[Film] Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale Review

I can’t believe it’s been over 2 years since season 2 of Sword Art Online finished airing; fans have been waiting for new animation to be released and we get that in the form of a film this year! I don’t really post anime reviews in general but I feel confident enough to put forward my opinion on the Sword Art Online series as I have read most of its material (including all the main light novels and some of the side story light novels). I’ve decided to split my review into a spoiler free section (to help those who want to make an informed decision about whether to watch this movie or not), and an in-depth section with spoilers to engage those who want to analyse the intricate details behind the movie and the series in general.

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[Review] Naruto Shippuuden Movie 3: Inheritors of the Will of Fire

This is the 7th movie instalment of the Naruto series and the directors are still somewhat able to come up with new ways to endanger the ninja world. The movie ranks just as poor as the other ones and is pretty much near being the worst Naruto movie out of the 7.

Quick Synopsis

Our antagonist, Hiruko, is up to his final stage in creating the “perfect” ninja through his chimera technique; a body which contains 5 bloodline limits. The last one that needed to be obtained was the Sharingan from Hatake Kakashi. He activates a curse he placed on Kakashi long ago that “zombifies” him and makes him walk from the Leaf Village to his lair. Naruto and friends give chase, stop Kakashi and defeat Hiruko.

What? Did you expect more? Of course not.

Commentary/Spoilers

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-22h18m12s40Let’s take a look at Hiruko first. I’m still getting confused at whether our main antagonist is male or female, once again. He stays mummified for the entire film but you do get to see his ugly face at the very end before he dies. Essentially he’s the same character as Orochimaru, did forbidden experiments and eventually got booted out of the village. His motive for trying to become perfect stems from nothing more than mere envy; being laughed at for being weak by the Legendary Sannin. And on top of that, he  wants to start a 4th ninja war; not the most creative thing to do with power, but it sure beats taking over the world vlcsnap-2010-04-28-22h38m44s59(again) any day. Hiruko starts of having already stolen 4 bloodline limits. They’re all simply made up, so don’t think it has anything to do with the eyes: Byakugan, Rinengan. But it does beg the question why the Sharingan was involved. Hiruko’s 4 abilities that stem from the bloodline limits are:

  • Storm element: some large area of effect lightning burst
  • Darkness element: a “Kazaana” type ability that absorbs chakara through the palm of his hands; can nullify all ninja techniques and can be used as a weapon in return. Pretty much the most hacked ability out there
  • Steel element: pretty straight-forward. He can turn into steel to negate physical attacks
  • Swiftness element: Hiruko can flash step

Anything that deals with technical details of the anime will be placed in a quote box and in red.

How does the Sharingan make a ninja perfect? It’s not like Hiruko could use the Sharingan as well as Madara anyhow. And on that note it’s funny to see that Hiruko miserably aims for the weakest Sharigan user around, and there aren’t many to choose from anymore. This was probably a sad excuse to make Kakashi a central character in this movie.

Apart from Hiruko, there are three more bad guys, making a total of 4 bad guys in this movie. What’s worse is that the other three don’t even get named; one of them uses snakes, another is a beast specialist (like Kiba) and the last one uses a weird bird that can drop a lot of explosive feathers (like explosive tags).

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h07m01s144The fight scenes are really disappointing, the first proper one doesn’t even come in until halfway through the anime. Meanwhile all we see is a zombified Kakashi advancing very slowly towards Hiruko. Prior to being controlled, he requests to Tsunade not to be followed and that he be made a ticking time bomb to blow up Hiruko when he tries to absorb the Sharingan. The rest of the anime just drags on with Naruto and Sakura trying to follow Kakashi while everyone else is trying to stop them on account of Tsunade’s orders; one sacrifice is enough.

Naruto remains the naive obnoxious character that he’s always been, insisting that they stop Kakashi because they can’t just sacrifice someone to save everyone else. He relates back to the first couple of episodes in the anime with the bell training (the same bells appear as a recurring motif in this movie) where Kakashi tells them its better to break rules than to let your friends down. But of course Naruto doesn’t think with his head about the matter and that’s how we actually get a movie going on.

Shikamaru takes on a larger role than the other characters; apart from being told exactly what Kakashi and Tsunade want to happen, it’s up to him to reason with Naruto and try to stop him. In the pursuit of Naruto, he is the last one to finally let him have his own way, reflecting back on Asuma and what he says about protecting the village and all.

