Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 5     

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 15, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Sometimes life is ironic. Like now, when Inspector Gesicht is taxed with protecting the man who wants to kill him, because he killed that man’s brother. At the same time, Adolf has been instructed to kill Gesicht, and he’s been told where to find the weapon to do it with.  Gesicht reunites Adolf with his family, and Adolf has to tell his wife the whole story of what is going on. She has no real sympathy for the dead brother, and doesn’t blame Gesicht.

Hercules and Epsilon are protecting Professor Hoffman until he is taken to safety, unaware that he knows that they have been fiddling with Gesicht internally. After he is gone, they feel a strange electromagnetic wave approaching. Hercules remembers a robot he fought alongside of in the war, one who couldn’t or wouldn’t stop washing his hands, as if trying to cleanse himself of guilt. Hercules decides to battle whatever is coming and tells Epsilon to observe. Most of the battle is below the water but when the combatants emerge, Epsilon sees a damaged Hercules clinging to what appears to be horns… and he seems to know who his opponent is.

Epison realizes Gesicht is the only one authorized to arrest the guilty party, but he can’t seem to raise him on his comm. Adolf attempts to carry out his instructions, but he soon realizes that the powers that be intend to kill him and his family as well. He begs Gesicht to protect his wife and son.

At Uran’s school, people have noticed a change in Uran. Not surprising since her brother Atom  just died. Even in her sadness, Uran feels someone else’s sorrow and searches for it. First she finds a kitten, and then a little boy who has been bullied. She leaves the kitten with the boy and goes on to help other creatures who are sad. Eventually she arrives at the grave site of Tobio Tenma.

When Dr. Tenma arrives to say his good-byes to Atom, they tell him Atom isn’t really dead but they haven’t been able to bring him back online. They want Tenma to help them. At first he refuses, but then he finds himself trying all the same. Gesicht goes to visit the deposed Persian ruler, and then Epsilon gives him what he recovered from what was left of Hercules. Can this image be Pluto?

Omg, how much more must we endure before we reach the truth? Will Gesicht be the last of the super robots? Another one gone now. Just horrible. We get some back story here, including Dr. Tenma and his son Tobio, as well as war memories. Just watching and waiting to see what happens, and crossing my fingers for Gesicht!

Film Review: Mojin: The Lost Legend

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Mojin: The Lost Legend

In ancient times, a Chinese emperor who was strapped for cash allowed for the formation of the Mojin Xiaowei, official tomb raiders who would enter tombs to “borrow” gold for the use of the emperor. The practice has carried into modern times.  One group consists of Hu Bayi (Kun Chen), Wang Kaixuan (Bo Huang) and Shirley Yang (Shu Qi). Twenty years previously, Hu and Wang and another partner, Ding (Angelababy) found themselves in a tomb with their fellow party members. The three wished to leave the tomb but the others foolishly decided to destroy the statuary, which did not end well and brought about the death of Ding, whom both men were in love with. Twenty years later, another bad scenario causes Hu, Wang, and Shirley to leave China for New York City, but life is not good and Hu decides to quit.

 

Wang tries to carry on, but it’s not easy when you’re only one person out of three. However, he is 

enlisted to go to China to search for the Equinox Flower – the same flower that was involved with the death of Ding. He tells Hu, who says he isn’t interested, so Wang goes on, hoping Hu will follow, which he and Shirley do. Leading this new group is Sister Hong (Xiaoqing Liu), head of a global corporation who is determined to find the flower for altruistic purposes. The Mojin trio find themselves in the same tomb where Ding lost her life, Is history about to repeat itself? Can the ghosts of the past truly be laid to rest?

