Archive for the Anime Category

Movie Review: Gatchaman: Battle of the Planet (Movie)

Posted in Anime, Movies with tags , on October 16, 2013 by otakujade

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For the much younger generation who probably have not heard or only have a very vague knowledge of this anime based movie, here’s a bit of history…

The Science Ninja Team Gatchaman or simply Gatchaman was an anime created by Tatsuo Yoshida in 1972. Gatchaman was composed of five members – 4 guys and a girl – much like Voltes V and Combattler V. Though make no mistake, Gatchaman predates both anime series by a couple of years.  In some countries the series is known as G-Force which was lifted from one of its OVAs – G-Force: Guardians of Space (1986). The main theme of Gatchaman involves the preservation of natural resources and the responsible use of technology for advancements and progress. The theme of the anime clearly reflects ideals way advance for its time. The main villain of the anime was a group of technologically advanced aliens known as Galactors who wants to invade the earth for its natural resources including oil, water, sugar, uranium, etc. A shape-shifting hermaphrodite known as Berg Kattse is the leader of the Galactor.

The Gatchaman team employ super robots to fight the giant robots used by the Galactor to attack the earth. They are often aided by a mysterious fighter known only as the Red Impulse which was later revealed to be Ken’s father.  Aside from the super robot the team also employ a unique highly violent and effective fighting style akin to their avian namesakes,  developed by their creator Dr. Nambu, which enable them to perform superhuman feats much like the ninjas of legend.  They also have a kickass ride called the God Phoenix, a supersonic plane capable of underwater travel and minor space flight as necessary.

Team Members:

Ken, the Eagle (Owashi no Ken) – team leader, pilot and tactical expert.

Joe, the Condor (Konduro no Jo) – second in command, marksman and weapons expert.

Jun, the Swan (Shiratori no Jun) – the only girl on the team, electronics and demolitions expert.

Junpei, the Swallow (Tsubakuro no Jinpei) – the youngest member of the team at age 10 or 11, reconnaissance expert.

Ryu, the Owl  (Mimizuku no Ryu) – main pilot of the God Phoenix and muscle man of the team.

 

Review and Major Comparisons between the Movie and the Series:

being fans of the series since, well since we were quite young, hubby and I excitedly watched the movie and came out – not quite sure whether we were happy about it or not. Definitely we were happy to see that the series finally get its live-action adaption and that it was done by a Japanese company – we actually made a major sigh of relief with that bit of information. However, we expected to be totally blown away by the movie as we were with Rorouni Kenshin but Gatchaman the Movie, was a huge let down.

There were major plot and character personality changes that was just hard to ignore. By now we’re used to seeing slight changes from the series to the film but these were just too big. Firstly, there was no mention in the series about special genes, called Receptors being present in the team members. The movie postulates that the Science Ninja Team was special chosen because of their Receptor genes which enable them to imbue weapons with certain properties making them able to penetrate the Galactors armor. The Galactors are said to be immune to any human weapons except when they are powered or enhanced by the Receptors. In the series, the team members were especially trained in the unique ninja style patterned after their avian namesake – much like the ninjas of legend.  There was no special gene, no superhuman powers given to the members aside from their special trainings and natural skills, that was the theme of the anime of the 70s – just look at Voltes V, Daimos, Combattler V and the likes. The gene-thing was an idea postulated in the 90s where DNA and genes were the big theme among anime such as Evangelion, Gundam, etc.

Secondly, in the movie the audience was made to believe that there was a sort of training school for Gatchman members, and that aside from the team in Japan there were other Receptor teams fighting Galactors in other parts of the globe. This global cooperation force does not exist in the original anime. In the anime, the Gatchaman team came from different parts of the globe but all with Japanese descent.  Jo, who was originally named George Asakura was Italian with Japanese descent, his parents were members of the Galactor until they were assassinated while trying to escape, Dr. Nambu rescued the young George and renamed him Jo. Jun was an American with Japanese descent, she was raised in an orphanage and recruited by Dr. Nambu. There was also no mention in the movie of the special techniques or avian skills used by the team members, though the speed was emphasized with Jo’s fighting style there was no mention of why or how he attained such skill. The other members did not even exhibit any of the fighting styles often seen in the original anime.

