Sunday, April 27, 2014

Case by Case:Turnabout Sisters

Frequent readers of this blog may remember my weird attempt to talk about every case in the original Phoenix Wright trilogy. I did one post involving that then decided screw it,I'm going to seduce people with cookies. I decided since I finally started playing the newest game in the series,it's a good a time as any to start this up again. A minor revision on my part, provided I don't flake out again we will probably discuss Investigations and Duel Destinies. Also if I my cartridge for it materializes then we may get into Apollo Justice as Duel Destines is warming me up to the title character. So without further ado let's move on to Game one,case two: Turnabout Sisters. Also this is a plot discussion/analysis so spoilers ahoy

This is probably one of the bigger cases of the original trilogy as plot threads from here form the plot for this entire game and go on to infect cases in Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations. The central mystery being the death of Mia Fey which brings with it the main plot of this game the DL-6 incident. The finer details of the case and how it affects everybody is better delved into during Turnabout Goodbyes,so like the game I'll save that for then.

The main plot is the murder of Phoenix's mentor,Mia Fey. How this death truly affects you is probably more based on how much you've played the rest of the series and/or how easily attached you get to characters we've spent 20 minutes with. The case gives a sense of how motivated and dedicated a person she is. She leaves her home and starts a new career just to avenge her mother. She also probably would have done it if she hadn't been killed. Mind you she also left her sixteen year old sister,Maya, in the hands of her insane aunt who's so obsessed with the rite of succession that she enacts entire murder plots in the next two games. Though really it's never explained where Maya is living,so she may be avoiding all of that mess...for now.

Speaking of Maya, we really don't get a feel for her in this case. There are little bits here in there of her true personality,a playful yet naïve teenager. The issues with her mother and how this has affected her life and the Fey Family in general aren't deeply discussed outside of what is necessary to this plot specifically. She's better for letting us look at how Phoenix thinks and acts. He sees her as a person in need of help and jumps to her defense without hesitation. Since he truly admires Mia this in turn let's us know how she would do in this sort of situation They both truly believe in their clients and the both have that strong sense of justice. So we learn about Mia via Phoenix via Maya.

On the Villain side we have Redd White...of Blue corp. and his secretary Miss April May. They are odd characters that while entertaining in their own way are decidedly one note with White's sole motivation is him being a power hungry jerk. Some of the other villains in the series have this aspirations or something akin to that but are much better set up. However it is still immensely satisfying to bring him down. I'll save talking about Edgeworth for now as like Maya there is not much to talk about with him yet.

The plot itself is very solid and is probably going to screw with people who look at the first case and decide that this is how the whole game is going to play out. It re-introduces the Thinker statue from the first case and has the player think they are going to use the same tactics as the first one. Then Edgeworth just jumps in and lets you know things are not going to be that simple. This game is going to have twists and layers. Mind you it's still pretty simple ones now but it's give it time and they'll blow your mind.

The game sort of tries to explain why the courtroom shenanigans are allowed to go on as they are by way of corruption. Redd White is cited as a major source of said corruption but after this case the antics go even further and no one really seems to mind. This explanation may have worked better if this was say the final case of the game but instead it's sort of a one off mention. True the whole concept is explored a bit more thoroughly in Apollo Justice,but here it's more of lets fight for the truth.

Since I spent the time to complain about Ghost Banri during the Golden Time review,I'll take a second to explain why I'm okay with the whole spirit channeling idea. First off it's still only the second case of the first game and outside of the court segment we have no idea the boundaries of the world just yet. Second,it becomes well integrated  into the series,something Ghost Banri could have done. Third, the limitations of what this particular technique can do are outlined enough. Fourth,it's quite clear it is supernatural and doesn't pretend to be other wise. So yeah it's a very well explained concept that is introduced early on and adds something to the story. Another thing Ghost Banri forgot to be.

I'd like to take this short section to recognize the sheer idiocy of a certain plot point. Mia hides some papers early on in the Thinker Statue but the mystery of where those papers went or what happened to them is never brought up. Phoenix never mentions them despite having access to a phone conversation about them. They never come up till the final part which would be implying that they are the list of names of people that White was blackmailing. However,White knew about them and where they were so he probably stole them,otherwise why break in there and murder Mia and frame Maya if you didn't steal the proof that would be your undoing. If that's the case then how in the hell would Maya have them if he stole them.

The other way this works out is that Maya took them before he could get them but she herself didn't know about the papers till the day of the murder and therefore wouldn't have had the time to take these papers. If those papers were indeed the papers that were inside the Thinker,it's never really established if they are or not. Which brings us back to the question what the hell was Maya doing with this piece of evidence. It's established early on that she can't summon Mia at will and Mia only appears in the end of the case. Therefore Maya would have no real reason to hold onto papers she would know thing about and Mia couldn't have them when she is summoned. The memo could have possibly been written by Mia during the trial but the fact that the channeler could imitate handwriting is one of the few things never explained. This is really nothing more than a nitpick but it sort of irked me as this series tends not to leave plot threads dangling.

