Cyborg 009 VS Devilman (2015) OVA Ep 3

cyborg009 vs devilman

If you missed my recap/review of ep 1 – check here

If you missed my recap/review of ep 2 – check here

So here we go, the finale episode and crushing climax of Cyborg 009 vs Devilman, and what a finale it is! For the most part this episode is very battle-filled including a battle bewteen 009 and Lilith, The good cyborg team vs the bad cyborg team, Devilman Vs Atun, and more – it’s like Dragonball Z levels of battling here.

I mentioned Atun, which is basically the “final boss” of this show. Created by the nefarious Dr. Adams – a Black Ghost scientist, Atun is the ultimate in demon creation – taking the power of a cybernetic body and infusing it with a demon possession – basically combining the powers of both Devilman and 009 all in one convenient package.

cyborg 009 vs devilman atun

In the demon’s past, Atun knew of, and was a contemorary of the demon Amon (Devilman’s demon side). However, never able to prove himself stronger, Atun bore a grudge against Amon. Many years after the demons reappeared on Earth, Atun came into contact with Dr. Adams who was trying to create more and more powerful cyborgs after the failure of the Mythos line of cyborgs. With the Cyborg Daemon project, Atun could grow more powerful than before, hopefully being able to best his rival and perhaps gain even more power.

so of course Atun gets his comeuppance and all is right in the world leaving the characters to once again part ways. Looking back on the interactions between characters, I really wish they worked together a bit more since they sort of acted independently until the absolute end of the series, but there’s always hope for another season at some point, especially seeing that we are graced with not one, but two stingers for a continued story.

cyborg 009 vs devilman lilith

I haven’t really mentioned at all here the quality of the English dub, which is pretty good. considering this was a Netflix exclusive they got the likes of Johnny Yong Bosch as 009, Wendee Lee as Lilith and Spike Spencer as 002. The rest of the cast is pretty familiar, but it’s been a while since I’ve kept up with anime dub studio stuff, so some of the names are ones I’m not super familiar with. As many of you know I actually don’t mind subs or dubs in many situations, but prefer dubs if I have a choice since I sometimes like to multitask while I watch movies and TV. This isn’t like the best of the best or anything, but it’s good and sounds good.

  • Akira Fudo/Devilman: Bryce Papenbrook
  • Joe Shimamura/009: Johnny Yong Bosch
  • Ivan Whisky/001: Christine Marie Cabanos
  • Jet Link/002: Spike Spencer
  • Francoise Arnoul/003: Stephanie Sheh
  • Albert Heinrich/004: Michael Sinterniklaas
  • Geronimo Junior/005: Keith Silverstein
  • Chang Changku/006: Joe Ochman
  • Great Britain/007: Tony Azzolino
  • Pyunma/008: Steve Staley
  • Dr. Isaac Gilmore: Dave Mallow
  • Miki Makimura: Cristina Valenzuela
  • Ryo Asuka: Chris Smith
  • Edward/0014: Kyle McCarley
  • Eva/0015: Lindsay Torrance
  • Abel/0017: Dorothy Elias-Fahn
  • Seth/0018: Griffin Burns
  • Dr. Adams: Michael McConnohie
  • Lilith: Wendee Lee
  • Apollo: Doug Erholtz
  • Helena: Christine Marie Cabanos
  • Jinmen: Jamieson Price
  • Sacchan: Erin Fitzgerald

 

cyborg 009 vs devilman seth atun

So was it perfect? always coherent? a masterpiece? the answer to all three of these are a resounding no, but it is VERY fun, entertaining, and exciting enough to spend a few hours with on Netflix especially if you just finished Devilman Crybaby and want to quench your thirst for that character yet again. I’m happy that both franchises are represented so well, seen as equal and complimenting each other – and I’m glad this lead to even more anime in BOTH franchises.

Netflix has again and again proven itself to be one of my more favorite anime licencors as of late due to their risk-taking and choice of shows that would have been deemed a stupid idea to bring over in the past. Funding all sorts of cult-classic stuff like Devilman and Cyborg 009 and somehow making them very popular franchises after years of being dormant shows it’s power in the TV industry. Now I really wish they’d get behind some other classic stuff like Harlock or Gundam, that would be awesome!

Definitely, check this out!

Devilman-september

Click HERE to see what you missed!

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Cyborg 009 VS Devilman (2015) OVA Ep 2

If you missed my recap/review of ep 1 – check here

While the last episode of this three part OVA basically introduced us to the characters of both the Devilman and Cyborg 009 franchises, eventually pushing the two groups into battle, this episode is a sort of “breather” that steps back and introduces the villains of the adventure as well as setting a plausible way for everyone to eventually team up. When we last left our various groups of heroes, both Team Devilman and Team Cyborg mistook each other for their opposing groups (Demons or the Black Ghost organization). A fierce battle was had, and both characters got beat up pretty bad – Devilman getting what would normally be a mortal wound on his arm, and 009 having to jettison his arm because it nearly blew him up after a fierce attack.

So, technically the duel between 009 and Devilman ends in stalemate since both of them lost consciousness. Ryo swoops in to grab Akira’s body and bring him home, while 009 and 003 are rescued by the cyborg airship. Back in his home, Ryo searches information about Black Ghost organization after 003 previously asked whether Ryo and Akira are affiliated to Black Ghost. Meanwhile, 002, 004, and 008 stumble into the den of a new group of Black Ghost operatives – new cyborgs two generations newer than the original 00 series cyborgs – an evil plan involving cyborg demon/hybrids is unveiled and the scene is set for the thrilling climax.

Another major villain appears in this episode from the world of Devilman, but she is actually an entirely new creation made for this OVA – Lilith. When we first saw her, she was devouring a bunch of high school delinquents, now she appears in her full snakey-flower form. Her main ability seems to be something similar to that of a siren from Greek Mythology – she can use hallucinogenic pollen to alter reality around people making them see things that make them happy. Since most of the cyborgs suffered losses of major loved ones prior to being experimented on by Black Ghost, most of them were put face to face with former lovers, parents, and even children.

Lilith is such a cool character because she seems to basically be very much in-line with something Go Nagai would have created for Devilman. Apparently the people involved with this production went to great lengths to use characters inspired by other Nagai and Ishinomori works as Easter eggs for fans. I enjoy this a lot as it reminds me of how many works related to Leiji Matsumoto are handled today – while he usually gets top billing, other directors are usually adapting much older works and flesh them out using his art style to mimic the way he did things.

As I stated before, the animation in this is really good, albeit not too flashy. It preserves both of the art styles of the two franchises without creating a bizarre rift like some of these crossovers often do – imagine Family Guy and Simpsons meeting for example. Perhaps my only issue for this is the pacing as it rushes its way through the plot like many cross-overs do.

Characters are often seen doing incredibly convenient things like finding out the entire history of a clandestine scientific weapons manufacturer on the internet on order to plot along. Granted, going to much into the whys and hows of how this all fits together would be a waste of time and annoying, so leaving this sort of “fluffy” retains the special nature of this series.

What I really wish we had available in the US is the manga and light novels that were also produced for this, because they apparently flesh things out a bit and add to the story in the very same way that I would enjoy. Maybe I need to start searching fan translation sites if those are still a thing…

All-in-all another solid and fun episode, all leading up to what is shaping up to be an awesome final battle.

Click HERE to see what you missed!

Devilman: The Birth (1987)

Today we have a change of pace for Devilman Month, as I am reviewing a pretty bad film – one that I originally watched back in the VHS days and haven’t seen since. I’ve seen far worse anime, stuff so crudely constructed that one is often confused within mere moments of gazing at it on screen. In my “Hall of Shame” I have a collection of Hong Kong “bootleg” anime that I need to review on here one of these days that was literally cobbled together from stolen anime cels from a dumpster, but this is somehow almost as bad. It’s not an ineptly made product, it just is the perfect lightning storm of bad decisions all rolled into one complete misfire.

I remember being sort of lukewarm about it back then, but now I can honestly say it’s a true classic, but not for a good reason.

Akira is just another normal kid in modern-day Tokyo, until an old friend of his, Ryo, shows up and turns his world upside down. Akira learns that there is an upcoming war of demons on humanity and he has just been enlisted for a major tour of duty. But the only way to fight a demon is with their power, so Akira and Ryo risk a dangerous ceremony in an attempt to create humanity’s only hope: the powerful Devilman.

devilman OVA 1

The most notable thing about this somewhat forgetable first OVA (especially to Youtube) is the notoriously bad English dub, which is how most westerners became familiar with the franchise. One can immediately tell that the production must have been done by inexperienced and/or cheap voice actors – lines are delivered in an almost elementary school play quality with weird inflections and lingering pauses for no explicable reason. I’ve read a bit of the original manga at this point, and there are whole sections here drawn from the books in which something really intense and dark happens, but that same material falls hilariously flat in this due to the voice acting – the infamous “WHYYYYYY GOOOOD” scene comes to mind immediately. I guess part of this can be chalked up to this being a UK production with most actors trying to suppress accents, but boy is it awkward.

