Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bleach 139

In this very special episode, our intrepid cast of humans and shinigami face off against the squad of Espada who have invaded the real world. Ichigo puts on his Hollow mask, and Grimmjaw raises his eyebrows quite simply because it’s an awesome-looking mask and Grimmjaw is upset that he doesn’t have one. Ichigo immediately attacks, Grimmjaw blocks, but Ichigo fires off his black Getsuga Tenshou at point-blank range. It’s the end for Grimmjaw, I’m sure!

Meanwhile, Captain Hitsugaya has turned Yammy into a Yammy-sicle, but the Espada just breaks out of the ice hunk. Yumichika is fighting Lupi, but getting thrown about with great vigor. Lupi states that he can’t fight him one-on-one, and tells Ikkaku to come help his buddy. Ikkaku, being macho, has no intention whatsoever of helping. Lupi merely tells Yammy to let him fight Hitsugaya as well, because he’s going to take on all four shinigami at once, and he begins to pull out his sword. Egads! What does this mean?

Hitsugaya knows, and he flies at Lupi and releases his bankai at the same time, hoping to finish Lupi off quickly, but Lupi releases his zanpaktou anyway. A blast of wind blows Hitsugaya away, and then a huge white tentacle comes out of nowhere and pushes the shinigami into the distance. The captain does manage to block the big tentacle and scoffs a bit at Lupi. Some more dust blows away, and we all can see that Lupi has not just one, not just two, but eight tentacles, and they all attack Hitsugaya at once and he falls to the earth, at the same time cursing his fate to be hit by eight huge pasty white tentacles: a fate worse than death. Lupi looks at the rest of the shinigami with some malice in his eyes.

While all this is transpiring, Rukia arrives back in the real world (recall that she was “training” with Orihime back in Soul Society). She runs into the Urahara shop and we all talk happily with Renji for a few minutes. This is just to remind us that Urahara promised to go out and fight, too.

Back to Ichigo, and we see his initial attack dissipating. Grimmjaw is left winded and bloody in its wake, but still standing. Ichigo stands there looking at him for a few seconds (doesn’t he only has eleven seconds in which to use his mask?) and fires off another Getsuga Tenshou. Grimmjaw blocks this one, as well, but Ichigo appears right behind him and fires off one more. Grimmjaw is caught between the two in a nice black explosion of spirit power. He’s falling toward the earth and Ichigo flies off after him; Grimmjaw wakes up and fires off a massive red cero and then we get a nice commercial break. Time to heat up some noodles and trade some commodities.

Ichigo cuts through the cero and he and Grimmjaw trade sword blows for a bit, yelling and grunting all the while. Ichigo gets cocky and tells Grimmjaw that’s he’s finished and prepares for the killing blow, when, you know, his mask breaks. Grimmjaw is taken aback, but then smiles (he has a a really nice smile), and proceeds to kick Ichigo’s ass.

In the park, or the forest, whatever, Lupi is twirling his tentacles about like a pinwheel and beating up the three shinigami (Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Rangiku, remember). Yammy, bored, is watching, and Wonderwice is trying to catch a dragonfly. He’s pretty cool. Lupi catches the three shinigami in his tentacles and brings Rangiku in close, noting that she’s pretty sexy. Now, this is exactly what I would do, because her breasts are pressed up over the tentacles and glistening with sweat. Fortunately, this isn’t hentai (you know, with tentacles and stuff), and Lupi merely pops some spikes out of another tentacle and threatens to skewer Rangiku but good. That’s when a red bolt shoots along the ground and up and slices the offending tentacles right off of Lupi’s body. Urahara approaches in his own particular style, which is pretty casually.

Finally, we return to Orihime. She’s finally running back toward the real world. Two nameless shinigami are escorting her, and she’s thinking about how she’ll really be able to help everyone fight this time. (No, she won’t!) An ominous voice cuts through the darkness and the air opens. Ulquiorra appears.

Meanwhile, as Urahara is introducing himself in the proper anime manner, Wonderwice suddenly grabs for him from behind. Now, I’m not sure if this is an actual attack, or if the kid just likes Urahara’s hat, but Urahara really reacts badly, firing off another red bolt at Wonderwice. Urahara notes that he’s a strange one, and Wonderwice suddenly holds up his hand, crackling with raw spirit energy (much like my own hand), and everything suddenly blows up. Again.

