Sunday, January 31, 2016

Planet 51

Planet 51 is an animated film in which it takes the alien invasion concept to the other side... humans have stepped forth on an alien planet.  On Planet 51, Lem is an average teenage boy, living his life when suddenly a spaceship lands and a human astronaut comes out, Chuck.  Initially mistakenly thinking the planet was lifeless, Chuck gets a big shock.  Although in some ways this planet is more advanced, the thinking is behind in other areas.  It shares a lot of parallels with humans, and that is probably why it doesn't sit well sometimes.  For one thing, Lem and his species speak the same language as the human Chuck.  That said, there are more than a few scenes where the play on words is clever and funny.  The plot is uninspired, you have your typical general who is convinced the alien is not friendly and is fixated on killing it, then there's a mad scientist who is completely wrong but too stubborn to change his ways.  It can make for some boring scenes during the middle of the film.  Planet 51 can surprise you with its directions sometimes, and not in a good way.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: Pandora Hearts Volume 6

Review:  #549
Title:  Pandora Hearts Volume 6
Series:  Pandora Hearts - 6th volume
Author:  Jun Mochizuki
Read Before:  no
Comments:  What starts off as something you thought would be filler ends up being quite intriguing and integral to the plot.  Due to all the teasing of the massacre from the Baskervilles from 100 years ago, they finally reveal themselves here and we're one step closer to finding out the true story.  A few new characters are introduced, who aren't very likeable since they feel like stereotypes.  There were some good humor in these chapters, and the storytelling is improving.  While it is somewhat annoying that Oz remains weak on his own, he is slowly discovering how to use his power towards the end of the volume, which makes for a great cliffhanger into the next.  Overall, the story is getting more complex and complicated, in a good way.
Rating:  6/10

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Blast Off

Review:  #294
Name:  Blast Off
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Combiner Wars
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 5)
Mold Status:  repaint of Combiner Wars Quickslinger


Blast Off comes with Robots in Disguise #11, an issue that was originally supposed to come with Firefly, but eventually made its appearance with the exclusive Quickslinger.  The issue focuses around Starcream, and an election between him and Bumblebee.  Starscream ends up blackmailing Prowl to eliminate the rest of the Decepticons and it looks like he has the upper hand.  There is a political atmosphere to the issue which makes it interesting as you try and decipher what is going to happen next.  The ending brings back a character, one who even Starscream is afraid of.  While it'll probably make more sense if you have been following the series, if you're reading this as a one-shot, it isn't too hard to grasp what is happening.


Blast Off transforms into a dark brown jet with some purple highlights.  Nooooooooo... Blast Off doesn't turn into a space shuttle anymore!!!

While people accepted it better than others, it is such a shame we couldn't at least have gotten a remold to look like a space shuttle.  Despite this, Blast Off's jet mode now fits into the theme of the Combaticons better.

Blast Off is a Deluxe sized figure, not too bad in terms of  size compared to others.  This is also a pretty good jet except for the undercarriage kibble and exposed robot arms.

He is a straight up repaint of Quickslinger, no changes were made to the jet mode.

The weapons can each be stored underneath the wing, giving him some firepower in this mode.

A decent jet mode, the colors take some getting used to, as well as the alternate mode but otherwise quite good.


Blast Off's conversion into robot mode is very simple and very similar to a lot of the other Combiner Wars Deluxe figures.  The back of the place unclips into halves of his shins before extend and clipping back together again.  This would have been quite neat if you hadn't already experienced this with the last fifteen figures.


Blast Off's robot mode is pretty decent, with some good proportions and a nice paint job.

He carries the wings and the cockpit on his back, since the jet mode was pretty much a folded up robot stuck underneath the fuselage.

The biggest complaint is that he did not get a new headsculpt.  While the eyes are correct, the mouth is not.  However, using Firefly won't help either because while Firefly has the mouthplate it doesn't have the proper eyes.  At the end of the day, the least Hasbro could have done was to give him a new head.

A quick size comparison shows that Blast Off has some height to him but he is quite hollow and light.

A comparison against Quickslinger showing that he is just a mere repaint, very disappointing for a core team member.

His large footprint helps stabilize him in a wide range of poses.

While the colors are accurate, it makes Blast Off come off as quite dark, and seemingly similar to Vortex's.

His weapon is a gun, and it is surprising to see that the handle is unpainted grey, not that it makes much of a difference.

He can hold the gun in either hand as you'd expect, he doesn't have any wrist articulation though.

Still, he has a wide range of joints and can strike some good poses.  One of the only complaints is that his hips are grey while his thighs are purple, it stands out so much due to the plastic placement.

His other weapon is the combiner piece which is sculpted to be a twin-barreled gun.

It is a bit large to pass off as just a gun but does a good enough job.

Ignoring who the character is supposed to be, this is a good robot mode.


