Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms - A DTV feature starring Mike Mignola's occult hero. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doug Jones play the characters they played in the live action film. (Oddly, Jones only gave the physical performance of Abe in the movie; David Hyde Pierce did his voice. Jones is just fine here, though.) Hellboy and the BPRD get mixed up in a case involving a cursed sword, ancient Japanese spirits and goblins, and several sleeping "dragons" scattered around the globe. OK character design, mecha design by Guy Davis, mediocre animation, fun script strong on character. Lots of shout-outs to Japanese folklore (kitsune, kappa, rokuro-kubi, and other more obscure creatures and folktales get referenced. There's even one of those hopping umbrella critters.) Good fun, but hardly essential.
The Amazing Screw-On Head - Another Mignola adaptation. Failed TV series pilot based on one-shot comic book. Sentient robot head (with interchangeable bodies) is called in by President Lincoln to foil the evil Emperor Zombie and his minions. Head's complicated relationships with Zombie and his vampire lover patience add much comedic angst to the story. Nicely designed (strongly based on Mignola's style, with extra design by Guy Davis), full of eccentric characters and bizarre ideas (Zombie at one point puts a captive in a giant hookah and smokes him to absorb his knowledge. Freaky.) Shame that they pitched it to SciFi channel, instead of one run by intelligent human beings.
Patalliro - episodes 1-4 - 1982 parody of bishounen love manga. Bratty ten year old dictator Patalliro gets involved with a handsome British secret agent and a succession of pretty young men who want to kill him (with good reason, really.) Funny stuff, as long as you're OK with the fact that all these gorgeous long-haired folks swooning over each other are guys. Every. Single. One. Most of them voiced by women. This used to be one of our big WTF shows back in the day before fansubs. It's really weird that I actually get it now. Context is everything.
Souten no Ken - episode 1 - 2006 prequel to the classic "Fist of the North Star." Tells the story of Kenshiro's master's brother in 1930's China. Surprising sense of humor provides counterpoint to usual grotesque head-rupturing action.
Nana - episode 1 - First anime episode of big cross-media hit based on manga by author of "Paradise Kiss." Two girls named Nana meet on train to Tokyo. Despite their complete lack of similarity, they end up getting an apartment together. Wackiness ensues. Humor, drama, romance, and very skinny character designs. There was a massively popular live action feature film as well.
Gintama - episodes 1-2 - Amusing if somewhat pedestrian 2006 comedy action series about a ronin (with a wooden sword) who hires out as a troubleshooter and odd-job man in in Meiji era Japan. You know, the period after the fall of the Shogunate when the aliens landed! Yes, space aliens. In the first two eps, Gintama and his pals help a nebbishy samurai regain his family home and his self respect. They also save Tokyo from a fiendish plot to mess with real estate values Lex Luthor style. The show featues our first dog-bites-man-on-top-of-head scene. Wacky and unpredictable on the surface, ordinary and unimaginative underneath.
Sgt. Frog - episodes 57 & 81 - Hit anime TV series (now in it's third year). Sort of a kinder, gentler (and younger) Urusei Yatsura. A squad of alien frogs try to invade the Earth (aka planet Pekopon) and are foiled by, then befriended by, a couple of middle school students. Most episodes focus on some new conquest scheme of the Sergeant, which quickly get sidetracked (Many start out sidetracked. He'd really rather read manga, watch anime or build Gundam models.) These two episodes feature: Space invader Viper captures the squad one by one in order to isolate squad ninja Dororo; a bizarre and unexpected parody of Space Amoeba (akaYog, Monster From Space) as the gang deal with a size-changing spoon on a South Pacific island; a parody of Midori no Hibi, as Cpl. Giroro gets fused to Natsumi's right arm in one of Kururu's bizarre experiments, right before the big softball game!; and teen ninja Koyuki faces of against a space ninja. Shout outs to Sentai shows, Phantom Star God Justirisers, Ultraman, Space Adventure Cobra, and early-eighties kid's anime Pervert Frog crop up. Good, inoffensive fun.
Hell Teacher Nube - episode 1 - 1996 TV anime which hadn't been fansubbed before. It came out on VHS right before the DVD explosion. Someone's got some nice clean copies now, though. Nueno Mesuke is a new fifth grade homeroom teacher at Doumori elementary. He's also a professional exorcist with a Demon Hand! He's also a bit of a goofball. Doumori seems to be on one of those unofficial Japanese Hellmouths, because lots of spirits, ghost and demons crop up all the time. Glad to see it after all this time.
