Posted on 27 March 2011 with categories: Wolverine




Let me start this review with a message to everyone who didn’t give Wolverine a chance because of Iron Man: it’s really not bad!

Wolverine and Iron Man are completely different series. They were written by different people, directed with different people and have completely different purposes. Iron Man was just crap in nearly every single way. Wolverine however was a simple but very effective action series that knew exactly what it was and what it wanted to be.

It’s a series that doesn’t have the biggest budget, but still manages to create consistently good action throughout its airtime. Nearly every episode delivers plenty of action to keep you busy, while avoiding the Dragonball Z syndrome of dragging out by changing set-ups and locations often enough to keep things dynamic. This certainly is no show that shows people just standing at the same place and talking to each other. Wolverine is a very simple character: don’t think; just do. This allows the series to be constantly moving, preventing it from getting stale.

In comparison to Iron Man, Wolverine actually has a continuous story instead of an incoherent mess that will turn off just about everyone. It’s a simple one: it basically revolves around saving a damsel in distress and all, but the creators throw in just enough extra spices to make it interesting and keep the action going. Some of the characters have a bigger story than others, but together they actually make a pretty enjoyable cast that is hot blooded, but perfect for a simple action series.

That simplicity is obviously also the biggest flaw of this series, because you really don’t want to watch this series for its depth. Wolverine is action and more action, and it only has its story and characters in order to support this action, and not the other way around. And don’t worry, it’s not like it has a cast of idiots like with Iron Man, but everyone remains pretty simple and doesn’t break many barriers. The characters in Wolverine are likable because they’re cool and charismatic, not because they’re particularly easy to identify with or anything. Like I said, the main plot of the show revolves around a damsel in distress.

Madhouse has a unique visual style, but lately I’ve noticed that they have trouble with making their characters act. The acting in Wolverine is quite stiff at times, which has a lot to do with the animators being unable to create dynamic facial expressions for the characters. The screenplay is excellent, though: it does exactly what a simple action series needs to do.

There is only one point where Wolverine was really better than any other series this season: its soundtrack and the use of it. Bold, versatile and excellent at making the action even better.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Lots of action, and does this well, knowing how to balance it out with its plot.
Characters: 8/10 – Simple, but effective and likable.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Awesome soundtrack. Animation has a lot of weaknesses, but still remains pretty solid for an action series.
Setting: 8/10 – The backstory actually does what it needs to do to make this series interesting for a full 12 episodes.

Suggestions:
Ultraviolet: Code 044
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
High School of the Dead

Posted on with categories: Wolverine



The only bad part of this episode was the point where Hideki set off the self destruct mechanism of the building he was in. I mean, hello? You’ll be the one to inherit that thing; why the heck are you destroying it? And heck: if you’re going to destroy a building, do it properly and burn it to the ground. You hardly accomplished anything here.

Apart from that though, in terms of screenplay this was an excellent example of how you should close off a simple action series. The deaths of both Shingen and Hideki were excellent. Especially Shingen’s fight did justice to his character, and the way in which Wolverine beat him was exceptionally well done: he really was caught by surprise here.

I also like how the creators knew very well who in this series had super hearling powers, and who didn’t: Yukio died after a fatal stab-wound, Mariko also got shot in her heart after doing something heroic but very reckless. The death of them really feel like part of the larger picture instead of the way in which Iron Man just killed off its characters for the heck of it.

Madhouse, you redeemed yourself here. This ending gave a great closure. Wolverine was nothing deep, but what it did it did well. As for the acting, it actually managed to make something out of the characters because it knew that the acting was stiff, and instead just tried to make this superhero worthy. Well, mission accomplished.

the X-men will be airing next week (in fact, it’ll be the first series to premiere of the Spring Season). Wolverine really showed that they’re all intending this to be different series that stand apart from each other. With the director of Afro Samurai, it can really go anywhere. The question is of course whether they can do justice to the X-Men themselves. Unlike Wolverine, they had a deep story about prejudice and discrimination.Let’s see whether or not that can return there.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 March 2011 with categories: Wolverine



Yes, this is the underdog of the season. I’m really glad that I decided to blog it, especially after the disappointment that was Iron Man. It’s nowhere near the best of the season, of course and I know that it doesn’t match up to juggernaughts as Level E, Madoka Magica and Hourou Musuko thanks to the hammy acting. But in terms of series structure it did just about everything right here.

