Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie (Parts 1 and 2): In the Name of the Moon, I Watched This – Netflix Review

Having watched almost no previous Sailor Moon, I felt like I could go ahead and take on this challenge. I was wrong.

There’s not going to be a real summary section to this. I decided that my limited comprehension of what was going on is best represented by me drunkenly dictating my thoughts into my computer’s voice-to-text. I’m four shots in, and I have no f*cking idea what happened, but here’s what I remember. 

****SPOILERS****

It started off with a knock-off Rita Repulsa actually named Zirconia (Naomi Watanabe/Barbara Goodson), then there was an eclipse, a pegasus (but actually an alicorn) called Helios (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Brian Beacock), and an H.R. Geiger circus. I assumed this meant there would be xenomorph clowns or something coming, but fortunately it ended up mostly being girls in form-fitting outfits. Anyway, Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru (Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond), Sailor Moon/Usagi (Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh), and their time-travelling 900-year-old-but-somehow-still-five-years-old daughter Sailor Chibi Moon/Chibiusa (Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox) are having a sleepover.  Oh, and Chibiusa is hot for her dad, which is creepy on several levels, but I guess daddy issues are still a thing in the future. 

If it has a horn and wings, it’s an alicorn. Friendship is magic.

Zirconia’s boss, Nehelenia (Nanao/Laura Post), orders her to attack the Sailor Scouts so she can get a crystal that I am guessing I should have known about from previous arcs. Zirconia passes the task to her minions, the Amazoness Quartet: JunJun, VesVes, CereCere, and PallaPalla (Yuko Hara/Erika Ishii, Rie Takahashi/Erica Lindbeck, Reina Ueda/Cassandra Lee Morris, Sumire Morohoshi/Xanthe Huynh). They have a tiger attack Usagi and Chibiusa and the girls almost die cuz they can’t transform but then they get an upgrade and the horse blesses them and then everything is back to normal. There are things called Lemures that the dub pronounces “lemurs,” and I wanted to break the f*cking TV every time they said it, that the Amazons from the creepy circus summon to trap people in nightmares, but the horse upgrade lets Sailor Moon and Mini Moon get rid of them. Then Mamoru gets lung cancer, but apparently it’s actually a flower? Modern medicine was not prepared for this. 

Oh, and Usagi and Chibiusa switch ages for like 3 minutes and that’s still weird.

The Amazon Quartet turn a fish, a tiger, and a bird into three members of a knockoff version of the Misfits. Not the real band, the ones from Jem and the Holograms. The three animals in human form try to trap Sailors Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter (Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins, Rina Satō/Cristina Vee, Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller) in their own nightmares, but the scouts beat them really easily (though Mercury does it the easiest, because she’s the best). Sailor Venus (Shizuka Itō/Cherami Leigh), whose cat Artemis (Taishi Murata/Johnny Yong Bosch) has a boner for her, gets attacked by the circus’s knife throwers, but she ends up killing them before the Amazons capture all of the scouts aside from Usagi, who collapses from another flower in her lungs. Turns out that Helios is also a priest from the center of the Earth and that he has a black flower in his chest because he’s actually projecting from a cage in the center of the Earth. Then, weirdly, Sailor Saturn (Yukiyo Fujii/Christine Marie Cabanos) is shown reading W.B. Yeats as part one ends. 

These are the evil minions, not a new all-girl J-pop band.

Part two starts with the reveal that Sailor Neptune (Sayaka Ohara/Lauren Landa) and Sailor Uranus (Junko Minagawa/Erica Mendez) are married now, and hopefully nobody tries to make them cousins again, because that’s f*cking weird. Or they’re not married but they wear matching rings along with Pluto? I’m hoping it’s a polycule, but I bet they wouldn’t allow that on television. Whatever, Neptune and Uranus are adorable together. Along with Sailor Pluto (Ai Maeda/Veronica Taylor), they are raising Sailor Saturn, who was apparently reborn as a kid? Anyway, Saturn gets her memory back of being a teen, then gives powers back to Sailors Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. They go save the other non-Moon scouts, because they’re still trapped by plants somehow, and then Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon show up only to be injured. They get healed and there’s something about crystals that, again, is probably part of the mythology that I skipped by not watching Sailor Moon Crystal (oh, THAT’S why they call it that). Also, the horse dies, but death means less here than it does in a comic book, so he’ll be fine.

Don’t call them the B-Team, they get sh*t done.

All of the scouts go to fight Nehelenia, whose backstory is revealed as basically Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and they all get trapped until some power of love stuff. Sailor Moon gets another transformation sequence into Eternal Sailor Moon, and she fixes everything with the power of… moon love crystal stuff. The horse comes back to life (told you), and the Amazons are revealed to be asteroid scouts, because we’re out of other celestial bodies. Everyone lived happily ever after until next season, unless this is the finale. 