So to wrap this one up,a very emotional case for those who get more invested in the series despite have a really one note killer. We get some semi-important character moments and actually important plot points but they really won't come into play until later in the series.

This gets a Dead Mia out of Iris

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Things No One Cares About:Slayers Premium

Time tends to change things for some people,anger subsides,relationships become deeper and most importantly opinions can change. Such is the case with the film I watched three weeks ago that I had previously watched about a year ago. When I first watched it I loathed this film and I still do but now I have found new reasons to despise it. What film caused my dull rage,it was Tales of Earthsea. Wait, no I still hate that movie.What I meant to say is Slayers Premium.

Slayers Premium was released in 2001 and would be the last animated Slayers material till 2008's Slayers Revolution. This is the second film not to actually be written by Slayers author Hajime Kanzaka,the other being the previously discussed Perfect. Perfect dealt with the lack of Kanzaka with a darker tone and decent plot. However here we are reduced to two okay jokes and a well tread plot that can't hold it's own. It is trying to hard to recreate Slayers the other films and just can't do it.

The movie's big hook was that after four films of Naga and Lina inspired antics,we were finally getting a movie involving the more recognizable cast of the TV series...and Naga. However here is where the first big problem comes up:No one except Lina and Gourry have anything to do. The trickster demon,Xellos,only role is to fill Zelgadis and Amelia on the plot,which anyone could do. Then you don't see him again till the end of the movie. Zelgadis and Amelia are both disabled by a ridiculous curse before they can do anything. Then forget that they are an accomplished swordsman and pugilist respectively. It makes me question while we are even dealing with these three when clearly the movie wants to focus on Lina and Gourry.

The second main sticking point for me was the villain and this is where I've softened up on the film some. When I first watched this I derided him as an awful gay stereotype who's only joke was that he was swishy. However seeing him again I really don't get that vibe,and realized I should hate him for his true crime:being unfunny. For all I know the joke could be that he talks sort of weird and in certain voices that can be a good joke. However here it's not so the few scenes we get with him are a slog. On the other hand he is the indirect cause of two funny jokes but that is quickly forgotten because he's also responsible for making this movie longer.

His main plan is cursing everybody to talk in the octopus language to cause fear and confusion. The language disables magic because of the language barrier,and of course due to plot convince Lina gets hit by this right before she can let off a plot ending Dragon Slave. So we get to pad this movie's already short thirty minute run time just to recreate the ending to Return sans a ridiculous golem battle. Then once we get to the required big monster battle it's literately Lina standing behind a big rock and casting Dragon Slave.

Also without Kanzaka we get awful character interactions. Lina and Gourry play off each other like wet paper with Gourry lacking dialogue to even interact with Lina for the most of the movie other than to annoy her. Amelia and Zelgadis have been sort of shipped together in the main series and are traveling together here but lack the sweetness of the relationship. Zelgadis is more of a grumpy disapproving dad which is sort of in character but does feel out of place in his interactions with Amelia. The whole cast interacts like casual acquaintances rather than a group of traveling companions that has defeated cosmic horrors.

I guess I'll stop alluding to my main problem and just say it,this movie is not funny. Not many of the jokes work and those that do are few and far between. The original characters aren't entertaining,which is something even Great managed to get right. As I've said numerous times if Slayers isn't funny then I have to resort to looking at the plot and that is something you don't want. Gorgeous really did take Return's plot but still had funny jokes that were all it's own. This one takes the plot and foolishly thinks that it's a great plot. Even with all the problems Hourglass of Falces had it at least gave everyone an equal part in its' awfulness.

As I stated at the beginning time can change opinions. I do have more an appreciation for Perfect upon re watch. However time has allowed my hate for this film to grow and find more problems. The pacing is horrendous,the characters are either useless,unfunny or both and the plot is stale. The weirdly infuriating part of the whole mess asides from the film itself is the box art. The movie box set has art from this splashed all over it like this was the creme of the crop.Yes, I realize how petty this is but it bugs me.

Till next time Stay Positive

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Things No One Cares About:Golden Time

As a little girl I watched quite a few romantic comedies because I really like to laugh and see attractive people hook up. In fact those were the only movies I did watch and didn't know there were other movies. For the longest time I genuinely thought that that was just how all movies played out. I was not a bright girl,not that that has changed much. I'll admit due to my dwindling attention span I really don't watch that many movies anymore. Instead I've turned slightly to more romance slice of life shows,one I actually managed to finish lately.

