Monday, April 27, 2015

Ninninger Episode 8: It's the Fuuka Show!

If you've been tagging along with the Ninninger recaps so far you may have noticed that while I've never called the show outright bad, it has repeatedly failed to reach a level of quality I'd call good. That all changed this week when the focus finally shifted to our MVN (Most Valuable Ninja) Fuuka. Alright, maybe she's not the most valuable but she's definitely on the high end. Let's not forget that the actress (Yuka Yano) is also doing an ace job as well as being cute as a damn button. How bout we take a look at her good work?

Our tale kicks off with Fuuka and Nagi going to school. She's deadset on keeping all her ninja activities secret from her friends as she just wants to be normal. We get to learn a decent bit here as we find that the girl has no idea what she wants to do in the future. Nagi on the other hand is aiming for a nice & stable government job that will allow him to continue being a ninja on the side. Meanwhile, the three older ninja start the day by defeating that clock cat who somehow returned after last weeks beating. Upon returning home they decide to practice ninjitsu by playing hide & seek.

Eventually the younger ninja return home with Fuuka's two lady friends in tow who get invited in by Takaharu before he and Kasumi have to go fight that damn cat again. We, the well-informed audience are made aware that the watch portion of the cat can just rewind a few hours every time he's defeated. Our heroes sadly lack this knowledge as they bring the watch home for study which allows the beast to ransack their house in search of the end shuriken before taking the friends hostage and running off to the year 2005 with Take & Fuuka in pursuit.

After a brief chat where Fuuka laments that she can't have friends over like regular kids she figures out that the cat must have gone to their old house (the one that went boom at the start of the series). Once there, they meet up with their childhood counterparts. Young Fuuka actually tricks the monster by pretending to be scared so he'll come out of hiding. This is where our girl remembers that she really wanted to grow up and be a badass ninja.

What follows is quite the sequence of events as Fuuka reveals her ninja techniques to rescue her friends and get them back to the proper year before leading the team into battle and tricking the monster into revealing his weakness. To make things even better, the show has finally learned to have a sense of humor about itself. A criticism amongst viewers has been that Takaharu is constantly stealing the spotlight. Here that's used as a joke as his sister takes charge, which totally throws him off. Especially when she tosses him out of the pilot seat in their jumbo robot. They even fight over who gets to have the final victory pose.

In the end, Fuuka fully accepts her role as a ninja and her friends dig it as well. A well earned ending for a fine tale. Oh and I can't forget to mention how we also got our first look at the sixth ranger. He's a cowboy.....which would have worried me earlier in the series but now I'm thinking they might be able to pull this off.

Truly this was the most solid episode Ninninger has shown us so far. It told a complete story with real emotional growth. Had the good sense to make fun of its own shortcomings. Even Kasumi came off better this week. We'll know if this upward trajectory holds as episode 9 is already out. Back to report on that, soon. TTFN.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Avengers: The Crossing Omnibus Review Part 5

It's been quite a few weeks since we've covered that massive screw job known as The Crossing, but worry not dear readers, the story will make just as much sense as it ever has. When we last checked in, several blows had been made to Tony Stark's evil schemes, Wasp had transformed into an actual bug person, and Madam Masque of all people had a theory on how to stop the madness. Can this story wrap up in any sort of sensible manner? Not likely but let's give it a look anyway.

Avengers: Timeslide

"You're dead!" "No I'm not." "Well okey then."

We get right into some action as the Avengers along with a few helpers like a shirtless, low powered Thor battle some of Kang's minions in hopes of reaching the magic basement door. Of course the final big push of the story should yet again involve basements. Then Captain America finally decides to join the tale which is met with “Aren't you dead?” to which Vision replies “Clearly he's not.” Guess that settles the issue. Yellow Jacket (the lady who died at the being of this mess) also shows up in a brief time jump that we saw way back when. It's one of those rare instances of actual cohesion that doesn't add to much but I'll take it. The evil twin, Tobias shows up to end the fight and before ya know it, the magic basement door is busted and Avengers are sent soaring through the timestream with Century as their guide.

