[One Piece Film Retrospective] #14: One Piece Stampede (2019)

Oddly a movie title that could have also worked for Chopper’s Kingdom on The Land Of Strange Animals, since that actually has bull-like animals going into stampedes, while walnuts are disappointingly missing from the 14th One Piece film, One Piece Stampede, which doesn’t really have a “wild west” theme of sorts, despite its title, but delivers with a smorgasboard of characters from the series.

Fitting as its main raison d’etre was to celebrate the animated series 20th anniversary.

And indeed in retrospect its become even more clear the main goal of One Piece Stampede was to bring together an all-stars ensemble of One Piece character, especially the ones rising in popularity and that make their film debut here, like Trafalgar Law, Kidd, Boa Hancock or some oldies-but-goldies, like Smoker and Tashigi. Yep, in case you forgot or didn’t read the review of Episode Of Alabasta… they were actually absent from that one, absurd as it sounds.

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Splatoon 3 Direct and the squid temperature check

There have been some Directs about specific Nintendo games, most recently for the upcoming 9th generation Pokemon games, Scarlet/Violet, but i didn’t have much to say or add aside from it looking fairly good, clearly improving open world elements seen in Legends Arceus, like combining all traversal/mount Pokemon into the main legendary, which also look hilarious with the wheels in their body, etc.

But since Splatoon is basically the only multiplayer online series i care about and have actually devoted a lot of time towards since its Wii U debut (and i plan to continue, enough to buy the damn limited edition Pro Controller), i feel this specific Direct is the perfect occasion to sum up my overall feelings towards Splatoon 3 before it releases this early September.

Even more since i don’t plan a full lenght review, due to the nature of the game we’ll have to see how support and updates go, so more likely i’m gonna do a “XX hours into” piece and later a review for Splatoon 3’s 1th anniversary.

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[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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Earth Defense Force: World Brothers PS4 [REVIEW] | BROTHERS EVERYWHERE-

While we wait for EDF 6 to come out this august in Japan, the previous spin-off finally went on proper sale on the PSN some time ago, so i finally got to play (bought the Deluxe Edition on sale, so complete of all Season Pass content, FIY) and review Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, another spin-off of D3 Publisher’s beloved cult series about space ants and giant robots, handled by Yuke’s, which did previously develop another EDF spin-off the year before, the quite solid EDF: Iron Rain.

The story it’s actually a more comedical take, with the aliens invaders from all previous EDF game scoming back (with a mothership each) under the guise of the new villain, just called Dark Tyrant, destroying “voxel earth” into many pieces in a single shot, so what’s left of the EDF has to find a way to put it back the pieces together and repel the invaders, one mothership at the time.

Instead of going for the serious faced ridiculousness played totally straight seen in the mainline titles and even the previous EDF Iron Rain, World Brothers just revels in the sea of clichès, deliberately having a voice acting that’s so ridiculous or “old fashioned cringe” for the also ridiculous as hell dialogues, here more on the zany side, which is further reinforced by the stylistical choice of going “voxel” in terms of graphics.

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Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2045 (Season Two) [REVIEW] | To Doublethink Outside The Cage

Yeah, let’s tackle something a bit more challenging before we once again dip our toes in braindead killer animal exploitation crap.

When i reviewed the first season of this new Ghost In The Shell series back in 2020, i wasn’t expecting it would take 2 years before the second part/season would finally air, not because these projects aren’t time consuming (they are), but the general lack of interest in this new 3D CG iteration of the franchise shown by fans and the lack of much news at all almost made wonder if Netflix didn’t consider cancelling.

But then again, in the meantime we saw that it would take a gargantuan dumpster fire such as the live action Cowboy Bebop to make the streaming giant go and actively go “yeah, we’re gonna make more of this trash but we actually decided not to”.

A rare move, given WHAT this company is usually okay with greenlighting in excess, while killing stuff people actually likes.

Still, after a while it became clear this second season wasn’t exactly making anime fans go in the streets to demand it big time. Riots were not made for SAC 2045 Part 2, that much is undeniable.

Eventually, in late May 2022 the second season dropped on Netflix, preceded by a compilation film of the first season, called – fittingly so – GITS SAC 2045: Sustainable Warfare, which we talked about in its EXPRESSO review, and overall served as a good refresher since 2 years had passed.

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[EXPRESSO] Lightyear (2022) | Space Mediocrity

Ok, let’s leave aside the whole “identity crisis debacle”, despite Pixar being outright silly in starting the movie with the premise that THIS is the movie that in 1995 spawned the Buzz Lightyear toy Andy from Toy Story got. Also ignoring the 90’s animated TV series that served as a backstory to the character, because it’s clear this is a different interpretation-canon.

WHATEVER, who cares, let’s move on from this non-sense.

Though i can understand it’s quite tempting to do so since the ludicrous meta footnote is ripe for lampooning, and the actual movie leaves very little to say for itself.

But first, the plot.

I has been described by many as a sort of rip-off of Interstellar for children, and i agree, as we see Buzz and company investigate a newly scanned planet that the ship flew by during their voyage.

This alien world immediatly reveals to be rife with hostile fauna and flora, and in attempt to escape, the ship gets damaged, forcing Buzz and all the other people on board to camp and live there, while they find a way to create the specific fuel need for lightspeed space travel in order to contact base and leave the planet. They do manage to create the special fuel, but things turn for the weird as Buzz keeps failing the lightspeed flight test and returns to learn that his minutes long voyages translate to years of time passing in his absence….

