Anime Corner: Godzilla Singular Point Review

You’re a robot made by humans, but

Jet Jaguar, Jet Jaguar,

You did it, Jet Jaguar

Go, go to protect peace

We are all surprised at the courage you show

Godzilla and Jaguar punch, punch, punch

Don’t cry, let’s do our best!

What’s the Story?

Investigating strange going on in an abandoned mansion, Yun Arikawa and Haberu Katou find themselves on the path to solving a decades-old puzzle and possibly saving the world. Of course they’ll need help from the likes of young researcher, Mei Kamino, and a host of other characters, including their own pet robot, Jet Jaguar! While Mei travels the globe in search of answers, Yun, Haberu and Jet Jaguar are forced to contend with the numerous kaiju that are appearing across Japan, and soon the world. One kaiju in particular is the real problem though, according to myth he’s the God of Destruction and if one scientist’s peak into the future is any indication that’s exactly what he is. Godzilla is coming and he is the catastrophe that will end the world.

The Review:

And so Kaiju-cember comes to a close with Godzilla Singular Point. At the time of writing this it’s the latest Godzilla anime project from Toho and what first caught my attention about this series was the trailer. I’ve mentioned before in this month that I’m fan of Showa era Godzilla so seeing Jet Jaguar after all these years really made my day (my VHS copy of Godzilla vs. Megalon is staring at me right now, calling out to be watched again). Throw is some quirky-looking anime characters and an animated Godzilla that actually looks like the Godzilla I know and love (even if the 3D animation isn’t the best) and my hopes were raised at last! So, did it manage it? Do I finally have a kaiju anime to gush about? Not exactly.

Don’t get me wrong, out of everything I’ve looked at this month this series is the closest I’ve gotten to finding something I can truly gush about, but there are still some serious issues here. Let’s start with the positives. Maybe I just want a kaiju series that appeals to my nostalgia, because all of my favourite moments in this show appeal directly to the long-term memory centres of my brain. Every time I heard a revamped classic theme or saw Jet Jaguar rolling into action against one of the smaller kaiju, I was suddenly a kid again staring up at my TV from the Living Room carpet. There’s nothing that’s a carbon copy of anything I remember from my childhood, they’re just old ideas presented in a new way and yet they still carry that weight of nostalgia. They’re also really fun action sequences and by far the times I was most engaged in what was happening, it’s classic monster movie stuff. Weak, frail humans struggling against the might of something primeval and almost entirely unstoppable, and yet still somehow making it through with their will and ingenuity. Also I want to applaud the choice of kaiju, avoiding any of the big names like Mothra or Ghidorah and instead going to lesser-used monsters like Anguirus and Kumonga.

Another area I have to praise this series for is the human characters. The non-kaiju characters are often the weakest part in a kaiju story for a lot of people, and yet they’re the characters we often spend the most amount of time with. We spend a lot of time with the humans in this series, some might say too much but I’ll come back to that in a minute, thankfully Singular Point makes the right choice of giving us interesting characters to follow. They may not be the most developed or depth-filled characters, but they’ve all got personality and foibles that make them at least fun to watch. Whether it’s Mei being a complete and utter klutz while at the same time always being the smartest person in the room, or Yun and Haberu’s overzealous geriatric boss, who’s an incredible engineer, I’d happily spend time with any of them.

That brings me to the negatives though and the first one is a dozy. This really should be called Jet Jaguar Singular Point, because the robot is the star of the show and the focus throughout. Godzilla does appear in the series, but we don’t really get a good look at him until about halfway through the series and even then he’s relegated to the background for the majority of this series’ runtime. Heck we don’t even get him in his final form until the last few episodes, and he’s little more than an obstacle that our human heroes and Jet Jaguar have to overcome. There’s no big showdown with him, every fight he has with other monsters and the military is over in a few minutes and the rest of the time he just stands there looking menacing. He’s the titular character for crying out loud, surely we can give him a bit more to do! Hopefully he’ll have a bigger roll in the second season that gets teased at the end.

There’s one last thing to talk about with this series and, honestly it’s this that put me off more than the series relegating Godzilla to a background character. I have no idea if the science presented in this series is in anyway accurate, if it is it’ll be some high-level quantum physics stuff, or if it’s just made up technobabble, either way it’s annoying. I typically don’t mind a series that wants to play around with some big ideas, in fact I encourage it, but you have to deliver it in the right way. Give me a good analogy or break the concept down into smaller ideas that I can wrap my head around. Don’t dumb it down, but present it in a way that doesn’t have my eyes glazing over and my brain switching off like a fuse has just blown. A good example of this is the scene on the plane with Mei, when she pierces a folded over rectangle of jelly with a toothpick to show how something interacting on a higher dimensional level can look to us. If more of the science was explained like this I’d have a lot more leeway for the series, but instead it chooses to give us these massive info-dumps, one after the other, all of which go over the top of my head and leave me disinterested for the majority of scenes, which I’m sure is not what the writers of this wanted.

The Verdict:

In the end, Godzilla Singular Point is a mixed bag (much like everything else I’ve reviewed this month). There are some definite highlights, the characters, both human and not, are all interesting and fun to be around. There’s a great sense of nostalgia to seeing the likes of Jet Jaguar and some of the lesser-used kaiju getting their time in the spotlight for the first time in a long while, but there are negatives too. Godzilla, out title character, is little more than a background decoration. Throw in the overbearing amount of big science/sci-fi ideas that are either poorly exampled or thrown at you with such speed that they’ll quickly overwhelm you and you get a disappointing final product. I did enjoy it, but I probably won’t watch it again unless that teased sequel comes rolling around. Maybe then they can find the right balance between big ideas and kaiju action.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

 

That’s it for this year, my thanks to everyone who’s liked, commented or even just viewed one of my posts in 2021. Here’s to the New Year, I hope it’s better for all of us and I’ll see you then for more anime reviews!

Anime Corner: Godzilla: The Planet Eater Review

Who Ya Gonna Call?

What’s the Story?

