Feature: Grading Toonami, Show By Show – The Second (and Final) Film Festival (#10)

All throughout 2014, things were looking very much on the up-and-up for Toonami. Sure, some shows were unfortunately pulled out of their control, but as for premieres, things were incredibly solid with some high-profile premieres drawing in plenty of eyeballs. There was just one small problem with how things were going: Attack on Titan was still at 11:30, even in reruns. Things were starting to slump in the later hours, with the biggest one being the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but with the power of hindsight, we can see that it should’ve been Kai at 11:30 in the first place. Alas, what’s done is done and all we can do is look back on what was and what could have been.

Hellsing Ultimate (IX-X) (December 6 & 13, 2014)

Like I said last time, someone was definitely asleep during the paperwork of getting this show on the block, and that caused the last two episodes to not air as planned. But, they found their mistake and scheduled the final two episodes to air during Toonami’s second movie month; a bit more on that, later on. Now, what makes these two episodes worth giving their own mention, aside from content padding? Well, for one, these two episodes were released on home video by Funimation only weeks before their broadcast airing, capping off a rather notable release history that this show had, between two companies. And for two, these last two episodes, uh… go places. Weird places. In that they pull a GT with Alucard by him regressing to child-size at the end of episode 9. And they pull a “gotcha” ending with Alucard by the end of episode 10. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the stuff that these final two episodes go through.

I seem to recall there were some folks that were left confused and/or dissatisfied with how these last two episodes played off and how it all paid off, and on that note, I can understand those complaints with how the whole series built up, only to lead into one astoundingly confusing climax. And on an additional note, the final episode did not perform well AT ALL. Below 600k at midnight? Yikes. But with all of that said, these last two episode are certainly an interesting viewing experience, if nothing else.

Grade: C+
Hellsing Ultimate earned a deserving prime slot to close out the series, despite a confusing climax and less-than-expected viewer performance to send the series off.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (December 13, 2014)

So, what should someone watch after seeing the world of Hellsing go totally bat-crap insane? (Or even more insane?) How about a bad Fullmetal Alchemist movie? Yes, a BAD one. Allow me to paraphrase one angry nerd: let me go on record by saying I f’ing love Fullmetal Alchemist, but this thing reeks of ASS. For one, this movie doesn’t look very good; all of the colors and shading feel very flat and washed out, especially in motion, with an abundance of smear motion; now, I get that some like that, but for me? Don’t overuse it. But in all honestly, it feels like a step down from the production of Brotherhood, which was a TV anime and not a film. Definitely not one of the strongest offerings from BONES, I can say that much. Granted, there is a good bit of 3D work done with the backgrounds and settings, but it doesn’t take away how distracting the character models look.

Second, given what series this is, the story comes across as very, what’s the word, uh… fanfic-y. OCs and all. Now, given that this is a film of an established franchise, that’s to be expected, but compared to, say, a Dragonball movie, this feels way more OC-filled than usual. And that’s rarely a good thing. There’s also talk about terrorist organizations and immigrant groups in this film, which NOPE not touching that today. Ultimately, the biggest problem with Milos is the same thing that plagued the live-action film: you can’t condense a series with such a strong linear narrative like Fullmetal Alchemist into a movie, even in a vacuum. Even crafting a small side story from this series, in a vacuum or not, simply cannot work because of how the full series works and operates; or, in short, it’s just about impossible to craft a “mass market” film out of a series like this.

That being said, at least there aren’t Nazis in this movie. That’s what Hellsing Ultimate was for.

And on that note, let’s go back to when this aired: immediately after the final Hellsing Ultimate. At 1:30am. And this aired until 4:00am on that fateful night. Not quite the best time to air it, really. The immediate reception to this film wasn’t all that strong, either, nor has it gained a stronger reception over time. Just stick with the anime series (plural) and you’ll be fine, there’s not much to gain from Milos.

Grade: D+

Not the best representation of Fullmetal Alchemist, The Sacred Star of Milos couldn’t pull in a strong audience nor leave a strong impression with viewers.

And now for a personal story to lead into the next program: I am not someone with a disposable income to buy anime DVDs at will, nor could I justify buying one DVD to watch just one time and never touch again. Such was the case with the first Broly movie, as I didn’t watch it during its original broadcast but needed to find a source to properly talk about this. Naturally, I went to FunimationNow to watch it, and-oh, it’s actually not up on there. Well great. So, plan B, I checked Amazon, and-yeah, there was nothing under $20 listed, with the BAD Broly movies included as well, to serve as… coasters, I guess. Okay, Amazon is out, so I’ll go to my local record shop, they have a pretty big DVD section, and-nope, not there, either. 2nd and Charles, a bookstore chain that has a location where I live, and-of course, nothing there. Digital stores, not even up there to rent. Goodwill? Well, I found a VHS copy of the Super Android 13 movie, but no Broly.

