Howl’s Moving Castle (2004 Anime)

Howl’s Moving Castle, besides being an Excellent Middle Grade book, is also a fantastic anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Here’s the wiki:

Howl’s Moving Castle Anime Wiki.

I thought about trying to do some sort of scary movie for October’s movie selection, but considering that I don’t LIKE scary movies, nor gratuitous sex and violence, that really seemed to clear the playing field. Throw in that some of the movies I might have considered not being available on Prime and well, I decided to go for something that I knew I would enjoy.

Comparing this to the book, you could say both the book and the movie are animals and as such they are the same. But I’d go with saying one is a cat while the other is a dog. Both have four legs, a head, a tail, are animals and have fur. They are extremely similar. But as anyone who has ever met a cat and a dog knows, they are NOT the same, not even close. And thus it is with this.

Both the book and the anime have a character named Howl, one named Sophie, a fire demon named Calcifer and even a Wicked Witch of the Waste. But at it’s heart, the anime is an anti-war film. Miyazaki makes no bones about that with this film nor is he subtle, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because it is really heavy handed and honestly, I found myself being distracted from the story and the beautiful art work. I hadn’t noticed it so much in earlier viewings as I was trying to pay attention to the story but this time around I just couldn’t ignore it.

The artwork is gorgeous and stands right up there with some of Studio Ghibli’s other films. Sophie’s curse wasn’t as constant as it was in the book and it was neat to see her get older or younger depending on how things were going. It was deftly done.

Just like in the book though, there is no real “enemy”. Howl redeems himself from his cowardice, the Witch of the Waste gives up Howl’s heart to save him, Madam Suliman stops the war. Miyazaki is a firm believer in the innate goodness of people and that shows quite brightly through his characters. Here’s a picture of some of the main characters, including young and old Sophie:

Mrs B did watch this with me, as it is one of the few movies we own that we’ll both watch. She enjoyed it as well as I. I almost forgot, Miyazaki’s love of black gloopy “stuff” is here in spades. Not quite as intense as in Princess Mononoke nor as scary as in Spirited Away but definitely menacing nonetheless.

We own this on dvd and it is one I’d consider upgrading to bluray for. So this film gets a thumbs up from both of us.

Voices of a Distant Star (2002 Anime Movie)


Well, this was a gamble. I knew that completely going in to this re-watch.

The story, all 25minutes of it, revolves around a teen girl and boy who are separated, as the girl makes it into the UN Army to fight the aliens and the boy washes out. She becomes a fighter pilot in a matter of months(? time isn’t real clear here) and then the fleet gives chase to the aliens. She can only contact her boy love through text messages and the further she gets from Earth, the longer they take to get to him. Eventually, she is far enough away that it takes 8 years for her message to get to him and she is fighting the aliens. She survives and the movie ends with the boy, now a man and the girl, connecting with each other about one thought, that they love each other.

I am literally watching my memories from my 20’s melt away into a hormone laden and angst ridden reality. Ugh. I can see why this appealed to me 15 or more years ago. LOVE overcoming even time and space, Destiny and Fate bowing down to the power of two people with the will to overcome anything standing between them.

This time around? I noticed that the girl is still wearing her school uniform, while fighting in probably one of the world’s most advanced space fighters. She abandons her mission to rescue her cell phone, as apparently communication with Earth doesn’t exist on the carrier ships. But my goodness, her cell phone must have GREAT coverage. I’d hate to get that bill though. After this, I didn’t bother to watch Place Promised in Our Early Days for fear I’d have the same reaction. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

At the same time, I am grateful to have seen this again as it really held up a mirror for me about what I was back then. I have changed, matured, become more a man. I have grown up. I just didn’t know what growing up meant. Now that I have, I am grateful I didn’t know. I’m not sure I could have handled it then. Now? I just have to remember not to be too hard on younger people who are now just like me back then. For they too will one day turn into curmudgeonly grumps and make the world a grumpier place.

This reminds me of an incident from my Bibleschool days. One of our professors was talking about finding an old journal he’d written back when he was in his 20’s. He related that he had re-read it and then razor bladed the thing so it would never see the light of day. My first thought back then was “Then how are you going to remember what it was like to be in your 20’s?” As the years have gone by I begin to understand why the professor did what he did but I’ve also come to realize that my question has even more relevance now. If I can’t remember, or won’t remember, then I am cutting off communications, pre-emptively, with entire generations of people. If I want to reach them, I must go to their level and draw them up, not demand that they come up to my level before I’ll communicate with them. I have to show that I am not the center of the universe, as an example for them to learn that they are not the center of the universe.

