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One Piece: Stampede Review

Howdy ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I’m back with another review and though it is a little later than I expected, I am sharing my thoughts on the latest film in the One Piece series; One Piece: Stampede via my podcast Film Focus.

On episode 90 of Film Focus, I’m reviewing One Piece: Stampede; the 14th film from the long-running anime/manga series which is directed by Takashi Otsuka. Now I have been a mega One Piece fan for just over a decade and thought the first trailer looked pretty cool, however, my hype levels really exploded when I found out that the film would have a limited release in the west with a couple of screenings in Canada. So I jumped at the chance to see an OP film at the cinema. So is the film good or not? Well, check out this spoiler-free review to find out.

Anyway here’s the review:

If you haven’t checked out my podcast before you can find it here: https://soundcloud.com/film_focus

So have you seen One Piece: Stampede and if so what did you think of it? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see ya in the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in Anime, Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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Getting back into anime

Ah anime, thinking about it now it is honestly something I could live without. It is something that changed my perception of animation in terms of how it could be made and the subject matters that could be explored with it. I know I first came across it when I started watching stuff like Pokémon, Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, but it wasn’t until 2008/9 when I really started watching other anime like Karas, Bleach, Naruto, Tengen Topper Gurren Lagann, Elfen Lied and Beck that I could see how good anime good be and how it would influence my life forever.

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After I became obsessed with anime in 2008 I needed it all the damn time! And for around 2-3 years I watched it nearly all the time through several streaming websites and when I got to the MCM London Expo I would pick up certain box sets and films and get my needs! However in 2011 my priorities changed, I move onto film and the cinema and slowly after a while I stopped watching loads of stuff and just stuck with One Piece as my main source of anime juice.

 

However with my rediscovery of Eyeshield 21 underway, I feel like I it is time to finish a lot of these other anime series that I started a long time ago and two of my choices are pretty darn difficult undertakings. I am of course talking about Bleach and Naruto, not only two of the biggest shounen anime, but two of the biggest anime shows in existence.

Now when it comes to Bleach I used to love this show soooo much it was unreal, the first 3 season while the following season were a bit hit and miss, I think was around season 7 when things got interesting again. Though after a certain point in the series things just got too slow and tedious, plus the fillers were doing my head in. So I gave up a few years ago around episode 229. Apparently after that the series got really good afterwards so I have always been interested in returning to the show and giving it another try, and I think 2013 it’s the right time to see what’s going on with the Shinigami and hollows! 😀

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And then there’s Naruto, a show that a lot of people claimed to be the best thing ever and the best shounen anime in existence. Well I watched it and it was so hard at the start because as cool and as interesting as Naruto was it had way too much filler and too many flashbacks! Every 3 or 4 episodes Naruto or some other character would look talk about loneliness or friendship or family for ages and it got really tedious after a while. I only got around halfway through the first serious before giving up. But since Naruto: Shippuuden is always talked about by everyone and praised way more than the first series I want to know what the deal is, so this year I’ll start again!

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Also along with those shows there are loads of other anime I left by the wayside and I will return to including Fairy Tail, Gintama, Full Metal Alchemist, Black Cat, D.Gray-man and many others. This is the year when I get my shit together and rediscover this world of Japanese animation that’s always filled me with wonder and happiness! 😀

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Anime, Media

 

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One Piece Anime Review

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to another review-related blog post. Tonight I am going to give you my thoughts on what I believe to be one of the best anime shows in existence; One Piece.

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Firstly I shall give out a little background information as to what One Piece is. Like most anime, it started out as a manga and was first published in 1997. Eiichiro Oda is the author and illustrator of One Piece and because his manga was so successful, the animated adaptation was born in the shape of an Original Video Animation called “One Piece: Defeat The Pirate Ganzack!” that was produced by Production I.G in 1998. A year after the anime started airing on Fuji Television through the power of Toei Animation, the studio that gave life to Dragon Ball. Since then the series has had over 500 episodes (538 at the time of this review), 11 movies, 3 OVAs and several specials. Yes, One Piece is a pretty huge when it comes to anime shows.