After surviving the attack of the original Godzilla, Captain Haruo and the remnants of the landing party found their way to the long-forgotten Mechagodzilla. Over the centuries the nano-metal that made up Mechagodzilla had developed into a self-replicating city and with it’s power humanity and their allies hoped to finally take down the King of Monsters. They came so close, but a difference in philosophy between the humans and the Bilusaludo led Haruo to make a deadly choice. He could either defeat Godzilla once and for all, or try to protect the woman he loves. Haruo made his choice and now Godzilla sleeps, but a more dangerous threat is coming towards the Earth. As the survivors of the battle turn to the religion of the Exif in search of a miracle, Metphies begins to show his true colours. What can really challenge a God, except for another God.

The Review:

And so we come to the end of this trilogy of animated Godzilla films, and I have to say even with my lowered expectations they’ve been kinda disappointing. My opinions of the first two films can be summed up as ‘they’re okay, nothing terrible and there are some fun ideas, but nothing that really blew me away ’ (if you want more details you can read my review of ‘Planet of the Monsters’ HERE and ‘City on the Edge of Battle’ HERE). This final films takes on a more melancholy tone than its predecessors as it explores ideas of nihilism, the pain of living on after loss and mankind’s inevitable march towards its own destruction. So fun times all round. I joke, and while I don’t agree with everything that this film has to say on those subjects, they’re at least interesting ideas to chew on, which when I think about it sums up this trilogy pretty well.

There are several problems that plague this film throughout it’s hour and a half runtime, but let’s get the big one out of the way first, fan expectation. Godzilla is a long-running franchise and over the decades its films have built up certain expectations. When you think of Godzilla you imagine buildings crumbling, terrified people running through the streets, atomic breath and so on. When you hear particular names like Mechagodzilla or Ghidorah you get a clear picture in your head of what to expect. For the most part this trilogy has taken those concepts and done its best to subvert them in one way or another. Now there’s nothing wrong with subverting an old idea, in fact I always try to encourage it. Without new twists or perspectives those old ideas can soon become stale and boring, as much as our nostalgia would like to argue otherwise.

Now, admittedly, I did go off on a bit of a rant in my ‘City on the Edge of Battle’ review (HERE) about Mechagodzilla and I admit I have a particular fondness for that monster. That being said I think where a lot of the subversions in these films fall down is that they don’t offer an appealing enough alternative to the original idea. A technologically advance super city is not as appealing as a giant metal dinosaur, I’m sorry. That brings me to Ghidorah in this film. Again this is a completely new take on Monster Zero, but I think it’s interesting. The fact it’s from another universe and therefore interacts with our universe in such a strange way makes it an interesting adversary to square off against for the final battle, at least on paper. I also don’t mind the design, yes it’s three extra long noodle necks coming out of the sky, but they’re gold and have dragon-like heads so we’re at least in the same ballpark as the Ghidorah I know and love (okay, maybe we’re in the car park of the ballpark, but I’ll take what I can get).

Again though, we come back to what I was saying about expectations. Ghidorah and Godzilla had an epic rivalry across the films and some great battles and yet in this film it’s just…just so boring. I hesitate to even call it a fight, Ghidorah floats around for a bit and just bites Godzilla, that’s it. Godzilla can’t do anything ‘cause it can’t touch Ghidorah and eventually just gets lifted into the air. It doesn’t help that while this is going on Haruo is getting lectured at by Metphies on the dogma of his nihilistic death cult. Also, yes, of course the uber-religious guy turns out to be the big cackling villain at the end, I expected nothing less, now please stop bashing me over the head with the idea that you think religion is a bad thing. I’m getting a headache just remembering those scenes and I’m not even a religious person.

The Verdict:

In the end, Godzilla: The Planet Eater is definitely the weakest in this trilogy of animated films. There are some interesting ideas to chew on and, again, I like the world this trilogy has built up, but the characters all remain fairly one-note and the more melancholy tone can make this a much more depressing watch. The lack of action or any real spectacle is also a big detriment to this film, as well as the way it tries to subvert expectations without any real substantive alternative to replace it. I thought going in with lower expectations would improve this film and it’s predecessors, but as it stands I can see why they got all the negative reaction they did. If you’re a kaiju or Godzilla fan in any way, skip these films.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle Review

The Terror of Mechagodzilla…I guess.

What’s the Story?

After defeating Godzilla, Captain Haruo and the last remnants of humanity thought they’d finally secured themselves a future. That was when the one, true Godzilla rose from the ground and brought devastation down on the humans and their allies. Some survived, thanks to the help of a mysterious indigenous species, potentially humanity’s descendants, but what does that change? They may have defeated one Godzilla, but is there any real hope of taking down the true King of Monsters? During the last days of humanity’s time on Earth a project was under way to create a monster capable of taking down Godzilla, but the project was destroyed before it could be completed, or was it? Finding the remains of ‘Mechagodzilla’, humanity and its allies may have found its last hope, or is this just another nightmare?

The Review:

The more I think about this trilogy of Godzilla films, the more I come to realise that they’re really best watched one immediately after the other. I’m watching them only days apart as I write these reviews, but when I imagine having to wait months and months between each film, it’s little wonder they got such a negative reaction at their release. I know I’d have a lot more ire for this film if I’d spent all that time waiting to see this. Not that this film is terrible, in fact I think it’s an improvement over the first film in a lot of regards, even if I’ve just as much to pick apart, but there’s something I need to get out of the way first.

For all the times that it is mentioned in this film, Mechagodzilla never once appears. Yes, I know, the living metal city is technically Mechagodzilla, but I don’t care how many time the script says it or tries to justify it, that is not Mechagodzilla. When you say Mechagodzilla to me I get a very specific image in my mind, a giant mechanical dinosaur very much like a mechanical Godzilla (hence it’s name!). If that’s not what you’re going to give me in your movie then don’t try and sell it to me as that! I’m usually fine with re-imaginings or an author’s new interpretation on an old idea, but there comes a point where you change an idea so much it ceases to be that original idea. Then it’s just something entirely new with a familiar name slapped on it to make it more palatable and that irks me. If you’re going to come up with something new then just call it something new! Don’t trade on my nostalgia.