Thirdly, the film did not make any effort to develop any of the characters – villains and heroes. Thus, the film seemed shallow and the villains did not frighten at all. I mean there was no feeling of threat at all, that the viewer can relate too. The film fail to get the audience involved in the plot and this makes for a very dull viewing experience.  The film makers tried to come up with a love angle on the film which was not present whatsoever in the anime and that too failed big time!

Fourth, Berg Kattse was NOT and I repeat NOT a WOMAN! WTF!? Berg Kattse was a shape-shifter and basically a hermaphrodite which means the character can either appear as a woman or a man depending on the need. Berg Kattse was a character, not a title that can be transferred as it was made to appear in the movie.

In conclusion, this movie could have been nice but it turned into a big waste of time. It failed in so many levels that I pity the theater that gambled on showing this film in the first place, which for us was SM Cinema. This was the first time that we entered a cinema where there were probably less than 20 people seated. The anime was a classic, and thus only a handful of young people today know about it. It was either you grew up with the anime, like us, or they’re real anime otakus who know far more than the average anime watcher. Hence, SM Cinema should have advertised the movie instead of taking the route they made with Rorouni Kenshin. Maybe if they had, more people would have watched the movie but as it was we only found out about it by accident and that was because we live near the mall. That plus, the fact that the movie wasn’t really very good…well, I would say the Failed result should be expected.  😦

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Movie Review – Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Posted in Anime, Movies with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by otakujade

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After 17 years of waiting Toei Animation finally came out with another DBZ movie! And I don’t really care what some people say, for us this new movie was a wonderful addition to the DBZ genre.

We’ve been fans of the DBZ series since the mid-80s and since then have followed the series and its movies whenever they came out. While hubby and I were more oriented with the old series and can sing along with the original “Cha-la, Head Cha la” theme which our kids barely recognize as they’re more familiar with the Dragon Ball Kai theme, this series is one of those anime that we have some commonality. And to be completely honest about it, we love this new movie because it had a certain feel that was so authentically DBZ. I didn’t really know what that was until I read from Wikipedia that Akira Toriyama, the original mangaka of the series was heavily involved in its conceptualization and creation. Yay!

Out of the numerous DB movies what makes this particular movie unique is that it’s actually a part of the Dragon Ball timeline; the events of the movies was placed between after Son Goku defeated Kid Buu and before the 28th World Martial Arts Tournament. So unlike the other movies this one is not a spin off but an actual part of the series. Hooray for that!

The movies was like a walk through memory lane for us, DB fans. And we do so much enjoy the familiar situations and inside jokes and sarcastic remarks between the different characters. There were the old antics between Son Goku and the others; I thoroughly enjoyed Vegeta’s serious but funny attitude. Oh Vegeta really rocked on this movie for me. It seems that he already knew who Lord Birus was and tried to keep him happy so he would not destroy the earth. He even went so much as to set aside his pride just to please the Lord of Destruction, but all that went to naught when Lord Birus slapped Bulma. Vegeta went berserk! LOL! Loved how he yell “You dared hit my Bulma!” then attacked Lord Birus…in his anger he was even able to surface Goku’s current level and that was saying something!

I won’t go into details about the movie because that would be spoiling it for everyone, but I will stay this – it was a very entertaining and awesome, awesome DBZ movie! If you’re an anime otaku and you missed this, you’ll be kicking yourself to the next decade! So, go watch it!

Rorouni Kenshin Live-Action Film: When the Icon/Legend becomes a Phenomenon

Posted in Anime, Movies with tags , , , on January 7, 2013 by otakujade

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I guess SM never expected this movie to have such a huge following, and I’m betting they were quite surprised with the turn out and the hype that this film made once it was announced that it will be shown in the country. You can almost feel their apprehension when SM decided to show the film via a limited play date; the longest of which extending only 5 days in selected SM Cinemas here in Metro Manila and concentrated mostly in the Quezon City area. However, after the first week the showing, the movie was extended for a few more days…which stretched in to another week and eventually…3 weeks! Whatever doubts SM may have had at the beginning, those were all erased as they raked in the cash and the movie became an unprecedented success.

