Monday, July 09, 2018

MY WEEK IN ANIME: Hataraku Saibou Episode 1

Leave it to the Japanese to turn red blood cells and platelets into something absolutely adorable.

The new slice of life-inside-the-human-body anime Hataraku Saibou (Cells at Work) just aired its first episode, and my calm exterior belies my complete weebing out as I type this.

The main character is a Red Blood Cell, except it's a cute girl in shorts because of course it is. Her job, as is the job of any actual red blood cell, is to bring oxygen to parts of the body that need it. In the anime, it's represented as a UPS delivery of sorts, and some of the episode's best moments are in the adorable ways the newbie Red Blood Cell (I don't think cells have actual first names) gets lost trying to find the address of the consignee of the package in her care.

The anime does a great job of breaking down the cells into their common characteristics. We're introduced to characters like the White Blood Cell, a cold-blooded Terminator who stops at nothing to kill any invading bacteria, and Killer T-Cells, buff and burly SWAT-types deployed for more dangerous work. We're also introduced to some areas of the body and its personified inhabitants (the spleen, in particular, is one I'm excited for ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ), and I'm excited to know what adventures they'll have over there. It's part anime, part biology lesson, and as someone who loved biology class in high school, this anime is pushing all the right buttons for me.

I love how descriptions of the human body's functions aren't dumbed down at all. I didn't know anything about Pneumococcus bacteria, but Hataraku Saibou does its best to not only tell us what dangerous stuff they do, but also weave it into the whole personification thing of the anime in an interesting way.

I mean, this is an anime that made me squee for goddamn platelets. Platelets.

The episode is pretty much a monster-of-the-week, with Red and White Blood Cell in a race against time to stop a runaway Pneumococcus bacteria from wreaking havoc in the human body world. There are some exciting moments, and the animation is pretty much at par with what you'd expect from studio David Production. I can't really talk more about the episode without being spoilery, but I have a feeling they're keeping better stuff back for later episodes, so if you're expecting something mind-blowing for the first episode, I don't think that's how you anime.

Hataraku Saibou grabbed my interest when it was previewed a few months ago, and I'm glad to know it was worth the wait. I don't give a shit if the next 20+ episodes are just human body shenanigans. When the best girl and your possible future waifu is basically a red blood cell you know Japan has ya hooked. Consider this a keeper.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Transformers Studio Series Ironhide Toy Review

As much as we give Michael Bay's Transformers beef, I can't deny how much I loved the first movie's robot designs. And as a red-blooded male who loves himself some big guns, I had a soft spot for movie Ironhide. No longer the G1-era red van, movie Ironhide was now the badass black pickup truck with goddamn cannons for arms. What's not to love?

So as a toy collector, I wanted a figure of Ironhide for my collection. But through the years, Hasbro seemed to have a hard time putting out an Ironhide toy that didn't completely look like shit.

Until now, when I got my hands on the new Transformers Studio Series Ironhide toy which I will review today!

Standing at around 6 inches tall, Studio Series Ironhide is short for a Voyager-class figure (do they still do those scales?), another victim of the rising cost of plastic. It's unfortunate that his size makes him out of scale with most of his Autobot brethren currently available, and you'd have to really fudge it to find that sweet scale spot. But then again, Bayformers aren't really known for scale!

It looks damn good for its size, though. For all my peeves about his scale, Studio Series Ironhide is the most accurate-looking Ironhide toy to date. From the "correct" chest transformation, accurate face sculpt, to the fine details all over this toy, Studio Series Ironhide looks damn badass, and a home run screen-to-toy translation. Would it have killed Hasbro to find a way to minimize that unsightly bumper kibble, though?

And as much as I harp about accurate sculpting, the paint leaves a lot to be desired. A dab or two of silver paint in the places it needs it most (like the "ab" piece that should be silver/gray, as well as some parts of the legs) would have kept Ironhide from looking like one whole chunk of black plastic.

Studio Series Ironhide has a basic amount of articulation, though most of it are often hindered by the sculpt. The arms can only go forward and up so far before being stopped by his enormous chest. The hinged knees have okay range of motion, but the feet are just one big chunk of plastic with no articulation, making it hard for him to put in poses other than feet flat on the ground. Ironhide's ball-jointed head can only look left and right. No waist swivel, too. The price we pay for an accurate sculpt, I guess?