Ten years in the really, that's where they end up since giving actual years to the Marvel time line is a futile effort. Cap, Widow, and Jarvis arrive at the Stark Family estate with almost zero memory of what they're supposed to be doing while a teenaged Tony Stark rides around town with some Blondie. Also, the Vision is being cared for by a young Matt Murdock while pointless cameos abound such as Sue Storm with freakish hands.
My god, what's happened to her hands!

Old Jarvis informs young Jarvis of the situation when they realize that today's date is when Maria Stark dies. Fitting, since Tobias (who's twice the size of everyone else for....reason) just busted into the house. The Avengers fight and lose yet again as the giant weirdo runs off with Tony's parents. The kid arrives just in time to do this weird thinking hands thing to his face the the team tells him their brilliant plan of taking him into the future to stop his psycho adult self from destroying the world. He doesn't much care for the plan until Jarvis gives him some spiel about loving him like a son. I guess that means more when you're parents have been kidnapped by a time traveling giant.
"There are my thinkin' fingers."

Tony tracks his mother using her hi-tech super watch he made for her. The group air drops into battle with Tobias who kills the Elder Starks. Believe or not they actually put a hurtin' on him until his brother reaches through time to rescue him. The younger Tony, now filled with some good old fashioned dead parent rage decides he'll go along with whatever the Avengers want. Question is; how do they get back home? That's easy. Tobias was holding up in a place where Dr. Doom kept a time platform. The evil dude's all like “I gather you're not from here. Please leave.” So they do. Wasn't that awfully convenient?
"Get out of my time and into my car."

Iron Man #325

Remember how the Iron Man issues in this event are usually the least interesting while being endlessly confusing? Well this one's got it's fair share of stupid to go around. Things kick off innocently enough with teen Tony catching up on all the newfangled technology his older self left in the evil future basement. Meanwhile Hawkeye and Madam Masque watch him over security monitors and bond by throwing drinks at each other.

After a brief interlude where old Tony sits around and mopes (big change of pace there), a big chunk all about the family dynamics of Kang, Mantis, and their weirdo twin boys begins. Tobias and Kang train with the henchmen while Malachi asks his mommy how she met his time conquering father. Did I mention that he's wrapped around her legs like a whiny toddler? Cause he is, which is totally normal for a teenager, right?
ummm, buddy. Don't touch mommy like that.

Eventually, Mantis finds herself as board with the conversation as we are and wonders off for an extended inner monologue about all that she's lost and how her so-called friends, the avengers weren't there in her time of need. Perfect reasoning for marrying a madman and reshaping history. She goes to visits old Tony as she senses that his loneliness and pain is equal to her own as another victim of this war (What war?). He whines about how no one can take away his pain which she questions as to whether anyone has ever tried. Then she licks bloody tears off his face in some weird seduction scenario. So did they do it? Who knows. Like so many other plot points, this event is never mentioned again which begs the question of why it even happens in the first place. Oh, and does Tony have the stigmata? Seems like he should get that whole bloody tears thing checked out.

Back at Avengers mansion, the team looks for.....not really sure. They just fill a few pages doing very little until Captain America comes along and says it's time to start the final battle. If only things were that simple however as their blocked in their own front yard by a man named Gyrich (a stand in for every corrupt political wiener) and a bunch of mandroids.
Out in the arctic, young Tony opens up the technodrome only to be assaulted by Machinesmoth who is abruptly killed for the second time in this event by Masque and Hawkeye who provide back-up for the new kid. Making their way inside they come across a storage room for Iron Man suits. Little does anyone know that old Tony is in one of the suits hanging on the wall much like an old spook house painting with moving eyes. Ole crazy pants attacks the intruders who are joined by his psychic ex-girlfriend cause she might as well do something worthwhile in this damn story. The kid suits up while back in New York, the Avengers get transported by the Century so they can finally stop wasting pages on another pointless battle scene. Back in the arctic, Old Tony gains the upper hand and unmasks the young upstart. He's not very happy to see his younger self.

