Series Review: Primal – Season 2 (2022)

Roughly two years ago, I reviewed the first season of this show. It was one my favorite things I have ever watched. And now season 2 has finally wrapped up, and I’m ready to talk about it. So did it live up to the first one? Let’s find out. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for the end of season 1, as that sets up this season. So you’ve been warned.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Primal” season 2!

Following the capture of his new friend Mira (Laëtitia Eïdo) by some unknown enemies, Spear (Aaron LaPlante) heads out with his trusted dino friend Fang into the vast unknown to find and rescue Mira. Season 2 of “Primal” forgoes the more episodic nature of the first outing for a more overarching story. And while I do miss aspects of the episodic structure, such as the greater variety in creatures, I did still really dig the story here. It’s a fun adventure narrative that tests the mettle of a man on a mission, it also does an excellent job of showing the impact of Spear and Fang’s brutal survival tactics. Like yeah, we do still root for them to succeed, but we also get to see more stuff from the perspective of other characters, and how they react to our heroes. It adds a lot of nuance to proceedings and makes the misadventures of our leads way more compelling and even a little more suspenseful. I also enjoyed how the story explored more cultures. If you’re one of those people who was bothered by the first season’s historically inaccurate premise of “caveman plus dinosaur”, then you’re gonna have a conniption at the amount of historical mixing they do this season. But I like it, because it leads to a lot of fun story and character opportunities. Where the story falters a little bit for me is in the ending, or more specifically the execution of it. I get the idea they’re going for, and it’s not the worst one. But the last minute-ish feels kind of awkward, and bothered me a bit. There is a simple tweak they could’ve done to the script and I wouldn’t have said anything. But as it stands, the very ending here is a little mixed. The overall season on the other hand is fucking great. Fun, scary, compelling, anxiety-inducing, and even heartwarming.

I like the characters in this. Despite (or thanks to) the creator’s penchant for minimal to no (understandable) dialogue, the characters don’t really develop much through words. But they do a good job of humanizing them and making them really compelling through visual storytelling and the actions they take, and it makes them really fun and interesting. And while they don’t get to speak much, I can still say that the voice cast all do a great job with the material/noises they have. Aaron LaPlante Laëtitia Eïdo, Fred Tatasciore, Imari Williams, MyAnna Buring, and more all deliver solid performances.

As with the first season, the music was composed by Tyler Bates and Joanne Higginbottom, and once again they knocked it out of the park. The percussion, brass, strings, and woodwind come together in really fun ways, taking influence from various cultures and exploring various moods in beautiful ways. It’s just stellar stuff that helps elevate the storytelling.

Season 2 of “Primal” had its writing split up between series creator Genndy Tartakovsky, and various other cool people, with directing being handled exclusively by Tartakovsky himself. And yeah, the craft here is just spectacular. The work Genndy and his team did on season 1 was already great, using the medium of animation to great effect. But I think they really outdid themselves here, with more detail in every scene, more dynamic movements, really inventive shots, and some bits that frankly made my jaw drop. You can tell that they really aimed to push themselves and the show further than they had before, and it pays off marvelously. Also, the action’s still bloody as fuck, which might put some off, but I dig it. Really adds weight to this world the characters inhabit.

The show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 97/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.7/10 and is ranked #137 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While the veeeeeery end is awkward and brings it down a little for me, season 2 of “Primal” is still another stellar outing for the violent and contemplative caveman show. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Primal” is a 9.67/10. So it does still get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Primal” season 2 is now completed.

Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur…

Movie Review: Belle (2022)

Hi, how are you? Long time no see. Anyhow, let’s talk about some anime!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Belle”.

Following a traumatic event many years ago, high schooler Suzu (Kaho Nakamura) has become a shadow of her former self, becoming very quiet and withdrawn. But one day seh joins “U”, an online community where you can be whoever you want to be. In here she becomes Belle, an internationally beloved pop star. However, her reign soon takes a turn after she finds out about a mysterious user known as The Beast (Takeru Satoh). As you can probably tell, this story takes some cues from “Beauty and the Beast. And it uses some of those elements as a springboard to tell a tale of finding oneself again, exploring the effect of trauma on a person, and how it makes on act in real life and online. And I think it does a beautiful job exploring its themes, all while perfectly balancing emotional resonance with popcorn friendly fun, creating a magnificently wonderful story.