Blast Off disappoints, there is no way around this, whether it is the fact that he is not a space shuttle or that he does not have the correct head, there is something off about this figure.  Ignoring those two points and you have a solid figure, with a nice color scheme.  Needless to say, as he is integral to the Combaticons to form Bruticus, you'll probably want to buy this figure anyway.


Thanks for reading the review, for other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.


As you can guess, Blast Off has two additional modes to accommodate the combining gimmick, while Bruticus will be covered off in a separate review, let's take a look at Blast Off's modes.

First up is the arm mode, using the robot waist and knee joints as elbows.  Unfortunately, it seems like his robot arms doesn't have anywhere better to go and makes the upper arm seem a bit busy.

It looks good as an arm although you need to pair it up with a similarly skinny arm to make the combined mode symmetrical.

Leg mode is very solid and stable, the nosecone provides some kneecaps.

The only complaint here is that the hands/feet are unpainted grey plastic which looks kinda horrible.  That's all for now, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel:  Witch Hunters is based upon the folklore.  As the folklore itself doesn't have enough content to make a feature film, naturally, the plot extends way beyond the ending.  The folklore is quickly summarized within the first ten minutes and we see Hansel and Gretel grow up and become witch hunters.  The movie tries to be cool with the tough talk and poses, but it comes off as being contrived, especially in how Hansel and Gretel holds their weapons.  They also do not use traditional weapons, having unusually shaped shotguns and crossbows, although it ends up working.  The plot doesn't have any surprises but enough happens to keep your attention.  A few plot points were predictable such as who were the good guys, why children were being taken and of course, the troll.  The film is somewhat gory with frequent decapitation and limb tearing.  It's not overboard but in certain scenes, it doesn't feel like it was necessary either.  Surprisingly, the witches have actual make up instead of just special effects, which makes them more real and stand out from other films.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: Pandora Hearts Volume 5

Review:  #548
Title:  Pandora Hearts Volume 5
Series:  Pandora Hearts - 5th volume
Author:  Jun Mochizuki
Read Before:  no
Comments:  The story arc of the Cheshire Cat's dimension containing one of Alice's memories is concluded in this volume.  It remains a bit confusing as to the whole point of it all.  The actions of the Cheshire Cat, coupled with some confusing commentary by other characters at the end serves to make this subplot somewhat disappointing.  However, it does bring to light some more interesting tidbits such as the identities of the characters who appeared at Oz's coming of age ceremony way way back in the first volume.  Unfortunately, some of the characters look very familiar and the rapid appearance of many of them makes it hard to tell who is who and why they are important.  The art style is pleasing to the eye but once again, there are more than its fair share of frames where some bits are hard to define.
Rating:  6/10

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat

The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, translated from the Japanese title of "Hentai Oji to Warawanai Neko" is a 12 episode anime adapted from the light novels of the same name.  The anime is about a high school student called Yoto Yokodera, who is a huge pervert but he is not good at showing his real emotions.  By that, it means that he keeps everything to himself, which should be a good thing considering all the shameless stuff he runs through his head.  There is a rumor going on though, that there is a cat statue on a nearby hill whereby if you give an offering to the statue, it can remove an unwanted personality trait from you and give it to someone else who is in need of it.

Naturally, one night, Yokodera goes for it and tries out the rumor, heading to the nearby hill.  The funniness already begins here through the choice of his offering.  Anyway, he meets up with a girl called Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi, who coincidentally goes to the same school as him, but only one year below.  She also wants to make an offering to the cat statue, she wishes to not show her emotions on her face so easily, in order to be more like an adult.  They only half-heartedly make their wishes, not really believing that it could happen.  However, the statue turns out to be the representation of the Cat God, who grants them their wishes.  With both wishes granted, it should good right?  As expected, it is not to their expectations.

Yokodera now says whatever comes to his mind, with no choice in the matter.  Therefore, all his perverted thoughts are forced to be spoken which earns him the Hentai Prince moniker within the school.  It is a miracle he didn't get reprimanded or be arrested by the police.  Whereas Tsukiko now cannot express at all which is causing other problems, her face remaining in the neutral state at all times.  They team up together in order to recover their traits which would have been transferred to someone else.  Along the way, Yokodera is your typical male protagonist, and he earns himself a few female romances.  First up is Azusa Azuki, an attractive girl at his school who puts on the appearance of an elegant and high demand lady, turning down all boys who propose to her.

Azusa and Yokodera strike an unlikely friendship and in the process, Yokodera solves her issues, such as her loneliness.  Azusa then permanently becomes part of the main cast and is infatuated with Yokodera. The other female romance (apart from Tsukiko) is Tsukushi, the president of the track and field club and your classic tsundere.  Originally in love with someone else (someone completely unexpected actually), she predictable eventually falls for Yokodera.  Speaking of which though, her relationship with Yokodera is very funny due to a misunderstanding (and Tsukushi's own naivety bordering on stupidity).  Surprisingly, Yokodera solves his issues abnormally fast, although that's a good thing as it can only be funny for so long with Yokodera spouting perverted dialogue to everyone he sees.