After some over dramatics, evil Tony attempts to kills his younger self by ripping his chest. No real details, he just reaches into the kids chest and pulls whatever out. The result is that the kid now has a damaged heart (natch). Does this count as attempted murder/suicide? Just wondering. Before the Avengers can stop him, he fades out in a time mist only to be replaced by Kang, Mantis, and their crew of flunkies.
He's a real heart breaker. Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Avengers #395

The majority of this issue is just one big fight while Kang preps his Temporal Transposer (actual name). Crystal and The Vision sit most of it out as they work to keep young Tony alive. Boy am I glad that kid turned out to be so useful. Mantis goes on the warpath, bitching and moaning about how the team never helped her and blames Vision for never returning her feelings opting instead for Scarlet Witch. Nothing shows off a poorly written female character like her blaming everyone else for her years of marrying villains, kidnapping children, and wiping out entire nations from exsistance.
One more last minute plot-development comes forth when Kang reveals that Stark wasn't his first choice for a mole in the Avengers. He actually tried to bend Hank Pym to his will, which serves as an explanation for his years of mental illness. Oh and dare I forget more vague hints about a greater threat that Kang is trying to stop......yeah, nothing comes of that.

While all of this is going on, old Tony wanders around the time palace as he comes to the realization that being a puppet to some big purple asshole was one of his lesser life choices. Thous he frees Mantis' plant based ex-husband from the dungeons and the two of them join in the fight against Kang. It all comes down to Tony shutting down the temporal transposer by sacrificing himself. As he dies, Kang & Mantis escape while shouting about how “No one is safe now” (safe from what?), then Tuc shows up to give Luna back to her parents, and Force Works arrives with a half-hearted “sorry we're late, we've got things to discuss.” It's totally a lie, they've got nothing to talk about.

Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man

Turns out that before he kicked the bucket, old Tony gave the team some schematics for his suits so they could use it to rebuild young Tony's heart. Hank Pym does just that with some invasive surgery. What follows is basically an overview of Iron Man's history as different friends show up to discuss their relationships along with his actions and flaws. Most of it is fairly simplistic and uninteresting until the last ten pages or so when things go off the rails.
First off, Madam Masque decides to torment a comatose Tony by changing her face into all the different women he's failed over the years. Then Marianne, the psychic one, has a spiritual projection adventure into the kids organs which yields yet another unnecessary ass shot.
Did you really think I'd forget an ass shot?

To cap things off, some goofball all in red appears to tell Tony about all the different villains he's just inherited from his older self. Apparently that was the last jolt the kid needed to wake up and take the place of the newly deceased Tony Stark.

So that's it right? The villains have been stopped, several characters have been changed in the hopes of making them more marketable. Clearly there's nothing else to cover. Wrong! There are still 4 more issues to go in this travesty. Come back soon when, god willing, we can wrap up the crossing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ninninger Episode 7

Homecomings are delightful things. One arrives somewhat altered by their experiences in the outside world only to find a new disdain or rekindled love for their place of origin. In this bloggers case it's been an absolute joy to be back home with my pets, people, and toys. I've been working on a travel blog of my cross country trek though I'm not sure if it's worth sharing in current form or if there should be a short hand version or maybe just keep the whole thing to myself. You folks lemme know how much you're interested in my rants about Nebraska and the smells of Utah in the comments.
Sentai had it's own homecoming this week as two former ninjas popped by for a 40th anniversary team-up episode. You read that right, Super Sentai is officially 40 years. By this point it really should be ranked up there with the big boys of nerdy television yet some people don't even know what it is. That's an issue for another day. For now, let's look in on how our heroes got over the hill.

It's an average day of training and the kids are sparring & what not while Fuuka tries to get up the nerve to thank her brother for rescuing her last week. What's this? The show has actually developed a memory and is carrying on themes and stories from week to the next?. Hot dog there may be hope for us yet! Anyhow, they've got some guest instructors this week as the red rangers from both Kakuranger (yay!)and Hurricanger show up to teach the kids some advanced ninpo like the doppelganger technique.

