[EXPRESSO] Alice In Borderland (Season Two) (2022) | Fallen Figures

After a good year plus of waiting, the second season of Alice In Borderland is here (again, as a Netflix exclusive show), picking up where the cliffhanger finale left our protagonists, who now are pretty much forced to confront the new games held by the high ranking card figures, with teams of “inhabitants” that challenge the players directly, in the hope of figuring out a way to come back home, or if there’s even a way out to begin with..

There are some surprise comebacks, new faces, and the various games are quite entertaining and creative, the returning characters get more characterization, and ultimately we also learn a lot more about this “Borderland” world, even though we don’t get many answers because we’d lose that vague mystique and there’s technically enough source material for a third season.

Speaking of which, while i’m personally kinda tempted to lower the overall score/vote for the ending alone – that and some really cliched and basic philosophical wafflings – … i will give it credit since it could work as a proper conclusion for the series overall.

As i said before, you can clearly tell it’s adapted from a manga series, one that draw easily into the popular branch of suspense/supernatural death games (very akin to The World Ends With You crossed with stuff like As The Gods Will) and also belongs to the battle royale subgenre, though this live-action adaptation had the accidental luxury of releasing worlwide just before Squid Game – and its craze that re-popularized the battle royale – came into existence.

Overall, i’ve enjoyed this one more than the first season, it’s just more compelling in terms of characters, death games and stakes, making me surprisingly glad i gave it a chance, even if it’s a bit flawed at times.

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion/Ignition PS3 [REVIEW] | Hollow Warriors

Yep, going to try and get that “SEO synch energy” going… or so i planned, only to forget, but regardless, it’s still worth pointing out that somehow Bleach is back, with the anime getting new episodes to continue where they stopped years ago, the manga resurrected itself on its 20th anniversay with an one-shot chapter to set up either a new arc or a “Boruto” style follow-up series about Ichigo’s kid, so i guess it’s time to talk about this forgotten Bleach game.

You might argue that this isn’t a “proper” musou but i feel it deserves to be called at least a “musou-like”, and one that nowadays it’s hard to own in any legal sense, as it was released exclusively on PS3 in 2011 and there still remains, most likely due to being an anime licensed videogame, or being co-developed by Racjin and Sony’s Japan Studio.

One that nowadays it’s hard to find and commands some “interesting prices”, FIY.

So yeah, Soul Resurreccion (or Soul Ignition, if you wanna use its japanese title) is the closest thing we have to a “Bleach musou”, and as most avid Shonen Jump readers could guess, it’s mostly based on the Hueco Mundo section in the Arrancar story arc of the Bleach manga-anime, which makes sense since there’s nothing but sand, monsters and bigger monsters in this desert world, so let’s mostly adapt that part of the arc, since it’s very videogamey anyway, with the various encounters against the Espada and then the final confrontation again the big bad Aizen.

Continua a leggere “Bleach: Soul Resurreccion/Ignition PS3 [REVIEW] | Hollow Warriors”

[EXPRESSO] One Piece Film Red (2022) | Idol Live Stream

Managed to catch a subbed preview screening in cinemas here, and actually catched another esclusive screening for the tie-in anime episodes meant to complement One Piece Film Red.

Not that you really need to see those going into the new One Piece movie, you don’t.

As the marketing and title (logo included) strongly implied, it’s a movie that involves series fan favourite Shanks, indirectly, as it’s about the pirate crew reaching a mysterious island where the first live event of the world’s most popular singer, Uta, will take place.

The Straw Hats come to party, Luffy it’s revealed not only being a childhood friend of Uta, but girl herself being the daughter of Shanks, one of the Four Emperors Of The Sea, which attracts other pirates – as well as the Marines – on the island of music, Elegia.

And despite the obvious fact this is also a vehicle for rising j-pop singer Ado, whom provides all the soundtracks (giving Kohei Tanaka some well deserved rest)… it’s also a surpringly good script, with Uta being a very good original character, some intriguing surprises that also justify in terms of narrative the many musical pieces, which are also very intriguing visually and incredibly well animated, while the songs themselves are quite catchy.

Definitely a more original and interesting script than the all-stars extravaganza of 2019’s Stampede (while it’s also the first film appearance for many relatively newer characters like Katakuri), and a fitting return for Goro Taniguchi (Code Geass, Gun X Sword, Planetes) to the series, decades after his One Piece Ganzack’s OVA by Production IG.