All of that sprang from re-watching this anime. I might forget most of this, but remembering that I’m the adult now? That will stick with me. Sometimes I begin to grasp that I’ll never be fully “grown up” in this world. Thank God for the next life.

Oh, the music was hauntingly beautiful. Here’s the youtube link to the ending song that carries most of the movie on it’s shoulders:

So a conditional thumbs up. It was a good movie for a very specific audience.

I am zero idea what I’ll watch next month. I am leaning towards something non-anime though. I’ve got so many movies that I have never watched since I bought the dvd. Thankfully, that rarely happens anymore. Self-control and all that tommy-rot 😉

Spriggan (1998 Anime Movie)

spriggan Spriggan was released in 1998 but didn’t make its way over to the US until around 2002. Ahhh, the good old days of anime when fans actually had to wait for things. Ughhh, they really weren’t good old days!

This is Rated R for Violence and it earns it. Gutting knives, guns (little and very big), missile launchers, even psychic compression, the blood is everywhere. Not for the faint of heart.

Spriggan is a pure action movie about an organization called ARCAM that recovers and protects super artifacts found throughout the world. This movie deals with Noah’s Ark. It turns out Noah’s Ark is an alien artifact that can not only control our climate and weather, but also create life to fit whatever climate it creates.  Rogue elements of the US military, using insane cyborgs and led by a child Colonel with psychic abilities, take over the ark. Only 2 Spriggan’s (super special agents of ARCAM) are on hand to stop this.  Yu and Jean (Japan’s top Spriggan and France’s top Spriggan) will do their best, but against the might of the United States Machine Corp (how clever, the USMC, ha!)  and Colonel MacDougall, can they stop him from remaking the world and becoming its new god?

Duh. Of course! Bodies will fall like wheat, hands severed, necks broken, yes, a veritable river of blood will follow the 2 Spriggans as they put a stop to the insane MacDougall.

Jean and Yu, pictured above, are the 2 main protagonists but Yu is the main character. What I did like was that Yu was distinctly japanese while Jean was about as french as you could get. But they were both ARCAM at heart, almost like it was their home country.

Colonel MacDougall, on the other hand, well, he was just a nutjob. When I bought this dvd and watched it, I hadn’t read Akira yet, so it wasn’t until this viewing that I realized how much influence the Akira movie/manga had on this movie. MacDougall is an oldkid with psychic abilities that age him the more he uses them. I then found out that the creator of Akira was involved in this, so I was no longer surprised.

The ark, pictured above, was supposed to shock everyone with how the creators turned what the Bible said about it to the movie’s reality. The reality was that it was no different than the Arc from Indiana Jones spitting out ghosts and melting Nazi’s. They took an idea and then just did what they wanted with it.

There was an 11 book manga series in Japan that this anime was based on. It turns out that only 3 volumes were ever translated here in the US. What a shame, as this seems like something I could really enjoy. I contemplated torrenting the japanese versions just to see the stories in pictures, but even those I wasn’t able to find. Probably just as well, as a story needs words as well as pictures.

Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit, again. I think this is my 6th or 7th time watching it? There has been no official release on bluray in the American market so I guess I’m stuck with my dvd. Somehow, ♪I will Survive!♪

Next month, still sticking with the anime theme but going in a very different direction. I’ll either be watching The Place Promised in Our Early Days (a 90minute movie) or Voices from a Distant Star (a 25minute “movie”). Both have the same director/creator and have the same tone and both are stories of a connection between 2 people couched in an SF setting. Let me know if either looks more interesting.

Record of Lodoss War OVA (1990 Anime)

lodosswarFor those who don’t know, OVA stand for Original Video Animation. It is shorthand for “not quite a full length series” and may consist of either 13 episodes (just like the Tenchi OVA) or 2-5 episodes that are longer in length. 

The Lodoss OVA follows the adventures of Parn, Deedlit, Etoh, Slayne, Ghim and Woodchuck. The first couple of episodes deal with them trying to stop Emperor Beld from conquering Lodoss. Once that is accomplished they must next rescue Deedlit, who has been kidnapped by the wizard Wagnard. Deedlit is a High Elf and has eternal life. Wagnard wants to use said life to resurrect and control a slain dark goddess of destruction. Former allies of Beld help the group. In the end Deedlit and Parn ride off into the sunset to have more adventures and to create their own legend.

Much like the manga, I came away from this viewing realizing that I had gone past it. I was now the master and the anime was the student.