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When it comes to story it follows the journey of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy who wants to become a pirate but not just any pirate, he wants to be the pirate king! In order to do this he must get a ship, a pirate crew and search for the legendary treasure known One Piece that the deceased King of the Pirates, Gol D. Roger left many years ago. Along the way Luffy acquires 8 unique crew members, obtains a ship and travels across the sea to many locations, making new friends and enemies and battles other pirate crews, the marines and the seven warlords. The great thing about the story of One Piece is that it is always interesting, the whole concept of pirate lifestyle has always been a captivating one with potential stories of adventure, action, drama, romance and so on. All of those types of stories are realised in the world of One Piece in a strange, happy-go-lucky and dramatic fashion thanks to Eiichiro Oda’s good storytelling and capitalizing on the adventure aspect that made Dragon Ball so successful. But what makes One Piece so great is its ability to be fresh but also familiar, and this mainly comes from Oda’s amazing knack for creating new material which is just as good or better than what has come before, and the world of One Piece is so rich with content and mythology that any time we learn something new about the past, it just adds more quality to the overall universe.

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Give it some time and these characters will become attached to ya, they’re THAT awesome 😀

When it comes to the characters of One Piece whether they be main cast, secondary cast or people who just show up for 1 or 2 episodes, each person has their own personality and style that they bring to the show. Monkey D. Luffy, the main protagonist is a happy-go-lucky lad, full of charisma and energy; he is also very naive and stupid, but also very strong and has a great sense of justice. If this all sounds very familiar let’s look at the character I call Luffy’s predecessor, Son Goku from Dragon Ball. Now it’s obvious that they share many similar features as the ones pointed out above, but they also have big appetites and don’t fight or move well without food among other things. Luffy’s other comrades are: Roronoa Zoro (a man known as the pirate hunter who wields 3 swords), Nami (a thief who loves money and is the navigator), Usopp (a cowardly fighter and inventor), Sanji (the Cook), Tony Tony Chopper (a reindeer who happens to be a doctor), Nico Robin (archaeologist), Franky (the cyborg shipwright) and Brooke (the skeleton musician). Each member of Luffy’s crew including Luffy himself have dramatic backstories full of hardship, suffering, death, and some more painful than others, and when these events of the past cross over into later points in the series you’ll come to understand and sympathize for the people involved. The villains are also interesting coming in all shapes and sizes, literally. All have different types of powers or weapons and normally come with a stylish or wacky dress sense. And most importantly each antagonist comes with their own levels of charm, charisma and evilness whether they are the main enemy or subsidiary members. My favourites are Captain Buggy, “Hawk-Eye” Mihawk, Admiral Aokiji, Bartholomew Kuma and Rob Lucci to name a few.

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One of the key aspects that make One Piece such a good show is the story and narrative. It’s all about adventure and the journey that you as the viewer go on, it can be an emotive one as you feel moments of anger and sadness but at the same time moments can also very funny and joyful and gives you a reason to smile and laugh even in the face of danger. As previously mentioned the show is funny, the stupidity of certain characters will have you in stitches and has to be experienced to be understood. The story arcs are very intriguing and surprising with a good deal of complexity in some areas. Now I have heard some people say that One Piece is for children, but then isn’t most shōnen anime? However unlike most children’s shows, One Piece has very dark stories and characters that affect the overall tone, that along with a lot of adult themes and levels of violence involved, you are left with a show that really isn’t that well-suited for kids. Plus in my opinion there are a lot of story elements and dialogue that younger audiences couldn’t begin to comprehend. At one point back in 2010 I happened to see on a website where someone compared One Piece to Fairy Tail and said that Fairy Tail was much better, less child-like and for mature audiences… Now I’ve watched a good number of Fairy Tail episodes and I have found nothing that makes it any more ‘mature’ or ‘better’ then One Piece. At this point I feel One Piece is more mature due to themes, morals and ethics, violence and the emotional stories of characters involved. It should also be noted that the filler arcs and TV specials of One Piece are also pretty good and while some filler can be a bit tedious, here they’re a lot better than other anime where the filler doesn’t advance the series and normally are skipped because their lack of quality.