 

This was a fun movie to watch, reminding me of Raiders of the Lost Ark but with even deeper roots in Chinese history. I loved the dynamics between the main characters, and the love/hate relationship between Hu and Shirley. You just knew that when push came to shove, neither would abandon the other one. Same with Hu and Wang, longtime friends. I watched one of the bonus selections about Kun Chen in which they dealt humorously with their relationship and suggested the actors were together. The movie was exciting and action-packed and did not actually delve into the realm of disbelief – it all made sense. I understand, unfortunately, that the Mojin Worm Valley did not fare so well, being not exactly a sequel or a prequel and having been recast for some unknown reason. The reviews are really bad, so I’ll pass on that. I do recommend watching the Lost Legend, and I’ll give it a solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 65 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 65       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 3, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Quincies have managed to lay Zaraki low, intending to finish him off in his weakened state, which would be catastrophic for the Soul Reapers. So of course the others have to help. Shinji and Hinamori quickly arrive to lend their support. Shinji directs Momo to heal Kenpachi. Rukia and Byakuya are also hurrying to aid in the battle when they suddenly feel another spiritual pressure, followed by the long-anticipated appearance of Ichigo! Huzzah, the cavalry has arrived!

Ichigo finds himself face to face with four female Quincies, one of whom is highly indignant that he has covered her in dust! When Ichigo wounds one of the four, she turns to another one to heal her, but admonishes her not to use her blood. Turns out that this particular Quincy, whose name is Gigi, can create zombies with her blood! But she reminds the other girl that doesn’t work on fellow Quincies unless they are dead.

Quincy Bazz-B shows up to take over the fight against Ichigo in order to claim the glory for himself. But he isn’t the only Quincy to have that idea, as he learns to his dismay when four others also arrive, suggesting they all share the glory. Ichigo is surprised to hear the voice of Yhwach thanking him for leading them into the light. What does that even mean? Unfortunately, it means his actions will now allow them entrance into Reiokyu!

Ichigo is dismayed to find Uryu by Yhwach’s side, as are Chad and Orihime. Yhwach asks if Uryu has said his good-byes as they will be eternal. Ichigo demands answers but none are forthcoming. Chad tries to tell Ichigo that they still have a job to do, but Ichigo wants to follow Uryu. “I’ll smack him and bring him back.”  Uruhara arrives, “a step too late”, and asks Ichigo if he wants to book a trip to Reiokyu. Turns out Kurotsuchi has been building a replica of the Shiba family cannon beneath the barracks of Squad 12 because he is that kind of genius, although it isn’t a perfect replica. But they need more energy. Luckily Orihime arrives just then, but what in the world is she wearing?

Kurotsuchi, meanwhile, is having an interesting discussion with Gigi, intrigued by her zombies. But when she produces zombies she created from fallen Soul Reapers, he confesses he cannot fight them so leaves that to others, namely the Arrancars, who have no emotional ties to them. Unfortunately, Gigi has an ace up her sleeve in the form of one particular Soul Reaper she has zombified! Say it isn’t so!

The battle between the Quincies and the Soul Reapers is heating up, but at least Ichigo is back in the fray, which has to mean it must be the beginning of the end. But at what price? And when he succeeds in defeating Yhwach and his nefarious cohorts, what will remain of what once was? So many lost already. And now we face the horror of a former favorite captain who has been turned into a mindless zombie. Can that end any way but badly? Dreading but looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 64 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 64   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 7, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Isane and Yachiru seem to be facing an invisible foe. He turns out to be Stern Ritter V – “Vanishing Point” Gwenael Lee. He tells them he can’t be seen, felt… or remembered. That doesn’t deter Yachiru, who continues to fight, with surprising results. Another Stern Ritter appears unexpectedly, claiming Lee is just a product of his imagination. His name is Gremmy Thoumeaux, and he manipulates what people imagine into reality. Having noticed Yachiru’s spiritual pressure is down, Kenpachi makes an appearance. This is the first time they have been together since he fought with Unohana.  He finds himself facing what appears to be a little kid.

Gremmy seems to be impressed by the idea that Kenpachi is now the Kenpachi from Zaraki, and thinks he needs a grand stage so he erects a large block of stone for that purpose. Gremmy then boasts that he will kill Zaraki without lifting a finger, just by using what’s in his head. Kenpachi tells Yachiru to flee but she doesn’t move. Gremmy says it’s because he’s made her think her bones are made of chocolate chip cookies and will break if she moves.