The lessons have the usual results with everyone other than Takaharu getting a passing grade. The substitute teachers actually string him up, leaving him at the base so he can't join in battling the monster of the week who, get this, is a clock kitty that controls time. Mr. mew mew actually puts up one hell of a fight before opening a time gate to go in search of the end shuriken (another plot point from last week, huzah!) which is when Taka (who managed to free himself) follows the beast into the past.

Here's where we get the twist of our story. Turns out the subs didn't just show up to teach the kids some new tricks, they were also looking out for Takaharu because ten years ago they were in a fight with Mr. mewface when a strange red ninja joined the fray only to be killed in action. Fuuka starts to freak out cause her brother could totally be dead when Yakumo shows why he's possibly the best character in this show. He doesn't buy the idea of Taka being dead cause for as dumb as the kid is, he always manages to pull something out of his ass at the last second. Inspiring speech over, mew-mix comes back to our time only to get his ass kicked from behind. Taka mastered the doppelganger technique mid fight so the guy Kaku & Hurican red saw getting blown to bits was a decoy. Everyone revs up, beats furball into the dirt, the team gets some new finishing discs for the big bot. Everybody happy.

In the end, Fuuka finally thanks her brother even though he has no clue what for. This is great and I hope the show can do more of it. Taka can get a bit annoying with his loud/dumb routine but the idea that he'd never think of being thanked for saving a life is much more in line with a lovable dope and makes him much easier to cheer on. The older rangers look on from a nearby cliff, wondering if the concept of ninjas who don't hide will work out when the first ever red ranger pops by to remind them that were dumb kids back in the day. Apparently the old teams always keep an eye on the young upstarts so maybe we'll be lucky enough to get another big ninja team up in one of the movies or something.

Ok so the show's looking up. Next week appears to be an actual Fuuka focused story. In the meantime I promise something non sentai related for the next entry. Now I must be off to see what's on the menu for tonight. Haven't had pizza in like half a month which is just downright cruel. I'm thinkin' salami and shrooms. Have a good one yall!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ninninger Episode 6

Sorry for the delay on this weeks recap folks, forgot how exhausting vacations can be. Of course I will be sharing my travel experiences with you all but first I have to comb through all the pictures, videos, and stories. Currently it's the final night of the trip and I'm sitting in a cobblestone Inn somewhere in Iowa. It's actually a very nice place but that's for another time. Tonight we've got ninjas to worry about. Ninjas who are improving just a little bit.

We kick things off with the team having another ninja exam where they try out different techniques on a simulated monster. Everyone passes the test. Everyone except Takaharu who continues to show no restraint or finesse in his fighting. While he's forced to retake the challenge, the others run off to deal with a new monster. This week, Gabi decided to make a clarinet tengu to smack the kids around which he does in quick order and then they kidnap Fuuka! Now that simply won't stand! The plan is that Gabi demands a rematch with Taka. The sister-napping is just solid insurance. Of course they torture her a little as well. It's just what ya do when you kidnap ninja girls.

When I first saw the preview for this one I figured it was going to be focused on Fuuka due to the whole captivity thing but yet again this show throws a curve ball and actually develops grandpa and Taka & Fuuka's dad (can never remember his name). Turns out there's some baggage with those two as they don't see eye to eye and grandad never thought his own son any ninitsu leaving the guy powerless to save his own daughter. We also get a few hints that there's some mystical item known as the end shuriken and that the old man failed to fully seal the evil general away on purpose.

Taka agress to a duel which grants his sister freedom (and yet another beating from the tengu). The rest of the team arrive to help her out while red and Gabi duke it out in some weird pseudo dimension. Once again we get some good action here that builds into a confrontation of the whole team against Gabi wherein they do some actual damage by cutting off one of his horns. This is accomplished with a rather haphazard rehash of the moral from ep 4 that teamwork's a good idea. Guess they forgot about it in the following stories. Damn forgetful ninjas. After that, the day is saved and everyone agrees to work towards getting stronger.