It’s strange how it takes the entire village to stop Naruto and Sakura. All the regular characters make a fair appearance in the movie (by that I mean they get a fair amount of air time and action). Funny how you don’t see any other random ninjas, just the main characters. Anyway they all chase Naruto and Sakura up to Hiruko’s lair where they get confronted with the three nameless bad guys. It was a 9 on 3 fight (10 if you count Akamaru) which makes things just as unfair as the Bleach movies, where the protagonist to antagonist ratio is just unreasonable. Again like I said none of the fights were spectacular, which is fair since all the characters need some air time, so each character only gets enough time to do a simple technique and then leave the scene.

Interesting side notes: We get three flash backs that are worth considering. The first is of Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke’s bell training in the opening episodes of the anime; it was probably good of them to highlight a previous notion they raised there when Sakura and Sasuke tried to feed Naruto despite Kakashi’s orders. Second is of Shikamaru reminiscing on Asuma and the last words he left. Third is of Kakashi back in the third ninja war, where Obito dies and gives Kakashi the Sharingan; you don’t see that particular scene, which sucks, but it sort of adds to context I suppose. The second note is that the summoning technique does what we would’ve thought it does: it teleports the summoned object from one place to where the caster is. The three bad guys can summon each other, and Hiruko can summon all three of them as well. It was funny to see them get smashed individually and then have them teleported from their individual torture (reminds me of Syllabear, and teleporting the bear to save it, like that).

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h38m56s100 Perhaps the most pathetic thing in the movie was the final scene; skip all the intermediate fighting because it just isn’t worth mentioning. Who defeats Hiruko? Of course it’s Naruto. Nope, not even Kakashi is important enough to get the honours of doing so; he does spend half the movie possessed. How does Naruto beat Hiruko? With shame, that’s how. Remember my theory from many Naruto movies back that the rasengans in each final attack get bigger and bivlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h40m18s144gger as each movie  goes by? Well, the theory still stands after 7 movies. The final attack sort of followed a Dragon Ball Z: Goku’s Final Spirit Bomb against Frieza. Naruto’s clones and Kakashi cause a distraction, and Naruto comes from above and launches that humungous rasen shuriken. Minus the 5 episode delay, it was a pretty lame climax.

Note 1: Out of some misfortune, Hiruko could not absorb the spirit bomb rasengan, which is stupid and a lame excuse to die. It would’ve been more reasonable if it was the Nine-Tail’s chakara; a blood-red rasengan would’ve been kind of cool. But then again that’s impossible since nobody was in danger to trigger Naruto’s rage.

Note 2: Naruto probably summons more shadow clones in the movie alone than in the all anime episodes put together. On top of that, he makes them all conjure up rasengans, twice! It’s difficult to believe that Naruto would still have had enough chakara to summon the spirit bomb at the end; you know it doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and Gaara makes an appearance, and fights Naruto at some point before the final battle. Didn’t really make sense why they gave him such a role, even the other characters are like: “Why are you here?” He just didn’t belong in this movie. The movie closes with Naruto returning the bells (that he fixed) to Kakashi, who replies with: “You remind me of him (Obito).” Kakashi gives a weird smile, not that you could even see it under his mask, and all the other characters call him gay. Naruto runs away thinking Kakashi is gay, and Kakashi chases after him. Cut to credits.

No, I’m serious, that is how the movie ends. Stupid right? I think so too.

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h54m18s113

Wedding Dress (English Version)

The last time I ever made a rant about translations was to do with anime; I forget which ones. I sadly would have never expected to see it in some songs. I’m going to keep this short and succinct.

 

 

Here we have the all new English rendition of the song Wedding Dress by Taeyang from Big Bang. The original was indeed a really good song. But for starters I think everyone should at least watch the original; pay particular attention to the lyrics, because that’s the central point when it comes to translations.

 

 

There’s been so much hype over the English version but after listening to it and the lyrics, I beg to sway away from joining the crowd in giving the song as much credit as Taeyang’s original. What the English version does well is keeping the beat and rhythm. The things we can omit from comparison obviously is the vocals because this after all is merely a cover song.

 

The rap bit. Okay, an interesting twist to the original; urbanizes the song so I’d give a thumbs up for that. It is of course the cover artists personalizing the song.

