ganta is constantly in fear for his life, being a scrawny middle school midget with quite a rap of offenses that would piss most guys off. And it’s not only that. The Red Man Ganta encountered bestowed some strange crystal upon his chest that allows Ganta to use what are later referred to as Branches of Sin. This use of the blood as a weapon become quite helpful with Ganta’s “body type,” but the fallback (as there always is) is that Ganta has to fight in Carnival of Corpses (pronounced by the Japanese as Cannibal Corpse. Coincidentally, songs similar to the huge body of work Cannibal Corpse has created play during these fights) which could kill him at any moment. It just looks so promising for Ganta doesn’t it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

The voices of some of the characters are fantastic. Romi Park, famous voice actor of the Japanese version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric, is a bit whiny, but gets the job done as Ganta. Tsunenaga Tamaki is wonderfully twisted and done by Junichi Suwabe. And finally, Senji, the badass, ripped Branches of Sin fighter Crow, is admirably done by Masayuki Katou. I was overall impressed.

Now let’s talk about that animation quality. It’s dark and bloody. Very

Pretty sick, right? Good old Red Man

reminiscent of  Metalocalypse. I guess that’s why I liked it so much (look for this review in the coming months). The fluidity of the blood coursed throughout the veins of this sadistic fighting sci-fi anime in every scene. With more swearing than I’ve ever read in any subbed anime, I gotta say it was ridiculous to hear bleeps in Japanese. With other problems that probably cut this show short to 12 episodes, its unfortunate that the show was cut so abruptly short. But it ended in a way I didn’t expect either.

The realest.

Azuma Genkaku (Toshiyuki Morikawa) was a fantastic way to end it. Tying the whole metal music themed anime together, Azuma wields an axed guitar that allows him to supersonically bend the Branches of Sin wielders to their knees. His tragic past is explored and brought to the forefront to end the show (an unfortunate end, both for the show and Azuma) although I found him to be one of the most compelling and interesting  characters in the show. With nothing certain and a future in Deadman Wonderland ahead, what will happen to little “Alice” Ganta? Check out this show, it’s definitely worth the horrific watch. A solid 9.7 out of 10.

What will happen "down the rabbit hole?"


Horrible Bosses

So this movie probably is no longer in theaters, but when me and my roomie all the way out there in London (this is a shout out E. Miss you.) caught this movie in theaters, it was in its 6th week showing. I think that itself says a lot about just how good this movie is. Plus the aged ticket vendor woman who told us this adult movie full of swearing, drugs, and new age humor for the 20 year olds was “funny as poop.” So yeah, I had to check out this movie. I mean, come on, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day in the same film? Perfect. This was a movie worthy of its under-hype, so to speak.

In this film of every Average Joe’s fantasy, three friends Nick

Trio of champions.

(Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) all hate and want to kill their bosses. Nick’s boss is a psychopathic withdrawing bastard (Kevin Spacey) who forces Nick to stay late, work often, and never give him that sought after promotion. Dale’s boss is ironically a maneating sex addict (Jennifer Anisten) who just wants Dale, despite knowing full well that he’s engaged to marry. And Kurt’s boss, the toolish son of the former boss who kicks the bucket and takes over by default (Colin Farrell). With this trio of terror, the boys just don’t know what to do to rid themselves of these terrible bosses with a job market where there’s no chance of redemption.

Until one day, Mutherf@#$er Jones (Jamie Foxx) stumbles upon them. And by that, I mean Nick and the gang to rovin’ around in a black neighborhood and stumble upon one mean Jones who’s willing to help them get rid of their bosses for a small fee.  And what does he do? He becomes their “murder consultant,” and helps them to kill each other’s bosses. What transpires is one of the funniest series of events that I’ve ever seen on film in the last 5 years. Other than 30 Minutes or Less, and that review will be coming shortly.

The good and bad. This film was shorter than I wanted it to be. This film needed to be longer. This 98 minute film could’ve been fleshed out to a 2 hour movie and I wouldn’t have complained for a second. There’s always more comedy that can be shoved into a film, and this movie could’ve used it for the full $10 movie theaters are charging now. Other than that, maybe Jason Sudeikis wasn’t the best SNL choice to go with in this film. I didn’t mind him, but at the same time, I didn’t really notice if he was funny at all.

It was mostly on Jason Bateman and Charlie Day, coupled with Colin Farrell’s hilarious scenes of

These 3 brought the house down.

cocaine and Kung Fu, that brought the brunt of the comedy in this film. I love the way in which Farrell can make fun of himself and not always go for the better roles that cast him in a better light (I’m just glad he doesn’t do movie like Alexander anymore…). But yes, Jason Bateman performs in his prime (Arrested Development level) and I’m happy to see he’s really putting work in this year with The Change Up and an Arrested Development movie in the works.