Okay, rant over. Putting my frustrations about Mechagodzilla to one side, I do think think this film is an improvement over ‘Planet of Monsters’, even if only slightly. The middle act of a story is often the hardest to get right, it’s the point where the story decompresses to give everyone, characters and audience alive, a chance to breath and mull things over. That’s really what helps this film, I said in my last review (HERE) that this trilogy should have been a series and this film just confirms that for me. Without the immediate drive of plotting to take down Godzilla, the characters are allowed a chance to explore the world around them and even develop in some cases. Haruo goes from a walking ball of pent up anger to a real leader, feeling the weigh of his responsibilities and the lives he’s lost, as well as beginning to question himself. The ending of the film is a very clear choice between the anger he’s carried around for so long, and his other obligations and feelings. If I cared about the character more this would probably be a dramatic highlight.

That’s the real problem this film faces. Even though it’s now developing some of its characters and spending more time to fill out the details of its world, everything is still fairly one note. Take our alien allies for instance. The Exif still have an air of mystery about them, but for the most part they’re just offering up vague religious speeches about the nature of species, monsters and pre-destination. I need something a bit more substantive before I can fully invest in them, though I still don’t trust Metphies.

Then there’s the Bilusaludo, who admittedly offer an interesting philosophy in opposition to the Exif and humans. Originally I thought they were just generic technologically-advanced warriors, but in this film we discover that they hold technology to such a high regard that they’re all for abandoning their weak bodies and becoming one with their machines. I applaud the film for having an alien species think so differently to the human counterparts, but the film never spends any time exploring this, heck we don’t even learn about it until just before the final battle of the film. Is it too much to ask to have two characters sit down and talk about this stuff, maybe explain how the Bilusaludo came to this viewpoint. Then again it falls into the typical sci-fi trap of giving an alien species one unique thing and only one unique things. There’s no dissenters among the Bilusaludo? No rival philosophy or opposing factions? Because we humans clearly only have one way of thinking about the nature of life, right? Again, I really do enjoy this world and the concepts its bringing into play, I just wish it devoted more time to exploring those concepts.

The Verdict:

In the end, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle is an improvement over Planet of the Monsters, even if it’s still yet to blow me away. There’s more time devoted to exploring this future Earth and the characters we were introduced to in the first film. There are some great ideas here and some impressive action, though I’m still not the biggest fan of the animation. Haruo grows from being just a walking ball of rage to a believable leader, and we do learn some more about our alien allies, but it’s not enough to make this film truly great. Here’s hoping the final film can stick the landing.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review

Persecution of the Masses.

What’s the Story?

One day creatures rose from beneath the surface of the Earth to terrorise humanity. Out of all of these only one inspired true dread and drove humanity to the very edge of extinction, the monster they came to call Godzilla. Even with the aide of two arriving alien species it wasn’t enough to halt Godzilla’s destructive path, forcing what was left of the human race to flee into space. Now, over two decades later, humanity once more faces a grave nightmare. Food rations are running out and with no potential habitable planets to claim as their own, they may just have to return to their abandoned former home. For Haruo this is perfect. He lost everything to Godzilla and blames the creature alone for humanity’s current pitiable state. He’s spent the past two years planning and might just have something that can bring down the King of Monsters, but when has killing Godzilla ever been easy?

The Review:

In 2017 I was excited to hear that we were getting an animated trilogy of Godzilla films. To me it just made sense, as much as I love the majority of the live-action films, regardless of whether it’s a guy in a rubber suit or not, I can’t help but imagine all that animation could accomplish for the giant atomic-breathed reptile. I mean I can’t be the only one who fondly remembers the cartoon series based on the 1998 film (the film itself has no right to call itself Godzilla in any shape or form, but the cartoon was good). Then the reviews started coming in and they were not good for this film or its sequels and, I know, take other people’s opinions with a pinch of salt. I should have watched the film and made up my own mind, but between the never-ending glut of seasonal shows to keep up with and everything else I try to do in my free time, this film just got pushed further and further down the list. Now though I’ve finally given myself the kick up the butt I needed and sat down and watched the film. So what did I think?

Honestly, I kinda enjoyed it. It’s flawed certainly and very obviously the start of a trilogy so the ending foregoes any sort of real conclusion and instead gives way to set up for the sequel, which can be annoying. I get what put so many people off about this film, but what fascinates me is the world it builds up around itself. I’m a sucker for sci-fi on my best day, so you give me spaceships, mecha and giant monsters and you pretty much have me sold from the start. I like the way it takes concepts we’ve seen in previous Godzilla films and meshes them together in a unique way. Take the alien allies for instances, there are plenty of Godzilla films where aliens show up claiming to be friends, only to then reveal ulterior motives and be swatted away once they try to take on Godzilla himself. This time the aliens are actually here to help, at least that’s how it appears for the majority of movie one, I have my doubts about one of them. They give Earth more advanced technology to combat Godzilla and then help built spaceships when it’s clear there’s no way to win. I could have watched an entire movie about that and been happy.

That’s not the film we got though and I admit I might just be more enamoured with the concepts the film is presenting than the actual meat of the story. Take humanity’s time in space, the talk of rations running out and the older generation volunteering for a desperate mission paint a really dark picture and I wish we got to explore that more, but it’s mostly glossed over. Even the talk about the council forcing those older members on to the mission is quickly brushed aside once we get back to Earth. Maybe this story would have been better served as a series, giving more room to develop these characters and the settings, paint a really vivid picture. As it is the film is mostly technical jargon and action scenes that, while the animation is fit for purpose, it doesn’t wow me (that being said I really don’t like the texture they put on Godzilla, it’s just not very pleasing to look at).

That brings me to what was probably the nail in the coffin for this film for a lot of people, and that’s the main character of Haruo. I get what they were trying to do with the character, his anger is perfectly understandable and seeing it focussed on Godzilla also makes a lot of sense. Heck, one of the main characters of King of the Monsters (my favourite of the recent Godzilla films) was passionately anti-Godzilla. The thing is though is that character went on an arc, Haruo doesn’t. This is the first third of a trilogy so I expect him to change at some point, but so far it’s just unpleasant to spend so much time with someone who’s just angry all the time. It’s not as if any of the other characters get any sort of development, they barely get introduced to us. Imagine Eren from Attack on Titan, but instead of constantly having his ideals challenged and his ego knocked down a peg, Haruo gets built up and he is the one true saviour of us all. I could put up with him for one film, but I have no idea what my reaction is going to be like for the sequel, I guess we’ll see.

