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Phineas and Ferb

April 30th, 2010

Phineas and Ferb

It is summer vacation. The days are long, hot, and boring. Ever wish you had a roller coaster in your backyard, a haunted house, a monster truck arena, or … I could go on and on and on. Phineas and Ferb are two brothers who are determined to seize the day and when they are done that day will know that it has been seized. They build a roller coaster, a haunted house, tree house robots, and hundreds of other amazing contraptions, gadgets, and venues. They never stop and they never let anything stop them. They are constantly pushing the boundaries, the edge, the envelope, etc.

Enter Candace, Phineas and Ferb’s older sister. She is constantly trying to catch the boys pulling one of their stunts. In fact, it is quite easy for Candace to catch her brothers, they don’t try to hide anything that they are doing. They even try to include her in what they are doing. However, when Candace tries to show their mother what the boys are up to the projects that they have built mysteriously disappear just before the boys can get caught. Phineas and Ferb never question to where their projects disappear. They just comment that clean up is rather easy this way.

The disappearances are usually the work of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Every day Phineas and Ferb plan how to make the most of their summer vacation and Dr. Doofenshmirtz plots how he can take over the Tri-State Area and from there the world. He constructs elaborate apparatuses all labeled with the "-inator" suffix, such as the Destruct-inator that would destroy all the lawn gnomes in the Tri-State Area.

Assigned to stop the evil Doctor is Agent P, otherwise known as Perry the platypus. Perry is Phineas and Ferb’s pet and an undercover secret agent. He is Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s nemesis and always disappears at some point during the episode to go on a mission to foil the Doctor’s evil scheme. The Doctor and Perry have a typical hero/nemesis relationship. He bursts in on the Doctor, gets captured, the Doctor monologues, Perry escapes while the Doctor is distracted by his monologue, and then Perry foils the Doctor usually also cleaning up after Phineas and Ferb. Such as the time that Phineas and Ferb built a beach in their backyard. At the same time Dr. Doofenshmirtz was using the Destruct-inator to destroy all of the lawn gnomes in the Tri-State area (he had a bad experience as a child that involved a lawn gnome). Perry foils the Doctor and the Destruct-inator ends up explosively releasing all of the lawn gnomes and sucking down the beach. He returns at the end of the episode with the comment, "Oh, there you are Perry" and no one the wiser as usual.

Phineas and Ferb is an amazing cartoon. The artwork is only okay, nothing special. The music is usually top notch. Every episode of Phineas and Ferb has a full blown musical number and the style of the musical number changes frequently. However, the writing is the star of the show in this case. The episodes are consistently funny without being crude and the dialog is witty and enjoyable. What I enjoy is the fact that I can watch this with my kids and I don’t have to be careful about them hearing or seeing something inappropriate. Children will enjoy this and adults won’t feel like their intelligence is being insulted or that their brains are leaking out of their ears. So go watch. Now.

Black Cat

March 10th, 2010

Train Heartnet is XIII of the Chronos Numbers. He is an excellent marksman and uses the handgun named Hades to carry out missions for the Chronos organization. He is also called Black Cat because if you see him you are about to suffer misfortune. He is exceptionally skilled and when he undertakes a mission he is incredibly single-minded in his pursuit of the target. Train is perhaps the most skilled operative in the Chronos organization.He seems to be the perfect assassin, skilled, ruthless, and deadly. Then he meets Saya.

Saya is a sweeper, a bounty hunter, who uses her own considerable skill to make the world a better place. However, she differs from Train in that she refrains from killing her targets. Even when her life is in mortal danger she looks for ways to take down her targets without killing them. Train finds her ideals and outlook on life to be a refreshing change from the people for whom he works. Train decides that he needs to rethink his direction in life and determines that he doesn’t want to kill anymore. Naturally this puts him at odds with his superiors in Chronos.