 

But there isn’t much else good about the English version. Lyrics. Biggest downfall was the lyrics. The translation was far from accurate. And as a result of making a cover version, they’ve lost the original meaning to the song, but I suppose if we compare the two songs, they probably do come from their own contexts: an American and a Korean background.

 

Taeyang’s original song tells a story of a love triangle where by our protagonist fails to get the girl. And I say “fail” rather than “lose” because our protagonist didn’t “lose” the girl, the girl originally “belonged” to the other guy. My take on the original was that the protagonist fell in love with a girl who was already with somebody else. And so the song is expressing how unfortunate is was for him to have not met her first (before the other guy), a little called “fate” perhaps. There is sorrow when the protagonist wishes the girl would not go with the other guy and a bit of hate because she never knew. I guess it’s just your typical story of falling for people that unfortunately are already “taken”.

 

Now turning to the English version, the story is completely different. Here we have protagonist fighting with the girl and so the girl leaves him for another man. The song expresses regret that he “let” her leave and how he wants her back. Your typical fail relationship story which is just so common in society now. The lyrics in the English conversation convey a picture of a relationship breaking up here; so either the protagonist or the girl did things bad towards one another which caused the break up. The protagonist would therefore rightly be at fault for the girl leaving him, probably deserved it too. And so the rest of the song is just him moping over how he screwed the relationship up; nothing special at all. How often do you hear a guy being sad because he was responsible for breaking something? Being a man is sucking up to your mistakes, acknowledging your fault, admitting the consequences and then moving on. Of course I draw too much from the lyrics that it was the guy’s fault. At the least, if there is constant conflict, then something isn’t working between two people. And it’s selfish for the guy to still want the girl despite the issues she has with him. So, she’s expected to marry the guy even though she has a problem with him, all because he “wants” her? Shameful. Chorus is just plain funny: “I can’t believe that you are not with me.” What, so the guy was like completely drunk when she left him? How can you not see a breakup when it’s so obvious: you fight, she leaves you, she wants to marry someone else. Hello, she’s gone; how could you not see that?

 

Well that’s enough said. There’s clearly a huge distinction between these two songs. While the English version was indeed impressively mixed and recorded, the lyrics don’t hold under the term “translation”. Taeyang’s version is easily unmatched and even at best I would rather call the English song a “rendition” rather than a “translation”.

 

If you want a good translation, here’s one that was done really early after the song came out. Of course it wasn’t recorded well, but the translations easily outmatch this new false hit:

 

[J-Pop] Aqua Timez – Velonica

 

..::Includes Lyrics, Translations and Downloads::..

 

“Velonica” is the 9th single from the ever-popular J-Rock band Aqua Timez and they are very fortunate to have this song being used as the 9th opening for the popular anime Bleach. “Velonica” is slightly unlike Aqua Timez’s more recent singles such as “Niji” and “Natsu no  Kakera”. The lyrics are of a slightly more darker theme and has bass and melody to match. We finally see more of the rapping style from Aqua Timez in this song; the verses are rapped out, followed by a slow pre-chorus and then a strong techno and up-beat chorus.

 

The song does well to maintain a nice long chorus, which gives listeners more to remember subconsciously and hum. Of course due to the rap element in the song, there is less of the rock element but a guitar bass still keeps the rock mood there. A definite must-have for Aqua Timez fans; and for newcomers, do not be fooled into thinking that all Aqua Timez songs are like this, they all vary.

 

Here is the anime opening sequence for the song:

 

 

 

 

Here are the lyrics and translations. Please remember these are my fifth translations only.

Romaji Lyrics

 

Zasetsu mamire ryuukou no magire
Shiawase na furi wo shite utau
Motto hashire to iikikashite
Mubou ni mo sotto kazakami he
Kita michi wo ichibetsu yutori wa gomen
Shimensoka sansen ni tsugu ONE GAME
“Yama ari tami ari gake ari”
Chiri wa tsumotte iku

 

Hateshinai tabi no tochuu de
Machi no hazure ni tachiyoru
Tsukareta ryouashi wo
Sotto nagedashite nekorobu to
Kurikaesareru asai nemuri
Nando mo onaji ano yokogao
Nando mo onaji ano kotoba wo
“Ikiteru dake de kanashii to omou no wa watashi dake nano?” to

 

Tabako no kemuri ga chuu wo uneri
Utsuro ni kieru kitto mada chikara naki osanai hibi ni

 

Minakute ii kanashimi wo mitekita kimi wa ima
Koraenakute ii namida wo koraete sugoshiteru
Honto no koto dake de ikite yukeru hodo
Bokura wa tsuyokunaisa tsuyokunakute ii ii?

