Profile for John Thomas Anderson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by John Thomas An...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 33
Helpful Votes: 287

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
John Thomas Anderson (Southern Ontario, Canada)
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Himawari  Too! S2 Collection
Himawari Too! S2 Collection
Price: CDN$ 44.09
17 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly more monster of the week than the first season!, Dec 11 2014
This review is from: Himawari Too! S2 Collection (DVD)
Himawari Too is the final 13 episodes of the Himawari Himawari! Season 1 Collection action/comedy series. While the characters are the same, the series changes tone from Himawari being the duck out of water to a more seasoned kunoichi who can more than hold her own. While at the same time the series itself moves on to a more villain of the week orientation at least for the first half of this 2nd season. And as a result I found it a little bit less interesting than the first season was. Only in the last few episodes does it really start to pull itself together again answering the questions of her real origin and slowly gets away from the villain of the week mentality.

Like the first season it's a sub only with a simple Japanese stereo track and English subtitles. And also like the first season it's in a true 16x9 anamorphic widescreen format, not the 1.33:1 full frame format listed by Amazon.

Overall it's still a good series. Just not quite as entertaining as the first season was. So where I gave the first season 4 stars, I'd rate this second season at 3 stars.

J. A.

The Wind Rises [Blu-ray]
The Wind Rises [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Price: CDN$ 29.96
13 used & new from CDN$ 29.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An adult film from Studio Ghibli, Dec 6 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Wind Rises [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Hayao Miyazaki's final swan song is not your usual Studio Ghibli fare. No whimsical fantasy here, no action adventure storyline intended for the whole family. Instead this is a much more sober and dark tale set in a pre World War II Japan of a young aeronautical engineer by the name of Jiro Horikoshi who would eventually go on to design the Mitsubishi Zero. In tone the movie is much closer to his Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies (which details the final destruction of Japan and it's aftermath) than the usual Ghibli fare. It's definitely not the sort of film you'd use for family entertainment!

Visually, as the most recent (and last movie Hayao Miyazaki intends to make), it's up to the usual high Studio Ghibli standards. More than holding it's own against movies like Arrietty and Poppy Hill which are also visually very good. And while it takes quite a few liberties with the storyline such as his fantasy dreams with the Italian aero engineer Caproni; it also shows the darker side of pre-war Japan and Germany. This is instead a movie about one young man's obsession to build aeroplanes and his love for a woman. Basically nothing more. With no guarantees of a rousing finale or even a happy ending.

The audio track is also surprising for a modern Ghibli movie being nothing more than DTS-HD 1.0. In other words old-fashioned Mono! This being done deliberately at the request of Miyazaki himself in order to give a pre-war feel to the film. Surprisingly it works pretty well as the movie is mostly drama and quiet introspective spots anyways. The only part being in the early part of the movie during the Great Tokyo Earthquake where a proper 5.1 audio track would definitely have been appreciated to show and feel the true power of nature. Plus maybe a few of the (very few) flight scenes. But it's what he asked for and desired. It's also one of the few Studio Ghibli films that has no French Audio Track. Only English and Japanese plus French subtitles.

So bottom line, if you're looking for a typical rousing upbeat Studio Ghibli film, this ain't it! But if you want a darker and more mature film along the likes of Akira or Grave of the Fireflies or Jin-Roh then this may just be your cup of tea. But a family film it is not!

So 5 stars for the animation which is superb and 3 stars for the simple Mono soundtrack. 3 stars if you don't like them dark and 4 to 5 if you do. Since I personally don't really get into movies like this and I doubt I'd want to watch it more than once every five years or so, I'll rate it a 3. Your rating will undoubtedly vary!