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Visually One Piece is one of the most unique anime out there; one could say that the look of One Piece is very abstract when compared to most other anime of present in the same genre or any genre. this is mainly due to Eiichiro Oda’s art style crafted in the manga which has a very unique and unusual look when compared to other manga. Some people have even put off watching this show purely based on the look of the show which is a darn shame because they are doing themselves a massive disservice. While One Piece isn’t as detailed as other shōnen anime like Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto or Bleach, which have highly detailed characters in the facial, hair, and clothing areas, One Piece has is simple in composition but has a lot of artistic flair and creative things that you’d never find in other anime. The characters are very simple, not very detailed and look kind of wacky and funky when compared to other shows. However I feel that the look of One Piece‘s characters, creatures, settings and animation are very interesting and is one of the unique selling points of the show and if you give it time you will adjust and come to love it.

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Just look at the different between episode 1 and episode 474 and tell me you can’t see the difference in quality here.

I would also call One Piece an “evolution anime”, a term that I use on an anime that has progressed since its conception and become visually different. Now this can apply to many shōnen shows, but I mainly apply this term to anime shows that really have changed from a visual standpoint. Dragon Ball Z is a good example of an anime that looks noticeably different from when it started to when it ended, and while the main design of the characters and settings are the same in One Piece, viewers will notice differences in the levels of detail in episodes as time goes by. For example, when you look at an episode in the East Blue Saga when the series started in 1999 and then compare it to the Skypiea Saga, there are noticeable differences in the art design and animation thanks to the different animation directors that keep the look of the show varied and interesting. And when you take into account the 2-year Time Skip in the manga that eventually took place in the anime in October 2011, the look of the show now compared to the start of the series is incredibly different, thanks to a higher quality of animation from Toei Animation and the new character updates/redesigns from Oda which really add a new level of spice to the show’s visual style. Also I don’t think I could talk about this anime without mentioning the soundtrack which is handled by Kohei Tanaka and Shiro Hamaguchi. The music for this show is totally incredibly epic, catchy, and varied with musical themes for every scenario. Each character has a certain theme that’ll play while they’re fighting or doing something sneaky and the songs work very well. Another great aspect with One Piece‘s soundtrack is that the music evolves along with the show with different themes for new locations, characters or battle music and it really immerses you in that world too. Eventually you’ll find yourself humming away with some songs, whether they are opening songs or particular tunes in the show’s soundtrack.

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I believe that One Piece is the definition of what shōnen-based anime is all about. Now One Piece is a shōnen by genre which normally means that one is dealing with an action/adventure-based cartoon. The codes and conventions found in this anime are similar to other shōnen anime like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail. You have the main protagonist who is a man, accompanied by other main characters who are either friends, allies or enemies. The main cast of protagonists are normally in a group or crew of some kind travelling from place to place of varying look and feel, coming across different obstacles and overcoming them through meeting their problems head-on and fighting their way to victory. And obviously as the journeys continue the obstacles become harder to triumph over. But I believe the way that One Piece does it is just wonderful, subtle and done with a great deal of style that it stands out from other anime.

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In conclusion, if you couldn’t tell already I am a major supporter of One Piece and I really do recommend it to anyone who wants to a different yet rewarding experience when it comes to anime. It is truly brilliant and very enjoyable with amazing stories, larger than life characters and crazy amounts of action and madness. Even though the series is over 500 episodes long you should give it a chance, I have been watching for almost 4 years come this summer and I’ve never regretted it, and if you start I doubt that you will regret it either 😀

Rating: 10/10

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Anime, Media, Reviews, TV Reviews

 

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London MCM Expo October 2011 Review

My my, it has been quite some time since I did a review of the London MCM Expo, there have been many reasons behind why I haven’t committed to those reviews in the past. A lot of it being due to time constraints or just being purely too lazy to write anything haha. But now in October I’ve decided to come back and do a write-up on my 7th Expo experience purely because this happens to one of the most different Expo experiences I’ve had in all the time I’ve been going down there.