Much like the story before them, the characters in this strike a really nice balance between an emotionally rich realness and easily digestible tropes. Many of the characters at first glance sort of fit into familiar stereotypes in various animes and coming-of-age dramas. But as we go on throughout the movie, more is unveiled about our cast to add depth. And then you add the characters’ reactions to the immediate events of the story, they feel more dynamic and real and I found the entire cast quite engrossing. Speaking of cast, the actors in this are all quite good. Featuring people like Kaho Nakamura, Takeru Satoh, Ryo Narita, Lilas Ikuta, Shota Sometami, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Koji Yakusho, and many more, there’s not a weak link in this cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Yuta Bandoh, Ludvig Forssell (SWEDEN REPRESENT!), Miho Hazama, and Taisei Iwasaki, and it’s great. It’s a varied mix of traditional orchestration with more more electronic/synthy sound, which I think perfectly marries the real world drama and cyberspace parts of the world/story marvelously. It’s exciting, it’s emotional, it’s fun, it just works so well. There’s also a few song-songs (for lack of a better word) done by Japanese group Millennium Parade, and holy fuck, they are so good. Not only are they a delight to listen to on their own, but they also help with the storytelling in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has some wonderful music.

“Belle” was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, with animation by his own studio, Studio Chizu. And once again, everything on that end is top tier. Every shot is lovingly crafted, drawing the eye to the visual splendor in every frame. What I also like is how they differentiate the real world from the world of “U”. The real world is pretty much all 2D animation, with fairly muted colors, whereas nearly everything going on inside of “U” is done in 3D with some really slick cel-shading and plenty of saturated and crisp colors. And just briefly, that 3D stuff is some of the best I’ve seen. Cel-shaded 3D in anime can often look really rough, but the insane wizards at Chizu managed to make it pretty much flawless. But pretty art/animation only gets you so far, but luckily I can happily say that Hosoda’s direction shine’s here. From the quiet scenes between characters, to the action scenes inside of “U”, to the more comedic bits, all of it is perfectly directed.

This movie’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

So yeah, I absolutely loved “Belle”. It’s an emotionally rich adventure that I can’t wait to revisit in the future. It has a fantastic story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Belle” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Belle” is now completed.

Hosoda-san sure loves the internet, huh?

Series Review: Demon Slayer – Season 1 (2019)

I really don’t talk enough about anime on this blog, which is kinda funny, because some of my first (and worst) reviews I did way back in 2014 were anime-related. But since then I haven’t really done much in that realm of entertainment. So maybe it’s time to try to remedy that.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Demon Slayer” season 1.

After most of his family gets killed by demons, Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae) vows to become a demon slayer in order to avenge his dead family, while also trying to cure his sister (Akari Kito) who’s been turned into a demon. And thus we follow Tanjiro as he goes on this journey, training to get stronger, attempting to save people, and meeting all sorts of colorful characters along the way. At first glance, it may seem like typical action-fantasy anime fare, and in a lot of ways, that is what it is. But then we also get a lot of moments that show something deeper, something… humane. For all the magic and monsters and over the top comedy, the show’s story grounds itself by often taking the time to let dramatic beats breathe and simmer, giving a very humane and emotionally charged perspective to the predicaments and stories that Tanjiro finds himself involved in throughout the 26 episode season. And this gives the show a weight that really makes the story of “Demon Slayer” something special. Admittedly I wouldn’t call myself “hooked” by the first few episodes. They’re still quite entertaining, but since they consist of a lot of setup, they do suffer from a tiny bit of good ol’ premiere sickness. Again, they’re still really solid, so it’s not a dealbreaker, just a slight hiccup in what is otherwise a great story.

The characters in this are all fun, colorful, entertaining, and overall just insanely compelling. Much like the story, at first glance they might all cover the typical archetypes found within this kind of anime, but given a bit of time, they start to show more depth, while still being able to embrace some of those classic tropes when needed. I also think the performances in here are spectacular. The cast consists of people like Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (who plays my favorite character), Takahiro Sakurai, Takumi Yamazaki, and many more, all doing amazingly well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Yuki Kajiura and Go Shiina, and my god, they did an amazing job with it. Sweeping orchestrations, moody strings and pianos, some horror stings, even a bit of rock and techno-infused stuff slips in, and it’s all terrific, adding so much to the show. The opening and ending themes by LiSA (god, that stage name really hates SEO) are also really solid. The music in this show’s just all round great.