It also didn’t help one bit that the anime episodes weren’t linear for the first several and we’re bounced around a lot, trying to figure out WHEN we are. It isn’t until the 4th episode that things settle down. I remember it confusing me when I first watched it and it still confused me this time around.

Also just like in the manga, the romance between Deedlit and Parn is understated way more than I had remembered. Turns out that every “romantic” bit was in the opening and closing songs. I did a Music Monday post for those last week but didn’t want to talk about them until I was writing about the anime itself. The songs are sickeningly saccharine sweet. Yet even now they make me go “Yes, that is what I want”. Weird huh? They appear to be from Deedlit’s view and talk about wanting to be loved and cherished. As a man, wanting to encompass, protect and love slots right into that. To a 20’s something single guy with a broken heart, it was the Song of the Siren, ie, irresistible.

I watched this with the english dub and it was pretty bad. There was a reason a lot of early anime viewers preferred to watch stuff sub-titled.

Once I had watched this OVA back in the day, I went on to buy the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight series, the Legend of Crystania movie (it deals with Ashram and Pirotess, badguys turned good from Lodoss) and Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring OVA. I don’t remember much, but considering I thought the Lodoss OVA was the cream of the crop, I think I’m going to pass on watching them again. I also ended up buying 2 cloth wall scrolls and several of the OST’s (original sound tracks).

Now that I’ve watched 4 different seasons of various anime this month, I am left wondering, what do I do with the stuff I don’t care for any more? Most anime is a younger person’s game and I doubt the stuff I own that I don’t want would appeal to a younger group of people. It would appear that my options are either to try to sell them dirt cheap on Craigslist or to donate them to the library. This is why I am collecting less and less “stuff” the older I get.

Big O, Season 2 (2003 Anime)

51x0ze2cd6l Big O, season 2, is where things get REALLY weird. Season 1 was all about meeting the characters and finding out the mystery of Paradigm City. Season 2 is trying to make sense of the amnesiac state of everyone and what the future holds.

While power plays are exposed left and right by various high officials and new megadeus are revealed like candy in a five and dime store, it all comes down to the fact that Paradigm City is a virtual reality and in the end is reset. But we never find out why it was created, or who actually created it  or what its purpose might have been.

 

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Back when I first started watching anime, I enjoyed mystery, unanswered questions,  unresolved situations. It provided for an incalculable amount of speculation fodder. I’m no longer in that place and questions put forth simply to confusticate no longer amuse me, but annoy me instead.  And this whole season was trying to be one mind bender after another. It would have been simpler to just use the followering on yourself. With about the same results is my guess.

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The “Mind Bender!”

The other change, in myself that translated to not enjoying this as much, was the almost unstated romantic angle between Roger Smith and R. Dorothy Wainwright.  As a single guy in his 20’s, this “destiny” between 2 disparate entities was something that spoke to my very essence. Yeah, I was one of those “romantics” as a young man. I never descended to writing bad poetry, but it was a close thing at times, hahahahaa. Now, viewing things from the other end of the telescope, it came across as heavy handed and about as subtle as a baseball bat to the kneecaps.

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Other than those 2 issues, this was still a fantastic watch.  The various battles between the megadeus was everything you could ask for in a mech battle.  The animation is as slick as the first season and from my casual watch, I couldn’t tell that 4 years had passed between seasons.

While I didn’t feel awash in confusion, or that I had wasted my time, I have to admit that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again. A very different reaction from my watch of Season 1, that is for sure. Upon this re-watch, I have to say that I think if season 1 had ended things, we’d all be better off.

Crap man, I’m watching my 20’s really slipping away. This gets a solid thumbs sideways 😉

 

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Tenchi Muyo OVA (1992 Anime)

tenchiovaAhhhh, what a fantastic little series.  This is actually two 6 episode story arcs with a connecting longer special episode connecting them.

Arc 1 introduces us to Tenchi Masaki, the titular character.  He is training under his grandfather to be the next shrine priest. There is a cave that contains a demon that the priest Yosho defeated 700 years ago. Tenchi explores it against his grandfather’s will and ends up setting free the demon, who turns out to be the space pirate Ryoko and her sentient spaceship Ryo-Ohki.  This in turns sets off an alarm that alerts Princess Ayeka of the planet Jurai.  She and her little sister Sasami travel to Earth to apprehend Ryoko. The Galaxy Police also send their top agent, Mihoshi, who while being their top agent, is also a bubblehead and leaves a trail of destruction wherever she goes.  Arc 1 ends with the villain Kagato trying to capture the legendary power of Jurai. Tenchi defeats him after it is revealed that Tenchi is descended from Jurai. Kagato’s defeat frees Washu, the universe’s greatest genius and mother to Ryoko.