Tuxedo Mask is there too, but who cares.

It’s really funny that throughout most of this, it really hit me how much Sailor Moon is just Dragon Ball Z for girls. Death means nothing, time travel subplots abound, random villains show up that are somehow stronger than the last ones despite the last ones being “the strongest in the universe,” and the new bad guy is always beaten by some new transformation or technique pulled out at the very last minute. Given how much of my childhood I spent watching roided up people with spiky hair yelling at each other before firing beams, it’s not surprising that a lot of people spent theirs watching cute girls transform into superheroes and… well, still largely stand around yelling before firing beams. At least on Sailor Moon there are a lot of characters with varied personalities and a nice overlap between personal problems and superhero problems. The movie even drives this home by having the villains attack their insecurities more than attack their physical forms. 

And at least some of that insecurity is that they will never look as fabulous as these anthropomorphic minions.

Overall, it’s a movie that’s designed for young girls, but I get why so many people love it. More power to you.  

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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Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba): An Amazing Action Anime – Netflix Review

The franchise with the highest-grossing film in Japan’s history earned that acclaim.

SUMMARY

It’s the Taishō Era of Japan’s history (1912-1926). Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae/Zach Aguilar) is the eldest son of his family and, following his father’s death, a charcoal seller in the mountains. One day, after coming home from a trip to the nearest town, he finds out that his entire family was massacred. The only “survivor” is his sister, Nezuko (Akari Kitō/Abby Trott), who has been transformed into a demon that craves human flesh. However, when a demon slayer named Tomioka (Takahiro Sakurai/Johnny Yong Bosch) tries to kill her, Tanjiro tries to defend her and, surprisingly, she defends him, revealing that she has retained some of her humanity. Tanjiro is sent to train to be a demon slayer, soon joining forces with fellow demon slayers Zenitsu Agatsuma (Hiro Shimono/Aleks Le), a coward who becomes a master swordsman while asleep, and Inosuke Hashibara (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook), a wildman with tremendous strength. Together, they work to help rid Japan of demons and hopefully cure Nezuko.

There are a bunch of other cast members, too.

END SUMMARY

I had heard of this when it was a manga, but I had never actually read it. Then I saw it get put on Netflix a while ago, but I hadn’t watched it, since it seemed a little generic from the ads. What finally led me to try and watch it was actually reading an article about how the film that apparently follows the first season of this show, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, broke a slew of box-office records despite, or because of, opening in 2020. It’s now the highest-grossing Japanese movie, taking down Spirited Away after almost 20 years. So, if a film can unseat a true Ghibli masterpiece, I had to check out the source material, and that was definitely the right decision.

There appears to be a lot more fire in the movie.

Almost everything in this show is well-done, but the main thing this anime does better than most is pacing. The story progresses at a pace that, while not overly fast, is also much faster than almost any anime longer than 13 episodes. I realize that’s partially because the manga was complete before the anime started, but the show largely avoids the traditional anime issue of having to drag out fight scenes for multiple episodes or to have recap episodes. Instead, most of the fights are action-packed and extremely creative, particularly since they often showcase a handful of swordsmen having to overcome unbelievably powerful demons using little more than their wits and some training. 

Also, great background work for the fights.

The other strength is the characters. The protagonist, Tanjiro, is one of the best anime protagonists out there, because he really is only fighting in order to save his sister. At all times, it’s the bond he feels with her and through her the rest of his family, that keeps him going and helps him maintain his extreme empathy and kind personality no matter what he goes through. It’s not that he’s naive, far from it, he just knows that there is evil in the world and chooses to be kind anyway. Moreover, he shows kindness in a believable and human way, something that’s hard to do without seeming sappy. The rest of the cast is similarly deeper and more relatable than you would expect from a show called “Demon Slayer,” particularly many of the demons who live tortured existences that they’re suppressing through their rage.

Also, he has normal hair for an anime protagonist.

Overall, just a great series and I cannot wait for more. 

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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Netflix Review – Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Season 1)

Netflix releases an anime set in a generic fantasy world.

SUMMARY

A while ago, the gods descended from the heavens in order to have a fun time. They limited their powers so that they could experience the world more like mortals, but choose mortals to empower who join their groups, called “familias.” A number of them set up in the town of Oraria, located next to the entrance to an underground labyrinth creatively called the Dungeon. The goddess Hestia (Inori Minase/Luci Christian), unfortunately, only has one member of her familia, a young man named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryson Baugus). Despite being a level 1 adventurer (yes, they have levels), Bell falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein (Saori Onishi/Shelley Calene-Black). Unbeknownst to Bell, his crush actually causes him to develop the rare skill Learis Freese, which makes his strength grow rapidly. Bell soon tries to win Ais’s attention while making the Hestia Familia the best. He’s later joined by helper Lilliluka Arde (Maaya Uchida/Hilary Haag) and armor smith Welf Crezzo (Yoshimaasa Hosoya/David Wald).