Based on the hit manga by Koyoharu Gotouge, “Demon Slayer” was brought to us by the studio Ufotable, and they just knocked it out of the fucking park here. The art pops beautifully, the movement is smooth, the colors look super crisp, and everything just has an insane level of polish that is an absolute joy to behold from start to end. The animation especially comes alive during the action scenes, all of which are dynamic, breathtaking, and very creative. Long story short: This show looks fucking amazing.

This show/season’s been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10, and is ranked #128 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a wonderful fantasy-action anime with plenty of heart. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and amazing animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a 9.65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Demon Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

I should try to cover more anime in the future. Get the original intentions back on track… albeit with less terrible writing.

Movie Review: Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Hello! As some of you might remember, last year I retired my 12 Films of Christmas series, as I got burnt out on doing 12 themed pieces over the span of 12 days. And I stand by that retirement. However, that won’t prevent me from still doing a few chrimbo movies on this blog. So with that out of the way, let us talk about one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Tokyo Godfathers”!

’twas the night before christmas, and all throughout Tokyo, some shit was stirring, I can’t keep this up, yo. Anyhow, during christmas eve, three homeless people find a baby abandoned in some trash and set out on an adventure to find its parents. “Tokyo Godfathers” is a unique take on familiar ideas, creating a compelling narrative that is equal parts heartwarming, heartbreaking, tragic, and funny. It’s a wonderful and delightfully off-kilter story that had me feeling every emotion possible. I’m sorry that this section is so brief and vague, but it’s hard to talk any more in depth about this story without revealing too much. But trust me when I say that it’s a great little tale.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, flawed, nuanced, and overall quite interesting. First up are our leading three, all coming from tragic backgrounds, all trying their damndest to make the most of their bad situation(s). They’re a frankly amazing trio of characters that I loved following. They’re also wonderfully brought to life by the vocal talents of Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, and Aya Okamoto. The supporting cast is great too, featuring interesting characters voiced by terrific actors like Akio Otsuka, Yusaku Yara, Kyoko Terase, and more.

The music for the movie was composed by Keiichi Suzuki, along with Moonriders, his band. And I think they did a swell job with it. It takes some influences from jazz, pop-rock, and various styles of film score to create a unique soundscape that fits the movie wonderfully.

“Tokyo Godfathers” was directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon, and he and his crew did an amazing job here. The animation quality is spectacular, with beautifully fluid movements and actions. But much like Kon’s other works, the characters have a lot of imperfections to them, compared to the oft’ flat and glossy look of many animes, which really helps add to the grounded and somewhat gritty vibe of this movie. It’s stunningly animated, cleverly edited, and just overall wonderfully put together. Kon was an absolute master who was taken from us too soon.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“Tokyo Godfathers” is not just a fun christmas romp, but also a beautifully nuanced drama, and I adored every bit of it. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tokyo Godfathers” is a 9.93/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Tokyo Godfathers” is now completed.

Simply wonderful.

Series Review: Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness – Season 1 (2021)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the CG-animated “Resident Evil” movies, with “Resident Evil: Damnation” being my favorite of the bunch. So when it was announced that we were getting a new animated series for the franchise, I got excited. And now it’s here, on Netflix, and I watched the entire thing. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness”.

A few years after the outbreak in Raccoon City, we once again meet up Leon Kennedy (Nick Apostolides) and Claire Redfield (Stephanie Panisello) as they’ve moved on to new positions in the world. And we follow them as they look into strange goings on involving bioweapons and horrific drawings, leading them down a dangerous path of horrors and conspiracies. So yeah, the setup treads familiar ground if you’re a fan of this franchise, which is fine, as long as it’s handled in an interesting and enjoyable way. Sadly, that’s not quite what’s going on here. I’m not saying that it’s outright poor, I didn’t dislike the story here. But it’s done in such a dry way, lacking the personality and unique charisma that makes “Resident Evil” into what it is. There is no real suspense, there’s not much (if any) excitement in how it could pan out, there’s not really any sense of fun, and at no point does it feel like it needed to be a “Resident Evil” story. On the whole, it’s a passable thriller narrative for a rainy Sunday, but sadly I never got truly invested in it.

