Ghost In The Shell (1995) Movie Review by Eugene Alejandro

Disclaimer: The version of the movie that I’m reviewing is NOT the 2.0 version. This is a review of the normal version of the film which I own on DVD. With that said, please enjoy the review.

The 1995 Ghost In The Shell movie is a Japanese animated science fiction and cyberpunk film directed by Mamoru Oshii, made and released by Bandai Visual and Production I.G, released into English by Manga Entertainment, and is adapted from the Manga series of the same name by Masamune Shirow (the movie even has an alternative titled called Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost In The Shell).

The plot of the film is about an intelligence department named Public Security Section 9 who is on the task of hunting down a massive ghost hacker called The Puppet Master. The world of Ghost In The Shell is that there exists a special technology that allows the consciousness of a human being to enter an enhanced cybernetic body (hence the title of the movie), and for there to be someone who can hack into the cybernetic bodies is a very big problem. The movie mostly centers on the main character for the film; Motoko Kusanagi, who while going along with the mission in trying to capture the Puppet Master, ends up wanting to know more about the hacker (which ends up leading up to a pretty clever and surprising plot twist that I won’t spoil in this review).

In the same vain of other Anime movies such as Akira, and Ninja Scroll, Ghost In The Shell helped introduce Japanese animation into the USA, and was the huge critical and financial success when it first came out back in the year 1995 (the movie also served as inspiration for The Matrix franchise). Does the movie hold up and aged well from it’s grand reputation though? Yes it does. Similar to what I did in my review for the Akira movie, I will talk about each aspect of Ghost In The Shell (1995) in good amount of detail, and then say my overall final thoughts on the movie.

-The Story and Writing: In a very good way, the story in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is very deep and complex, and moves at a great pace thanks to how the script is written. If there one small thing about the story (and how it’s written) that I should mention however, is that because of the complexity of the plot, the story can sometimes be hard to follow, so I would strongly recommend watching this movie multiple times in case you are unable to fully understand the story from just one viewing. As far as the character development is concerned in the story and writing for Ghost In The Shell 1995, while there aren’t any flashbacks that show each of the characters origins in great amount of detail, the characters that are mostly presented in the film do at least have solid motivations for what they are doing, and serve a good purpose in the film. So as far as Ghost In The Shell 1995’s plot and writing goes, it’s excellent. I should also mention before I forget that the movie does have a very good way of foreshadowing things that happen. I won’t go into the specifics about if for this review, but it is something I wanted to bring up about the film’s writing and plot.

-The Animation: One of the truly most memorable things about Ghost In The Shell 1995 is its animation. The movie was (at least to my best of knowledge) the first Japanese animated feature film to use an animation making process called DGA (Digitally Generated Animation). This is the result of combining cel animation, and computer graphics together. As far as how that process of making the animation for Ghost In The Shell 1995 went back then, it was done incredibly well as the backgrounds have such strong amount of detail put into them, the character movements are very strong and help the character feel real, and even the animation regarding character facial movements also does a good job at helping the characters feel alive. The use of computer generated graphics for this movie also help make the animation even better as the visuals are groundbreaking for the year that the movie came out. So without rambling on and on, the animation in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is amazing and holds up very well to this day.

-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: Another memorable part of Ghost In The Shell 1995 is the outstanding soundtrack for it that was created by Kenji Kawai. What’s very fascinating about the music is that a majority of it is actually created using the ancient Japanese language; Yamato. The overall score by Kenji Kawai in the film is beautifully haunting, and helps fit with the movie’s very deep and complex tone. There are moments however when the movie is devoid from the soundtrack, but that at times is actually a good thing because the silent moments in the film actually work with how the overall movie is made. I honestly got nothing else to say about the movie’s score, so let me just say that overall, the soundtrack in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is fantastic.

