December 03, 2011

Breath of life

Latest in the mailbox is Princess Resurrection. I'm only partway into the first disk, and I'm seeing so many parallels to the later (And still mostly unwatched) Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka? I might go into more detail after I've finished both series. But what struck me were the parallels and improvements. Both feature a powerful woman who can raise the dead. But Zombie puts limits on her. On the other hand, the boy in PR gains little except for healing from his return from the dead, plus a time-limit that he can be away from the sorceress ("Hime"). It looks like both involve a collection of supernatural women, PR has just introduced an attractive half-werewolf woman, but really, she can't compare to a chainsaw-wielding magical girl (on the other hand, Hime herself was wielding a chainsaw against an invisible man in one episode).

Anime is like history. It repeats, but not always the same way. Often it improves.

(Update) And boy believe me, there was PLENTY of room for Improvement!

Princess Resurrection, also known as Monster Princess (Kaibutsu Oujo), committed the worst sin any series can commit.  It was DULL.  And it maintained that dullness for 26 episodes.

"and you verified this by watching all 26?"  Well, yeah, I thought the werewolf chick was kinda hot.  Well, a little.  and since I was stuck with the DVD's anyway....  But it DID take me a while to force myself through them all.

So the setup, available on the back of any DVD or plot summary website is that this kid, Hiro, gets killed protecting this strange woman from falling girders, and she brings him back to life, but now he must be her servant.  It turns out she's a princess from the royal family of the Monster world.  It's a chance encounter, since his sister has been hired to be the live-in maid in the mansion that the princess is moving into, and as part of the sweet deal, he was going to live there too.  How Convenient!

So over the course of the first disk we accumulate the cast.  First there's the princess, whose actual name isn't revealed until the end of the series, so she has everyone call her Hime.  Apparently her former estate and all her retainers got wiped out, leaving her with only her android maid, which is why she's moving to this mansion in our world.

Flandre is the robot maid in question.  Built like a little girl, weighing multiple tons, insanely strong, and apparently only capable of saying "Huga" which if you've been around her long enough you can understand as complete sentences.  She has a tendency of running out of power at critical plot junctures.

But why have one maid when you can have two?  Sawawa is the human girl Hime hires as a maid.  She is, apparently, a great cook, and brews a mean cup of Earl Grey.  But she is utterly oblivious to the weird goings on around her (so much so that fairly early on they drop the pretense of her brother trying to shield things from her).  She's also utterly oblivious to the attention her enormous bust attracts from all the men around her, including the proprietor of the Parfait shop she seems to spend her every spare moment in pigging out (Well, at least we know where it all goes.).

Hiro is the "Hero", the center of this... well, I wouldn't call it a Harem, since nobody's really all that interested in him.  He's the viewpoint character, I guess.  He's utterly ineffectual, perpetually out of his depth, and incapable of standing up for himself, so he's usually reduced to stammering "but but but" after being steamrollered by everyone else in the cast.  He occasionally has his moments, which typically go to waste, and frankly, seem out of character for him anyway.  Having him suddenly get brave and interpose himself between Hime and an attacker is usually a wasted effort, as he gets slaughtered and cast aside.  Fortunately, having been gifted with "The Flame of Life" by Hime, his wounds always heal instantly, but he is tied to her by the fact that she has to recharge him every three days or he will die for good.  Thus, slave for life.

And yet like every good Japanese kid, he still goes to school.  That whole thing has always bugged me.

Soon they add Lisa Wildman, a half breed werewolf girl (only her forearms turn into enormous paws).  She's a hot-tempered tough girl, riding around on a dirt bike all the time, always angry, always wearing this tight, tight mare-midriff shirt and loose green cargo pants.  Originally she's going after Hime because she killed her brother, but when she finds out that it was because she was (apparently unbeknownst to her) held hostage by one of Hime's siblings and he was forced to fight and lost, she joins the crew determined to get revenge for her brother.  But she insists she's not one of Hime's entourage, although clearly she is.  Occasionally she shows a moment of softness towards Hiro, but then the writers forget about it and she blasts him as worthless.

Reiri is a Upper-class high school Vampire girl.  As a pure-breed vampire, rather than a converted human, she has powers like flight and the ability to go out in daylight.  For some reason she attends Hiro's school, where all the boys and girls are in love with her, and so once she's nice to Hiro (because of his supernatural associations) the boys all gang up against him (another Anime trope I've never understood).  Of course she thinks rather highly of herself, and speaks in very formal Japanese.  Originally an opponent, she sought to drink Hime's blood because it would make her immortal (apparently these Vampires age), but once she realized she couldn't get it, decided to hover around the group because watching their antics was "Interesting" (Maybe to her, but to us....).  Eventually when the church(!!!) she's living in gets burned down, she moves into the Mansion.  She and Lisa are natural enemies, and she taunts Lisa about being a "Dog" and laughs at her temper tantrums.

The secondary cast includes:

Hime's little sister Princess Sherwood, a pint-sized pettanko  full of ego and self-assurance of her irresistible beauty (stop me if you've seen this before), who for no good reason decides that Hiro is in love with her and should be her #1 servant.  Originally a rival of Hime's, they form an alliance because more Whacky Hijinks can ensue if they add her household to heap more abuse on Hiro.