The plot thread of taking back their personality traits takes a back seat soon to make way for the relationship subplots.  The Cat God's powers are shown, including the power to grant any wishes (and cancel them), including time travel!  This causes havoc within Yokodera's normal life from a perpetual typhoon hitting the house to the Cat God possessing another character.  Watching through the episodes, a frequent subplot which eventually becomes the main focus is the mystery of things that apparently happened in the past, such as Yokodera already knowing Tsukiko from some time ago, but Yokodera does not remember.  This is confusing for the viewers but it is explained in the final episode, where it was dealt with fantastically.  It gives you a backstory of Tsukiko and Tsukushi and it was clever in how the mystery was revealed.

The final episode provided a powerful and emotional scene as you see the bond between the characters.  The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat is a comedy at heart and it is hilarious.  While the pervert nature of the dialogue can put people off and at times, stray into being crude, it is extremely funny.  The recurring gags are great and while it uses typical anime cliches, it does it well so it doesn't feel old or tired.  The animation and aesthetics are great but the soundtrack is a bit on the lacking side except for one or two of the slow sad songs that plays during the bonding moments.  Overall, The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat is a solid series that is worth watching since it is entertaining and contains some good humor.


For other animation reviews, have a look at this page.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Vortex

Review:  #293
Name:  Vortex
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Combiner Wars
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 5)
Mold Status:  repaint of Combiner Wars Alpha Bravo


Vortex comes with Robots in Disguise #8, an issue that was originally supposed to come with Alpha Bravo.  It follows Ironhide and the Dinobots as they search for the missing Aerialbots but of course, they are still a bit from achieving their goal, the best they could do was find a piece of Silverbolt.  It swaps scenes from time to time, following Bumblebee and Prowl through their pre-elections and also follows Shockwave and Dirge, as Dirge has seen something that shocked him to the core.  It is an average issue and as per normal, will be confusing if you have not been following the comics until now.


Vortex transforms into a dark grey helicopter with yellow missile pods and some purple.  Note that the combiner piece acts as a stand here, you can leave it off if you prefer.

This is a good helicopter mode, although a bit thin and sleek than what we are used for Vortex.

Vortex is a Deluxe sized figure and he feels a bit smaller than you're used to, but still fairly decent.  Note that the rotors spin freely and that's about it for play value in this mode.

His gun can be placed in various spots, including just behind the fuselage or underneath the missile pods.

A quick comparison with Alpha Bravo shows that he is just a straight repaint in this mode.

The helicopter has a good sculpting although the colors are a little bit garish.


Same old same old, by this point in the Combiner Wars line, transformation schemes feel uninspired.  As we have already experienced this with Alpha Bravo and Blades, what surprise of ingenuity the mold had has long since been dulled.  Still, the transformation is simple and elegant, and I find that the legs detach from helicopter easier than Alpha Bravo (which were absurdly tight-fitting).


Vortex's robot mode looks very good.  He has good proportions and some nice sculpted detailing.

The biggest issue with helicopter Transformers are where to store the rotor in robot mode, and Vortex has done it neatly by tucking it away on his back.  The back rotor sticking up behind his head is uncharacteristic of the character though.

The headsculpt is fantastic, it suits the character perfectly, and the red visor completes the look.

A quick size comparison shows that he is a little bit thinner than your average Deluxe figure.

A comparison with Alpha Bravo shows that Vortex is just a straight repaint, although lets be honest, ever since Alpha Bravo was released, we all knew it was designed to be Vortex.

Articulation is excellent on this guy, he has all the joints that you would want including the all important but often neglected waist swivel.

The colors are a little bit garish with the bright yellow and purple lavished with a bit of red.  It isn't as horrible as the original stock photos had him though.

His first weapon is a gun, too bad it is in an ugly unpainted grey plastic, it seriously looks horrid.

He can hold the weapon in either hand although lets be honest, he is already well equipped with missile on each arm.

The hip joints on Vortex seem to be more restricted than expected since it can't spread out as much.

His other weapon is the combiner piece which is sculpted to look like twin gatling guns.

Apart from holding it in his hands, there's really no other place to store the combiner piece.

A good robot mode but the colors are a little bit iffy.


Vortex is a nice figure but to be fair, Blades and Alpha Bravo look better if you're only interested in the mold.  As a part of the Combaticons forming Bruticus, he is a no-brainer.  The engineering of the figure is nice though.


For other review on Transformers toys, have a look at this page.


Vortex is a part of the Combaticons, who can combine to form Bruticus, therefore he has two additional modes:  an arm mode and a leg mode.

His arm mode is good but the robot arms get in the way of the elbow articulation.

Vortex's arm mode has good proportions since the forearm isn't too thick.

His leg mode is fantastic too since you don't get this weird cut-off where the figure joins with the combiner piece, instead, it feels as if the foot piece was naturally integrated into Vortex.

He gives the combined mode a knee spike which is always cool and helps hide the combiner connections.  Bruticus will be covered in a later review, thanks for reading!

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