‘The Willoughbys’ Film Review

Grade: B-

The Willoughbys (2020)   Like ‘The Addams Family’, ‘The Willoughbys’ is quirky both in style and sense of humor; taken straight from other dysfunctional families that have come before them, blended into a colorful, candy-coated, yarn-filled family-comedy-adventure that may be a bit predictable, but fun once you buy into its characters. Tim (Voice of Will Forte) is neurotic and wants the best for his family. His sister, Jane (Voice of singer Alessia Cara) is always singing the same melody and always asking the what-ifs of their situations, while both the Barnabys (Voice of Seán Cullen) are monotonously similar that it is hard to tell them apart, prompting their nanny (Voice of Maya Rudolph) to label one A and the other B. Though, what makes them all similar are their red-heads which come from a generation of Willoughbys before them.

Continue reading “‘The Willoughbys’ Film Review”

Koi Kaze – This is Controversial?

Love is Complicated

After I covered School Days, I decided it was high time I explored some other “controversial” titles with comparable reputations. While today’s show, Koi Kaze has a better reputation in the more versed anime circles, the 2004 series still garners a lot of of negative discussion and criticism due to the subject matter it explores. Anime is no stranger to the siscon scenario, but what happens if we play it totally straight? Today, I’m here to tell you why it’s well worth your time, and for reasons you probably won’t expect. Continue reading “Koi Kaze – This is Controversial?”

Alien 3: A Studio Mess-terpiece (An Average Pt. 3)

No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.

David Fincher, Guardian interviews at the BFI (2009)

If there is one thing that we can say about the Alien franchise up to this point, it’s that each movie is an experience. The original movie is one of the quintessential sci-fi experiences of the 70’s. It is the ultimate example of how to turn every element of a cheesy low-budget industrial movie and into a masterpiece. A similar story can be told about the sequel, whose praise is still heard from nearly any movie goer since its release. Even the schlock of either feature, which would usually be critiqued by the standard moviegoer, is ignored compared to deserved aforementioned acclaim. Truly they are cornerstones of their respective director’s and writer’s careers. 1992’s Alien 3, the directorial debut of David Fincher, is…well it’s an experience.

Continue reading “Alien 3: A Studio Mess-terpiece (An Average Pt. 3)”

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story – I Didn’t Know I Wanted This

Not a Sequel, but it Feels Like One

I’ve noted here a few times that I’m a fan of the original 2011 series, Madoka MagicaIt was a darker magical girl series, far from the first, but one that I particularly liked for how it all came together. Most notably, its characters, the art/animation, and of course sound. Then came its follow-up film in 2013, Rebellion, which reopened the series for future works (on top of being a very good film). What came was silence for several years, that is, until today’s title, Magia Record came out during the Winter 2020 season. Continue reading “Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story – I Didn’t Know I Wanted This”

#Anitwitwatches Season 6 – The Perfect Insider Schedule & Announcement

Welcome to the Sixth #Anitwitwatches!

One of the things I’m mindful of each watch is show variety, and right now I can tell you guys really needed a shakeup. That’s why I’m not surprised today’s pick, The Perfect Insider is what we’ll be watching for season 6 of #anitwitwatches. We are technically revisiting a genre we had a good time before, the mystery genre, though unlike Rampo Kitan, this series is a more traditional locked room murder mystery.

Below you’ll find information on what the watch is as well as the schedule for the sixth season of #anitwitwatches. Thank you to everybody who has participated in the past and all of you who will be joining for the first time with this series!

What is #Anitwitwatches?

This is a weekly community event meant to bring folks together to revisit old favorites and discover new shows. It’s meant to be something you can get as involved in as you want, there is no pressure to participate every week or every watch, but we’d love to have you to share in the experience and discuss the shows we are watching all the same!

I was inspired to do this after seeing the “rewatches” that people do over at Reddit in the r/anime sub. Since I interact with a lot of you guys on Twitter, I thought it would be the perfect place to do something similar! That said, even if you do not have a Twitter you can still join in by posting any content via WordPress, YouTube, or whatever suits your fancy. If you do, be sure to send me an email at jonspencerreviews@gmail.com so I can share your wonderful creations!

For everyone else, simply watch the episodes for the week based on the schedule below. Make sure to use the hashtag, #anitwitwatches when you do, and that’s it! Discuss with the other folks participating, create content, and generally just have a fun time!

This next show was chosen based on YOUR votes, so let’s get to the watch schedule.

The Perfect Insider Schedule

We will be taking a 1 week break, meaning that we will NOT be watching anything for the week of 5/18/20. This is to give me time to properly prepare for hosting the watch and give everybody else a little break before starting something new. We will be keeping the Monday time slot for this watch after careful consideration and feedback.

If you have not done so, you can see where you can watch The Perfect Insider for free, and legally, by using because.moe. Unfortunately, I cannot realistically check all regions but I aimed to make this as accessible as possible. That said, I won’t stop you from doing what you need to in order to participate. The more the merrier!

Here are the dates (all Mondays) and the episodes for each:

That’ll make this watch 6 weeks long with the usual break at the start. I hope you’re excited to watch this one and I look forward to all the excellent discussion!