Now before we get into the nitty-gritty aspects of my MCM Expo experience let be go about and establish a few factors to help you understand this story I’m going to tell you… Firstly for those who don’t know, the London MCM Expo ia also known as London Comic-Con, it is a convention for anime, manga, comic books, movies and video-games held two times a year in May and October. It is a joyous event for people of all ages to experience the joy of your favourite things all in one place for a weekend of unforgettable fun. Me and my two best friends (codenamed Touka and Microdroid) have been going for the last three years (well technically Microdroid missed a few Expos for a while now lol) and so far the Expo has never failed to disappoint and has always brought a new level of awesomeness to the table. However this time there were some variations on our Expo experience, firstly me and Touka were university students, secondly since I now am based up in Sheffield, me and the guys aren’t travelling together to and from Luton anymore and thirdly this is the first Expo where I missed the whole Saturday which is more or less the most important day of the weekend so yeah there is gonna be much to discuss so let’s press on…

Also one more thing before we begin, a lot of stuff happens at Expo so some stuff may be left out or be in the wrong order so apologizes in advance ladies and gents! Okay let’s start this thing!

Friday

So on the Friday I had checked the times of the trains from Sheffield to London just so I was sure to meet my friends at London St. Pancras train station, after a partially lengthy train ride I got down just in time and was waiting only mere minutes before my good friends showed up and the Triforce of power (that’s what I call me and other two friends) was complete again. So then we ventured on down to the good old Etap Hotel, dumped our stuff off and went back to the awesomeness that was the Excel Center. We lined up and then got let in and my god, it literally felt like I had come home, whenever you come back to the Expo it feels like time has never passed and everything is at ease with the world, especially for an Expo veteran like myself. Cosplayers abound, video games all over the place, manga on several shelves, costumes on sale, tv monitors showing trailers of films and anime… My god it just felt right and to be honest this was probably the most busy Friday that I’d seen for quite some time.

And so me and my friends cruised around and at one point we lost Microdroid because he went off to talk to one of the artists in the Artists’ Valley, so I went back to the Nintendo Unleashed section to try out of Super Mario 3D Land and my much-anticipated game The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. With Mario on the 3DS it’s literally like playing a scaled down version of Super Mario Galaxy with a ‘Mario 3’ style and level structure. It was alright but nothing to shout about, plus I don’t really like playing Mario with the 3DS Slider, it feels awkward and wrong when compared to a standard control stick, but that’s just me. Skyward Sword on the other hand was a hell of a lot better, it was exhilarating. I went straight into the boss battle with Ghirahim, at first I subconsciously went waggling the Wii remote around like Twilight Princess forgetting that the game works with Wii Motion Plus, so after being told to change my style of play by a Nintendo representative I finally got into the groove and I blocking and swinging. And while the battle with Ghirahim did take longer than it should have because he kept blocking most of my sword attacks and the sensor wasn’t picking up my movements very well I was still having fun. After that I decided to have a tour of the new dungeons in the game and fight some of the new enemies that respond fairly well to the new style of gameplay. Overall Skyward Sword was fun and the game really does look lovely when it’s in front of your eyes, screenshots and trailers don’t do the game justice in my opinion.

After my time on the game Touka and I did some more cruising, bought some manga and other items  and then returned to the hotel and suited up into our cosplay uniforms. Yes, after 3 years of Expo we were finally gonna cosplay, not anything too complicated, but no less important. We were dressing up and as Friend from the manga 20th Century Boys. We had tested out the way in which the masks felt before we headed out and they were impressively made, I still love Touka for crafting them for us. So in our masks and full suits (besides Microdroid who just went in his mask coz he didn’t have suit) we went back to the Excel Center and my god, trying to test out the masks in the evening sky outside in the car park felt impossible to be honest. The lights from lampposts and the buildings was all in my eyes! I’m sure we all had a bit of trouble seeing so we took off the masks and waited until we got closer to the building and then put the masks back on as we headed inside. Even though my vision was partially impaired I could see that we were getting some proper strange looks and it was hilarious and amazing. Went we went back inside of the Expo hall and cruised around and it felt completely exhilarating, but the best part was when some guys walked past us and was like “Who the fuck are they supposed to be!?!” It was so funny. We got around 4 or 5 pictures taken of us that day I think, though I can’t recall at this point in time. But after a bit we decided to power down and it was short but successful cosplay, though had for a long duration of time, plus my mask kept shifting upwards and messing much my eyelashes! And so then once that day was over we went back to the hotel, however I had to leave for another station in London to meet my dad to take me back home in Luton.

Saturday

Well haha, basically I wasn’t there. Yep. I missed the most important day of Expo, however I had a family anniversary to go to so that was mandatory for me and I still had a great day outside of the Expo. Although I did miss my mates that were only coming down on that day specifically, plus I missed the Euro Cosplay Contest and overall it felt wrong to miss out, I mean it was my first Saturday away from the Expo in like forever so it felt and still feels wrong haha.