PLOT:

The film was based on the season 1 and 2 of the anime series, with some inputs coming from both the manga and the OVAs.  It wasn’t an exact adaptation of the series however it was close enough to be thoroughly satisfying. Something that even the uninitiated would understand and the fangirl (like me) and fanboys would appreciate. Some hardcore fans would probably comment on the sequence of events or that the movie did not actually follow the plot of either the manga or the anime. However, this should be expected. It is simply impossible to religiously follow the plot of the anime or the manga through the movie considering the time frame.  This is nothing new and considering the number of books and comic book stories turned films, this should be expected. But I would venture to say that compared to those this movie adaptation was wayyyy, wayyy better. Watching the film you get the impression of how much the director and the people behind the film respected the storyline and consequently the fans. As I earlier commented, leave it to the Japanese to make a film adaptation of their animes and stories – they understand it better thus they will treat it with a lot of respect.

So, as for me, in terms of the plot…this active adaptation is a complete success.

CHARACTERIZATION:

Character development wasn’t given much time in the film, may be it was due to time constraints or because they focused more on the series of events in the film however, it was good enough that even those who know little or none at all about the series would get it that Kenshin Himura was supposedly a legendary battousai (assassin/man slayer) who have decided to live that life behind and turn a new leaf living a peaceful and low profile life. Besides, I do think that the director and writers of the film probably surmised that majority of those who will sought to watch this movie would at least have a little knowledge of the anime series.  Rorouni Kenshin was and still is an iconic manga and anime series in Japan and Asia and in some western countries where anime is being appreciated.

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With regards to the choice of the actors who played the characters, Takeru Sato was simply perfect. I mean, he was a complete surprise to me personally. In terms of looks they couldn’t have chosen a better Kenshin, who would have thought that the pretty boy from Kamen Rider Den-O would be so perfect as the most feared, ruthless battosai. I totally admire Sato on this, because not only was he able to really internalize the role of Kenshin but he really studied the role and the character such that fans get to see Kenshin’s mannerisms and movements in Sato – the way that Kenshin end nearly his every fighting move kneeling on the ground with his head bowed, the way Kenshin likes to stand up after a fight and seem to fix the sheathed sword on this waist, his agility, his funny “Oro” expressions and the way Kenshin deliver those funny, clueless comedic lines that render the humor in the series. It was just…I repeat…PERFECT!

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Munetaka Aoki was also spot-on as Sagara Sanosuke, except for the fact that  he is a bit short compared to the Sanosuke of the anime series. But looks-wise he was flawless, and his acting was wonderful as well.

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In terms of the actors in this film, I guess the only ones I have a slight comment would be the women. Emi Takei was a wonderful Kamiya Kaoru, her simplicity and almost plain looks was exactly how Kaoru was in both the anime and the manga. However, it wouldn’t hurt if she was a bit more tomboyish as Kaoru was actually quite the tomboy.

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Yuu Aoi as Takani Megumi did her best to give justice to her role…and in reality she was very good at it. My only negative comment about this is that Megumi from the original story is supposedly sultry, sexy, mysterious and all together gorgeous. Though Aoi is beautiful in her own right, she was just a tad too old for Megumi plus when placed beside Takei she looks much, much simplier. I mean, Megumi from the anime and manga would make Kaoru look like her servant, whereas in the movie Takei outstaged Aoi in beauty.

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Taketo Tanaka as Myojin Yahiko was so cute but he’s way to young for the role. In the original story Yahiko was already in his teens.

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Yusuke Eguchi was actually a huge improvement for Saito Hajime, I mean I have no complaints Eguchi was a real eye candy but, well,  I like Saito but he wasn’t really in THAT handsome. Again, I’ve got no complaints …just saying.

FINALLY….

All in all the film was a raging success. There were a couple of minor deviations from the original storyline and one or two major infractions but all in all it was a very, very good adaptation of the series. It was the sort of adaptation film that Hollywood directors, writers and producers should try to emulate. I loved the film…saw it twice actually and am looking forward to the DVD’s release so I can watch it every time I want to. Oh, we’re (Kenshin fangirls and fanboys everywhere) are already looking forward to the sequel. Can’t barely wait!

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Movie: The Journey and the Amazing Experience

Posted in Anime, Movies with tags , , on December 10, 2012 by otakujade

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Worth watching three times over!!!

