Tag: Howl’s Moving Castle

The Not-So-Serious Anime Awards

I have a growing love for anime and cartoons created in an anime style. They typically have well-written storylines, employ strategic use of action and comedy, all while (typically) being written at a higher level than most modern television shows.

My first introduction to anime almost turned me off to the entire genre completely. As a kid, my brother loved the widely-known anime Dragonball Z. While this series has many tropes and characteristics shared by other anime series, I absolutely hated the show as a kid, and don’t really care for it now. It’s almost too over the top that it makes it just…awful. Had it not been for the existence of the Pokemon anime, I might have turned away from anime before I ever had the opportunity to enjoy it.

Over the past few years, thanks in large part to my fiancee, there is a growing list of anime that I have seen and that I enjoy. Instead of doing a top five or ten list, I’ve decided to hand out completely arbitrary, totally subjective awards in order to talk about shows I like. As always when I talk about pop culture, your mileage may vary. Spoilers abound in this post.

Best Film/Series – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I’ve been told by a few people that the original Fullmetal Alchemist series is superior to Brotherhood, but from what I’ve seen from the original, I’m not sure I agree. Sure, the original may stay closer to the manga((I’ve been told I had this fact backwards. Things make far more sense now that I know that.)), but Brotherhood tells a fantastic story in a very entertaining way. While Brotherhood isn’t quite as dark as some other animes I’ve seen, it does a nice job with the balance of its mood.

Runners Up: Sword Art Online, Soul Eater

Best (Read: Worst) Overdubbing – Speed Racer

Come on…you knew this was coming. I mean, just watch this.

Runners Up: Pretty much any Attack on Titan dubbing I’ve ever seen.

Best Lead Character – Weiss Schnee, RWBY

I strongly debated about putting Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and Tsubaki Nakatsukasa (Soul Eater) here, however I really appreciate character growth in a story. Weiss has easily shown the most growth and change in maturity of the four main RWBY characters through two seasons, plus she has one of the two coolest weapons in the RWBY series. Seems like a pretty easy choice here.

Runners Up: Mustang, Tsubaki, Yui (Sword Art Online)

Best Secondary Character – Excalibur, Soul Eater

The only debate here was whether or not this was Excalibur or Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. For as much as I loved the way Riza was written, I didn’t look forward to her appearances quite like I did Excalibur.

Runners Up: Riza, Winry Rockbell (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Mimi (Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne)

Worst Series Ending – Soul Eater

I mean come the fuck on. The world was saved through the power of…bravery? 50 of Soul Eater’s 51 episodes were great. The last one came across like a throwaway because the writers didn’t know how to end the show.

Runner Up: The end of season 2 of Sword Art Online (see Creepiest Moment)

Best Series Ending – Gurren Lagann

Apparently everyone hated how the show How I Met Your Mother ended. I thought it was a poetic ending to the show’s lengthy journey, and the perfect ending to the show. Similarly, a lot of people apparently aren’t fans of how Gurren Lagann ended, but how else can you really end the show other than Nia vanishing forever at her wedding to Simon?

Runner Up: The Pokemon Movie

Best Series Music – RWBY

Anime has some kickass music as a whole, but RWBY takes it to a whole other level. Jeff Williams/Casey Lee Williams’ song “This Will Be The Day” is easily the best anime intro song out there (apologies to the Pokemon theme), and most of the music in the rest of the series is stellar as well.

Runners Up: Soul Eater, Hetalia: Axis Powers

Best Show Intro Song – “Black Paper Moon” by Tommy Heavenly6 (Soul Eater, Seasons 2-3)

That said, if you just want to go with the single best intro song for a season of a show (since animes tend to change season to season), this is it. As much as I love Casey Lee Williams’ voice on “This Will Be the Day”, “Black Paper Moon” fits Soul Eater to the letter.

Runners Up: “This Will Be the Day” by Jeff Williams/Casey Lee Williams (RWBY), “Before My Body is Dry” by The Xcellence (Kill la Kill)

Best Anime Film – Howl’s Moving Castle

It’s a close battle between Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Tortoro, but really it comes down to the amount of the action in the film. Howl’s Moving Castle kept me constantly interested, and while My Neighbor Tortoro told a great story, it’s not an edge of your seat film.

Runners Up: My Neighbor Tortoro, Spirited Away

Creepiest Moment – The molestation scene in Sword Art Online

Without linking to the video, because creepy, one of SAO’s main character’s, Kirito, is attempting to save the other primary character, Asuna, from the series’ big bad guy, Oberon. When Kirito gets there, instead of fighting him, Oberon traps Kirito in heavy gravity and proceeds to molest Asuna for a good 30-40 seconds. Kirito overcomes the gravity and saves her, but not before you’re left wondering why that was needed in a show, especially one that had largely been pretty good up until that point.

There are no runners up here.

Worst Character and Worst Villain – Oberon, Sword Art Online

See above.

Runners Up: Asura The Kishin, Soul Eater

Best Villain – Medusa Gorgon, Soul Eater

I love a well-written evil villain and holy shit is Medusa evil. Using her son (daughter?) for science and alchemy experiments, betraying and nearly killing her own sister, and using love as a deception technique…Medusa has all the characteristics of a truly evil villain. Admittedly, possessing the body of a child to do her bidding after her own body is killed is a nice touch to Medusa’s evil. It’s too bad I can’t find a good video of her fights in English and without music, but she shows up in the video below around 12:35.

Runners Up: Cinder Fall (RWBY), Jessie and James (Pokemon)

Most Entertaining Character – Misty’s Psyduck, Pokemon

I could have put Derpy Hooves from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic here to the same effect. That said, MLP:FiM isn’t anime, Pokemon is. It’s essentially the same character though.