But don’t worry folks! What the films lacks in actual acting ability and good writing, it sure makes up for it in the foul language department! Just like most late 80’s and early 90’s anime releases, this film has the same amount of curse words as your typical Tarantino film for no other reason than to make it seem cool. After the success of Akira, most anime was marketed to the west as an in your face, edgy new type of entertainment that only badass guys in leather jackets watched. How can you tell it’s for badasses? You gotta say the F bomb at least once a minute.

Here’s a 90’s commercial telling you like it is about anime:

Those commercials used to be on all the time on The Science Fiction Channel back when they would randomly play things like Vampire Hunter D on weekends.

Don’t believe me about the dub, check this nonsense out:

(warning NSFW)

Can I really recommend this as a good introduction to the world of Devilman? Absolutely not – watch Crybaby. Is it hilarious in an almost MST3K way? very much so! In fact, if I wasn’t watching this in English I bet I wouldn’t be half as entertained as I am now, as the actual film isn’t very well made. Yeah, it has it’s fair share of some solid “better than TV” animation and interesting synth music for the soundtrack, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s paced oddly, with sections of the film overstaying their welcome and other making little to no sense without having a passing knowledge of the characters.

Since I’m a glutton for punishment, and a connoisseur of bad films, I’ll be watching the second OVA next which is represented a bit in the above video, and it seems just as amazing.

Click HERE to see what you missed!

Cyborg 009 VS Devilman (2015) OVA Ep 1

Around the time I had just started college, I fell in love with an anime on Toonami Midnight Run called Cyborg 009. At the time, I was oblivious to the age of the property or that it was held in the same regard in japan as something like The X-men, but I loved it. It had a great soundtrack, awesome retro art-style, and felt different than most anime on at the time. Then, Sony refused to do anything with the licence, released a single DVD and that was that – I never got to finish the show. It was not until 2015 when Netflix randomly tossed this cross-over anime onto it’s streaming service that I saw some new content with the characters. And as a bonus, I got Devilman, which at the time I had only ever seen the older film, so that was a bonus!

NOTE: Discotek is going to re-release the show soon…YAAY!

I know cross-over stuff like this is usually silly, and makes almost no sense most of the time, as a huge fanboy I absolutely love it. Even when Star Trek crosses over with stuff like Transformers or Planet of the Apes, I’m 100% on-board. Apparently, this cross-over is not as random as some might believe as before Go Nagai became the author of Devilman, he worked as an assistant to Shotaro Ishinomori, drawing backgrounds for the Cyborg 009 manga. It was reported in Sankei Sports that he wished to do a collaboration with Ishinomori. Sadly, Ishinomori has long since died, but this crossover lives on.

cybirg vs devilman jinmen

Our story here starts on some sort of active volcano with a ancient Greece theme, Cyborg 009 and his comrades are battling the Mythos Cyborgs which appears to be ripping the whole area apart Frieza Vs Goku style. Now that I’ve seen this short snippet of the battle with Apollyon, I really want to see these guys in action more. I’m aware they are crazy cyborgs that believe that their mission is to destroy Earth so they may end war and rebuild the world with themselves as the ruling Gods, but I’ve never seen those episodes, so this was awesome.

Simultaneously in Japan, Devilman kills Jinmen after he eats Akira’s longtime childhood friend  Sachiko. This scene is terrifying and honestly the best version of the battle with Jinmen I’ve seen. The art is this stark black and white style with only red peering through the monochrome field similar to how a manga page would look. This was gorgeous and I honestly wish there were more scenes like this.

cyborg vs devilman4

Next thing you know, Demons start popping up everywhere which draws the characters from both franchises together in order to fight the shared threat. well let me back up in this episode they are very much fighting each-other since they see the other as a demon that needs to be vanquished. For the brief time we see 009 and Devilman actually fight, we are shown that they are fairly evenly maatched with Devilman getting the slight edge.

Wile this episode basically just sets everything up, you really do get a sense of where the show is going and how plausibly both universes fit together.

 

009_Team_2015

I mentioned a bit tat I enjoyed the art direction behind the short Devilman segment at the beginning of the show; this extends to just about everything else as well. In particular, I love the look of the cyborgs in this show, as many modern interpretations seem to be obsessed with downplaying the art style of a few of the characters. Granted Pyunma, or Cyborg 008, is basically a racist architecture of a black man in his earliest versions, changing the rest of the characters to look “more modern” is always annoying to me. I especially like that both Chang Changku (006) and Jet Link (002) have the zany body proportions that they should have like Jet’s huge nose and crazy hair.

Great start to this show, here’s hoping this momentum can be kept up for the next episodes. Watching this also makes me want to look over what Cyborg 009 stuff I can find and have a marathon.

 

Click HERE to see what you missed!

Devilman G: Grimoire Vol 1 (2012)

While Netflix audiences were shocked in 2018 to find a brand-new, shiny Devilman Reboot on their TV, it’s far from the first time that the nearly 50 year old franchise has been repackaged. Today, we will be looking at the first volume of a manga series called Devilman G: Grimoire to see where it stands.

“IT TAKES A DEVIL TO KILL A DEVIL!

When Miki attempts to summon a demon on the roof of her high school, things don’t go quite as planned. Not only does she instigate a vicious massacre, but her friend Akira gets possessed by the legendary demon Amon the Uneater, who annihilates his own kind. As Tokyo’s streets grow bloodier by the day–thanks to invaders from Hell–a demonic demon slayer might be the city’s only hope for salvation.

A modern, ultra-violent spin on the devilish classic by Go Nagai!”

One thing that immediately jumps out at you is that this manga is not a faithful translation of previous versions of the story. For all intents and purposes, this is a sort of an alternative universe using some of the same characters – sort of like the Marvel Ultimate Universe from around a decade ago. In many ways this is refreshing, as it doesn’t seem as dated as something as old as Devilman is can seem, although it also falls victim to a lot of the tropes of manga from 2012 that I was not a fan of – namely the juxtaposition of seemingly juvenile dialog and characters in a manga full f intense gore that was definitely NOT meant for kids.

But before I get into that, I wanted to talk about some stuff I did like. I absolutely loved the idea that the whole concept of the show has origins with the Demon wrangling of Good old King Solomon who is said to have built an enormous temple by enslaving hundreds of demons using a relic called the Ring of Solomon (emblazoned with the seal of Solomon of course). I have yet to read the original manga (yet, as it just got released in English), so I assume this is a new addition. It’s cool to see something like this reference The Ars Goetia as it seems like the concept would go hand-in-hand with something like this, much like how it does when referenced by Shin Megaami Tensei games.

Another thing is that the other characters have been far more fleshed out. Miki, for instance, has been given a lot more to her character than simply being a love interest that eventually gets killed in order to move the story along. She might still end up getting killed for all I know, but I hope that after a complete overhaul, this manga avoids the “fridging” trope that characters like this and Gwen Staacy can never seem to escape. Although, by having Miki 100% tied to the creation of Devilman instead of being somewhat unaware of his connection to Akira – the relationship between the characters has been altered.

By doing this, the series sort of removes the “Doctor Jekyll / Mr. Hyde” secret identity thing from the story-line and instead goes towards a vibe that reminded me of shows like Cardcaptor Sakura or even Parasyte – where a super being is directed by somebody else to fight stuff – this time a novice magic user of sorts.

I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t a fan of some of the dialog in this comic, and a lot of that is because the tone of the writing seems to completely be at odds with the content of the comic. Some of the characters, especially MIki, have this anime trope “DO YOUR BEST!” mentality that I suppose exists in Japan, but comes across really fake and like something you would see in Sailor Moon. Right after this, somebody would get disemboweled in grave detail in such a way that you are both shocked and repulsed. Rui Takato seems particularly obsessed with showing intestines falling out of corpses and female nudity, so be ready for that.

Had this been either a straight superhero comic or a straight horror comic, I think the two sides would have fit better, but there are more volumes ahead so hopefully it falls into place eventually. In saying this, I do like shows like Kill la KIll from Studio Trigger that are vaguely similar in nature to this, so perhaps seeing this in motion would have sharpened the whole thing up for me. Otherwise, who knows, the translation could be wonky to meet demands of comics from that time period.

All-in-all this is a competent comic, but it’s not great….yet. I can see myself warming up to this as it goes, and assume that if I wasn’t already familiar with the franchise, I would enjoy it more. I enjoyed the world building and nods to the classic comics and shows, but wasn’t a huge fan of the dialogue and “tropey” way in which the comic moves.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I absolutely LOVE the retro art-style. While it’s not exactly a 1970’s style, and is different than Go Nagai, it still feels nostalgic and “old school” which is the style I prefer.

