Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quick Anime Review

Journey to Agartha (2011) | Rating: 3.5/5

...or Children of Lost Voices was something I picked off the shelf out of curiosity. I had never heard of this title before, but since I enjoyed Patema Inverted without knowing anything, then I figured I might have the same luck with this one. First, I want to point out that the animation is gorgeous and doesn't overwhelm your eyes with CGI effects, because there are a few moments that it is utilized. Second, the story is a bit simple, but the journey and characters really pull the viewer in and gradually involves your emotions when their backstories unfold. There will be times where you're at the edge of your seat or you get frustrated with one of the characters, but I found that a good thing meaning you're really invested in the success of these characters reaching their goals. Check this movie out, especially if you're into movies like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Gangsta. (2015) | Rating: 4/5

If you haven't seen it, I did do a first impression video for the first volume of the manga and touched a little bit on the anime. I realized after the fact that I should've mentioned this series reminds me Dogs: Bullets and Carnage and Samurai Champloo, which are both very entertaining, action packed, and very enjoyable series. For me, it took me a while to get used to the anime, after reading the first volume of the manga. First was the usual translating what you've already read into animation and making it just as entertaining and second was Nicholas's sign language and a bit of his speech. I've gotten so used to his gestures being translated into text that it took some adjusting to rely on Worick like the other characters. By the time I surpassed what I've read, I became more and more into it. I just hope that someone decides to pick it up for a second season, since Manglobe declared bankruptcy. Please don't let that bit of news discourage you from watching, because it is an exciting adventure with great and diverse characters.

Haikyuu!! (2014) | Rating: 3.5/5

I started with both seasons of Free!, moved onto the high adrenaline triple attack of Kuroko no Basket, and now I'm here with volleyball; a sport I don't have the best of history with. Fortunately, I didn't let my middle school past deter me from watching this comical gem. Unlike Kuroko no Basket, these underdogs don't completely succeed at everything they do. From episode to episode, even counting this current second season, they're still trying to grow stronger as a team and even a couple friendships get tested. It still packs the same excitement and almost the same intensity as Kuroko no Basket. I will admit that the art style and our two main characters' personalities took a bit of adjusting. Of course, with time, I got used to it and I've come to love Nishinoya and Asahi. Spoiler: I'm really enjoying this second season as well as the anime I replaced in its spot, Yowamushi Pedal.

Love Stage!! (2014) | Rating: 3/5

For some reason, I thought I was starting another musical base anime, but ended up with a boy love story between a movie star and an aspiring mangaka. Once again, the art style took some adjusting and there were a couple moments where I wish I wasn't watching it in my office, but it didn't go too far in the sexual territory. Just a little citrus, for those old school yaoi fans that know what I mean. It was an amusing story that had its great meta moments of "I can't be in a boy love story" or "This isn't an anime/manga!". Both characters had to deal with their emotions for each other in their own way and I find that a bit different from the norm, which is usually a one-sided love until it hits the other character later. At times, it did feel predictable, but somehow the story gives a few curveballs through comedic or dramatic twists to keep you moving forward. I won't say this show is for everyone, especially if you're not into boy love or cutesy things, but I had fun watching it and it was nice to watch a slightly more innocent boy love story, considering I watched all three Boku no Pico series. OTL

Steins;Gate (2011) | Rating: 4.5/5

As much as I wanted to do a quick review on Chaos;Head, I couldn't find the right words to describe how I felt about it. In short, it took me a few episodes to really get into, but overall I did enjoy it. Naturally, I had to check out the next alternate world, which is this series. Unlike Chaos;Head, this series really focuses on connecting the viewer with its characters and it relies on that connection quite a bit. There are some hard moments to accept and even areas that I was surprised it went such as gender identity, but they handled it with the utmost care. The story is more serious, dramatic, and psychological compared to its predecessor that features more action and a bit of emotional moments. They both hold some cool science fiction elements that could cater to gamers or time travelers. If it wasn't obvious, I enjoyed this a little more than Chaos;Head and I would like to thank the fabulous Japanese duo Zwei for leading me to this series.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Trick 'r Treat

Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 82 minutes

Halloween may be over, but that doesn't stop Muddy Cult from posting horror movies...albeit a bit late. It's probably obvious that I haven't been the most timely with certain posts lately, but I'm trying my best. Between me and you, I originally had a bunch of horror movie reviews lined up for October, but I was thrown a few curveballs and never got around to it. Of course, past deadlines don't stop me from posting these things. Hopefully, they are still informative and entertaining.