But the one reason why I forgive most of this toy's shortcomings is because Ironhide has finally been given what's due to him for so long: screen-accurate arm cannons! The cannons peg into holes in his elbows and don't hinder articulation at all. For the life of me I don't know why Hasbro put off giving Ironhide the cannons he's known for for this long, because Studio Series Ironhide proved they could do it and do it well. The sculpting is spot-on and I love the silver paint they used to accentuate all the little details. Finally, the Autobots' resident weapons specialist lives up to his title!

Converting Studio Series Ironhide from robot to truck feels satisfying and everything pegs into place really well. Ironhide converts into a GMC Topkick pickup truck, and fans will enjoy all the loving detail they put into it. We actually feel his Voyager-ness in truck mode, as it's large enough that it wouldn't look out of place beside most of the Deluxe-class movieformers in car mode.

You can clip Ironhide's cannons to the truck "bed" so as not to lose them. So much for "robots in disguise"!

A cardboard backdrop is included with the toy, which, in Studio Series Ironhide's case, is an image of war-torn Mission City where the final battle in the first Transformers film took place. There's no assembly required, and there's even a platform you could stand your toy on for a museum-type display. What a neat inclusion!

For this Ironhide fan, Studio Series Ironhide is a very welcome update that finally gives justice to a fan-favorite movie character. It may not be in-scale with most of his fellow Autobots, but as its own toy, Ironhide holds his own. I don't know if all of this is worth the $43USD I paid for it, but I'll take a win like this anytime.

It's out in malls in the Philippines now, and judging from how well they made this fig, I won't be surprised if he becomes hard to find!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story is an exhilarating blockbuster that captures a lot of what made Star Wars great, with the worst you could say about it is that it's ultimately unneeded.

Alden Ehrenreich's got Han Solo's impish grin down pat as he swaggers and cons his way through the film much like how Harrison Ford did it back in the day. And while nothing beats the original, Ehrenreich's Han has the benefit of having the whole film to himself, which means he's got all the time in the world to endear himself to us with a youthful and energetic performance that's a passable Ford impersonation without bordering on creepy.

As this is Han Solo before "less than 12 parsecs" was a thing, his world is populated by "new" additions to Star Wars lore, at least where canon is concerned. Paul Bettany is so satisfying to watch as creepy villain Dryden Voss, a gangster whose razor-thin veneer of good manners barely hides a bloodthirsty streak.  Emilia Clarke as Han's love interest Qi'ra is as hard-edged and hard-to-read as her name, while Woody Harrelson pretty much plays himself as Tobias Beckett, Han's then-unknown mentor, both of whom shape young Han into the flyboy scoundrel we know today.

But here's the thing about Solo: A Star Wars Story: it answers the when's and the how's of Han's backstory well, but the why's never hit. We know Han met Chewbacca before the events of A New Hope. We know Han won the Millennium Falcon fair and square from Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover in my second favorite performance in the film). Anyone who doesn't know shouldn't have Solo as their first Star Wars movie. But the movie feels like a checklist of Han Solo facts, with Disney throwing stuff in and hoping it sticks. There's no pressing need to know why Han has a problem with authority, or why he believes only in himself and a good blaster by his side, and even if we did, Solo's insights aren't that interesting or deep, and we're left knowing the same Han Solo we've always known.

But as its own thing? Solo: A Star Wars Story is pure popcorn entertainment. Any Star Wars fan will let out an audible gasp with every callback and Easter egg, and it's got enough breakneck thrills and action that will have you leaving the cinema smiling and possibly considering a second viewing. But is it enough to justify making it? I guess the box office will tell.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Figma Deadpool Review

Hey there! Figma Deadpool here. How ya doin'? I hope George doesn't mind that I hijack his poor excuse for a's not like he's posting anything worthwhile! Anyfuckingwho,  I'm here because this Japanese company called Max Factory made a figure of your favorite Merc' with a Mouth, and if there's anyone qualified to give you the straight talk on a Figma Deadpool, it's me.

Friday, November 24, 2017

MAFEX Spider-Man Homecoming Toy Review

I don't often find myself choosing favorites in my toy collection. All of them are awesome in their own right (as they should be...I have good taste!), but sometimes I'm blessed to come across a toy that ticks every box in your feel-good checklist, and that time is now. Join me as I go over Medicom's MAFEX Spider-Man: Homecoming ver. action figure today!