Sure, it leverages Shanks’ legacy/importance in the series to rope in fans, but it does not overrely on nostalgia alone, at all, making Film Red a surprisingly strong (and varied) entry in One Piece’s filmography.

The Spooktacular Eight #16: Bloody Delinquent Chainsaw Girl (2016)

I assume if you clicked this review you’re familiar with the japanese style of grindhouse splatter exploitation horror, which often involves schoolgirls equipped with machineguns in the ass, boobular rifles, zombie vaginas that spit flame, quadruple amputeed gimps with blades as limbs, gallons of fake blood, decapitated heads talking or moving about, zombies coming out toilets, mutant freaks with biomechanical chainsaw growing on their arms, etc.

You know the famous ones, from The Machine Girl, Robogeisha, Helldriver, Tokyo Gore Police, Dead Sushi, Mutants Girls Squad, Vampire Girl VS Frankenstein Girl (which i revisited earlier) and last year we featured Big Tits Dragon, also based on a manga of the same name by Rei Mikamoto.

This adaptation is directed by a lesser known name in the field, Hiroki Yamaguchi (Hellevator, various live action Messiah Gaiden films and TV series), which i’m not really familiar with, and i can’t say i’m familiar with the original manga by the author of Satanister – Satanic Sister.

Continua a leggere “The Spooktacular Eight #16: Bloody Delinquent Chainsaw Girl (2016)”

[EXPRESSO] Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022) | Red Ribbon State

Gotta love the redundant title.

After debutting this summer in Japanese theathers, it finally received screenings here too, and i feel kinda sympathetic for this one, as it had to follow up on the new Broly movie with 3D CG style animation.

But “following up” isn’t quite the right way to put it, as Super Hero was actually written by Akira Toriyama himself, also curating the character design and came up with the story idea, so he’s surprisingly quite involved, instead of just approving concepts and little else.

So it makes sense for him to opt for a smaller story, to bring back the Red Ribbon army, as in a new faction that carries on their will and creates two new androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, calling themselves super heroes and then attacking Piccolo and Gohan….

to my surprise, the 3D CG styled animation it’s up to snuff, you know, being a theathrical full lenght release from Toei Animation and being a frigging Dragon Ball movie, it’s pretty good and i warmed up very quickly to the style chosen here, despite having some doubts from the early trailers.

The main issue is that while it deliberately focuses on a smaller scale story and brings backs a lot of old enemies, playing for nostalgic throwbacks and actually gets Gohan (whipped back into action by a really troubled Piccolo) involved into it…. i just wish they spent the screentime dedicated in remembering the audience this is canon to the Super anime series, well, developing better the new characters or the “superhero” angle that ultimately it’s just a – mostly – meatless hook leading to a bit more reharsh of old material than needed/necessary.

There are some pretty funny scenes, though, and overall it’s a decent movie, quite enjoyable, very entertaining indeed.

[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist The Final Chapter: The Final Alchemy/The Last Transmutation (2022) | Finally Finality Forever

Well, that was quicker than i expected, as part 2 of the finale for the live-action FMA movie trilogy is now available worldwide on Netflix.

For those of you unaware, yep, they made 3 of these things, and btw, SPOILERS beware, because this adapts the final part of the manga, picking up exactly where Scar The Avenger ended, with Envy, Edward and Ling getting swallowed up inside Gluttony… after we’re introduced to Izumi and her husband meeting Hohenheim, father of the Elric brothers.

Then we’re up to the frozen fort of Briggs, meeting Olivia Armstrong, and the whole conspiracy behind the Homunculus, Van Hohenheim and the foundation of Amestris is revealed.

As with the previous movies, there are some changes and cuts to the plot (including some axed characters), , but – as said before – it’s fairly faithful all thing considered, and as one would expect it’s the longer one, almost clocking at 2 hours and a half.

Though i wish it was a bit longer, as in some istances they kinda overdo it and you get the feel that you somehow missed some scenes, as the editor just assumes the audience to already know exactly what was supposed to happen, while rushing, abridging the shit out or outright cutting sequences that were reasonably expected to be included.

Even more odd as this issue could have mostly resolved with 10/15 extra minutes, it’s the final movie of this trilogy and it’s already pretty long, but still, nothing that seriously harms the experience, same for the somewhat inconsistent quality of the cheapish CG for the Homunculus.

Overall, The Last Transmutation it’s on par with the previous FMA live-action movies in terms of quality, it’s decent and mostly faithful, regardless of any “need” for these to exist in the first place.