Five interwoven stories that occur on the same block, on the same night. A couple finds what happens when they blow a jack o' lantern out before midnight, a high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer, a college virgin might have met the right guy for her, a group of mean teens play a prank that they take too far, and a hermit is visited by a special trick or treater. [source: IMDb]

For a couple of years, I've seen this movie on people's Halloween lists as something that's perfect to watch during the season. After watching, I can understand why. Sure, you can watch horror movies to get your thrills, but it's nice to watch a movie that actually revolves around Halloween and I don't think there's many of those out there. Trick 'r Treat is a bit of an anthology of stories, but unlike movies like ABCs of Death, each story connects to one another and occur all on one Halloween night. When the movie first began with a couple assumingly coming from a party or what have you, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Their segment was rather short compared to the other scenarios, but it wasn't the last time we see them. They're pretty much a good bookend for this movie. In short, I enjoyed the smooth transitions from story to story. Even though each scenario was more off the wall than the next, they connected very well and had a bit of humor to it. To focus on the characters featured in this movie, I thought they were all pretty interesting and helped with some of the silliness and humor of this Halloween night. There was a good range from over the top characters like the principle and very subtly creepy characters like movie's mascot Sam.

I must admit that this movie does have it's silly or cheesy moments, but it does successfully contribute to the horror genre. Also, I don't think it would have a cult following if it didn't have some good scares, gore, and cheesiness. Most cult followings usually come with its flaws and this movie is not the best representative of the genre. While I wouldn't say that this movie is bad, it really isn't, but I can think of better horror movies and maybe even Halloween themed movies I'd rather watch every year. The movie doesn't fail in entertaining at all, but there are some gory moments that go overboard and sometimes the effects aren't the best and could possibly get you out of the moment of the scare. Other than those little things, which can be found in a lot of low budget or straight to video movies, I wouldn't mind watching this properly on a Halloween night with friends.

Trick 'r Treat is thoroughly an entertaining Halloween flick that would be fun to watch with a group of friends (or alone, if you're like me). The story transitions well and has a good balance of humor and horror. I really enjoyed the diversity of characters presented in each scenario and the actors are very dedicated to these crazy characters from story to story. I'm really hoping that Michael Dougherty keeps his word from 2013 and make a sequel to this cult Halloween movie. Overall, this is a very enjoyable Halloween flick that'll get you in the spirit and into the onslaught of gore and horror movies that October has to offer. Check it out on your next Halloween viewing party!

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49 & 50

Title: Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49 & 50
Language: Japanese
Genre: Music, Shoujo, Slice of Life
Episodes: 26 (13 each)

Keeping my promise to a fellow maid/host, I decided to watch at least the first season of this male idol anime, after completing Show By Rock!!. I didn't know what to expect, but I went in with an open mind.

It takes place at a fictional theater called Hollywood Tokyo in Harajuku, where members of the idol group "Shounen Hollywood" develop their talents with diligent work and studying. [source: MyAnimeList]

Knowing my maid/host friend's interest in Japanese idols such as Fudanjuku, AKB48, and Zen the Hollywood (which I'm not sure is inspired by the show or the show's inspired by them), I feel like she's way more invested and knowledgeable about idols than I am. There's very few Japanese idol groups I listen to and most of them I casually follow. Most of the jpop I listen to is more R&B solo artists with a sprinkle of EXILE projects like GENERATIONS, THE SECOND, and Flower. In other words, I've never explored the idol industry in great depth. I know some things, but I couldn't have a deep discussion about it compared to American pop artists and kpop idol groups, which is probably strange considering how much I love Japan compared to South Korea. So, entering this series taught me a few things about jpop idol groups.