When Warner Bros announced that it was planning to make a live action adaptation of the iconic samurai anime series Rurouni Kenshin (sometimes known as Samurai X) we were actually skeptical. And with good reason considering how the other game and anime live-adaptations by Hollywood turned out.  Then later on we found out that though the movie will be produced under the flagship of Warner Bros. it will be handled by its Japanese arm to be directed and casted with Japanese actors. Wow! That was a great relief! And so the anticipation started to build up.

Then early this year, it was announced that the film will be released in Japan on August 25…we were anxiously waiting for the announcement of when it will be released outside the country but no such announcements were made. August 25 came and went and the movie received great reviews from people who were lucky enough to watch the film in Japan but there was no news of it ever going to be released internationally. That’s when the fans started the petition for this great movie to be shown in their respective countries as well.

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Here in the Philippines, news spread that the movie was going to be released in the country through SM Cinemas, the countries largest chain of cinema outlets. The news spread like wild fire on Facebook, however, SM was quick to deny the rumors and said that they do not have the rights to release the film in the country just yet. So a petition was started…people started requesting the SM people to please work out the details so that the film will be released here as well. Movie Punch took up the petition and with SM Cinemas they were able to work out the release of the film in the Philippines. The film producers agreed to release the film internationally but only in selected countries, fortunately the Philippines was one of the lucky ones chosen.

Last October SM finally announced that the Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Film will be released in the country starting December 5, 2012. The film will be released in selected SM Cinemas and on specific dates only. I’m not sure why it was being done, but we assumed that that was the license given to SM by the producers of the film….and as they say the rest is history.

As soon as SM announced that ticket sales are up people started buying them more than a month before the stated release of the movie. I don’t think SM was prepared on how well this movie will do here in the country as this will be the first anime adaptation film with English subtitle that will be released in the country. Most subtitle films do not work out well because most people are not used to reading while watching the movie. BUT then again, they were dealing with anime fans here…most prefer subtitled versions to English dubbed ones so in reality SM was giving us exactly what we wanted.

Personally, I was worried at the start, because we bought our tickets way in advance, we saw a lot of unreserved seats for the time slot we got. Of course I was really hoping that we were too early and all that…we were looking for active advertisements for the film but none came up except the ones on Facebook. I guess, SM didn’t think the film was worth the investment in ads. But no matter what people thronged to the theaters on December 5. All show time slots were full-packed and this happened every single day that the film  was shown.  The weekend came along and the excitement just got even bigger.

Hubby and I got our tickets for 4:30pm on December 8 (Saturday). By then the internet was awash with news of how good the film was. A lot of people were even planning on seeing the film the 2nd and even the 3rd time over (including me!) I heard from a friend that there was a huge queu outside the theaters more than 30 minutes before the start of the next show time, so I told him we should go to the theater early. He said we already got tickets anyway, so there was no need to rush. I insisted and so we ended up arriving there around 45 minutes before our scheduled show time. AND no surprise there was already a very long line in front of the cinema showing the movie. We were inside the mall so there was a lot of people going around and I couldn’t help but smile I hear those passing by asking what movie was being shown in that particular cinema. I actually enjoyed the puzzled look on some people’s faces which became even more puzzled when their curiosity got the better of them they asked the people in line what movie they were lining up for and got “Rurouni Kenshin or Samurai X” in answer to their question.

But one thing I can say, Kenshin fans proved to SM Cinema that they made the right choice when they decided to give in to the clamor of the Kenshin fans to work out the release of the movie here.

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The theater was full packed. I mean, I have never seen a movie wherein every single seat inside the theater was occupied, not even with Harry Potter. This every fangirl and fanboy came out to watch. Just seeing all these people who have the same love and dedication to RK was enough to give up a certain kind of satisfaction.

Highlights:

As a fangirl I have been to some movies like Harry Potter where certain scenes evokes a reaction from the audience but this was totally a new and exciting experience for me. As the movie began, a reverent silence fell over the crowd, then as Kenshin appeared an excited murmur rang out from the audience but no big reaction yet. Surprisingly, the big reactions actually came from scenes that an uninitiated wouldn’t understand…that’s being otaku for you.