The characters in this are… fine? Much like the case of the story, they lack a lot of personality. Leon is neither the naive optimist of “Resident Evil 2” or the snarky legend of “Resident Evil 4”, he’s just kind of a quiet tough guy who never shows much sign of any charisma.  Nick Apostolides does a good job with the performance, but it just feels slightly underwhelming when the material he has to work with is so… plain. Claire comes close at times of showing off some of the determined charm that I loved in “Resident Evil 2”, but never quiiiiite gets to go the distance on it. At least I can say that Stephanie Panisello does a good job with her performance. The other charaters… again, very plain, doesn’t get much, if any interesting development. They’re just kinda there. At least I can say that the supporting cast, featuring people like Ray Chase, Jona Xiao, Billy Kametz, Brad Venable, and more, all do very well in the roles.

The score for this series was composed by Yugo Kanno, and I think he did a good job with it. It doesn’t necessarily do much to stand out, but it has enough nice little action, horror, and drama flourishes throughout to at least give the show an enjoyable enough soundscape.

Based on the “Resident Evil” game franchise published by Capcom, “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” was created by Hiroyuki Kobayashi, with Eiichiro Hasumi handling direction. And now comes the part where I can finally pile praise upon the show. This show has some spectacular animation. Going for this sort of semi-realistic style can be a gamble, but I think they pulled it off. Character movement is fluid and natural, making me believe each action that happens. And the sheer amount of detail they managed to put in the show is absolutely insane. Individual hairs on characters’ heads, creasing in fabrics, subtle details in metal, there’s just a ridiculous amount of detail in everything throughout this show, which is just mindboggling to me. How can you pull this level of detail off? But yeah, this show is really well animated.

Keep in mind that the show just came out, so these ratings will change over time (not on this blog though, I’m too lazy to edit shit as time goes on). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 56% positive rating. On Metacritic it currently has no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

So yeah, despite my excitement for it, “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” isn’t quite as enjoyable as I had hoped, with its biggest weakness being a lack of personality and identity. It has an okay plot, mediocre characters, good performances, good music, and terrific animation and direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” is a 6.20/10. So while very flawed, it can at least be worth a watch.

My review of “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” is now completed.

Well, damn…

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 4 (2021)

This review is a bit of a bittersweet one. On one hand, I get to talk about this show once again (yay!)… but this has also been confirmed to be the final season (boo). I’ve loved every season that’s come before, so I was of course excited. But then we get to the question: Did they stick the landing? Let’s find out.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… the final season of “Castlevania”!

We once again find ourselves within the region of Wallachia as Trevor (Richard Armitage), Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso), and Alucard (James Callis) once again must go on quests to save the people, and possibly also the world as we know it, from powerful forces. All the while Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her vampire sisters scheme to try and take over the world, with Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) working to find a way to kill her. As you can read, a lot of shit is going on here, and even then I left out A LOT of stuff as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But what’s my verdict on the story here? It’s great. They manage to make everything feel like it truly matters, like there are actual stakes, and they manage to keep it consistently engaging. Whether it’s through a big, over the top action scene or a slower, more conversational part, the writers manage to keep it really engaging throughout the entire 10 episode run. And when it’s all said and done, it wraps up in an emotionally satisfying way that works really well for the story and world that they’ve developed.

The characters of this show, be they new or old, remain some of the most colorful, layered, fun, and overall interesting ones in recent memory. Most of them get a good arc here, and I think it makes for some great dynamics between them, as well as just making them highly engaging on their own. And the cast is just as stellar as ever, with both returning cast members and newcomers giving it their fucking all. And within said cast we find people like Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Jessica Brown Findlay, Theo James, Jaime Murray, Yasmine Al Massri, Ivana Milisevic, Malcolm McDowell, Toks Olagundoye, Titus Welliver, and many other very talented actors.

As with the previous seasons, Trevor Morris stood for the music, and once again he’s killed it. Big, epic orchestral pieces, smaller and more somber pieces, even a little bit of synth, the man mixes a few different styles that fit beautifully into creating a highly engaging soundscape for the show.