J. A.

Bleach: Uncut - The Assault (Season Five)
Bleach: Uncut - The Assault (Season Five)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 11.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars The Bount Arc comes to a satisfying conclusion!, Dec 1 2014
With 18 episodes spread over 4 discs the Bount arc concludes with the remaining Bounts entering the Soul Society. And like the 3rd boxset of the original Bleach series; this third boxset of the Bount filler arc saves the best to last bringing out the heavy guns in the form of the various Court Guard Captains to confront them.

While it's not as exciting or as surprising as the original Ichigo & company versus Captains storyline was in the Season Three finale which was superb! Has some plot holes that you could run a Zanpakuto through. Tends to be a little long-winded in spots and conveniently makes sure that only Ichigo will end up confronting Kariya. It's still surprisingly good for a filler arc. Plus it also has a neat little epilogue/series recap episode at the very end.

Not as good as the original three seasons but much better than fillers such as Naruto have ever had. I'd give it 3-1/2 to 4 stars overall.

J. A.

Princess Mononoke [Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
Princess Mononoke [Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Billy Crudup
Price: CDN$ 29.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hayao Miyazaki's epic masterpiece FINALLY comes out on BLU-RAY!, Nov. 21 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Of all of Studio Ghibli's many award winning films produced by it's co-founder Hayao Miyazaki; none has ever achieved the critical acclaim that Princess Mononoke did and there is no doubt that it is and will forever remain his most monumental achievement. Not to mention that It is also considered without a doubt to be one of the ten best animated movies ever made! So it is nice to see this masterpiece released on a North American Blu-ray where it rightfully belongs!

So what makes this film so incredibly good? First and foremost is the stunning level of detail. Although made back in 1997; it's level of detail and animated movement is so great that only a handful of cell based animated films has ever approached it and ironically half of them like Spirited Away and Ponyo are also Studio Ghibli films! Then throw in a complex storyline two and a quarter hours long (and never boring) that's constantly weaving new elements (always stunning in their visual beauty) into the mix and that never adheres to simplistic western ideas of good and bad and you have an animated movie that bears as much resemblance to a Frozen or a Sleeping Beauty as a B movie does to The Ten Commandments or Lawrence of Arabia.

For example in a typical animated movie the so-called heroine (San who has been raised by the Wolf God Moro) would be all noble and kind. But in this real world of myth and legend, she's quite willing to kill the odd innocent wagon driver if that's what it takes to preserve her beloved forest! And as for Lady Eboshi who rules Iron Town and in a typical western storyline would be a greedy tyrant. In Mononoke while yes, she may be destroying the forest and is also intent on killing the Great Forest spirit. She's also taking in girls from all the neighbouring brothels to run her forges and making them the equals of the men. Plus sheltering and protecting Lepers who she uses to make her guns and weapons. It's that sort of adult quality in plot and detail we're talking here!

As for this new Blu-ray release, video wise it's definitely worth upgrading from the older Miramax DVD release. Good as the DVD was, the new Blu-ray is even better! This is definitely the way a movie of this quality should be seen. Audio wise it's not quite as important as the original soundtracks are from the late 90's and were already in a DD 5.1 format. The DVD's tracks being boosted up to DTS-HD 5.1 tracks in English, French and Japanese. I didn't really notice that much difference over the DVD's existing DD 5.1 audio which already was quite good.

As for the included DVD release; it's essentially identical to the earlier Miramax DVD release right down to the menus which is why they don't match with the BD's menus which are similar to the new Kiki's Delivery Service Blu-ray that also just came out. So if you don't have a Blu-ray player and only intend to watch the new DVD; there's no point in upgrading from the older Miramax release.

Finally a few extra points. On the back cover Disney lists the DVD English track as 2.0. But not to worry as it is the same 5.1 track as the older Miramax release. Also because switching audio tracks also switches screen credits; you can only change audio options from the main menu! And finally on a more important note, if you prefer watching this with the Japanese audio track; please note the following. The literal translation track of the older release has been replaced with a newer subtitle track on both the BD and DVD that's essentially identical to the closed captioning track just without the extra sound effects captioning. In other words, it appears to be dub titled. So if you preferred the older literal translation track; you might want to hold on to your older release!

