Kanade Amakusa – a boy cursed with the mental power who will turn any multiple-choice quiz he thinks about into a reality. However, one day in school, he is given another choice: a beautiful girl will fall before him or he will fall from the rooftop in female clothes. Although he chooses the first option and it comes true, he and his new-chosen love – Chocolat – are in for a hilarious multiple-choice adventure. This show is funny, cute, smart, and has a surprising amount of depth. I thought it was going to be a slice-of-life style show where there is no real overarching plot and the show would just focus on separate things that happen in the main characters life. This was not the case and the overarching story was interesting and drew me in. The show also had me laughing out loud multiple times. It was able to be serious too with good character development and an ending that, while typical for a harem anime, was still satisfying and set things up for a potential second season.
Interestingly, Kanade’s reactions to the first Mental Choice (yes its a pair of perverted choices) is a litmus test of sort for his character. He is constantly internalizing some interesting psychological questions while searching for the best answer. What does a decent person do when faced with a consent series of “lesser of two evils” choices? How do you rationalize and what criteria do you use when faced with a no-win situation? What is really more important: the human heart, or human pride? Do you strip your shirt or your pants? Like I said, comedy. The fanservice is there, but it’s generally tied to some of the comedy and isn’t too pbnoxious (mostly). The series takes time to make fun of other anime of this type, so you can expect all the cliche happenings. Character development is limited to say the least. Story and plot also are suitable to keep things moving and little more, but again this is a comedy and that’s where you will like or dislike the show.
As for the plot, it’s a blast too. It isn’t a grand, sweeping adventure so much as a series of comedic events that seem to build up to giving our protagonist a love life (though I say this having only seen up to episode 8, so I may be wrong in guessing that.) I’m not usually someone who can tolerate the kind of humor where someone is humiliated time and again, but something about Mental Comedy got it right. Kanade handles his situation with the perfect balance of resignation, exasperation, determination, and, yes, embarrassment to keep things from being too hard to watch. I was also surprised by the large amount of filler this early, especially in the first episode, that was not present in the novels at all. Still, if you are not familiar with the light novels, the primary story devices seem to be mostly intact.
My Mental Choices did come off a bit badly with its first episode, or most precisely it came off slowly. Thats not because it was a bad pilot, but just the opposite, it was trying to get as much introductory items off the plate as soon as possible so that way in later episodes there can be less explanation and more immediate humor. Not only that but My Mental Choices isnt your standard harem, if you can really call it a harem. What is the harem? There is only one character so far who has even been introduced to like the protagonist of the series! And Chocolat sure as DerP doesnt like him that way. In the end, My Mental Choices is not very predictable, and if you try to predict it, you will only be able to predict some small details, what some people call predicable in these reviews is called foreshadowing, when the anime leds you to believe something. If you like comedy, this is a great refresher on that genre, but if you’re more of an action person, I dont know why youre even reading this in the first place, seriously the cover doesnt look like an action at all. If anything I think My Mental Choices is underrated and misunderstood, hopefully it grows well in the future!
Jay Oliva is an American storyboard artist, a film producer and animated film director working for Warner Brothers Animation. We talk to Jay about the success and creative process behind Batman: Assault on Arkham, and his work on the new Dawn of Justice (Superman vs Batman) film. Don’t forget though, Mr. Oliva doesn’t sleep so catch his new film out on April 14th. Batman vs. Robin is based on the Court of Owls storyline, revolving around a secret society housed in Gotham that pulls the strings of the city and raises kidnapped, brainwashed children as assassins to carry out their dirty work. Read below for the full Q&A…
Batman: Assault on Arkham often distances itself from the video game franchise upon which it’s based. When this film was in the stages of conception, what was the creative process like?
You’d have to ask the writer, Heath Corson for this one. The director is brought on once the script is ready. Usually it’s the producer, in this case it would be James Tucker and Alan Burnett who would work closely with the writer at development stage. I am brought in once we start pre-production, design, storyboards, etc.