As with its previous seasons, “Castlevania” season 4 was written by Warren Ellis, with the Deats brothers handling the directing. And once again, the craft on display here is out of this world good. And where that shines the most is of course the animation, which is utterly breathtaking, especially during action scenes. Sure, it looks really good during slower, talky scenes too, but it’s during action that it really comes alive, giving us some breathtakingly dynamic, gruesome, and utterly badass fights that I will not forget any time soon. Powerhouse Animation, man, they never slip up.

This show/season just came out, so it currently doesn’t have much data on my usual sites. But here is still the link for the Metacritic page. On Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a 100% audience rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

So yeah, the final season of “Castlevania” completely sticks the landing, making for an emotionally satisfying and highly entertaining end to this series that I love. The story is great, the characters are great, the performances are fantastic, the music is great, and the directing/animation is fantastic. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for the final season of “Castlevania” is a 9.97/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 4 is now completed.

It’s… it’s over… *sad sniff*.

Movie Review: The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

While I miss going to the cinema, it’s nice that I still can experience brand new movies from the safety of my own home. And this one comes to us straight from Netflix.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”.

Going on what is meant to be a family bonding road trip, the dysfunctional Mitchell family find themselves caught in the middle of a robot apocalypse, and must do everything they can to survive and possibly also save the world. So yeah, this movie blends a lot of familiar elements into its story. There’s the whole dysfunctional family angle, the misunderstood teenager, there’s a road trip comedy, there’s robots trying to take over, there’s social commentary on modern tech… yeah, this soup has a lot of ingredients. And they all come together quite well to make for a highly enjoyable narrative. Yes, it really doesn’t do much new, but that’s okay, because it handles its familiar ideas in really fun, easily digestible ways. It also helps that it seldom lets anything outstay its welcome, thanks to a crackling pace. But it does also know to slow down when there needs to be a bit of character drama. It’s basically a good, well paced story that I highly enjoyed.

The characters in this are all charming, colorful, and highly entertaining. They all have some quirk to them that is used in fun ways throughout the movie, and it also at times makes for some interesting character dynamics when needed. I don’t really wanna say too much more, as I feel the characters and their unique charms are best left experienced, so let’s just mention some of the actors in this, all of which are great in their respective roles. You got Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, and I think it’s great. It’s very energetic and fun, fitting the fast pace of the movie. I also think the heavy use of synths add a lot to it, complementing both the robot uprising and the bouncy family adventure. There’s also a few licensed songs used here, and they work fine.

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” was written and directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, and I think they did a terrific job with it. This movie has this really energetic and snappy direction that really helps keep any moment from getting stale, and which makes action scenes an absolute joy to behold. Speaking of beholding, holy crap, this animation in this is spectacular. It is of course 3D/CG in its basis, but it also seems to incorporate elements of cel-shading, some traditional 2D animation, and even a few other styles at a few points that I won’t spoil. But yeah, it makes for animation that really pops off the screen lingers in the viewer’s (AKA my) mind. The movie is also insanely funny, there’s so many jokes here I laughed really hard at. There were also a few I didn’t really enjoy, but thanks to the movie’s fast pace they didn’t really outstay their welcome, so the overall experience remained very positive.

This movie just came out, so ratings might change over time (I will however not change anything, for I am lazy). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is an insanely fun and hilarious family film that I highly enjoyed. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic direction/animation, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is a 9.67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is now completed.

It’s been a while since I laughed so much that it made me cough. Good on ya, movie.

Series Review: Seis Manos – Season 1 (2019)

Is it time to talk about animation? I believe it’s time to talk about some animation. Hell, I’d say it definitely is time to do that. That’s the perk of running your own blog. No editor who can say “No, you can’t talk about animation now”.

Dames y hombres… “Seis Manos” season 1.

