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    To be honest, Aliens vs Predator didn't seem too terribly bad while I was watching it. (Not that it seemed good; it just wasn't unbearably bad.) However, as soon as it was over and I had time to think about it (it is a very fast paced film), it just falls apart and turns into a horrendous jumble of idiocy, contradictory logic, and action that fails to excite. The PG-13 rating honestly doesn't hurt the film becasue more violence can't salvage this mess. The film is simply founded on a deeply flawed premise; features poorly written characters (such as a ruthless mercenary that cries like a baby when he falls down a 10 foot hole); and simply develops its action and story in an uninspired and uninteresting story progression. A director's cut or special edition may turn this into shiney gold crap, but it's still crap at the fundimental level. And for a film seemingly designed for 15 year old, it has nothing to draw a 15 year old. The film has no anchor. The human hero is a black female, not a swashbuckling hero (no offense intended). There's nothing and no one in the film for a young boy to identify with. The hero is what makes film franchises like Flash Gordon and Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Tom Sawyer and the Hardy Boys appealing to young teen boys. For a movie targeting that same audience, this film just lacks the most important factor to sustain the interest of that audience. And it's just so thuddingly stupid that it lacks anything to sustain the support of hardcore sci-fi fans. The Aliens vs Predator movie is simply a colossal failure on every level.

    I watched Shura no Toki 15 and 16 again, fansubbed this time, and continued with episodes 17 & 18. I wanted to watch 19 also, but it got too late. I'm sort of disappointed that the show has developed into a samurai drama from its previous samurai action, but I'll stick with it to see where it goes. I'm also sort of disappointed that it seems impossible for any vaguely historical samurai anime these days to not eventually include the Shinsengumi. It's getting a bit tired by now.

    The Azusa, Otetsudai Shimasu! OAV was sort of an appealing nostalgia trip because it looked and felt like an early 90s anime. I still can't decide if Azusa is more or less cute than Steel Angel Kurumi becaue they're so similar. Early on this OAV seemed a bit slow and plodding, but eventually it livened up and became a bit more fun and entertaining.

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      My plan is to finish watching Hare Nochi Guu Final now that I've gotten access to the R2 DVDs. Last night I watched OAVs 3 & 4. Episode 3 was uncharacteristically nice and warmhearted, and did a good job of validating the first two Guu Final episodes. The first half of episode 4 was typical Guu wackiness. The second half of episode 4, the story of Lavenia's trip to the city and back, was funny, and included a brilliant parody of Mei & the Kittenbus and Tonari no Totoro (two, consecutive different parodies.)

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        Guu Final OAV 5 was a great extened parody of a particular, very famous video game. But I was surprised to find two other smaller but very entertaining video game parodies in the epsiode. OAV 6 seemed to wrap up loose ends. OAV 7 seemed to be the beginning of a new storyline, and it ended with a "See You Again" message. Does that mean we'll see more Guu anime in the future? And for those who want to know, no, it never explains Guu.

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          Last night unintentionally turned into a sci-fi anime night, starting with episodes 3 & 4 of the current Shin Getta Robo TV/OAV series. These episodes are still violent and entertaining. But I find it interesting that the characterizations are quickly being changed to fit the traditional Getta Robo mold. Hyato started out as the calm one, and Ryoma the wild, crazy criminal. But suddenly in these episodes their personalities seem to have reversed.

          Brave Command Dagwon is another giant robot series that I was never interested in watching when I was younger, but now that I'm more interested in seeing a wider variety of anime, I'm thankful for the opportunity to watch episode 1. The show feels like a combination of Choosa Raideen and Transformers. It's sort of a strange mix, but it is faced paced and exciting. I found it a bit funny that the boys instantly accepted everything and knew exactly what to do, seemingly as though they'd always been transforming into mecha and fighting aliens.

          Galaxy Angel 4th Series episode 1 was typical Galaxy Angel. The first chapter was particularly bizarre. The second chapter, which introduced Chitose, was funny, and reminded me a lot of Excel Saga's Hyatt.