IsItWrong - 1Hestia
The one on the right who looks like a super-endowed teenager is the immortal goddess.

END SUMMARY

Someone advised me to check this anime out and, as I’m a nerd, I get why. This show pretty much follows the classic RPG rules, including the characters actually having stat blocks involving their strength, dexterity, etc. You get experience from slaying monsters, which allows you to raise your stats, which allows you to slay bigger monsters, rinse and repeat. When you kill monsters, they release magical crystal shards (because why not?), which can be sold or used to craft magical items. Monsters get stronger the deeper you go in the dungeon with “bosses” every few floors. However, sometimes monsters can make their way closer to the surface, which means that it’s important to keep a supply of strong adventurers going deeper and deeper in order to keep the population of strong monsters lower. There are also “free levels” where there are no monsters, just to keep it fair. Like I said, it’s basically just a traditional JRPG.

IsItWrong - 2Minotaur
Additionally, the “boss” monsters that almost kill you later are the things you easily destroy.

The thing that’s supposed to make it interesting is that it is more of a character-driven comedy than an adventure series. Bell is extremely awkward when around Ais, which is sometimes amusing, but completely oblivious to the fact that a number of other women around the town are attracted to him. It’s a fairly typical harem structure that Anime has adopted since Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo helped popularize it. The problem is that most of the characters here are just way too generic to make it work. There’s nothing about their personalities or characters that really feel unique to this show. In Ranma ½, characters would have descriptions like “Martial Arts cross-dressing chef who fights with a giant spatula.” Here, the description is “protagonist with a crush and tragic backstory.” Yes, the idea of literal gods and goddesses roaming the Earth and having competing teams is fun, but there aren’t really any stakes to anything involving it, so it doesn’t help much. 

IsItWrong - 3Lili
She’s a catgirl who can carry a big backpack, but that’s still somehow not compelling.

Overall, the monster and world designs were fun, and the elements that involved actual dungeon-crawling were entertaining, but I just couldn’t get into it. If you are a big anime person, you might like this, but I just didn’t care about any of the people. The series is apparently based on a bunch of light novels, so maybe those are better.

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.

Netflix Mini-Review: Cannon Busters – A Fun Take on Classic Anime

An American indie comic gets animated and it’s worth a shot.

SUMMARY (SPOILER-FREE)

It’s a world of sci-fi robots and magic that is somehow also the Old West. Sam the gynoid (Hinaki Yano/Kamali Minter) and her robot mechanic partner Casey Turnbuckle (Shiori Izawa/Stephanie Sheh) seek out legendary outlaw Philly The Kid (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Kenny Blank). Together, the three journey in order to find Sam’s lost owner Prince Kelby (Junji Majima/Zeno Robinson) and get caught up with bounty hunters, international politics, some weird drunks, and the occasional nihilistic robot.

Image result for cannon busters
Two are relentlessly optimistic while the other is a scumbag.

END SUMMARY

I admit I wasn’t that interested in the series until I found out it was created by LeSean Thomas, a guy who has been associated with a number of projects I enjoy, ranging from The Boondocks to Avatar: The Legend of Korra. So, I gave it a try and it was pretty solid. I’m not going to say that it revolutionized the anime genre or anything like that, but it definitely keeps you entertained. The show is a serial, with many of the episodes leading directly into the next with nearly no filler, something that stands at odds with most anime. 

Image result for lesean thomas
He co-directed The Boondocks. ‘Nuff said.

A lot of what makes the series work is that it really does create a strange and yet compelling world through its characters and story-lines. For example, the main character is a gunslinger who drives a transforming pink Cadillac and is mystically immortal. Actually, that’s probably a good test for whether or not you’ll like this show: Does a pink Cadillac that transforms into a giant Minotaur robot when you put enough quarters into it sound like a funny idea? If so, then this show is for you. 

Image result for cannon busters
Is a hypersonic alcoholic Ronin fun? Then watch.

The fight scenes in the show have a lot of variety, incorporating guns, swords, robots, and martial arts. The humor in the show isn’t overwhelming, but it manages to lighten some of the more genocidal or nihilistic moments. The plot is pretty simple, although it does run several plot-lines simultaneously, but the correct amount of hijinks tend to ensue at any time. 

Image result for cannon busters unfettered
Extradimensional monster eating a village? Yeah, that’s a thing.

Overall, if you have an inclination towards anime, I recommend giving this a try. At 12 episodes, it’s not much of an investment.

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.