VIDEO: MOVIE: CARTOONS: ANIME: REVIEW: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) (Japan)

Clint: 3.6/5 stars, 7.2/10.
Carolyn: 3.4/5 stars, 7/10. “Good. No Howl’s Castle or Princess Mononoke, but still.” And that’s about how I feel.
Native ratings: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7.8/10.

Hayao Miyazaki. Great animator. Great director. Good writer. Huge body of work.

The plot wasn’t super exciting and full of jam-packed action, as it was more character-driven than plot-driven. There was no “bad guy” for example. Just a 13 year old girl trying to live independently for a year, as is the custom with witches.

And if you can fly on a broomstick, why not start a delivery service?

I do feel like it puttered out at the end a bit, which is a trope among anime. Anime is often more about the voyage than the destination, and that remains true here. But less frustratingly so than usual.

This was so lighthearted!


VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: Dante 01 (2008)

3/5 stars, 6/10 from both of us.
Native rating: 2.5/5 stars, 4.9/10.
(Netflix’s guess for us was 3.1/5, very good Netflix!).

Directed by Marc Caro, who co-directed The City Of Lost Children & Delicatessen with Jean-Pierre Jenuet.

They used to collaborate together, then they went their separate ways when Jeneut went to work on Alien:Ressurrection. After that, Jenuet went on to do Amelie & Micmacs. These movies are very much in the same cinematic style as Delicatessen & The City Of Lost Children, except they are very whimsical, missing all of the darkness from Delicatessan & The City Of Lost Children.

Apparently, the darkness came from Marc Caro. So we sought to see what a Marc Caro movie was like WITHOUT Jenuet.

The answer: Not as good.

This kind of came off as Chronicles Of Riddick meets Clockwork Orange meets Pandorum. The movie had very good visuals, an interesting moral dillema, and a disturbing, claustrophobic insane-asylum-on-space-station atmosphere — but the ending was a total cop-out that left few satisifed.

And a lot of questions were never answered, which makes the mystery aspect retroactively come off as pretentious. Like, for instance, what was the company *TRULY* doing with the nanotechnology? Adding Christ allegory only makes a movie more pretentious and revolting to me.

I don’t regret seeing it, but my impression is Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet are both incapable of making a single movie as good as when they both collaborated.  They should get back together!

Special thanks to Ian Buckwalter for helping me understand the Jeunet/Caro dichotomy, and pointing out to me that this movie exists in the first place.


 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link #2 #3] [Netflix link] This is where The Matrix got its ideas from, or so I hear.

PLOT SUMMARY: A young biker stumbles onto a prototype motorcycle with a hidden function that has a link to the true nature of his world, which is not what it seems.

The red pill is now a motorcycle.

QUIRKS: Sci-fi anime.

VISUALS: Cheesy early 1980’s anime style. They look like a bad Robotech episode. Actually, movie #2 has an improvement in the animation sometimes — even if the characters look like they came from Tromaville (just like Hobo With A Shotgun).

SOUNDTRACK: Cheezy 80’s music. With J-Pop interludes.

ADV did the English dubs for movie #2 and movie #3, so if you like Super Milk Chan and Ghost Stories, it may be worth checking it out in English. We, however, watched this in Japanese, as we do with all anime. Then again, #3 in particular was so much worse that perhaps hearing the familiar ADV voices would have made us pay more attention! Apparently the ADV dub for #3 was 30-40 minutes longer! Damn!

POLITICS: Fuck the military.


At least with movie #1, the Matrix-like reality-reveal is quite amazing and interesting. And it’s not identical to The Matrix, either. And in movie #2, they have a scene that could be analagous to Neo’s talking with The Architect in The Matrix 2 (one of my favorite parts of The Matrix trilogy, though thankfully I didn’t see The Matrix 2 in the theatre, and was able to watch The Architect scene 2 times in a row to fully comprehend it).

An all-cgi pop idol (and I don’t mean the character is animated via cgi in the movie, but that in their world, this character is completely computer generated) that the public doesn’t know is a computer program. This mimics real life a bit, where a Japan pop idol was recently found out to be a computerized face.