In the dark tunnel with Orihime, Ulquiorra blasts his guards to pieces. She begins to heal them and Ulquiorra watches, impressed. He tells Orihime to come with him. Aizen wants her power. I want some ice cream.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Genocyber: Stage 1: A New Lifeform: Part 1

Okay, here goes. I snagged this OVA after hearing it was a 'cult' favorite and had gore compared to Elfen Lied. I'm honestly not sure I can recap what goes on in this show, because, well... there are scenes in this series that I'd have to compare to being in a car wreck: it's not until you're outside of the car and the ambulance is pulling up that you realize something has just happened, but holy shit did something just happen. You blacked out for a second when the airbag hit you, your shoulder hurts for some reason, someone in the distance is crying, that might be blood in your mouth, but when asked about what happened, you just stare blankly until someone helps you back up. Of course, there are also scene comparable to driving from Toledo, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois in one, uneventful stretch. So, don't get your hopes up just yet.

We start off with an old video being recorded in a lab. A doctor explains that they've hooked up a human subject to a PSI-scanner. The scanner shows that there are 'images' and 'shadows' displayed. "This is known as the 'mind shadow'. Within this shadow, lies a still unexplored universe." He says that what we call 'life force' blows like a wind through these shadows. He calls this wind, "Vajura." He's built this big device that'll amplify the Vajura to 'near infinity.' Tanya, some girl, is inside it now, about to get her Vajura blown up. Yeah, I thought I'd come up with a decent joke for that, too. Mr. Doctor Man explains that increasing the Vajura will give birth to, "a hitherto hidden power of unbelievable proportions," sounding a lot like someone about to do something stupid for their own selfish reasons. "From that inner cosmos of creation and annihilation will come the child." A Hilton sister? "My child... Genocyber!" Oh. So, not as bad?

Credits: Hong Kong in still-frame glory. Little bit in, we hear a reporter announce that the "Council of Advanced Nations" has ended individual national armies. Evidently, the armies of the advanced nations pooled their armies together into the United Nations' Troops. Which sounds more like a football team. "Ladies and gentlemen... here are your United Nations' Troops!" If 'council of advanced nations' didn't tip you off, this show takes place in the future. Well, future relative to 1993. It's the 'early 21st century.'

In a... fenced in pile of ruble, a young boy is being pushed around by a rowdy teen while three others watch on. The boys are part of some underworldly nogoodnik association, and the youngest member didn't pull in enough money. So, he gets the shit knocked out of him and kicked out of the UNA. He lies in the rubble, unconscious, with visions of a girl who appears to be in the video for Take On Me by Ah-Ha. He wakes up to find himself elsewhere, near the girl from his vision who's standing over what looks like a severed arm holding a pipe. A friendship is born.

As a car holding two new characters drive down an empty road (Future Hong Kong has zero traffic, apparently), the news reporter comes back to tell us that the Council president wants to base the Troops in orbit. 'Cause that's where you want your army personnel incase they need to be sent out right away on some relief mission: in space. Her colleague and/or guest, exposits that not all armies have been drafted into the Troops. He starts to tell us about certain 'corporations' that hold weaponry, when we're taken to a crime scene where a man lies face down on the ground, missing one arm. I'm sure completely unrelated to the last scene.

The dead guy worked at the Kyuryu Science Institute, which angers our new, yet-to-be-named policeman character. So, he's on his way to the KSI to try and get some answers from an 'old friend' he has working there. On his way, the reporter's colleague/guest continues his talk from the day before, right where he left off. The corporation he was about to name just so happens to be the Kyuryu Group, a company that specializes in weapon development. Not really an army, just well stocked incase of zombie uprisings. But, hey, the plot needs thickening.