It’s a bold move to direct a Gotham-set film that focuses on someone other than Batman for a change. Were you nervous about crowd reception regarding this?
Not really. It’s actually more flexibility when you are not focusing on Batman. everyone knows Batman so there is always a certain expectation when you do a story around him. When your story is about a character or characters that isn’t too well known, you are able to try different things.
How did you feel Ethan Spaulding handled ‘Son of Batman’. Do you think you would have took a similar approach?
Every director is different. I think Ethan did a great job with the film and when we take on the director reigns we try to make it unique to our own tastes. There are a lot of things I would have done similar to what he did but there are also a lot of things that I would tried something different. It’s great to have so many talented artists at the studio so that all of the various projects we do all feel different.
Could you give us your take on this particular Harley Quinn, her move to the printed page and the evolution of her character through various media, including this film?
Harley in the film is a little bit of the classic Bruce Timm Harley and the more edgier Arkham video game version. I added a bit more hurt/scorn to her character because she had just taken the fall for a botched Joker plan and she’s hating him for it. I kept it open to interpretation whether or not breaking Joker out of jail was her plan all along… She is insane after all and I think that’s one of the things we love about her. She’s unpredictable.
With 76 minutes to play with each time how do you balance action scenes and strong characterization? Was it hard at first and now you’ve pretty much figured out the right formula?
I’ve worked in both tv series and film over the past 19 years and I’ve gotten pretty good at gauging how long something is when I read the script. My main goal is to make sure that the move plays out with the right amount of action and character moments. I have to still work within the confines of the 76 minute format but I try to map out the highs action moments with the equally important exposition scenes. I basically try to make movies that I want to sit in a theater and see.
Some people would be happy just being able to direct and be involved with animated films but you also double as a storyboard artist for many motion pictures. Why do you continue to work both jobs? Does storyboarding help you in constructing your animated films or do you just love working on live action films as well?
I just love storytelling. Whether it’s live action or animated, I’m a story teller at heart. When I work on the live action films, I’m following the lead of the director and its a great collaboration. When I get to be the director, I have a bit more freedom to do things that appeal to my own personal tastes since I’m involved with not just the storyboards but also in the character, background and prop designs, as well as the music, sound effects, and editing. When I get to be the director I have much more flexibility and freedom to mold the movie to what I see in my head. Both mediums of live action and animation has its pros and cons but ultimately I’m more interested in telling the stories that I am passionate about.
So with 4 months of pre production on your animated films, compared to your live action films. Do you create any differently having more time to work on a project?
Live action and animation are very similar in the sense that sometimes the schedules are very tight. Having more time is always a luxury and I rarely get that with my animated films since once we get the script, we have to hit the ground running. Live action can be just as crazy but I’ve noticed that there are a lot more people involved so you can delegate some duties that we don’t do in animation. For example, in live action, the second unit director is usually the one who works out the action sequences in a film. Doing storyboards for live action I still have to work out the shot and setup but I don’t really have to go all that in depth with the choreography. In animation, the storyboard artist not only has to draw the shot but also the choreography and camera movement. Since the animators are following what we lay out in the storyboards, we have to be very meticulous.
Both mediums are a collaboration of many different people but in animation I’ve noticed that we have a much smaller crew and therefore have to do multiple jobs.
What are your favorite Anime films?
My favorite Anime includes a lot of old classics like Akira, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, Otomo’s “Memories”, Street Fighter the movie, Ninja Scroll, Bubblegum Crisis, Macross/ Robotech, and Ghost in the Shell. Of the newer stuff: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Naruto, Soul Eater, and I’m obsessed with One Piece. The last movie, “One Piece movie Z” totally blew me away with the action and choreography and I hope to bring the same kind of energy to my DCAU films.
Bouncing between the Justice League and Batman franchises, what other DC properties would you love to animate in the future?
I’ve got a long list of characters I’d love to do. It really depends on the script/story. I enjoy doing adaptations but I also look for really good original stuff.