 

Mochiageta mabuta sekai wa haru da
Sakura iro no kaze wo kakiwakete
Haruka kanata he mukau tochuu
Kono na no hana hatake ni kimi wa ita no kana
Kono sora ni tori no shiroi habataki wo
Boku ga sagasu ma kitto
Kimi wa daichi ni mimi wo sumashi
Ari no kuroi ashioto wo sagashitan darou na

 

Piero no you na kamen wo hai de
Taiyou ni wasurerareta oka ni tachi

 

Tsuki no hikari wo abite fukaku iki wo suu
Sara no wareru oto mo donari goe mo nai sekai
Nukumori ga nakutatte ikite wa yukeru sa
Dakedo bokura ikiteru dake jya tarinakute

 

Mebuku daichi ya buatsui miki ya
Kiesaru niji ya sugisaru hibi ya
Yozora no SPEAKER shiki no fushigi ga
Oshiete kureta shinjitsu wo sagashi tsuzukeru bokura ni

 

Doko made tabi wo shite mo inochi no hajimari wa
Ikite aisaretai to nai ta hitori no akago
Koko de wa nai doko ka wo mezasu riyuu to wa
Kokoro de wa nai doko ka ni kotae wa nai to shiru tame

 

 

 

English Translations

 

 

Stained by frustration and confused by fashion,
I pretend to be happy and sing.
I run recklessly and gracefully
further on towards the wind.
I glance back at the path I came from
while everyone betrays me, and the ONE GAME that follows conflict.
“There are mountains, valleys and cliffs”
and the dust keeps piling up.

 

Along the way of my never-ending journey,
I stop by at the edge of town.
Both of my tired feet silently gave way
and I lie down
to keep falling into a shallow sleep.
It’s that same face every time.
It’s those sane words every time.
“Am I the only one who thinks living is sad?”

 

The tobacco smoke that lingers in the air
disappears into emptiness in the days when I’m still young and weak

 

You witness the sadness that you shouldn’t be seeing
And hold back tears that you should be crying.
We’re living by truth alone
but we’re not strong so is it okay to be weak? Is it?

 

I open my eyes and the world is Spring.
The cherryblossom-coloured wind pushes through
along the way as I head far far away.
I wonder if you were in this field of vegetables.
I search for the white fluttering
of birds in this sky.
You opened your ears to the ground
and searched for the blank trail of ants, didn’t you?

 

I tear off my clown-like mask
as I stand on a hill which the sun forgot.

 

The moonlight washes over me and I take a deep breath.
In a world where’s no smashing plates or angry voices
I’ll keep on living even if there’s no warmth.
However, simply living isn’t enough for us.

 

The budding ground, the massive trunk,
the vanishing rainbow, the passing days,
the night sky speaker, the wonders of the four seasons.
They all teach me to continue searching for the truth.

 

No matter how far I journey it’s like the start of life,
I’m a lonely baby wanting to live and be loved.
The reason we keep leaving here for somewhere else
is to realize there’s no answer other than in the heart.

 

 

 

Download

 

You may download the full single from my website here:

 

http://www.divineiniquity.net/music/aquatimez_velonica.html

[Review] [Film] The Day the Earth Stood Still

 

Please be warned that this review also contains spoilers.

 

Just looking at the title of this film kind of makes you shudder for a bit. But then 90 minutes later you’ll probably find yourself walking away with a scowl on your face, an unsatisfied hunger that the title first imposed you with. Apparently this film has already been done back in 1951 which may explain why its 2008 counterpart seemed to lack so much.

 

General synopsis: An alien ventures onto planet earth bringing a message of doom for mankind. Mankind has weakened the planet and need to be erased before the damage is irreversible. One woman and her son, determined to fight against this prophecy, try to convince him to change his mind; that mankind have the potential to change and restore planet earth.

