While Black Fox wasn’t the first to receive the simulcast treatment, we got to see this the same time Japanese theaters had it, it is the first time I’ve watched one. Namely because it isn’t tied to an existing franchise and it did look really cool. So when it got a fair bit of hype, I felt confident enough in checking it out. Unfortunately for me, and for Black Fox, the film is the definition of average.
All I knew about this movie coming into it was that it seemed to be about ninjas. When it opened up on a girl being chased by one, and knowing that the girl was clearly the main character, it wasn’t hard to figure out this was some kind of training. The sequence is really good, and in some ways, the best part of the film.
You learn that the girl, Rikka, is expected to take up her grandfather’s legacy and lead the Isurugi clan when she comes of age. However, she has other plans. Her father is a scientist who makes cools stuff like animal drones that have human-like AI. Rikka would like nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Flash-forward and Rikka has taken the first major step to achieving her dreams, even if it is to the disappointment of her grandfather, getting into the same school her father attended. Now she’s coming home to share the good news AND celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, the past has come to haunt Rikka’s father, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you where this is going…
In that moment Rikka abandons her aspirations and takes up the blade to seek revenge on the man and all who took her family from her. Which would be cool, except the film abandons this idea in favor of exploring some themes of forgiveness and becoming your own person.
From my summary, you can probably already sense a big problem with the film. It’s predictable. So much so, that it almost feels like a paint by numbers for how to make a successful blockbuster hit. There’s not a single thing you shouldn’t be able to see coming a mile away, and that’s one of the biggest problems I have with Black Fox.
Outside the minor deviation from this just being a ninja movie to becoming something closer to a Spider-Man film, the whole thing is just one trope after another. While none of them are bad or hurt the integrity of the film, the lack of risk or innovation is sorely felt here.
My other gripe is that the whole “revenge” aspect of the film is completely abandoned. It makes sense when Rikka doesn’t kill the first guy she interacts with, but as time goes on, it gets harder to accept that she would give up on it because her robot pets told her to. On the one hand, forgiveness is powerful, and the people she ultimately does forgive, do ultimately deserve it. Though, on the other hand, having it completely removed from the table didn’t feel good, especially as events unfold.
An example is likely needed here. Toward the end of the movie, the bad guy from the evil company (which is so obviously evil it is hilarious) sends an evil drone based on stolen technology from Rikka’s dad after her. It destroys a bunch of the city and everybody can clearly tell the corporation made it. I find it hard to believe that Rikka is going to somehow resolve this peacefully with no casualties.
Furthermore, as an aside, can I just say that it is so stupid that when the people confront the corporation about the evil robots that all the doubts and outrage is dispelled because the corporation says they’ll pay for all the damages, help rebuild, etc… Then the CEO or whatever he is also announces that they are changing the name of the city to be his name. It’s so stupid, I honestly don’t get this part at all.
This is probably an issue more specific to me, but it all felt incredibly cheesy. Perhaps this wouldn’t have stuck with me as such a big deal if Black Fox actually had any resolution. That’s right folks, the film doesn’t have an ending. It “resolves” an arc of a much bigger story, but it also doesn’t seem like the movie will be getting a continuation as one hasn’t been announced (at least to my knowledge).
After doing a bit of research, it seems like this was the product of a failed TV show, which is likely why this occurs. But then, I have to ask, why was this even released? I just can’t help but feel that this is a half-baked product that teases more that may never come. Perhaps the popularity of the film, as it was pretty well received in general, will get it there, though I can’t say I’m looking forward to more.
Look, it’s not like Black Fox is a bad movie. The animation is really good and the story it tells is tried and true. It just needed more, and I don’t just mean the runtime, I mean this in almost every respect. That’s why I can’t ultimately recommend the film. While you may enjoy it, the experience ultimately feels lacking.
That’s it for Black Fox. How did you enjoy it? I know that I wasn’t the only one who felt a bit baffled by this, but maybe you saw something I didn’t. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to support my efforts here, please click one of my donation buttons below as the support is appreciated. Thank you so much for reading and I hope to see you again soon!
With My Hero Academia about to enter its fourth season later this year, I thought it’d be fun to finally get around to watching the film that was released last year in 2018. It was a nice way to get excited for season four that felt like watching an extended episode of the show. However, I can’t help but feel the film had a lot of issues which I’d like to discuss today.
First and foremost, this was a good movie. If all you are looking for is a recommendation, then you’ve got it. I have to spoil some of the movie to talk about some of the things I’d like to, so you’ve been warned.
In case you need a refresher, the film sees Deku and All Might going to “I-Island” in order to visit an old friend of All Might’s, David Shield. The island is known for the technological research that’s conducted there and a big event is also going to be held during the visit. Additionally, the island is very safe, so naturally, nothing will go wrong… right?
