A teen age boy that has the ability to “go ghost” to battle spectres and other supernatural beings. Fun eye candy but the stories are not very deep.
Darker Than Black
A disaster happened to Japan at some time in the past. The sky has been replaced by a fake sky. Each star is a Contractor with supernatural powers and when they fall to earth they take on human form and do nasty things. There is a police unit trying to catch the Contractors. There are all sorts of intrigue and sub plots. We find out that something similar happened to South America and resulted in a huge chunk of South America disappearing like the Earth was hit by a huge ice cream scoop. It looks like the same thing is going to happen to Japan. Lots of violence. The good guy is not really that good. In one scene he is working to save lives, then later he is breaking a girls fingers to get information. The end is confusing and unsatisfying.
Space Quakes hit at random causing destruction. A school kid discovers that space quakes are caused by the arrival of “spirits”. His sister and some of his classmates are involved with a group that tries, with little success, to battle these spirits. As spirits are all young girls he is drafted into the group to try dating the spirits to get them to be less destructive. If this sounds absurd, it is. It’s also badly written, full of cliche’s and tired hackneyed, plot lines. Even a comedy needs a certain degree of logic and internal consistency. This doesn’t. If you can hang in past the middle t does get better as it goes on. They try less for silly humour and more for a good story.
Dave The Barbarian
I do not know what they did to sneak this one under the noses of the Disney censors but while this show looks like a silly program for kids the underlying sarcasm is a blast. There are a lot of inside jokes, both about animation, and politics, and references, slams actually, to aspects of modern life. Disney was been rather ambivalent about this one. It was abruptly cancelled after a couple seasons. It has not appeared on DVD, online video, and there doesn’t appear to be any reference to it on the Disney site. It’s like it never was, which is unfortunate.
Artwork and character design reminds me of Erica 7. A kid is the only survivor of a school massacre and is tried and convicted of the crime, which he did not commit. He’s sent to Deadman Wonderland, a privately run prison that is also a theme park where the inmates are the entertainment. It is above the law because the powerful are corrupt and can do what they want, the warden is a sadist who wants only obedience, and the man that really runs things is a psychopath that is ‘investigating’ people like the Red Man that massacred the class. The public watching the literal bloodbath and carnage that is the entertainment in Deadman Wonderland, spout enthusiastically about the great special effects. Very Disturbing. Very Violent. Remember though: Abuse of prisoners has happened. There are private for profit prisons. There are people that have been railroaded into prison for ulterior reasons. There are sadists and psychopaths in charge. Unbelievable carnage is used as entertainment by millions. This is a black, disturbing series with an important message. I have to admit though, torture porn is not my thing so I quit after just a couple of episodes.
A fascinating philosophical exercise. A brilliant college student, Light, is disgusted by the amount of crime and inhumanity in society. A Death Note literally falls into his hands. If you write someone`s name in a Death Note, a small black notebook, they will die. Light decides to rid the world of all criminal and cruel people in order to make the world better. The series is a study of how doing immoral things corrupts even if those doing them have the most moral of intentions. Light starts by killing criminals, then he takes out the police that are hunting for him. Soon he is using people and behaving in a fashion that would have horrified him. He even uses someone who loves him, lies to her and plans her murder to protect himself. A series that should be seen by anyone who thinks it is OK to torture and kill as long as they are the Good Guys. Some things are immoral, doing them is always wrong no matter the excuse. No justification is satisfactory.
Delilah and Julius
Two teen age spies solve crimes as part of a group lead by a strange ex hippy. Animation on the level of Scooby Doo. Writing that is predictable and full of plot holes. Looks like someone tried to copy Totally Spies, a terrible show in its own right, and did not do even that well.
College students who have psychic powers to go to a parallel space and battle an alien threat. An interesting and thought provoking Sci-Fi/Mystery series. The animation is unusual as well. Live actors were filmed and then rotoscoped and then set into animated scenes. I have not caught many of these but I have enjoyed the few that I did.
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
A high school kid moves in with his aunt and cousin in a little town by the sea. It is about his life in school, the friends he makes, his cougar aunt who’s always saying inappropriate things to get a rise out of him, his cousin who’s autistic and intellectually disabled. She likes to spend her days wrapped up in a futon and believes she is part alien. The description mentions aliens and UFOs and such but none of that actually is in the show. The story is just a mildly amusing slice of life about a fairly typical kid in a situation that ranges from funny to embarrassing. There’s hints of tentative romance, mild mysteries, basketball and baseball, one girl that wears a space suit all the time and another who likes to cosplay as vegetables and fruit. Nothing too exciting though it is reasonably engaging.
The whole city is wired and people wear special glasses to access the virtual reality / augmented reality environment. The environment is also connected to real world things like cars, traffic lights and telephones. The kids are investigating odd occurrences, illegals (unauthorized programs) Obsolete Spaces, and such. It all starts out cute and friendly. As the story goes on it becomes darker. The oddities become more threatening. People start getting killed, getting trapped in comas, and getting abducted. The artwork is quite good. The director, Mitsuo Iso worked at Studio Ghibli and it shows in both the character design and style and the writing which is subtle and very clever.. All in all very good work. Not quite ‘Best” page material, some of the plot twists are a bit clumsy and story elements slightly predictable, but it’s close. I’m looking forward to his next work.