          Tonight is the AnimeNation employee Halo LAN party. The first one in two months. Can't wait... to get killed often.

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            Starting with episode 3, I think Elfin Lied got a little bit better. Episode 3 was the first episode to really establish the feeling of a conventional, human world that's being infiltrated by violence and secrets and conspiracies. Episode 4 contained some shockingly brutal gore. Honestly I'm not certain if it was effective, or if it was too effective and crossed over into revolting excess. So far the show seems to be still trying to establish itself and introduce its setting, so it's still too early to really critique it wholistically. I also haven't watched any of these 4 episodes translated yet, either, so maybe it's just my loose comprehension of what's going on that's to blame.

            Shura no Toki episode 19 wasn't particularly interesting. It's not really a bad episode, but by this point I'm expecting samurai and martial arts action, not "Master & Commander." Episode 20 got back into the rhythm by including the beginning of a wonderful fight sequence (which happened to have some really bad character animation, though.)

            One Piece episode 200 was again fun, but I sort of wish this present storyline would end because it's just not that terribly interesting.

            I borrowed the first two seasons of Red vs Blue on DVD from a co-worker. The second season isn't quite as good as the first, but it's still got enough going for it to be fun. The first season is surprisingly witty and smart humor. The second season seems to occasionally indulge too much, and often falls prey to its own stereotypes. One of the biggest examples is Caboose, who was a bit dumb in the first season but has turned into an utter babling idiot in the second season. It's just a bit too obvious to be genuinely funny at times in season two.

            Finally watched Mahou Shoujo Tai episodes 10-11 fansubbed.

            I got in a mood and opened my Kiss of the Dragon DVD (Jet Li, Bridgette Fonda). After listening to a half hour of the commentary track I decided that it wasn't interesting enough to continue listening to, so I watched only the supplemental features. The bonus video features on the DVD were far more interesting.

            Ultimately I have mixed feelings about Living Hell. I was expecting the movie to be mere mediocre Japanese video horror. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first 3/4 of the film were creepy and unsettling and quite good. Sadly, the film, then decides to throw in a twist, then requires a talking head to literally spend several minutes explaining the film, then re-emphasizes the twist ending with several minutes of footage that only weaken the strengths of the film even more. Films like this one make me love Juon even more because there seem to be few contemporary horror movies left that are satisfied to just be scary movies. Films like this one, Haute Tension, A Tale of Two Sisters, and everything from M. Night Shaymalan feel a need to throw in a frequently idiotic twist ending that actually does nothing but undermine the effectiveness of the whole film. Furthermore, when a character has to literally explain the movie with a several minute long discussion at the end, the movie has clearly failed to express itself effectively as a story.

            Naruto 97 was actually guite fun and lively for an original, not based on the manga episode.

            With TenTen episode 15, I'm hoping that the extended flashback is finally over. The "present day" story has got strong characterizations facing clear challenges. The flashback only features dull characters who constantly whine about being conflicted or tortured, even though they don't seem to be under any pressure. And Shin is supposed to be sympathetic although he's obviously got a sister fetish and no apparent positive qualities. And I also find it strange that although there can't be more than a 2-3 year age difference between Maya and Aya, Aya seems to not exist in the flashback, with the exception of one brief and pointless cameo.

            I noticed that I hadn't even watched MariMite Haru episode 3 yet, so I watched that episode. Still a very nice and sweet series.

            Most of Pretty Cure episode 25 wasn't very interesting, but it did have a surprising and atypical ending.

            I was surprised by the Eyeshield 21 Jump Festa OAV. Since I only knew that Eyeshiled 21 was a manga about American football, I expected it to be somewhat series and along the lines of a typical sports anime. I hasn't expected rocket launchers and so much comedy. The series reminds me a whole lot of a contemporary version of Highschool Kimengumi. I know that there are some Kimengumi fans out there, but I'm not one of them. That show, and this one, both seem a bit silly and stupid to me. I think it's neat that this got animated once, but if it ever becomes a series, I doubt I'll be watching it.