I do want to say that it was really nice to see some more backstory on All Might and the time he spent with David Shield during his visit in America when he was younger. The two were a good team, and you can see that All Might really inspired David. Unfortunately, this is also one of my biggest complaints with the film
David is such a big character, along with his daughter, Melissa (who spends a lot of time with Deku) that it is weird for them to not play any roll outside of this movie. This film takes place between S2 and S3 events, yet it is never mentioned in the series cannon, despite being, well, cannon.
Everything that happens in Two Heroes is because David is worried about All Might losing his power, and thus, having the world lose its symbol of peace. Really though, he’s worried about losing this figure that he looks up to. While this makes for a great story beat, it was weird that David’s consequences are not at all explored.
Then there is Melissa. She hits it off with Deku and they really seem to be a great team, mirroring what we see with her father and All Might. To not have her influence things in later seasons of the show felt unnatural and clunky with retrospect. If you hadn’t seen the film, then that works, but if you had…
This is most noticeable in the support item that Melissa gives Deku. It’s basically a power glove that lets Deku use 100% of his power without injuring himself. It had me wondering just how they would explain that away since he couldn’t take it off and it was capable of “withstanding 3x the power of Uncle Might’s punches”. The solution was to just have Deku punch so hard it evaporates, which was kind of lame.
Another thing that bothered me was my chief complaint about My Hero Academia as a series, and that would be the amount of recap it has. The film recaps a LOT, which does hurt the runtime, inflating that 1 hour and 36 minutes.
To the film’s credit, this did make the movie watchable if you had seen none of the show before. A movie should be able to stand on its own, and to that effect, it was successful. It just wasn’t great to have so much recap. Really, there’s probably close to a little over an hour of actual film here, which is basically two regular episodes.
At one point I even jokingly mentioned how there was a spot where the credits felt like they should play, because it was an obvious break where an “end of episode” ED would go. This really could have just been a two-part episode set for the series proper.
Finally, the film had to contrive a way to get a lot of its cast to I-Island, which made some things feel kind of forced. I almost rolled my eyes at how some of it was executed. It does make sense for some characters like Momo, Iida, or Todoroki to attend this important conference, but beyond that everyone else is just kind of there.
Past that, everything is solid. The animation, music, and story is a great time. What I’d like to see moving forward, especially with the announcement of a second film, is having these mean more to the series. I’d like to see more of the Shield family, and the additional world details play a more active role in the story proper. This was a nice holdover until season four finally comes out, and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with Deku and friends!
What were your thoughts on Two Heroes? Did you agree with my complaints? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you enjoy my writing, please consider a small donation by pressing the Ko-fi button below. Thanks you once again for reading and I hope to see you again soon!
If there is one person I’ve wanted to talk about for some time now, it’s the late Satoshi Kon. I’ve seen nearly all of his work and it is something that is certainly worth talking about, but finding the words hasn’t been easy. However, you guys voted and here we are today to discuss the 2003 film Tokyo Godfathers. If you are here just looking for a recommendation, you have it in full. This is a great movie to watch whenever, but especially around Christmas time. You can find the film pretty easily and legally, so go out and watch it.Continue reading “Anime ABC’s T is for Tokyo Godfathers”→
It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Hosoda’s films. I’ve written about Wolf Children at length (multiple times actually) because it has been my favorite standalone animated film for some time. Having seen all of his works, multiple times no less, I can confidently say that this latest entry was more than competent. Mirai draws a lot from the prior films, and in many ways benefits from that as a result. However, it still didn’t manage to exceed any expectations.
If I had to rank this among all of Hosoda’s other films, I’d say this ranks around 3rd place. The reason for this is mainly pacing, the film has some great moments, but how scenes flow into each other just didn’t quite work. Still, there are a lot of wonderful things to be said about this film, which is what I’d rather focus on.
For this viewing I watched Mirai with my mom as a belated Mother’s Day activity. She had enjoyed Wolf Children when we watched it a few Mother’s Days back and I figured we could probably enjoy this. I’ll include some of her thoughts on the film here-and-there as well.
What was impressive about this film was how Hosoda managed to improve on his prior movies. Nothing in Mirai is really original, it feels like a recycling of the other films, but taking mostly the best parts of each. You have the interesting time travel that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time had, various elements of The Boy and the Beast, and much more of course.
This demonstrated Hosoda’s growth in his career and I genuinely believe his next film is gonna be an impressive one if this is any indication. When viewing Mirai from this angle it leaves a better impression than it might otherwise as an isolated film.