Charlie Day. Thank you for living.

Charlie Day. What is there to say about Charlie, member of one of the greatest trios to ever grace cable television on Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His signature character of the bumbling idiot shines through again in a Hollywood blockbuster meant for his caliber of acting skills. I know it may seem that Charlie Day will be typecast forever, but I could care less. His fantastic attitude and demeanor as a character actor could be the same in 1000 films and I’d watch every one.

Kevin Spacey gives a great dickish performance, in coupling with Jennifer Anisten trying on some level to reclaim some never found sex idol roles in this film. Sure she looks nothing like her normal self in this movie, but

Let the On Star begin.

damnnnn. Wow. With some great On Star humor and some great banter between Jason, Jason, and Charlie, this movie performs on par with The 40 Year Old Virgin, #1 in my favorite comedies of all time. (Since then Judd Apatow has never made another funny movie.) I give credit to Seth Gordon in this breakout directing “debut”. His work on The Office, Modern Family, and Parks and Recreation gave him some experience going into a full length Hollywood film. And definite props to Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley (among others) for great dialogue between three great characters. 8.8 out of 10.


Blassreiter: Emotionally Fueled Motorcycles

The title of my review says everything about this anime. I fell in love with the graphics, the 3-D battles, the back story. And I was taken away by the emotions behind the characters. The anguish of the foreigner in a land that doesn’t accept them for who they are. The man in love who cannot tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The orphan abandoned and left without a help in the world. This German set anime (talk about a country of hate and anguish) is tastefully portrayed with a religious background and a head full of steam. With every new character arc (from Gerd to Malek, Hermann to Amanda) you are lead by your heartstrings to the heartbreak you are meant to see, and some you are not.

The idea behind Blassreiter is one of mecha, with a sci-fi drama backdrop. The line between man’s science and God is

An Amalgam's go to vehicle. Can you feel the emotion?

blurred. No longer is it the struggle between machine and man, but a meshing of the two. Man’s ultimate goal. In futuristic Germany, a crack team of soldiers known as the XAT (Xenogenesis Assault Team) has been given the task for  the bast decades to find and eradicate as well as protect the citizens of Germany from what are known as Amalgams (Demoniacs to the public.). These Amalgams are humans who have been transferred using some scientific disease into machines capable of attaching themselves to electronics and vehicles.

It is only common for these Amalgams to be created from dead bodies. Until one day, after being involved in an Amalgam attack, Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat) is given the chance to regain his

legs and race again. But the price it pays is that he becomes a living Amalgam. And the fate of all Amalgams? Bloodlust, insanity, and death. It is up to the XAT to discover the cause of a living Amalgam and what this would mean for the furure of Germany and the rest of the world. But the Amalgams go deeper than a mere nuisance. And I’ve only covered the first 6 episodes. You have to watch the rest for yourself.

Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat)

As I said before, this anime has some pretty spectacular 3-D animated graphics that blew me away. Any scene with an Amalgam or vehicle is given a special touch of full-breadth motion and fluidity. Combine this with a 2-D background and characters and you have an interactive combo right there. What could be better than this you say? Well, the character creation is top notch. The characters (and there are quite a few) deal with so many different emotions and personalities. There are the soldiers of the XAT, dealing with betrayal, duty, and what it means to be a soldier. (A very German thing, the honor of fighting for one’s country.) The humans turned Amalgams and their struggle with their humanity. The original Amalgams and their struggle with their pasts and their duty to the furthering of humankind and its evolution. God’s role in this anime is huge. (Another attitude of a prominently Protestant country.)

And then there’s the skeletons in Germany’s closet. The race hatred. The problems with German old

The amazing graphics behind Blassreiter.

family citizens of a higher class and the lower class foreigners given a chance for a new life in Germany, but given the scraps of the other classes. The hatred, the xenophobia. It all plays out on a tasteful stage. But even as this issue fades out to a respectable end, Germans are given a nod of respect for the strides they’ve made since the blood of the past has begun to dry and flake on their hands. And I give a nod of respect to the Japanese for the nod to the Germans.

The premise is interesting for a mecha. In a world moving forward, what is the point in which humans must pull back and examine their humanity versus their

What is behind the Amalgams?

technological drive? Anti-sci-fi (?) in a mecha is an interesting approach, and I welcomed it, being a mecha anime fan myself. (If I haven’t covered this before, non-anime fans/fans to be, mecha is mechanized (?) anime, dealing with machines and robots, i.e. Gundam Wing.)

Joseph (Todd Haberkorn), a character of anguish.