There was an excitement chatter amongst the fangirls in the theater when Kenshin finally met Kauro, but that was to be expected, right?

The uninitiated however would be lost in transmission, as the crowd of fangirls and fanboys gave off excited ohhs and ahh and some even clapped as Kenshin donned on the clothes given by Kauro and we finally see Kenshin in his iconic red and white samurai gi.

On the fight scenes? Unexpectedly, people were actually very quiet and it was like everyone was holding their breath as they watch Sato Takeru show off Kenshin’s signature moves and execute them with flawless ease…it was mesmerizing. damn! I’m still giddy just remembering those moments.

Then the fight with the opium dealers came on where Kenshin and Sanosuke attacked the syndicate’s headquarters to rescue the kidnapped Kauro. The fight that really got the audience going…clapping and hooting, was the one between Sanosuke and Inui Benjin. That was really a good yet comedic fight between those two.

And finally, the ending scene where Kauro met Kenshin at the door of the dojo and smiled saying “Tadaima, Kenshin” to which he replied with a smile “Okaeri” before the screen went black. Mixed emotions can seen and heard from the audience…some sighed and clapped, others got goosebumps and still others like the fangirl beside me…became teary-eyed.

There was silence in the theater as the lights came on and the people started to get up and slowly move towards the exits.It was no one wanted to leave yet, everyone wanted to see it again if they can…then the anime theme for the series came on, the audience cheered and clapped…it was the perfect ending to one of the best movie experience I have ever had.

Thank you SM Cinema for this wonderful experience. And I think I speak for all Kenshin fans out there in asking that you please, please help us once more in having the sequel to this movie be also released in our country.

Okay, that about sums things us for my experience in the theater…tomorrow, I’ll give an actual review of the movie itself. for now, ciao!

47 Ronin and Rurouni Kenshin: A Dual Review

Posted in Anime, Books, Movies with tags , , , on August 17, 2012 by otakujade

It’s rare that I would blog a movie that hasn’t been shown and in that effect I haven’t seen – that’s because I don’t like shooting my mouth off on topics I don’t fully understand or personally know. But I am making an exception for these two movies.

RUROUNI KENSHIN

Like most anime fanatics (otaku) I have been anticipating the release of this movie for about a year now. It was announced that the film will be released on August 25, 2012 (so far no announcements to the contrary as of yet) but that date will soon be upon us and sad to say that none have seen any ad relating to this film. Usually if the film will be shown internationally, especially something this big, you would see ads about it months ahead. Oh we have seen countless trailers and that’s what makes it even more painful…having seen the trailer and not knowing if you’ll be able to watch it in the big screen.

Rarely has a live action film about an anime character been this much anticipated, so what makes this film so different? It’s because the film is a Live Action Adaptation of an anime character made and produce by the Japanese. And from the looks of the trailers the people behind the film had respected the character such that they have retained most of what the anime has – and most importantly they have respected the plot of the anime. So YES, we are so looking forward to this. I only hope we will be privileged enough to see it within months of its Japanese release..and on the big screen. HOPEFULLY!

 

47 RONIN

The next film I would like to talk about is one that slated to come out next year and one that as a lover of Japanese films and stories, am very apprehensive about. The story of the 47 Ronin is legend in Japan and in any person that places a high regard for loyalty. Personally, it’s my favorite piece of Japanese historical story and I am so afraid that Hollywood will ruin all again, like they did so many Asian stories (the Ring, DragonBall, Blood – the last Vampire, the Grudge, Street Fighter and so many others).  What I am most concerned about was that this is a piece of history and I am afraid to what extent Hollywood will take artistic license on the story.

True from what I read, they have decided to make this a fictional story about a man who joined the 47 ronin in that revenge…for what reasons I have no idea. I mean what reasons could you have as a foreigner to join a mission of revenge such as what the 47 ronin undertook. The lead role will be played by actor Keanu Reeves and he will be working with a number of big Japanese artists too. My friends will be thrilled to know that Jin Akanishi will be in the film also.