This one is probably a bit hush-hush, but what can you tell us about working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Should we believe the hype?
[Laughs] Well I can’t say anything since it’s still two years out. It’s gonna be a huge film and it will definitely be a movie event everyone will look forward to. I had a great time working on the film and I hop Zack calls me to come back for the next one!
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This documentary is about the life and career of Manny Pacquiao, probably the most famous Filipino celebrity the world over now. While we in the Philippines idolize him as our “National Fist,” it would be very interesting to hear what other peoples have to say about him. The film was narrated by Liam Neeson. It starts with Manny Pacquiao contemplating on why he boxes. Pacquiao mostly narrates his story in Filipino (with English subtitles). We learn that he joined fishermen when he was a poor boy growing up in Sarangani province. He credited that experience for developing his physical strength. From there, we will meet various people who have influenced his life and career. Manny’s mother Dionisia was restrained and sincere when she talked about his childhood. Too bad that would only be her only part in the film. His wife Jinkee had more participation, talking about their personal life. There was an obvious hesitation in some parts when she was going to say something negative, but that was understandable. Too bad there was no interview with his kids. It would have been good to know how he was as a father.
The bulk of this documentary will of course be about his boxing career. We will meet his uncle Sardo Mejia who taught 12 year old Manny about boxing. His childhood friend Buboy Fernandez was trained by Manny to be his assistant trainer. We will get to learn more about Freddie Roach, his own career, how they met and their present relationship. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and innovative conditioning coach Alex Ariza are also featured prominently. Former managers Rod Nazario and Michael Koncz were not so favorably mentioned. We get to witness the best scenes from Pacquiao’s most memorable fights. There was that 1995 match with a certain Rossel, Manny’s first significant win that started him on his winning path. There was that match vs. Hussein in 2000, the first actual match Jinkee watched live, and she was six months pregnant then. His first match in the US, vs. Ledwaba, which Manny convincingly won despite being a longshot. There were highlights of his matches with Barrera, Morales, Solis, Diaz, Marquez, dela Joya, Hatton (that chilling knockout), Cotto, Margarito (that unprecedented eighth world title), and Bradley (that controversial loss by decision). There was of course mention of the dream match which may never be, that elusive one vs. Floyd Mayweather.
We will also see Manny’s forays into the entertainment scene. There were movies like “Wapak-Man” and “Anak ng Kumander”, which did not exactly get good reviews nor good box office. There was his singing “Imagine” on TV with Will Ferrell. We see inside footage of Manny recording “Sometimes When We Touch” in Capitol Records, with no less than Dan Hill himself coaching him (which I found so funny). There was also a quick montage of his multiple product endorsements locally and abroad, many of which we have not seen before. We will see his career in politics as congressman of the lone district of Sarangani. There were even predictions posed about a possible presidency. There was also footage from a prayer meeting where Manny was the motivational speaker. There were thoughts shared about how these other activities were affecting his boxing career.
I think “Manny” succeeds in its aim to craft a fair character study of a man who came from nothing, who pushed himself to achieve great things for himself and his whole country. This is a very well-made documentary feature, unexpectedly an emotional film which will move many to tears.
Though history might not be my favorite class, I love studying it on my own. Thus, a series like this captured my interest immediately. Having fun traveling around and trying to change the fate of humanity = epic. Having equally strong male and female characters = exciting. Having great music and animation = enthralling. Having a decent plot when this could have taken a really bad route as a harem = mind-blowing. Ordinary high schooler Yoshiharu is sent back in time to the Warring States Period, however not the same time line that he remembers. There he meets Nobuna Oda – not Nobunaga, Nobuna. In this world, all the famous figureheads and warlords of the era are female! Nobuna teams up with Yoshiharu to help fuel her ambition and quest to rule the world.