Some of the other Stern Ritter believe that Gremmy should not have been released, the guy is far too unstable. And he proves them right by unleashing a meteor that is headed right toward them through the use of his imagination. But the meteor is real enough! Can Kenpachi handle this thing or is everyone doomed?

Most of the action in this volume centers around Kenpachi and Yachiru, and I, for one, am happy to see that. Especially Yachiru who is a great character but gets little story time. She and Kenny make a great pair! It’s always great to see the big guy in action.  These Stern Ritter really get on my nerves. I will be so glad to see the last of them.  Fun volume, looking forward to the next one, and biting my nails!

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 16 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 16     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke begin their training with Gyomei, the Stone Hashira. The regimen consists of three parts – training under the waterfall, carrying three thick logs, and pushing a large boulder one cho (about 110 meters).  The training is grueling but the three demon slayers push through it as best they can. Inosuke is happy, convinced that Gyomei is the strongest member of the Demon Slayer Corps. Tanjiro passes the first two parts, but is having difficulty in pushing the boulder. He feels as though it is pushing back at him. Meanwhile, Muzan is very intent on finding both Nezuko and Kagaya.

When Genya arrives, he and Tanjiro discuss the training, and he opens Tanjiro’s eyes to trying another technique. Following Genya’s advice, Tanjiro is able to push the boulder, finishing his training before either Zenitsu or Inosuke. Genya is impressed by Tanjiro, both for his accomplishments in training as for what he did for the Swordsmith village. Tanjiro modestly claims it was due to Nezuko, not him, thus earning more respect for his honesty. Now Tanjiro is ready to move on to his next training, with Tomioka.

Tanjiro finds Tomioka battling with Sanemi, the Wind Hashira who is also Genya’s brother. When Tanjiro asks if they are really fighting over candy, Sanemi becomes offended and attacks. In the meantime, Muzan has found Kagaya, who is in very bad shape! They have a long discussion during which Muzan attempts to justify what he is doing based on past grievances. This encounter does not end well.

When the Demon Slayers receive the news, they rush to their Master’s side, alas too late, and vow to end the existence of Muzan once and for all.

This was a very hard volume to read. It’s always hard to lose characters you come to love, and this was no exception, but neither was it the first time in this series. The Hashira have been struck a mighty blow, but at the same time the death of the Master has only strengthened their resolve to destroy Muzan. Tanjiro is becoming even stronger than ever, and I’m sure Zenitsu and Inosuke will be close behind. No Nezuko this volume, hope she’s doing well and we will see her again soon. I can only hope they will make Muzan suffer horribly before they kill him. The back stories are interesting and informative, as usual.

Good volume, looking forward to the next one.

Film Review: Sanjuro

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Sanjuro

 

Iori Izaka (Yuzo Kayama) is the nephew of the chamberlain, Mutsuta (Yunosuke Ito). He hopes to enlist his uncle’s aid in making much needed reforms in the village, but his uncle doesn’t seem interested. The superintendent, Kikui (Masao Shimizu) is very interested, and tells Iori to gather his friends quickly so he can speak to them. As the young men discuss their plans, they are startled to discover that they have been overheard by a ronin sleeping in the next room. Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) is quick to tell them why they are wrong and, without even knowing either the superintendent or the chamberlain, he can describe them to a tee. Too late, he realizes the meeting is to take place at the spot where they are. And actually they are already surrounded. If they are to survive, they must listen to Sanjuro.

 

Sanjuro bluffs his way out of the situation with the men, and garners an invitation from vice-chamberlain Muroto to work for him. They learn that Iori’s uncle has been kidnapped and his wife and daughter are being held. The young men protest when Sanjuro tells them they need to rescue the women first,claiming that they must save the chamberlain. But common sense prevails when Sanjuro reminds them they don’t even know where he is being held, and perhaps the women have overheard something. Through the use of Sanjuro’s crafty plan, they rescue the women. Mutsuta’s wife (Takako Irie) is grateful but serene. She advocates that they not use so much violence, but that isn’t always possible. Especially when the young men don’t listen to Sanjuro and attempt to carry out their own plans.