Inside KSI, a boy reads characters off a note being covered by a research assistant. The guy in charge, Kenneth Reed, tells a worker bee to move the boy to 'level-three' (Water World) just as he gets a call from the lobby. Davey, our policeman friend, is waiting to see him. As he goes to meet him, we're thrown to a scene in a hallway. A man screams before bursting out of a room and falling to his knees. A girl follows, produces a tennis ball she was holding behind her back, levitates it, then starts to go into the air herself. KSI studies that fun kind of science that doesn't need to be bogged down by facts or reality. A woman wearing a red cape walks in from nowhere and stares the kid down, who's looking quite smug for whatever she just did to that guy. With just a rise of the eyelids, Red makes the girl coil in disgust. The tennis ball bursts open revealing red tendrils, then we share the girl's nightmarish vision that's being pumped into her head:
And the video is all wavy and dreamy like that. Sort of like too many frames of animation were squeezed in and ran slightly out of sequence. We come out of the vision to see the tennis ball is just fine, the tendrils being part of the vision, but the girl has gone into some sort of catatonic state and collapses to the floor. Red calmly walks by her and out of the shot. I use to be on hand for parent teacher conferences like that when I was little.

In Reed's office, we learn that it was 14 years ago that Dr. Morgan, presumably the man in the intro video, was lost during an 'accident,' presumably the whole Vajura thing. Davey insists that if Reed has started up Morgan's "insane" research, he'll find a way to shut it down. Reed claims ignorance, and as Davey starts to gear up the threats, Red (real name, Diana) throws open the door and gives Davey a waking nightmare of his own. Reed slaps her to the ground to make her stop, then orders the cops to leave and never come back.

Once alone, Diana explains to the audience and Reed, her father, that, "Elaine removed her Vajura restraint necklace," resulting in her escape. And without Elaine, Reed cannot complete his research which he knows nothing about. As they talk on, we dissolve to a new location. The ex-UNA boy is in an abandoned building with Elaine, the girl who found him earlier. As he eats unidentifiable foodstuffs from a bag, Elaine pounces the ground next to him like an animal and takes some food for herself. Diana and Reed's conversation continues in some lab, where Diana is getting some sort of treatment. Her stomach is cut open to reveal icky things that look more mechanical than biological. Reed says that no one can see the true power of Vajura and Diana hesitates before speaking - yes, stomach open, she's still awake. "Are you turning against me after I saved your life?!" Reed shouts, then grabs hold of something inside Diana's stomach. Squirm. She screams then says she's very grateful for everything the doctor's done for her. As they talk, you can hear metal or plastic parts being moved around inside her.

At a restaurant, three new people are going over their 'next target.' One of them looks at pictures of Elaine looking pretty pissed off. "The file they sent over says her power's pretty dangerous stuff," The One Guy says. The Busty Redhead counters, "Like we've never had to take down an esper before?" After The Fat One agrees that there shouldn't be any problems, Redhead adds, "She can be minus an arm or a leg, just as long as she's alive." I have a good feeling about these guys. I think they'll go far.

Elaine wakes up from a dream I'm not sure how to describe as Boy returns home with some food. They seem happy to see each other. On the roof, Elaine levitates and peels an orange with her mind, before flying the whole damned thing into Boy's mouth. Instead of choking and dying, Boy eats it and smiles big. At no point does he take the supernatural citrus peeling as a sign of weirdness. If you're ever going about your day and you meet an anime character who can flay fruit with her mind, freak out right away. No good will come of that.

We pull back slowly from the rooftop and hear Diana say, "Elaine's currently in a peaceful mindset. She hasn't been this stable since she escaped." She is now suited in a full mechanical outfit and is reporting to her father who's at a control panel in another room. Reed says that now is the best chance to go after her, prompting Diana to ask, "Do I exist just to control Elaine when she goes wild?" "That machine was built because only you can control Elaine's Vajura," he replies. Um... okay. Diana goes on to say that Elaine doesn't know how to control her power, making her dangerous, and it's pretty clear that she wants Elaine dead. Not so much because she'll kill everything and everyone, but because Diana wants to be Daddy's little girl. But just as she's getting to that, a tube connected to her neck injects her with something. "Start dealing with this!" Reed yells, not really wanting to deal with things himself. We're then treated to mecha legs being screwed onto a mecha hip, mecha arms being fastened to a mecha torso, and a mecha head being shiny. It's all very 80's Japanimationy. Even has the crosspatched, fake computer background.

Back to the thoroughly interesting detective storyline. Davey, somehow, managed to find some footage of Elaine in an outtake reel from a TV show that was being filmed the other day. I'll buy the girl who prepare food with her mind, I'll buy the woman who can put horrible visions into your head, I'll even buy Genocyber as a title... but a detective that dedicated to his job? I hereby suspend my belief. How did he even start looking for her in the first place? He was the case of the dead guy with no arm a second ago. Then there's an earthquake. I don't know why.

