DoroHeDoro: It’s Glorious and Gorey… Goreous? – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at the story of a guy with a reptile head and his martial arts chef friend.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Hole. It’s basically a city from Mad Max, except that magic wrecked the world instead of nukes. Sorcerers, a mutant species of humanity created by demons from hell that live in a different dimension, periodically come to the Hole to experiment on the humans that live there. One of those humans was Caiman (Wataru Takagi/Aleks Le), a man who was cursed by a sorcerer to have a giant lizard head. Caiman awoke without any memories and found out that when he puts his mouth around a Sorcerer’s head, that a second person crawls out of his throat and decides if that Sorcerer is the one that cursed Caiman. I know that sounds weird, but it’s literally the opening of the show, so get used to it. He’s accompanied by his friend Nikaidō (Reina Kondō/Reba Buhr), a local chef and expert fighter. The pair work together to eliminate Sorcerers from the Hole and find out who cursed Caiman. They end up drawing the ire of the Sorcerer gangster En (Kenyu Horiuchi/Keith Silverstein) and his lackeys: Shin (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Sean Chiplock), Noi (Yū Kobayashi/Cherami Leigh), Fujita (Kengo Takanashi/Bryce Papenbrook), and Ebisu (Miyu Tomita/Cristina Vee). 

Masks are very popular in the show.

END SUMMARY

From the very beginning, this show makes it clear that it’s not going to shy away from being pretty dang gross. Not only do you see a human being emerge from the throat of a lizard man, you then see a person essentially minced into a number of pieces too great to count. The wood chipper from Fargo was probably more forgiving to Steve Buscemi’s body. This sort of thing happens frequently in the show, although the cartoon effects do lessen the disturbing nature of some of the acts. This show’s not for the faint of heart, is what I’m saying. 

No, he’s not eating him. This is diagnostic.

The world that’s been built here is never fully elaborated on, but what we see of it keeps drawing the viewer further in. Sorcerers basically view humanity as lab rats to be experimented on, with very few humans willing to stand up to them. When we see the range of their abilities, this unchecked domination starts to make a lot of sense. Almost all Sorcerers only have a single ability, like “creating mushrooms” or “bringing stuff back to life,” but those are sometimes taken to horrific ends when it’s revealed that one of the sorcerers can literally just turn people into mushrooms or that bodies don’t have to be whole when they’re resurrected. It’s like everything is taken to a twisted natural conclusion. This includes the fact that once a year, the Hole’s dead come back to life as zombies due to the amount of magic that the Sorcerers leave behind.

Some sorcerers are not just strong, but nearly invulnerable, so there’s that.

The characters are compelling in that nobody really seems to be the “good” guy or the “bad” guy. Caiman is a victim, sure, but he also massacres people for his own enjoyment. Nikaido is the closest we have to an altruist, but she has her own secrets and past issues. En seems malicious, up until you find out that he was the ultimate victim in his youth and is seeking to break up a horrible societal problem. Most of his henchmen are similarly ambiguous. Everyone kills people or Sorcerers pretty frequently. It makes for a lot of interesting scenes where we know everyone’s motivations, so we feel extra invested in the conflicts. 

The character designs are also a nice blend of form and function.

Overall, it’s a pretty good show. Glad I checked it out.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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BNA (Brand New Animal): Beastmen can be the Most Human – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at Netflix’s new story about discrimination. It’s solid.

SUMMARY

Humanity is not alone. Since ancient times, the beastkin, humans who can shift into humanoid animal forms, have lived on Earth, but have been hated for as long as anyone can remember. They have finally managed to find refuge in Japan in Anima City, a metropolis built just for them. The newest arrival is Michiru Kagemore (Sumire Morohoshi/Cherami Leigh), a tanuki beastman, who was formerly a normal human high school girl until a year prior. Having grown sick of hiding from humans who now want to harm her, she heads to the city to find a cure for her condition. She gets caught up in a bombing attempt by terrorists and is saved by Shirou Ogami (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ben Diskin), a wolf beastman with incredible strength and regenerative ability. Soon, Michiru finds herself embroiled in a massive conspiracy involving a large pharmaceutical company, a religious cult, and a beastman mafia. 

Weirdly, Michiru thinks she’s a raccoon for a while. Tanukis are way cooler.

END SUMMARY

Unlike most anime shows (at least as far as I have watched), this series was apparently completely original. While there is now a manga and a light novel series in this universe, they both were created after the anime was already developed. I think that may be why the style of animation seems so different from most other modern anime, seemingly pulling more from the style of Scott Pilgrim or other modern Western comics, themselves a blend of techniques, for some of the shots. It’s extremely colorful, containing a lot of day-glo imagery. The fight animations are pretty awesome throughout, although they get a little overblown towards the end of the series with the neon colors. Bottom line, the style may be what draws you to it or it may repulse you. It’s gonna depend on what kind of “purist” you are. Personally, I thought it was fine. 

