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] 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.

Resident Evil Vendetta (2017) [REVIEW] | Remote Zombies

As Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City was released in theathers earlier this week (in most countries), let’s take a look at the final Resident Evil CG animated film, Vendetta, which is also technically the last of the “CG trilogy”, as in all three movies have Leon Kennedy as the main character and are set in the same universe of the Resident Evil games, to contrast with the live action film series (as previously said).

The biggest change – but not the most noticeable – is the animation, with this film produced by Marza Animation Planet instead of Digital Frontier, the studio behind all previous Resident Evil CG movies and even the short film Biohazard 4D Executer that we started this little retrospective with.

The name might not say much, but it’s actually a studio that started by providing CGI cutscenes for the Sonic The Hedgehog games, and eventually for both anime TV series and even full lenght features, working alongside japanese animation titans like Toei for the 2012 3D CG Space Captain Harlock movies, even Lupin III The First, and more recently being one of the production companies for the new Sonic The Hedgehog movies, in a kinda poetic turn of events.

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Resident Evil Damnation (2012) [REVIEW] | Slavic Struggle

4 years after Degeneration, Capcom followed it up with Damnation (i would wager they didn’t plan the titles beforehand, at all), made mostly to promote Resident Evil 6, released in Japan roughly 3 weeks before, as it acts as a prequel to that game’s storyline.

So yeah, it’s not really a sequel to Degeneration as there are no returning characters from that movie aside from Leon S. Kennedy and Hunnigan, and the events from that film don’t really ever get brought up or serve any purpose to the story of Damnation.

They just don’t.

Which i understand from a functional standpoint, you don’t wanna have people lost if they didn’t watch Degeneration, that movies was released 4 years prior and these CG movies didn’t exactly make people and fans drool over them en masse. But you could have tried to make some fuckin connections happen and try to build an overarching plot of sorts, if nothing else to artificially make the various plots seem more important and better due to the interconnection.

In hindsight it’s not a problem, so let’s talk about the plot of Resident Evil Damnation.

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[EXPRESSO] Yaya E Lennie – The Walking Liberty (2021) | Jungle Rebel Yell

Time for some ambitious animation cinema from Italy, from director Alessandro Rak, the brand new Yaya E Lennie – The Walking Liberty, that premiered at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival this year, and had a limited theathrical run as an event screening here in Italy.

Produced by neapolitan studio Mad Entertaiment and animated in 3D CG via Blender, the movie follows the titular duo, a crafty girl and a gentle giant with the mind of a child (a direct reference to Lennie of Mice And Men) that travel this post apocalyptic jungle world with a free spirit, living day by day in a world where aside from the dangerous but free jungle also roam soldiers of the Institution, a military regime clinging to a fascist sense of order in a world newly remade primeval, and bent on bringing civilization at any cost to everyone everywhere.

It’s a children enviromental fable about the importance of freedom in spite of poisonous “progress”, and all that it entails, and it’s a pretty good one, it concedes to some of the animated children movies staples with a proud neapolitan angle, but also doesn’t really pull punches on the matters, uses a good amount of cursing, and also the Chaplin monologue at the end of The Great Dictator. So it’s definitely not pandering itself to toddlers, and manages to earn what it wants to represent, instead of just assuming it can without the actual work.

The characters are quite likeable, the art direction it’s great, there’s even a few lines that will get a chuckle out even the older kids, the story it’s solid enough, the only gripe it how the animation still has that issue with most 3D CG, as in it feels very robotic and “laggy” at times. Even so, it’s good work.

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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EX-ARM anime (2021) [REVIEW] | Make the bad guys cry like….

I knew of Ex-Arm before the series was announced, as in i red the first volume of the manga, and thought that was.. alright.

Then in early november 2020 i discovered there was an anime planned for it, and apparently it was supposed to launch earlier, but got delayed a couple of times, post-poned until its January 2021 release on Crunchyroll, as one of their “Crunchyroll Originals” exclusive projects.

I heard about it on Twitter, alongside many baffled comments on why the hell is a live-action director with no experience in anime directing a 3D CG anime and also tasking a production company that also has no experience in anime… and i immediatly knew i would just “have” to review it, to witness the monstrum and write a report about what could be found in its wretched bowels.

Get confortable, as this autopsy-review will examine all the guts and decomposed organs, and there’s a LOT of those to rifle through with this one!

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[EXPRESSO] Pacific Rim: The Black (Season One) (2021) | Netflix Kaijus

For whatever reason, Netflix perseveres in commissioning 3D CG anime based on popular franchises, despite them often not looking good and anime fans notorious knee-jerk reactions of disgust towards 3D CG anime.

So while we wait for Godzilla Singularity Point (which looks notably better), let’s give Pacific Rim: The Black a shot, because Legendary really wants to make this one a franchise. This specific entry (written by Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle but co-directed by Masayuki Uemoto, Susumu Sugai and Takeshi Iwata) follows a couple of siblings that find a Jaeger called Atlas Destroyer and go on a journey with it, after their parents never came back and kaijus destroyed Australia.

And you know what, an anime series spin-off is a shoe-in for Pacific Rim, but once i saw the PV, i realized why most people won’t bother… and yes, it’s animated by Polygon Pictures, which means the robots and monsters look fairly good, but the animation for the people – sporting nicely drawn character models – also has this stiff, uncanny, robotic feel to it. And this honestly doesn’t look much better than the Blame movie or the Godzilla anime trilogy Polygon Pictures also made for Netflix, while this style of “3D anime” has vastly improved in quality over the last few years.

Shame because the giant mecha battles against monsters look good and are fun, but the humans characters or the plot surrounding them aren’t that interesting, and sometimes their animation is just crap. The script, while unremarkable, tries to add something new to to the Pacific Rim universe, but it’s kinda of half baked attempt as it starts getting better only at the very end of this very short first season. Overall, it’s… alright.

A second season has already been greenlit… but i still wonder for whom exactly.

EX-ARM, the oddly shaped Manos of fate, and the invisible off-screen truck of doom

I didn’t expect to write another one of these posts, because the novelty of the EX-Arm anime being unbelievable crap wore off and i just got accostumed to its foul, robotic and uncanny fare. Oh well, it will avoid me having to note down another batch of odd fuck up, animation errors, bad camera angles and stuff.

Or so i thought.

(Gif taken from Twitter, from a fellow stunned viewer)

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