The thing with Wolverine is that unlike Iron Man, you can really see that the creators are having fun with it. They’re trying to make every episode into a spectacle, and they especially succeeded in that during the previous month. The series overall also avoided a lot of flaws that usually strike action series: the way in which they forget to spend time on characters, setting and build-up. The atmosphere in this episode was just excellent and it has been for episodes now. The only time in which this series took a break was in the middle of the series, and that was time it put to good use in order to lay out the background of that bizarre island they’re on, plus Yukio’s simple but surprisingly effective backstory (which again was used very nicely in this episode).

It’s also a matter of expectations, of course. I mean, my expectations for Wolverine couldn’t be worse, until I found out that it was being handled by the director of Himitsu and one of the scriptwriters of Kurozuka. After that, I pretty much had no disappointments from this series whatsoever aside from the hammy acting in the first episode. This probably would have gone completely different if Wolverine would have aired before Iron Man, but I still have to applaud the creators for delivering such a solid action series.

The key here is suspense of disbelief. The way in which there always is something interesting going on (the battles in the earliest episodes were long, but knew how to not drag on). I really noticed that during the fights with Shingen. The characters were acting pretty over the top, but I couldn’t help but love the voice actors during that scene. The voice actors delivered their lines with such passion that it just made it into a wonderful scene.

The series is still too simple and miles away to really stand amongst the best of the season; I mean, it’s not like the story has any depth or anything. There is one thing, however, at which this series IS the best out of the entire season right now: the use of its soundtrack. And yes, this is in a season that has two of my favourite composers in it, Yuki Kajiura and Hikaru Nanase. This episode in particular was a feast for the ears.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 March 2011 with categories: Wolverine



This episode kicked ass! It was just simple action, but that’s exactly what this show is best at. Wolverine isn’t anything deep, but the things that it’s supposed to do, it does really well here. Ten episodes in, and it’s still consistently entertaining action that has shown very few, if any, unexpected weak moments. It pretty much delivered exactly what it promised. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

Also, in these types of action and adventure series, how often do we really see the creators killing off the cute moe character? Unless we’re talking about a mostly female cast, it’s always the older ones, or some of the guys that die in the middle of a battle. here in Wolverine though, the creators just killed off just about the only moe character of the entire series. The only teenager actually DIES here, due to her inexperience and naivety. That’s rare!

The strange thing about this episode is that it also flew by: I really got the feeling that it was less than 20 minutes of total airtime, that’s how it caught me up in its pacing. It’s again something that we’ve come to expect from this series: the battles are long, but not too long, and most importantly: they’re not drawn out but actually play out without characters just standing there and looking at each other for what feels like ages. Wolverine’s motto is “don’t talk, just act” and the anime so far has made great use of that.

Oh, and Yukio: she’s a great co-lead. For once she actually isn’t the romantic love interest for the main guy, but the way in which this episode had her both busy fighting the bad guys and fighting alongside her grandfather that she had many problems with, seeing the girl who replaced her die… that definitely was a nice touch for her character.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 March 2011 with categories: Wolverine



Okay. That was a lot of action.

Seriously, these bad guys don’t know the meaning of overkill. This episode was worth watching, if only to see the ridiculous amount and size of all the things they threw at Wolverine, to just prevent him from ascending that freakishly long Hell Road. It was a complete carnage what happened there. i mean, this show takes fighting goons to a different level.