Stay tuned for more Devilman goodies this month as it DEVILMAN MONTH on Arcadia Pod!

Devilman-september

Click HERE to see what you missed!

Joey Ryan: Big in Japan (2017)

Another Day, another foray into my stack of wrestling comics I’ve obtained in the past few years but woefully neglected to read for some reason. In the past, and especially in the days when I was a really heavy comic reader, I never really got into wrestling comics simply because they would usually take things far too seriously or end up like the infamous Ultimate Warrior comic book where he ….emmm….does something to Santa Claus. Nowadays, it seems like wrestling comics are thankfully way more fun, much like today’s topic.

Today, we’ll be looking at a comic that came from one of my boxes from Pro Wrestling crate, although I think it was originally produced by Chido comics as a follow up to their successful line of Lucha Underground comics via Kickstarter. You might remember Chido comics was also the company behind the Rey Mysterio comic I’ve done on here in the past.

For those completely unfamiliar with the rise of Joey Ryan’s unique brand of comedy wrestling, I’ll try my best to fill you in a bit. Ryan has had something of a sleazy 70’s pornstar gimmick for a while – he comes to the ring rubbing oil allover his hairy chest while sucking on a lollipop in a suggestive way showing that in his mind at least – he’s a sexy guy that all of the women in the crowd all going to swoon over. But since he’s actually presented like the anti-Rick Rude, it’s mostly people cringing at how creepy he can be.

A few years back, a short clip surfaced online of Ryan using his penis (not really, wrestling’s silly) to flip someone over after they attempted to harm his downstairs neighbor. This, of course, went incredibly viral due to the silliness and absurdity of the “move” and basically changed Ryan’s entire career. Now, he’s managed to even land a sponsorship from a popular online porn company.

Here’s the move in action:

In this post-Kayfabe world of pro wrestling, where despite heckling by diehard MMA guys (You know it’s fake right brah!) – everyone knows exactly what wrestling is, and a gimmick such as this can flourish. In fact, lately it seems like wrestling things that go viral are almost always something intentionally ridiculous, and make somebody what I assume is a pretty good living. they might even get popular enough to appear on National TV wrestling brands such as Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground, or even get their own comic book!

“Joey Ryan was pro wrestling’s king of sleaze – until five years ago, when a match gone wrong left his tag team partner crippled and one of his opponents dead. Now he spends his days looking for answers at the bottom of bottles in Tokyo bars. But when he hears that his old nemesis is back in town, he decides it’s time to get back in the ring.”

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This comic is basically a Dark Knight Returns sort of alternate future affair for Mr. Ryan as it’s not a tale of him at his prime vanquishing evil-doers, but a story of a washed up and grizzled Ryan who has abandoned the business due to a horrible tragedy and how he gets back into the ring. It seems that five years prior to this comic, Joey Ryan and his tag partner Candice LeRae (who is not named) were involved in some sort of match where a wrestler was killed and LeRae was horribly injured, Ryan obviously blames himself and has turned into a miserable drunk.

Joey runs into an old friend that has news of his arch nemesis, a huge guy called Butch Satan, and that he has issued an open challenge – Ryan initially refuses to even contemplate wrestling again since the last time, his penis killed a man, but is swayed by promising to do a serious match with no silly gimmicks. Ryan tries to fight a clean fight, but soon realizes that he must use Dong Style one more time to win…

joey ryan big in japan comic 4

This comic is pretty silly, it both takes itself almost too seriously at times, and veers into absurdity at others. it’s because of this that the comic actually reminds me a LOT of a Deadpool book, especially some of the more serious ones before folks thought his catchphrase was “Chimichanga!” which it isn’t you guys. I mean when you have a guy getting advice from a sentient Gummy Bear, which is something that happens in this book, you know it’s a crazy comic. Jamie Jones provides a solid art style and coloring for the book, and you can follow the action very easily.

My only quibble is that it’s a bit too short, if this only exists as a one shot it’s a shame as I’d love to see more comics like this. Thankfully Chido Comics will be masking a series of Lucha Libre comics soon, but they are all looking like one-shots as well – fingers crossed that changes.

La Mano del Destino #2 (2011)

la mano del destino 2 cover

La Mano del Destino is a six-issue story which tells the tale of a once-champion Luchadore – who, after being betrayed, agrees to a Faustian bargain in order to exact revenge upon his betrayers. Mesoamerican myth and high-flying, Lucha Libre action converge to tell this story of vengeance and destiny.

In issue 2 of the La Mano del Destino six-issue story, we learn the harrowing history of the man who became La Mano del Destino – a familiar tale of sibling rivalry, but with a tragic twist. We see what drove our hero to become champion and why the loss of his title and mask were an unbearable indignity.

After reviewing the Rey Mysterio comic book a few weeks ago, I remembered that I’ve actually received a few more wrestling comics in various boxes I’ve ended up with. Forgive me for not remembering which one, but one of the very first Lucha Loot packages I got contained a random issue of a comic called La Mano del Destino by J. Gonzo. For some reason, I tossed this book into my swag box and forgot about it until I went in looking for a Joey Ryan comic I also plan to review. Published by a small independent publisher called Castle and Key Publication, La Mano del Destino is planned  to be a six issue series of which I believe five have been released. My main question is – can you jump into this at issue 2, or would it be a bad idea? we’ll see!

la mano del destino 2 page 1

Luckily, this issue is entirely a flashback issue and has little of what came before. It’s basically a stand-alone tale of a pair of brothers trying to survive after the death of their father in the early 1940’s in Mexico. The boys are sent to live with a military general that basically only agreed to bring them in because he respected their mother. One brother, nicknamed “Monchi” is seen a s a strong boy, so he is to work in the fields with the other laborers, he basically lives outside and sleeps in a barn – a rough life for a young man.

This is all while “Petey” becomes a house-servant of some sort – living a life of relative luxury when compared to his brother. Monchi apparently has a gift for leadership and agitation and leads a servant revolt right up to The General’s doorsstep – Petey tries to stop tragedy from happening, but ends up accidentally accidentally shooting his brother in the hand before the General basically fires all of the servants and they both get tossed in prison. More tragedy leads to Petey deciding to become a luchador once he gets out, to atone for his past.

la mano del destino 2 page 2

The art in this comic is definitely something unique, it’s somewhat exaggerated and angular while being vaguely reminiscent of classic “Silver Age” books from artists such as Jack Kirby especially in the coloring. This gives the book an odd vibe where it looks modern, like some sort of street art, but also VERY retro – looking like a screen-toned book from the past. This brash coloring scheme can lead to some things I did not like, such as a lot of expeditionary test bubbles being a bright pink color that are harder to read than most comics.

Despite a few typos here and there, this is a solid comic, but it flies by wayyyy to fast in order to meet the 25 page max limit. I wish we could have seen more of Monchi’s path into becoming a rebel leader of sorts, or more with them interacting with The General in any way, but what’s there serves its purpose and flows well. I might have to try to get more of this, or perhaps I will see if a trade eventually comes out.

To read more about this comic series, check this out.

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DEVILMAN Crybaby (2018)

Click HERE to see what you missed!

Almost out of nowhere, Netflix has started to become my go-to location for watching new anime – even over Crunchyroll. This is largely because instead of simply streaming properties that were made in Japan, Netflix has been funding original content and taking huge chances in an industry that has been going through various stages of stagnation for a number of years. After last year’s Castlevania, a witty, dark adaptation of an old NES game, the company has set to dip into the more brutal side of anime yet again with DEVILMAN Crybaby.

DEVILMAN Crybaby is based on the legendary manga and anime by Go Nagai – author of other popular series such as Cutie Honey and Mazinger Z. The property had an odd, almost simultaneous release as a  39-episode anime series which was developed by Toei Animation in 1972, and as a manga in Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine barely a month before the anime series started. The series has since spawned numerous OVAs, manga, novels, and films. Today we will be talking about a BRAND-NEW remake of the franchise in DEVILMAN Crybaby, the surprise hit of the year in the anime world.

DEVILMAN Crybaby Netflix anime 5

When I started watching this, I was immediately enthralled by the opening theme song and video which is a bizarre, simplistic electronic dance song that basically just has the lyrics “MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN HUMAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN HUMAN HUMAN!” playing against a trippy background reminiscent of watercolor inkblot tests. I’m not sure why, but this song, perhaps in it’s simplicity, is a total earworm and gets stuck in your head immediately. Whenever Netflix would try to skip the intro I was like “OH HELL NO!” in the same way that I always must watch both the Doctor Who and Game of Thrones intros to completion.