The Verdict:

In the end, Godzilla: Planet of Monsters, is a film that is enjoyable but nothing more. It has a lot of flaws, some of them stemming from the fact that this is the start of a trilogy and there’s some missing resolution. Even putting that aside the film has some pretty glaring flaws, like the unpleasant main character, the lack of development for, well, anyone in the cast and a fairly straightforward story that ignores some meaty potential. There are some great ideas in this script and I wish they got more time to be explored, but I guess we’ll see how the sequels handle things now that the set ups out of the way.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Introducing Kaiju-cember!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, it’s December and as regular followers of this blog should know that means one thing and one thing only, a theme month! I’ve talked about a lot of franchises that I love in Decembers past, Doctor Who, Batman, One Piece, Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo and so on, but this time things are going to be a little different. That’s right, in honour of Godzilla vs. Kong releasing earlier this year (I enjoyed the film a lot, but King of the Monsters is still my favourite) I’m putting on a monster of a month. Instead of just a franchise I’m going to look at a whole genre, welcome to Kaiju-cember!

I find it hard to pin down why it is I instinctively love kaiju as much as I do, maybe it’s just the vicarious thrill of seeing a eighty foot monster stomping around the place. Not that kaiju are all about spectacle, if done correctly they can become a really poignant allegory, like in the original Godzilla all those decades ago. Speaking of the big G, that’s really where my love of the kaiju genre begins. Not the very original film, as I only saw that for the first time fairly recently (it’s a classic for a reason and everyone should watch it at least once). No, my first Godzilla film was ‘The Return of Godzilla’, which I still own to this day on VHS (for all the kids out there, VHS were these magical storage devices that we had before streaming was a thing. You’d buy, or rent, a film on this little box and put it in another machine to watch it on your TV. Think like a DVD, but it’s recorded on tape rather than a disc. Weird I know).

A lot of my younger days were spent trying to procure most of the Showa era Godzilla films on tape (a couple of which I still own) and watching them again and again. As such, it should be no surprise to anyone that the majority of this month is dedicated to the atomic-breathed reptile, but I’ve thrown in a more recent franchise as well as the token representative of other kaiju.

So, here’s what this month is going to look like:

3rd – Pacific Rim: The Black

10th – Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

17th – Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

24th – Godzilla: The Planet Eater

31st – Godzilla Singular Point

See you on Friday for the first review!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure: (2020) Review

Going Digital…Again!

What’s the Story?

Bizarre occurrences have been happening all across Tokyo, computer systems suddenly going haywire and acting as if they’ve got minds of their own! When Taichi’s mother and little sister become caught on a runaway train it’s the first gambit in an epic adventure that Taichi and his this friends are never likely to forget. Transported to a strange new world, this ‘Digital World’, the chosen human children and their Digimon partners must overcome a reviving evil. If they fail, both the Digital World and ours will be reduced to nothing.

The Review:

This is not going to be the review I wanted to write for this series. I very much wanted to love this reboot version of the original Digimon Adventure, I want to love every series in the Digimon franchise. True, when I was a kid I was a die hard Pokemon fan and, yes, I was one of those naive fools who thought Digimon was the lesser cousin to the Juggernaut that was Pokemon. Yet as I’ve gotten older the more my interest in Pokeman has faded and my appreciation for Digimon has only grown, heck I dedicated the 5th anniversary year of this blog to reviewing the first three Digimon series, the movie and the Tri films (which you can find HERE). The chance to see the original characters again, but with more modern animation and all the lore that’s been added into the series since it’s inception, just take my money now. And, at first, I was really enjoying this new version of Digmion Adventure. It took things in a very different direction, with a clear focus on the lore and adventure aspect of the series, it felt like an epic quest, which I was totally down for. Unfortunately that didn’t last.

Adventure: 2020 has some pretty big problems as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t quite work out whether those problems are born from the series itself, or my own personal biases. I’ve tried to keep 2020 and the original Adventure separate in my head, they are doing very different things as I mentioned, but there were several points I caught myself thinking, ‘I preferred how that was done in the original’ or ‘I wish they’d included that from the original’. I guess we’ll see how much I bring up the original in this review, but starting from this point I’m going to try to talk about just 2020. So let’s begin with some positives, what did I actually like about Adventure: 2020. Well, as I said the first half of this series is pretty solid. It’s an epic quest that slowly gathers together the characters we all know and love and puts them on a grand journey to save this strange land known as the ‘Digital World’. There’s a clear goal from the offset and it adds some real drive to the episodes. Plus it’s great to see the action and digivolution (yes I’m still calling it digivolution, I’ve been calling it that for nearly three decades now, it’s hard to rewire those parts of my brain) sequences done with an actual budget. True, Agumon and Gabumon get the much flashier sequences, but then don’t they always?

Unfortunately, once we hit the halfway mark of the series, I’d say roughly around the fight with Devimon, things start to falter. The thing with an epic quest and having set goals is, once you reach those that’s kind of the end of the story. There’s so much drive and build up towards the fight with Devimon that once he’s finally defeated it feels like the series has hit it’s climax. Of course then we’ve got to deal with the force behind Devimon, but all the momentum suddenly vanishes from the series. Instead of a clear progressing story, the series feels like its just meandering around, slipping into more episodic content while we all just drum our fingers waiting for the final boss fight. It kinda kills the series for me and then once that evil Digimon is dealt with it it’s revealed there’s an even greater force behind them that we have to deal and arrrgh when is this going to end! This series is too long and I put the fault squarely on the pacing of the second half. There’s no flow to the episodes and it misses opportunity after opportunity to use it’s time effectively and develop these characters.

That’s Adventure: 2020 biggest crime in my book, it’s lacklustre treatment of the characters. To a point I get it, this is a much more plot-driven series that other Digimon series, we’re dealing with lore and story progression more than anything else, but when that starts to meander the deficiencies in the characters really start to show. I barely feel like I know any of these characters and when they do get character-focussed episodes it’s to deal with surface level problems. Izzy/Koshiro is my best example, though I need to bring up the original series to demonstrate what I’m talking about. In the original Adventure series we explored how Izzy’s constant questioning and searching for answers was related to his identity issues after finding out he’s adopted. In 2020? He spends an episode learning to rely on his computer less. Do you see the difference there? One is actual character exploration and develop, one’s an issue for a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe that’s all Adventure: 2020 was trying to be, a nice breezy kids show, but I expect better from Digimon.