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              Since I went to bed early, I didn't have much time for watching anime. I did watch Pretty Cure episode 26, which was, I think, the coolest single magical girl episode I've ever seen. Pretty Cure episode 26 is basically Dragonball Z for girls. Nagisa and Honoka get really pummled, yet they continue to fight until they're so beaten up they can't even stand up anymore. It was a really neat fighting episode with a melancholy ending that reminded me a lot of Rayearth episode 20.

              I also tried to read the Studio Ironcat translated Di-Gi-Charat Champion Cup Theater manga. Sadly, I just can't do it. I was initially thrilled that this book seems to be the only English translation of Di-Gi-Charat manga that retains the proper Japanese "Nyo," "Nyu," "Pyo," and "Gemma" suffixes. It also retains appropriate Japanese pronouns like "oneesama." But sadly, for a manga about a cat eared 10 year old and a rabbit ear girl in a French maid outfit, Ironcat decided that it needed "street cred." Unlike all of the Di-Gi-Charat animation, and the manga translated by Broccoli and Viz, Ironcat gave Dijiko a hip-hop rapper accent, and gave Usada a valley girl accent. The result is that the dialogue is just un-readable. Every other word Rabi~en~Rose speaks is "Like." And in Dijiko's dialogue, "this" is " 'is " or " 'iz." "And A" is written as "anna." "With" is written as "wiv." "With that" is written as "wivvat." The word "people" is now "peeps." Aargh, I get upset just thinking about how this atrocious translating decision resulted in a book that's just un-readable.

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                I got around to watching Samurai 7 episodes 7 & 8 last evening. Sadly the almost inevitable decline in quality that I was hoping wouldn't happen, struck in these episodes. But I'm glad to say that even so, these episodes are still fairly good. I was a bit disappointed in the startling shift in animation style used early in episode 7. It rather clashes with the design of the main cast, which has to remain drawn the way they have been drawn to maintain recognition. I'm also disappointed that some of the characterizations seemed to subtly change in these two episodes, without any cause or catalyst. So far the first 6 episodes of the show have been wonderfully paced and carefully thought out. Episode 7 suddenly seemed rushed and haphazard, featuring numerous leaps in logic and story development that aren't difficult to follow, but do seem out of character for what the show has so far established. Regardless, so far, although this is a loose adaptation of Kurosawa's beloved film, I'm willing to accept it. I think this is different enough from the source not to directly compare them, and on its own merits, Samurai 7 is holding up better so far than many other Gonzo productions of late have done.

                Ojamajo Doremi episode 4 was almost one of those melancholy episodes that Doremi does now and again. Cute scenes: out of breath Hazuki, and Chinese dress and ninja Onpu.

                Kurau episode 7 was the most uneventful episode of the series so far, and it still holds up well. So far, I really like this series a lot.

                Fullmetal Alchemist episode 45 continues to layer the intrigue, although I have to admit that I feel slightly let down that the ultimate force putting everything into motion and manipulating everything seems to be a bit more petty and selfish than I'd imagined it would be. But if you factor in all of the characters' individual, personal motivations, the scope does certainly expand. It just seems as though the top of the pyramid seems a bit shortsighted and has a more selfish and conventional goal than I'd anticipated.

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                  Elfin Lied episode 5 was a rather nice episode, although I can imagine the haters making a big deal out of certain scenes near the beginning of the series. Nyu's plea to Kouta was effective, and Kouta's decision was dramatic and touching.

                  With the second OAV episode of Phantom (based on Phantom of Inferno) I get a stronger sense that the show wants to be something special, and just fails. The OAV has no personality or style. It simply tells its story in the most dull and basic way it can, even though it's got the potential to be very thrilling and exciting. Excluding the idiocy and lack of logic in the action scenes, they're fairly good. But the fairly good, but not great, action scenes get dragged down by the mediocre quality of the rest of the production.