The more I watched this the more I began to be interested to what happened next to the famous Oda Nobuna. I loved how the beginning started in the battlefield with Hideyoshi and Monkey, at first I was confused at how they met and such but slowly got caught up with even though that character only appeared twice this anime. Then comes Nobuna in shining armor. It was very touching about how Nobuna had to be strong for her people and province but it sort of pissed me off when Monkey kept on intervening at the good parts and started taking the thunder and from Nobuna. There is one expection I made when Nobuna was about to strike down her brother, Monkey intervened (very annoying) and stopped her from killing her brother and instead sent him posing as a girl to another province they were allied with (who later on betrays them) to get married to a girl posing a man (that wasn’t confusing at all). I also didn’t expect Nobuna to come off so girlish towards Monkey in the beginning which sort of tore down the badass image I set up for her in my mind. But as the anime carried on l grown to like the characters that started coming out and I learned a lot (shocker) from this anime about Nobunaga himself. The ending for this season when Monkey sacrificed himself for Nobuna and the gore and the fellowship of that episode really got to you. I really liked how she thought that Monkey had died in the explosion and how she fell into despair after his loss. Then he came back to life and all was well until in the ending credits it shows the older red hair chick and then BAM! End of that season. So, Overall, I really like this anime and the action and loyalty of the comrades together. I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Oda Nobuna and Monkey.
If you are not familiar with Japanese history, this show does a decent job of filling you in on some things that happen. Instead of the outsider just going powerlessly with the flow of history like you see in many shows, Monkey begins to change it and the flow of events begins to alter somewhat. That is a great, refreshing change for a time travel themed show. Animation is beautiful and all the characters are beautifully designed and colorful while having quality animation throughout the show. The story is very good considering how it considers the gender swaps of the characters and various relationships of these historical figures changing. Music (including the opening) is very good. It also does fairly well with the placement of comedic scenes to go along with the intense drama and action. You can find yourself really drawn into these characters.
I can say that what little I know of the Manga, this can be considered faithful, if missing a few sections from it. But other than that, the length of the Series is my only complaint. Too short. It should have been made longer, plain and simple. Otherwise, it is a very well made Anime. The action is well published and the in between shows a fair amount of interaction. The problems I find are related to my primary issue, the shortness of the series. Had the TAOB been made longer, more interaction could have been included. I find that the interactions that lead the female characters to greatly value Yoshiharu Sagara are too short for the level of interest they put in him. He’s also largely shown as having few things to make him a considerable worthwhile main character. He’s almost useless on more than one occasion, but he still manages to come through in the end. While I give the Series high marks and the story itself considerable marks, I have to give it a B because the shortness condenses things a bit too much with little room for more in depth character interaction and development.
Hong Kong Cinema has on many occasions either broken the mold of action movies or set a new high in action movies. This movie does the first. By pitting two of the world’s major female fighters in the same kick-ass movie they break the mould of a majorly male lead industry. Whilst this is commendable and indeed fantastic, the result is of kick-ass action female hero’s shows even females can kick ass and look damn good doing it. Unfortunately although this film is fun, it isn’t up to scratch on the plot, writing or characters. It still plays like the old cliched action movies of the past. It still has one-dimensional people, over the top bad guys and a story that doesn’t make sense the more it is explained.
You shouldn’t concern yourself with the plot in this movie, although it really does pull this movie down slowly but surely. Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock team up to track down the murderer of a British Diplomat. Rothrock is from Scotland Yard and immediately makes an impression with her almost upskirt camera angles and her long skirt waving about on screen as she kicks and beats an escaping convict. But Rothrock’s character is muddled. Why is she constantly beating up prisoners? Why is she angry all the time? Was the diplomat Rothrock’s father? Nope. Does Scotland Yard’s way of questioning come from a POW camp? Who knows. Fortunately her character is muted along the film so we don’t have to think about it. Rothrock’s fiery character is played against the sure and measured response of the beautiful Michelle Yeoh. The film is rather dated. The film quality isn’t all that good. The one dimensional characters do not make it feel as good as it could have been. Dick Wei in his usual bad guy routine plays a damn good bodyguard to the drug dealing bad guy but during the end sequences he is left as the only man to stop these two girls. Their two on one fight is very, very short…It should have been five times as long.