We join the underworldly nogoodnik association getting paid by their boss down on the street. No one's worried or talking about that whole 'ground shaking thing,' so I guess the earthquake was localized to police headquarters. The boss asks where 'the other kid' is, and the UNA leader admits that he had to downsize. To get the plot back on track, the boss says that he saw Boy the other day with 'an older woman.' Hard cut to the UNA confronting Boy and Elaine in the abandoned building, which they somehow immediately knew to go. The UNA leader pushes Boy to the ground, and tells Elaine she should go with them for some wholesome fun. Just as she's about to do some cool anime thing, there's a flash, and we do a CSI-zoom to her eye. A red outline of the city is reflected in her retina, looking a lot like a Virtual Boy game. She blanks out, focusing on her game of Vertical Force, and the UNA leader pokes her in the forehead with his finger. Boy gets thrown to the ground again as the UNA leader talks about how he wants to have some fun. Skee Ball? Probably Skee Ball. One of the others ask if he should do it in front of the little boy, and the third says, "Let's see how small he really is." And yes, they see. It's pretty disturbing. Leader starts feeling up Elaine, still watching the red lines, which we see in a second is the view-point of the mecha chick flying towards the building. Elaine lets off a primal scream, just as mecha chick crashes through the roof. Immediate pay-off as she puts a fist through Leader's head and throws him against a wall.

Diana's face shows through the mecha's helmet, and she tells Elaine to come home. She tells Elaine to constrain her Vajura, and instead the room explodes. That's Elaine's way of saying, 'No.' Elaine escapes with Boy in tow. Somewhere, Redhead looks on with a stupid looking eyepiece. "Okay, remember: it's the future. Look shiny and glue a bunch of crap to your head."

Elaine and Boy materialize in a subway station. And, for once, I mean it literally and not as a sarcastic way to point out bad editing. Elaine's in pain and Boy is scared. Neither of them have said a word so far, I should point out. In a subway car, Elaine lays down on a seat, and Boy stands in front of her, arms outstretched, protecting her from whoever. It's kind of sweet. That One Guy, who isn't The Fat One or the Busty Redhead, uses his future, robot ear to listen in on a police broadcast about Elaine. They plan to get officers on the subway at the next stop, but One Guy wants to get to her first. So, he starts stomping on the ground really fast, breaking a hole to the subway tunnel. You heard me. Further down the tunnel, the subway runs into One Guy, who has Dr. Octopus-like robot arms extending from his back, which stop the subway cold. Using various, unnecessary, Inspector Gadget-like tools, the three gore-fodder hunters board the train and take Elaine. Redhead and One guy walk off, leaving Fat One to carry Elaine away. Except he doesn't get very far. He starts having one of those waking nightmares, and drops Elaine to the ground. Thinking there are bugs in his head, he rips his skull open and drops brain on the floor. Elaine gets away, but That One Guy still has Boy.

Now, we're only half-way through this first episode, but I've burned through four pages already. To keep save this from being a huge entry, and a touch of my sanity, I'm going to break this recap into two parts. Will Elaine get away? Will Diana get the love she feels she deserves? Will Boy ever get a name? Tune in... later.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bleach 138

Now that my summer hiatus has ended, I will return to reviewing the various and sundry anime shows that our dear readers enjoy. Naturally, this starts with Bleach, and over the summer we were treated a long series of fantastically dull filler episodes. “Filler?” you ask. “Yes,” I reply. You shout something like, “Sacre bleu!”—which is pretty surprising, given that you don’t know French.

Needless to say, I won’t be reviewing the many filler episodes. They were pretty dull. And bad. First we had a four part story with Matsumoto and some dead kids and a weird arrancar. The best parts were when bosomy Matsumoto tried on some new outfits and posed in them for a good long while, and also at the end when one of the dead kids realized, you know, that he and everyone he loved were dead and he started blubbering about the pain. Emotional money shot; I almost felt something.

Then they ruined it with a bunch of stupidity. Karin (Ichigo’s kid sister) had trouble with some soccer team filled with bullies, so she got Captain Hitsugaya to come play with her team. Then some kendo team was having trouble with another kendo team filled with bullies, so they got Ikkaku to come help them. Then some little shinigami were having trouble baking a cake, so they got Yumichiki to help them. Then there was this Hollow that was actually a dog, and some arrancar got stupid and tried to betray Aizen, and then something else I’m pretty sure I forgot. Finally, we’ve returned to the real story, and I stopped cursing this show for wasting my summer. I could have been at the beach, but I was at home watching crap instead.