 

Actually, if I had never known that this movie had already been filmed before, I would’ve said it was a fair idea to address the environmental issue [of climate change], although the impending problem at the moment does appear to be the financial crisis. Unfortunately even so, the film does poorly to address any sort of environmental issue that needs responding to. In fact the movie is so ambiguous you can probably interpret the storyline in any way you want to. And with post-modernism kicking in, you just can’t resist reading the film in a multitude of ways.

 

It’s good to see Keanu Reeves come back onto the movie scene, though aging now, as the alien “Klaatu” (clearly a dodgy name thought up in the 50’s). Reeves’ character enters from a giant sphere that lands on the earth. The sphere was rather well-designed, its surface a swirling mass of blue and black; sort of resembling clouds or even the waves in the ocean. It was a rather mesmerizing colour that invoked both fear and wonder.

 

The film did well to jump into near-climax action in the second (after a strange but later-explained opening scene). Planet earth gets threatened by massive destruction from the afore-mentioned sphere which was feared to collide with the earth in mere minutes. Not such a bad moment although the pace was quite short-lived. Reeves reveals himself when he emerges from a cocoon, naked and bald. In fact, one cannot help but be reminded of a similar moment in “The Matrix”; a shamefully re-used concept with the same actor, not smart.

 

Reeves plays a fairly appealing mellow character; lacking emotion in that “terminator” sort of way. However such a role doesn’t seem suited for him. He was full of action back in the days of “Speed” and during the “Matrix” trilogy he only hid his emotions rather than be void of them entirely. I would’ve wished his character had done more on the action side, his character was just too passive, while all the action was spread over to the military and police.

 

The heroine for the film was Helen Benson, played by Jennifer Connelly, along with her son Jacob, played by the son of WIll Smith, Jaden. I’m not too familiar with Connelly’s acting style but as for young Smith, he did well to portray the typical black child with both parents dead and ending up with a foster mother. The kid acts well to play out the character that keeps his cool throughout all the pre-apocalyptic events that take place.

 

Apart from these three we have the giant robot “Gort” which in the 2008 version, resembles a black Ironman; again thumbs down for the resemblance. Later Gort dissolves away into millions of black locust-type insects that can decompose metal and any non “natural” material. So mankind would simply be destroyed by a plague of locusts. The film did well again earlier to mention that similar spheres mentioned above were acting as “arks” to preserve non-human wildlife. Unfortunately it did bad to refer to the “plague of locusts” as the impending “flood”. Still, small recognition for the attempt at Biblical allusion. Further along, after Gort breaks down into the swarm of locusts and breaks free from the underground base, military personnel focus fire everything at the black cloud mass, again mirroring a similar moment from “The Matrix: Revolutions” when the Sentinels break through into the dock. Too many “stolen” scenes from other films, which is truly shameful.

 

The plot barely made any sense at the very end. Klaatu makes a move to stop the destruction of mankind when he sees Jacob finally acting nice to his foster mum (for not apparent reason, mind you). And that seems to serve as the evidence that mankind can change and fix up the environment. Hardly any logic involved there and therefore an unjustified ending. The climax comes in the form of Klaatu trudging through a blizzard of locusts and laying his hands on the sphere he emerged out of, causing the locusts to “die” and fall to the ground like flakes of snow. This moment actually legitimately paralleled the opening scene of the film which didn’t have any meaning but similarly portrayed an actual blizzard, etc.

 

As I’ve said before, the film can be interpreted in so many ways. The origins of Klaatu are so blurred that for me as a Christian, it is actually possible to read Reeves’ character as Christ coming down to warn mankind of impending destruction but later pulling back to allow more time to “repent”. This is just how ambiguous the film actually is. I won’t go further into other readings because there are way too many.

 

Interesting thing in the film was the scene where Reeves meets up with an old Chinese man (apparently another alien in human form) and they begin conversing in Mandarin. Reeves demonstrated a rather strange knowledge of Chinese in that he handled the language well, although over-emphasising some syllables by using the English consonants. Still it was interesting to watch Reeves speak Chinese, if indeed that is worth 90 minutes.

 

A short film, and one that hardly leaves as big an impact as the title originally did. A huge mistake to actually work off the 1951 classic version and definitely poorly done in terms of modern standards. Effects would’ve been better if they hadn’t already been used in other films. Bottom line:do not watch it. You might get an interesting message out of it, if any, but definitely not worth putting up with the lame storyline.