While I've been pretty down on this show, things are looking up this week. Things got a lot more serious than usual but we actually some hints about a larger plot along with nice developments for the mentor characters. That being said, the more somber tone didn't leave as much fun stuff to talk about and the repeat moral from just a few weeks back was just a little lame. Overall our shinobi are on a path towards becoming a better show. And if you'll excuse me I've gotta get back on my path home.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ninninger and Kamen Rider Drive Spring Break Special

Remember when you were young and the only upsides to being sick were dodging your chores and watching cartoons? That's what the past week has been for this blogger. I'd been prepping some articles for last weekend when I had my first ever eye exam. If you've never had one lemme tell ya that after dilating your pupils, monitors are not your friends for a number of hours. It's bad enough that the dilation agent took longer to wear off than I was told but then your eyes are exhausted. Once that was all wrapped up my plans were to get right back to blogging......then it happened. After nearly 8 years of vomit free existence I suffered some pretty bad food poisoning which was a disgusting affair. Since then I've been working my way back to being a human. At least I didn't have to do the dishes, vacuuming, etc and I got to watch lots of Gumball (seriously, how great is Gumball?) and I also got to watch this year's Sentai/Kamen Rider spring break special. Let's give it a gander.
Pictured: Most of my week.

The crossover gets moving quickly with the ninjas fighting a new monsters who's some kind of fear spewing slime car. Oh, he's also got some slowdown technique he uses to escape. That's when the current Kamen Rider shows up and accuses the team of being roidmudes which I guess are evil robo people. It's only fair to point out that I've got almost zero knowledge about Drive or Kamen Rider in general. My only exposure to the franchise is Gaim which seriously, how great was Gaim? Gotta cover that one sometime. Getting back to Drive, he's a police detective with car powers and a talking belt that reminds me of Belly Beg from Uncle Grandpa only with dignity. His costume's also powerfully ugly but that's a matter for another day.

Shinnosuke (that's Drive's civilian identity) arrests Takaharu while the others escape to hunt the monster. After some scenes of the two heroes getting to know each other, Taka tries to show Shin that a Youkai is responsible for all the trouble. First he has to deal with his friends who've been covered in good old fashioned fear slime. A tad suggestive, don't ya think?

Commence a multi-stage battle involving the companion bots before we get a twist to the story. Turns out the evil fox lady (who is apparently an effeminate fox guy) pulled the ninjas into an alternate universe where they will eventually be erased from existence. This elaborate scheme was conceived by some mystery individual who we'll get to eventually. In the meantime, the police force tries to lock up the ninninger crew as they could cause harm to this reality. The cops plan to just lock em up until they disappear. Real nice guys. None of this sits well with Shinnosuke who be all like “fuck dat!” He leaves the force and belly bag behind to help the ninningers find a white haired man who overacts a lot.

Shin and Taka get into some major mystery solving while the others get in another fight where they get their butts handed to em again. I mean they really have a tough go of it this week. Before all is lost, the leads show up with some backup and answers, They've found that this whole conspiracy is somehow the work of long forgotten evil organization Shocker! Yes the filthy child in me giggles every time they say it

Of course the day is saved and the ninningers return to their own reality. Little does anyone know that all of this was actually the brain child of Kamen Rider 3 who unleashes a time altering green wave and the credits. Just like last years crossover, this is just the preamble to new Super Hero Taison movie. Thous nothing is truly resolved and anyone on this coast won't get a chance to see how things work out for months.
Overall it was pretty fun. There were some pacing issues and the supporting cast of Drive came across as kinda dickish except for Kiriko (girl got some legs!) It was pretty unbalanced in that it was basically the Taka and Shin show. Remember how the first Expendables was supposed to be a big action star team up but ended up as more of a Stallone & Statham buddy flick? Yeah, kinda like that. It did lift my spirits for a little bit though. Believe me; when recovering from horrific vomiting that's a huge gift. Thanks ninjas & car people!

In other news, I'm off on my first vacation in years but the laptop's coming with so updates can get back on track. There might even be a few extra entries covering the trip. Until then, why don't you think of the visual suggested by the dialogue in this last screencap.
That's disgusting!