And before anyone asks, no, I couldn’t even find a proper TORRENT of it. I can’t even pirate this damn movie. (nor should anyone as we do not advocate video piracy – please always support the official releases)

And this is that much more bothersome as Toei, just this week, released excellent, and arguably the best ever, remasters of all the Dragonball movies on Netflix and Amazon Video – in JAPAN ONLY. I’ve seen the screenshots, too, and I swear, if we don’t get these in some form stateside, a lot of people are gonna be mad. But back on topic, since I can’t find a DVD of this anywhere, nor can I afford to wait a few months for its one-night-only theater showing, I’m gonna have to go to the next best source I can find: the TeamFourStar version.

Side note, can you believe they almost got Markiplier to play Broly, too? That would’ve been awesome. Alas, Remix is damn fine in the role, so here we go.

Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan (December 20, 2014)

I’m sourcing all of my thoughts from the TFS version, so some parts may get lost from the original version. But either way, I have to say MY GOD I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS LOOK OF TRUNKS. Seriously, Trunks looked AMAZING in this movie and in Bojack Unbound, top tier looking! And that shot of Trunks going Super Saiyan with his jacket disintegrating? AHHHHHHH YES. …ahem. But back on track to what I should be talking about, the notion of Broly as a character has always been a bit polarizing with fans of the franchise; on the one hand, he’s not the most well-developed character with the trigger word of “Kakarot” serving as his only major character trait (the following two Broly movies don’t do many favors, either), but on the other hand, he’s all brawn to the point that he can call himself BRAAAAAAAAAAAUN (like Strowman). In short, to quote the TFS version, “That’s really dumb… but he’s so cool! But that’s so dumb!” With that being said, I’m always in favor of Vegeta getting humbled like a bitch, regardless of who’s doing the humbling. Alas, I can’t really comment on Vic Mignongna’s performance as Broly, as I’m not watching the actual Funimation release (see above), but having heard clips, I can only imagine his vocal chords must’ve been shattered beyond recognition. Pray for him for the upcoming movie, as well.

Now, considering this was in the stretch of movies that were considered below-par, this earns its spot as one of the better films of the franchise, but not quite on par with, say, World’s Strongest. Second Coming is a bit of a lesser film by comparison, but some parts can still be enjoyed for what they’re worth; that being said, Bio-Broly is a worthless, steaming pile of cow dung… figuratively speaking. It’s really no wonder why they’re going to try it again to get Broly right with this upcoming movie, so cross your fingers that they stick the landing with it. Lastly, if anyone is wondering why I’m talking about this movie, but didn’t talk about Cooler’s Revenge, here’s why: the Cooler movie aired on Toonami back in 2003, while the Broly movie NEVER aired during the CN era of Toonami. Surprising as that may be, it’s true; I don’t really know why this never aired back then, but I suppose this is a “better late than never” situation; it broke a million during its midnight airing, so that’s a point in its favor.

And as an addendum, I have a pet name for Broly that I hold rather near and dear: bara bait. And top tier, at that.

Grade: B+

A fun movie, but a dumb one at that, the first Broly movie is sure to sate the appetite of any Dragonball fan.

It’s fair to say that the second Toonami movie month wasn’t quite the success that the first one was, due to some spotty film choices, contractual mix-ups in the form of Hellsing Ultimate, and the one thing that this piece has in common with that whole month: padding. Rebroadcasts of Summer Wars on the 6th, Akira on the 20th, and both Evangelion 1.11 and 2.22 on the 27th were put in the schedule to fill the month out, and this caused some things to be shaken up for Toonami heading into 2015. Alas, we’ll be saving that for next time; can’t fill this up too much, now, can I?

But before we end things for this week, here’s something a bit extra – now that we’re 10 installments deep into this series, how about we do a quick roundup of the grades so far, and see what’s been excelling and what’s been lagging behind:

A: Eureka Seven, Evangelion 1.11, One Piece, Evangelion 2.22, Summer Wars, Gurren Lagann, Dragonball Kai
B: Deadman Wonderland, Casshern Sins, Sym-Bionic Titan, Naruto, Soul Eater, IGPX, Kick-Heart, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Akira, FMA: Conquerer of Shamballa, Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Space Dandy, Attack on Titan, Hellsing Ultimate (I-VIII), Inuyasha: The Final Act
C: Bleach, Samurai 7, Thundercats (2011), Sword Art Online, Naruto: Shippuden, Blue Exorcist, Beware the Batman, Hellsing Ultimate (IX-X)
D: Tenchi Muyo GXP, FMA: The Sacred Star of Milos

So far, we’ve seen plenty of B-grade shows grace the timeslots, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as most shows will, undoubtedly, be viewed as an “average” program. But I feel, as though, there may be some clarification needed for what these grades really mean. Of course, these are opinion pieces at the end of the day, but if you are curious to what each letter grade means, here’s a key:

A: top-tier programming, a prime cut choice
B: standard fare, well received to keep most satisfied
C: could have been better, but still has its audience
D: really not worthwhile

We haven’t seen a show earn an F grade yet. Let’s hope we keep it that way.

To be continued…

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