The number of casts appearing in this movie is amazing, and this helps to weave many threads in this story. The story has comedic touch, serious touch, and lot of action depending on who’s playing the part of the story. It’s definitely not one dimensional, and is entertaining to watch. The production is classy, and has high quality looks to it. This movie started the “Huang Ka” (Royal) movie craze in Hong Kong, and many movies crowning these two characters were made. The movie has confusing number of titles like “Super Cops”, “In the line of Duty”, “Yes Madam”, “Ultra Force”, which actually makes finding this movie difficult. The final fight scenes appears in many specials that chronicles Hong Kong martial arts movies to this day. The amazing physical ability of Michelle Yeoh, and Cynthia Rothrock launched them into superstar status. This is one of the best martial arts themed movie to come out of Hong Kong, and is highly recommended for viewing whether you’re a martial arts movie fan or not.
Nolen Niu is an American Industrial Designer recognized for his holistic approach to design and clean, provocative aesthetics. Beginning January 2015, he will be featured as a judge on Spike TV’s highly anticipated show, “Framework;” alongside furniture designer, Brandon Gore and hip-hop artist, Common. “Framework” is the first ever furniture design competition series. The show features 13 emerging furniture designers who will compete over the course of 10 weeks for a $100,000 cash prize and the opportunity for their work to be sold by a major manufacturer. After receiving his Bachelors of Science in Industrial Design from the world-renowned Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Niu developed private furniture lines, custom one-of-a-kind pieces, mass production furniture, residential and retail spaces for corporate, private and celebrity clientele. Read below for the full Q&A…
It’s one thing to be a furniture designer/builder and quite another to be mentoring people; the latter requires a totally different skillset. How did you decide that you wanted to be in a position of judging other designers on Framework?
When I was asked to be a judge on Framework, I was extremely honored with the opportunity. The decision itself though was an easy one. I’ve been an instructor at my alma mater, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, for the past few years, so mentoring people was already something I was comfortable with. Judging, however, was a completely different experience altogether since I had to take my personal beliefs out of the equation and be completely objective based on each competition’s challenge criteria.
Framework has the potential to be to furniture builders what reality TV has done for tattoo artists and chefs in the sense that they took an existing occupation that has been around for years and made them into rock stars. Do you feel it is now time for designers and industrial engineers to have more of a spotlight on them?
I absolutely believe now is the right time for furniture designers and builders to be recognized for their expertise. People take for granted how much of their lives are completely surrounded by design. From the car they drive, to the clothes they wear, and the furniture they wake up and go to sleep with everyday. The design world works around the clock, behind-the-scenes, improving the daily quality of life we all live. Furniture specifically creates the right ambiance at a restaurant, sets the mood at a night club or a relaxing environment at home. We sit on our favorite sofa or armchair watching TV or enjoying a book, forgetting that there was ultimately someone who was the designer and builder of that piece.
As we observe the contestants on the show some have their own specialty, such as exclusively building furniture from steel, etc. Whereas InkMaster tries to push all contestants to be efficient in all areas of tattooing; does Framework expect the same out of their contestants? Would a niche designer be at an advantage or a disadvantage on the show?
Yes, Framework does expect the same level of versatility. As designers and builders we might have our particular strengths in certain areas, but it’s extremely important to be adaptable to any challenge, just as one would have to do with real world clients. No one client is the same as the last and we are often asked to do things that might be out of our skill set or comfort zone, but we still have to come up with the right solution in order to deliver. The only disadvantage a niche designer would have would be the lack of problem solving skills or willingness to work through their shortcomings.
As a designer, how do you blur the line between a statement piece with bold color(s), and a comfortable piece? Is the balance between aesthetic and functionality difficult?