-The Voice Acting: Both the Japanese language, and English Dub voice acting for Ghost In The Shell 1995 are really good. I do have to say however that because of me watching this movie mostly in the English Dub, I will say that I strongly recommend watching the movie in the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell as all the voice actors in it do the great job with their roles as each voice actor matches the character they are voicing very well. As far as the Japanese voice acting is concerned, it’s done very well, but not as memorable as the English Dub in my opinion. So in a strange way, I will have to say to mostly stick with the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell 1995.

-The Subtitles: The DVD that I own of Ghost In The Shell 1995 includes subtitles that are colored white. The subtitles that I saw when watching the movie in the Japanese language are done very well as all the words are very easy to look at, and they stay on the screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to read them. So if you want to watch Ghost In The Shell 1995 in Japanese with English Subtitles on, be glad to know that the subtitles (at least in the DVD copy that I own) are well made.

With all that I could say about Ghost In The Shell 1995, I’ll finish up this review of it by saying that the movie truly does deserve the strong reputation that it has gotten since it first came out thanks to its deep and complex story, themes, and tones, groundbreaking animation, and breath taking music. To anyone who is a fan of Anime, Sci Fi, CyberPunk, etc, should really give Ghost In The Shell 1995 a watch.

I give Ghost In The Shell 1995 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Akira: The Movie Review by Eugene Alejandro

Akira is a post apocalyptic, science fiction, and Japanese animated feature film directed and written by Katsuhiro Otomo, made by TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsa), and originally released theatrically in Japan in the year 1988. The movie is also adapted from Katsuhiro Otomo’s own manga series of the same name.

The setting of Akira is that it is the year 2019, and Japan (more specifically, Neo Tokyo) is going through a massive economic crisis due to them trying to recover from the aftermath of World War 3, and spending most of their money for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Sports Olympics (the reason for why World War 3 happened in the movie is explained, but no spoiler about that will be said in this review). The movie’s basic plot is about a boy named Kaneda Shotaro who gets worried for one of his best friends named Tetsuo Shima after Tetsuo is taken by the Japanese military after an incident in which the biker gang that Kandea and Tetsuo are members of were fighting another biker gang (to clarify, this isn’t the very start of the movie. This only happens during the beginning of it).

The reason why Tetsuo was taken by the military is because when he got injured in the incident, he ended up getting physic powers (I recommend watching the movie for more details as to how and why he got the powers). Because of these powers he’s gotten, Tetsuo falls into madness, and is determined into re-awaking a character named Akira (who he keeps hearing about in his head) even if it means destroying the world just to do so (and yes, the movie is actually named after that character). Later on in the story, Kaneda finds out about Tetsuo’s powers and goal, and is determined into stopping one of his best friends in order to save the world.

When Akira was released in 1988, not only was it met with high critical praise and financial success, it also served as a landmark in Japanese animation (or Anime to say it more simply), and is also one of many animated products from Japan that helped introduce Anime into the West (with the others being the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie, and Ninja Scroll from 1993). So with all that info about Akira said, does the movie live up to all of that recognition? Indeed it does, and I’m going to try talk about all the aspects of the film so that you can know why I think it is a spectacular movie (also, there will be NO spoilers in what I’m going to say, so you don’t have to worry about that).

-The Story and Writing: While the story of Akira (for the most part) ain’t anything new (even for the time that it was originally released), the story is greatly supported by a strong script that contains solid pacing, excellent character development, and just overall all the aspects good film writing needs. All the important characters are each well-written, and entire movie in general just has an epic feel to it thanks to how the script was written into allowing that. I must also include that the movie also has a satisfying ending to it (and ending I won’t go into detail about for the sake of this review). Earlier in this review, I did mention that Akira is a movie adaption of a manga of the same name by same person who directed and written the movie adaption of it (Katsuhiro Otomo). I bring this up because to anyone who’s read the manga, would know very well that there are a lot of changes made for the film adaptation in regards to some of the characters and the ending of the story (stuff I will not spoil). For how the movie adaptation of Akira was made, the changes work very well, and help the movie maintain its legendary status without alienating people who read the manga. Before I forget now I’ve just remembered, while the story and writing in Akira are very good, the film is (at times) a very dark plot that contains a lot of scenes of violence, so I certainly CAN’T recommend watching this movie if you are under 18 years of age (trust me. The movie is rated R for a reason).