The box is your standard MAFEX big box, the size needed to hold all the stuff the figure comes with...and it comes with a lot. Loads of alternate hands, webs out the wazoo, and alternate heads!

The first thing I liked after taking Spidey out of the box is his size. MAFEX action figures are known to be considerably larger than most 1:12 scale toys, and I was afraid that I would have an off-sized Spider-Man for my Infinity War collection. But thankfully MAFEX Spider-Man: Homecoming is appropriately teenager-sized, and looks great even beside a figure like the Marvel Legends Civil War wave Captain America, one of the smaller figures from that line!

The sculpt and detail are just spectacular. The lines and textures in the suit are sharp, the colors are vibrant and screen-accurate, and his proportions are more human-like than any other Spider-Man: Homecoming toy out there *cough Marvel Legends cough*. MAFEX's strengths as an action figure manufacturer are in full display here.

MAFEX Spider-Man: Homecoming boasts of an impressive array of articulation with extreme ranges of motion. An ab crunch you have to see to believe, double knees and elbows, shoulder hinges that can bring his arms straight forward or back in a realistic way...this figure has all the articulation that befits a name like Spider-Man! I've been warned about MAFEX and their floppy, loose-limbed figures, and my recent MAFEX purchase (Iron Man Mk. 45) proved them right. But it looks like Medicom got their shit together with this figure, because every joint is surprisingly tight so posing him is really fun!

Spidey ain't Spidey if he ain't spinning webs, and MAFEX Spider-Man Homecoming is packaged with a generous amount of them! Two short and two long "web shots" can be attached to Spider-Man's wrists, while "web strings" can be held in his hands to make him look like he's swinging through the city. There's also a web string with a large "web connector" on one end as if it's attached to something, for when you want to pose him hanging by a (web) thread.

You can pick and choose from those options for your display, but be careful as they're flimsy,  translucent plastic, and you don't want those disappearing!

The thing that blew geeks' minds when Spider-Man first appeared in the Civil War trailer was his expressive eyes, and the people at Medicom heard that fangasm loud and clear. So what do they do? They include an alternate "squinting" head! As much as I like how Figuarts did it, I'm fine with swapping heads instead of swapping microscopic eye pieces, thank you very much.

And now we come to the reason why I chose MAFEX over any other toyline: the unmasked head of Peter Parker as portrayed by Tom Holland on the big screen! It's a pretty passable likeness for something so small, but it could use some highlighting or a wash to make the features pop. I don't know how Medicom could include so much in their figures while still being priced competitively against similar lines (like Bandai's S.H. Figuarts), but however it is, I hope they don't stop!

And how cool is this: there are alternate hands and feet included with the figure that has magnets embedded in them! What does that mean? That means you can display MAFEX Spider-Man: Homecoming climbing walls! Provided they're metal, of course. But WALLS! I haven't gotten around to testing if they do work, since I'm having a hard time removing the non-magnet feet from its peg to swap with the magnet-ed one.

And therein lies my single peeve with this figure: swapping hands and feet are goddamn scary. The wrist pegs look very fragile, with only micrometers of plastic connecting the peg to the hinge. It feels like it only takes a few ham-handed attempts at hand-swapping to stress that tiny bit of plastic to the point of breaking, and a 70USD++ figure like this is not the kind you want breaking. Not to mention to this day I still haven't pulled its feet off the peg (and yes, I've read the instructions). Maybe it's just this particular figure, but definitely something to watch out for.

But they're minor gripes in the overall scheme of things, because the MAFEX Spider-Man Homecoming ver. action figure is simply amazing and represents the high point of MAFEX action figure engineering. I just found my favorite action figure this year, and I couldn't be happier!

It retails for around 70USD here in the Philippines, but it should be cheaper everywhere else. Shout out to the good folks at XPlay Collectibles for hooking me up with this toy!

I hope this review was useful to you! What's your favorite Spider-Man figure? What did you think of Homecoming? Leave a comment below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Justice League Movie Review

Justice League tries its best to escape the black hole that is BvS, but its weighed down by all the things it's trying to achieve. From introducing new characters, course-correcting the DC cinematic universe, to making a movie that will bring them out of Rotten Tomatoes hell and into the critically-acclaimed limelight, Justice League has its hands full and you can tell it's juggling them as best it can.

The new heroes Barry Allen/The Flash (played with infectious fanboy glee by Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) are pulled into the story seamlessly enough, and though you can see the seeds of future DC movies being sown, thankfully they're just there to advance the plot and aren't needed to fully understand the new guys nor the rest of the film. See, it wasn't that hard, DC!