1970s Mexico. When a vicious gangster (Danny Trejo) starts unleashing hell upon the world, a group of varying people get brought together to try to stop him. This motley crew includes some martial artists (Aislinn Derbez and Johnny Cruz), a local cop (Angélica Vale), and an American DEA agent (Mike Colter). “Seis Manos” is fascinating in the sense that it’s a pretty eclectic mix of ideas, inspirations, and styles. On the surface it seems be a mix of crime-drama and martial arts action, but then you also start mixing in stuff like grindhouse, comedy, fantasy, body horror, eastern philosophy, and even elements of Blaxploitation. And then you of course also take the Mexican setting into account, which means a lot of that culture gets mixed into proceedings. So you’d think the storytelling of this show would be an absolute clusterfuck… but no, the crazy songs of bitches pulled it off. While it does lose a little bit of focus towards the end, I do still feel that there’s some really solid storytelling going on here. Yes, it’s eclectic, but that also adds a lot of personality to it, while still being a generally entertaining narrative to follow. It does have a fair bit of emotionally resonant drama, but it also generally serves as a fun and unusual tale that is just plain fun to follow.

The characters in this are of course based on tropes and archetypes we’ve seen before, but we do also see them played around with to a decent extent, making for some enjoyable development. Like the three martial artists Isabela, Jesus, and Silencio. One a tough but loving woman, one a big, lovable goof, and one a dark and quiet man. All three start out with that one detail and get some enjoyable development throughout. Then there’s Garcia, the local police officer who gets tangled up in this insanity. A tough but fair cop trying to prove herself while still staying true to herself. And she’s very interesting too. Then there’s Brister, a fridge of a man working for the DEA, working to take down bad guys. He’s a smart-aleck with a lot of colorful lines and a very “I don’t have time for this shit” kind of attitude, which gets tested at every turn for not only great comedy, but some genuinely interesting character development. And the villain, El Balde, is one vicious motherfucker, making for one hell of an intimidating presence. And the voice cast, containing people like Aislinn Derbez, Jonny Cruz, Mike Colter, Danny Trejo, Angélica Vale, Vic Chao, and more, all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carl Thiel, and I think he did a really good job with it. Much like with the narrative it complements, the score takes inspiration from many sources. Of course it has some familiar use of strings, keys, and brass for action stuff. But there’s also some traditional Mexican stuff throughout, a little bit of 70s noir-inspired funk, and probably some other specific styles I currently forget. Either way, it’s an interesting mix of sounds that pays off in making for giving the show an interesting soundscape.

“Seis Manos” was created for Netflix by Brad Graeber and Álvaro Rodríguez, with Willis Bulliner handling the directing. It’s also animated by Powerhouse Animation, a studio that I’ve talked about a few times before on this blog (*Shameless* and *Plug*). So as to be expected, I was excited to see how this show would end up looking. And it looks really good. Character designs are charming and fight scenes are kinetic and exciting. While it isn’t Powerhouse’s overall strongest piece of animation, it’s still really well handled, giving us some terrifically directed animation/action to enjoy. Plus, we don’t get much in terms of martial arts animation here in the west, so this show delivering on that was an absolute treat for me.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

While the final act of the story is a little bit lacking in focus, season 1 of “Seis Manos” is still a highly entertaining and refreshingly unique bit of animation. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seis Manos” season 1 is an 8.87/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching!

My review of “Seis Manos” season 1 is now completed.

I hope we get a season 2. Or should I say… SEISON!?

Series Review: Dragon’s Dogma – Season 1 (2020)

I love animation. I love video games. So the two smashed together should be heaven, right? Right? Why are you so quiet?

Ladies and gents… “Dragon’s Dogma” season 1.

Ethan (Greg Chun) lives a nice, relatively quiet life with his wife. This peace doesn’t last however when the entire town is destroyed and Ethan’s heart gets eaten by a giant dragon. Shortly after our hero finds himself resurrected by a mysterious magical lady (Erica Mendez), and vows to find and slay the dragon that ruined his life. It’s a mostly classic fantasy/revenge setup with elements that we’ve seen before. Where it tries to stand out somewhat though is in its storytelling… keyword being tried. The idea with each episode is that as Ethan travels the country in search of the big spooky lizard, he encounters different monsters and situations mirroring the seven deadly sins (which can even be seen in each episode title). And while they have some wonderful ideas for how that will work, I feel like they undercooked this heart steak a bit. While the show’s fast pace keeps it from getting too stale, it does hurt the storytelling. Nothing really gets to simmer. They have interesting developments and ideas within each episode, but I never feel as invested as I could be given the interesting subject matter. So instead of getting the nuanced fantasy narrative that I know the crew’re striving for, we get a story that never reaches its full potential, bar one thing in the final episode.