In DEVILMAN Crybaby Demons invade humanity after being frozen in ice for millions of years. Akira, a timid boy, is tasked by his friend Ryo to merge with one of these demons in order to be able to fight back against them for the sake of humanity. Akira has been chosen because, as the title would suggest, he is very very emotional – sobbing uncontrollably at the drop of a hat. It’s this susceptibility to extreme empathy that makes him the perfect candidate to become a demon as he can control the impulses that usually turn people into inhuman creatures of pure impulse.

DEVILMAN Crybaby Netflix anime 6

Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, a man that is perhaps my favorite surrealist anime director considering I LOVE his films Cat Soup and Kick Heart, which the latter was reviewed here from back before I merged my blogs together. He is one of those guys that usually makes short films rather than long-form pieces such as a full-on TV series, but I’m glad he is branching out and trying things like this. I’m not sure how much Netflix has to say about funding decisions such as this, but I feel Japan would have likely skipped on something like this on their own since it won’t sell body pillows.

I think I was sold on DEVILMAN Crybaby towards the end of the very first episode where Masaaki Yuasa finally steps forward and unleashes his signature weirdness that I was wanting to see. Not since Gantz, an anime that I was able to watch the premiere of at an anime convention and stayed glued to the seat due to how messed up it was, have I been able to not stop watching something as if it’s a crazy car crash.

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At one point our titular hero, just minus his devil powers, finds himself being forced to go to a full-on rave / orgy full of drug-addled women of various states of undress waving all sorts of body parts around. Suddenly Akira’s friend Ryo starts attacking strangers (which should be a hell of a red flag) to add the smell of blood to all of the other debauchery and summon demons to the club. Suddenly, people are ripped into pieces or transformed into other demons themselves, including our boy Akira.

I’m not being facetious when I say – this is perhaps the most violent, gory, and raunchy anime Netflix has and perhaps we can extend that to the rest of the anime world in the last five years outside of actual pornography. But the weird thing is, it never feels wholly gratuitous; it somehow stays artistic rather than going down the road of juvenile T&A shows like Prison School or Queen’s Blade. Its use of grandiose sexual and violent imagery are a tool used to peer into the overindulgent, sometimes disgusting nature of being human. Because, in the world of DEVILMAN Crybaby becoming a demon is basically taking your most base animalistic tendencies and amplifying it to the point of absurdity.

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In most versions of Devilman, a relatively minor villain named Jinmen encapsulates this very well. He has fully fallen into being a demon and shows no human side whatsoever. Even other long-time antagonists such as Sirene show some sort of humanity poking though as small as the sliver is. Jinmen is arguably one of the most depraved, repulsive and perverse villains in all of Devilman.

He is a complete sadist, who revels in the suffering of human beings and enjoys tormenting them psychologically, as evidenced by his macabre habit of keeping their still-living faces on the back of his shell after eating them. Jinmen would compare the faces growing off of his back to the tattoos which human beings paint on their bodies and happily flaunts them in front of his adversaries. This was part of Jinmen’s scare tactic; by having his enemy cower in fear at the sight of his kills, or in the case of Akira Fudo cause reluctance in fighting Jinmen out of concern towards the several humans attached to the demon turtles body.

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As you can see from the pictures on here and my descriptions, the art style in this show is extremely trippy – not at all the “norm” for modern anime in 2018. Everything is exaggerated in just about every manner causing an almost unsettling juxtaposition between scenes of light-hearted banter, sex, and grim violence. A lot of the art reminds me a lot of French comics books, the sort of stuff that would eventually end up in Heavy Metal magazine in both their loose grasp of human anatomy and their use of trippy colors and shapes.

This is a hallmark of Masaaki Yuasa’s many works of art and shows up in most of his films. I have come to expect this from him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Earlier on, I stated that DEVILMAN Crybaby was a surprise hit for me. I honestly assumed this show would go seemingly unnoticed outside of anime fans such as myself (pretentious snob guys LOL) and might a few honorable mention lists at the end of the year. Instead it has become a force of nature in social media and just about every major anime podcast, magazine, and website. We all know that Netflix rarely releases data on how much their shows get watched, but judging solely by the amount of buzz it generated, I’m almost certain it is considered a big success. I have also seen reviews that mention random facts like the soundtrack completely selling out in Japan which is unheard of for anime OSTs. I’ve even seen this get mentioned on lists of things to watch on Netflix that basically say “you need to watch this even if you don’t like anime” implying that it has crossed into the mainstream film community.

Yeah, the show can be seen as over-hyped and I bet there are tons of “I hate stuff because it’s popular” guys out there whining about how they don’t understand the love for the show, but screw them honestly. DEVILMAN Crybaby has the markings of a modern classic like FLCL and Cowboy Bebop by getting non-fans watching anime – and that’s never a bad thing gatekeepers be damned.

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Valkyria Chronicles 4 Demo – Multiplatform (2018)

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It is the year 1935 EC.

The continent of Europa is engulfed in the flames of the Second Europan War between the Atlantic Federation and the Autocratic Eastern Imperial Alliance. Although the Federation struggles valiantly against the Empire’s forces, the relentless imperial military machine threatens to consume them. With victory slipping away, the Federation executes Operation Northern Cross: a last-ditch attempt to capture the imperial capital and end the war.

Commander Claude Wallace and his loyal childhood friends in Squad E are sent to fight for the desperate operation’s success, but they will have to endure harsh bone-chilling elements, waves of imperial soldiers, and the terrifying Valkyria… and unravel a grave truth that will shake them to the core.

One of the very first PS3 game I ever bought was Valkyria Chronicles, and I immediately fell in love with it. I absolutely adore tactical RPGs and it had been a while since I played one that tipped the “instant classic” box that games from Quest Corporation or Square Enix used to make. But here came Sega with something truly special – only to sit on the franchise basically for over a decade. Yeah, there were sequels, but they jumped to the PSP and were ignored totally in the west (VC was never released here!) since the games basically were being used to promote a TV anime in Japan. There was an ill-received spin-off recently, but Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the first true return to form for a Loooong time.

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To celebrate this, Sega has decided to drum up interest in the game by releasing a demo showcasing the beginning of the full game. I don’t normally review things like demos, but I was pretty excited about this and only just found out about it when I was checking on my pre-order for the full game. When it’s all said and done, think of this as the first part of my review for when I eventually do the full game, and it’ll all come together.

This demo isn’t a meager one level affair like so many others, it contains three full chapters of the game (a prologue plus 2 main chapters) plus the ability to transfer any progress from the demo to the actual game upon release. It also has two skirmish maps, a bonus map that is ONLY available in the demo, and some unlockable things that can be done, giving this demo a surprisingly large amount of replay time if you like grinding. Each chapter is divided into small segments arranged in a scrapbook-like grid with pages that are turned to access the next segment. usually, each page contains 5-6 story segments and a battle – for fans of the original Valkyria Chronicles, this is exactly the same set-up as the first PS3 game from ten years ago (which was released later on PS4).

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One of the things that I enjoy most about this series is that it has a humanity to it that most war media is completely devoid of. Instead of a “kill them all, America F Yeah! – Hoo-rah” vibe one gets from 99% of military shooters like your Call of Duties, or Battlefields, we have a story of regular people being thrown into a war to save their homeland from an encroaching enemy. An example of this is a powerful scene where Claude remarks that the field they are standing in is now completely empty of the beautiful flowers that were just there before Imperial shelling began in the area.

Keep in mind that one of the more lauded aspects of the first game in the series, was it actually had the cajones to actually address the Holocaust in an interesting way in that it introduced an ethnic minority of characters (Darksens) that were blamed for the misfortunes brought on by a previous war and were rounded up and put in camps and persecuted. One of the main protagonists HATES Darksens at the beginning of the game, so much that she comes across as fairly unlikable once her racism shows through. Yeah – that was in this game, heavy stuff for a fantasy game with water color art.

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In a lot of ways, this game is a step back from some of the stuff aadded into the series on the handheld games, it does not include the branching classes or “school simulator” aspects from Valkyria Chronicles 2, or the fantastical characters found in Valkyria Chronicles 3, but that isn’t to say there isn’t any innovation at all. In fact, this is perhaps the most well-balanced game of the three I’ve played – some character classes have been tweaked such as allowing more movement for snipers, or less CP usage for tanks. There is also an entirely new character class this time around known as the Grenadier, who can fire mortar rounds at enemies. They can sort of stay behind the scenes and lob mortars at far away enemies if any team member can see somebody on the map – it’s a cool character class so far despite the small amount of time I’ve been messing with this demo.

Another addition to the game is something called “The Brave system”. When an allied soldier is downed and is nearly dead, players can consume 1 CP and increase the stats of allied units with the “Entrust” skill or can restore 1 AP with the ability to move and attack while being invulnerable for one action with the “Stand Up” skill. Considering how many times I had to restart battles in the previous games due to my unwillingness to accept perma-death of characters, this sounds like a godsend. I have not messed around with this too much, because I have been playing on “Easy” in order to leisurely take in the demo, but when I do my main play-through I will definitely be excited for the opportunity to save my soldiers necks if need arises.