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                    As I think I've said before, maybe I'm more forgiving now, or maybe it's because it's still early in the series, but I find myself enjoying the Ninku TV series more now than I did back in the 1990s. Watched the recently released fansub of episode 3 last night.

                    Continuing the martial arts fest, I watched Samurai Champloo episodes 10-12 fansubbed. I have to think that this time it seems as though lightning has not struck twice. Cowboy Bebop was excellent, but I don't get a similar feeling from this show. This show feels hollow and lifeless to me. It's engaging on the surface, but it leaves no lasting impression at all. The fact that it's already including a recap episode after only 11 episodes, and the fact that it's being pulled from TV broadcast after 17 episodes may suggest that Japanese viewers and TV executives also seem to realize that this show is stylish, and not a bad waste of time, but ultimately still just an unfulfilling way to pass some time.

                    Naruto episode 98 was a story progression episode rather than an action or excitement episode. I understand that these sort of episodes are necessary, but after what we've come to expect from the show, episodes like this one seem dull and pointless.

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                      I finally watched my Hirameki DVD of Soar High! Isami. I'm regretful to have negative comments about a smaller and still developing distributor, especially one that we have a particularly friendly relationship with, but I'm pressed to find anything good to say about this DVD. At least the image quality seemed to be pretty good. For a 9 year old children's action show, it looks and feels its age. It's just not very interesting, and I highly doubt I'll be watching any more of it. The DVD feels very amateurish and slapped together with ugly menues and poor subtitles. They're not HK DVD bad subs, but the subs are certainly not on par with more established American releases, or even with Japanese subbed DVDs like SaiKano or FLCL. The subs are filled with punctuation & capitalization errors, at least one noticable spelling error, missing words, and lack of consistency. The DVD sleeve calls the evil organization "Kurotengu" and "Kuro-Tengu" (yes, spelled differently twice on the same DVD sleeve) while the subs say "Black Goblin." There's also an instance of someone asking for "tako-yaki" and literally two lines later the resturant server saying "irashimase" and it being translated as, "Teriyaki coming up!" I'm not sure why "Sayonara" was left in Japanese but no other Japanese words were. And I'm also not sure what, "You can't judge a dog by it's cover" means, exactly. You can't judge a book by it's cover, but I'm not sure what type of "cover" a dog has. Throughout the disc, the subtitle translation is very loose. And it's very noticable when characters speak English words and have nothing similar turn up in the subs. The subtitles even sometimes translate sound effects as though they were spoken dialogue! The DVD is an absolute bare bones disc- not even any trailers included. There are no Japanese language opening or ending credits, and if there were next episode previews, they're not on the DVD. And finally, the evil organization never seems to do anything at all, evil or otherwise, and the show makes a tremendous leap of story and character development between the first and second episodes. While Isami and one of her classmates are antagonistic in the first episode, in the second episode they're best friends, and everybody suddenly seems to know everybody else. I paid full retail for the DVD, and I don't regret doing so because at least now I know what the show is like, but I can't see this series appealing to very many American fans, and with the discs' poor quality, I have trouble even calling it worth its price.

                      Shura no Toki episode 21 was one of the most dramatic and serious episodes of the series, spurred by a rather unexpected turn of events in the plot.

                      Because I was lazy and curious, I watched Gantz episode 14 (second series episode 3). The animation quality seems to have improved slightly, considering that compared to the first epsiode it couldn't have gotten much worse. It's also a bit more gruesome now. But in untranslated Japanese I still don't find it a very interesting show.

                      I watched MariMite Haru episodes 4 & 5 and really loved them, as expected. Episode 5 had a very nice send-off to the third years.

                      I'm regretful to say that I think Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance would have made a greater impact on me if I hadn't already seen director Chan-Wook Park's latest film Oldboy. Sympathy is a slower paced film, and unlike Oldboy, which layers its tragedies and horrors until it reaches literally absurd levels, Sympathy remains believable and ruthlessly cruel. It's definitely a good film, and relatively amazing compared to what passes for hardboiled movies in America, but it's not Oldboy.