Descendants of Darkness
The Guardians of Death investigate anomalies; people who are listed as having died but do not show up in Hades, people showing up too soon, murders, etc. The animation is just above pokemon grade. The writing is average at best. Each story takes place over several episodes so the plot drags badly. There is a good deal of Christian iconography, but it is not pertinent to the story, often it looks more like awkward commercial product placement. There is also a very ugly homophobic subtext. I finally could not take it any more and skipped the last three episodes (and it is only 13 episodes long). Yuck!
Devil May Cry
Dante is a devil hunter. He hunts down and kills demons that have come to earth. He’s cynical, laid back, always in debt. In many episodes he ends up doing the right thing even though it costs him and he pretends not to care. He reminds me a lot of Spike from Cowboy Bebop, actually the whole show has the feel of Cowboy Bebop. Good graphics, excellent writing, all in all a good job. Lots of supernatural powers and such but in the end he dispatches the Devils with his gun and sword. Exceedingly violent and gory but a lot of fun.
(Disney) Story is good enough, it is about working together and the dangers of following an obsessive leader. The real strength of Dinosaur is the astounding animation. If you have seen the Walking with Dinosaurs series on Discovery you will recognize the technique; top notch CGI creatures shot against real/CGI enhanced backgrounds. It really looks like a live action film. The story is about an orphaned Hadrosaur who is raised by Lemurs. The meteor that ends the Cretaceous hits and then the whole “family” joins with other dinosaurs searching for the nesting grounds, where the green plants and fresh water hopefully were sheltered from the impact. Takes a bit of suspension of disbelief to accept the adoption and that the characters talk, but once you get over that, it is a fun film to watch, even just for the CGI work.
Matt Groening went one too far. A rebellious princess in a strange medieval land. Full of cliche things, vikings, plague, monsters, and creepy royalty. Okay as far as it goes, but I kept feeling like I had seen this before. Oh, the setting is different, but it feels like more of the same. More Groening style, and humour, and little inside references. When they say it’s by the people who made Futurama and The Simpson’s, it’s true. It really feels like those shows. I mean it doesn’t really break any new ground. The characters and storylines are fairly predictable. The references are uninspired. A big disappointment. But then how many people can get three home runs in a row? If you want to see something MUCH better along these lines, watch Dave the Barbarian.
A kid survives the crash of a spacecraft only to find himself caught between two shadowy organizations. Central casting Anime characters. sub-typical animation. Extended cut scenes to fill gaps in the plot. Mechs, (OK they call them dragons, they’re alive, and they can morf between dragon and human form but they look mechanical and the pilots get in and control them. They’re Mechs). Uninspired writing, (it’s bad when I can predict events a minute or more before they happen). Many of the female characters have absurdly oversized breasts. When the male dragons are in human form they fight with large phallic swards, spears, and such. Freud would have a field day with this one. I’m sure I’ve seen everything in this show before, only under other names and done infinitely better. I’ve never seen a series where the translator starts putting in snide comments about the series. As he said at the end of the last episode “This series was a real train wreck. If you’ve made it this far give yourselves a pat on the back.”: That about sums it up.
I have heard that DragonBall was the first big Anime hit in the US. I have no idea why it was popular. DragonBall (Z, GT, and however many other shows they have made as part of this franchise) are all about a group of semi supernatural beings. All they seem to do is fight. Worse yet they talk too much. I was trying to catch it regularly for a while and the final straw was during one fight (that lasted for several shows) two characters, panting and bloodied, talked and insulted each other for the whole show. They did not move one step. I have no idea what the appeal of DragonBall is. It’s Naruto Disease but even Naruto has a more interesting plot line.
Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan
A silly show with a silly premise. A percentage of Japan’s Air Force are actually dragons disguised as modern aircraft. This has apparently been true forever, which raises even more questions. The dragons are flown by young girls the OTF Pilots, who are swallowed and control the dragons from within their gullet. Overall the series is very erratic. They have fantastic aerial scenes, which they waste. The personal interactions and political interference threads are dropped without going anywhere. There is a good deal of sexism both overtly by the other, male, pilots and more subtly with stereotypes in the scripts. At the end the story suddenly becomes much more serious. Hitsone is a total ditz who says things without thinking, not to be mean, she’s just clueless. The other characters are mostly thin and two demential. Overall the series wasn’t BAD, just not great.
Disclaimer, I find most reality shows to be stupid, degrading, and annoying so I may not be the best one to review a cartoon “reality” show. The idea of Drawn Together is to satirize reality shows, other forms of animation, and many aspects of modern life. While it does do this, it does so with no subtlety. The jokes are obvious, the satire is shallow and the comedy is boorish. Like calling superman gay over and over and over. I will give them credit for knowing about all the various styles of animation, from Disney, to Marvel, to Manga, to 1970s Hanna Barbara to Betty Boop in black and white. I just wish the writing was better. But then, it would be better than any of the actual reality shows.