It doesn’t help that Taichi gets so much of the spotlight in this series, even episodes that should naturally be about another Chosen One getting their next digivolution, nope, here comes Taichi riding in to save the day. He even gets an alternate Mega digivolution for Agumon long before most of the other characters have even achieved their first Mega digivolution! What is going on here?! I seriously got to the point in later episodes where I wanted to punch Taichi every time he showed up just to get him off screen and give a chance to the other characters for once. I was honestly surprised that the final battle didn’t just turn into Taichi saving everyone, but everyone got something to do at least. I will end this on a positive note by saying that the final episode of the series was suitably epic with some great animated sequences and an orchestral score that really sold the grandeur of everything. It’s a solid ending, it’s just a shame it took so long to get there.

The Verdict:

In the end, Digimon Adventure: 2020 is a disappointment. It starts off well, but the plot begins to meander with constantly shifting end bosses and seriously underdeveloped characters. It doesn’t help that so much time is dedicated to Taichi despite the fact that it never truly explores his character. It is nice to see alternate digivolutions and better quality animation for some sequences, though there’s a noticeable dip as the series goes on. Maybe if you’re not as beholden to the original as I clearly am you can get more enjoyment out of this series, here’s hoping. Until the next trip to the Digital World.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

Anime Corner: My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Review

A real hero never gives up! Even when they’re bleeding out to the point of actually dying.

What’s the Story?

When a cult of quirk-hating terrorists release a gas that causes people’s abilities to spiral dangerously out of control, the world’s heroes mobilise. The head of the cult is nowhere to be found though, and there’s bombs set to release more gas all around the world. If there’s any hope of saving this day they’re going to need every hero they can, including the students of U.A.. Unfortunately Deku’s been accused of mass murder and is on the run from the police. Can he, Todoroki and Bakugo figure what’s going on, track down the cult’s leader and save the whole hero society? It’s a tough ask, but if anyone can they can. Mission start!

The Review:

My Hero Academia’s third film! Okay, maybe having a third film released isn’t all that ground-breaking for a shonen series (especially when you compare it other series like One Piece and Dragon Ball and their vast catalogue of films). Still, having three films for a series that are all consistently good (spoiler warning for my thoughts on this film) is something that’s worth praising. You can read my reviews of the previous two movies HERE and HERE, but let’s focus on this film for now. I really had a good time with this movie, it’s funny, it’s endearing and incredibly dramatic when it wants to be, much like the show at it’s best. It’s also fairly kind to newcomers as well, obviously it helps if you’ve seen some the show or have read the manga, but the film’s central plot is fairly independent. I saw this film with a friend of mine who has never watched/read a single second of MHA and he followed what was happening perfectly fine, he just questioned who a lot of the characters were.

Let’s talk about that story for a second, because while this film captures the spirit of MHA, it also presents us with something entirely different from the series. Gone are the familiar settings of U.A. and most of Class 1-A are reduced to cameo appearances at best. In their place we have a more global event with a couple of new heroes (though there’s a lot less international heroes in this film that I thought there were going to be) and the stakes are some of the highest we’ve seen. Deku has to spend most of the film on the run from the police and when we hit the climax its down to Deku, Todoroki and Bakugo alone to save all of hero society. Also, I’ll just say this now, this film gets bloody in the final battles. The amount of times people get stabbed or shot, it’s a wonder they don’t all bleed out by the time the end credits roll. It’s a little ridiculous, but it certainly adds to how dire things feel in this film.

Not that this is all doom and gloom, there’s plenty of breath-taking action sequences peppered throughout to keep things lively. I have to take my hat off to whichever animators worked on the swooping camera work of the mid-air fights, of which there are several, there’s a real sense of frenzy and chaos without ever making things hard to follow for the audience, which is a true skill. Throw in some good humour at the start and a middle that slows down to properly develop the emotional beats and this film really has pitch perfect pacing.

Speaking of the emotional beats, let’s talk about Rody. When I think about it all the MHA films have really good film-only protagonists for Deku and co to hang out with, but I think Rody might just be my favourite. He’s a fully fleshed out character with a compelling back story and a clear character arc, he’s also effortlessly charming and quick-witted enough to give Deku a run for his money. Yes his arc is fairly obvious, of course the cynical character will have his heart melted by the pure ball of sunshine that is Deku, but seeing him struggle on despite the worst of things towards the end of the film is a real hero moment. Also he has a really…let’s say unique power and that damn bird of his had me tearing up by the end of the film.

That brings me to the villains of this film and, honestly, I’m kinda split on them. On the one hand they’re a really great concept for a group of villains, people who see quirks as a problem to be gotten rid of and willing to go to murderous lengths to achieve that. I’m honestly surprised a group like them hasn’t turned up in the series at any point, though of course I know the Quirk Doomsday Theory has been brought up by the series several times in the manga, and that idea in itself is a really meaty one. The basic idea is that as quirks combine down the generations and grow stronger they’re going to reach a point where they can no longer be controlled and the world will end. It’s a startling idea, one that the series hasn’t provided an answer to, outside of the fact that it’s just a theory and hasn’t been outright proven it will happen yet.

The problem with the villains is that, cool ideas aside, we never really get to know any of them. We only get the full details on what’s driving the main villain as he monologues about his past while he fights Deku…at the end of the film. That’s a bit too little, too late for my taste. There’s a wide variety of hench people working for said main villain and some of them have really fun and creative powers, but there’s no real depth to any of them. The only one I truly care about and wanted to get to know more was the archer lady and she doesn’t make it to the end of the film. Oh, did I mention this film has a hell of a body count? Well, it does start off with the villains gassing an entire city. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.

The Verdict:

In the end, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is another solid entry in this series’ film catalogue. It maintains the spirit of the series while expanding the franchise out into new horizons, giving us new locations and characters and raising the stakes to a truly dire situation. The villains are the only real let down, having a great concept but none of them being fleshed out enough to make an impact. The action and the characters more than make up for this though and I thoroughly recommend seeing this if you can. Plus ultra!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

First Impressions Autumn 2021 part 2

And we’re back! Let’s not waste any time and jump straight into these first impressions.