There should also be some credit given to the voice strained voice actors who lent their emotion to this anime. Watching this dubbed, I was amazed with the power given to the characters purely through voice. Joseph Jobson (Todd Haberkorn). Almost unrecognizable, but gives that brooding hero voice with a disturbed and tragic past to perfection. Hermann Saltza (Travis Willingham). This guy swore and yelled more than any other voice actor I’ve ever heard. I give him credit for days at a time (probably) of a hoarse speaking voice. His emotions and pain came to the table and delivered. Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat). I give him credit because he is the amazing Christopher Sabat (as you know, I’m a big fan.). His voice of gruff torture and anguish spoke to me as usual, and kept me grippingly emotional. And Amanda Werner (Jamie Marchi). Her torrent of emotional confusion and desperation was quite excellent. And that’s only a few. But isn’t that enough to get you watching this anime? Get to it. 7.8 out of 10.


My Bride is a Mermaid

Let me start off by saying that this is now one of my favorite humorous comedic anime. Hands down. It’s simple, it’s hilarious, and it encompasses an all star cast of voice actors that bring the humor up to a whole new level. I recommend dubbed before subbed, naturally, as I feel anime that we can’t really glean a good delivery from due to subtitles suffers in the delivery. But this anime really stands out to me as one of those anime that comes along for purely a comedic purpose and nails it. Yes, there are quite a few sexual innuendos and reference and most of the characters are drawn in a sexual manner, but it doesn’t detract from the awesomeness that is My Bride is a Mermaid.

The plot of this show is that Nagasumi Michishio(Todd Haberkorn) is visiting his grandmother at the Seto Inland Sea. He drowns. But who saves him? A mermaid. And because Nagasumi has seen Sun Seto (Alexis Tipton), he must pay the price

Pretty serious there, eh?

with his life, for it is the mermaid law. But clever little Sun uses the “loophole” in the law and marries Nagasumi in an effort to save both their hides (or tails in Sun’s situation). This leads to a hilarious string of goofy and outlandish situations that kept me laughing through all 26 episodes.

Okay, so the voice actors that make up the cast of MBIAM is what makes the show amazing. We have Todd Haberkorn as Nagasumi, and his voice always lends a bit of geeky, endearing comedy to everything he does. I truly feel he’s always cast as the geeky character, and I have no problem with that, he’s quite amazing at it and always delivers well. There’s John Swasey, doing his gruff badass voice (he has two modes, gruff or girly) as Sun’s father Gozaburo, the leader of the mermaid mafia gang that threatens Nagasumi’s life. He is not cool with his daughter’s marriage, and makes it a point to make Nagasumi’s life a living Hell.

Now he’s a voice actor who surprised me. Christopher Sabat (AKA God) surprised me fully with his voice as Masa, the black mafia member of the Seto

Christopher Sabat???

tribe. His voice comes off as so black and sensual that you become shocked to find out that Piccolo did his voice. Great work. Monica Rial as Maki, the deranged conch shell assassin. Annoying at yet always laughably funny. Bryan Massey, as Shark, one of the funnier side characters of the anime who always speaks in the form of a question. Would love to cosplay him one day. Another shocker: J. Michael Tatum plays Lunar’s father, the Terminator spoofing hardbody who will do anything to quote one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films. And last but not least, Eric Vale. Time and time again he has proven to play characters I connect with and admire, be it my first love of Trunks or the great snob who is Kai Mikawa, the porpoise and agoraphobic who is after Sun’s heart.

Now that we’ve gotten a little into how great the voice actors are, let’s talk about the meat of the show. So, usually, every episode pertains, in some way, to some side character always trying to break up Sun and Nagasumi. Be it Sun’s father or Lunar (Cherami Leigh) Sun’s singing and life rival, there’s always something awkwardly sexual going on. Favorite scene? Nagasumi

Eric Vale, you devil, you...

rubbing down Sun’s legs behind a bush. (Mermaids can walk on human legs, but the second they touch water, it turns into a fin.) Oddly enough, some of this show, I would venture to guess, may turn on some men, who are into mermaids, and young voluptuous girls… That are cartoons. And I think that’s where the TV-MA rating comes in. There is the occasional swear, but the sexual content is where the show really gets its fangs.

All in all, I really love this new up and coming anime. I enjoyed every minute of it and found the dub to be far better than the sub. The delivery and timing of the jokes speaks to both a American and Japanese audience. The art direction was great (weird thing with shiny unicorn blood?) and although the theme song might have been annoying and a tad too long, it didn’t take away from the fact I would get excited when they show started to play. Definitely

Come watch, won't you?

look out for this anime and, hopefully, this will become a big thing. 8.7 out of 10.