The balance between aesthetic and functionality is only difficult if a designer or builder chooses not to acknowledge and work through it. I’m a firm believer that any sofa or armchair needs to be comfortable. With my personal collection I wanted to create that balance of comfort with striking aesthetics. When I first started out, I had a hard time understanding why sofas and armchairs we so antiquated visually. I would ask myself, “why does it have to be big, brown, and frumpy?” We certainly don’t dress like that, so shouldn’t a home be something representative of our fashion stylistically? At an early age we start to develop our fashion sense, but as far as furniture or interior design is concerned, our biggest influences come from the home we grew up in. Our first experience with furnishing our own place tends to be a hodgepodge of things, since we haven’t really developed our interior style sense like we were able to do with fashion. This is where I feel furniture needs to be fashionable stylistically so that people have more options to express their true character and persona within their home.
A good example would be the ZERO Chaise Lounge you designed almost 10 years ago that STILL looks modern to the touch. What are the initial creative processes that go into a piece that promotes practicality and creativity?
It’s important for designers and builders to ultimately try and create something that is timeless in aesthetic and built to last for years to come. Before I even put pen to paper to start sketching, I spend a good portion of time researching what’s already out in the market, which pieces are the hit makers and the failures, and how I can contribute to a particular category that’s not just piggy backing off of current trends that are hot. Designing something that’s too trendy is risky in my opinion, because the shelf life of that piece is limited to what people want at that moment in time and won’t have the same aesthetic appeal once the trend is over.
We are getting better at understanding what needs to happen to develop great products. The product/service development tool kit has expanded greatly in the 15 years since you graduated. What design research do you apply today that differs most from your old way of thinking back as a recent grad?
The biggest difference has been the use and integration of technology. When I was a student, they were barely introducing 3D modeling programs and machines that could automate the fabrication process. Now there’s software that can produce digital models for 3D printing. 15 years ago our biggest weapon was how well we could sketch or render by hand. Photo realist renderings have pretty much leveled the playing field in terms of presentation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are good designs being presented. As far as the creative process is concerned, my research now of course is done predominately online, whereas in the past it would be expensive stacks and stacks of magazines I would have to look through.
Do you remember the first “product” you designed? What was it and how do you feel about it now upon reflection?
The very first product I designed was a plasma TV stand for a local manufacturer here in Los Angeles. It was very simple in shape and design with a total of 4-pieces all together. A sheet of glass cantilevered over a wooden base with two metal “U” shaped legs between them. It wasn’t earth shattering in design but it did get knocked off by a few different companies which was my first taste of what it felt like to be ripped off. Many companies forget that most furniture designers don’t make any money upfront when they are producing licensed designs. So when they blatantly copy someone’s creative work, it literally cuts in to any potential income from royalties. In my case, it basically killed my product from the market since the copycats were using the same design and undercutting the price, robbing my piece from any potential sales.
Designers are striving to answer larger questions and calling on a broader set of specialties. In today’s industry, what advice do you have to a budding designer that they need to keep in mind to achieve success in our present time?
My advice to budding designers would be to always keep the word “timeless” in their mind. They have to think about the surroundings they live in today and strive to design a piece that will still look great and people will want for years to come. That’s responsible design – when a piece doesn’t end up in a landfill after a year or two because it was too trendy. I’m finding more and more designers these days are simply recycling from the past, literally using vintage and antique aesthetics. I’m all for looking to the past for inspiration, but not simply reclaiming and reusing them and then calling it something new. In my opinion, that is not design – that’s called decorating.
Lastly, what are some of your favorite Asian films?
Growing up I remember watching Chow Yun-Fat films. The ones that stick out the most are “A Better Tomorrow” and “God of Gamblers”.
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Catch new episodes of “Framework” on Tuesdays at 10/9c on SpikeTV! Don’t worry if you miss one: you can watch full episodes on the Spike App!