Pumpkin Scissors - episodes 1-2 - 2006 TV series about an Empire which has just been through a long, damaging war - and surrendered! Pumpkin Scissors is a special squad of the Imperial army dedicated to war relief. One of their duties is rounding up military stragglers who haven't disarmed. Unfortunately, the PS squad is understaffed an underfunded, being more of a PR exercise. Further, some of these rogue squads are armed with experimental weaponry (such as, in epsiode one, nerve gas). Fortunately, the PSers run into another war veteran: Randel Oland, possibly the sole survivor of the experimental ATT unit. That's "Anti-Tank Trooper." Oland is part of a group specially trained to take out enemy tanks single handed! Good anti-war anime, mildly reminiscent of some of the early parts of Fullmetal Alchemist. Probably won't be quite as good, but, really, that's a bit much to ask. Features our second dog-bites-man-on-top-of-head scene.
Getsumen to Heiki Miina - episode 1 - 2007 TV series "inspired" by a fake anime from another show (much like Genshiken has spawned Kujibiki Unbalance.) The other show, in this case, is giant cross-media hit "Train Man," whose main character is a huge fan of an anime about a girl with bunny ears, carrot shaped rockets attached to her butt, and alien-fighting super-powers. And now that anime exists! Shape-shifting alien rabbits obsessed with sports entertainment programming are attacking the Earth, and only a speical corps of super-rabbit-girls can defeat them! Not nearly as bad as it sounds. Energetic fun, with extra breast jiggle.
Genshiken - epsidoe 13 - 2007 OAV continuation of 2004 TV series about a college anime/manga/video game appreciation club. This ep introduces new member Ogiue, a would-be manga artist who insists she can't stand otaku. Standout line: "There's no such thing as a girl who hates homos!"
Death Note - episodes1-6 - Outstanding new series based on outstanding manga. Light Yagami finds a notebook "accidentally" dropped by a bored death god. The notebook gives Light the power to kill anyone whose name and face he knows. Naturally, he decides to make the world a better place by killing those he deems evil. Soon, he draws the attention of the mysterious detective known only as "L," and they find themselves engaged in a tense battle of wits, each trying to discover the other's identity. Twisted, amoral, and intent on following it's own perverse logic as far as it will lead, this one's a keeper. Also recently made into a pair of highly popular films.
Yamato Nadshiko Shichi Henge - episodes 1-4 - 2006 TV series tells the story of 4 beautiful young men who live in a mansion owned by an older woman with... eccentric tendencies. She offers them a deal on the rent: if they can coach her niece Sunako to be a proper young lady, they get to stay rent-free. Fail, and the rent is tripled. No problem, think the boys, until they meet Sunako, a morbid young headcase traumatized by a romantic rejection. Prone to lurking in her dark, dark room, subject to violent mood swings, and seemingly incapable of normal socializing, Sunako will prove quite a challenge. Wonderfully deranged romantic comedy!
Gegege No Kitarou - episode 1 - Classic B&W TV anime from 1968. Kitarou is a boy who lives amongst the youkai, the spirits and goblins of Japanese folklore (the same bunch that Hellboy roughed up earlier this weekend.) This episode involves some human kids who get hold of a youkai's magic baseball bat. Weird, weird, weird.
Dr Who commercials - Will brought a couple of old Prime Computer TV spots starring Tom Baker and Lalla Ward as their Doctor Who characters. My personal experience with Prime Computers made the rather extravagant claims of the commercials seem a bit far-fetched. Tom and Lalla acting all lovey-dovey while in costume was quite odd. Well worth the 2 minutes spent:)
Legends of the Superheroes - A pair of execrable live action TV specials from the late 70s, produced by Hanna Barbera productions. Awful, awful comedy starring every major DC Comics superhero except Superman and Wonder Woman (already under contract elsewhere). Plus Huntress, since they needed an extra female character. The first special is a "roast." Second one is sort of an adventure story with extra awful humor. One of the worst things you may ever see. Fortunately, you probably won't:)
Dancougar Nova - episode1 - Decent new mecha series which borrows the name and mecha design sense of a popular 80s show. No other relation, apparently. Four good-looking young Japanese people from all walks of life are abducted and offered the opportunity to pilot Dancougar Nova, a mysterious battle mech which appears in wars around the globe, to fight the side that's winning. Which means if you're losing today, it'll be on your side, but if you're winning tomorrow, it'll be your enemy. Interesting premise. Non-hateable characters. Has potential.
Yoshimune 1 - episode 1 - Goofy looking anime that's a parody of "Shogun-goes-undercover-to-reveal-wrongd