Episode 138 opens with Ulquiorra and Yammy walking down a long hallway to join Aizen and a few other creepy arrancar. We don’t know who the new guys are yet, but I’m sure they’re all bad people. Aizen has someone wrapped up in bandages in a glass box, and he drops the Hougyoku inside. Aizen explains that the Hougy-thingie is still asleep, but that someone with twice the reiatsu of a shinigami captain—namely, him—can awaken it for brief moments to utilize its power. The bandages fall off the guy, Aizen asks him his name, and he answers, slowly, “Wonderwice Margera.” Looks like a nice kid. I think he’ll do well.

Aizen turns to Ulquiorra and tells him to carry out the secret order that he gave him earlier. Ulquiorra can take whomever he wants, but as Aizen walks away he looks at one-armed Grimmjaw and tells him to go, too. Grimmjaw glowers a bit, but the effect is kind of lessened because of the bright green mascara around his eyes.

Cut to Hiyori (the l’il vizard) beating up Ichigo. This is what passes for “training” in the world of Bleach. Some other vizard are talking about a manga book. Someone rings the dinner bell, and we assume they have a huge meal because the next thing we see is Ichigo washing a big pile of dishes. Lisa, the super sexy vizard who wears the schoolgirl uniform and glasses, teases Ichigo. Then follows a long discussion about Lisa’s porno books, which various vizard borrow at regular intervals. Lisa herself reads two porno books a day. She’s not a pervert, she merely has a “healthy interest.” Shinji, off by himself, probably because he hates porn, ruminates on how they need to train faster, more efficiently, and with a larger budget, if they hope to be ready by December (when the big battle is supposed to take place).

Cut to Soul Society, where Captain Ukitake and Hisagi (the guy with “69” tattooed on his face) are watching Rukia and Orihime training. This involves shooting little fireballs at each other, and also jumping around a bit. There’s a flashback involved, and some anime stupidity, and the entire scene is kind of boring, so there isn’t much to say.

Back in the real world, Yumichika is trying to break his sword (Fujikujaku) on a piece of rock. Turns out the sword is arrogant and vain and won’t materialize for Yumichika. Matsumoto doesn’t care, and notes that her own sword is lazy and selfish. They start arguing, and Captain Hitsugaya tells them to shut their pie-holes, because they need to be calm to talk to their swords. I suppose Yumichiki and Matsumoto are trying to release their bankai, but they won’t have time for that, for Ikkaku looks up into the air. Violent string music starts (always an ominous sign), and the sky unzips to reveal, not one, not two, but four arrancar! Yammy, Grimmjaw, Wonderwice, and some new kid all smile, look away petulantly, or just sort of stand there.

Yammy notices the shinigami looking up at them. The new guy taunts Grimmjaw a little big, and Grimmjaw flies away because it’s obvious he wants to fight Ichigo. As he’s leaving we can see that he has a big scar where his “6” tattoo used to be, and the new guy says that Grimmjaw is pretty useless now. Turns out Wonderwice is useless too. He just stares into space and moans a bit.

Things start to happen pretty quickly now. Hitsugaya attacks Yammy, Ikkaku and Yumichika gang up on the new guy (Luppi, who shows off the “6” tattoo on his hip, which makes me kind of uncomfortable), and Matsumoto holds up her sword toward Wonderwice, but he’s staring at some birds. I like him already.

Ichigo runs out of the vizard house, and Rukia heads off from Soul Society to join her friends in the real world. Orihime will have to follow after her. Orihime looks kind of down because she can’t go get killed right away (because, you know, her two hours of training have made her suddenly qualified to fight an Espada).

Ichigo runs into Grimmjaw floating in the air. He pulls out his bankai, and Grimmjaw yawns. He says that he could beat Ichigo with one arm cut off. We hear a rimshot. Ichigo gets ready to put on his Hollow mask, and I’m sure something very special will happen in the next episode.

Finally, in Kisuke’s vast underground training ground, Renji and Sado are both trying to go join the fight, Kisuke tells them that they’re both pretty tired. He’ll go instead.