However, I think the producers of this film are trying to replicate the success of ‘The Last Samurai’. Unfortunately, I do believe they are going about it all wrong. The Last Samurai didn’t play around with real and historical story..it was an original story about a foreigner who realized and came to love the ideals of the samurai that he actually joined them in their fight to reserve their way of  life. Yes, the plot happened in Japan and during a real historical event but aside from the background story that plot of the film was a stand alone. This 47 Ronin film was entirely different because the foreigner will be joining the key players of an event in history.

Aside from that…just the fact that Hollywood will be doing this brings thrills to my bones. I am so, so nervous about this.

A Lesson on Anime from a Parent who loves Anime…

Posted in Anime, Introspection, Random, Uncategorized on June 18, 2012 by otakujade

I’ve been an anime otaku (enthusiast/addict) for most of my life.  My first encounter with anime, and I was not aware it was called that back then, was when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Daimos were my first animes as with most people my age. We are called the Martial Law babies because we were born during the time when Martial Law was in effect in our country…but enough about that.

Children today have no idea what anime went through in this country. Today, anime is as common to them as their computers or video games or even their cellular phones. But anime suffered a big set back in this country in the late 70s when it was banned.  Yes, banned! It started with Voltes V but the others soon followed… this was under Martial Law, and the next decade all we had were cartoons from the US.

Then in 1989 anime made a come back in our country. Slowly but surely, anime began to take hold of the young people’s attention. It wasn’t until 1998 however that anime exploded and gained incredible grounds. This was all due to one kick ass anime – Yuyu Hakusho.

Being an avid otaku, I am thrilled with the proliferation of anime in this country. I encourage it, not only on my own children (my husband is an otaku such as myself) but also on other young people who just entered into the fold. But being a parent and having slowly matured and transitioned with anime over the years I guess I became so much more aware of it and all its eccentricities.

We are often told that as parents we must monitor what our children watches or does on the computer…sadly very few people  heed that plea. But WE REALLY SHOULD. When we see our kids watching anime…remember that these are not just plain cartoons as we were used to watching way back in the 80s. Unlike most animation videos, anime has different genres that we as parents must be aware of but must also keep an open-mind.

What I found out from associating with other parents who were anime fans like we were is that we are a lot more broad-minded with what our children can watch but also a lot more careful at letting them watch certain animes.

Like movies, animes are multi-themed and are directed at certain type of audiences. However, they are more free-spirited and therefore contain certain materials that we will not see on ordinary cartoons. Yes, anime has deeper plots and has so much more value but there are also animes that in my opinion on those with matured minds should watch and I am not talking here only of hentais (x-rated animes).

At a certain point, teenagers will be curious about hentai and that is only natural especially if they’re anime fans. It’s inevitable..they will come across the genre during the course of their fascination with anime. And as parents we must learn to cope with that and deal with it, by being open to them and letting them know that we understand and explain to them the reason why we would rather not have them watching those type of animes before they are 16 or older. I do believe that if you have a good relationship with your child it’ll work to talk things out with them. It’s not gonna be easy but it’s better than flat out telling them they can’t watch it or pretending you didn’t see. Hubby and I actually went so far as to toss a coin to decide who would talk to the boys about it…incidentally, I lost.

But as I said I was not referring to hentai when I said that there are animes that are better left to mature individuals especially those who have matured into anime already. Here applies the Japanese principle of Omote (outer) and Ura (inner) thoughts. It’s the front and back; what you let people see and know and that part of you that is kept hidden…orif you want to take it one step further it can be your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

As there are plenty of well made and extremely good anime which are children and teenager safe (hahaha!) there are also animes that are…well, Mr. Hyde. Good thing though that they are only a few of them. These animes, for which I will not give any titles, should be kept from your children because there just too much violence and sex in them. And this statement is coming from someone who you grew up and grew old with anime. My tolerance for sex and violence is I guess quite broad but even I could balked at letting my teenagers watch these anime. Maybe when they get older….hopefully, around 40 (*smiles*) they can get to watch things like these but not while they are young and impressionable.

So, my plea to parents please get to know your children and get to know what they like, what they watch on TV and what they do in the computer. It pays to be informed and it’s not invading their privacy…it’s protecting their future.

The Iga and Kougan Clans: Shinobi (movie) vs Basilisk (anime)

Posted in Anime, Movies on October 14, 2011 by otakujade

My fascination with the Iga and Kouga clans started several years back. This was when I got involved in an online group game started by the Filipino-Japan forum I was in.