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For some reason, I have played this demo for like 10 hours, mostly because I decided to try to get all of my characters up the the rank of Corporal for no other reason than to be a total over-powered bad-ass once I start playing the full game, but it came be played in like an hour most-likely. All-in-all this is really fun and looks like I will have plenty of fun this fall returning to the country of Gallia. Here’s hoping this game finds success now that it’s out on multi-platform and we get things like a Valkyria Chronicles 5 and even a Valkyria Chronicles 2-3 HD remaster!

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Sega. It was released in Japan for the PlayStation 4 in March 2018, and is scheduled to be released worldwide in September 2018, in addition for the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.

Jump onto everything but the PC, and grab that demo, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Lady Death: Extinction Express (2016)

 

A while back I started reviewing some of the recent Lady Death comics, and here is part two! So if you want to read a bit about her origin or how these comics came to be check that link out as going into this review I’m going to assume we’re on the same page. I hope to keep doing these until I’m all caught up, which could be a while at the almost glacial pace I’ve been moving at. While you’re at it, make sure to head over to Kickstarter to see the newest volume that will be coming out soon, I might do an un-boxing time article for all the swag I get from the campaign if that’s something somebody would want to see.

Check HERE for my review of part one.

The Hellbourne Elders dispatch Atrocitas, an insane angel/demon hybrid assassin to destroy Lady Death for once and for all. But their epic confrontation proves tragic for a beloved character and sets in motion events that will change Lady Death’s undead life forever! Is this the road to extinction? Featuring the diabolical return of Hellwitch and the first appearance of Chaotica, a major new character in the Lady Death Universe.

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This book basically starts off right where the last one left off, and introduces a few new characters mentioned in that blurb. Atrocitas serves as the major villain for this book and seems to have been created by desperate Hellbourne leadership as a creature that should be able to stand toe-to-toe with Lady Death. He’s not nearly as formidable as one would imagine when it comes to actually fighting Lady Death, but has this nasty ability to do heinous things and come back from the dead quite often after being dispatched which is pretty damn annoying. Perhaps his biggest jerk move is maiming The Lady’s noble steed Vassago, forcing her to take a step back and desperately head towards a known warlock to see if he can heal the horse.

We also see the return of Hellwitch, a character that originally seemed like a stand-in for Purgatori somewhat, but is starting to get her own characterization so as to truly separate the characters. Apparently, Hellwitch is salty because she is a Hellbourne nationalist of sorts – when Satanus took Hell over and placed his Demonkind in charge of ruling it’s fiery pits – it didn’t sit well with many Hellbourne people. Then a deal was made with heaven to punish Earthbourne sinners within the confines of Hell (you know BIblical-style) which further set off Hellwitch and her like-minded followers. Moving this character away from the simple “you killed my Dad!” revenge archetype is great and her motivations really help both with world-building and fleshing her out.

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I would mention Chaotica here, but she is barely in the comic and I assume she’ll be a bigger part in the next issue.

In my last review, I mentioned that the writing in part one was superior to that of part 2, and that the art in part 2 was better than part 1 – neither of which were deal-breakers, but just how it was. This time, I felt the story, and especially the dialogue, were improved a lot as well as jiving very well with the art. This is by far the strongest of the three books in just about every way, and has enough tension, action, and cool spots to keep any fans attention.

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This is also one of the more unapologetic issues of the series when it comes to the gratuitous imagery including a silly scene where Lady Death jumps into the mouth of a huge, monstrous dragon-like beast fully clothed and comes out with a new bikini fashioned from her tattered clothing in such a way that she now has a bikini on. I’m not complaining, but it was pretty laugh-worthy.

All-in-all this book was really good and makes me pretty excited to read Oblivion Kiss – I now can’t wait to see Hellwitch and Lady Death go at it again and see how Chaotica fits into everything.

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Pro Wrestling Crate August 2018 Unboxing / Review

DANG! seems like all of these subscription crates have lined up in such a way to where it looks like I get tons of them all the time. Truthfully, most of these are basically quarterly, but every one in a while it’s like Christmas over here at my house. So anyway, we’re once again looking at Pro Wrestling Crate, perhaps my favorite wrestling related crate that I’ve tried. I pay for these myself, and counting the embarrassing amount of Micro Brawlers that I now have, it shows that I have been a member for 18 months and they’ve never steered me wrong.

Pro Wrestling Crate always gives some of their proceeds to charity and this month is no exception. This time some of the money has gone to the Virgil Flynn III Family Fund GoFundMe plan. Flynn was a Northern California Wrestler and promoter that sadly suffered a stroke at age 33 and passed away.

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “HOME” to get 20% off your first crate.

This month’s theme was:

big in japan


Mastodon Vader T Shirt

I absolutely LOVE this shirt! Intentional or not, it has this He-Man and the Masters of the Universe vibe. Really wish I would have had this on-hand when I met Vader a few years back before he passed away.


“The King” Ricochet T Shirt

As I type this, Ricochet perhaps just had the match of his WWE career at NXT Brooklyn 4 against The Velveteen Dream – what an amazing talent! I still think I enjoy his Lucha Underground work better, but having this shirt is cool.


Tama Tonga Micro Brawler Figure

I think I’m literally like 3 members away from having an entire line of Bullet Club figures at this point – maybe just Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Ishimori, Hikuleo and Tanga Loa and I’ll have all current members.Hell, at this point I hope they go back and grab former members as well. Anyway, not much else to say other than I love these things!


Ribera Steakhouse Custom Menu

This is what I assume to be a facsimile menu from Ribera Steakhouse – a legend to professional wrestling fans. Ribera is a Japanese professional wrestling, boxing and mixed martial arts-themed steak house restaurant with two locations. The original location is in Gotanda, and there is a second, larger location in Meguro. Professional wrestlers frequent the restaurant when touring in Tokyo, a rite of passage in the wrestling community. In addition, some wrestlers receive a satin Ribera Steakhouse Jacket from the owners which has become almost infamous to fans.


Road Warrior Animal Autographed 8×10

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This is actually like the third autograph I have from Animal as he frequents a local wrestling federation that I live near, but this is still cool. If you get a chance check out his podcast, he tells some good stories.


Joey Ryan “Big In Japan” Socks.

There isn’t much I can really say about receiving novelty socks in these things, yeah I could do my due diligence and wear them all day and do an elaborate review on some sort of sock comfort scale – but get real, that’s silly. Pretty nifty socks though!


Kenny Omega “Change the World” Exclusive Collectors Pin

Another fine lapel pin for my collection.


AJ Styles Making an Impact DVD

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I believe this DVD was originally called “Leaving an Impact” and was sold as a DV-R by High Spots.

The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles has been the face of TNA for the past 11 years, but that all changed on December 15th 2013 when his contract expired. Highspots caught up with AJ in his man-cave in Gainesville, GA on Jan 2, 2014 and he opens up about what led to those negotiations breaking down, his relationship with Dixie, what it feels like to be a free agent after all these years, returning to the indies and would he ever go to work for Vince. AJ also reflects on his classic matches and angles during his time in TNA and shoots on the “money” guys that didn’t care about the product. You don’t want to miss this over two hour interview with the Phenomenal AJ Styles.


Another Solid month from Pro Wrestling Crate, that Vader shirt is the MVP of this box by far and will likely be in my rotation quite a bit.

Join me again next month for another box review! the theme will be:

themeslider

Star Trek Mission Crate 002: Way of the Warrior

I spoke at some length during my review of the last WWE Slam Crate about the possible financial woes that Loot Crate might be facing and the annoyance that fans of Star Trek have been put through for this year. Because of that, I won’t harp on it again, and will concentrate on the positive fact that MY CRATE IS FINALLY HERRRRE! Ahem, now the question is – was it worth the wait?

They say “the only people who can really handle the Klingons are the Klingons,” so when a Klingon fleet arrives at Deep Space Nine, LT. Commander Worf is brought in to learn their true motives. What he discovers leads to the start of the Federation / Klingon War.

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.


The Box

Last time, everything came in a nifty box that resembled a Next Generation Shuttle Craft, while cool this served little purpose aside from making a very cool piece of trash that I threw out since I don’t hoard random packing materials no matter how awesome they might be. This time around Looters? (Craters? not sure what the nickname is) have a more simple branded box that looks pretty slick. This blue and red branding is on most of the items in the box and may be the “packaging issues” that caused the delays that we heard about.


Spoiler Card

Typical spoiler card that looks like those iPads that everyone had in Star Trek TNG.