I’ll say that this ain’t bad. I didn’t expect much from the trailer, but sadly despite the plot having some potential to be better, it all comes off as a generic “origin story” through and through, from the action to the characters, everything it’s pretty mild, predictable and – again – generic.

Enjoyable, but sadly quite middling overall.

[EXPRESSO] Ghost In The Shell -Stand Alone Complex 2045: Sustainable Warfare (2022) | Cyborg Cut

I’ve reviewed the first season of Stand Alone Complex 2045 before in detail, but as a refresher for season 2 finally arriving (2 years after the first one, dang) later this month, i’d figured i watch the film-like compilation cut of Season 1, titled Substainable Warfare, recently arrived on Netflix.

Btw, yes, this actually follows the continuity from the older Stand Alone Complex series, being set 11 years after the event of the movie Solid State Society, BUT, in typical GITS fashion, it’s also a separate entity that can be enjoyed on its own… even though in this case you really need to have some familiarity with the Stand Alone Complex series to get the most out of it.

As a very quick primer, GITS it’s about an unit of elite special agents, Section 9, led by Motoko Kusanagi abd working for the Japanese goverment, with its members having various degrees of cybernetic implants and specialized skills used to deal in terrorist attacks, infiltrations, hacking incident, and all that cyberpunk jazz.

Here we have the group mostly disbanded and acting as a mercenary unit in America, until the rise of the so-called “Post Humans” leds to Section 9 being re-formed to deal with the issue.

The recut itself it’s well done (though it does away completely with the “geezers bank heist” episode, shame), in terms of the material… well, it’s still better than Arise, though it tries a bit too hard to update/modernize the cyberpunk themes, and this first part/season ends on a cliffhanger when it starts getting good.

Then there’s the okay but kinda questionable choice of artstyle, going for a fairly good 3D CG that sadly doesn’t feel THAT much improved upon, 11 years after the same animation studio (Sola Digital Arts) curated Applesee Alpha in similar fashion.

[EXPRESSO] Pacific Rim: The Black (Season Two) (2022) | Kaiju Kult

Well, look’s who back, a series that i honestly even forgot existed, but they did announced this second (and final) season, guess that branding helped.

So yeah, while i didn’t hate the first season, Pacific Rim The Black was kinda the perfect example of “Netflix anime”, as in, it looks like anime, it’s produced by an anime company and japanese directors, but you could tell it’s written by non-japanese staff.

Which isn’t necessarily an issue, but you just can tell right away and it creates this slight disconnect, and due to that once again it’s hard to say for whom exactly this is made for exactly, given it’s still made in okayish but still janky 3D CG (and the specific “3D CG anime jank” of Polygon Pictures output), which is kinda offputting for most of the self-proclaimed “anime enthusiasts”.

But on the flipside, it’s not that bad, it’s honestly alright, it’s entertaining enough and this one picks from the point where the first season started having some interesting worldbuilding and character development, and manages to make the plot have some purpose (though it kinda has to, since this is the final season), introducing a death cult of Kaiju worshippers.

It’s an actual improvement over the first season, the writing it’s still nothing impressive, but it’s better, though despite being just another 7 episodes, i did wonder if it was ever supposed to be longer, as some resolutions and events happen very quickly, almost abruptly so.

Again, it’s alright, but as the idea of anime series based on Pacific Rim makes a lot of sense if you think about it, it kinda let you wish it had better animation and a slightly longer lenght.

Still, for a spin-off “western-ish anime” series that didn’t need to exist in the first place… it’s decent.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan PS4 [REVIEW] | Not Very Neat

Since i did mention the game in my impressions on the Babylon’s Fall demo, and there’s a huge compilation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games (most of the ones done by Konami) being released soon, i’d figured why not, let’s talk about this disappointing as heck turtle excretion, which pretty much killed any potential for more videogames based on beloved nostalgic cartoon series by Platinum Games, after their shortish but really good take on Transformers (the older ones, known as “Generation 1”, or “G-1”) with Transformers Devastation.

I mean, at least this one can still be found around in physical form, unlike other Turtles game, for example the TMNT: Out Of The Shadows one (don’t expect a review of that).

Or the similarly crappy Legend Of Korra game Platinum Games also developed, also deslisted after Activision didn’t wanna renew the license for, BUT i happen to have bought the PS3 version and i still have it, so that i might review, in order to proper understand how Platinum as a studio it’s capable of both incredible height and shitty lows that spoil the studio’s reputation, still.

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Where the on-rail shooter compilations at?

(A review of Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle is coming VERY soon, btw)

As the remake of the first House Of The Dead game is set to release soon on Switch (as a retail packaged release too), i’ve just realized how incredibly really no company before Sega with this remake has tried to bring on-rail shooters to the only current-gen (kinda) popular console that still retains Wii style pointers controls via the Joycons.

Given how the nostalgia market will only grow even larger in time, i’m surprised Namco didn’t dig from its huge backcatalog and pushed out a Point Blank or Time Crisis collection, or made compilations of some of the many others games of this kind that only existed as arcade cabinets.

I named Namco, but heck, even Konami and Sega were quite prolific back in the day, though Konami nowadays it’s better when they just licensed compilations-ports of their older titles to people who care (like Digital Eclipse, also handling the recently announced TMNT Cowabunga Collection), and Sega quite likely simply doesn’t care.

Continua a leggere “Where the on-rail shooter compilations at?”