Puraore! Pride of Orange

Manaka is a cute girl doing cute things! Whether it’s at the sewing club or appearing on TV to advertise her family’s inn, she’s a kid living her youth to its fullest. Then she learns that the local ice rink is holding trail lessons for ice hockey and along with her friends decides to check them out. Could this be the beginning of a whole new passion? Coincidentally the manager of the local team has been putting together a plan to make ice hockey super popular, she’s going to combine ice hockey with an idol group! And what’s this? Six girls just signed up to the trail? Perfect! That being said, I’m still really dubious about this whole ‘dancing on ice’ plan and I think the girls will be too, when they find out about it.

Is this the only ice hockey anime? I know there are a metric tonne of sports anime out there, but this is the only ice hockey one I can think of, which just feels odd. Then again I have no idea how popular ice hockey is in Japan, I’m guessing not very much by the fact this anime is resorting to combining ice hockey with a bunch of cute girls dancing around to try and attract in audiences. And, yes, I’m going to keep harping on about this whole putting on performances after a match idea, which is just ridiculous. I’ve seen the ‘Dancing on Ice’ show we have here in the UK, I know just how dangerous performing on ice like that can be, and you want these girls to do that after exhausting themselves with a competitive sport? Are you insane?! Yes, it’ll really make ice hockey popular when you’ve got six girls lying on the ice, unconscious, with their heads split open! Okay I need to stop picking at that particular thread because it’s just driving me crazy, and aside from that inane premise this isn’t a bad show. It’s a little generic and formulaic and the girls are the usual range of personalities you get in these kind of shows, but it’s not doing anything overtly terrible. It’s cute, which is probably exactly what it wants to be. Check it out if you’re interested, but I’m taking my skates off for this one.

Sakugan

Memempu has spent her whole life living underground in one of the many human colonies. She’s a smart kid, so smart in fact that she’s already graduated college and she’s got a dream, literally. She keeps seeing the same place in her dreams and she’s determined to find it, even if it means crossing the dangerous ‘Labyrinth’ all by herself. This, naturally, makes her father Gagumber very nervous and no matter how hard he tries he just can’t get her to stop. When monsters break into the colony it’s do or die time and Gagumber makes a decision. If he can’t stop his daughter from going on this suicidal quest, he’ll just have to go with her! So begins this father/daughter duo’s journey into the unknown!

This show is a lot of fun, providing you can put up with the main characters. That feels like more of an insult than I mean it to be, because I do genuinely like both Memempu and Gagumber, but even I have to admit they’re a bit…extra. They’re both deeply flawed characters and while that’s great for potential character development, it does mean you have to deal with them in their base state for at least the start of the series. Memempu is really, really smart, and the trouble is that she knows it, but she doesn’t yet have the experience to understand that knowing a lot doesn’t mean you know everything. Gagumber is a typical lazy dad stereotype, but his main problem is he’s trying to treat his daughter like a little kid when she’s clearly not. He lays down the law without bothering to explain his reasoning and it would solve so many of his problems if he just took the time to talk through his thought process. As I said there’s a lot of potential for character growth here and I hope the series is going to take the time to develop them. The rest of the show is just a fun, bombastic mecha show and I’m looking forward to where this series is taking us.

The Faraway Paladin

In a city that lies in ruins, populated by undead demons, there lives a single human child. His name is Will and he has spent most of his life in the care of a skeletal warrior, a mummified priestess and a ghostly sorcerer. The three love him as if he were their own, even if they refuse to tell him how it is he came to be living in a place like this. Will is growing up fast though, picking up skills and knowledge from his non-living family and before any of them know it it’s time for his coming of age. Is Will ready to step out into the living world? Or will he become another undead resident of this forgotten city?

I’ll give you all fair warning right now, if you haven’t checked out this series yet it’s  what I would class as a slow burn and I genuinely love it for that. Too many series feel like they rush through the set up because they’re terrified you’ll leave the second your attention wanders. This series on the other hand, it has the sheer confidence to just do things at its own pace. Three episodes in and we’re still in what feels like the prologue of the story. There’s no major action scenes, no great mystery outside of a couple of story hooks, it’s just the characters sitting around, letting us get to know them. I know that might sound boring and be a turn off for some people, but I beg you to give this series a chance. I’m invested in Will and his relationships with his undead family and I feel like I have a fuller understanding of this world than in most fantasy series. I don’t want these peaceful days with Will and the gang to end, but the cliffhanger at the end of episode three has already told me that’s exactly what’s about to happen. This show definitely needs checking out.

Digimon Ghost Game

Holograms, a new technology that have become a lot more prevalent in recent years. Of course every new technology has its teething troubles, in this case there are widespread rumours of bizarre creatures appearing in said holograms. Alongside the increasing reports of strange accidents and injuries its enough to make people think something supernatural is going on. When Hiro decides to investigate the latest story of a ‘Hologram Ghost’ he isn’t prepared for how much his life is about to change. Suddenly he’s partnered with this creature who calls itself a Digimon and learns his father didn’t just vanished, but was sucked into some place called the ‘Digital World’. With very little information to go on it’s up to Hiro and Gammamon to track down other Digimon, stop them causing havoc and maybe, just maybe, figure out what’s going on around here!

After the crushing disappointment that was Digimon Adventure 2020, it’s so good to have a Digimon series that reminds why I love this franchise so much. Seriously I’m getting Tamer vibes from this series and that is a very good sign considering that’s my favourite Digimon series alongside the original Adventure. This is a show that isn’t afraid to take it’s time, letting us get to know the characters and get a good feel for this new setting, all the while setting up things for later in the background. It also helps the horror aesthetic that the series is going for, there’s been some genuinely creepy moments so far and set ups that wouldn’t feel out of place in a real horror movie. Fancy being mummified and hung up in a basement until you fade into nothing? How about a strange scribble appearing on one of your digital photos and then whatever was scribbled on starts to go out of control or just vanish entirely! There’s some real moments of panic and dread and it really builds up the tension without having the stakes being ridiculously high. I’m loving this series so far, if you haven’t checked this out already then you really need to!

That’s it for the first impressions. Next week we’re back to regular reviews and it’s time to go Plus Ultra as Deku and the gang go on a World Heroes’ Mission! Don’t forget the popcorn.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

First Impressions Autumn 2021 Part 1

The season of change is upon us, the days are getting colder and the nights a little longer, but fear not! There’s a whole batch of new and returning anime to keep us company, so grab your slippers and a cozy blanket and join me by the fire as we see what’s on offer!