Now despite the niggling over the subtitles; overall I can't praise this movie enough! It is and still remains one of the finest animated movies of all time. And if you have a screen big enough; the new Blu-ray should definitely be picked up if you want to see just how good a true animated movie can be! FIVE BIG STARS OUT OF FIVE !!!

J. A.

Kiki's Delivery Service [Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
Kiki's Delivery Service [Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kirsten Dunst
Price: CDN$ 29.96
15 used & new from CDN$ 23.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghibli's most popular film comes to Blu Ray. But with one small caveat., Nov. 19 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Kiki's Delivery Service was the very first Studio Ghibli movie ever licensed and distributed by Disney and it is still considered by many of us to be one of the very best family movies that has ever been made! So it is nice to see it re-issued yet again in a bluray edition but there is one little caveat that I will get to later.

The story is simple and sweet and utterly charming. Set in a mid-50's type world of black and white TV's, trams and automobiles. It's a world in which witches are completely normal (though rather rare) and on their 13th birthdays; they have to venture out into the world to advance their training and decide how they will use their gifts of magic. And so our plucky heroine ends up in a small city by the sea that hasn't seen young witches in decades. It's quite a revelation for both sides!

It's an utterly wonderful tale of a young girl passing from childhood into adulthood; overcoming her own fears and doubts and of an absolutely wonderful supporting cast from the boy with a crush on her to the baker and his wife who offer her a place to stay. Not to mention the city folk having to come to terms with a young flying witch in their midst!

In fact that's one of the very best parts of this movie; there's really no superhero's or villains in the entire movie. Just ordinary folk going about their ordinary lives. Some are friendly, some are neutral while others may be a little arrogant or even a little rude or greedy but there's nobody who's really bad. And unlike a lot of movies, family or otherwise; there's no villainous plot and no violent ending. Just a wonderful uplifting movie that teaches you don't have to settle things with force and that girls don't always have to depend on a boy to protect them. Unless of course they want him to! It's a perfect family movie especially if you have young girls. (Though boys will love it too.)

Animation is first rate as always and is even better on this Blu Ray bringing out every nuance of the movie's original release. (Though the DVD is pretty damn good as well.) Plus there's a nice little collection of extras (non of which is overly long) that have been carried over from the previous DVD release and the stereo pro-logic track has been bumped up to a DTS-HD 2.0 for the English, Japanese and French tracks. Not that I noticed much difference since the original 1989 film had a very simple audio track.

However, here is where that little caveat comes in. Kiki's Delivery Service along with Castle in the Sky (Laputa) have had two different English Disney soundtracks over the years. The original l998 soundtrack (on the 2005 DVD) which was enhanced with new English opening and closing songs, some boosted sound effects and other musical embellishments where it was quiet on the Japanese release and quite a bit of additional ad-libbing from Phil Hartman's Jiji which considerably livened up the dub.

However in 2010 when the DVD was re-released; Disney revised the English track to adhere more closely to the original Japanese track. This resulted in cutting out the two English songs as well as a good number of the embellishment and crowd comments and as a result this newer version feels slightly more flat to me than the older 2005 version did (though it's still wonderful) and as a result could prove disappointing to some. So when you read a review claiming that the movie has been cut or it's not as good as it used to be; this is what they really are referring to!

So like last years release of the Castle in the Sky BD; some of us feel that the original English dubs of Kiki and Castle should have been kept or at least included along with their newer English dubs so that viewers could get whichever they preferred. As this is one of those rare situations where many otaku feel the original English enhancements actually improved these two movies. And in the case of Kiki's Delivery Service, made a great movie even slightly better! So like Castle if you have and/or loved the original English DVD releases, you may want to hold onto them just in case. Of course if you've never heard the 2003 release of Castle or the 2005 release of Kiki then you won't miss the differences and will be perfectly happy as they're still wonderful soundtracks.