Upon the first few episodes, I felt very unsure of my enjoyment. It didn't quite feel like a chore because I thought the characters were interesting, but the story and pacing took some adjusting. No, I wasn't expecting to ship these handsome characters or demand shameless shounen ai fanservice. In fact, I believe that could've ruined the purpose of the show. I think it might be the fact that it's part of the slice of life genre. It's a genre that can easily feel too much like reality that it doesn't deliver that feeling of escapism as say Bleach or Hunter x Hunter would give you. Now, I'm not unfamiliar with the slice of life genre as I do enjoy shows like Azumanga Daioh, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Fruits Basket, but they kinda have this odd gimmick, while this show has music. The story follows aspiring idols Ikuma Amaki, Kira Saeki, Shun Maiyama, Kakeru Kazami, and Daiki Tomii as they balance their day to day life and idol training. The show displays a great detail of the struggles these young men face such as participating in a drama, preparing for their first concert, being on the verge of disbandment, self doubt, and being more than a child actor. Each character comes from a different background which makes these various struggles more realistic and even more entertaining. The story goes at a moderate pace. Some episodes feature high risk dilemmas or obstacles for its characters and other episodes are more low risk or purely entertaining like their first appearance on a music show and watching Tomii's acting on a drama. Similar to real jpop idol groups (and even kpop ones), you're going to have a favorite out of the cast. Each member falls into your typical boy group archetype, so prepare your hearts fangirls and fanboys.

Before I move forward with this review, I want to state that I did enjoy this series, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered watching the second season. I enjoyed the diversity of characters, watching their journey to fulfill their dreams as idols and conquer their struggles, and learning about the jpop industry. The reason I want to make that clear to my precious Cult readers is because the next thing I have to say may sound like I didn't enjoy it. This series isn't one I could confidently recommend to everyone and it's definitely not because this is a bad series at all. To me, this series is a little slower than other slice of life anime I've seen. There's not a lot of major dilemmas that make the viewers worry and I'll reiterate not to expect any shounen ai (boy love) or hint of it. In short, this show takes some patience as it really focuses on the characters and their development from episode to episode. There's no real flashy gimmicks or anything, just pure entertainment and realism.

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49 & 50 is an entertaining and informative slice of life anime about idols that opened my eyes to the Japanese idol industry. The characters are fun and diverse and it was hard not picking a favorite from the group. The show focuses on its characters and the various struggles they have to go through individually and together. The music and performances are entertaining and feel like a real idol group, even though it can be a little cheesy at times. It is hard to forget some of their core songs though. It's definitely a more realistic take on pop idols and music industry that I've seen so far. I cautiously recommend this series to those who enjoy idol pop and want to learn more about their development and the industry. It's not just an informative series, it's also full of heartwarming and comical moments with catchy performances.

Rating: 3/5

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quick Movie Review

The Age of Adaline (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5

If it isn't obvious, I'm not much of romantic movie person, but occasionally there are a rare few that look interesting. I wasn't in a rush to see this in theaters, but I still had some interest enough to see it later. We have had movies about people aging abnormally before and most of them I don't think I've seen like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but for some reason this one sparked a little more interest for me. Watching this movie was a decent experience. Not delving into deeply, the movie is quite enjoyable and I can see couples or romance lovers enjoying it. The characters are interesting enough, but the highlight is really the set designs, atmosphere, and cinematography. If you dig a little deeper, Adaline's new relationship seems a bit awkward or maybe even uncomfortable, there's things that aren't explained much, the narrator slightly breaks the flow of the movie, and overall, it's a very predictable love story. Pretty much, I'm not the best demographic for this movie, but I did enjoy it for what it was.

Straight Outta Compton (2015, USA) | Rating: 5/5

Originally, I wanted to do a full length review of this movie, but I'm sure everyone knows how necessary and amazing this movie is. It is a lengthy biopic, but once it starts, you don't care how long it is. It's very educational, informative, and entertaining. It has a nice balance of showing its audience the history of N.W.A as well as what was going on in the world at that time, but it sadly reflects that situations back then that still exist in present day. So, not only does this movie make you think of the evolution (or even de-evolution) of hip-hop, but makes you reflect on current events and how society handles racial issues. The history of the group may not be 100% accurate, but it still holds up for serving as a great history lesson for those who don't know their hip-hop roots. The soundtrack is great, the characters were perfectly cast and well acted, and the storytelling and pace were just right. I highly recommend seeing this movie and even seeing it again.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5

I'll probably get some negative comments about what I have to say about this movie, but I have to stay honest when I do these reviews. First off, I want to say that this is a nicely filmed and high action movie with some amazing and interesting set of female characters. They're very empowering and you love watching them in action and just generally on screen. Really, I think the movie should've been called "Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road", because Mad Max barely did anything. In short, this is a great, mindless action film, so don't expect any memorable dialogue or deep storytelling. It is fun and nice to look at. Whether this movie is a feminist piece or not, I'll leave that up to the viewer, but it was great seeing some badass women in action without them being hypersexualized.