Lt. Commander Worf Mini Master

This figure is awesome! this is beyond the best part of the box immediately from just glancing outside. while it’s plastic, this is more the quality of some sort of expensive imported figure rather than a simple Walmart action figure. If these Mini Masters keep being in the box, I’m all for this crate!


Mirror Universe Tribble

Simple “plushie” showing a mirror universe (evil) version of everyones favorite annoying alien.


Klingon Socks

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Can’t say too much about socks, but they look comfy – I’ll have to pick a day when I wear my Worf shirt and toss these on.


Klingon Emblem Badge

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Last time we got a bridge crew Federation badge, this is a nice compliment.


Klingon Sticker

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Once I eventually get a different car, I might have to toss this onto it.


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Standard lapel pin similar to the badge last time.


Star Trek Online: Klingon Defense Force Starter Pack (PC Code)

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I don’t have this game for PC, but I have plenty of friends that play, so I always pass these on.


All-in-all good box, not sure it lived up to the insane wait we all had to suffer, but I’m glad to finally have it. With no shirt this time, the best item is easily the Worf statue, which is now predominant placed in my Star Trek themed guest bathroom.

Here’s hoping we don’t wait another five months for box 3. I’ll keep everyone posted lol!

 

Concert Review: Uniform, Drab Majesty, Deafheaven 8-4-18

I’ve done a bad job of keeping up with concert reviews as of late, but I wanted to definitely post a bit about the one I attended this past weekend in order to get everything back on track. I wanted to first mention that I saw this in Lawrence, Kansas at a theater called The Granada, and for small shows around this area there is literally no better venue. I’ve been to my fair share of shows at tiny bars where it’s 300 degrees and you leave the show completely deaf because you are basically laying on the monitors and there are 5 sets of back-filled gear resulting on each band having a postage stamp sized spot to stand on.

The Granada has none of this, the sound is solid, there’s plenty of room for the bands, and I’ve never left with serious issues do to my ears wanting to die nor do I usually have to wear earplugs and I’ve seen some LOUUUUD stuff there. I jumped at the chance to see this show since I am a big fan of Deafheaven, but the rest of the show was a mystery to me. This was largely due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with the supporting acts, I knew they are from three very different genres, and I wasn’t sure what sort of crowd would be in attendance. What I will say in short is that weird shows like this are awesome, and I hope to see more like this.


Uniform

Uniform, a New York Based band that mixes trappings from industrial and hardcore into a relentless sonic attack, were first up. The band recently gained a bit of notoriety for having two tracks included into an episode of the re-launched Twin Peaks show on Showtime, hot off of this, they have a new album coming out and I will likely be getting it after this show. While I’m not usually a big fan of 80’s hardcore, somehow mixing the vocal trappings of that with industrial somehow helps make that style of music, which can sometimes be very harsh, even harsher, bleaker, and more relentless. Michael Berdan’s vocals hit like some sort of angry slam poetry, ranting about the ills of society, touching on inequality, the media and even religion. If any of that seems up your alley, I’d recommend checking them out (posting a video below) and if you get to see them, Berdan is a really nice dude and took time out to talk to fans at the merch table.


Drab Majesty

Next up was a Goth / Darkwave band called Drab Majesty – I absolutely love this type of music but have never really had a chance to see any of it live since it’s relatively underground, and cool concerts always happen on days of the week where I have to work. Donned in all white with make-up and large sunglasses on, this California-based two piece is a deliberate throwback to the 80’s both in sound and look. The band seemed to have a huge following at the show which is easily to understand considering that they ooze a mysterious vibe that I can only assume gets them legions of female fans that enjoy dark mysterious alien dudes.

The highlight of their set is a song where the lead singer, Deb Demure, strapped a bright light to his chest and performed basically blinding whomever he was directly facing. While this sounds annoying, it was actually a cool effect with the fog machines going, and made them seem even more mysterious than they already are. Perhaps the one way that I knew this band had something special was that one of my good friends, that normally only likes metal, actually enjoyed the set quite a bit due to it’s quirky nature and being something different.

Once again, here is an example of the band’s music.


Deafheaven

When I got “back into music” a handful of years ago, I mostly got really into going over to Bandcamp’s “atmospheric Black Metal” subgenre section and simply scouring over endless pages of crazy bands that I haven’t heard of. Many bands from this period have become some of my favorite current bands – groups like Ghost Bath, Panopticon, Drudkh, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Deafheaven are always on my rotation. I’m drawn to many of these bands because they are usually a lot more melodic than standard black metal (which I also like) and are more willing to experiment much to the derision of gatekeepers of the metal scene.

Deafheaven, in particular, seem to always get jabbed at by metal elitests since “they aren’t metal enough”. After this concert I will say that those guys are all buffoons. I have seen a lot of shows, and I have literally never seen a crowd mosh as hard as what happened during Deafheaven. It was a weird thing since the band is known for long-form songs with trippy interludes that absolutely glow with optimism and possibly weariness. Suddenly this would break and all hell would break lose – people were doing windmills, ninja kicks, the whole gamut.

I was also VERY impressed with the stage presence of George Clarke, the band’s lead singer. In the music videos, even the one I will post below, you don’t see much of the band performing – some of the newer ones show the guys recording an album and driving classic cars around. But, good lord does this guy have it. Jumping around like some sort of black metal Mick Jagger, Clarke was absolutely crazy to watch. Much like when I was able to see Wolves in the Throne Room earlier this year, I was blown away by these guys.

Here’s a video

Doctor Who: Primeval (2001)

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‘Nyssa will die at dawn, and the Doctor doesn’t even know why.

To save her life, he must make a desperate journey to the only place in the universe where a cure might exist.

When even that fails, the Doctor has a choice – let Nyssa die, or make a deal with the devil.

After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions…”

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these reviews!! I think one of the biggest shames in all of 80’s Doctor Who was cramming so many characters into Peter Davison’s TARDIS so that there wasn’t really a way for any character to really stand out. For me, usually these characters stood out for the absolute wrong reasons – Tegan and Adric always arguing with The Doctor for no reason then getting hurt because they ignored something he told them to do absolutely irks me. I always wanted more Nyssa and Turlough!

With Big Finish Audios my prayers have been answered as some of these pairings were given new adventures to play around with, and it’s really making me LOVE parts of Doctor Who that I wasn’t a fan of with the TV show. Case and point, me flipping my opinion on both Peter Davison and Colin Baker’s runs on the show.

When Doctor Who tackles larger than life God-tier villains, it’s always a bit hit or miss for me. Most of these episodes have some sort of ham-fisted agenda either vilifying religion or somehow propping it up. Then in some really weird cases, it somehow does both. sometimes I end up absolutely loving such episodes much like what happened with The Rings of Akhaten, or it could go south in episodes like just about any that have “The Devil” in them. I think my leanings towards Gnosticism tend to make me predestined to get excited about stories where mortals stand up to self-described deities, so there is that.

Usually, episodes like this have a Stargate vibe where ancient aliens have been worshiped as gods when they are not. Luckily, this story flips this trope on it’s head a bit by coming to a planet where the is basically no religion whatsoever, only to discover that the planet was basically founded by a creature named Kwundaar that in many ways was their god until they decided to lock him out. Inadvertently, The Doctor tries to help Nyssa but accidentally helps Kwundaar once again become the God-king of Traken. There’s a bit of a jab at organized religion where suddenly people convert to worshiping the creature simply to save their own lives.

One thing I enjoy a lot about this episode is that it fills a few gaps into the Doctor Who continuity. This story portrays the planet Traken three thousand years before TV: The Keeper of Traken. It also tells how the Keeper’s position came to be. Having some backstory to this and showing how the society was set up was a nice touch. Another nice touch was finally explaining why Nyssa collapsed in an old TV episode, Four to Doomsday, and how she magically obtained telepathic powers in Time-Flight. It appears that both are direct results of Kwundaar’s manipulations.

I also enjoyed that The Doctor was able to defeat Kwundaar  in a way that was not a cheat or a contrivance. With a lot of episodes like this resulting in something silly like “love saves day!” I’m glad that didn’t happen.

The Masked Republic Luchaverse: Rey Mysterio #1

“The current in a family line of Mysterios that dates back centuries, each one trained to be a champion of the people and to take on a great evil that has been prophecised to return and plunge the world into darkness. Rey Mysterio is on a quest, aided by the military clandestine group known as “The Ambassadors”. The mission is clear: retrieve the one thing Rey will need to take on this returning evil…..THE MASK OF THE FIRST MYSTERIO!”

To be honest, when it comes to comics related to wrestling, I never really picked up too many, not even back in my heaviest comic reading days. So aside from the Joey Ryan comic I got a while back (which I should review on here) I haven’t really read too many. Luckily Masked Republic had my back recently by tucking one of these bad boys into my recent Lucha Loot Treasure Chest (Review here) via Chido Comics.