Wandering Son – Being Yourself

Flawed, but Valuable

If asked to explain my thoughts on the 2011 anime, Wandering Son, I’d say that it is a flawed but valuable piece of animation history. It’s rare to see a work attempt to tackle gender identity (in this case what it means to be trans) in a serious, whole-hearted way. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this is the only anime that I’ve seen where this isn’t a joke, or trumped up drama piece. It’s honest, if anything, and for that reason, the series deserves your time. Continue reading “Wandering Son – Being Yourself”

Anime ABC’s – X Voting Round & Results

Special Circumstances

I hope you all enjoyed my review of Witch Hunter Robin the other day and are excited to see what will come next for Anime ABC’s. As you may imagine, “X” is a letter that simply does not have a lot of anime to choose from. After doing my cursory look, I found exactly 2 shows that would qualify for the poll which were:

While I would normally put this to a vote regardless, I personally would really like to watch xxxHOLiC for this series. As such, I am making an executive decision to forgo the vote and simply declare it the “winner” for this round. For the the remaining two letters (Y & Z), it will be business as usual as we will have a healthy selection for both letters.

I know that some of you may be disappointed that I’m not holding a vote or giving “X” an opportunity for a second “redemption” round like I did for “Q”, but the choice I made comes with a few advantages the other does not. Let me explain those real quick:

  • Turnaround – The most obvious advantage is that this speeds things up on my end, which in turn means you’ll get the review faster. That’s a win for both of us as setting up these polls are actually a lot of effort. It is not unusual for me to spend 2-4 hours setting up a poll depending on the number of choices, and even then I often miss a show or two regardless. Then of course, I have to wait for the voting period to pass before I can even start watching as the polls are almost always extremely close for at least 2 options.
  • No Tie – Speaking of closeness, this eliminates the chance for a tie. If that were to occur in this case, I’d end up choosing this same outcome anyway so nothing changes there, just speeds things up again.
  • Passion – Finally, the biggest advantage to this choice is that I actually really want to watch this show. It’s not that I don’t typically feel like whatever show you guys send my way, but out of these two options, I’m really only interested in this one. The other is probably fine, but xxxHOLiC has been sitting in my PTW queue for some time now. This means you’ll get a better end product, a win for us both.

Hopefully this brings clarity to the current round and you’ll understand the unique circumstances for this individual letter. As I said, we’ll be business as usual next time so be sure to start thinking about what “Y” and “Z” anime you’d like to vote for (even feel free to make a suggestion for the poll in the comments here). I suspect that this one will take me about a month to watch and review, so please bear with me in the meantime as some other fun things come out during the wait. Of course there’s always my big alphabetized list of anime reviews here if you’d like to catch up!

Not Sure What Anime ABC’s Is?

Anime ABC’s is a fun community focused event that I run here at Jon Spencer Reviews. Any and all people can participate in this event, even if you know nothing about anime! So how exactly does this all work? It’s simple! Just follow the link above and vote for as many of the listed shows (or provide your own) that seem interesting to you. Each round moves to the next letter in the alphabet, so the current “X” round is the twenty fourth anime ABC’s. This is done to keep things interesting and to allow for more variety with each passing round.

The goal of this series is to encourage community input, interaction, as well as to allow me to discover cool new shows, or in some cases, rediscover ones that I previously watched. You can check out my previous ABC reviews for:

Be sure to click on any of the titles listed above (you can’t click on the pictures below, the link thing doesn’t work in a collage) to see what a finished product will look like!

Aliens (An Average Pt. 2)

A sequel is an admission that you’ve been reduced to imitating yourself.

Don Marquis

So, we have a strong foundation of what Alien is now, right? Fantastic lighting and sound design to create a truly scary atmosphere. Nuanced characterization to create people that seem very real. A monster that avoids sight until absolutely necessary to reveal itself to the audience. All these things are what I focused on in the last post because those were what I believed made a great Alien movie. Well today, we’re going to take some of those things, have them directed by somebody completely different, and turn up the schlock to the nth degree. Get ready folks, because here comes 1986’s Aliens. Let’s dig in:

Continue reading “Aliens (An Average Pt. 2)”

‘Galaxy Quest’ Classic Film Review

Grade: B+

Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest (1999)   With quarantine still in effect, it has been hard to write movie reviews lately, especially since movie theaters have been shut down and there have not been many movies to talk about. Yet, one movie that has come to mind as of late is the 1999 science-fiction spoof ‘Galaxy Quest’, which I vaguely remember from my childhood other than seeing ads for it, and watching it with my family in a motel when I was but a child. Recently, I decided to give it a much-needed re-watch for the experience, being that my mother-in-law had the film in her collection. I have to say that ‘Galaxy Quest’ holds up as a comedy as well as a love letter to the science-fiction genre, conventions, and more importantly ‘Star Trek’ (which it spoofs for the most part).

Continue reading “‘Galaxy Quest’ Classic Film Review”

Anime ABC’s W is for Witch Hunter Robin

Perfectly Capturing a Bygone Era

While Witch Hunter Robin never appeared in the North American programming block, Toonami, it’s a show that perfectly captures the revival of the block in 2012. Having aired shows like Cowboy BebopGhost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, and others it feels like this would have been right at home. A slow burn show that attempts to provoke your thoughts while delivering moments of explosive action. Yet in spite of this, I can see why Witch Hunter Robin never quite reached these same heights. Continue reading “Anime ABC’s W is for Witch Hunter Robin”