Ultraman Contest and Papuwa
a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott, and Todd Douglass
Japanese animation can certainly be a bit strange, and this week Anime Talk has an advance look at one of the more odd titles to make its way across the Pacific: Papuwa. This irreverent show features an assortment of bizarre characters including a transvestite fish with legs (in fishnet stockings of course), a mobile walking poisonous mushroom, and a young boy who's also an incredibly powerful weapon. This installment also gives readers a chance to win one of five new Ultraman sets that DVD Talk is giving away, reviews of the latest anime DVDs, a table of upcoming releases and a list of some of the best deals around on anime.
This week we have a very special giveaway from BCI for the highly anticipated DVD release of Ultraman: Volume 1. One of the top syndicated shows in the late '60s and early '70s Ultraman continues to maintain a massive cult following. Ultraman: Volume 1 DVD features: 20-episodes in their original, uncut length with completely re-mastered picture and sound, Original Japanese audio track, with newly created English subtitles, English dubbed tracks created by the same team that voiced Speed Racer and Interviews with English dub team. Enter now for your chance to one of 5 copies of Ultraman: Volume 1 we're giving away.
Things are really heating up for Edward and Alphonse as the long-running Fullmetal Alchemist series starts to draw to a conclusion. The tenth volume in the franchise continues to prove why this show is one of the best that you'll find on the market today with an intense amount of drama, great sense of humor, and over-the-top action. More history surrounding Ishbal and Scar is revealed here as well as well as some background on Martel. It seems that everyone's past has done nothing but lay steps towards the future as the Homunculi work towards their devious goals and Alphonse learns something devastating about the leader of the military. Another great volume for a fantastic anime!
When a show like Boys Be… comes along and draws you in it's always sad when you have to see it come to an end. That's the unfortunate truth we face with the fourth volume of this emotional show. Kenjo spends a day with an idol, Makoto spends some time with Yumi, and Kyoichi pines for Chiharu. As the year comes to a close New Year's rumors circle amongst the kids about their relationship's future and they each take the gossip to heart. Things come together at the end to bring about a very satisfactory conclusion to the lives of our friends. If you have an open mind and don't mind slower more emotionally drawn out shows then you'll definitely want to check this one out.
One show that is rather surprising is Hikaru No Go. It's based on a manga of the same name that appeared in Shonen Jump in Japan (and is currently being reprinted in the American version of the magazine) along with Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Yugioh and other action based strips. Unlike most of the other comics in Shonen Jump however, Hikaru No Go isn't a fighting story. It's based on the game of Go, a complex strategic game that is the eastern equivalent to chess. Sounds rather dull, doesn't it? Nothing could be further from the truth. The series has all of the drama and excitement of it's more violent counterparts while telling a story that quickly hooks the viewer. A solid show that anime fans should make a point of checking out.
Baki and company are back for more butt-kicking and skull cracking with the latest installment of the Baki the Grappler anime. The tournament has been heating up and as it enters the final rounds we get to see a lot of action. Several fights take place and new victors are crowned, but the downfall here is that Baki stays on the sidelines for just about every episode. Yeah we get to see him and sometimes Yujiro chimes in with an interesting tidbit, but for the most part Baki just watches the fighting. This newest volume is action packed but the development isn't there and the plot simply feels like it's stalling until the end of the show.
FUNimation continues to release one of the longest running anime shows ever. In volume 1.3 of Case Closed (or Detective Conan as it's known in most of the world), the pint sized detective gets to work his magic on six more cases including the attempted murder of a bride and the brutal slaughter of a loan shark. Sure, some of the mysteries are a little convoluted and unnecessarily elaborate, but it's still fun to see Conan solve a case while he's hamstrung by being a little kid.
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ADV has licensed the 2003 comedy show Papuwa for release in region 1. The odd thing is that this is a sequel to Southern Country Boy Papuwa, and the first series hasn't been released in the US. In any case, this is a rather odd show, and it's hard to tell from the first three episodes that were sent out as advance screeners whether this will turn out to be an outrageously hilarious show, or just sort of stupid.
Papuwa lives on in a place that shows up on no map: Papuwa Island II (the first one was apparently destroyed in the first series). He lives in tranquility, more or less, until one day when Kotaro wakes up from his coma and escapes the high security prison he's been confined to by the Ganma Army. This young boy steals a boat, heads out to sea, and crashes on Papuwa Island which gives him amnesia, naturally.
When Liquid, another resident on the island see's Kotaro, he freaks out. After all, this was the boy who destroyed the first Papuwa Island, and if he ever realizes his true power, it would be very dangerous. They can't let him find out what his real name is, or his memories might come flooding back. So, In a cunning plan Liquid changes the name on the boy's underwear to Rotaro. Though he's skeptical that his name is really 'Rotaro', the kid believes it when his drawers are shown to him. After all, as Liquid says, "there's no better proof of a man's identity than what is written on his underwear."
Of course the Ganma Army wants Kotaro back, and assigns the task to their Special Forces. After playing rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to go, they send an assassin to the island, dressed up as a giant duck. Add into this mix a walking, talking, poisonous mushroom, a transvestite fish with legs (in fishnet stockings of course), a giant snail, and the fact that Papuwa thinks that Kotaro would make a nice meal, and you have a wacky show that has a lot of potential.
Watching these first episodes, you do get the feeling that you're missing out on something, like you've walked into the movie a little late. They do have a brief introduction before the credits roll that's supposed to bring viewers up to date, but it's more confusing than helpful. The characters aren't really introduced either. You have to decipher just who and what they are from the context of the show, which again can get a little confusing.
There's also a plot to this show, which comedy shows like Excel Saga and Azumanga Diaoh usually eschew. The segments with the Ganma Army are serious and not played for laughs, which conflicts with the rest of the show. It will be interesting to see if they can merge these two facets of the show into a coherent whole. If they can, this should be a fun show to watch.
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