Pinocchi-O-Rama #1: A Tree Of Palme/Palme No Ki (2002)

While it’s not completely unknown, i’d say A Tree Of Palme it’s quite obscure, definitely forgotten, overlooked and rarely discussed, despite being created, written and directed by respected anime veteran Takashi Nakamura, who also previously worked as a key animator for Nausicaa And The Valley Of The Wind, joined the acclaimed anime anthology of Robot Carnival in 1987, and just the next year would be animation director for a little movie called AKIRA.

It was also laboriosly made over the span of 6 years, and you can just tell by the cinematography that indeed A Tree Of Palme was treated as a big project that Nakamura wanted to cultivate as well as possible without compromises to his vision.

The story concerns the titular Palme, a puppet created by a man for his sickly wife, and upon her death the puppet becomes paralyzed by sorrow, until he accidentally stumbles upon a misterious woman (whom Palme mistakes for the man’s dead wife, Xian) being pursued, and she entrusts the puppet to deliver a certain special item to a sacred place called Tama.

Continua a leggere “Pinocchi-O-Rama #1: A Tree Of Palme/Palme No Ki (2002)”

[EXPRESSO] Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) | Splintered Spectacular

Years in the making, but Guillermo Del Toro’s take on beloved italian literary children classic Pinocchio is here, available worlwide on Netflix, after a very brief debut in some select theathers.

It takes many liberties from the book but does so in a way that makes it a more interesting adaptation of the story, and the changes (also needed cause of the tale being retold/reinterpretated squillions of times) do compliment that, like it now taking place in fascist WWII Italy, Jiminy Cricket being an actual character with agency and some background to him, Geppetto being more important of a character, with a new tragic backstory involving its dead, unwooden, real son.

It embraces the darker tone and themes of the original work, like, completely, far more than 2019’s Matteo Garrone take, for one, as in to committs to retain the savage nature of many events, Pinocchio’s ability of being far worse than “rambuctious”, and the often terrifying imagery, while also showing a lot of creativity in both reworking or adding new characters and lore to expand the story, give some surprises and changes to make the story interesting and different from previous adaptations, without completely transforming into something that isn’t Pinocchio anymore.

After all, this is Del Toro’s vision and if i wanted the original Pinocchio experience, i’d just read the book (which i still recommend doing, if you haven’t, btw) again.

I’d say more but i would just spoil some of the original material, so i will just bite me tongue.

the stopmotion animation it’s excellent, absolutely impeccable work, the songs are nice enough, plenty but quite brief (never overstaying their welcome, and overall i’d say this is easily one of the best adaptations of Pinocchio, like ever, and somehow able of actually living up to expectations.

Simply excellent.

[EXPRESSO] Disney’s Strange World (2022) | The Ventures

Apparently Disney’s latest animated film (no, it’s not a Pixar joint) is bombing in theathers, and i do wonder why exactly, especially in its home market where people celebrate “turkey day”.

Probably the choice to market it a little too late to generate some online buzz, and as much it’s funny to point out how many “first gay character in a Disney movie that can be easily edited out for China” Disney seems to possess and parade about… in this case the discussion distracts from the fact this one it’s pretty good.

Strange World is a surprisingly good throwback to adventure films of yore, pulp adventure comics, and of course the old literary classics involving discovering new worlds with bizarre or extinct animals and fauna, especially Verne’s Journey At The Center Of The Earth.

The movie starts with a Davy Crockett-esque tale of Jaeger Clade bouts of ventures alongside his son Searcher, then we see Jaeger continue alone his voyage to find out what lies behind the enormous mountains that surround their village, while his son decides to remain to study a rare plant they found while exploring.

25 years later Searcher has basically created a new utopia as his botanical discovery led to them farming the plant (named Pando) and using it as an energy source/fuel that powers everything.

He lives with his wife and his son Ethan, but as the Pando plants begin to suffer from a sort of disease, he’s forced to journey into the inner depth to find out why, but it accidentally leds to them discovering an entire new world full of bizzare creatures, alien flora and living “isles”.

Likeable characters, fun interactions, lots of adventure and action in a world that does amaze and inspire in its oddities, and solid themes of enviromental coexistence.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season Three) 2022 | Devilicious

I’m gonna be brutal and make it extra clear (in case you didn’t read the reviews of the two previous season/slices/cours): i’m kinda glad this is the end and i hope there’s not more of this to come.

Unsurprisingly so, the whole cliffhanger with Mugman dragged to literal hell by the Devil and Cuphead finding a way to rescue his brother is immediatly dealt with in the first episode, though at least it’s a longer opener to better make the Devil… basically Squidward. Even more than before.

After that we’re back to the usual episodic fair, but there are still some notable moments that also elicit some legit laughs even for the older audiences, and guess what, once again it’s due to the Devil being such a big pile of luciferian ham.

Just in time for some delightfully long christmas themed shenanigans, with a 30 minutes Devil-centric Christmas special that also happens to be the best episode, hands down.