It’s a shame that this episode was clearly partly outsourced, because the direction of all of this chaos was really good. The bad guys just kept coming with new and different ways to try and kill Wolverine and this flowed very neatly from one action scene to the other, with interesting camera angles and and animation. Especially the fight with the thousand deadly spears looked wonderful, but as the episode went on there were just too many “one frame action scenes”. You know, the one in which the creators just show one single frame with a bunch of a sounds over it. It works for some series, but the previous episodes of Wolverine set themselves apart by exactly NOT doing that. The biggest hint to the outsourcing however was how the creators couldn’t decide how large the army of Yukio’s grandfather was. That shot of them, walking up Hell Road was probably the worst of this entire episode.

At this point, Wolverine has pretty much surpassed Iron Man in every conceivable way, aside from perhaps the background catchiness (seriously, near the end I was just watching Iron Man to hear that kickass background tune of theirs). The setting is a lot more solid, the plot is simple, yet effective, the action takes itself seriously and is well paced (and most importantly: really not formulaic aside from the fact that Wolverine keeps winning), the characters also aren’t going to win any awards, but they still do their job by being interesting to watch and everyone having their own motivations that isn’t a complete cornball. I wouldn’t call this series a complete success yet, because I’ve seen tons of action series that built up to a grand finale that never came (Sengoku Basara, High School of the Dead), but so far I’m enjoying this show much more than I thought I would after Iron Man.

Oh, and yeah, for those who didn’t know yet: the director of Basilisk and Afro Samurai is going to direct the X-Men. Oh boy. This really depends on what kind of scriptwriter they got here, but if that guy is good (meaning that he manages to come up with a good backstory, rather than what happened to Afro Samurai), then we’re really in for something interesting here.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 26 February 2011 with categories: Wolverine



This episode again didn’t put any supernatural powered opponents against Wolverine, but instead it spent a lot of time again on buildup (which now seems t be finished, though) and a fight against two random goons in some impenetrable… box. It was quite entertaining, though. They went through so much length to set up the perfect trap for Wovlerine, painstakingly install cameras and even entire machine guns, and he takes them out like it’s nothing.

I often complain against stereotypically evil bad guys. For Wolverine though, I really don’t think that the bad guys here are a problem. Now, they 100% evil, but what this show does right is the fact that it spends time on them. It shows a bit of their personalities beyond what we usually see from random goons and mid-bosses. What’s what made this episode work. It was quite endearing when these guys were waiting anxiously for Logan to find a way to break through that impenetrable wall of theirs.

Also, the drama around Yukio was great. The creators knew exactly that it should be used as background for her character, not the entire plot like Iron Man did. Yukio simply accepts that that guy is her grandfather, even though she left him due to the way he treated her. Nothing more, nothing less. Oh, and she’s actually forgiven for being a damsel in distress for nearly successfully trying to escape for once. It’s a shame that Mariko has to be so passive, but then again, if she was able to escape we wouldn’t have a story for this show.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 February 2011 with categories: Wolverine



The background episode for the side characters. And it’s as I hoped: it again is so much better than Iron Man’s. Iron Man had a former ally who suddenly turned into a villain, and used the corniest background story just so that it would be able to explain that ludicrous plot twist. There was nothing interesting behind it. Wolverine meanwhile uses this episode to tie some of the backgrounds of the side characters together, and it does so quite effectively.

It’s a shame that Yukio turned into a damsel in distress, but then again Logan had this coming to him, in the way in which he just kept leaving her in the most impossible situations that even he would not have gotten out of if it weren’t for his healing powers. Ah well, Yukio still deserves points for trying to drown that giant monster in some conveniently nearby concrete. That “convenient” isn’t meant as a criticism here, by the way. This series consistently makes use of its environment in its action scenes in a way that I’d wish more anime would do, and so this concrete thing is a nice touch here. Oh, and that teenaged girl nicely averted the “useless teenaged sidekick”-trope when she actually proved to be quite useful. I really thought that she would only get in Wolverine’s way, but she even injured herself in order to get rid of that giant monster.