As for the movie itself, despite that little caveat; this is a movie that will still wow you whichever version you watch! Though in a quiet and unassuming way. It's a virtually perfect family movie and I've never seen anyone who didn't fall in love with it at first sight. I consider it one of the top ten family animated movies of all time! 5 big stars out of 5!

J. A.

Daria: The Complete Animated Series
Daria: The Complete Animated Series
DVD ~ Tracy Grandstaff
Price: CDN$ 25.98
13 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Just as good as I remembered it!, Oct. 23 2014
The trouble with acquiring something you haven't seen in years is that it doesn't always stand up to the test of time. Luckily that was not the case with Daria which not only lived up to my fond memories of the series but actually surpassed them. Even though it's been almost 20 years since I last saw this on Canadian cable it's still just as funny as it was back then. Namely the best animated comedy series MTV ever made! Much, much better than the crude Beavis & Butthead from which it was spun off of.

With a witty plotline that's as intelligent as Daria herself, it's a perfect parody on teen school life that's just as relevant today as it was the day it was made. An anti-social outcast who only has one friend; she's surrounded by everything from an overly ambitious mother, a highly strung father, a popular girl sister and a huge cast of schoolmates and neurotic teachers. With parodies on virtually everything popular at the time from movies to culture. And over the course of five seasons and two movies; never loses that sardonic touch. It's not the highest animation quality you've ever seen but it's typical of most late night adult series like Archer or Undergrads and it will do. Likewise for the original musical soundtrack which had to be changed due to horrendous licensing costs. Compromises that don't change the quality of the storyline while giving us the entire series at a one season price! So kudos there as well.

As for this collection, it's on eight discs with nine episodes per disc. With the last two episodes plus the two movies and extras on the last disc. In fact, if I have any criticism it would be that they couldn't have put each season on one or two discs instead of simply running from one season to the next without any breaks. Or at least, included a slip sheet listing all the episodes and which season they belong to.

The other thing to look out for is when you access the main menu. If you pick "Play All" instead of the "Episodes" button it will play all the episodes in order BUT the episodes that have animated intros (about one out of three) called "Daria Day Intro's" will NOT be shown! Which is a great shame as they definitely should not be missed. The only way to see them therefore is to pick the "Episodes" menu and play each episode individually. Only then will a menu option appear asking if you want to see the Daria Day intro? Why they didn't make this the default on "Play All" is a mystery to me? You definitely want to see them!

And one last thing, the two movies are hidden in the extras. Which is bad as the first movie (Is it Fall Yet) is the actual transition storyline between Season Four and Five and is integral to the plot. So you DEFINITELY want to see it at the end of Season Four (assuming you know when you come to the end of Season Four) as the only way to figure that out is by checking on the DVD cover as to how many of the episodes are part of Season Five? Again why they didn't put it in the proper order is a mystery to me? But the second movie is okay to leave to the last as it's the actual end of the Daria storyline.

So if you want a very intelligent, witty storyline on teenage angst that's just as relevant today or tomorrow as it was fifteen years ago; then I highly recommend this. You won't be disappointed. 5 stars for the witty storyline and value for money, 3 stars for the animation and 2 stars for not providing a slip sheet on the episodes and seasons, hiding the Daria Day Intro's and not explaining where the first movie fits! So 4 stars overall.

J. A.

Modern Magic Made Simple Complete Collection
Modern Magic Made Simple Complete Collection
Price: CDN$ 44.09
15 used & new from CDN$ 32.37

3.0 out of 5 stars A twist on the usual sci-fi magic user genre!, Oct. 22 2014
Modern Magic Made Simple is anything but simple in this 12 episode plus 1 anime series.