Surprisingly, Justice League does its best to be *gasp* fun! Gone is the somber mood that gets more dour as the movie goes on...Justice League finally admits it's a goddamn comic book movie and adjusts accordingly. Batman gets to be witty and relatable, and even Momoa as Aquaman is a hoot to watch. There's also a lot of bombastic superheroic set pieces now that they've decided to fight bad guys instead of each other. The action is flashy and intense, as Justice League gives you no doubt that these colorfully-costumed do-gooders can bench-press apartment complexes or stop every single bullet from an automatic rifle. Watch Flash race through the screen in a burst of lightning and energy and tell me it didn't put a smile on your face.

The one thing that did put a smile on my face was the gloriousness that is Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is an absolute beast here, a beautiful enigma that smiles to put children at ease one moment, then goes toe-to-toe with the movie's villain Steppenwolf the next, all without breaking a sweat.

Speaking of villains, it's unfortunate then (or should I say appropriate?) that Justice League's weakness lay in its main bad guy. Steppenwolf may be imposing and even downright scary (thanks to Ciarán Hinds' absolutely diabolical voice performance), but then Plot-Induced Stupidity kicks in during the third act and he turns into the typical raving villain who fights the Justice League 1 v 6, conveniently forgetting he has the entire force of Apokolips at his command. Stupid, yes, but then again seeing the entire Justice League work as a team on the big screen has been a dream for most of us, and at this point I'll take what I can get.

See, all DC had to do was try. To make a competent movie, to make us believe in heroes again. It's safe to say that Justice League is a fun time at the movies with one of the first and biggest superhero teams of all time, even if it didn't wow me like Wonder Woman did. A win is a win, and by god I'll take that over another shitty DC movie any day.

If you haven't read a single Justice League or DC comic book in your life, you'll probably enjoy this one. If you're a fanboy like me, I'll ask you to bring seat belts and a fresh pair of're in for a bumpy yet fun ride.

Oh, and it feels damn good to see you back, Superman!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

If you're of the opinion that Marvel movies basically boil down to Quips: The Laughening, Thor: Ragnarok will definitely cement it. The difference here is that it embraces the campiness, revels in it, turning the last of the Thor trilogy into quite the movie that's better than its predecessors in surprising ways.

Forget the Shakespearean diction and the solemn tone of the last two Thor movies. In fact, forget everything you know about MCU Thor, because you won't be needing it. Here, Thor is on full-on bro mode, trading jokes with Surtur the goddamn fire demon that heralds the apocalypse and even having his share of physical comedy. Chris Hemsworth has proven his knack for comedy before, and I have to say it's fun watching him take the God of Thunder in a fun new direction while giving us more of the physicality and awesomeness we expect from a larger-than-life character like Thor.

Mark Ruffalo's Hulk deserves special mention, because we're finally treated to more of the Big Green Machine than ever. Scary powerful and with a wicked sense of humor, Hulk lets loose in Ragnarok, which is ironic given that most of the characters in the film are from his comics.

But the further the movie goes, the more Thor:Ragnarok feels like a parody of Thor films than an actual one. Director Taika Waititi doubled down on the comedy in this movie, which unfortunately leaves little room for gravitas. Every dramatic moment is immediately undercut by a stray ball to the face or pratfall, as if the movie's afraid of coming across as too serious. Characters not known for being funny, like Loki, suddenly become quippy caricatures. And if you're a fan of Skurge the Executioner, He who Stood Alone at Gjallerbru, I have bad news for you.

The levity ultimately hurt Cate Blanchett's Hela, who may have been Marvel's most formidable villain yet but whose villainy is reduced to posturing cutscenes while all the fun is happening elsewhere. I never felt afraid for Asgard, never felt the imminent Twilight of the Gods, while Hela was on-screen, since I was conditioned to expect a joke afterwards. What's the use of tension when everything is a punchline?

Still, if you're looking for a fun time at the movies, Thor: Ragnarok delivers even as an action-comedy. The visuals are dazzlingly colorful and lovingly Kirbyesque, the action is rampd up to amazing levels (you will definitely know the answer to the question "What were you the god of again?"), and to call this simply "funny" would be underselling it. Thor: Ragnarok is an explosive farewell to Thor as we knew him, and now I can't wait for the final phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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