On a completely different note: the X-Men promo aired. Like expected, it will be done by a complete different team, because even the character designs for Logan and Cyclops are different. I do have to say though that it has the best looking designs of the Marvel anime so far. For once, the characters actually looked cool. As for the acting though, they unfortunately didn’t show anything about that, but it does seem that the same voice actors of Logan and Cyclops of Wolverine will return. I really hope that their dialogue will be more than their exchange of one liners in the previous episode, though. It was passable for one episode, but not an entire series!
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 12 February 2011 with categories: Wolverine



So, the only reason Cyclops appeared was to transport Wolverine from one place to another and sprout some one liners. Okay. Ah well, see you back in the X-Men. series.

Anyway, this episode introduced the new arc, which will take place on an island, privately owned by the bad guys. It was mostly building up, though. Wolverine only fought a bunch of random punks whose major threat was their numbers. I did like how he pretty much left Yukio behind to try and get rid of them, though. So much for superheroes being noble; Wolverine just cares for one thing in this series.

So yeah, nothing much to say otherwise, other than that the way in which Shingen demonstrated his skills was… a bit silly. I mean, I know that it was very good what he did to those candles and all but you can also take things too far to the realm of surrealism.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 5 February 2011 with categories: Wolverine



Half a year ago, when I blogged Sengoku Basara 02, another action series, I remember noting how its biggest flaw was that it spent too much time building up and too little on actual action. That is one flaw that Wolverine really managed to avoid. Heck, it’s been a long while since I have seen an anime that had this much actual action. And the great thing is that it’s not like the usual shounen ish action of “2 minutes of fighting and 10 minutes of staring at each other”, this show continues to push itself forward with its action, preventing itself from dragging on by using its surroundings, new characters or different sets.

In other words: I’m really warming up to this series, and this episode was the best episode of Wolverine so far.It obviously lacks any animation budget here, but still: the action does not devolve into still frames, or the usual cheap shortcuts you see with action scenes. There really is a ton of movement in this show and I really like how the creators make use of this and make this not another action show with just a bunch of close-ups.

Meanwhile: the story. Still simple, but it’s a very neat twist that this episode was hinting that Yukio was the one who killed Tesshin. Simple, but neat twist for in the future. Omega Red’s double comeback also was a neat little twist, in the way that the creators promised another huge fight, and instead solved in a matter of minutes. Oh, and the ending! I didn’t expect that another one of the X-Men would make an appearance here.

Finally: is it just me, or was the music in this episode even better than usual? There were tons of interesting tracks here. Compare that to Iron Man: it just had one awesome theme song (really the height of any episode when that was played), but beyond that the rest of the songs were just forgettable. Even the composer (yes, the two series share composers) has tried much harder for Wolverine.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 January 2011 with categories: Wolverine



Well, the Marvel Anime are definitely consistent: Iron Man was consistently bad, while Wolverine is consistent simple but effective action that doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is. I’m still enjoying this show, so I’m happy with how things turned out for this series.

This episode also showed that Wolverine is better at flashbacks. In Iron Man, they were ridiculously cheesy, so this show instead just came with a much more typical Superhero backstory: Wolverine beat this guy once and basically ruined his entire life with that, and now he’s out for revenge. Again, it’s simple, but it does make for a decent villain. Omega Red’s biggest flaw at this point is that killing Wolverine is pretty much the only thing on his mind, but granted: he is pretty effective at it.

I like how Wolverine really is forced to use his surroundings in order to get rid of this guy. It makes the action scenes a bit more interesting, and also allows for plenty of explosions. When watching this series, I really wonder how the X-Men anime will be: Wolverine standalone is simple, and that fits this show exactly. In the X-Men however, he’s just a part of something far bigger with a much bigger focus on a plot. Ah well, it’s all going to depend on the kinds of writers and directors that Madhouse is going to put on it.

NB: One major downside to this episode: Yukio was pretty useless this time. Granted, this villain was something she couldn’t really do anything against, but make sure that the next villains will also allow her to be involved in the fights as well.
Rating: * (Good)

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