[One Piece Film Retrospective] #7: The Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle (2006)

Always felt some sort of pity with this one, because it had the unbelievable “luck” of coming out after a far more ambitious, creative and artistically impressive take on the same series, and while almost anything was gonna be looked down upon as a “follow up” to Baron Omatsuri and The Secret Island… going fully back on the formulaic and “mild” didn’t help, even it was “inevitable”.

Okay, that’s a bit cruel, but i guess the mixed reviews Baron Omatsuri received were taken into consideration, so the experimental period was basically declared over, time to slip back into the comfort zone and play it super safe, despite that movie being as successful as any One Piece film was.

Not that this is necessarily the sign of a bad movie, i do like “regular” One Piece after all, of course i do, but i’m not exactly impressed when a film series based on a super popular shonen series is playing to the familiar tunes immediatly after an entry took risks, and was mostly rewarded for it’s ambition, the desire of director, screenwriter to make a very different film while still playing within (& with) the established world and characters of said series. A different, risky vision.

Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle is another cuttle of fish, as in, the usual for One Piece feature films, we’re back to the regular scheduled fair, for better or worse.

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[One Piece Film Retrospective] #5: The Cursed Holy Sword (2004)

When preparing to do this new One Piece films retrospective, there was one in particular i was dreading to cover again, that i istantly knew i wasn’t gonna like having to watch another time for review purposes. Yes, i didn’t particularly care for the first official One Piece movie, but i always had “beef” with The Cursed Holy Sword, even on a conceptual level it irked me greatly.

But i’m a man fond of redemption tale, and giving this movie a second chance after all was just professional courtesy as a critic, after all it’s a “re-view” in name, fact and spirit.

I will recognize that one could see this movie in particular as an attempt to offer something a bit different from before in terms of movie outings, i can’t fault that mindset, but i still feel like this was a previous script for another shonen series that was repurposed for another, more popular IP, regardless if was a good fit or not.

And yes, i would argue the fantasy-heavy storyline doesn’t really fit the world of One Piece much, usually the weird stuff it’s all due to some Devil Fruit ability or something that is treated akin to science, something that its grounded in its own reality, see the Skypiea arc treatment of the “gods in the sky” kerfuffle. Put another way, 99 % is just stuff that it’s explained in-universe sooner or later, i mean, it fits with the underlying “age of discovery” angle the pirate theme often brings.

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A quick ramble about the Klonoa Phantom Reverie Series collection

Klonoa has been one of my favourite series since a decade or plus ago i discovered it… as a teen by playing the second game, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, on the old “fat” PS2 model. Yep, this isn’t a childhood fascination, i just loved the frigging series since i stumbled upon it, so thanks to some handy “gift money” i pre-ordered this new collection… one that Namco Bandai just kinda put out there without much marketing and fanfare, aside from revealing it in a Nintendo Direct.

I got the PS4 version for performance’s sake, and because i wanted something good to keep on the shelf – alphabetically -before Knack, so let’s just give a quick overview of this collection after spending a couple hours or so with it.

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Ninety Nine Nights X360 [REVIEW] | #musoumay

In the 2000s, the Dynasty Warriors series (and most of its subseries) was not well received in western grounds, often maligned by people that never even gave the formula a real chance but eager to play them for 5 minutes, stop and write some half-baked “review”, because it was cool to bash musou games, and they’re a niche interest anyway, who cares.

But that didn’t stop various other company from having a go at the formula, often proclaiming that them alone knew how to “fix” musou games… and then churning out shit that only demonstrated how people genuinely misunderstood the formula and the appeal of these games, often thinking that they just needed to beef up the enemy IA… leading to crap like Spartan Total Warrior.

One of the “musou pretenders” from that era was definitely Ninety Nine Nights, or N3 because we’re cool like that, dawg. Drop the beets for the l33t.

A X-Box 360 exclusive launch title, developed by Q Entertaiment and Phantagram, Ninety Nine Nights also had a fairly rushed development cycle, which you can really tell from the story perspective. It’s the usual “Light VS Darkness” bullshit set in a medieval-ish looking world with all expected high fantasy races and tropes: goblin, trolls, orcs, dragons and all dat shit.

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The Snufkin Agenda

Speaking of trolls, there’s actually a Moomin game listed on Steam, called Snufkin: Melody On Moominvalley, it’s pretty much a lot of “TBA” in most regards but it’s a point n click adventure game, there are some screenshots, a trailer and a description, and it’s listed for a 2023 release.

Looks very cute, official, so if you have any kind of affection for the Moomins at all, wishlist it on Steam, won’t you? This is the link.

(and no, this isn’t a paid marketing post, just stumbled into the project’s existence 3 days ago while search for Snufkin’s gifs)

Really not feeling like seeing the actual “Troll 3” movie, even for the occasion. And yes, there’s a proper one of these, after years of misleading alternative titles for unrelated kinds of Joe D’Amato crap.

[EXPRESSO] Belle (2021) | Every Me And Every U

You know what, i did have some expectations from Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle, as i did quite like Mirai, and i hoped the streak would continue… and it kinda did.