                      I watched fansubbed versions of Sweet Valerian episodes 1-3. So far, I really love this little show because it's so adorably cute, and the girl's personalities are very appealing. If it remains a repetitive, monster of the week parody, though, it may get old fast.

                      The half hour long Naruto movie special was pretty neat to watch. I just wish it would have spent more time dealing with the production and behind-the-scenes stuff. Unquestionably the animation quality and action in the Naruto movie look to be outstanding.

                      I suffered through the 9 minute long Air movie trailer. It's just like the game minus even the minimal interactivity. Lots of still frames and melancholy dialogue that doesn't really say or mean anything just doesn't seem interesting to me in the least.

                      I caught up with Pretty Cure by watching episodes 27-29. Episode 27 was even more like Dragonball Z than even episode 26 was! The brief fighting scenes in episode 28 were amazing. They were dynamic and well animated and gorgeous to look at. I just wish there was more of it. I like the fact that the show seems to be now using even more hand-to-hand fighting than before, but at this point I'm interested in the story and characters enough that I don't even need to watch Precure just to see a magical girl show with a novel twist.

                      Thankfully the flashback is over with TenTen episode 16. This episode was the most silly and goofy episode since the first episode. In other words, I didn't think this episode was great, but it's still highly preferable to the immediately preceeding episodes.

                      The first Shin Saishu Chikan Densha OAV was the most attractive looking adult anime I've seen recently. It really added a certain degree of art and class to the rather crude original series.

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                        I went through 4 episodes of Soukyuu no Fafner, specifically 4-7. At times I dislike some of the characterizations and character choices, but the series moves quickly enough that it's not dwelt upon. For example, it really bothers me that Kazuki seems so preoccupied with upholding his principles that he fails to consider priorities, resulting in friends getting killed. On the positive side, this show made me think of Gunparade March and made me think that this is the way a main character death should be handled. Fafner did a very good job of making a main character death significant and emotional. I'm also pleased to see that the characterizations and character actions aren't always predictable, but do always seem believable. So I have some issues with the series, but I'm willing to overlook them in favor of all the show's strengths.

                        And I watched Panda-Z episodes 18-20. Episode 18 has a startlingly amazing fight scene, I must admit. The rest of the episodes are typical silliness.

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                          Since I haven't had a chance to mention it, the day before yesterday I went to our local theater to see Hero. No matter how many times I see this movie, I love it just as much. The translation seemed a bit too literal at times, but there are parts of the domestic translation I prefer over the Chinese subtitle versions.

                          Last night I watched Elfin Lied episode 5 for the second time, fansubbed this time, and episode 6 fansubbed. I really didn't get much out of episode 5 that I didn't understand from watching it raw. By episode 6 I really think the show has begun to develop as an emotional drama.

                          Fafner episode 8 was interesting because it was very fast paced. It was also interesting because it illustrates the fact the most of the characters aren't really very nice or likable people.

                          With Fullmetal Alchemist episode 46 I'm beginning to like Lust even more. And it does now seem to feel as though the series is approaching a climax. Can't wait for the showdown next episode.

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                            Interlude OAV 2 didn't seem as interesting to me as the first episode did. The first half may turn out to be necessary to the story (won't know until we see more of the story) but it seemed a bit pointless and dull to me. Yes, it's character development, but it seems as though it could have been just as effective if it was half as long. The second half seemed as though we were following a bunch of rather stupid characters, which was a bit disappointing.

                            Legendz episode 2 was again pretty cute and fun. Akitaro Daichi's interest in foreign languages (sign language in Makasete Irukaya, and English in Legendz) adds a really interesting and novel element to the anime.

                            After watching Kurau episode 8 I wonder why that fascination with Bones Studio productions from last year isn't now picking up on this wonderful show. The flashback sequence in this episode was done very well because it illustrated (forgot her name) the daughter's sudden fear, and her mourning very effectively. The show is really developing a palpable sense of tension, as I really sympathize with Kurau and Christmas and I can feel the GPO getting closer and becomming a greater threat all the time.

