Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer Wars Cast and Inuyasha Final Act Re-Casts

Hey all of you English dub lovers out there! Richard J., blog navigator and blood-sucking lawyer in training, is here to talk about a few English dub news tidbits. You're probably aware of them but if not it's news to you and if so, hey, at least you get some giggles from watching some fool flounder about like a castaway adrift in a sea of pitch.

But enough about me, lets talk about the much-talked about Summer Wars!


First, you might recall the lengthy rumor mill about the license back before it became a certainty. (EVA Rebuild #2 was also involved in that rumor mill and thankfully was also grabbed up by Funimation!) Basically, the rumors came from a UK company about an English dub being worked on for Summer Wars by Funimation.

Well, now we see the fruits of that labor. From one blog to another, I think that cast looks pretty darn good. It's actually a fairly diverse group if you look at the whole thing. Several major veterans and several rising stars. Maxey Whitehead is building a rather quality resume with Funimation, having worked on two of their higher profile series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Soul Eater. Clearly the people who complain about a lack of new and/or young talent in Texas need to perk up their ears a bit.

Summer Wars appears to be getting a high level of treatment, though I've heard about some rather serious glitches at a screening. Hopefully, those will get worked out but I believe that a screening is a far different creature than a final production release. Sometimes, one takes the draft version to a screening or a problem that appears to be related to production is actually caused by technical difficulties. In any event, we'll have the chance to learn the truth soon.

Best quote from the Funi blog quotes:
WarGames re-imagined as a Japanese ensemble family drama. And then animated. – John Gholson, writer for Cinematical
Assuming he meant this War Games, that's like telling me they took an old Mercedes (cool car) and refurbished it, added enough electronics to practically allow for space flight and then painted it like these otaku lovelies.

Yeah, that quote alone puts this one on my Top Buy list.

And yes, I'd totally drive that to work. Even if I were PoTUS.

Especially if I were PoTUS! (Air Force One with Nanoha on it? Pure concentrated awesome!)


On the Inuyasha: The Final Act front, we've got word of recasts starting on this page of AoD comments on Mania.com. Fairly reliable sources apparently. No outright confirmations from VIZ that I know of but hey, since when does VIZ really tell us anything?

As it stands, it is confirmed by the VAs themselves that Kelly Sheridan and Kirby Morrow are reprising their roles of demon hunter Sango and the lecherous monk Miroku respectively. ANN lists Jillian Michaels, Richard Ian Cox and Scott McNeil as reprising the roles of Shippo to fox demon, Inuyasha the loud warrior and Koga the wolf demon as well.

Confirmed recasts are Michael Dangerfield taking over the role of Sesshoumaru and Kira Tozer taking on the role of Kagome.


This of course screws around with two of my favorite ships but I think Dangerfield can handle the role given some of his previous work I've heard (take Johann Trinity and just deepen the voice a bit, add a pinch of aloof gruffness and bake to taste.)

Tozer I'm not so sure about. Of course, Moneca Stori's voice for Kagome was always a bit of an acquired taste for many with some liking her work from the get go, others growing into it and others still being quite unhappy about her work. Me personally, I always liked her voice work on the show though I could never really figure out exactly why. (I know that sounds odd but I felt that there were flaws in the performance but I liked the performance in part because of them.)

For some non-anime performances of Kira Tozer, check here. Go here for some clips. This might be her first anime role.

So the question is, what about the last few major players? Will they be re-cast or reprised? VIZ isn't exactly a font of fan communication lately (or ever) so we've just got to keep our fingers crossed, our ears open and our teeth brushed.

So what are your thoughts on all of this? Are you excited about these English dubs? Are you apathetic? Will you donate money to me? (What if I post videos?)

Well, that's it for this blog posting. Stay tuned for more of my pointless posting!



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Need a Replacement Photo Host.

Hey everyone! Richard J. here to navigate the blogosphere with all the care of a drunken Congressman a stimulus bender! Viva la spending other people's money!

After having a second issue with Photobucket, I've decided that I really should just avoid the irritation of dealing with them getting worked up over content. So, for the sake of ease of use on this blog for future reviewing or posting about anime that might be a tad ecchi, I need a new place to host photos so I won't have to deal with images being removed for violating idiotic terms of use!


Really, even drawings are a problem? What the heck is this world coming to?

Anyway, if I'm going to be able to show the cover for the DVD of Kanokon volume 1, I've got to get different account.

So can anyone help me out here? Let me know if you have any good suggestions!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anime Review: Kanokon (ANN Ver.)

Anime Review # 006
Title: Kanokon
Release Type: Singles

Since I thought some of you might like to see it despite it not making it to ANN, here's the final draft version of my Kanokon review. Although it wasn't used due to senior reviewer deciding to review Kanokon after all, you wonderful people get a chance to read it anyway! (Excuse the lack of linkies.)