-The Animation: For a animated theatrical released movie from Japan that came out in 1988, It felt more like a movie that came out in 1998. The animation in this movie truly is revolutionary as for the time, this film utilized backgrounds and character designs with strong amounts of detail put into them. All the characters have excellent facial expressions for whenever they are happy, mad, sad, etc. This a good for the animation because it helps the characters feel alive. The animation regarding the movements is also very impressive, and helps make the animation in the entire film work. I should also talk about this movie’s use of colors as I’m sure that even the colors used in the animation for this film were also revolutionary. I say this because there is just so much detail put into this movie’s colors that helped make the animation look even better.

-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: The soundtrack in Akira was made and provided by Geino Yamashirogumi, and Tsutomu Ohashi. This movie’s music is without a doubt one of the greatest movie scores of all time thanks to all the instruments, notes, and how it fits the tone of the film very well. The music is also another novelty as (at least to my knowledge anyways) I don’t think any other Anime film at the time of its release (or possibly even before that time) had music this epic. So overall, Akira’s music is great, and definitely worth listening to.

-The Voice Acting: I must state that for this review that I am going to talk about both the original Japanese language and English Dub. While I myself don’t speak Japanese, I have watched numerous movies made in Japan to the point that I am able to notice how the performances are. With that said, the Japanese voice acting in Akira is great with each voice actor and actress fitting the character they are voicing very well. The English Dub by Pioneer/Geneon is also excellent with each voice actor to voice their characters in English fitting the roles perfectly without a single one standing out. In conclusion, the voice acting in general in Akira is good.

-The Subtitles: Originally, I didn’t feel like talking about the subtitles for this movie that were included in the Pioner/Geneon DVD that I own, but to those who are reading this review, and are interested in watching this movie with the original Japanese speaking language with English subtitles, the good news about that is that the subtitles for this movie are solid. The subtitles for the DVD that I have are colored yellow, and the way that all the words are presented whenever a character is speaking look well enough for the watcher to easily see them. The words also stay on screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to see them without them having to pause the movie just to read the subtitles. So if you are looking for good English subtitles when watching Akira in Japanese, expect the subtitles to do their job just fine.

Now that I have said and pointed out all my reasons for why I believe Akira is a fantastic movie, I can certainly recommend giving it a watch as the film truly is a legendary groundbreaking work of cinematic art that has helped introduce Japanese animation to Western audiences thanks to its very strong story and writing, fabulous animation, and epic soundtrack.

I give Akira: The Movie 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Methaphase Review by Eugene Alejandro

Methaphase is about a young boy named Ollie who is the son of a famous superhero named Sentinel. Ollie wants to be a superhero just like his father, but Ollie’s father is worried and doesn’t feel like he should because Ollie was born with Down Syndrome (meaning that Sentinel is only looking our for Ollie with good intentions). I should clarify that there is much more to the plot of Methaphase than what I just said, but I feel that saying more would just ultimately ruin anyone else’s chance of wanting to buy and read it, so I’ll just say the basic summary of it for this review.

There exists a message in Methaphase which is that no matter what condition you have, you can always achieve the best at what you wanna be, and that message is handled very well in the story. Methaphase’s writing is done very well, and story moves at a quick but solid pace. I should inform the people who are reading this review that Methaphase is only 82 pages long, but despite the short page count, the story is still a very good one thanks to the strong and powerful message that it carries.

The pencils, inks, and colors in Methaphase are all very good. Each character is designed very well, the inking helps the art look clear and easy to see, and the coloring does a fantastic job and bringing the artwork to life. Before I forget now that I’ve just thought about it, the lettering on Methaphase is done by none other than Alterna Comics owner and founder; Peter Simeti, who turns out a very solid job as far as the lettering is concerned as all the words are very easy to see.

