Stephen reviews: Blue Gender: The Warrior (2002)

bluegenderthewarrior_1Blue Gender: The Warrior [ブルージェンダー ザ・ウォリアー] (2002)

Starring Kenji Nojima, Houko Kuwashima, Katsunosuke Hori, Hisayoshi Suganuma, Akimitsu Takase, Chizu Yonemoto, Eiji Itô, Hiroshi Isobe, Hisanori Nemoto, Jōji Nakata, Nobutoshi Kanna

Directed by Koichi Ohata


What we have here is another compilation film that splices together scenes from the TV series to make a feature from the scraps. This of course means that the story is a bit disjointed, but really it’s no more so than films like Fist of the North Star or X: 1999 which did reanimate the story from scratch. What this also means is that the animation is TV-series quality. It isn’t really impressive for TV either, so its quality is noticeably different from other anime films.

A long time ago I tried to watch the TV series of Blue Gender. I don’t remember quite what turned me off to the series, but I remember thinking it was generic and kinda boring. Of course, I’ve learned since then that all anime series take at least the first episode, usually longer, to get going. Watching The Warrior I found that the story did take some interesting turns even though its initial premise looked like any other giant mecha anime with monsters overrunning the Earth.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Blue Gender: The Warrior (2002) →

Stephen reviews: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010)

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works [フェイト/ステイナイト Feito/sutei naito] (2010)

Starring Noriaki Sugiyama, Junichi Suwabe, Kana Ueda, Ayako Kawasumi, Hiroshi Kamiya, Jouji Nakata, Tomokazu Seki, Nobutoshi Kanna, Atsuko Tanaka

Directed by Yuuji Yamaguchi


I came to this film without knowing much about it. It was something of an impulse buy fueled by nothing more than a gut feeling. All I knew about the Fate/Stay Night series is that it had a blonde woman with a sword and medieval armor on its promotional art. I heard that this movie was a retelling of the original TV series with amped-up blood and violence. It sounded like a good jumping on point to see what, if anything, I’d been missing. After watching the film, I’m doubtful there’s a whole lot worth seeing in the series, but Unlimited Blade Works itself was well worth watching despite some flaws.

It has a very generic setup. Some crazy supernatural tournament is going on, and the winner gets to keep the Holy Grail as a reward. A bunch of people called magi control magical servants to battle for them. Then, surprise surprise, our poor main character Emiya gets unwittingly sucked into it and finds out that he too can use a servant and participate in the battles. It’s the same premise of a million other bland anime titles out there. Then there’s the irritable pretty girl who gradually falls in love with him despite constantly getting angry at him. It’s a tag team of the two most common anime clichés.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010) →

Stephen reviews: X (1996)

X (1996)
AKA X/1999, X: Their Destiny Was Foreordained 1999

Starring Tomokazu Seki, Ken Narita, Yūko Minaguchi, Atsuko Takahata, Junko Iwao, Tōru Furusawa, Masako Ikeda, Kazuhiko Inoue,Mami Koyama, Rica Matsumoto, Kotono Mitsuishi, Issei Miyazaki, Jōji Nakata, Yukana Nogami, Toshihiko Seki, Emi Shinohara, Hideyuki Tanaka, Kōichi Yamadera

Directed by Rintaro


No, the title X has nothing to do with the film’s rating. It is in fact rated R. There’s no sex anywhere, and the only nudity is in the incredibly creepy opening scene where the main character, Kamui, confronts his naked mother. Before Kamui can do much of anything, his mother rips open her own stomach with her bare hands and pulls out a massive sword, which she then stabs into Kamui’s stomach. And just to end the scene on a confusing note, because it wasn’t confusing enough apparently, Mommy dearest spontaneously explodes in a spray of blood and severed limbs. Things like this are why Japan has cornered the WTF market. It certainly grabs your attention, but even after watching the film I’m not sure whether that scene was a dream sequence, or literal event. It doesn’t matter much though, as there isn’t much difference between the two in this movie. People travel through dreams, and the film is filled with apocalyptic visions.

The movie is about the end of the world, and the two groups fighting over it: the Dragons of Heaven who want to preserve modern civilization, and the Dragons of Earth that want to return the world to its natural state. Each side has six members in addition to the two fortune-telling sisters that lead them, and that means there’s obviously going to be some limits on how well we get to know them. Many characters have a sort of “Hi! Bye!” feel to them, just getting enough time to show off their stuff before dying. This film is an adaptation of a comic book series, and the problem of condensing a longer story will always be present. Rintaro has learned a few things in the decade since he directed The Dagger of Kamui, though, and the pacing in X is smooth throughout the film, giving a balanced focus to as many characters as it could.

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