 

They hide in one of the young men’s homes, which just happens to be next to the home of Kurofuji, one of Kikui’s allies. Who would look for someone under their very noses? The enemy is cunning too and lead them on wild goose chases because the young ones are so quick to react. They just might ruin one plan too many!

 

Sanjuro is the sequel to Yojimbo, with Toshiro Mifune once again playing the titular character, a wandering ronin. I liked this film as much as I liked Yojimbo. It definitely made me laugh at times.  I loved the interplay between Mutsuta’s wife and Sanjuro. I think he would prefer not to kill either, but sometimes he is pushed into a situation where it is inevitable. She is a great character, and so is her daughter Chidori (Reiko Dan). Once again, the cinematography and direction are excellent, as is the soundtrack. Definitely worth watching. I give this film 5 Stars.

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 4 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 4       

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Dr. Ochanomizu discovers a discarded dog robot and decides to repair it, since it reminds him of a dog he and his wife once had.  He is being pressured to send more robot troops to the Persian kingdom, which he doesn’t wish to do. His grandson Takashi messages him to talk about the strange tornado he and his mother saw. The dog’s owner shows up as they are talking, having tracked the dog through his GPS. All seems well, until he reveals his name and demands that the Professor summon Atom so he can fight someone!

The Professor refuses to give in to Goji’s demands, but Goji tells him he can control tornados… even where they go and who they target! Atom appears unexpectedly and tells the Professor that Uran is responding to a call!  Atom goes to her rescue, but tragedy ensues.

Gesicht continues to have bad dreams, unaware that he has been targeted by a man who thinks he killed his brother. Adolf is unaware that his bosses don’t wish him to succeed in his mission as they have other plans for Gesicht, and he is very necessary to these plans. Gesicht goes to see Dr Hoffman, unaware that the doctor knows someone has been fiddling with Gesicht’s AI. Meanwhile, Adolf makes a detour to his brother’s grave, and narrowly avoids being killed!

Gesicht’s vacation is put on hol, after the untimely death of Atom, and his new assignment is to protect Adolf Haas. How ironic is that? Haas’s son is totally smitten with the detective and is excited to meet him. Gesicht accompanies Haas to work, where they learn of the death of another robot creator, this time the creator of Epsilon. Haas gives Gesicht some info he ran across in a Persian prison his company installed systems for. Gesicht finds some disturbing information. Someone is after Professor Hoffman! After Gesicht saves Adolf’s life, he starts to reveal everything about the anti-robot group he is in.

So much going on, so many bad people with bad agendas. Another good robot gone! It’s heartbreaking. I find it satisfying that Adolf has to put up with Gesicht protecting him. Maybe now he’ll realize that Gesicht didn’t kill his brother… if he doesn’t manage to kill Gesicht first. Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Film Review: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Following the death of her husband, Empress Wu (Carina Lau) has been regent, but now she is to be inaugurated as empress. An enormous statue is being constructed for the occasion, but it’s imperative that it be completed on time. However, during an inspection of the statue, an official goes up in flames, burned to death. But how? The Empress’ chaplain, speaking through his special deer, suggests that Detective Dee be put on the case. But Detective Dee has been imprisoned for the past eight years, following his denouncement of the empress’ regency!

Under the watchful eye of Pei Donglai (Chao Deng) and Shangguan Jing’er (Bingbing Li), Detective Dee (Andy Lau) is placed in charge of the investigation, but only after the second mysterious flaming death.  Jing’er has been given express orders from the Empress to guard Dee, while Pei mistrusts him immensely. There are those who believe the deaths were caused because the men were disrespectful of the talismans placed on the statue. But Dee doesn’t subscribe to that particular theory. Yet he’s at a loss to explain their spontaneous combustion. Can he solve the mystery before the scheduled inauguration?