Where the story does falter… the characters don’t do much to help. I will say that Ethan, our main protagonist, does have some interesting stuff going on. Each episode we see some mild developments on his side, and it does make him a somewhat compelling character. And Greg Chun does a great job with his voice work there. Then we have the pawn (also known as Hannah), the mysterious magical lady I mentioned earlier who resurrected Ethan. She is a little bit of a blank slate, only there to serve as a somewhat logic-driven sidekick to Ethan. There is great potential with her character, but it’s never fully achieved. At least Erica Mendez does a good job with her performance. The rest of the cast aren’t necessarily as great though, because most of them attempt some form of British accent (‘ullo gov’nah), with a majority sadly falling flat on their face.

The score for the show was composed by Tadayoshi Makino, and I think his music here is great. It is of course based in a lot of the brass, strings, and piano we have heard in fantasy before. But Makino puts his own spin on it to some degree, making for a score that is exciting, emotional, and ear candy of the highest degree.

Based on the 2012 video game from Capcom, “Dragon’s Dogma” was animated by studio Sublimation for Netflix, with Shinya Sugai handling direction. Aaaaaand I have mixed feelings. Lookign at the overall shot composition, you can tell that these guys have a good eye, there’s a lot of good “camera” movements and nice ideas for stills. This is however brought down by the studio’s choice to go with a pseudo 3D style of animation. Now, in the few instances I’ve seen this styles pop up in other things, it hasn’t been very good. And while it certainly looks slightly less shit than some other instances of this weird 2D/3D amalgamation, it still doesn’t work. All the characters look lifeless dolls, and movements look really janky. This is almost even worse with some of the creatures in this show, who get these pretty murky textures draped over them, which makes them look really bad. There are moments of good animation however. Fleeting moments of regular, hand-drawn 2D animation. And it’s a shame that these are such brief moments, because those instances look amazing. But overall, the animation here isn’t great.

This show’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a critic rating of 100%, but an audience rating of 50%. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.3/10.

While it has a lot of potential for greatness, Netflix’s “Dragon’s Dogma” sadly doesn’t live up to the potential. It has a mediocre plot, okay characters, good acting, great music, and bad animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dragon’s Dogma” is a 4.89/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Dragon’s Dogma” is now completed.

Hopefully the game’s better…

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 7)

Only five days until this little series is over. Which also means only five days until christmas… it’s celebrated on the 24th here in Sweden, don’t argue with me. Anyhow, shall we get on with today’s holiday film?

So today we’re talking about “Arthur Christmas”, a 2011 animated holiday film from Aardman animation. Except you’d be forgiven for not realizing it was Aardman, because this doesn’t use their traditional claymation style. Anyhow, “Arthur Christmas” is about Arthur (James McAvoy), the clumsy son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). However, when Santa misses one present, Arthur teams up with his grandfather (Bill Nighy) to deliver it, despite being told that it’s a futile quest. What we get is a charming little fantasy adventure with themes of legacy and overcoming your fears and all those other familiar things we’ve seen in family holiday films. But the execution here is really good, giving us a fast-paced and generally well-written story that I had fun with. It’s also very funny, especially whenever grandsanta (the grandfather) is on screen. He is a goofy, hammy, and a little crazy old man that serves as a comic relief, and does so really well. And with Bill Nighy hamming it up with his vocal performance, you get some absolute fucking gold from grandsanta. The rest of the cast is great too, with people like James McAvoy, Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and many other awesome people filling out the cast list.
I guess I should also briefly touch on what I said at the start. This is an Aardman film, except it doesn’t look like it. “Arthur Christmas” is completely CGI, with hints of the typical Aardman visual style. And while I am slightly sad about that, I’m not complaining. The movie still looks good, it’s a very well animated movie, filled with plenty of nice colors and movements.
But yeah, “Arthur Christmas” is a charming and funny little holiday adventure. I’d recommend sticking it on if you got 90 minutes to kill and want something lighthearted.

On the seventh day of christmas, Markus spent no money
Lucky for him, he could still watch Bill Nighy be funny