The promotional art is a little more stylized, I’ll grant you.

The overarching theme of this show is discrimination, something that most animal-themed media seem to want to talk about nowadays. However, while Beastars and Zootopia both had some issues due to the nature of their societies being based around carnivores and herbivores, this series eschews that complication entirely. Deer beastmen can eat meat, lions can be vegetarians, they’re just regular people who were also born with these abilities. As such, they can stand in for almost any group that faces discrimination based on their birth. Throughout BNA, we see a buildup of violence among the beastmen that causes them to lash out, but the show subtly indicates that it’s because too many of them live in too small a space. In other words, if they weren’t forced to live in a refuge city because of discrimination, they wouldn’t be violent, but their oppressors use the violence as justification to keep them suppressed. If you can’t find a metaphor there, then I recommend reading up on history between 1930 and 1965. Any country, really. 

And Beastmen can be totally normal looking when not in beast form.

The reason why the message works so well in BNA is because the main character goes through a massive amount of personal growth and discovery throughout the storyline. Michiru was a regular human until shortly before the story begins, meaning that while she might have been aware of the bias against beastmen, it was not “real” to her in the way that it is after she becomes one. She, like most people, seemed to perceive Anima City as a utopia for Beastmen, only realizing afterwards that it basically exists only at the mercy of the humans, who constantly threaten to remove financial funding or business or, really, just blow it the hell up. Then, at the end of the series, we find out that there is a very powerful group who just want to “cure” all of the beastmen and damned if that doesn’t have a number of historical nasty parallels as well. 

There’s a great baseball episode, too.

Overall, just a solid series. It’s pretty accessible to almost any age group and, like I said, it handles the metaphor better than most shows. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

A Whisker Away (Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu): IT’S SO CUTE!!! – Netflix Mini-Review

It starts off kind of creepy, then straight to adorable.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Miyo Sasaki (Mirai Shida/Cherami Leigh) is a middle school girl with a crush on her classmate Kento Hinode (Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch). Unfortunately, while she is an outgoing and emotional person, Hinode is usually cold and distant. However, Miyo receives a mask from a talking cat (Koichi Yamadera/Keith Silverstein) that lets her turn into a cat whenever she puts it on. She uses this mask to pretend to be a stray cat that Hinode plays with, named “Taro.” Using her time as Hinode’s cat, she tries to build her relationship with him. Unfortunately, it turns out that magic tends to have a price in stories like this.

And no, she doesn’t get 8 extra lives by wearing it.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, I realize that there’s something inherently a little weird about a story of spying on your crush, but a big part of the movie is that Miyo (or “Muge” as she is called) is being immature. As the movie continues, she starts to realize that her worldview has always been undeveloped and she grows as a result. At the same time, she starts to get a better picture of who Hinode is, which does nothing to deter her feelings, but instead deepens them. We discover that both of them are hurting, but that they both have responded to their pain in completely different ways. Their relationships with their families are strained by circumstances beyond their control and, like kids do, they have difficulty really coping with it.

Playing with pets is a normal way to cope. Playing AS pets, not so much.

The depth of the characterizations of the two leads is what makes A Whisker Away work. Miyo’s need for affection may make her seem weird to the rest of the world, but it’s just a representation of her desire to receive love. As a cat, she receives all of the cuddles she could ever ask for from the object of her desire. On the opposite end, Hinode is always repressing his feelings due to having to provide for his family. Their financial burden embarasses him a little and puts unnatural pressure on him to get a job to support them, but his loyalty to them prevents him from complaining. This is presented mostly through show rather than narration, which benefits heavily from the very expressive animation style. 

You can even get ideas about characters from how they eat.

That brings me to the animation, which is… just so damned cute. Seriously, when Miyo is “Taro,” she is one of the most adorably animated animals I’ve ever seen. She still has a lot of expressions that reflect her status as having human consciousness, but anyone who has owned a cat will still acknowledge that they can give you those looks. It gets even better when the film decides to say that every cat out there really IS sentient, even having a secret place to go that is accessible only to cats. Despite relying on a supernatural premise, the movie doesn’t really dip heavily into fantasy until the third act, and the slow build-up really helps heighten the drama. 

Omg, I want hugs so bad.

Overall, just a really cute movie, if a bit weird. I recommend giving it a try.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.