Supposedly revolving around a young girl named Koyomi who wants to learn to be a master mage but all she can accomplish is random washbasins falling from the heavens or so it seems! And watching episode 00 at the beginning of the first disc (which in fact is the OVA); it appears to be a light hearted action/comedy series. But in actual fact once you get into episode 01 (which is the real start of the series); the storyline becomes much more complex and darker revolving around four magic user girls and a nasty villain or two with murderous intent!

Then spice it up with each girl using different ways to conjure, different agendas and different weaknesses, appearances in two different timelines and some even using computers and cell phones to generate magical code while others use classical magic. And finally throw in various flashbacks, out of sequence episodes and even a bit of time travelling to six years in the past and the storyline gets so twisted at times that your not sure whether your coming or going. And it will take until the last few episodes just to figure it all out. In fact, I'd strongly suggest that if you haven't watched this before, you start with episode 01 and leave the OVA (episode 00) to the last where it can become a light hearted epilogue. (Why Sentai made it episode 00 is a mystery to me?) It will make a lot more sense and be much more enjoyable that way.

Overall it's not a bad little series but it's not the sort that you can get wildly enthusiastic about either. Like a lot of Sentai's second tier offerings; it's in Japanese sub only with a simple stereo format. So no dub either. But unlike the Amazon listing, it does at least have a modern 16x9 widescreen format and good animation. I rate it 3 stars out of 5. It's okay but not great.

J. A.

Naruto Uncut: Season 4, Box Set 1 (ep.(164-191)
Naruto Uncut: Season 4, Box Set 1 (ep.(164-191)
Price: CDN$ 11.99
25 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Filler....., lots and lots of filler!, Oct. 15 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is for BOTH Season 4 Box Set 1 AND Box Set 2.

Like the Season 3, 2nd box set; the Naruto Season 4 box sets 1 and box sets 2 are all filler! And like the preceding box set; the filler ranges from pretty good to pretty silly depending on the episode. With no new important powers or any real advancement to the overall storyline.

SEASON 4, BOXSET ONE -
So in the case of the Season 4, Box Set 1 it starts off with a side story concerning Anko and what happened to her when she was Orochimaru's Genin (which is probably one of the best storylines in this boxset), then a major storyline concerning a star crystal that is beefing up Ninja fighters to an incredible degree but with deadly consequences and finally ends with another pretty good storyline about a small Land of the Green under siege by rogue ninja which isn't too bad. Interspersed with small or single episodes that range from okay to downright silly. In other words, typical filler.

I'd give the first Anko storyline a 4 as it does quite a bit to fill in her backstory; perhaps a 3-1/2 for the Star Crystal and Land of the Green story arcs. Everything else from 2 to 4 depending on the episode. In other words this box set is okay, but you can live without it.

SEASON 4, BOXSET TWO -
As for the Season 4, Box Set 2; it's basically a continuation of Box Set 1 which starts off with an old carpenter by the name of Gennou who may be a lot more than he pretends and then like the first box set continues with a pretty good side story regarding Kurenai and an ex pupil of hers who could be a great danger to them all. Then follows that up with major storylines about so-called Ninja dropouts and ends with ninjas from the artisan village that's pretty good although ironically it's because of all the major flashbacks to the horrific final battles against the Sound Ninja Four which once again highlights just how good the original non-filler Naruto series really was!

As a result, like the previous Anko storyline; I'd give the Kurenai arc a 4 as well as the first Gennou storyline. And between 2 to 4 on the rest depending on the particular episode. Since nobody can really advance or gain any new powers of consequence. Sakura and Ino in particular seeming to get relegated to nothing more than take good care of the wounded rather than the dramatic warriors of earlier times! Still this box set does give a good summing up of the series and it does manage a reasonably good setup for the upcoming Shippuden series!

Overall, I'd give the two box sets a three.