Actually, to be fair, this season does involve the Devil more into the various episodes, might as well since his presence stopped being special, and he still the best character by far (alongside Porkrind and King Dice, of course).

As much i really forced myself through all of The Cuphead Show more for completition sake after season one, i can’t deny this show can still whip up some intriguing visuals and show off some nice editing and composition, alongside some decent jokes, not too bad for something that it’s aimed at kids and just isn’t interested in the amazing opportunity brought by its license…. to do anything that resembles the Cuphead “inspiration materials” aside from the looks.

It’s a Netflix style adaptation of a popular franchise/brand alright, but keeping all THAT in mind… it’s alright, it’s inoffensive. It sure is content.

Vampire Holmes (2015) [REVIEW] | Everlasting Love

YES, i’ve heard of this by doing a research on the worst voted/rated shows on AnimeList.

I could have talked about NAMI (no, not that one, not that Nami either, most likely not even your thrid guess), so you decide if you lucked out or not in this occasion.

I’ve held off on covering it because it’s so goddamn obscure and has such infamous reputation… that even finding english fansubs for it was a notable task.

And it figures the only english subbed version i could find around it’s from a group labelling themselves as “BetterThanNothing”, i’m sure even they eventually did so moved by piety, as nobody even wanted to bother making it more available. It’s a rare case of people finding an anime so shit that they don’t even spread awareness by shit-talking it, they figured it was more deserving of wallowing in the dark, unspoken and unheard of, still more valuable than trying to actively focusing a spotlight on it, even if just to trash it for easy views on Youtube and socials.

Can’t say that it was a bad stance to take, in hindsight, this is no Chargeman Ken.

Continua a leggere “Vampire Holmes (2015) [REVIEW] | Everlasting Love”

The (New) Super Mario Animated Movie Trailer Reaction Post For Blogs

I was about to just don’t bother, but since Nintendo decided this warranted a specific 15 minutes Direct to show the first actual teaser trailer for its Illumination produced animated Super Mario movie… whatever, have another pointless hot take, since this thing it’s gonna make gagagorillions of money either way.

I’ll be brief and start with some actual criticism.

As in, the movie looks pretty okay overall judging from what the trailer showed, Illumination isn’t the choice of animation studio i would have preferred, at all, but i get why a company like Nintendo would, especially as they already had ties with other french companies like Ubisoft in terms of collaborations between various IPs.

But honestly it’s look alright, could be fun.

In terms of the english voice acting, i don’t have the same amount of vitriol to spout, mostly because i live in Italy, and like in most european contries, we’re gonna get a localized dub that’s often better than the original, because… it will involve actual voice actors, and not just random ass Hollywood actors that are popular but are some voice actors in the sense that i am one because i can speaketh da english.

Heck, the french dub already sounds better, quite good.

So no real surprise to hear Chris Pratt not even bothering to do a “naw yark” accent, but as expected Jack Black is great as Bowser, and Keegan Micheal Key sounds good as Toad, so yeah, Mario doesn’t sound like Mario as it’s just Chris Pratt talking, but who knows, this dog’s breakfast of a voice cast could work.

We’ll see next year, as it’s slated for a worlwide release April 7 2023.

In the meantime, you could actually watch the original Mario anime movie, 1986’s Super Mario: The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!, as it received a 4K HD fan restoration that you can find online, even on Youtube.

Just sayin’.

[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] 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] Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (2021) | Niku Niku Ni!

Anime cinema time!

Finally arriving here as a 3 days only event screening, Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko (based on a novel of the same name by Kanako Nishi) is the latest feature film from director Ayumu Watanabe (Children Of The Sea, Space Brothers) and once again animated by Studio 4C.

A more straightforward tale than Children Of The Sea, the movie tells the story of the titular Nikuko, an easy going, cheerful, incredibly passionate and gluttonous woman who falls for crappy men that swindle her, forcing to continuously move elsewhere with her 11 yo girl, Kikuko, whom is unsurprisingly embarassed by her mother penchant for eating, her goofy demeanours and naivetè. Despite having nothing in common, they settled in living on a boat in a small port town.

Incredible animation, realistic portrayal and characterization of kids that age, a good balance between drama and comedy, some effective emotional moments, great characterization, there’s pretty much everything that makes a good film… and this is a good film, flawed but still good.

Despite being the title character, this is the story of her child, Kikuko, while Ninuko feels like a support comic relief, as she’s animated differently for that very purpose, and while you can’t really hate her, it’s frustrating how she ultimately lacks the proper nuance as a character to be more than a butt for the many visual fat jokes.

Also, while you get invested in the events, there’s barely a plot at all, more like a collage of slice life sequences focused on character study, which is fine but there’s also not much even in terms of overarching conflicts, so it’s kinda hard to stay invested all the way through.

Even so, it’s still a good film…. you most likely will not fall in love with at first watch.

[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.