That it, when i wasn’t baffled by the script “skipping” to the main scenes but forgetting to introduce actually crucial information that would lead to said scenes, as Hosoda’s ambition it’s sadly overreaching, and the final result really lacks cohesion, coming off as both overwrought and undeveloped in some aspects. Which is a goddamn shame because the premise, the themes and the overall concept are pretty damn good, but are elaborated on in a way where there’s too much to it.

Belle it’s about the 17 yo Suzu, a very timid and shy girl who has lost her mother and lives with her father in a rural small town. One day she receives an invite to “U”, an advanced and immersive social network with millions of users, receives the avatar of “Belle” and – with the help of her tech savvy friend – becomes a sensational hit singer. But soon she meets with a reviled user with the avatar of a dragon-like beast, hunted by U’s “police force”.

The animation is pretty good, the visuals are quite nice and sometimes pretty dazzling, the music – a big part of the movie – it’s also good, some scenes are quite good, so it’s frustrating how it’s dragged down by the oversprawling script, which makes some questionable choices and really could have used more than a trimming to flesh out the characters betters… and to explain how the hell some characters – out of the blue – know plot crucial information, among other things.

Overall, it’s a decent movie, but it’s too all over the place for its own good and ambition.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season One) (2022) | Ragtime Round

Unlike many videogames to animated series adaptations, Cuphead having his own Netflix show makes some sense, given its aesthetic molded after the style of 1930s cartoons, why not make a cartoon using the characters and the retro-aesthetic?

I’m gonna say this now so we can move on from it, but yes, i really wanted the team to opt for a full proper rubberhose style animation, but that would have required a fuckton more time and money, and honestly the animation is pretty good, with some episodes even mixing live-action sets, and overall i gotta say it delivers on the presentation.

The voice acting is on spot in terms of accents and lingo too, the character designs and mannerism are perfect but in terms of content it’s a bit uneven because it doesn’t really go all the way to imitate the source material, i mean, you expect a lot more in terms of guns, cigars and gambling, but nope, it’s kinda mild and forgettable.

It also basically ignores the plot of the videogame it’s based off, instead going for mostly episodical…. mundane adventures. Yeah, Cuphead owns the Devil its soul… but that goes ultimately nowhere, and the writing it’s uneven, as some episodes do manage to work in a musical number, some good jokes and a good rhytm to the slapstick, others feel like they exist to waste time and deliver cheapo jokes that come off as too modern.

The Cuphead Show it’s an odd case of a series stuck in between a cheapish low effort animated comedy and a tribute to 30s style cartoons, so ultimately it’s just kinda there, inoffensive, fairly short and easy to binge, cute but just with not much of substance going on under its “borrowed” aesthetic.

A second season has already been greenlit, regardless. Mh.

Orochi The Eight-Headed Dragon (1994) [REVIEW] | Tsukuyomi Endless (Endless)

Ah yes, the classic go-to monster of japanese folklore for when a regular hydra just won’t cut it, and a name that will be immediatly recognized by anyone with some dedication to videogames, manga and cinema, especially if they involve the classic mediaval fantasy japanese settings, as he’s often the big bad monster like in Okami, or has an entire subseries of Warriors crossover titles with him as the catalyst of chaos. Or more close to the bone, being the ispiration for the classic Godzilla monster, King Ghidorah, since we’re going into the Toho territory of giant monsters once again.

But it’s not quite that, as this one isn’t a science fiction film as many giant monsters from the Godzilla series were, but instead is a straigh-foward old fashioned magical fantasy film that picks various mythological characters and story pieces from the ones about the formation of the Shinto religion, in this case being the tale of Yamato Takeru, his encounter with the Yamato-hime priestess, receiving the holy sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, the Tree Treasures, Susano’o, the fight with the god Tsukuyomi….

…and a lot more names that most likely don’t mean jack if you’re not familiar with japanese mythology, like at all, so it makes a bit more sense that they didn’t release it overseas under its original title of “Yamato Takeru”, despite it being more apt.

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What is Christmas without an Ice Cream Bunny?

Think watching The Star Wars Holiday Special each year it’s not the hipster “christmas tradition” it was before? If so, i will propose something that’s also not new, as it has a cult following, but very very smaller in comparison, since it doesn’t have the Star Wars branding.

Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny.

If this didn’t trigger a PTSD-like reaction, i’m here to share my cursed knowledge upon you, because in a way this fits the Christmas period, and its deranged insanity.

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Alice: Otherlands (2015) [REVIEW] | Uncertain Fate Kickstarted

While Alice Asylum (as said in the review of Madness Returns) is now officially in the pre-production stage of development, the path to this potential third game in the series hasn’t been a walk in the park for anyone involved, and it was bound to be full of bumps and by-products because a third game was never certain, so it makes sense that American Mc Gee tried to bring closure to his series back in 2015, with the project known as “Alice Otherlands”, made of artworks and two short animated films produced by Spicy Horse, funded via Kickstarter, as the owner of the Mc Gee’sAlice IP itself, EA, wasn’t interested in funding a third game, at all, so they had to pivot the project.

Fuck EA, btw. Just in case you needed more incentives to do so. You didn’t.

What came out of it where – mostly – the two aforementioned short films, Leviathan – A Journey Through Jules Verne’s Mind and A Night At The Opera.

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