Arc 2 starts out with three standalone episodes and then morphs into a story about a Lady Tokimi, a higher order being, who wants to capture Washu and the power of the Light Hawk Wings. Ryoko is replaced by a robot, known as Zero Ryoko and Tenchi must rescue the original Ryoko. When Tenchi faces Tokimi down during the rescue, this brings him to the attention of the Royal Jurai Family and the King and Queens of Jurai come to Earth. They force Tenchi to fight against Ayeka’s fiance, who is a complete fop and Mihoshi ends up crashing her ship on the fop, thus ending the fight before it even begins.

 

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Tenchi, while not necessarily the very first, was definitely one of the first in the Comedy Harem genre. All the girls like him and while fighting amongst themselves, will immediately gang up on ANY outsider who looks like they might take Tenchi’s attention. The emotions are ramped up to 11 and range from the romantic to the desire to protect. I think if I were to watch this for the first time now, I’d be rolling my eyes like there was no tomorrow. But having watched this in my early 20’s, it has imprinted itself into my emotional makeup and even now I like that 11 ramp!

 

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The music aptly captures the pathos and the light humor. Some pieces are so emotionally laden that they practically drip. When Tenchi is fighting Kagato there is some great organ music and when Tenchi dramatically unveils his ability to use the Wings of the Light Hawk, the music is perfectly synthesized to match the mood. The ending songs are extremely up beat, bouncy and positive. You could easily imagine an 11 year old girl dancing around with her favorite stuffed animal. When Zero Ryoko is supposed to kill Tenchi, the music captures the battle inside of her and perfectly sets the mood for her despair and shows her emotions for Tenchi overcoming even her programming. Here is the soundtrack for Ryoko’s theme. Hope it comes through.

 

I’ve watched this both subbed and dubbed and I must say, the english crew were cast perfectly.  Specifically, Petrea Burchard’s voice as Ryoko, perfectly captures everything you’d expect from the character. Sadly, she didn’t reprise her role in the future OVA’s and I know that influenced my opinion of them.

 

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The art style is the (now) old fashioned hand drawn art. I absolutely love it and it is part of why this particular ova still appeals to me.  They don’t create anime like this any more, more’s the pity.  The only thing to be aware of is there is some nudity in this.  The North American release was edited so Ryoko wasn’t dancing around in the nude but with the new bluray release, I don’t know which version they went with.

While the ending was a bit ambiguous, it WAS an ending that every fan could live with. However, it was so popular that it spun off a large number of other series. Tenchi Universe, Tenchi In Tokyo, Tenchi: GXP, War on Geminar, two more OVA’s  and The Mihoshi Special/Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, were all produced. 3 movies were also created, Tenchi in Love, Tenchi 2: Daughter of Darkness and Tenchi Forever. Sadly, none of them quite captured the spirit and romance of the original OVA. Some of them went so far afield as to be barely connected.  More recently, a fifth OVA was announced, so  the Tenchi franchise is alive and well.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m sure I’ll be watching this again.

 

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Big O, Season 1 (1999 Anime)

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The Big O started life, at least here in the United States, as one 13 episode series that ended on a cliffhanger so big that everyone who watched it screamed and hollered until the sequel was produced.

The setting is Paradigm City and a world devastated by an unknown Event forty years ago. Said event apparently destroyed the rest of the world and wiped the memory of every living person. We follow Roger Smith, a Negotiator, who makes deals between parties wishing to exchange “memories” (bits of data from the old world). He is the operator of a megadeus known as Big O. While rare, other megadeus do exist or can be built and these are usually run by various criminals, etc, giving Roger the chance to flex Big O and beat the living daylights out of them. In the first episode a hostage negotiation goes wrong and Roger ends up with R. Dorothy Wayneright, a robot that was built in the image of the original Dorothy Wayneright. Various adventures happen while it is hinted at that the world might not be as empty as supposed and that the power movers of the city know a lot more than they are letting on. Roger fights to preserve Paradigm City with the help of Dorothy,  his butler Norman and of course the megadeus Big O.  Series One ends with a huge fight between Big O and Big Duo and while Big O ends up victorious, in the distance we see 3 megadeus stalking out of the ocean towards the city.

I really enjoyed this anime. The art style is almost copied straight from Batman: The Animated Series. If you like that kind of art, this is going to really float your boat. The lines, the curves, the angles, it just works so well.