BAD STUFF: An increasingly bad franchise. Movie #3 had parts where we were both drifting off and not paying attention — because it wasn’t that engaging. New characters. It’s hundreds of years later (though they don’t really make that known when they should). Unexplained plot points. The most interesting thing in movie #3 is the Eve character — which says a lot, because I found her to be one of the less interesting things in the first 2 movies.

Carolyn adds: “Also, I was annoyed at the second movie when they had the same 2 characters, but they looked completely different.  Yui had blue hair in the first movie, and light brown in the second.  It took me a bit to figure out they were the same characters, and not some new introductions…..  it was kind of lame…. then the third movie actually was different characters, and you were confused by that..”

CONCLUSION: Worth seeing movie #1 at least, in order to see the early inspiration for The Matrix, The Truman Show, Dark City, and the like.


Clint: Movie 1: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Movie 1: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.

Clint: Movie 2: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
Carolyn: Movie 2: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6.5/10.

Clint: Movie 3: Netflix: 2.4/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10.
Carolyn: Movie 3: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.

The native public rating for these 3 movies are: IMDB: 7.5/10, 8.0/10, 8.0/10 (which is totally fucked up, as the first is the best–but some of these only have 40 or so votes); Netflix: 3.3/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.0/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: Watch the first movie, skip the rest. If you really liked the first movie, watch the second. Ignore the 3rd, unless you’re really in love with the Eve character (and even then, you will probably be disappointed) (but watch the ADV dub to get the full, un-cut version with 30-40 extra minutes).

SIMILAR MOVIES: The Matrix (barely though).

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: EdSquid recommended this to us, and felt similarly. 1-2 good, 3 not so good. He couldn’t fully pay attention to 3 either. He did mention he liked the animation and character desgins in 2. (more…)

CARTOONS: The Pokemon Plot: How One Cartoon Inspired the Army to Dream Up a Seizure Gun | Danger Room |

Cartoons! FOR WAR!!

Really… A better weapon would be the 3-D Jonas Brothers concert video.

But anyway… Why the hell can’t I find the seizure-inducing Pokemon clip for watching?

Surely someone must have videotaped it… And uploaded it somewhere. LiveLeak?  I’ve looked for torrents and never found it.


I mean, I gotta be able to take more than a japanese schoolkids, right? How bad can some fucking flickering cartoons really be? I want to judge their wussiness by seeing it myself.


UPDATE! FOUND IT! WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK! But really…. pffft if this hurts you..

Yes, I keep track of this stuff!

We watched over 174 movies in 2010. This was a 28% drop from 2009 (241 movies), so our TV-series viewing was up in 2010. We watched 69 series, 12 pilots, 4 specials, 5 one-offs, and 2 documentaries.

Note that I try to list the more obscure stuff first, to the extent it’s possible. NOTE!!! Most links point to reviews I’ve written.




MOST FUCKED UP SHOW OF THE YEAR: Still Food Party and Tim And Eric Awesome Show,Great Job! — just like last year. HONORABLE MENTION: South Park, Kevin Spencer, Check It Out With Steve Brule.
BEST NEW ADULT CARTOONS ADDITIONS: Archer, Neighbors From Hell, Ugly Americans, Where My Dogs At?
BEST COMEDY CARTOON: Metalocalypse / South Park / American Dad / Robot Chicken / Family Guy. Really hard to choose one!
BEST ANIME: Higurashi (honorable mention: Planetes)
BEST PSYCHEDELIC CARTOON: Adventure Time, but it’s very subtle.
BEST LIVE-ACTION COMEDY: Food Party, Sarah Silverman Program, The Office
BEST LIVE-ACTION, OVERALL: The Walking Dead, 24, Weeds
BEST SUPERHERO CARTOON: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
WATCHED THE MOST TIMES IN 2011: PILOT: Totally For Teens – watched three times
MOST DISAGREED ON:  Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon, The: Clint: 5/5 stars, 8.4/10. Carolyn: 2/5 stars, 6/10

Series Genres: (comedy=69/78%, superhero/scifi=11/12%, anime: 4/4%, drama 2/2%, horror: 2/2%, action 1/1%):

Cartoons (61/69%) Vs. Live (28/31%):

Quality: 45% in HD this year:

Ratings (includes all rated videos, even shorts): (5-star=39/43%, 4-star=28/30%, 3-star=20/22%, 2-star=4/4%, 1-star=0%):

Read on for the full list.