While I don’t have anything negative to say and nitpick about Metaphase, I should inform people that this is not a single story. Meaning that there is a strong chance of a sequel happening (I won’t go into the specifics of that as you would have the read it yourself to know).

In conclusion, Methaphase is a well-made graphic novel in the superhero genre that I can totally recommend purchasing as a means to giving it a read.

I give Methaphase 4/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Bigfoot: Sword of The Earthman Review by Eugene Alejandro

Bigfoot: Sword of The Earthman is a science fiction comic created by Joshua Henaman and Andy Taylor, and was originally a self-published comic until being picked up by Action Lab Entertainment (which I am reviewing their trade paperback collection of just to clarify).

The Story of Bigfoot: Sword of The Earthman is that an actual Bigfoot has been summoned to Mars in order to save the people from genocide and tyranny, and Bigfoot ends up going through a long journey with other characters he meets. There’s more to the story than what I just explained, but I feel that it is best not to say it because I don’t wanna spoil the story for people who haven’t read it yet.

The writing for Bigfoot: Sword of The Earthman by Joshua Henaman surprisingly moves at a very quick pace despite being a 6 issue mini series, which isn’t a bad thing, but I was expecting it to move a little slower, but for what it was, I was still able to understand the story very well. As far as the character development goes and how the story ends, it’s obvious that there is going to be another story after this one, but for how this one sets up the world and characters, it does a solid job at that.

The artwork by Andy Taylor is quite good for what it is and how it looks, and fits the tone of the plot well. The design of the characters and environments also look nice.

So in conclusion, Bigfoot of The Earthman is an interesting comic with a good and unique idea that I recommend giving a read.

I give Bigfoot: Sword of The Earthman Two Thumbs Up, and 4/5 Stars.

King: The Graphic Novel Review by Eugene Alejandro

Created by Joshua Hale Fialkov (the writer), Bernard Chang (the penciler and inker), and Marcelo Maiolo (the colorist), and published by Amazon’s comic book publishing imprint Jet City Comics, King is about a character literally named King who believes that he is the last human on Earth as the world he is currently living in is a post-apocalyptic mess inhabited by many strange animal-human hybrids, a religious robot cult, and many other weird looking people and animals. He is given a mission to look for and retrieve “The Life Seed”, only to discover there is much more to his mission than expected and realized.

In my opinion, King is the comic book equivalent of the 2015 short film Kung Fury in regards to its tone because King’s story is very fun with a lot of good humor, ridiculous ideas that work, and a good balance of comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi for a post-apocalyptic story that are all mixed together well thanks to Joshua Hale Fialkov’s awesome writing. For the story that is only 5 issues long (the King Graphic Novel is a collection of the 5 issues of the same name), all the characters major and minor are all very likeable and memorable, and each one has a very unique and creative design to them (another thanks to that goes to the great writing by Joshua Hale Fialkov).

Bernard Chang’s artwork is a joy to the eyes because all the characters and backgrounds are illustrated with huge amounts of great detail, they all appear very creative, unique, and original, and a lot of the scenes that involve action are also fun to look at as Bernard Chang’s artwork is the perfect fit for a story like this. The animals are also impressive to look at thanks to his art.

The coloring by Marcelo Maiolo is some of the greatest comic book coloring I have ever seen. The colors are very vibrant, clear, and match perfectly with Bernard Chang’s pencils and inks. Marcelo Mailo’s coloring is also a very good example of how colors can affect the artwork (and make it look good).

The only nitpick that I have with King (and I do mean the only nitpick) is that it’s too short of a story (with it only being 5 issues). I really loved the universe that it presented, and I hope more stories set in it happen as it’s very creative, new, and unique for comic book storytelling that also has a good sense of humor.

Joshua Hale Fialkov, Bernard Chang, and Marcelo Maiolo have accomplished what a comic book creative team should always do and that is create a new story set in a very fascinating universe with awesome characters, awesome writing, awesome artwork, and awesome colors that not only grace the post-apocalyptic genre, but the rest of the genres it has, and I’ll even go as far as to say that because of all that, it deserves all the Eisner Awards it can possibly earn.