Golden Time is a series of Light Novels by Yuyuko Takemiya turned anime that aired last fall. She is probably better known for Toradora!, a series that I have attempted to get into multiple times and failed. I'll probably try again later but that has nothing to do with Golden Time. Instead this was a show that I had no trouble getting into it just had a hard time staying in there. It is a wonderful show but some elements are just acting like a errant rabbit in the punch bowl. Ruining everyone's good time and possibly giving some people tularemia.

The plot is split into four short arcs that all focus on the main relationship between Koko Kaga and Tada Banri. This is the main factor that makes this show really work. The two leads have amazing chemistry and their relationship feels natural. The show follows them from their first meeting as they evolve from friends to lovers back to friends then finally back to lovers. It helps that on their own they are interesting characters. Koko is a childish spoiled rich girl trying to find her own identity after having her delusional life long dream shattered. It makes her a mess of neuroses that is compelling to watch. For the most part the first half of the show is mostly about her but slowly becomes more focused on Banri which is a double edged sword.

On one hand Banri is great character,a very outgoing guy who is very quick witted. His ability to turn a situation is marvelous and is a great lead to follow. However as the show focuses more on him and his problems he brings with him the real sticking point that drags down the show but more on that shortly. Like Koko he is trying to find himself in a way though to an extent he already has. He has lost his old personality due to an accident that wiped his memories before that time. Fortunately we do meet him about a year after the accident so he's trying to live his life and doesn't bemoan the loss of memory. Though it does start becoming a major plot point after the second arc as we get more into his head. It really doesn’t get tiresome as it's really just part of him and not his defining characteristic.

With the amnesia we have a terrible attempt at symbolism in the form of Ghost Banri. At first it seems like a metaphor for his past memories being there and he just can't see them. That actually wouldn't be that bad but it doesn't stop there. The show treats him like a supernatural entity that can mess with reality. A major plot point of the second arc is him ultimately pushing his past away through rejection of his childhood friend,Linda. At this point the Ghost decides he is going to start messing with Banri with bad luck. How he has this “power” is never explained nor is he himself really explained. That's the problem the show has absolutely no other real supernatural elements,it's a straight up well written romcom.

If he'd been there in the first few episodes it might have been okay. However I am just cruising along enjoying a great show then this guy just shows up out of no where. Look at Vision of Escalowne,yes it started in a fantasy world but the mecha elements were introduced as we were learning about the world. Therefore when the mechs do show up,its not as jarring because we as the viewer are still learning about the world. Here we are firmly established in modern Japan and by the time Ghosty here has shown up the setting is too well established.

Every time he shows up,it just brings to the attention how out of place he is and how silly he is. He even manages to screw up the finale as apparently Linda can see him and talks to him whilst Banri and apparently every other past Banri all hang out. Also don't think I do not get the symbolism of the scene nor Ghost Banri as a whole. It is just really poorly explained concept that seems unsure if the ghost is supernatural or symbolic and he just sort of stays in narrative limbo. Okay let's move on to something else before I take up another paragraph on this stupid concept.

The rest of the core cast is fairly well developed for the screen time the have and provided many little comedy moments. Koko's childhood friend,Mitsuo, goes through a minor arc as he too struggles with who he is and what he wants to do. Identity and purpose is a major theme of the story and quite a few characters are setting out to establish one. This is helped that the characters are in college, a classic time where people tend to do some soul searching. Some of the characters has a good idea of what they want to do,while others like Koko are trying their hardest to find that purpose. Special mention to 2-D Kun for just being a great comedic straight man and bitter single guy. He starts out as a minor character but really comes into his own by the show's second half.

The story like I said has four arcs that each play with a facet of the Koko/Banri paring. We start out as they get to know each other,moving on to a shake up with Banri's past that ends the first half on a solem/hopeful note. The second half delves into both of them deciding to really confront their pasts and change with the final arc giving them the final shake up as Banri's memories return and push his new ones out. The arcs do add a different facet to the central relationship and and each new hardship makes me want to see them succeed even more.

The story as a whole flows along at a good pace and despite my aforementioned ghostly grievances is very well written. It does tend to use you typical romantic comedy tropes albeit sparingly and they never really get in the way. A few late game concepts are established in a way that proves that the author does know what she is doing. Near the end there are just some scenes that are overflowing with such raw emotion that it gives you the chills. Even the minor relationships such as Linda/Mitsuo and Koko's friendship with Oka progress in a natural way.

This was honestly one of the few shows I have followed through the last two seasons outside of D-Frag,Megane-bu and Diabolik Lovers. Sorry Kill la Kill fans,I'll get around to that show...eventually. It really is a good show but that Ghost does hold it back from being great. Hell it managed to derail half this review due to it's stupidity. If your in the mood for some romance/comedy then you could do much worse plus you get a couple of nice opening songs.

Till next time:Stay Positive