J. A.

Jewel Bem Hunter Lime: Complete Collection
Jewel Bem Hunter Lime: Complete Collection
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 21.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 12.57

2.0 out of 5 stars A completely forgettable old school OVA series!, Oct. 8 2014
Jewell BEM Hunter Lime is another license rescue by Sentai of an older Media Blasters OVA series that's been OOP (Out of Print) for years. But why they choose to revive this particular property is a mystery to me.

The OVA series consists of 3 episodes and revolves around an airhead called Lime who along with her lecherous companion Bass and a slime called Poogie have come to our world to retrieve some monsters called BEM's. And that's about the essence of the plot from what I can remember of it.

The monsters are your typical monsters of the week and are very similar to what you'd see in a Sailor Moon episode. So there's a very mean syringe that just wants to stick it to her, a panty stealing purse and some very malevolent candles. It's supposed to be an action comedy but from what I remember none of it was very good, interesting or even particularly funny. Obviously the Japanese consumers must have thought so as well as they only ever produced the three episodes and then simply stopped dead. So there's no ending either.

Usually I'll keep almost everything in my collections even not so great series and OVA's. But after watching this, I just gave my copy away to my anime loving nephew. He only ever watched one episode, gave up on it and discarded it. It's that dumb and forgettable.

There's a lot of old school OVA's out there that I'd love to see license rescued but this sure as heck isn't one of them. So save your money for something better or wait until it ends up in the bargain bin. 2 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Space Pirate Mito Complete Collection 1 & 2 [Import]
Space Pirate Mito Complete Collection 1 & 2 [Import]
Price: CDN$ 33.76
13 used & new from CDN$ 22.79

3.0 out of 5 stars A Space Opera that's far out even by Space Opera standards!, Oct. 7 2014
Originally released and dubbed by Media Blasters back in 2002 as a 13 episode series; Space Pirate Mito never really garnered that much attention. Thus when Media Blasters did eventually pick up the second season of 13 episodes later on; it was issued as a stand-alone sub release called Aoi and Mutsuki. This is why only the first half of this license rescue from Rightstuf has a dub in addition to the sub.

As for the series itself, even by space opera standards Mito is pretty far out there. Revolving around a 15-year-old Aoi Mitsukuni whose father is deceased and whose mother is always away working as a supermodel or so he thinks. And that's when this sci-fi comedy really kicks into space opera overdrive!

Now it's no Tenchi Muyo but it does have (especially in the first dubbed season); a very nice blend of touching and serious moments combined with some of the strangest and most wacky elements you'll ever see in an anime space opera. Including the fact that his mother is actually a three foot tall alien in a mom suit that he didn't even know existed! Voiced here on the English dub by Lisa Ortiz of Lina Inverse Slayers fame who does an exemplary job of being crazy and over the top one moment and a loving and caring mother the next.

Then throw in everything from a boyish Galactic Police Agent with a device he calls "Mr. Roboto" that can turn any mechanical device such as a vending machine into a mechanized menace. A girlfriend who is falling for him when she's not being another G.P. agent trying to catch his mother or trying to hide the mushrooms that arbitrarily pop out of her head whenever her allergies kick in. Then throw in the arrival of a galactic ruler with his fleet who has personal issues with his mother. Plus gender swapping aliens and one waaaay out pirate crew. And you have one really funny over the top space opera that's surprisingly touching at times as well. At least for the first 13 episodes which ends up with a really surprising and novel twist ending!

The second season isn't quite as good as it turns much more serious and looses some of that original humour and steam. As it deals with the surprises and aftermath of the first seasons ending, a new villain and a plot which I personally found a little too angsty for my tastes (though you may feel differently) and some very interesting inter-personal relationships that involve Yuri. Plus of course there was no dub!

Funny yet also touching and serious. I'd rate the first season at a good 4 stars (if you like space operas, less if you don't) and 3 stars for the sub only second season. So let's say 3-1/2 overall.

Recommended if you like space operas and you don't mind the cheesy CGI space ships that pop up at times or some Yuri in the second season.

J. A.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20