Run, Hide, Die (2015, USA) | Rating: 1/5

Back to horrible horror movies and this one didn't completely disappoint in how bad it is. The story is interesting, but the characters didn't give me any chance to get to know or connect to them. So, when things went down, I was mostly confused, but didn't care what happened to them either, except maybe a little bit of the main character who lost her fiance (or whatever). The way these girls interact with each other seemed unbelievable and just over the top with the sexual and gross talk. Yes, girls can talk about poop and sex and stuff, but it just felt unnatural coming from this group. The camera work when the antagonist appeared was wonky and confusing and the audio didn't extremely little to help with that confusion. The girls constantly screaming and crying cover up any dialogue spoken by the mysterious woman that attacks them. If I cared more about this movie, I probably would've felt underwhelmed by its conclusion, but I suggest that you skip out on this one.

Boulevard (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Continuing my trek through the post-mortem Robin Williams movies, which includes Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, and A Merry Friggin' Christmas, I once again saw commercials of this movie, but never heard of it before then. Naturally, I wanted to see it, mostly because of Williams' passing, but the story was intriguing as well. The more I watched this film, the more it reminded me of the gay French film Eastern Boys, which isn't a bad thing at all. Both movies involve an older man creating some sort of a relationship with a prostitute and their connection changes their lives in a huge way. Of course, the choices and outcomes are different in the end. Both older male characters does try to provide a better life for the young prostitute, but the major difference is in this film, Williams' character is the one trying to figure out himself and what he wants to do with his life. If you decide to watch this movie, you have to be open to homosexuality and not to expect any laughs from this movie. It is a melancholy, but thought provoking dramatic piece that'll make you feel emotionally conflicted and in awe of Williams' talent as an actor.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: The Whispers Season 1

Title: The Whispers Season 1
Starring: Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, Milo Ventimiglia
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi
Episodes: 13

Lately, I've been surprised how ABC has kept me watching its network for quality entertainment. Seeing the commercial for their newest show instantly intrigued me into checking out it. And here we are...

A series of accidents occurs around children, who all communicate with the same invisible and seemingly imaginary friend called Drill. They secretly play his "games" in return for rewards that Drill promises. Claire Bennigan, an FBI child specialist, investigates and finds connections not only between the different children's cases, including her own son, but also to her missing husband. [source: Wikipedia]

Normally, I would type my initial impression of the show, but since I have this new series where I express my first impressions, I can skip out on that part. In short, I was surprised how quickly the first episode escalated within the beginning sequence. It was the perfect way to hook viewers into the show. As the show progressed, it became less and less like some suspenseful thriller and more of a science fiction alien hunt, but it wasn't a cheesy alien hunt. Let's start with the story. The main priority of the show was to figure out who is Drill and what is its goal. This premise kept me watching the show and made for some very entertaining twists and turns, especially since it involved children. As many horror movies I watch, I already find children suspicious and sometimes even creepy. Even though Drill became a little less than (or more than) an imaginary friend, I was still very invested in finding out what its big goal was and impressed with how cleverly manipulative this unknown force became over each episode. Along with our imaginary friend mystery, the viewers also try to piece together the disappearance of Claire's husband. Somehow these two plot points have some relevancy to each other, which causes more intrigue for myself. Is Claire's husband a friend or foe? Did he help Drill with its unknown goal? In the end, I feel that the show's story really drives viewers to keep watching each week.

Lily Rabe, who I'm most familiar with from American Horror Story, plays our protagonist Claire and she offers just enough emotional range for us to care about her husband's disappearance and the well being of her son. Claire offers a nice bridge for the audience between us and the adults in the show as well as a connection between the adults and the children. I must admit that a lot of the time you're not going to care too much about or for the adults in the show, because they might act dumb, selfish, or irrational to a lot of important situations. Claire is the prefect buffer during this crazy situation with Drill, especially when the government and the President are involved and it becomes a national threat. The real stars of the show and what drives the story forward are the child actors, which have a surprising range from character to character. A show (or even a movie) that centers around children could easily go bad as some child actors could seem unprepared, annoying, or lack direction. Fortunately, The Whispers doesn't face that problem from any of the children featured in this show. They have plenty of variety personality wise and make the story all the more entertaining and intriguing. Some stand out performances are Kyle Harrison Breitkopf who plays Claire's hearing impaired son Henry, Kylie Rogers who interacts the most with Drill as Minx, and Abby Ryder Fortson who we witness the first interaction with Drill as Harper. Of course, the other children featured in this show do an outstanding job, such as Kayden Magnuson who plays the President's daughter Cassandra; but these 3 child actors are part of the main cast within the children. They display a great range of emotion and really move the story along. A lot of the time, I felt like the children stole the show away from the adults.