I give King 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Hex 11 Volume 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Hex 11 takes place in a world in which both science fiction and fantasy exist as one thanks to the discovery of a energy source called “The Ether”. While the world seems perfect at first thanks to the rise of its age of magic, there exists a very urban area called “The Hex” where the people who live there are poor and second-class. The main character Elanor Kent, and a oracle she lives with named Vera live in “The Hex”. When Elanor is told by Vera to get her a scarf, she ends up stumbling across and getting involved with a fight between a magic user and a demon. After the fight, Elanor and the demon end up getting teleported back to Vera’s place, and it’s from this point in which the central story of Hex 11 Volume 1 begins.

Hex 11’s strongest (and noticeable) achievement is its phenomenal artwork by Lisa K. Weber (who is also the creator of Hex 11) for it perfectly fits the tone of the series, and allows the characters to have very unique designs. Samantha Carrasco’s coloring is fabulous as it makes Lisa K. Weber’s very bright and vibrate in a good way.

The writing by Kelly Sue Milano is excellent because the story moves at a great pace, all the characters in Hex 11 Volume 1 have good development to them, and the dialogue the characters speak is good. The ending of Volume 1 also does a solid job at leading into Volume 2. Another thing I want to mention about the writing is that there are a lot of very good plot twists in Hex 11 Volume 1 that’ll catch the readers off guard.

In conclusion, if your are in the mood to read an independent comic that blends fantasy and science fiction very well, has a good story with good writing, and contains outstanding and very colorful artwork, Hex 11 is for you.

I give Hex 11 Volume 1 5/5 stars, and 2 Thumbs Up.

Low Volume 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Written by Rick Remender, drawn by Greg Tocchini, and published by Image Comics, Low is about mankind living in the ocean because the Earth’s sun has expanded so much, the surface has been uninhabitable. Low Volume 1 is specifically about the Caine family trying to use their technology to search for other planets in the hopes of helping mankind. However, while they do this, their ship get’s attacked by pirates, the father of the family (Johl Caine) gets killed, the two daughters get kidnapped, and the mother (Stel Caine) and the son (Marik Caine) are the only ones who survived the pirate attack and didn’t get kidnapped. Years later after the incident, Stel discovers where the man who killed her husband and kidnapped her daughters is (that man’s name is Roln), and decides that she and her son will go that location to save their remaining family, and get their revenge on Roln.

Low has a very unique and creative premise for a post-apocalyptic story, and Rick Remender’s writing helps with that as the world is explained enough so that the readers can understand it, and the characters are well-written and developed perfectly.

The artwork by Greg Tocchini is really interesting to look at as the way the characters, animals, and settings are illustrated don’t contradict with Low’s tone at all, and are also nice to look at.

There are some nitpicks with Low Volume 1 that want to mention. The first one being that not a lot of things are explained such as whenever Roln gets stabbed in the chest more than once, he survives as opposed to dying. I would have liked to see a reason for why that was the case. Another part of the story that has no explanation is that besides humans, there are what resembles a cross between humans and sea animals, and some of the animals look very alien-like as opposed to a normal sea animal on Earth (there is even what resembles a mix between a fish and a lion). I’m fully aware that Low is set in the future, but it still seemed weird to me to have that in the story just because (hopefully it all will be explained in Low Volume 2). The second nitpick of mine for Low Volume 1 is that I feel that it would’ve been even better had it only be a six issue mini series (Volume 1 collects Low issues 1-6) because the way the story is written prior to issue six (the first 5 issues to be specific) to me have the pacing of a mini series, and the way issue 6 ended felt as excuse for there to be more issues to this series, and should’ve just ended the whole story altogether (that is just my opinion).

Excluding my nitpicks, Low is an ongoing comic book series with very good writing and art, and is a solid addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. Low Volume 1 is also a very well-made first story arc.

I give Low Volume 1 2 Thumbs Up, and 4/5 Stars.