Kanokon Volume 1 Review:

Synopsis: Kota is an ordinary high school student, with the looks of a little boy, who happens to learn his school’s secret. Yōkai are amongst his classmates! Fortunately for Kota, they’re mostly friendly. Unfortunately for Kota, two of them are a little too friendly. Chizuru is in love with Kota but new student Nozomu wants him too. Both are willing to “express” their affection in every way possible and poor Kota’s protests just can’t deter these girls from trying to get out of their clothes and into his pants. And for at least one of the girls, that includes a little spiritual possession.


Take one sexually-aggressive fox girl yōkai, one quietly lascivious wolf girl yōkai and one semi-perverted but self-conscious high school boy and you’ve got zany trouble in the sex-comedy outing that is Kanokon. Based on a series of light novels licensed but never released by Seven Seas, Kanokon the anime is a series that wants to tell a simple story about a love triangle. It skips the drama and moves on to the ecchi fun but also seems to want to skip out on exploring part of its own premise.

Kanokon’s first episode is somewhat bland and has poor transitions between flashback moments and the present day scenes. Little information is provided that the viewer wouldn’t already know just from a trailer or reading the synopsis on the DVD case. Kota Oyamada is a high school student with the nickname “King of Eros” and the subject of Chizuru Minamoto’s sexual advances. If she isn’t trying to strip him, she’s hanging all over him or tempting him in a completely unsubtle manner. Kota’s unwillingness to more strenuously protest Chizuru’s advances might be more acceptable to his classmates if they knew she was a yōkai fox with supernatural powers. Unfortunately, Kota is the only one in on the masquerade and Chizuru has no concept of decorum or personal space. Naturally, her nymphomaniac actions drive much of the shows humor.

Adding to the madness is the arrival of Nozomu Ezomori. After a brief meeting that manages to show that Kota really is a nice guy and also a bit genre savy, Nozomu stakes out a corner in Kanokon’s central love triangle. She’s a quiet yōkai wolf girl and while there are a few mentions of her supernatural power being potentially greater than Chizuru’s, neither girl seems interested in a magical battle. The two high school girls compete for Kota’s affections with bad cooking and sexually provocative advances. Their dueling escapades can be very funny to watch, especially their childish bickering, but there is a lack of depth. The girls’ reasons for falling for Kota are largely unexplained, even by the standards of the average harem anime. Kota himself thinks it may have more to with his smell than his personality.


Depending on the viewer’s mood, Kanokon will either be a cotton-candy romp of fanservice fun or a bland pudding of disinterest. Simply put, in these initial four episodes there is little beyond pure zany sex-comedy silliness. Certainly this can be enjoyable and fulfilling but not if the anime fan watching was hoping for a spectacular or emotional yōkai battle. At least in these episodes, the fact that the two girls competing for Kota’s affections are supernatural beings seems a minor detail at best. The supernatural aspect is primarily to add to the fetish fuel content, as in the “toad oil” scene or when Chizuru possesses Kota. Episode 4 “Can’t Take It Off’ is really the only time in this volume that any sort of magic power is even necessary to resolve the plot. Several of the yōkai showoff their abilities, albeit only in ways that trigger more fanservice, and all of the girls get a chance to indulge a few more fetishes via cosplay. The episode is quite ridiculous and fun, easily the major contender for best episode on this disc.

Kanokon’s strength is that it truly enjoys being an ecchi sex-comedy, with Chizuru representing the sex maniac character type in a rather lovable manner. At the same time, it’s easy to wish the anime staff had chosen to focus a bit more on the supernatural elements or at least put a tad more emotion into the series. The first episode, dull as it is, provides some subtext that suggests that Chizuru falling for Kota may be because he is the first person not to reject her completely upon finding out she’s not human. The first volume of Kanokon will have the right audience laughing at the wild sexual antics of the “King of Eros” Kota and his two co-queens. All of the characters are likable and appealing visually, though lacking in depth.


Media Blasters’ release of Kanokon under their Anime Works label may contribute to a negative fan reaction from even the right audience though. Arvintel Media was tapped by Media Blasters for the English dub, producing a language track that while serviceable has highly detrimental flaws. In terms of translation and casting, Kanokon has a decent English dub. The use of the term yōkai wins points and most scenes flow well in English. Dorothy Elias-Fahn’s Chizuru mixes sexy and cute, managing to be quite likable in the role with a more adult quality than the Japanese. She also expresses a pleasant duality of voice when speaking to Kota versus other characters. It’s clear the actress enjoyed herself. Mona Marshall feels somewhat off as Kota and a few scenes, mainly in the first episode, feel uneven. While not a bad performance, it is less than expected. Rounding out the triangle of affections is May Kao as Nozomu. Her character’s first appearance is a bit weak but she builds on it. Her best line deliveries are when Nozomu is insulting Chizuru, though that’s not to disparage her other scenes. May is a surprise gem, with greater vocal presence than her Japanese counterpart.