                            My Chinese mother came by to visit and say "Happy Birthday," so I put in the Hero DVD and watched it with her. It was particularly neat to watch the film with my Mom and have her understand the spoken dialogue. (It's been nearly 10 years since the last time I heard my mother speak any Chinese.)

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                              I forgot my list of what I've watched lately at work, so this is from memory and probably isn't complete.

                              Naruto episode 99 was surprisingly fun, even though I hadn't expected much out of this episode.

                              All I can say about Galaxy Angel IV episode 2 (chapters 03-04) is, "Teleport! Teleport! Teleport! Teleport!"

                              Shura no Toki episode 22 wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped it would be. The first half of the episode was all recycled animation, and the fight in the second half of the epsiode wasn't nearly as exciting as the action in the previous episode.

                              With episodes 9 & 10, Samurai 7 still doesn't seem quite as tightly focused as the first few episodes were, but the action scenes in episode 9 were impressive and exciting, presuming you can forgive seeing two sword slashes result in a half dozen cuts.

                              Ojamajo Doremi Naisho episode 5 was a fun, disposable little episode. Clearly at some point Hana got turned back into a baby, but I wonder how that happened and when. I just don't know enough about Doremi.

                              I had a chance to watch Minky Momo 2nd series TV special 2. I don't really have much of an opinion on it besides it being fun to see Momo unleash with a bazooka.

                              Nin Nin ga Shinobuden episode 3 was really enjoyable and funny. I really need to make a point of getting around to more episodes of this show.

                              I finally got around to finishing Koikaze by watching the unaired episode 8 (or episode 7.5) and episodes 11 & 12. The show had a really good ending. It wasn't exactly what I'd expected, but I can't think of a better way for it to have ended. This was a really nice love story, that happened to be about incest.

                              I also motivated myself to finish watching Nanami-chan by watching episodes 3-12. I particularly enjoyed episode 10's UFO story, and really enjoyed the Ring inspired haunted house in episode 11. I really wish the show had done more with episode 11's story. All in all, a nice little show with very nice art and pretty good animation.

                              I finally got around to Melody of Oblivion episodes 8 & 9. I definitely think this is another underappreciated gem. Besides its nods to Utena, it's a very unique and interesting show.

                              I also had a chance to watch Otoko Juku episodes 1-2. I don't know if I'd call seeing men's butts being paddled "entertainment," but the show is sort of fun because Momotaro is so absurdly masculine that it's funny. This is definitely classic anime "manly action," as it used to be called.

                              I had a chance to see the short Japanese live action "horror" film Toy Reanimator. It's really more like a Twilight Zone story than a horror film, and while it's attractive to look at, it falls apart at the end when it's twist ending doesn't make any sense. Sadly, the film makes a point of repeatedly stressing that the Yogu Sohto Hotofu only repairs exactly what's asked for, no more and no less, yet the twist at the end contradicts that established rule, making it silly and pointless.

                              Similarly, Long Dream was closer to a Twilight Zone episode than a horror movie. At first I found its visual look appealing, and its focus on the story, jumping from character to charater to continue tracing that story, quite interesting. But sadly the technical novelty wears off half way through the film, leaving the second half to be fairly rote and uninteresting.

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                                I'm glad that the Ninku TV series is getting fansubbed now, albeit slowly, as I'm now getting another chance to see it. I watched episode 4 last night. It's a fun, not very challenging show to just relax with.

                                I was really happy to have a chance to watch the Korean "urban martial arts action" movie Arahan. It didn't have quite as much action in it as I'd hoped for, but the action scenes that are in it are outstanding, especially the extended climactic fight. I'm pleased to say that this is one of the rare movies that actually does a good job of using Matrix slo-mo effects. And I'm also pleased that it's actually funny without being stupid. It's a very close race, for me, between Arahan and Volcano High School (the uncut, Korean langauge version) but I just barely like Arahan better becasue it has a stronger focus on its story development and it's just a bit more fun than the very entertaining Whasango.

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