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Second is the music. The opening theme song is pretty much the singer just saying “Big O, Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty” 2 or 3 times while some seriously Queen sounding music plays. It seems to be almost intentionally modeled on the music in the Highlander. While I wouldn’t listen to straight up Queen music, it has it’s place. The episodes are filled with a mix of saxophone jazz and some really intense and serious fight music. As odd as that combination seems, they stay separate and work perfectly.  The music man in this series had a great sense of what music fit where and how to blend disparate types seamlessly together.

The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Roger is simply the cool private eye and while a romance is hinted at between him and R. Dorothy, that has more to do with her journey about learning to be her own person and not just a set of programs.  Norman is Alfred the Batman Butler and there are a whole host of side characters ranging from erstwhile allies to pure villains. While each character has a pretty specific role to play and a bit to fill, they never exceed that or become something more. It didn’t bother me but it is something to to be aware of.

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Finally, we have the “mystery”.  It is the strongest part of the anime and yet the weakest at the same time.  Tons of hints and vague memory flashes show the sky being filled with megadeus and a world so advanced as to be a paradise. And yet we get hints of nothing being as it seems.  There are so many things that don’t make sense, whether deliberately or because of lazy story telling. If the memory loss happened 40 years ago, where did Roger learn to pilot the Big O. Why are so many young people (and I use the word “young” to mean anyone under 50) so obsessed with memories? They didn’t lose anything. something just doesn’t add up. Why can the megadeus sometimes act on their own?

I call this the strongest part of the anime because it allows the viewer to speculate endlessly with others who are watching. It is the glue that binds all the previous parts together. It is also the weakest because things simply don’t make sense. A story must be internally consistent for it to be a strong story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the heck out of this. Not as “cool” as my 25 year old self thought it was, but I think this is worth hanging on to for another view in several years.

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I did not expect to write this much. We’ll see if I’m so wordy about Season 2 next Sunday.

 

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Karas: The Prophecy, The Revelation (2007 Anime)

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Where do I even start? By the time I was done watching this I was scratching my head desperately trying to figure out why I had bought this back in 2007 when it was released on dvd for American audiences.

I have 2 good things to say, so I’m going to get them out of the way. The visuals in this anime (there are 6 total episodes) are absolutely stunning and the fight scenes are so action packed and awesome that it took my breath away. And that was it. Nothing else about this anime is anything I would recommend.

This was a confusing mess that made so little sense that it wasn’t until I went over to the Wikipedia page that it started to get straightened out in my head. The anime opens up with what appear to be 2 jet planes flying over Shinjuku strafing each other and obviously fighting against each other. Then they suddenly transform into old school samurai looking guys (like the armor on the cover) and begin hacking away at each other in front of the moon all the while being a bajillion feet up in the air. Then one guy eventually kills the other and the dead guy turns to black feathers.

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Two Karas with their feet towards each other, preparing for the final confrontation

 

There are robot demons, and a cop who investigates supernatural stuff and Karas is supposed to be a protector or something and one karas went rogue and is trying to take over the city with the demon robots. And there is more stuff that I don’t even remember because I was so bewildered and lost as to what was going on that I didn’t know what to look at or who to pay attention to or anything.

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A mikuras, ie, a robot demon

By the time these 6 episodes were done, all I knew for certain was that I would never watch this again and if I could get rid of these, I would in a heart beat! It was a waste of my time and I doubt anyone now, 13 years later, is going to spend any time on it, nor should they.

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It did make me want to go through some of my other anime though, to see just how much my tastes had changed. So in July I think I’m going to be dedicating Sundays to anime.

 

I plan on watching Big O Seasons 1 & 2 (think Batman the Animated Series in Japan with giant robots), The Record of Lodoss War OVA (my manga reading this month inspired that choice!) and to wrap things up, the Tenchi Muyo OVA (scifi romcom) that got me hooked on anime back in the early ’00’s. Prepare yourselves, Bookstooge is going Old School Anime next month!

 

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The 10th Kingdom, Disc 3 (2000 Mini-Series)

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This final episode starts immediately after the previous disc ends. Virginia and Tony are stunned with the realization that the Evil Queen was their mother and wife. This leaves them distracted so the troll siblings manage to capture them, again. They escape, into a swamp, only survive because Wolf rescues them. Prince Wendell’s coronations is about to happen and they all sneak into the castle, to be betrayed by Wolf to the Evil Queen. The backstory of the Evil Queen is given and she’s shown to be just a mentally ill woman who tried to kill her daughter (Virginia) and was recruited by the previous Evil Queen in the 9 Kingdoms.  Virginia is devastated, as she had suppressed that memory and Tony falls apart.