The 3-shot of Nolen (with co-judges Common and Brandon Gore) is “Courtesy of Spike TV”
Additional shots used in this interview credit to photographer WILLIAM COLE
Hozuki is the aide to the Great King Enma. Calm and super-sadistic, Hozuki tries to resolve the various problems in Hell, including a rampaging Momotaro and his companions. However, he also likes spending his free time on his hobbies, such as fawning over cute animals and raising ‘Goldfish Flowers.’ Hozuki no Reitetsu (aka Cool Headed Hozuki) is really about Enma’s right hand demon, Mr. Hozuki. Hozuki endures the ‘normal’ everyday trials of maintaining a properly functioning hell despite an endless stream of sinners, lazy and incompetent underlings, lecherous rivals, fiendish paparazzi, and even legendary figures (both good and evil) who disrupt his routine on a regular basis. In the title I compare this series to Gintama and I mean that as nothing but praise. If biting wit, slapstick violence, and constant parodies and puns are your gag series schtick then you’ve come to the right place. Speaking of other series, the director, Hiro Kaburaki, also worked on My Little Monster and Moyashimon, both comedy series I would also highly recommend.
Each episode has two stand alone stories within it. It’s Basically a workplace comedy. With that Work place happening to be in Japanese Hell. The title protagonist is Houzuki, A demon man who is the chief Advisor of the the great king Emma. For those who don’t know who King Enma is, you may know him as King Yama, a figure from Buddhist mythology that judges sinners who have recently died and decides what kind of eternal touter they will have to endure. Enma is almost always goofing off, leaving it up to cool-headed and straight lace Houzuki to take matters into his own two hands. The show is loaded to bursting with references to old school anime and manga, and of course, Mythology. One of my favorite aspects of the show is how different countries have different Hells. There’s Japanese Hell, Chinese Hell, European hell…. the list goes on. Watch as they punish the dead and share ridiculous anecdotes, all while punching their time cards and attending the random festival or two. Trust me, if nothing else gets you into this show, the main character can manage to do it.
This is a series that isn’t for everyone, as it’s unique take on Buddhist and Shinto views of the afterlife combined with its darker humor will require a specific type of viewer to fully appreciate. But I found that it matched up with my tastes, and even though I didn’t always have the knowledge to fully grasp all the references the writers were throwing at me, I enjoyed watching Hozuki’s Coolheadedness and found that it felt different from all of the comedy anime I’ve seen before. Give the first episode a shot, and if you find yourself laughing at the scenarios and wanting to see what all the locations of Hell and supporting cast have to offer chances are good this will be one you’ll want to stick with.
I’m not usually a fan of slice-of-life anime, but the premise of a slice-of-life set in hell and featuring demons combined with a voice actor I usually like (Yasumoto Hiroki) voicing the main character was enough to convince me to try the first episode. I was not disappointed. The series is episodic, and some episodes were definitely better than others, but overall it was enjoyable. Having some background knowledge of Japanese mythology would be helpful, but I don’t think lacking that would interfere with understanding the major action of the series.
I went into this movie nervous about how I was going to review this movie, most people don’t know but I do have a degree in Cyber Security so my major worry was am I going to be able to catch all the hacking references they put in this movie. I shouldn’t have worried. This movie isn’t really a hacking movie, yes there are two hacks at the beginning of this movie you don’t see the code but some make believe this is how pathways work in the digital world that goes on too long that I was getting bored I can just imagine people that don’t really care that much about computing were thinking.
So we get the Chinese who just had one of their reactors hacked pair up with the U.S. due to the U.S. having the same type of hacking happen against them earlier but were able to stop it. So both governments decide to work together to try to figure out who is doing this and why. Oh but wait the Chinese Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) decides they need his old M.I.T college roommate Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who is supposed to be a master hacker but now resides in jail. Which okay it could happen since supposedly part of the code the blackhat ( in case people don’t know black hat is a term meaning a person hacking with malicious intent) is using was co written by Hathaway and Dawai back when they were in college. But the simple fact that afterwards there is very little hacking in this movie or that they really show you. It turns into a detective movie with them trying to track this black hat down, oh and Hathaway goes with them everywhere and sometimes without his mandated U.S. Marshall. There is no reason to have a hacker consultant following or taking point into crime scenes.