This comic reminds me a lot of the old-school luchador films from the 60’s starring El Santo and Blue Demon in that it exists as a way to create a rich mythology behind a wrestler that can’t easily be conveyed in the medium of wrestling as it would come off as VERY silly and far too over the top (well maybe not in Lucha Underground). In this comic, for instance, we find out that Rey was in fact trained in an old Mexican monastery by an old man that would not be out of place in a stereotypical Kung Fu film (I’m sure that this is 100% factual :P). he is prophecised to be a sort of messianic figure – a man that will eventually save the world from impending doom.

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This comic features a handful of references to other well-known Luchadors such as Konnan (who seems to be Rey’s boss or something) and Tinieblas (who apparently took an off-page trip to the Himalayas specifically to get a map to the location of the foretold ancient mask for Rey). The mask itself is a reference to none other than Rey Mysterio Sr. While actual cameos would have been cool, I really like that this is building what I hope to be a full-on comic universe featuring luchadors. I assume that;s something that has existed in Mexico, but over here not so much.

Perhaps my only gripe was that the members of The Ambassadors serve very little purpose in the story (so far) aside from standing there and looking scared or wise-cracking while Rey beats the crap out of Zombie mountain lions using his super-powers. I would have almost preferred for the team to me made-up of actual wrestlers, but we’ll see if these guys pop up again.

The final page is an advertisement for a second one-shot featuring The Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Pentagon Jr.) Since these two are basically my favorite wrestlers at the moment I’m pretty excited to see where this goes and get my next Lucha Loot assuming that will be in there. This was a fun read for what it was and a must buy for any Lucha Fan that’s been wanting something like this for a while. Chido Comics is something that could be on the cusp of something cool, I’ll definitely keep an eye on them!

Lucha Loot July ’18 Treasure Chest Unboxing / Review

A few months ago, we were informed that Lucha Loot was going through some changes including losing the ability to pre-pay for future boxes and a switch to a bi-monthly schedule instead of monthly. I suggested that this was likely for the better as getting too many loot boxes all of the time would probably get stale, and with three subscriptions (WWE Slam Crate, and Pro Wrestling Crate) it’s possible. So here we are, two months later, was it worth the wait?

Oh, before we move on….If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.


Spoiler Card

Not much to say here, but I’m glad to see a spoiler card because I sometimes am not sure what person an item relates to with this box.


Sangre Chicana Mask

This one was pretty interesting for me as I’m not really familiar with the Sangre Chicana  Family. Reyes made his professional wrestling debut in 1973, wearing a red mask with a gold stripe, under the name Lemus. A year later he changed his name to Sangre Chicana but kept the mask with the golden stripe. He rose to prominence in a feud with El Cobarde and Fishman that led to a Lucha de Apuesta, mask vs. mask match where Reyes lost his mask. His two sons “Lemus, Jr.” and “Sangre Chicana, Jr.” have carried the lineage on, wearing variations of this same mask.


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Luchaverse Ancient Medallion pin

It was announced a while back that Masked Republic (who produces this box) decided to get into the comics industry by creating a brand initiative called Luchaverse. This pin by Lapel Yeah is basically the “logo” of the brand. Even without knowing what it ism this pin is pretty cool!


Marty “The Moth” Martinez Sticker

While the fans might chant “creepy Bastard” to old Marty here, nobody can deny how great he has been on Lucha Underground these past 4 years. While I’m not sure I’ll be tossing this sticker on anything prominent of mine, the art is cool and it’s cool to add to my folder of swag that I have.


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Luchaverse – Rey Mysterio Comic Book

This is the first release of the aforementioned Luchaverse line of comics from Chido Comics.

“The current in a family line of Mysterios that dates back centuries, each one trained to be a champion of the people and to take on a great evil that has been prophecised to return and plunge the world into darkness. Rey Mysterio is on a quest, aided by the military clandestine group known as “The Ambassadors”. The mission is clear: retrieve the one thing Rey will need to take on this returning evil…..THE MASK OF THE FIRST MYSTERIO!”

I have decided to do a full review of this Comic HERE.


El Mesias Ricky Banderas T-Shirt

Ever since seeing him in the short-lived and somewhat baffling Wrestling Society X, I’ve thought Banderas was pretty cool. This is especially true now as his Mil Muertes character on Lucha Underground has become one of my all-time favorites.


Masked Republic Keychain

This is a fun little take on the Masked Republic logo in Perler bead form – not sure I’ll be using this as Perler bead scultures always seem somewhat fragile, but it’s cool none-the-less.


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Black Danger Autographed 8×10

Solid autograph from the former Junior Champion from The Crash Lucha Libre.


All in all, solid box with the stand-out items being the El Messias shirt and Rey Mysterio comic book. If they keep tossing the comics in each box, I’ll be very happy and hop this acts as a subscription of sorts. Really, this is a great way to keep up with Lucha Libre here in the US, now it’ll be hard to wait two months for the next one.

If you’d like one of these, check this out here

WWE Slam Crate June 2018 Unboxing / Review

Before going into any review for a box from Loot Crate, I wanted to touch base on a bit of controversy they seem to be perpetually embroiled in lately. Since I actually pay for these boxes, you won’t see any fake glowing reviews without criticism on my site. You see, I have been a member of WWE Slam Crate since the very first box and recently signed up for Star Trek Mission Crate (well about 6 months ago). Until recently, I had absolutely no issues, but this spring – Summer has been ridiculously bad for the company for many reasons. It seems that, for whatever reason, Loot Crate can’t keep any of their boxes on schedule lately. This WWE crate, for example,  was supposed to be shipped well over a month ago, apparently a Firefly Crate is really far behind, and my personal annoyance being Star Trek Mission Crate. The first STMC was supposed to ship sometime in January with the second arriving in March. If I recall we received #1 in February sometime and have YET TO RECEIVE #2!

Apparently the reason behind this is allegedly the shipping materials getting messed up or something, but I honestly could care less if my swag shows up in a model of a Star Trek shuttle craft (as the first one did) because after the initial novelty it will proudly be residing in my recycling bin because it’s a shipping box. I’d rather the money go to making sure delays like this don’t happen again. Allegedly, these will be shipped in about a week, but we’ll see :/

Star Trek crate update

sigh…

Well, without further ado, lets actually talk about this particular crate instead of ranting! This quarters theme was “Larger Than Life” and promised items from some of WWE’s biggest superstars, let’s see how it stacks up with my other wrestling crates like yesterday’s Pro Wrestling Crate.


The Box

WWE Slam Crate 1

I already mentioned that I never keep these boxes or anything, but this one was pretty cool – Wish there were more people on this like Kane or Giant Gonzalez, but for what is basically getting thrown away, I won’t worry too much.


The spoiler booklet/Poster

While I don’t really hang these posters up, it’s a cool way to make the spoiler card something to hold onto.


Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase Money Clip

Hilariously, this is not the first Ted Dibiase money clip I’ve got from a subscription box, although this one’s a bit classier. Well, at least flashier.


Undertaker Shirt

Not much to say other than this is a really cool shirt, and I absolutely love that there is nothing printed on the back which 9/10 times ruins most WWE shirts.


WCW World Heavyweight Championship Pin

These pins are always so cool – I have amassed quite the collection of these these past few years, and this is already one of my favorites seeing how big of a WCW fan I was. We’ve already received a pin version of the infamous NWO spray painted version of this belt, so it’s nice having the clean one as well.

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Andre The Giant Fleece Blanket

It was astonishingly hard to take a picture of this for some reason, but here it is draped over my couch in perhaps the worst pictures on this entire post. It’s about 6 feet tall and has images of Andre’s actual hand and foot size which is cool. This is possibly the standout item of this box.


Braun Strowman Figure

I wasn’t too sure about these figures when they first started sending these as the last thing I need are a bunch of things like Funko Pop Vinyls cluttering up my nerd room, but these aren’t too bad. They are definitely better than the heavy die cast metal figures that the first few crates had.

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And that’s it! all-in-all this was one of the better crates from these guys as I can see myself using that blanket and shirt and I LOVE the belt pins. In the past, this crate has send some sort of “meh” things (a problem with Lootcrate as a whole) and I believe I would rather have these larger items instead of a ton of small stuff if that’s the route they are taking. Perhaps my only issue with this selection of items is that it didn’t really take too much advantage of the theme of “big guy” wrestlers as it could. Now, here’s hoping the companies issues get ironed out.

Next up is going to be a crate called “Better Than You” which could be fun as it appears to be a heel crate.

slam crate better than you spoiler

They’re big, they’re bad, and they don’t mind letting you know it. Bow down to the supreme Superstars who think they are BETTER THAN YOU! Celebrate the big egos of the WWE Universe with items featuring Alexa Bliss, Elias, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Miz!