Enter Sven Vollfied. Sven is another sweeper, a chivalrous man who is always polite to women and children. He is rather unconventional in his approach to being a sweeper and is almost always broke. While he doesn’t have the natural abilities of Train, Sven is uses a wide variety of weapon and devices to accomplish his missions, most, if not all of these devices fit inside his specially designed attaché case. Sven also has an ace up his sleeve, his right eye. Sven’s right eye, usually covered by a patch, allows him to see several seconds into the future. It leaves him severely weakened after each use so he only uses it in dire straits.

Train and Sven clash over the life of a young girl named Eve. Train is given the assignment to kill the girl and Sven takes it upon himself to make sure that doesn’t happen. Ultimately, Train decides to do what he wants to do. He doesn’t kill Eve and both he and Eve join Sven as sweepers.

This is just the opening act of the series. Chronos doesn’t like the fact that one of its numbers is now independent, the Taoists want their revenge for their defeat by Chronos in the last war, the Taoists also want to capture Eve and use her in their revenge plot, Sven wants to protect Eve and make money so he isn’t perpetually broke, Train wants to be left alone to pursue his own goals, Eve wants to learn more about the world around her (she has been isolated since birth), and Chronos wants Eve dead. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

For the most part I enjoyed Black Cat. The characters were interesting, the animation was good, the acting was good, and the stories were entertaining. I liked the interactions between Train and Saya and Train and Kirisaki Kyoko. I also very much enjoyed the battles between the Apostles of the Stars (Taoists) and Sven and his group. That being said, the ending gets really strange. So be warned.

Xam’d: Lost Memories

February 12th, 2010

Xam'd: Lost Memories

I keep hoping that one day soon Bones will release this anime in the United States. I know that you can get the anime on the PSN, but I would like to own a DVD or Blu-ray copy of the anime. I stumbled across Xam’d by accident. I don’t remember the circumstances, but i remember that I was intrigued enough to chase down some of the stories. I think that I may have seen a few images from the series and thought that the artwork was similar to Eureka Seven, which I liked, and so I decided to see if would like Xam’d as well. Short story long, I like the series and keep hoping for a US DVD release, which hasn’t happened yet.

Xam’d starts out on Sentan Island. It is a peaceful place, however, it is a part of the Southern Free Zone. The Southern Free Zone happens to be at war with the Northern Government, and Sentan Island is a little too close for comfort to the Northern Government. So, while the island is at peace there is a rather heavy military presence on the island. There is a third group involved in the conflict, a mysterious religious cult thought by most to be extinct. How they are involved in the conflict is still to be seen.

Akiyuki is one of the main characters of the series and he lives on the island with his estranged parents. That is to say that he lives with his mother, but does his best to stay in contact with his father. On his way to school one day a mysterious, pale-skinned girl deliberately causes an explosion on Sentan Island which releases a strange green light. The light impales Akiyuki through his right arm and manifests as a dark blue jewel. Akiyuki then goes to look for the mysterious girl. He finds her on the school bus and she is dying. The girl apologizes to Akiyuki for what she has done to him and triggers a transformation in his body. A small, red jewel appears on Akiyuki’s forehead and then his face is enclosed in a white mask. His body quickly changes in to a white-skinned humanoid. This new form is called Xam’d.

It is at about this time that the Northern Government launches an attack on Sentan Island. Unleashing some bizarre weapons called Humanform weapons. Humanform weapons are large, biological organisms of incredible power. These Humanform weapons display a rather aggressive attitude toward the Xam’d, an attitude that is entirely mutual. The Xam’d and the Humanform fight, destroying a number of buildings.

The Xam’d is ultimately victorious and the Humanform begins to turn to stone as it dies. However, the Xam’d seems to be out of control at this point, repeatedly hitting the Humanform even though it does not move. The Xam’d is stopped by Nakiami, a mysterious employee of a postal ship who knows more about what is going on than she is telling. She give Akiyuki a choice, come with her and learn to control the Xam’d or turn to stone. Given those options what would you choose?

I haven’t watched the entire series yet. I am still waiting for the US DVD release that I hope will come any day now. I like what I have seen so much that I not only want to watch the rest of the series, but I want to own it as well. I think that the artwork is excellent and the opening music is very catchy. I hope that the promise of the beginning of the series was delivered at the end of the series.

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