I found out that the two clans actually exists in feudal Japan and that they were warriors of amazing skills. Though I was not among those completely fascinated with the ninja genre I was completely enthralled with the historical facts embedded into the legends of the Iga and Kouga clans. It was in my search for more information about these clans that I found out about the anime series “Basilisk” which was based on the 1958 novel by Futaro Yamada titled “The Kouga Ninja Scroll”.

The novel was made into a manga series created by Masaki Segawa titled Basilisk, which was later followed by another manga series titled “The Yagyu Ninja Scroll”. The manga was converted into an anime series in 2005 under Gonzo studios. And later that year, a movie called “Shinobi” came out which was also based on the legend of the Iga and Kouga clans.  Much of the Kouga and Iga stories were embellished with exaggeration and fantastical tales of superhuman feats. However, some things  were kept factual such as….

> There exists in reality the Iga and Kouga and they were indeed skilled warriors.  Historical records state that certain individuals or families from the Iga/Kouga or modern the Mie/Omi regions were noted for possessing specific skills.

> The Iga/Kouga regions were generally accepted by historians as the birth of Ninjitsu or as it was properly called in olden times “shinobi”.  Because of their special skills the shinobi were often employed by the ruling feudal lords for their own purposes. Often when an Iga clan is employed by one side the opposing side is more than likely to employ the Kouga clan. Thus, the much read about rivalry between the two clans.

> Because of the remoteness of the regions they inhabit both clans were able to hone and perfect their individual special skills without regulations from the ruling lords. The shinobi warriors were made up most of ordinary people forced to take up arms to defend themselves against oppression from this or that lord. However it is not uncommon to find a disgraced lord among the shinobi, the region of the Iga/Kouga clan became a refuge for people who wanted to get away from the oppressive rule of the samurai nobilities.

> Both the Kouga and Iga clans were employed during the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate; the Iga were made the personal/closed in guards of the Emperor while the Kouga acted as the perimeter guards.

Movie and Anime

Both the movie and the anime series were closely adapted to the above stated facts. For this reason they have a lot of things in common and some pronounced differences.

Comparisons:

– Both the movie and the anime stated that the two clans were forced to enter into a “pact of no hostility” after Hotahori Hanzou invaded the regions and nearly wiped out the Iga clans. They were then employed into the service of the emperor. This was evident in both the movie and the anime however it was more comprehensively explained in the anime.

–  Danjou (Kouga leader)  and Ogen (Iga chieftess) were former lovers. They were star crossed lovers looking forward to the agreement between the clans to be meted out so they can finally reveal their affair to their families. However, a fateful attack by Oda Nobunaga with the assistance of the Kouga clan sealed their fate forever.  Without his knowledge the Kouga assisted in the attack to the Iga Tsubagakure, Ogen was unable to forgive him for the lost of her family and people thus ended their affair. But Danjou never gave up on achieving peace between the two clans so after the peace pact was made, Danjou allowed his adopted grandson, Gennosuke, to be engaged to Ogen’s granddaugther, Oboro. This however was not clearly stated in the movie.

– That Oboro and Gennosuke was actually engaged to be married prior to the fight to the death that happened between the clans.

– Among the ruling lords a conflict has started between the supporters of the two grandsons and apparent heirs of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the retired shogun. At the time, the ruling lords have also become concerned with the peace between the clans thus allowing both sides to hone their skills enough to perform almost superhuman feats. In order to hit two birds with a single stone, so to speak, Ieyasu decreed that a battle between the two clans shall decide who shall be designated as the next shogun following his son, Hidetada. The Iga shall fight for Iemitsu, the elder son while the Kouga shall fight for the younger son, Tadanaga. However shall win the battle will decide the next shogun when Hidetada retires.

– Ogen and Danjou were summoned to Sunpu castle and were told to bring their best warriors with them during the meeting with the shogun. There their warriors were made to demonstrate their skills. It was also then that Ieyasu told them of the planned contest to decide the next shogun and so both leaders were asked to list down on identical scrolls the names of 10 of their best warriors. In the movie, probably due to time constraints the battle consisted of only 5 warriors. The shinobi will fight to the death and the defeated/dead ninja’s name will then  be crossed out from the scroll using blood. Now, the viewer may think this is absurd but the shinobi actually looked forward to the battle. Even though they have been at peace for many years the rivalry between the clans were too deeply rooted in their blood that any chance of being able fight the other to the death was welcome by either side.