[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist: The Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar (2022) | Alexander “Ahoge Cum Head Tumor” Armstrong

As you might be aware, more live-action Full Metal Alchemist films were on to way to make it a trilogy, actually a two parter, announced last year to celebrate the manga’s 20th anniversary, directed by Fumihiko Sori (Ping Pong, Vexille) and both already released theathrically this year in Japan.

Now we’re getting the first part of this “Final Chapter”, The Avenger Scar, internationally via Netflix, so let’s talk about it, i did review the first FMA live action film back in 2017.

It follow directly from when the 2016’s FMA movie left, and – as the title lays out – it’s about a nameless serial killer that is roaming about Central City offing State Alchemists, dubbed “Scar” due to his “X” shaped headwound.

The brothers encounter Scar but suffer defeat and have to escape, while the intrigues surrounding the military and the Homunculus unfold..

Like the previous movie, you’ll ask yourself why bother making live-actions like these, for the obvious reasons, which include some character designs clearly never meant for real people.

I wasn’t ready to see live-action Alexander Armstrong, nor could i ever be. Jesus.

If you can get over the many absurdities that come from the “anime/manga to live-action” transition, you’ll find a decent, fairly faithful adaptation of this part of the series, with some changes to the plot that basically relocate some events earlier or later and some fairly necessary concessions that had to be made anyway to have a 2 hours film.

It’s not the bad adaptation you think it is, nor it does the material quite the justice it deserves, but it’s a decent retelling, acting it’s ok, and it does what it sets out to do.

With some questionable effects at times, but at least it’s definitely better than the Bleach live action movie.

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #12: Film Z (2012)

After the very brief and very odd interlude of Straw Hat Chase, Toei “came to their senses” and the next year released another proper One Piece film, surely having learned that these movies are at their most successful when you have extra side-corn to market them, as in OVA and small filler arcs for the TV series, alongside the eventual promotion with retailers and shit.

So yeah, this had a tie-in filler arc in the TV anime, and an OVA set slightly before the events of the movie, Glorious Island Z, aka Nami and her big floaties taking more screentime (and “choice angles”) than Luffy eats meat during any meal of the day.

Fitting title, though.

Even if viewership can be spotty as some people got bored or tired of the TV series’ pacing (especially if they already know what’s gonna happen from reading the manga), you can bet chances of these people taking a look at the trailer for a new shiny One Piece film, even more if you market it by saying that this will pit the Straw Hats against one of their most powerful enemies ever.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #12: Film Z (2012)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #11: Straw Hat Chase 3D (2011)

Strong World was such a step up in terms of One Piece movies, such a big deal that in 2010 they didn’t release any new One Piece film, but that can be – partially – attributed to the fact Strong World was delayed to December 2009 from its original spring release windom that same year.

Clearly it was a bit too good or too much, as for the next installment Toei basically went back to the roots so hard it did a 360°, heck, arguably even more, since this is the shortest One Piece released so far (and probably will forever hold that distinction), just 30 minutes, to the point one would struggle to even consider it as such, despite being included in many One Piece films collection.

Even the first 3 movies were each longer than this, still films, but we’re basically back to that type of dealio, complete with the fact it was a double bill screening, so you would see this and Toriko 3D Kaimaku! Gourmet Adventure, which also marked the first movie for that series, but not the last time One Piece and Toriko would crossover with each other, and some space ape warriors too…

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #11: Straw Hat Chase 3D (2011)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #10: Strong World (2009)

First teased during the screenings of Episode Of Chopper, Strong World was immediately treated as a big deal, not only as was the tenth film for the series, but it was also made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the TV anime, and for the occasion Eiichiro Oda himself wrote the script, instead of just providing character designs and approving story ideas as he did for the previous movies.

Also, in what would become a trend for future One Piece movies, Strong World features an original villain that was an acquaintance, crewmate or contemporary of Gol D. Roger, and previously was detained in the Impel Down prison complex. That alongside making the Marine (or the World Goverment aligned) characters more prominent – if not integral – to the story at hand.

The villain here is the pirate Shiki, dubbed “The Golden Lion” due to his mane, a legendary pirate from the Golden Era that escaped from Impel Down by cutting off his legs, and had basically vanished from existence, only to show up 20 years later in order to take revenge on the entirety of East Blue, and force the Goverment into surrender by using genetically enhanced animals, engaged into a constant battle for survival over the islands (the titular “Strong World”) that fly thanks to Shiki’s Devil Fruit ability.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #10: Strong World (2009)”