Where the English dub for Kanokon fails is in technical merits. While initially doing a decent job, the third and fourth episodes have severe and highly noticeable errors. Episode three features a moment of silence where the English audio cuts out during Chizuru’s bath and episode four has Kota speaking as if in a bad Godzilla film dub in one scene. Given that Media Blasters has elected to only produce English dubs for select title, it would behoove the company to place a greater emphasis on quality if they intend to skimp on quantity. Arvintel’s work on this dub initially shows promise but someone clearly dropped the ball twice. Japanese dub fans have a clear advantage with this release. Ayako Kawasumi’s Chizuru has slightly more emotion but an overly cutesy tone. Mamiko Noto’s Kota has greater consistency and vocal presence. The brothers of the female leads sound especially better in the Japanese dub, having greater vocal presence and line delivery. Miyū Takeuchi however feels a bit lifeless as Nozumu.

This volume has minimal extras: a clean opening and closing. The opening theme “Phospher" by Ui Miyazaki is sprightly but has better visuals than lyrics, showing the cast of characters in action with several fun images of the secondary characters reacting to the viewer. The closing theme “Koi no Honoo” Yui Sakakibara is stronger. Although the visuals are lacking without the credit text, the song gives a warm emotional feeling. The music is catchy with lyrics that provide more intimacy than the episode content so far. As of now, the themes are the only extras but John Sirabella of Media Blasters is looking into acquiring a series of video omakes.

Overall, the first volume of Kanokon is an average sex-comedy fanservice title. While there is a possibility the content will become more complex as the series continues, if the viewer isn’t interested by now, this is probably the wrong show to watch. For those who enjoy the silly and sexy antics, Kanokon is still more of a guilty pleasure than a top tier favorite due to the lack of depth.



Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : B-

+: The cosplay episode is crazy fun, the characters are surprisingly likable, fetish fuel.

-: First episode is dull, virtually nothing to offer beyond sexual humor in these episodes, the English dub has serious production flaws and some miscasts.

So that's my ANN review of Kanokon! It may read as a bit more critical than normal but I really just could not see this as more than a guilty pleasure anime. Some guilty pleasure anime have more going for them: a sweet romantic angle, great action or just more depth than the average in terms of story-telling. Kanokon, while very funny to me, is just plain not going to appeal to a whole lot of people. Even some fans of ecchi comedy are going to be turned off by it.

Still, I enjoyed it despite the technical problems with the English dub. Really, if not for the fact the problems were relatively brief, I'd have dropped my grade even further. And to think, I said positive things abotu the studio before discovering those mistakes! (I'd seen the first ep streamed and it seemed fine so I somewhat assumed basic competency. Oops.)

Anyway, my score via catgirls would be:


I laughed but I had to endure the first episode's extreme weakness first and I only really started enjoying it in eps 3 & 4. First volumes like this are generally pretty weak but this was surprisingly so.


Blog Update: My Time Management Skills Suck!

Hello everyone! Despite how it may have seemed, I am actually alive and kicking. I just have the worst time management skills of all time. My ability to to schedule and to keep a schedule is terrible.

Here I am at law school and half the time I don't even do all my reading and such for class because I can't seem to make myself keep to a schedule. Sadly, this is a life long problem and it will probably never improve. Well, maybe I'll get better when I join the military. A JAG officer probably needs to be disciplined right?

Anyway, today I make a vow to you my followers (and I'm grateful to all of you new followers!) and that vow is that I will try to maintain at least a 2-3 blog posts per month average from here on out. I'm actually a bit disgusted with myself for letting this blog lay fallow for so long. So I'm going to try and get my act together from here on out.

Now, lets talk about something cool that's going on in the anime fandom world!

Robert Brown of the Anime Corner Store, to promote the recent fan movement to "Sustain the Industry," is offering a $25 merchandise coupon for customers who put up their vids and show they bought from RACS. Details here.

Can I just say, I admire the person who came up with this idea of promoting the industry. It's a true act of positive effort to improve the rather bad situation anime fandom is in. (And the more gets sold, the easier it is to justify the costs of an English dub!)


If any of you have bought from RACS recently or plan to buy from them in the near future, you might want to take advantage of this. (Who knows what videos might show up.)

By the way, a minor update since I'd previously mentioned I'd be writing a review for Kanokon for ANN and for the stream of Strike Witches season 2. Theron Martin decided he did want to review the first volume and he has obvious seniority, so my review got rejected. (Sad panda.) However, I'll be writing reviews for the next volumes when they finally get out. In the case of Strike Witches season 2's streaming, as it turns out I can't review both that and the DVD release. So, in order to be able to review the English dub for season 2 as well as season 1, I've opted to wait.

In the near future, I'm going to try and find out about some other series I'd like to review that are coming out soon. (Hopefully, Zac will be receptive.)

Last thing, on a personal note, my family's income has dropped significantly and things are tight. Still, we've got a little discretionary funds so I'm still able to buy anime/manga on occasion. I've just got to keep my electrical bill low, not have cable/satelite and take advantage of every damn coupon I can. I can't even eat out more than about once a month. Basically, if we could just sell some property so we're not being strangled by the taxes (they doubled when the economy tanked, thanks very much government leeches!) and at the right price, we might actually be okay even with no one really working right now.

Anyway, law school isn't quite as hard as people made it out the be (or I'm not working as hard as I should) and I'm feeling surprisingly good about my life right now. Not great, since I have no real social life but okay.

All things considered, just being alive is something worth grateful for right now.