As much as I enjoyed the twists and turns of the show, it did have a few flaws that I can see potential audiences or even current ones complain about. I've already mentioned that the story is one of the main reasons I was hooked into the show, along with the great cast of child actors, but I must admit that there were times that the story kinda dragged along or became a tiny bit confusing. There is a tiny subplot that involves Claire and Minx's father Wes and this surface history of them having some sort of affair. Sometimes I forget that the awkward tension between them whenever Wes's wife is around that that history exists, because really it seems completely unnecessary and doesn't add much to their characters or the story. Also, as much as figuring out what or who Drill is kept me watching, the reveal of what it is was a tiny bit disappointing. Fortunately, it wasn't disappointing enough that I wanted to drop the show completely and it's probably because of the child actors and finding out the motive of Drill.

The Whispers is a show I would cautiously recommend people. I can't see everyone enjoying it because of it's more science fiction approach, instead of a more horror execution to imaginary friends. The pacing of the story and amount of dialogue may also be a turn off to potential viewers because it is a slow building show and it does drag in places. In the end, it is a very enjoyable show that keeps you on your toes and wondering what's going on with the children and Drill and whether the adults, mostly Claire, will figure out some sort of solution. There's some great reveals throughout the show and I'm looking forward to a follow up season in the near future. As of now, there is no release date for season two, but it seems as though that Lily Rabe will have a limited appearance in it and the cast's contracts have expired with ABC. Nonetheless, I hope the show doesn't leave us on this mysterious cliffhanger of a finale.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Magnets" by Disclosure feat. Lorde
Lorde was pretty hot in 2013 and she's still a pretty talented young artist with her contribution to the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 soundtrack. I was interested on what her collaboration would sound like with the Disclosure duo and I was definitely not disappointed. Her voice remains to have that wispy rawness to it that needs a tiny bit of polish, but it works very well with this dramatic, romantic piece. The visuals seem almost opposite of anything she's done, mixing passion and subtle anger together. The chemistry is a little awkward at times, but the chase and payoff at the end are all worth it. It works for Lorde and her being comfortable with such actions would almost seem wrong.

"SIN" by Planet Shiver feat. NAVI
I feel like I should listen to more material from Planet Shiver, but it's kinda hard finding their music online. Nonetheless, I was happy I gave them another listen with this dark, dramatic electronic piece. NAVI's vocals truly add an epic sound to the song as the music swells up and gently explodes into a semi-chorus. The visuals are dark, seductive, and perfectly artistic. It makes you wonder what's going on with this couple. Intertwining the visuals and lyrics, you almost have an idea of the pain and passion between these lovers.

"Awoo" by Lim Kim
I've seen her name many times, but never gave her the time of day until this year. I was instantly intrigued and wondered why I never gave her a chance earlier. First of all, the music is very minimalistic and simple, but it works very well with her alluring vocals and delivery. I highly encourage anyone not fluent in Korean to turn the subtitles on, because I really enjoy these genuine and sweet lyrics that match the person singing it. Visually, there's so much to look at in this quirky, pastel paradise and it compliments the tone of the song and the look of the artist. Just watching it is like a breath of fresh air and it makes me smile, I love it so much.

As much as kpop doesn't need more hip-hop influenced boy groups, I have to admit that I really enjoyed this song. The lyrics aren't extremely profound, but I enjoy the aggressive and seductive energy that these boys put out in their vocal delivery and choreography. Some parts of the vocal arrangement can be a little annoying, but for the most part, I enjoy the variety between the rough verses, the calm high energy of the bridge, and the smooth chorus. Visually, a lot of the set pieces are nothing new if you're well versed in male kpop groups: the bold color palette, the cage made of lights, beating up mannequins, black light paint, and fire, but I still enjoyed how sleek and polished it looks.