The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window

Bookstore employee Mikado has a special gift, he can see ghosts! Unfortunately for him he’s absolutely terrified of them, or anything supernatural for that matter, a fact that isn’t made much better when he meets exorcist Hiyakawa. Pretty soon Mikado finds himself press-ganged into working with Hiyakawa, purely for the fact that Hiyakawa can use him to boost his powers, well, that and this ‘boost’ also feels really, really good for Mikado. Will these two opposites find a way to work together and maybe even come together in other ways? Or will Mikado come to his senses and take out the biggest restraining order possible on Hiyakawa?

Generally when it comes to these first impressions I stick to the 3 episode rule. Three episode is enough time for me to get a feel for what a series is going to be like, while also giving the show time to find its feet. It’s not a hard and fast rule, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s how I like to approach new shows. Some shows though, some shows I can just tell aren’t made for me. This is one of those shows. I barely made it through the first episode and when it came to the second episode I really couldn’t bring myself to watch it, so I’m already out on this one. The problem with this show is almost entirely Hiyakawa, because as a set up it’s fine. Guy who can see ghost but is scared of them ends up working with an exorcist to solve supernatural cases? Sign me up. Throw in a little romance between the two leads, yeah sure, fine. The issue is that Hiyakawa is way too grabby and he does it without permission and despite Mikado’s protests. Just…just no dude. Unless Hiyakawa gets a major personality transplant in the next episode, there’s no saving this show for me. I’m just not interested in watching a toxic romance play out even if Mikado does eventually come to his senses and call out Hiyakawa.

86 Eighty-Six (Season 2)

The last survivors of the Spearhead Squadron thought they’d reached the end of their road, but fate had other plans. Awakening in the Federal Republic of Giad, could Shin and his friends finally step away from the battlefield and have a chance at a peaceful life? The Legion is still out there though and as the Federacy prepares to do battle against it, will Shin and the others be able to stand on the sidelines, or be drawn to the battlefield once again? And what of Lena, demoted yet still working as a Handler, leading her squads to fight against the Legion and doing her best to remember all those who’ve been lost. In war can there ever be a happy ending?

And it’s back! The first season of the 86 was fantastic, one of my favourite anime of this year so far, and this continuation is just as great! I’ll admit I was a little worried when Shin and co suddenly woke up in perfect health after that heartbreaking ending to the last season, but all my fears have since been assuaged. The first couple of episode may have been a little, and probably necessary, breather from the death and dismay of the first season, but this show hasn’t forgotten how to punch me in the gut. The writing and character work is still top notch, giving us a good exploration of what it’s like for soldiers returning from the frontline. Of course we don’t stay away from the battlefield for long and this show just remains as soul-shattering and riveting as it always was. If I had one complaint it’s that there’s been far too little Lena in this season so far! If you’re not watching this show then you’re doing yourself a disservice and you need to change that immediately!

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut

Following the end of World War II, the two great superpowers, the Federal Republic of Zirnitra in the East and the United Kingdom of Arnack in the West, turned their attention to space. Both competing to be the first to land a human on the moon, they each came up with their own methods and technology to get them there. In the Republic’s case they decided that not enough was known about the effect of space flight on the human body and so decided to send something human-like first. Enter Irina Luminesk, a vampire with a burning desire to reach the moon for some reason. It’s up to former astronaut candidate Lev to prepare her, but facing fear and suspicion from all around will she even survive the training? And if she does survive, what comes after?

It’s the Space Race but with added vampires! You see, it’s this kind of original concept that I come to anime for, the kind that make me slap my forehead and ask, ‘why has no one come up with this before?!’. Plenty of animals got sent into space to test it’s effects on living creatures after all, so why not mix in a little fantasy and send some vampires as well. I mean it’s horrifying treatment for the vampires and we see some very blatant racism directed towards Irina, but that’s not really the focus of this series. Irina genuinely wants to go into space, whether that’s just because it’s a passion of hers or for some other reason we don’t know yet, but she’s clearly very determined. The first three episodes are us following her training, almost in a slice of life kind of way. So far it’s a very sedate, yet charming series, you really feel Irina’s drive and Lev’s growing affection for her, to the point that you can’t help but root for both of them. There are some dark clouds on the horizon though, hints at a saboteur and talk about what’s going to happen to Irina after her space flight. It’s enough to keep the tension percolating away and keep me watching.

The Vampire Dies in No Time

Vampires are a scourge that plagues humanity, with their many different forms and abilities they can be incredibly dangerous. That’s why hunters like Ronaldo exist, to do battle against the darkness and protect the people! When Ronaldo is called to a remote castle he is about to face his most challenging battle yet, a vampire lord named Draluc who….dies at the slightest attack? Wait…what?! Come join the adventures of Ronaldo and Draluc, can a vain and fame-hungry hunter get along with the world’s weakest vampire? Will Ronaldo finish his next manuscript in time or will his editor have to put him in the Iron Maiden again? Will John the Armadillo get his own show because he rightly deserves one?

If any of those questions at the end there pique your interest, then you should definitely check this show out. It’s a delightful little comedy with a quirky cast of characters with some good set ups for gags and there’s always John! John the Armadillo, Draluc’s familiar and really the star of the show. Every frame he appears in just makes me smile, whether he’s quietly reading some manga or fretting over Draluc’s ashes you can’t help but love him. He’s worth the price of admission alone. The other characters are fun as well though, the editor is my favourite after John, but I also enjoy Draluc and Ronaldo’s driving one another crazy dynamic. Is this show going to change the face of comedy or offer startling new incites into vampires? No, I every much doubt that, but it doesn’t need to either. It’s fun and every episode so far has left me grinning, and I can’t really ask much more than that.

