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Naruto Shippuuden Movie 7 - The Last (2014)

Naruto Shippuuden Movie 7 - The Last (2014)

The last Naruto movie's a lovely one!

If you just watched the Boruto one and wondered when Naruto and Hinata got married in the first place... well this is that tale. Plus the moon's about to crash into the Earth, fueled by some unseen force, and the Allied Shinobi Forces are back in business and gearing to take care of it.

A few things (spoiler alert here):

- Whatever happened to the moon, is it still split in half?
- Did Hinata really have to be portrayed as such a weakling here, just because it's supposed to be romantic?
- Was Sakura really the only one with enough power to blow up that meteor? What about Tsunade? What about all the other fine Shinobi that populate said retreat hidden in the leaf? Did the whole village get weak too?
- Hinata getting captured again and again, and the repetitive confrontations with the main villain were a bit much.

Some other details irked me too, but I seem to have forgotten them now. Mainly something about the villain I think.

But the end swept other weak points away. The space battle almost felt like Macross for a while, the other battle was powerful, and the romance bit of it all has me suddenly dreaming of true love and stuff... what en ending. Somehow it wouldn't be all bad with a bit more trial and tribulation in life. Maybe you grow up quicker; maybe you can really fight your way towards an ending just like this one...

Twas a good finale after all. Weak points or no.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

One Piece: Stampede (2019)

One Piece: Stampede (2019)

It's got the trademark characters, the pirate party vibe, the action, but those special effects... it really isn't what it used to be.

The island the movie takes place on (one big treasure hunt/party one - déjà vu of earlier movies) looks pretty bland too. Though it gets blander. After the initial glimpse at the party it's soon blown up, and suddenly it's just an empty; dusty; rocky desert, with a dystopian dark ocean around it, with the camera panning over the lands; occasionally taking brief dives down into the shadows below. Whatever happened to the mood? And detail?

It's good to see the gang again, but this doesn't feel like the proper reunion. It's not as much an adventure as just a fight. A mess. The whole lone wolf and strength thing is done to death at this point too, but I'll admit I did smile at the ending, so there's something.

Both the series and the movies seem to getting somewhat repetitive though, whereas earlier on the movies in particular were always a testament to somewhat higher quality in all regards.

Hope they step their game up with the next one.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Boruto: Naruto The Movie (2015)

Boruto: Naruto The Movie (2015)

Boruto's kind of annoying isn't he? Kind of spoiled. At least in the beginning... I guess he grows on you.

I don't know if I was ever equally annoyed with his dad though, even in the beginning of the original. I am a bit annoyed at how grown-up he seems now! Even if the battle sequences are all amazing, and I do wonder who raised the third guy in the group... I thought I'd relate more to the older him since I don't relate as much to his son, but as it is I don't really relate to either. Middle age? Wonder who's really the intended audience here...

The movie feels a bit short, but the action sequences are great, and the morals are the spotlight. Don't cheat. Do it the hard way, and you'll really feel like you accomplished whatever it is you were going for!

It's also a story of family, of making time for your kids, and of course also that of a supervillain about to try what Kaguya tried to do at the end of the original anime and take over the world, only this time it doesn't take a few hundred episodes, and their plans get foiled pretty quick.

Overall it feels a bit superficial and predictable at times, and nobody dies, so in that regard it seems like less an integral part of the plot - plus when did Hinata become a weak housewife?! I'm not really seeing the lure to get into this anime after this, it's all too different from the the way I remember it and still (a few hundred episodes maybe does that to do) wish it was...

But on the other hand I'm happy when it's over.

I mean I feel it ended the right way. With closure.

Maybe it's not such a bad movie after all.

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

One Piece - Episode Of East Blue (2017)

One Piece - Episode Of East Blue (2017)

Or AKA the longer title: Luffy and His Four Crewmates' Great Adventure!

Oh man... the feels in this one! Even though it's a very compact flashback they get through quite a few of those! And yes, two hours is compact for a flashback on this scale! Considering how many weeks worth of episode content they tried to pack in and summarize in just one episode it sometimes doesn't seem nearly enough.

It's more than just a flashback too. Everything's re-drawn. It feels cleaner, and flashier, and yet some of the 'charm' of the older episodes is no longer. Expressions are more ruthless. The action is violent. I'm impressed by how well they manage to bring it all together, and impressed with the quality, yet I miss some of the warmth and lightheartedness of the earliest episodes, and how some vital details (like the importance of Luffy's hat) are left out.

