Thursday, 14 July 2016

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review

The following review originally appeared in MyM Magazine issue #4 

In Hollywood, remakes, reboots and re-imaginings have been a big part of the plan for a long time. Why come up with a new idea, when there's a perfectly good one waiting to be dusted off and reused? It worked before so it can work again. Despite the anime industry becoming increasingly risk-averse in these turbulent times anime remakes are surprisingly few and far between. This makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood an unusual case- especially as the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime only dates back to 2003. FMA was one of the most popular anime of the early noughties (at least in the West), and was even screened on the short-lived Anime Central channel. Arguably however Brotherhood is not a remake at all, nor a sequel. It is a fresh adaptation of the same material- Hiromu Arakawa' s original manga.

For those who have been living under a philosopher's stone, all incarnations of FMA follow the adventures of the Elric brothers- Edward and Alphonse who live in the fictional country of Amestris . Their world resembles our own (in the early twentieth century), except for their reliance of the art of alchemy. The brothers attempt to use alchemy to resurrect their beloved mother, breaking a taboo that costs the older brother his arm and leg and the younger his entire body. Edward's missing limbs are replaced by artificial ones, while poor Al has his soul bound to a suit of armour, as they set off on a quest to recover their missing bodies. Persuaded to enlist in the military as a State Alchemist, Ed and his brother find themselves involved in a conspiracy that goes to the very top.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review Repost: Captain America- The Winter Soldier

With Captain American : Civil War now in cinemas in the UK I thought it was a perfect time to repost one of my 'lost' reviews- in this case the previous Captain America movie The Winter Soldier, that was previously published on a now defunct site back in April 2014.

The first Avenger is back in the latest release from Marvel studios, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now working for SHIELD, Cap continues to struggle with finding himself a man out of his own time. He's got much bigger concerns though, namely the titular assassin, a mysterious figure who has terrorised America and her allies since the Cold War.

The first Captain America film made the most of it's period setting to distinguish it from the rest of the Marvel flicks. It gave it an enjoyably old-school atmosphere, feeling like a classic boy's-own-adventure type yarn.  With the end of the movie (spoilers) bringing him into the present day any sequel was always going to have to take a somewhat different approach. With Winter Soldier they decided to go down the spy thriller route, and the end result somewhat resembles a Bond movie with Super-powers (with a dash of Bourne for good measure). Much as every Bond film starts with a pre-credits action scene, Winter Soldier kicks off with a thrilling first-reel action sequence involving a rescue mission on a ship hijacked by pirates. The action is exciting and well choreographed throughout, keeping up the high standard seen in most Marvel productions to date. A lot of the action is surprisingly down-to-earth too, with plenty of old fashioned hand-to-hand combat and gunplay inbetween the comic-book super-soldier smackdowns. That's not to say there's not plenty of the completely fantasy-based stuff in the mix too, but this is certainly closer to the likes of Iron Man 3 than The Thor movies. The action is expertly mounted, and there's much less of a reliance on CGI than in many of it's predecessors.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

BLEACH: Fade to Blu

This month marks 4 years since I submitted my first published article, and therefore marks my anniversary of being a professional writer! To mark the occasion, here is the very first article, which has never been published online before, and can only be found in print if you can track down a back issue of MyM #1 (good luck with that!)

This article first appeared in MyM Magazine Issue 1 (May 2012)

Tite Kubo's Bleach is unquestionably one of the most successful anime and manga franchises of the last decade or so. Since it began publication in 2001 in Weekly Shonen Jump it has racked up more than fifty volumes of manga, in excess of three hundred episodes of the anime, a mountain of merchandise and numerous videogames. It has even spawned a rock musical and there is a live-action Hollywood adaptation in the pipe-line.

In case you've been living under a rock, Bleach follows the exploits of Ichigo Kurosaki, a Japanese high-schooler with a sixth-sense style ability to see dead people. While most kids his age are happy with a paper round or working in a local shop, Ichigo has a most unusual part-time job ; substitute Soul Reaper (Shinigami or Death God in the original Japanese).

Saturday, 9 April 2016

MyM issue 48 and other updates...

So it's been another two months since I said I'd be updating more often... so that's a good start. It's been hectic though, in my defence! My most recent review in print (and digital) can be found in MyM issue 48, where my review for Sword Art Online II can be found. MyM issue 49 will be coming soon!

AFA seems to be booming right now, with our team still growing. We recently published our 100th review, and have passed 1000 twitter followers. We also recently had a special guest on our podcast, when we were lucky to be joined by Pixar Technical Artist David Lally, for a discussion of adult animation.

Also check out my review of  the Kill La Kill manga on Anime Limited's Blog! Very soon I should be able to reveal the latest site I am contributing to as well. Watch this space...

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Hello Strangers...

It's been, frankly, an embarrassingly long time since I updated this here blog. In fact, I reckon it's probably overdue it had a full-on makeover. In the meantime though, I'm checking in to remind you that I'm alive and have been writing the whole time (even if I've been neglecting this blog terribly).

AFA goes from strength to strength, and right now the majority of my time is going in to that. There's far too much to go into here ,but recent reviews include Beyond The Boundary and World Conquest Zvezda Plot. We also launched a podcast last summer, so you can now listen to me and my AFA chums talk about animation every week.

I've continued to write from MyM as well, with my most recent contribution being a review of Maid Sama in issue 46. Out now in your local magazine stockist or the app store on iOS or Android.

Look out for much more news coming soon!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Happy Birthday MyM!

Issue number 38 of MyM Magazine is now available in good magazine stockist- or for that matter bad magazine stockists, as well as on iOS and Android. The new issue marks the magazine's third anniversary. Not coincidentally, that means it also marks my third anniversary as a professional writer, with my article on the Bleach movies appearing in that very first issue. Fast forward to now, and you'll find my review of Nadia: Secret of Blue Water in the latest issue.

I've missed a handful of issues, but I've proud to have written for almost every edition of the magazine. I've enjoyed every minute and I'm hugely lucky to get the chance to write for it. If my teen self knew I'd one day get paid to write about anime, he'd probably forgive me for not being married to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Probably.

I've also landed another online gig that I look forward to sharing with you soon. In the meantime I've been (as always) writing for AFA, which has taken most of my work time not taken up by those other two gigs. I've recently been republishing my work originally done for JapanCinema  over there too- with three reviews republished there so far.  It strikes me that this blog is way overdue a makeover but until then you can keep up with all my writing via twitter.

Monday, 4 May 2015

An important Statement on 'Japan Cinema'.

Over the past few years I've contributed reviews and articles on an irregular basis for the website Japan Cinema (no link here, for reasons that are about to become obvious). I will not be doing so any more. It's come to my attention that the owner of the site has been guilty of some pretty heavy-duty plagiarism, over an extended period. I and several other contributors submitted our original work to the site in good faith, only to be posted alongside articles and reviews that have been stolen in whole or in part from other sites. and writers.

I was hoping it was a misunderstanding or something, but I've seen the evidence and it's pretty damning, sad to say.

It's nothing short of theft. As a writer, it hurts me to think any other writer's work has been stolen in this way. And on a more personal level it's also very disappointing, as I thought the editor was a genuine guy. In respect of that I'm choosing not to call him out by name. But I'm very saddened by this turn of events- not to mention angry.

I will not write for the site ever again (if it even survives this) and do not wish to be associated with it in any manner. I'd advise of any you to steer well clear as well.

In short: this sucks.

[UPDATE] The site has now been taken down (although the editor is still not taking full responsibility for his actions. Another former writer made this video on the subject, and the editor's behaviour.