 

This is definitely a very interesting whodunit, with a lot of twists. Detective Dee is a great character, 

unconventional and yet very steadfast in his loyalties, remaining true to his principles. I wish there were more movies featuring Andy Lau as the detective, but the next two films are actually prequels about the younger Dee. I’ll watch them too, of course.

I loved the action sequences, the story was well-written, and I felt the film had great direction. All of the actors did a good job, but I especially enjoyed watching Andy Lau. This was a fun film to watch. I give it 4 Stars

Film Review: The Great Battle

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Great Battle

When Emperor Li Shimin (Park Sung-Woong) of the Tang dynasty invades the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo, he is met in battle by forces led by General Yeon (Nazeeh Tarsha). Yeon believes his defeat is due to the refusal of one of his commanders to obey his orders to send troops to the battle. He brands Commander Yang Man-Chun (Zo In-sung) a traitor and dispatches the head of his cadets, Sa-mul (Nam Joo-hyuk) to the Ansi Fortress to kill Yang. Sa-mul is from Ansi and is loyal to his general and doesn’t even know Yang, so he agrees to under take the mission.

On his arrival, Sa-mul encounters Yang just outside of the city. The commander is helping an older couple whose wagon has become stuck. Yang isn’t stupid and he figures out why Sa-mul is there, but welcomes him anyway, and tells him that he can carry the flag in battle and stand next to him, thus showing the people that he is fighting. Just then word arrives that Yang’s two lieutenants are at it again, and Sa-mul follows everyone to see what the fuss is about. A conflicted Sa-mul follows Yang at night and begins to see what the commander is really like and he begins to question his mission.

 

The Emperor decides to attack Ansi Fortress next and is determined to take it. The odds certainly seem 

in his favor, as he has 200,000 men to the 5000 men defending the fortress. But Yang refuses to be defeated, and he devises plans to keep the wolf at bay. But how long can he keep this up without some sort of reinforcements? And how likely is that considering General Yeon wants him dead?

This was a really good film, one I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the human element as the young Sa-mul began to think for himself based on what he saw rather than just blindly obeying orders. I laughed at parts, and at others I cried. The battle scenes were magnificent and truly epic. You can’t help but root for the underdog against the Tang oppressors, and you can’t help but admire Commander Yang. I give this film 5 Stars.

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 63 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 63    

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 3, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The faux luchado is playing havoc with the Soul Reapers. It’s time for a hero, eh? Or maybe even a villain?  Enter Renji! He tells Rukia to go on, he can handle this by himself. The Quincy, whose name is Mask de Masculine, has a sidekick, an ardent fan named James. But maybe James serves a different purpose, something necessary to the Mask’s success. And maybe Renji has learned a thing or two during the time of his own training.

Uryu goes to see Yhwach but His Majesty is asleep, according to his aide. It’s obvious he has no liking for Ishida, probably jealous that he has been appointed successor. Even so, he decides to tell Uryu a couple of things he should know about Yhwach and the Quincies, including the engraving ritual, which has already been performed with Uryu.

Rukia runs across As Nodt, the Quincy who stole Byakuya’s bankai.  He asks her, “Will he come here if I kill you?” and she replies, “He may”. He attempts to instill fear into her but Rukia turns the tables on him, in a way he hadn’t anticipated.  And of course Byakuya arrives in the nick of time.

Yachiru is having a good time, despite Kenpachi’s absence, stealing from the Quincies, to Isane’s amazement. But that fun may have just come to an end…

Don’t underestimate anyone, even the luchado.  He has more going on than he appears to with his little superfan James. Even more interesting is the way Renji has grown and developed his skills. Pretty damn cool! Still watching and waiting for Uryu to make his move. It was nice to see Yachiru after so long. I hope Kenny comes back to her soon. And I hope she and Isane will be okay. Gotta wait for the next volume!