Runners up: Greed (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Chii (Chobits)

Most Unexpectedly Good Anime – Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

Full disclosure, Rin is easily going to be one of the weirdest fucking animes you ever watch, particularly episodes 4-6 (there’s only 6 total). But despite it’s completely ridiculous (and at times grotesque) storyline, it’s easy to follow and tells a unique story. Just be aware that the term “naked throne of creepy sex ladies” was used by both the fiancee and I when watching this anime.

Runners Up: Spirited Away, Soul Eater

Top Six Underrated Movies of the 2000s

The last few weeks have been extremely draining for me. The least amount of time I’ve clocked working on my job is 60 hours (counting both at home and at the office), and I even managed to break 80 hours this most recent week. Needless to say, I’m exhausted and want nothing to do with thinking.

I have a more detailed, business and professionalism-related post coming in the next week or so. Some of you may have even been helping me with it on Twitter recently. For the moment, I need something to clear my head. I need a post I can write without extreme levels of critical or analytical thinking. And thus, I bring you this post.

I don’t consume a ton of video-based media. Television and movies take a backseat to books, music, radio, and blogs on my list of things that help me to relax[1]. I believe that part of that comes from the fact that I don’t get drawn into the hype of the summer blockbuster film. If you look at the list of the highest grossing films of the 2000s, you’ll have to look all the way down to #10 (Shrek 2) before you find a movie I’ve seen, down to #16 (Finding Nemo) to find a film I saw in theaters, and #49 (The Day After Tomorrow) to find a film I’ll actively go out of my way to rewatch. I am not movie makers’ target audience.

With that, there are definitely films I think were overlooked for one reason or another that deserve greater attention. For a film to make this list, it cannot be one of the top 50 grossing films of the 2000s, nor can it be in the top 10 grossing films in the year it was released. Sorry, Bond films. I love you, but you’re not underrated. Films that didn’t do well in the box office, but are widely loved for various reasons — be that as a cult classic (Super Troopers, Talladega Nights, Zoolander), as a piece of great film making (Kill Bill 1/2, Requiem for a Dream), or because of their critical acclaim (Chicago, The Wrestler) — were considered, but ultimately left out, with two notable exceptions.

6. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

While the aforementioned Finding Nemo and Shrek were the most successful animated titles, and though Spirited Away is probably the best known Studio Ghibli film to come out in the 2000s, Howl’s Moving Castle is easily my favorite Hayao Miyazaki film. It’s a bit overlooked thanks to two major animated films (Shrek 2, The Incredibles) as well as one all-time bust (Shark Tale) coming out the same year. When it comes to quality of the story being told, only The Incredibles is even in the same league as Howl’s Moving Castle.

5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Exception number one comes here. I’m a huge fan of campy comedies. If they made a new Batman film in the style of the Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze film of Batman and Robin, I could die happy. But that’s not happening because superhero movie fans want action, not comedy[2].

Dodgeball is the epitome of campy comedy. Stupid jokes, ridiculous caricatures, deadpan snark, Vince Vaughn’s only tolerable character ever — Dodgeball did a lot with a very simple formula. The jokes are wearing and becoming less funny as they age, however if you’re looking for a movie that describes mid-2000s campy comedy, it’s hard to overlook Dodgeball‘s relevance.

4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Time to discuss the first of two films that are largely hated by internet movie watchers. Did you realize that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Sean Connery’s final film? It’s true. While I’ve heard that this film has a small cult following, I’ve only met one other person who liked this film besides me. I get the dislike — people expected more from those in the cast, particularly with Connery leading the film. If you’re looking for a film that plays the ridiculous superhero trope straight, you’re in the wrong place. If you, however, want a superhero film that doesn’t take itself seriously, here’s your solution. It’s not a movie worth universal acclaim, but taken at face value, it’s an enjoyable watch.

3. The Number 23 (2007)

Ah, yes. Jim Carrey’s last film before he went completely off the deep end, both in terms of his career<a href=" " title="You could make the argument Carrey's last great film was The Majestic in 2001, but he followed that up with Bruce Almighty and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You know what came after this film? Yes Man. That’s right. The film that tried to be Liar Liar, but with shitty writing.”>[3] and his need to agree with his then-girlfriend Jenny McCarthy’s absurd anti-vaccination claims[4]. I’ve always preferred serious Jim Carrey to funny Jim Carrey, and in The Number 23, Carrey nails both serious and creepy to the letter. The movie is widely panned as one of the worst movies of 2007, though many of the same people who said that thought Transformers was a great film. I find it difficult to take them seriously.

2. Rigged (2008)

In 2008, director Jonathan Dillon must have said to himself, “I want to mash up Million Dollar Baby, Fight Club, and a seedy D-List mob movie and see what happens”. The results should have been terrible. Apparently no one told that to Rebecca Neuenswander (now Rebecca Welsh) who plays a better, more gritty version of Hillary Swank’s Maggie Fitzgerald character from Million Dollar Baby. A quick bit of internet searching lead me to find that this was Welsh’s only film, as she primarily works with the HALO Foundation (an organization she founded). She’s got a pretty good blog too, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Rigged is easily one of my favorite movies of all time, though there’s one movie that beats it out for the top spot on this list.

1. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

Seriously though. How in the blue hell can people realistically say that Syriana was the best film George Clooney was involved with in 2005? Nothing against Syriana, a fine film in its own right, but Good Night, and Good Luck was a cinematic masterpiece. Test audiences found the film’s actual work so well intertwined with stock footage used that they actually complained that the actor playing former Senator Joseph McCarthy was too unrealistic — only to later find out that the stock footage was actually McCarthy. If that doesn’t speak volumes about a movie, I don’t know what does.