Sunday

And so Sunday came, the last day of the Expo. Every time you wake up on this day the dreadful realisation that Expo will be over in a few hours sets in and it breaks the hearts of Touka and I greatly, though on Sunday I always try to live in the present and never look into the future or think about the boring reality that I’ll have to go back to. So then we went in and Touka and I cosplayed as Friend once more and got some pictures taken of us only mere minutes after we got in, I think Microdroid went off on his own again so me and Touka cruised around for a bit and chilled by a wall for a few minutes and got some more pictures taken of us. While there I noticed some people looking at us all funny when they walked by, again it was funny as hell. But was really surprising was when some guys were looking at us from a distance and I saw one of them changing their body position and the next thing I see is some bang against the wall next to me, the bloody guy tried to throw something at us! The cheek of that guy! And he then came over to us and asked us if we could see through the masks and we both replied yes to his question. He blatantly tried to through something at us just to see if we could see anything through our masks, what an asshole!

Anyways after about 10 minutes we took our masks off and cruised the Expo hall looking at some fancy artwork, talking to some artists and I watched Touka buy lots of stuff from food to artwork and so on lol. We had also watched 2 panels, one on anime and asian film cinema distribution and then we watched a panel with the winner and the other 2 top cosplayers from the Euro Cosplay Contest, which was every enlightening, heart-warming, inspiring and interesting to watch. Also took a random look outside but there really wasn’t anything going on, especially when you compare it to the crazy happenings that took place back in the May. At one point we came across Masa-kun, the epic violist who we saw at the May Expo and we watched him, Daniel-san and some drummer guy play some songs for ages, it was incredible. I requested like 3 songs, I even got to hear him play the Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1 which made my day! After a bit Masa-kun started to draw in a small crowd of people and even had a mega epic jamming session with one lass with a ukulele, she was just walking by and got drafted into the crew and I think they played a song from Super Mario Bros. and it was just beautiful! At one point Masa-kun had lost his crew and required a drummer to tapped the box, but no one answered and then he looked in my direction and asked me to join him, but I had to say no because I knew if I had gone up I would have messed it up somehow and looked like prat. But I still looked like a fool for not going up after being called up. So we watched Masa-kun for a while after that and then when he finished Microdroid forced me and Touka into picture with Masa-kun, not that it wasn’t awesome, it was just wasn’t of my own doing.

So after that we went back into the Expo and cruised around and after a bit we had done all that we could do so we decided to go to line up for the Cosplay Masquerade, as we headed out there were people saying once you left the Expo hall you couldn’t return inside which troubled me a bit. But since we were going to line up I thought it’d be alright, however the place where it was meant to be was closed and we thought it was somewhere else. So we asked at the entrance but the person there told us it was the place where we thought it was, so we were a tad confused. When we asked at the exit apparently the line for the masquerade had gone in already and I like “I knew it! The line that was forming while we were watching Masa-kun was the line for masquerade because they were lining up proper early.” So at one point I had given up hope and thought “Shit, we’re fucked.” But Touka didn’t give up hope, we went back to the entrance of the Expo hall, asked the staff to be let back in because we had gotten our tickets already and after one of the guys had talked to one of the people on the other end of walkie-talkie (which was a very tension-building moment) we got let in and got some amazing seats at the front. It was an awesome feeling! The masquerade started a lot earlier than I expected, but it was still pretty impressive with some great performances and wonderful costumes on show, though the whole masquerade on whole seemed to move fairly quickly and ended so much swifter than previous masquerades.

And so after that, it ended. The latest Expo, there and gone like a flash of light. It felt like I blinked and it was all over, but I did miss a whole day so it was a pretty quick experience for me. So after we left the Expo hall Microdroid, Touka and I suited up one more time and got some pictures taken and did our crazy walk to finish up our time at the Expo in true style! It was hella jokes to have the whole group back again, though I still felt detached from the guys because of my one day away, but heck we still had a good time regardless. Here’s hoping I’ll be going back to the Expo in May and be able to rock the Excel Center full-on next time round!

Thanks for reading yo! 😀

 
 

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