 

Pro Wrestling Crate July 2018 Unboxing / Review

Just got back from my mail box, and was excited to see one of my subscription boxes had come in – today we’ll be looking at another Pro Wrestling Crate from the fine folks over at Pro Wrestling Tees. I’ve been getting this crate for well over a year now, and it’s always worth it.

This month, it looks like the chosen charity was for Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s surgery Indiegogo. Apparently he hurt himself pretty bad a while back and needs a full knee replacement:

“A few months ago I took a tumble and twisted my knee and I’ve been in some pain. Finally went to my doctor and had an MRI TODAY then back to the Dr with the disc! A lot of running around or hobbling around. Thank God for my wife Missy who took initiative to get me to the Doctor because I do need surgery! This is where I need help! I have no insurance to cover the day surgery which is roughly 12k.”

Without further ado, This Month’s theme was:

themeslider

So, what sort of dastardly items are we in store for?

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “HOME” to get 20% off your first crate.


Spoiler Card

 


“Villain” Marty Scurll T Shirt

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I tell you what, these shirt designs have been really killing it lately, I’m not usually for “Wrestlers face on a shirt” type tees, but Marty has such a cool look with the plague doctor mask and wings in his entrance attire that it works here.


“Madness” Randy Savage Shirt

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This is a definite throwback to some late 90’s WCW shirts from back in the day. I have another WWF era Macho Man shirt from these guys, this will compliment it well.


Tetsuya Naito Micro Brawler Figure

Solid Micro Brawler for yet another future legend. Naito’s run as IWGP Intercontinental Championship last year was awesome.


Sami Callihan Baseball Card

I really hope this is a new exclusive line rather than a one-off item because a collection of retro pro wrestling cards is right up my alley.


Sami Callihan Autographed 8×10

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Yet another autograph I don’t have Yay! I never really followed Callihan much before he was in NXT, but he has slowly become one of my favorite fixtures of both Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling. So far, his feud with Pentagon Jr has been amazing!


Silas Young’s “Last Real Man” Pocket Knife

While sort of random (not as random as the fidget spinner from about a year ago), you can never go wrong with a small pocket knife.


“Rowdy” Roddy Piper – Piper’s Pit Enamel Pin

I’m always a fan of exclusive items since it’s not a “hey, here’s a bunch of overstock stuff” and these enamel pins from PWC are almost always pretty great. Being a big fan of Piper, I really like getting stuff from him, and PWC always delivers with their swag.


Behind Closed Doors – Jake “the Snake” Roberts DVD

This is a popular “shoot interview” by RF video that usually retails for about 10 bucks, so you’re really getting a good deal on this box with two shirts and this DVD. Here’s what my bad picture of the back says:

“Behind Closed Doors” with Jake Roberts was educational, informative and most of all entertaining. This new shoot style series today is with the dean of psychology Jake Roberts. If you ask any veteran in wrestling today who the king of psychology is, they would all tell you Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

This series will not be your typical shoot interview. Instead we will sit down with a wrestling superstar and ask them questions about the inner workings of the business. This has never been done before. Whether your a wrestling fan or even a indy worker this series is a must for you to own. Its the most tutorial wrestling DVD ever!!

Did you know that Jake Roberts played a huge part in the WWF to teach other workers how to get to the next level? Did you know at one time Jake Roberts was the stepping stone for every heel to get to Hulk Hogan. He would work with all the heels like Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, and Ted DiBase before they would reach Hulk Hogan and mold them into where they needed to be as a heel before going onto main event matches.

Jake knew what to do and when to do it in the ring. He could have you either cheering him or throwing bottles at his head. He knew what made a great heel or a baby face. He knew how to carry a match and when to do that false finish. He talks about all of this in this new series. He will talk about the three types of heels the chicken shit, liar, and the cheater heel character. We talk about when is the right time to get color in a match. We talk about a lot of today’s current WWE roster and we talk about who is doing the right things in the ring and who is not. You will be amazed on what Jake has to say. We talk about Raven as well. We even touch on his problems with the movie Beyond the Mat. We even got to ask him about his recent problem in England with the snake that they claimed he mishandled. We asked him about his drug and alcohol problems and how is he dealing with that today. What is the future for Jake? This is one DVD you don’t want to miss out on.”


That’s it for this month! Check back in a few weeks for a review of WWE Slam Crate (if it ever stops getting delayed) and other solid content. If you like spoilers for this crate check my links above and come back in about a month – you won’t be disappointed!

 

big in japan

The Monday Meme: Prime

Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness (2005)

Sometimes I take small trips through Crunchyroll looking for new things to watch, and while some of my experiments aren’t really hits, it’s interesting to see what’s on there – especially stuff nobody’s talking about. I’m drawn to fairly atypical anime as many of you may have noticed – things with weird stories, strange art styles, or retro aesthetics are definitely my thing, so when I saw a picture of the 2005 anime Tōhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai (闘牌伝説アカギ 闇に舞い降りた天才, lit. “Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness”) I was excited. Even though the premise seemed like it could have been boring I had to see a modern anime with such a strange look. And my assumptions of this being boring? Good God was I so wrong.

The story of Akagi revolves around the mahjong gambling exploits of Shigeru Akagi. After a death-defying game of chicken (two cars race for a cliff and first one to brake loses) one evening in 1958, Akagi nonchalantly enters a yakuza mahjong parlor to shake the police’s trail. Although he is unfamiliar with the rules of mahjong, his gambling intuition saves a small-time gambler, Nangou, and grants him a seat at the gambling table. As the night progresses, the stakes are raised both within the game and for Akagi, who is under the suspicion of the local policeman, Yasuoka. However, Akagi manages to defeat Keiji Yagi —despite Yagi’s cheating during the game—and impresses the members of the gambling house. Eventually he gets stronger and stronger opponents until he becomes the legendary gambler that the full title of the anime alludes to

Akagi is actually a spin-off of another manga called Ten by Nobuyuki Fukumoto who is known for long running manga about gambling and Yakuza. Despite this, you don’t have to know anything of the previous manga which shows a much older Akagi in modern times fighting that book’s main character – after I finish this, I might have to see if I can read Ten.

On paper, Akagi should be an insanely boring show designed for old salary men in Japan and literally nobody else, but instead it is somehow really exciting. This is despite me having absolutely no knowledge of the rules of this version of the game nor any interest in playing said game whatsoever and the relative slow pacing of watching guys play Mahjong. That’s because this show is presented in a way that I will liken it to “Yakuza Yu-gi-oh”. Just about every move is presented as some earth shattering situation where you can really feel the gravity of Akagi’s actions. For example, there are many times where Akagi wins, but due to having a daredevil attitude, he immediately pulls the situation back into the fire to raise the stakes.

Akagi is also a compelling character analysis of a person that appears to be a total sociopath and genius. In the same way that House M.D. or Sherlock are such a compelling television characters, Akagi seems to be the gambling equivalent. In many instances, it’s VERY clear that Akagi doesn’t care if he lives or dies and has no problems killing or using people in questionable ways to get his way. This is pretty heavy stuff for a character that starts out as just thirteen years of age at the beginning of the show. There are incredibly intense scenes like one where he pulls a gun on one of his opponents, loads a bullet into the chamber, and fires as in playing Russian Roulette. Of course, his opponent was not in danger as he could calculate the approximate position of the bullet, but merely wanted to see if he would flinch basically.

This also is shown in his Mahjong play style, where he basically ignores what the perceived basics of the game should be due to intuitively knowing what his opponents are likely doing and using their actions to trip them up and pull wins out of nowhere. Ultimitely, his goal is to make them crack, nd take advantage of their insecurities to win. While I am far from the person to discuss the technical side of his tactics, I would compare this to poker and discarding super important cards because he knows he can win in a more skillful way. or hitting on 20 in blackjack because he has figured out that the next card is going to be a one of clubs.

One of my favorite parts of this show is the silly stuff said by the narrator during just about every instance of the show. There is a point in the second large game where Akagi is close to loosing, the narrator builds this up move by move that he is about to loose and “descend into the depths of Hell itself”. A few minutes later, the table is turned and he chimes in with something like: “The sand in the depths of hell is magical sand! It gives you power to rise up!” Stuff like this is so over-the-top and borderline silly that it always makes me laugh – I’m sure that’s not the intention, but I love it.

Perhaps the only real downside to this show is that the character of Shigeru Akagi is fairly mysterious through the entire show – one never really gets a complete grasp of his real motivations or what happened in his life to make him such a grizzled 13 year old. Maybe this is explained in the manga that this is a spinoff of, but I’d imagine not considering the time difference.

All-in-all Akagi is a refreshing show for those that are tired of overly cliched anime that follows whatever genre tropes are popular today. Yeah, it’s really not much different than the handful of sports anime I’ve seen, but one just really isn’t presented with too many organized crime / gambling shows. I’d definitely recommend it.