Lots of twists and turns, the Evil Queen dies, Wolf is a good guy, Wolf and Virginia get hitched, Wendell and Dog go back to their proper bodies and Tony is hired by Wendell to start a new company making Bouncy Houses in the 9 Kingdoms. Wolf and Virginia go back to New York and the movie ends with them saying that this had been only the first adventure they were to experience in the 9 Kingdoms.

 

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You know what is funny? After watching Disc 2 and my complaints about how long it felt, this time around it felt like everything was rushed and happened in a flash.  There was also a LOT of emotionally laden scenes that unfortunately didn’t do a thing for me.  While the Evil Queen as misunderstood crazy person was supposed to tug at our heart strings, the fact that she tried to drown her child negated it all in my eyes.

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Bookstooge’s Pro-tip: Parents, don’t kill your kids…

 

Of course, I did like how everything wrapped up nice and neat. That is how I like my stories to occur. Most people don’t get a happy ending in real life so that is why I like it to be a staple in the stories I read.

Overall, I’m glad I’ve re-watched this but I don’t really think I’ll be watching this again. At least not on my own. Maybe some day if Mrs B wants to watch it with me, then I’ll entertain the notion. But if I do, we’ll definitely be splitting our viewing up into the proper episodes instead of a disc at a time.

Of course, now that I’m done with this mini-series, I have to choose what to watch next.

I’m leaning towards either The Returner, a live action asian movie that might as well be an anime or an anime movie called Karas: The Prophecy, The Revelation. Let me know if either one looks more or less interesting to you.

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The 10th Kingdom, Disc 2 (2000 Mini-Series)

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When I slipped the second disc of this mini-series into my bluray player, they had a very helpful “previously on the 10th Kingdom” so I was able to slide right back into the movie without any annoying “now, what did I watch last month”.

The quick and dirty synopsis has Virginia being rescued from the Huntsman by Tony and Wolf. They continue chasing after the Magic Mirror so that Virginia and Tony can return to our world.  They have several adventures and each time get a hold of the mirror only to have circumstances force it out of their hands. In the Town of Love, Wolf wins a huge jackpot but instead of spending the money on buying the Mirror, spends it all on woo’ing Virginia. When she realizes what he’s done, she casts him off. Tony finds the Mirror in the clutches of the Huntsman but in the process of stealing it, drops it off a roof and destroys it. Tony is now cursed with bad luck and they begin another adventure to find the makers of the mirrors.

They argue and fight but eventually make it to the mountains of the dwarfs. They sneak in, get some help and find out there is another traveling mirror they can use. Of course, Tony’s bad luck kicks in and he ends up breaking another 100 magic mirrors. He and Virginia begin being chased by the dwarves and in a tunnel Tony falls down a hole and breaks his back. Virginia goes on alone to find an exit and runs into the ghost of Snow White. She is given a magic mirror, granted a wish (which she uses to heal her father) and then they escape the mountain. The disc ends with the magic mirror revealing the Evil Queen and Tony realizing it is his ex-wife and Virginia’s mother.

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By the end of this disc I was begging for it to be over. This was also 2 3/4hrs like the previous disc, but this time around things really dragged. The Quest to recover the mirror became annoying as they kept “almost” getting it only to have go out of reach by directorial fiat. It wasn’t even subtle.  Wolf’s obsession with his feelings for Virginia was also very annoying. He was so concerned about himself that he never once took her into consideration. Then Virginia acts like a drama queen the entire time and Tony, well, he’s Tony. I found it funny but I know that won’t appeal to everyone. The reveal about the Evil Queen at the end would have had a lot more impact if I wasn’t already bored to tears.

What this needed, and I think newer releases have done, is to break this up into its component episodes so you can watch just one 90minute episode and then take a break, with a clear beginning, middle and ending. This version just mashed everything together into a ginormous movie that became bowed down under its own weight. I would have enjoyed this a lot more in smaller chunks.

I was hoping that the Evil Queen would be something more, but sadly, she pretty much spends her time training Dog to act like Wendell and once again is more of a tired, put upon grandmother than an evil queen bent on taking over the entire land.  The further reveal that she was crazy didn’t really do much besides invoke one tiny, brief spurt of pity.

I know I’m complaining a lot but this wasn’t a bad story. It just needed to be broken up.

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