+” indicates series watched in HD.
Netflix ratings (out of 5) are based on: 1=hate,2=didn’t like,3=like,4=really like,5= love.
IMDB ratings (out of 10) are based on: 0=nothing enjoyable, 5=neutral, 6=generic pass, 10=perfect.



 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link (get all 5 discs!)] [Wikipedia link talking about the dubbing] Super Milk Chan! One of the most brilliant adult cartoons ever created, and the only one whose brilliance only shines in the *second* English dub, not the original Japanes audio OR the first English dub found on Cartoon Network (For Netflixers, Disc 2s are good, Disc 1s are bad).

Why is Super Milk Chan so brilliant? ADV Films (R.I.P.!). They sometimes take artist license, and create a localized dub where they re-write jokes to be funny instead of stupid. Super Milk Chan isn’t actually that funny in Japanese (or in the literal/1st English dubs). It is ADV‘s sense of humor in rewriting the jokes that made this show a triumph. The Super Milk Chan ADV 2nd/Adult dubs can actually be considered a “remix” of the original cartoon. One that’s actually funny. (Similarly, some of Sealab 2021 can be considered a remix of Sealab 2020.)

After re-watching all of Super Milk Chan for the 2nd time in a decade, I realized that these localized funny-dubs are a rare thing indeed. One must actually do some digging to find out if anything else has been done like this. I read up a lot on Super Milk Chan and ADV films to see if they had ever given the “Super Milk Chan treatment”. From what I could gather, the only other series to receive as through of a treatment from its dubbing process as Super Milk Chan — is GHOST STORIES, the series that this post is about.

So we got it, and we watched all 20 episodes! Rather quickly!

PEOPLE: Mostly a Japanese production involving people nobody’s heard of… But the ADV dubs involve a few voice actors we know:

Hilary Haag (Milk of Super Milk Chan) stars as Satsuki, one of the main characters. Rob Mungle (Milk’s gay landlord from Super Milk Chan) plays Amanojaku. There was a character named Amano Jyaku in Urotsukidoji (Legend Of The Overfiend), and it was not until watching Ghost Stories that I realized that an Amanojaku is actually a class of Japanese mythical beast. It’s weird to watch an anime in 2011 that teaches me something about anime I watched in the 1990s…

Here’s a strange thing: BOTH Tetsuko’s from Super Milk Chan star in Ghost Stories. Marcy Bannor, voice of the gritty, funny Tetsuko from the 2nd/Americanized dubs plays Satsuki’s and Keiichirou’s deceased mother. But Monica Rial, voice of the gentle, not-really-funny Tetsko from the 1st/literal dubs played Momoko. Hearing both Tetsukos in a single episode?! Priceless.

PLOT SUMMARY: High school kids deal with ghosts in their haunted school. Plot-wise, this series is actually lame. “Ghosts” and “cartoons about kids” have rarely been a good pairing. At least Scooby Doo was kind of unique. BUT THEN THEY RE-WROTE THE DIALOG TO THE SERIES, MAKING IT GOOD IN SPITE OF THIS PLOT.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] School district endangers students’ lives.

QUIRKS: Horror anime re-dubbed with American humor.

In Episode 1, their cat gets possessed by a demon that wants to kill them. So yes, one of the main characters is a talking cat. And he’s a pretty good character too. His character evolves over the course of the series.

“Short Bus”, the kid who is re-dubbed as possibly being retarded (at the very least, being *called* retarded), doesn’t really talk until several episodes in. He just cries in this crazy, high-pitched, whiny cry that is HILARIOUS HILARIOUS HILARIOUS. Carolyn & I have spent many minutes trying to imitate “Short Bus”. I am normally excellent in mimicry, but it was a sound I could not make until I had some practice. Carolyn’s still better than me at it. He is hilarious though. Especially at the beginning.

The one girl — they re-wrote her as a devout Christian. Her dialog is hilarious. The only flaw here is that she is more of a supporting character than a main character, so there’s not as many chances for Christian-bullshit hilarity as there could be.