The other aspect of the film that was done quiet well was Kun’s character. He is a bratty child who is jealous of his baby sister, the titular Mirai. GKIDS got an actual kid, Jaden Waldman, to voice Kun and that always makes a world of difference. As an audience it is easy to see why Kun behaves the way he does, so you sympathize, but he’s just obnoxious enough that you don’t exactly root for him either.
It’s a good balance that accurately reflects how kids act and think. My mother was pretty impressed with that part but she remarked that he might have been just a little too obnoxious. I can’t disagree, but considering we both have a pretty high tolerance for kids, I can only imagine how others might take to Kun.
Kun being a kid, he blends fantasy and reality together often in this film. It’s neat to see, making everything a kind of metaphysical interaction, but it can cause some parts of the film to feel slightly confusing. Not in a way that you can’t follow it, but in a way that might pull some folks out of the experience.
Both my mom and I were impressed with the time travel concept and how it brought everything together. Kun’s war-era grandpa was easily the best story in the bunch and I low-key wouldn’t have minded watching an entire film about that.
Finally, I just have to mention the train station that nightmares are made of. I saw a review before I picked this up that heavily criticized the depiction of a train station, seeing that this is a kid’s film, and I was puzzled at first. When the film got to that point, I told my mom about it and we both went, “Yeah, not seeing it.” Then… well, we got it. For us, it was very humorous, but it is the only real black mark against the film as something meant for children. It may actually be quite traumatizing for some kids.
All-in-all, Mirai has charm. It’s a solid watch if you are a fan of Hosoda at all, even more so if you are actually. While there were a few times the movie wasn’t at its best, when it wanted to deliver, it absolutely did. As a children’s film, there are a lot of solid messages here, which you ought to know by now I’m all about. You should definitely watch with younger kids, but older ones should be fine. For adults, there are some interesting things to ponder and plenty of spectacle.
Have you seen Mirai? Additionally, what Hosoda film is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! If you want to help me out and support my writing please use my Ko-fi button which you can see below. As always, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here again soon!
Ever since I watched the first season of Chunibyo back in 2015 I found myself becoming a big fan of the franchise. Even when the second season rolled around to less than stellar reception, I enjoyed that season, however. So when it was announced that there would be two films, a recap, and the conclusion to the story so far, I was pretty excited. Today we’ll be looking at Take on Me, the (current) conclusion to the Chunibyo series.Continue reading “Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!: Take on Me – The Perfect End?”→
Not too long ago I had the opportunity to see both A Silent Voice and I Want to Eat your Pancreas (referring to this as Pancreas moving forward) at the theater. While I loved A Silent Voice, something I’ll spend more time on in a separate article (hopefully), Pancreas was more of a mixed bag.
There was a lot of online hype surrounding this film, especially with the unusual title that drew me to the film in the first place, and the book this is based on is pretty well liked. So I was pretty hopeful going in, but I figured it’d be worth the experience regardless of the quality in terms of shear uniqueness. I loved telling people I was going to see this film!
For those who somehow missed out on what this film is, it should be fairly obvious after one glance at the art. This is your typical sort-of-kinda romance story about a girl with a terminal illness, in this case cancer. For some that’s already going to be enough to have emotional resonance, but personally these kinds of stories need more than just some base appeal to do well long-term.
Additionally, it is worth noting that in some cultures telling somebody you want to eat their diseased body parts is a way of indicating how you wish you could cure them/take the illness onto yourself. The movie flips this a bit by having the female lead, Sakura, hear about how in some cultures the diseased person eats a healthy persons body part in order to cure their own. It’s kind of the thing this film relies on to get its big moment across, but ultimately it was pretty unimportant to the actual plot.
I want to take a moment to circle back to the theater here and mention something that actively hurt the movie. Before it began Aniplex decided the film should be front-loaded with interviews from both the Japanese and English casts. Awesome, right? Eh, not really. The Japanese portion was excellent as it was more a, “thanks for watching” with some genuine emotion from the cast. You could tell they loved this film! The English portion on the other hand….
It was filled with spoilers. They should not have put this at the start of the film. The one thing that this did improve was, “Gum Boy” who I would have literally given no mind to otherwise, but that’s it. So rather than discover the film for myself, I was actively told what to look out for and that signaled a lot of the plot to me way too early. Apparently this is a trend with Aniplex titles as reports of the same thing happened with NGNL 0 as well.
Putting that aside, let’s talk about the actual narrative. It’s very similar to an anime, Your Lie in April except it is very upfront about the whole death thing (by the way, this is not a spoiler for either Pancreas or Your Lie in April). The series has emotional appeal and time on its side, so that’s what I’d ultimately recommend watching over this but giving the film credit, I would say this has a better narrative in so that it doesn’t beat around the bush and takes a slightly more interesting route for its ending.