– Ogen and Danjou were the first casualties of the battle. They killed each other even before they left Sunpu and thus it was left to their warriors to deliver the news to their respective clans. In the movie, the scrolls arrive on both clans whereas the anime showed the pains and the treachery that took place even before the scrolls reached Oboro and Gennosuke.  Because the anime was longer it was able to better explain and elaborate many of the circumstances that the movie was not able to make probably due to time constraints.

– The movie failed to properly develop the characters in the series most especially, the kunoichi (female ninja). It failed to show the emotional attachments between Hotarubi and Yashamaru. I personally would have loved to see more of Hotarubi in the movie considering she was portrayed by Erika Sawajiri, but even if her appearance in the movie was short Hotarubi effectively served as the turning pointing for Oboro’s character. The movie also failed to show the relationship between Okoi and Saemon (siblings)…actually the movie only showed Saemon, Okoi was completely taken out from the film but it would have been nice to see how they would present her skills as her entire body is likened to a leech that sucks the blood on any exposed skin of the enemy that she is able to touch. Okoi is able to adhere her skin onto her opponent’s and then absorb their blood into herself; leaving her enemies as dried up husks. Upon completion, Okoi must then vomit out the excess blood before she can use the technique again. As more contact equals faster blood drain she is dressed in a more revealing manner than the other kunoichi with a hip length sleeveless kimono and shortened hakama. Needless to say, she is one very interesting character, too bad we didn’t see her in the movie.  Another kunoichi which I would have loved to see in the movie was Akeginu, she was the bodyguard and confidant of Oboro. A highly attractive woman, Akeginu  is representative of the historically accurate version of the kunoichi in her ability to use her sex appeal against the opposite sex. In combat, her technique enables her to secrete blood from her pores which she can then squirt into an opponents face to blind them or to create a fine mist which grants her the cover to move and attack in complete stealth. Her technique can also be used to “tag” an opponent who specializes in covert movement.

– Although we saw Koshirou in the movie as the hand scythe bearing Iga shinobi, the movie was not able to use or show his other ability. Koshirou’s technique enables him to create miniature whirlwinds with his breath which suck his enemies in and then shreds them to pieces.

– Other characters that were taken out of the film were Azuki Rousai. Rousai is a short statured man with an even shorter temper and is an elderly man with massive gourd-shaped head; he is a highly skilled martial artist whose punches and kicks are capable of felling trees and smashing rocks with one blow. As such, he’s one of the few characters who specializes in unarmed combat. Additionally, Rousai’s ninja technique enables him to stretch and contort his limbs in fantastic ways.  Another character not seen on the film was Jingoro, he is one of the few Iga ninjas who specialize in assassination rather than combat, preferring to sneak up on his opponents and being quick to flee once he suffers a disadvantage. He is also able to dissolve into a viscous semi-liquid form; enabling him to slither through the tightest of passages, ooze his way up vertical surfaces, and silently creep onto his target to deliver the killing stroke. We also missed to see Kazamachi Shogen, a grotesque and malformed hunchback with long gangly limbs and oversized hands and feet which grant him the agility and dexterity of a spider; and Jimushi Junbei, a living torso. Jubei lacks both arms and legs but is able to move by flexing his chest muscles to manipulate the armor plates sewn onto his tunic, allowing him to slither along the ground at extremely high speeds. He also has a metal tail attachment which he can use to deflect weapons and control himself as he moves. In place of arms, Jubei has trained his tongue to extend out of his mouth to manipulate objects as well as to draw and attack with the dagger he keeps sheathed inside his esophagus. He is gifted in astrology, which he uses to predict the Kouga’s future with surprising accuracy. His end is met by the revived Tenzen, who sees past his only weapon and slices him in half.

I will not divulge how the movie or the anime ended. This you will have to find out for yourself. I will however say that the ending differ greatly and will be up to you to decide which ending you refer.