Then lets talk about the acting and editing of this movie. This movie is more of a B rated movie than the A rated movie that they try to spin it off as. The editing is bad in this movie from a lot of clip scenes to the pace of this movie is slow. And don’t get me wrong I could understand the slow pacing of this movie if it was more focused on the true aspects of hacking instead of trying to be a gunfight/police drama. Then they make the old Hollywood mistake of the guns never run out of ammo. You never once see or hear a gun empty, you never see the people have clips on them or changing them. Also Hathaway the hacker is not just a hacker but great at hand to hand as well as shooting. And then the dialogue in this movie, not talking about the hacker speak they got most of that correct at least the most I caught, even the coding though I am not a coder looked to be correct but the rest of the dialogue just seemed over the top or just thrown together. I don’t know if I should blame the writers or the way this movie was edited. Oh and then with everything else this movie has added they decided what they really needed was a love story, so when at least you will get some eye candy with Thor/Hathaway out of his clothes for some of this movie. But it is an element that didn’t need to be in this movie.
Spoiler here we get to see really two hacks in this movie and don’t get me wrong these two types of hacks are used a lot and have a lot of success. But the first hack we see is a phishing attack on an NSA Cyber Security person. Hathaway sends the man an email from his supervisor telling him he needs to change his password due to him having dealt with the U.S./Chinese team and the email has a short cut to change his password. Guess what he does? Yep. Clicks the link which happens to be hiding a keylogger in it which grants Hathaway access to the system the team needs to put some information together. Yes phishing is a successful way to get information from users but with all the things that have been happening in the world with unauthorized access and hacking attacks it is very unlikely that an NSA Cyber Security person is going to click on that link. The second attack that they use is a social engineering attack which is always very successful in the world. The use Dawai’s sister who is also Hathaways love interest in the movie to get a guard to attach a thumb drive into his computer which then grants them access to the systems. This I really do not have a problem with it is a good way to get your code into a system and happens a lot.
The Queen’s Blade tournament may be over, but the stories of the contestants have barely begun. Unaware that fate is already conspiring to pit many of them against each other in the arena of war, the sword maidens scatter across the lands in search of fame, fortune and adventure. For some that comes sooner than expected, as Leina finds herself drawn to aid her sister, Elina, who’s been captured by Echidna. Tortured by the Swamp Witch, Melona focuses her anger on the absent Airi and plots an insidious revenge. Each episode focuses on a specific group of characters, and some characters like Irma (assassin) and Risty (bandit) are completely absent. Airi (the maid) and Melona (bunny girl) are in half of the episodes, so if you are a fan of either girl, you will enjoy this collection. Characters like Cattelya (blacksmith,) Ymir (dwarf,) and Claudette (main character’s elder sister) do not get very much time in this series at all.
Fans of the series (you know who you are) will enjoy this series. There is no shortage of scenes of blatant fan service and nudity, just like the other two series. This really is not the best starting point for a new viewer to the series, but it looks better than the rest, and I feel that the action scenes are handled better. We also get to see a darker version of Naneal (the angel,) which Is kind of cool.
The air is always still before the start of rebellion, but the battling beauties of the Queen’s Blade competition you know and love still have their stories to tell. The fact that it’s almost always another female doing the capturing and torturing probably only adds a titillating aspect to the proceedings, at least for what may be Queen’s Blade’s chief demographic, younger males.
The major issue with this set of OVAs is that it doesn’t really fulfill any major function. The six episodes seem to want to be a prequel of sorts and so while this set of OVAs presages some activity in the later series, what mostly happens is brief vignettes featuring various characters as they trundle along to various locations after the Queen’s Blade Tournament. There’s decent enough information imparted about several characters, but a lot of Queen’s Blade Beautiful Warriors feels like filler spewed out into the universe to keep the franchise alive until the next major outing was ready.