Francheska is Sherwood's android maid, modeled after a full grown woman, she also only says "Huga" in a lower voice.  But she's also got better combat programming, and an interesting talent where she wields a handful of steel ball bearings like a sniper rifle, flicking them out with her thumb to devastating effect.

Then there's the Panda bear.  Probably the single dumbest addition to the cast.  Sherwood goes to the Zoo, the Panda falls in love with her, escapes and comes to her mansion, wants to be a servant, and is generally worthless, although strong, and moderately capable of fighting.  And for some reason he likes to afflict Hiro by dogpiling him.  For a brief period, there were three of them (his two brothers) but they disappeared shortly thereafter.

So, if you're done rolling your eyes, I'll tell you what they do with this WONDERFUL lineup.

Virtually nothing.

Seriously.  Being a Dispossessed Princess apparently involves a lot of sitting around drinking tea and doing nothing, being "Enigmatic", and waiting for the next assassin to attack.  Apparently there's a highlanderish battle for succession among the offspring of the Monster King, and she's not really inclined to participate.  Occasionally there's an outing where they end up in some haunted town or motel where they are also attacked, and Hime knows something about what's going on, but doesn't really bother to tell anyone.  Hiro "Wah"s and sputters and acts confused and gets his butt kicked,.  Lisa gets to act tough.  Reiri gets to tittle about how entertaining it all is, and Hime whips out her last minute butt-kicking skills and dispatches the foe.

Repeat for 20 episodes with minor variations, with virtually no continuity other than a few encore encounters.  Then at the end they make a stab at some big picture that I'm really not going to go into, because it's just another layer of stupid and contradiction on top of this mess.

As for the DVD's themselves....  Judging by the user reviews on NetFlix, too many people out there are too stupid to find the subtitle button on their remotes, because the menus don't include a subtitle setup page, so the default mode is Japanese with no Subtitles.  It's not dubbed, and thank goodness, because I get the feeling that if it were, the budget would result in something that would make an ADV dub sound like a Disney/Ghibli production by comparison.

Posted by: Mauser at 12:38 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 01, 2011

Samurai Gun

So the latest blessing from NetFlix was the Samurai Gun series as mangled by ADV films.

The setting is a little interesting, a time near the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, with the appearance of some elements of the Industrial Revolution.  But that's about the end of the interesting bits.  The rest of it is purely by the numbers.

The "Samurai Gun" are probably more accurately called Ninjas, simply because they USE guns, which were the downfall of the Samurai as a warrior class, and they operate for a secret underground anti-shogunate "Council" which we don't see.  The earliest members were trained from youth, and often come from a background of personal tragedy.

Our Hero (meh) is one of these, a half-breed Japanese, we get endlessly reminded that his sister was raped and murdered in front of him before he got taken in for the intense Samurai Gun training.  And as a result, when he's fighting, he's some kind of mythically good fighting machine.  Of course, in Anime, he can't be a hero if he doesn't hate himself for being good at killing.  He keeps saying he'll refuse Kill missions, and yet, the missions they give him always result in him killing Mooks by the magazine-load.

He has regular partners, the deadly woman stereotype, who daylights as an entertainer at the tavern where our hero has a cover as a bar back, and another fellow who gives him someone to talk to.  There's nothing special about him, really.

He's also got a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold girlfriend.  I guess it's a Japanese trope that the hero has a girl in the bordello he spends his time and money on, but doesn't sleep with.

There's not much point in going into any more detail.  The series is incomplete.  Just about the time they let the hero know that someone in the shogunate might be someone who used to be with the council and might have been behind his sister's end JUST to get him as a trainee, it's over.  Guess the second season didn't happen.  Probably for good reason.  The stories are pure overused tropes.

I also get a trifle annoyed at the writing when they try to talk about guns.  These professional shooters try to talk shop about their weapons, and show that the Japanese really don't have any actual experience to base the dialog on.  A real shooter might talk about how the weight of a gun helps steady one's aim or absorb recoil, but an anime writer who's only read about them would say something about a really light but powerful gun being "Faster" and therefore better.

And as for ADV mangling it.  The dub was SO bad and irritating, I HAD to switch to Japanese with Subtitles.  ADV must be run by a bunch of teenagers or twenty-somethings who think you can make something hardcore and edgy by stuffing the dialogue full of profanity and slapping an "adult" label on it.  It was so forced, as well as poorly acted that it just pulled you completely out.  And you can further see their respect for the source material by an Extras feature called "Fun with Audio" where the vouce actors basically make fart joke level humor with their lines.  It's not out-takes, but deliberate, and each outing features an even worse parody of the song the deadly woman sings in the bar.  Although I have to admit, they did save one good joke each time for last.

They also screw up by including an un-aired episode that occurs near the 2/3rd's mark through the series at the END of the last DVD, rather than inserting it in sequence where it might have actually made sense, since the events in it are referred to in the later episodes.  And if I had been buying these, I would have been annoyed at the 3 episodes per disk packaging.

If you like kinky stuff, on each disk there's at least one episode where semi-random females are abused by the bad guys to help prove that they're bad.  But the electro-torture, target practice, and sexual abuse are toned down to broadcast standards, since these were shown on TV.  Perhaps that's part of why it failed.

Posted by: Mauser at 04:40 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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