Takt op.Destiny

Music can be said to be the very heart and soul of humanity, but what does it mean when strange creatures, known as D2, appear to destroy that heart? Drawn to music and impervious to all modern weaponry it looked as if all hope was lost, but then came a last shining light of salvation, the Musicarts! Women transformed by a power from beyond the stars, with their Conductors directing them they are an unstoppable force of music incarnate and the only chance of defeating the D2. For Takt music was his everything, whether its taboo or not, all he wants to do is play. Even after an attack by the D2 leaves his arm injured and the girl he was starting to realise he loved transformed into a Musicart, that doesn’t really change. It’s just that now as well as music he wants to wipe out the D2 for all they’ve taken from him and get Destiny, the girl he loved, to New York were hopefully someone can help him understand why she’s so different from other Musicarts. Let the road trip begin!

Classical music, fun characters and some jaw-droppingly fantastic action, this show has it all! If this is what happens when Mappa and Madhouse team up can I kindly suggest that they never, ever, part company again? Let’s talk about that action for a minute, it’s so blisteringly fast and fluid, I just want to watch it again and again. This show is worth watching just for that, but then you throw some great musical compositions on top of it and you’re really just icing the cake by that point. I wish I knew more about music so I could probably describe how blissful it is to listen to. Thankfully the series isn’t all flash though and has a pretty interesting set up. Sure it’s not that original, aliens invade and push humanity to the brink except for this small group of people that have the power to fight back. There’s at least a hundred other shows out there with the same premise and outside of the ban on music things don’t look that bad for the rest of humanity, most people able to go about their daily lives without much fuss. What gives me hope is that this series is a road trip across the US so it should give us a few different settings and backgrounds and while I don’t love the characters yet, I do like them. There’s great potential here, let’s hope it can keep up the tempo.

That’s it for this week. Next time on First Impressions! A father/daughter duo traverse a dangerous underground labyrinth, if they don’t kill one another first! An exuberant coach hopes to combine idols and ice hockey…for some reason! And Digimon returns with a spooky spectacular new series! Who ya gonna call? Not me, I won’t be here until next Friday, see you then!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Mars Red Review

The Whole World is a Stage…

What’s the Story?

The year is 1923 and a sudden swell in the number of vampires has brought panic to the streets of Japan. The government’s response? To deploy their own unit of vampires, known as Code Zero, who are specially trained to hunt down and either apprehend or exterminate any vampires who would threaten the peace. But what is this new drug called Ascra that vampires are suddenly so addicted to, could it be linked to the sudden swell in their numbers? And what about those whispers that someone in the military is trying to build their own vampire army? The stage is set, the actors have all been given their scripts, whether they recognise their roles or not. Before the dawn arrives Japan will be shook down to its very core and none of these people’s lives will ever be the same again. Then again, life is such a frail thing, especially for a vampire.

The Review:

Okay, I’m going to start this review off a little differently than normal and that’s because I have a quick experiment that I want to run. See I tend to go into series as blind as I can, I’ll look at the promo art and maybe read the series description, but that’s it. So what I’m going to do in the next paragraph is post the description for this series that is currently on Funimation’s website (at time of writing this) and I want you to spend a couple of minutes thinking about what kind of series you think this is. I’ll also throw in that it’s got the action/adventure and drama genre tags. Ready? Here we go.

Its 1923, and until recently, vampires kept to the shadows. When the mysterious blood source Ascra appears, their numbers swell, leaving Japan covered in bodies. In response, the government spawns its own coven to infiltrate the dark. With S-rank vampire Defrott and the rookie Kurusu, this kill squad is made for one reason: to hunt the undead. Bloodsuckers beware; the night belongs to Code Zero!

So what did you guys get? Where you picturing bloody action sequences? Some 20s style broken up by team banter and fighting off hordes of vampires? Maybe a bit of espionage or investigations sprinkled in with a dash of political drama? I’ll admit there are elements of all of that, but if you’re after a fast-paced action bonanza then you’d better look elsewhere because that’s not what this series is about in the least (I also love the way it makes out as if Defrott is a member of Code Zero when he’s not even close to that).

While I’m mad at Funimation for it’s blatantly misleading description, I have to admit I had a heck of a hard time writing my own so I know how hard it is to sum up this series’ story in a single paragraph. You see this series is a lot of things, there is action, good action at that, and there are hordes of vampires by the end, but all of that is interspersed with quite, reflective monologues on the nature of life and immortality. Above everything else, this is a play. I mean that literally, this series is based on a stage reading play by Bunoh Fujisawa, who is also the sound director for this series. What’s a stage reading play? Well, it’s basically a play with very little costumes or set and the actors just give dramatic readings of the script (according to Google anyway, I’ll admit I’ve never seen one of these myself).

From the very first episode this series gives off such a different vibe than you’re typical light-novel adaptation that we see so much these days. The focus is squarely on the characters, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling and the series will let them talk to you at length about this. Some of the monologues and the visuals that accompany them are really beautiful and I could watch them again and again. Yet, for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to really love this series. I appreciate it certainly, and I’m really glad that I watched it, the technical skill and talent put on display is well worth the price admission, but I have to admit that I was rarely invested in what was going on.

Part of me wants to put the blame on that description. It gave me such a different idea for what the series was going to be, that by the time I adjusted to what the series was actually giving me, it was too late. Then again perhaps it’s just the theatrical nature of the performances and directions that always felt like it was keeping me at arms length, even when character’s were baring their souls in front of me. There are also a few odd moments throughout the series, such as the several time jumps that happen without the show giving you any indication. A couple of times I had to stop because I just realised that several weeks, if not months, must have pasted and I’d have to backtrack to find the point we skipped forward and re-contextualise everything. There’s not holding your audience’s hand and then there’s just bewildering them.

There’s also a couple of character arcs I still don’t quite understand, I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but one character goes from an apparently reasonable guy to a full-on antagonist in the space of an episode, and all with only a sentence of explanation as to his motives. He really needed some more exploration. Then there’s another character who completely changes into an entirely different beast, quite literally, just to give us a random end boss. It’s so strange when the rest of the character work was really good and it would only take another episode or two to fix.

The Verdict:

In the end, Mars Red, is more of an experience than an action adventure. There’s plenty of drama and some solid character work (for the most part), but you really should go into this knowing that it’s based on a play. Eloquent monologues and dramatic visuals are were this series excels, but it can sometimes require your full attention to make sure you’re keeping track of everything that’s happening. While I can’t say that I loved this series, I’m glad I saw it and the experience is more than worth it. So what are you waiting for? The curtain’s calling it’s time to step on stage.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.