All in all though an appreciated summary, and I hope they make one like it later on for all the adventures that follow, and all the friends and foes they stumble into along the way! It's been one wild ride so far, and though it's far from over it's never wrong to get back to their humble beginnings every once in a while; refresh your perspective. Especially if the show's been running for soon... as many years as I have. Almost two decades so far. Holy shit. No wonder it's such a big part of my life now. Good episode.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Black Bullet (2014)

Black Bullet (2014)

In the year 2021, a parasitic virus known as "Gastrea" infects humans and turns them into monsters. What is left of mankind now lives within the Monolith walls, walls that are made of Varanium, the only material that can hurt Gastrea.
 
To counter the threat that the Gastrea pose, "Cursed Children"—female children whose bodies contain trace amounts of the virus which grant them superhuman abilities—officially called Initiators by the Tendo Civil Security, are given partners called Promoters, people who work to guide and protect the young Initiators. These teams of two are sent out on missions to fight the monsters created by the Gastrea virus and keep them at bay.
 
Black Bullet revolves around the team of Enju Aihara, an Initiator, and Satomi Rentaro, a Promoter, as they go on missions to fight the growing threat of Gastrea in their hometown of Tokyo.

So that's the premises! Another run-of-the-mill sci-fi/action anime adventure with dystopian plot and male/female in differing ages character combo - but it delivers. The future really is both dystopian and futuristic, and the anime revolves as much around the action as around the injustices that Enju faces, as a 'cursed child', and Satomi's attempt to help them, all the while battling the parasites, until finally it's time for the big showdown. It feels very relevant to current social dilemmas that way, and relatable in that regard. The action's good too.

Unfortunately it's not all positive. We grow to know more people along the way, but most of them die. I felt like they had potential, and the series as well, but in the end so much of that potential is just left for dead. The plot feels inconsistent and jumpy, and though they do a good job at building up the atmosphere, the tension, and the relation between the viewer and the characters, they cast it away all too easily in the form of unnecessary death.

Good idea, good show, but not good enough to rise above all the similar series out there that just can't seem to keep things together enough. A tragedy does not mean depth. A dystopian future does not make something philosophical. They're off to a good start with the intrigue, but build it up wrong, that's how I feel. And it's not just because everybody died.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Hibike! Euphonium (2015)

Hibike! Euphonium (2015)

I stumbled upon this title via a list of anime recommendations earlier this last year, and am I glad I followed that recommendation!

Actually I think it was the only recommendation on the list. One recommendation. It went something along the lines of: watch this.

So I did.

It started off a bit slow. Slice of life. School. Three girls (one in particular) who join a concert band... I wasn't sure I'd keep watching, and yet there was just something about it that kept me in. Maybe the tidbits of knowledge at the beginning: about instruments, and planning, and other behind-the-scenes wisdom from such a place.

It wasn't so much the music, though that part was easy on the ears and beautiful too. But the further in I went, the more apparent it was that its biggest strength was the emotion. The tension. The relations. The onset of nervousness and doubt as the big day neared. The progress they made, as characters, and as a band. Their mindset. Their resolve. How it wavered. How it strengthened. The small things they said, or did, or went through to get better. The little things.

It showed in the animation too, which was clean, bright and slice-of-life-ish, but the tension builds up almost unnoticeably toward the end. And when they're preparing to walk out on stage you're really sitting at the edge of your seat; as wound up as any one in the band about to walk up. Or even the supporter group, who won't be walking. You feel like you're there with them, sharing in the moment, feeling what they're feeling; going through the school of life all over again.

That's what makes it so masterful. It might look like nothing special, but it's a lot like life that way. It becomes as special as you make it.

So maybe everyone gets the same first impressions. Just like the band when they first started practicing. Like: is this worth it? Can I really go so far... with this series? If I try too hard and fail I'll just embarrass myself. Not with the series, of course. You can't embarrass yourself by watching this - though you might immerse yourself enough to feel embarrassed when the characters do! Kumiko, Kousaka, Katou and Kawashima. They're the four main girls.

All I can give is the same recommendation that random stranger gave me: Watch it. If you don't stray from your course, it won't let you down. And to conclude, with a little slice of life wisdom from the show:
You only succeed at your dreams if you say them out loud!

Go on. Once you've seen it maybe you will too.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

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