"Watch Out" by HOTSHOT
If I had to pick one new boy band thatI'm really into, it would be HOTSHOT. I won't delve into my love for them here, because really I should be talking about this follow up song. Also, there is no "on fleek" in the lyrics. Just want to clarify that. This song displays a slightly different side to the group. While "Take a Shot" was a little more in your face, this song is an upbeat, but chilled song with its vocal arrangement. It has a nice balance with more stand out vocals during the verses, then a nice harmony into the bridge, and bam! they bring it together in the chorus. The rap sections transition very smoothly as well. The choreography is very impressive and the visuals are simple, but well utilized, giving each member their own moment while also showing off their natural chemistry with flares and paint powder.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: The Visit

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 94 minutes

M. Night Shyamalan has returned with something new and I'm sure most audiences have low expectations for his newest release. Although, I hope there are a few people out there who still feel at least a bit optimistic about it or even him.

Becca is filming a documentary about her family and has the opportunity to visit her grandparents for the first time with her younger brother Tyler. Once they arrive at their grandparents' home, they get to visit and experience their mother's childhood in her hometown, while learning about their grandparents. During their first night there, Becca becomes curious about their grandparents' night time behavior and decides to investigate with Tyler.

Once they played an alternate commercial for this movie on TV, I was a little worried that this would be another found footage/first person point of view movie is. Sitting in the theater with my friend, a sudden sense of dread fell upon me when that concept was confirmed. I haven't had the best of experiences with the genre and the only two movies I would genuinely recommend from it is [REC] and its American remake Quarantine. Aside from that, I just don't understand the hype in such a cheap method of filming. I did manage to push the dread and negativity that comes with the found footage knowledge of the genre and kept my mind open to what Mr. Shyamalan was going to do with his latest project. Before seeing this movie, I read that Shyamalan made 3 versions of this movie: one that is a pure comedy, one that is a pure horror, and one that combines both genres. The finished product ended up being the third option, which I think ended up being the best choice.

From the start of this movie, the mixture of genres was confirmed as we see Becca and Tyler interact with their mother about their trip. The comedy continues as they ride the train as well as when they meet up with their grandparents at the station. As cheesy and sometimes annoying the comedy aspects may be, I didn't find them irritating or off putting. Tyler's rap performances are definitely facepalm worthy, but it felt believable for a kid his age that I could simply roll my eyes at his silly and shallow misogynist lyrics to move on to the next thing in the scene. I can see some people thinking that comedy may be lame throughout the movie, but it breaks up the tension sprinkled throughout the movie and also balances out the horror aspects. The first half of the movie has majority of the comedic moments, the middle starts to introduce the horror and suspense with the comedy on standby, and the final half hits with the strange horror. So, is the horror elements effective? Well...I think so. There's some good suspense built up during Becca and Tyler's various investigations and sometimes you get blindsided by something scary. There's definitely some off putting creepy moments, such as the well known oven scenes and just...anytime Nana is talking or onscreen. Honestly, I found Nana more creepy than Pop Pop. As for the found footage aspect of the film, I thought it was alright. I didn't find myself as annoyed or out of it as I thought I would be. There are some flaws, but for the most part, I thought it was more successful than not. There were definitely some good useful moments to bringing the tension up higher and I enjoyed that it wasn't always handheld, so less motion sickness and headaches from jerky camera movements. It really did feel like a teenager and a child were handling the camera and not some professional. Becca tries to bring in all these technical film points into her documentary that I understand from being a film graduate, which was amusing. Shortly, I enjoyed the characters presented in this movie. Becca has a brain and she made lots of smart decisions that I can believe a girl her age would think of. I really enjoyed her as our main character and director.

I'm sure you're dying to hear what I disliked about this movie. While I did generally enjoy the characters in this movie, at first I immediately found Tyler quite annoying and I didn't care what happened to him. Good thing was that my feelings slowly became more and more neutral towards him as the movie progressed. I think it was his cocky and try hard rapper persona and a bit of his childish ways bothered me from time to time. Fortunately, Becca's maturity balanced out their presentation. I think Pop Pop could've been utilized a little more as an intimidating person in relation to Nana's sweet creepiness. I enjoyed his personality build up, but I feel like we didn't see or learn enough about him in connection to Becca and Tyler's mother. Even though I said that the found footage choice was mostly successful, there were times I did wonder what this movie would look like if it wasn't shot in such a manner. I almost want to say that this choice is a bit of cop-out to getting Shyamalan back into the thriller/horror genre because this sub-genre is currently popular,'s kinda true. One moment in particular that was hard to keep up with was the hide and seek scene under the house. It was a little bit of a jumbled mess when Becca and Tyler are running around and vaguely reminded me of running along with the crew in the forest of Blair Witch Project, which isn't a good thing. #AbolishShakyCam2k15 Lastly, this isn't a big complaint for me, but the movie may be predictable for some who do decide to watch it.