To level some more criticism at this Pancreas, it was a bit annoying that Sakura would shove her dying in the male leads face in order to force him to do stuff. At times she borders on abusive and that even tips him to a breaking point at one point in the film. It was a tense scene but I couldn’t help but feel it was kind of unnecessary, it didn’t feel organic at all.
Then you have Sakura’s friend, Kyouko, who hates the main lead for literally no reason. You’d think Kyouko would respect her friend Sakura, who constantly tells her not to worry about the guy and that they are friends. It’s not like I couldn’t find her believable, but Kyouko just came off as an awful person. Pancreas wants you to like her though but doesn’t really do anything to get you to that point. They try and give her some redemption at the end, which was appreciated, but it felt forced.
Speaking of lead boy, his name is this big secret for the film. Thematically, the idea is that you shouldn’t make assumptions about people based on appearance, their name, etc… but it resulted in a sort of anti-climax. Both my friend and I weren’t very impressed with this big reveal.
Now I did speak to the ending, which I won’t spoil, but I want to note that it was by far the most interesting part. They took what felt like an obvious cliche ending and gave it a bit of a twist. There’s foreshadowing for it and it did improve the film. However, it doesn’t make up for the rest of the film. Pancreas is kind of dull and fails at tell even a pretty basic story convincingly.
The dub was good though, music was good, and the animation was pretty
Again, was Pancreas worth watching? Yeah, I did enjoy it despite some pretty deep flaws, but I wouldn’t watch it again. For some this film is absolutely something to avoid, and hopefully I’ve given enough hints at things for you to decide if that’s the case for you, but otherwise this is a fairly average experience.
Did you see Pancreas while it was in theaters? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you’d like to support my writing, please use my donation button below to send a few bucks my way. I’d appreciate it! Of course, thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
That’s something a lot of folks believe. Some even think dreams can influence or predict the physical world. This is the case for high schooler Kokone Morikowa who finds herself having recurring dreams about an old bedtime story her dad used to tell her as a child called, Ancien and the Magic Tablet. When her father is taken away and a group of men are after his tablet, as well as Kokone herself, she soon realizes that her dreams may just be the key to everything.
Napping Princess really wishes it were a Ghibli film and there are times where it almost feels like one. Kokone is very much the kind of female protagonist that you would expect in a Ghibli film and the world is fairly fantastical, despite being rooted in the mundane. However, a Ghibli movie this is not.
On a conceptual level this is a really interesting world. You switch between the real world that Kokone occupies and the dream world of Ancien and the Magic Tablet whenever she falls asleep. This girl is crazy narcoleptic given how often that is, but really it hardly matters. When it comes to the dream world, it quickly becomes apparent that it is largely a mirror for events that occurred in the past when Kokone’s mother passed away and a vehicle to continue to propel that story forward.
If I had to describe this film in a word it would be that Napping Princess is straightforward. Despite the premise involving dreams and allowed to get out there, it never really goes very far with it. Which alone isn’t a big deal but the film still has moments where it can be confusing due to the way it chooses to tell its story.
There are several times in the film where cuts are unclear. Segments that linger just a bit too long, which ends up adding weird emphasis on unimportant details. Whole scenes that are definitely needed, but they go on so long that they undercut tension (looking at you stair climbing scene). Plus the weird inclusion of cartoon-y stock sound effects, at one point the villain becomes engulfed in flame and a toilet flush effect is used as his body crumples to the ground… why?
Napping Princess is held back by these flaws and a few questions the film doesn’t really bother explaining all that well. This is a film that is meant to be appreciated by children with some fare for adults, but I can’t help feel that the lack of clear explanation on things like the death of Kokone’s mother received unnecessary ambiguity in order to keep the film light for kids. Which would be fine but they show the death of the mom in the dream world, it just doesn’t exactly explain what actually happened. There is some stuff you can infer but that just ends up opening a whole can of worms.
There are some higher concept ideas hidden away in Napping Princess, like magic represent technological progress. These are really cool, and worth mentioning, but some of these ideas would warrant their own articles so I wanted to at least mention them even though I won’t be exploring them today.
At the end of the day, this is a film that could have been great. The fictional world of Ancien and the Magic Tablet is fantastical and fun, really the best part of the film, but juggling that with the real world didn’t always work. With the interesting directorial choices on top of that, and you are left with a film that will certainly entertain, but probably won’t be your next favorite anytime soon. Too bad though, because this should have been a superb film, but at least it got closer to achieving that Ghibli magic than Mary and the Witch’s Flower ever did.
Have you seen Napping Princess? Do you believe that dreams can influence reality? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to support my work please hit the donation button below. As always, thanks for reading!