They break the 4th wall a lot, especially near the end of the series. With some of the later episodes, the dialogue involves directly talking about how the show makes no fucking sense at all. I’m sure this is a lot easier to swallow than watching the original Japanese audio, because the original series just looks awful. Just awful.

VISUALS: Indistinguishable from any other generic anime.

MORALS/POLITICS: Devoid of morals and politics. This is just some kids trying to get through their day. Perhaps there is a stupid ghost-related moral: Don’t lock ghosts up in schoolbuildings. Think of the children. Use on of those boxes from Ghost Busters instead. Or a Pokemon pokeball.

GOOD STUFF: My God… No anime on the face of the planet would ever have these kids saying what they are saying. But ADV is quite willing to dub this over someone else’s shitty anime, resulting in hilarity that is far more mature than the original series. THIS IS NOT FOR KIDS!

BAD STUFF: This series failed in Japan. It was poorly written and full of plot holes. It was just poor television.

CONCLUSION: Brilliantly hilarious and irreverent, this series was redubbed in such a way as to make fun of itself, and make it better than it originally was. It’s a remix cartoon, like Space Ghost Coast To Coast, SeaLab 2021, or Super Milk Chan. Any fan of the Super Milk Chan 2nd/Amercanized/funnier dubs should automatically and by default love the ADV dub of this series. They rewrote a character to be a devout Christian, they rewrote a character to be retarded (“Short Bus”, they call him), they rewrote everything because the original series is actually awful. ADV made it brillint. Too bad ADV went out of busines last year — after 17 years of dubbing anime :/


Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9/10. Starts with 7/10 episodes, reaches its stride with 8/10 and 9/10 episodes, and ends with 10/10 episodes.

Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10. “But the last 25% of episodes were 10/10. I must be a fan of breaking the 4th wall, because I always find it funny. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Toxic Crusaders comes to mind.”

The native public rating for this series is: IMDB: 7.5/10, Netflix: 3.7/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.9/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: It’s kind of hard to find DVDs of the ADV Americanized Dub — but Netflix [see link at top] appears to have them in stock. The first few episodes aren’t as outrageously funny because it takes them a bit to hit their stride. But once they hit it, they hit it hard.

SIMILAR SHOWS: Super Milk Chan (Americanized 2nd Dub).


Satsuki Miyanoshita: You can mess with me… you can pick on little brother and friends… but don’t FUCK with my cat!

Satsuki Miyanoshita: [after realizing they’ve traveled back in time] HOLY TIME MACHINE BATMAN! It’s 1973!
Hajime Aoyama: Holy pre-Parkinson’s Michael J. Fox Christopher Lloyd Back To The Future plot ripoff device! where’s my DeLorean?
Satsuki Miyanoshita: Pre-Parkinson’s? You are so shockingly hateful.
Hajime Aoyama: I don’t feel sorry for him, he was in “Light Of Day”. [*shudders*]

Phone Recording: [Satsuki attempts to call the Ski Lodge] The number you have dialed is no longer in service. HEY! MAYBE IF THEY PAID THEIR FUCKIN’ PHONE BILL YOU COULD CALL AGAIN!
Satsuki Miyanoshita: Asian trash, can’t pay the phone bill.

Satsuki: [answers phone] “Milk speaking! … I love doing that.” (a direct homage of Milk-Chan answering the phone in Super Milk Chan)

^ Hilary Haag, voice of Super Milk Chan. More like Hilary Hotttttt.


 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: Part 1 is written by renowned master animator Satoshi Kon — but NOT animated by him! (What a twist!) That is how we came to watch this film; his 2010 death prompted us to watch everything with his name on it, since we loved Perfect Blue so much.

The three sequences (this is a collection of 3 30-to-40-minute ‘shorts’) are directed by Koji Morimoto (animator; director of of 1 Animatrix segment; producer of .hack//Roots), Tensai Okamura (animator:Cowboy Bebop the movie, 2 eps of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost In The Shell), and Katsuhiro Otomo (director:Steamboy; writer:Akira, Metropolis, Steamboy). Well-known Japanese voice actors were used for many of the parts in this movie, but I won’t go into too much detail there.


Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): It’s like Ghost Ship mixed with Planetes, but without the science, politics, or smoking chambers. And maybe with a sprinkle of Firefly and The Matrix.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): A man unwittingly becomes a living biological weapon, killing everyone around him.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): A militarized society seemingly revolves around the act of firing cannons at the enemy. But does this enemy even really exist?

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARIES (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Garbagemen left to die in space (one exploded, one left drifting alive with limited oxygen).
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): World’s luckiest and most clueless man kills hundreds, humiliates military.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism’s inefficiencies fail to protect children from night raids.

QUIRKS: Three different anime stories with three different looks and feels.

VISUALS: Three different styles. Part 1 is in space, and just looks like mostly generic anime. That is to say, better than American animation coming out at the same time. Part 2 is on earth, and has interesting painting-like backgrounds… A concept quite familiar to Samurai Jack fans. Part 3 reminds me a lot of Rene Laloux‘s unique animation style. Everybody is green and a bit inhuman looking. Plus, they used a really interesting English font, where certain letters also look a lot like runes. It’s just different enough to slow you down reading it, but just same enough to still be readable. Nice touch.

Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Beware of mind tricks.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): Try not to be as stupid as this guy. Get a clue.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism sucks.

Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): None.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): The military-industrial complex engages in all kinds of idiotic behavior. Created to protect us, they make even more money if they endanger us. We should not trust them to work in our best interest. This is why forces like Wikileaks need to exist.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism sucks. (Actually, I think every system can be run in a completely inefficient way, and a better political moral would be that authoritarianism sucks. Communism gets lots of bad rap for the fact that its leaders tend to be brutal authoritarians. However, Part 3 is most squarely aimed at communism and not authoritarianism, so this critique is more about anti-communism sentiment than Part 3 itself.) Also: The threat of war is often manufactured to be worse than it is. See also: 1984 and American Foreign Policy (especially 2000-2010).

Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Very creepy and suspenseful, until the mind-tricks start. Space garbage collectors, like in Planetes, end up getting into a Ghost Ship level creepiness. Salvaging inside of an EPICly large spaceship combines claustrophobia and agoraphobia into one giant fearfest. But then, it stops being as good by the end.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): Very funny to watch a military humiliate itself so badly.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): This part actually isn’t nearly as good. The best thing about it is simultaneously the worst thing about it: Longest canon-launching scene EVER in any movie EVER. But it’s a commentary on communism, so people, especially in Asia, should understand this. The cannon is red; could it be any more obvious?

Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): The ending isn’t nearly as good as the beginning.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): After all that, the only way he is saved is by [highlight for spoilers] Marines wearing Nasa suits? THAT’S how you win? But wait! It’s the guy! WTF! D-d-dumbass. And he’s STILL clueless?!?! . This guy has to be one of the stupidest people in existence (yes, even fictional existence!) That ending is a bit of a cop-out.
Parts 2 & 3: What did these have to do with memories, anyway?!?!?
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Longest and most boring cannon sequence in any movie EVER. And the ending is kind of a cop-out. Much like part 2, it’s a twist one way, and then a twist back to where you think it’s going, to create a sort of “fake twist” cop-out ending. Two twists that cancel each other out. [highlight for spoilers] Oh look! It turns out there’s no enemy! But oh look #2! It turns out there IS actually an enemy! And communism didn’t save its own citizens from it!

CONCLUSIONS: Even though I didn’t like them individually as much as I had hoped, I really liked the offering of several miscellaneous animated treats that were all interesting.


Part 1 (Magnetic Rose):
Clint: Netflix: 4.4/5 stars. IMDB: 8.4/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 4.4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.

Part 2 (Stink Bomb):
Clint: Netflix: 3.2/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.

Part 3 (Cannon Fodder):
Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6.6/10 (a low 7).

Clint: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.6/10, Netflix: 3.6/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.5/5 stars–the exact average of our two ratings, as well as the exact average of the 3 ratings I gave individually. However, I actually scored the movie as a whole at 4/5 stars; greater than the sum of its parts).

RECOMMENDATION: Anime-lovers should definitely check this out, what with Satoshi Kon‘s name being on it.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Part 1 reminded me of Planetes meets Ghost Ship!

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Tripp loved it.

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