The Visit was definitely a surprising film for me. I didn't expect it to be a found footage/first person point of view type of movie, for it to combine horror and comedic elements together, and, most importantly, was quite enjoyable. Of course, this movie doesn't live up to M. Night Shyamalan's earlier works that most fans and moviegoers remember, but it is an improvement from the creative slump and failure he's been experiencing lately. Judging it against other movies in its genre, I did like the found footage aspect of it, despite the shakiness in places. I thought it was utilized well and felt believable for the handler who had the camera. It has some good suspenseful moments and great build up with an equally good payoff. The characters are entertaining and creepy and I enjoyed the comedy, even if some of it was kinda cheesy. If you want something fun and a little creepy, check out The Visit.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quick Anime Review

Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace (2015) | Rating: 3/5

In my last Quick Anime Review, I mentioned that I indulged in a bunch of new series, thanks to anime YouTuber Gigguk, and 4 out of 5 of the series in this review were influenced by him. While Aoharu x Kikanjuu's Hotaru dressed as a boy, vocally her character could fit either gender, but Kobayashi, the main character of this show, could almost be classified the same, except the voice is clearly a girl for a male character. I don't want to discriminate or pin stereotypes, but it kinda bothered me. If he was like Nagisa of Assassination Classroom, it wouldn't bother me as much, but the biggest draw from Gigguk's video aside from the gender thing was that it was a mystery. I love mystery anime and after watching this series, I can almost agree with him on it being kinda boring. Although, I wouldn't really say that it is boring, because it genuinely did keep my interest. The components that kept me watching was prodigy detective Akechi and his relationship with Namikoshi and "Twenty Faces". The downfall of this series is its execution from case to case. They have an interesting premise to them, but often times it feels like parts are missing and that ultimately makes the resolution of the show a bit on the underwhelming side. The animation is darkly unique, the characters are interesting, and there are plenty of intriguing elements in the show; I just feel like I shouldn't have to be familiar with the source material to understand what's going, if that's the case.

Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai (2015) | Rating: 3.5/5

I suppose in this era of anime that some fans believe that a lot of newer series are just fanboys animating their own private fantasy scenarios or something. Hayao Miyazaki worded it a lot better than I just did, but the point is that I guess a few of those people believe that this series is one of them. In my opinion, I don't think it does, but I could say maybe 1-2 other series in this post may straddle the fence or even fall in that category. This series' premise is about a world without perversion; keeping Japan pure and innocent, even if it compromises proper sexual education. While this series is absolutely hilarious with its dirty talk and provocative imagery, it got me thinking about the whole sexual education aspect we have in America, which is inadequate a lot of the time. Adults are so afraid that teenagers will have this spontaneous urge to sex everyone they see after learning about their bodies and diseases, when that really isn't the case. Not only was this series hilarious and entertaining, I found it a great satire and commentary about sex education, fetishes, and just perverts in general. It might have some questionable moments when it starts leaning a little in the rape territory, but I surprisingly enjoyed it a lot.

Prison School (2015) | Rating: 3.5/5

If you've heard of this series and the one below, then you know that I mean these two perverted pandering series. Both of them gave me a feeling of uncertainty due to the content and how much fanservice there is, but somehow I found it genuinely enjoyable. Focusing on just this series, I was unsure for a few episodes, but Kiyoshi was such a lovely main character that it was hard not to see what would happen with him and his friends. Aside from the exaggerated features of the Vice President, Andre's character design, and just the art style overall was slightly off putting, the characters and insane situations kept me powering through, especially watching these guys figure out how to break out of prison. It is quite enjoyable and I don't think an uncensored version was aired like Shimoneta, but sometimes that was for the best. The way the series ends suggests that there will be a second season in the works and I'm kinda tempted to read the manga in the meantime. I will warn potential viewers that this is mature series, like borderline hentai territory, so be mindful when and where you view this one, but it is hilarious and the characters are quite enjoyable no matter how ridiculous they are.

Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (2015) | Rating: 3/5

In contrast to Prison School, this series has a brighter color palette and a less aggressive delivery on its perversion. I also felt uncertain about this series as I had prior knowledge that monster boys and girls are a thing and I usually avoid those sorts of things, but this was more ecchi than hentai and some of the characters and situations are rather cute. I often times felt sorry for Kimihito (Darling-chan) throughout the series, always having to deal with all these various cute monster girls in his life and Smith-san taking advantage of him. I'm kinda hoping that this series will spawn some awesome cosplays. Anyway, it is an amusing series that I can see as an alternative to the more assertive execution of Prison School.

Shokugeki no Souma (2015) | Rating: 4/5

Before I buried myself in various new summer season series, I started with this one for a while. Upon the first episode, I was caught off guard by all the foodgasms and you'll be seeing a lot of those throughout the season. After a while, I did get used to them and it became decreasingly distracting from the food porn and character development. Similar to YouTuber Arkada's first impression, I was a little worried that the show's main character Yukihira was always going to accomplish his goals and lacked any sort of growth and connection with its viewers. Often times, I found myself wanting to watch Megumi's confidence grow with each challenge she faced with him and alone. Fortunately, Yukihira's winning streak does get cut short and he has to pick himself up from his failure. In the end, the supporting characters end up being more interesting than Yukihira and somehow that doesn't ruin my enjoyment of the show. In fact, I'm looking forward to a possible second season and trying out the manga to follow these characters further. For the most part, it brought back the same excitement I had when I watched Delicious Gakuin, which is an excellent food competition J-drama that I think fans of the anime should check out.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

Not sure if I posted anything by this band, but I'm happy to see new videos from them every now and then, despite my poor habit of not seeking out their music further. It's a very light, energetic, and cute song that you can't help but bounce and dance around to it with the members. It kinda reminds me of either a rock version of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR. It's very refreshing for all the darker and heavier jrock I listen to. The video is just as colorful and creative with its placement of the members and utilizing the space they're in.

"赫音-justitia-" by THE BLACK SWAN
For all you NEGA fans out there that haven't jumped on the THE BLACK SWAN train, what are you waiting for? It might not be exactly the same, but it's pretty close to the dark, aggressive former Undercode Productions band produced. Jin's voice is still very diverse and has great control from verse to chorus. The melody is pretty catchy and has great transitions from the heavy moments to the quick chaos. The visuals and a bit of the vocal arrangement reminds me NEGA's "abase"/"quandrangle" PVs.

"That Good Good" by LuHan
With a title like that, I was a little worried that this would be a try hard hip-hop concept, but then I remembered...this is China. In other words, there's hope for minimal embarrassment from the former EXO-M member and obviously, it made my recommendation list for the day. It has a simple hip-hop beat that's easy to enjoy and listen to. The visuals are just enough to showcase LuHan's charisma and performing skills as he sells this laid back hip-hop/pop image that isn't too far of a jump from where he started. It looks like everyone is enjoying themselves and it just makes me happy seeing him trying something different.

"On My Mind" by Ellie Goulding
After Fifty Shades of Grey faded away, I was happy to hear new material for the upcoming album, DELIRIUM. It might not be riddled with vague, poetic lyrics like her previous albums, but I find this rather enjoyable and straddles the fence of her signature style and mainstream. Seriously, I could see this as an upgraded Taylor Swift song or something. No offense to Miss Swift. The music isn't obviously in your face dancey, but has a nice enjoyable pop beat that you can nod along with. The video is very...interesting. You have this abusive relationship going and a little bit of girl power revenge that's shot very well.

"Omen" by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith
I've been contemplating since the last recommendation post on whether to share this one or not, because really, the visuals are similar to "Latch", in a general sense. I'm sure some people are sick of Sam Smith being all over the place, but honestly, I think his collaborations with Disclosure and Naughty Boy is where I think he should take his own personal material. The beat is a smooth electro-R&B sound that really elevates Sam Smith's vocals. The visuals match the tone as well as the ongoing concept from video to video during their promotion for their new album, Caracel and I'm really looking forward to listening to that.