Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Obscure as Hell OAV Now Available: DEMON OF STEEL

I need a transforming action figure of this thing, STAT!

A little backstory: My Austrian flick-trading cohort discovered a rarely seen 1987 OAV by the name of 大魔獣激闘 鋼の鬼 (Daimaju Gekito HAGANE NO ONI), which roughly translates to "Demon of Steel: Battle of the Great Devil Beasts". The reason he bought the expensive and untranslated Japanese DVD was on the strength of its' staff, which included AIKAWA Shou (Fullmetal Alchemist, Urotsukidoji, Angel Cop) as screenwriter, OHATA Koichi (MD Geist, Genocyber) on mechanical (ie: monster) design, Naoyuki ONDA (Ai no Kusabi, Gantz, Ergo Proxy) on human character designs, and perhaps best of all, Toshihiki HIRANO (Devilman Lady, Kakugo no Susume, Iczer-1) helming directorial duties. Seriously, just slap Rintaro as the music video insert director and this would probably be the best hand picked staff a 1980s OAV could have asked for. With a dream team like this, it'd be surprising if they came up with a pile of crap, but what the hell is this lost artifact about in the first place?

In the year 1999, a UN research facility on the island of San Sarah tested a unique laser canon for the first time. While the experiment was a success, a strange phenomenon occured; from the hole ripped in the sea, a giant organic looking clump of steel emerged. A party to this strange ordeal, Takuya, has been called back to the facility by his friend Haruka some three years later under mysterious circumstances. Upon arriving he's thrilled to see his old friend (as is Lyse, who seems to be harboring a secret crush,) but Haruka - now a scientist developing Top Secret technology - tells Takuya that he never sent a letter. Later the same night, a major disturbance starts to strike the islands, a disturbance that can destroy electronic objects from afar, and stands over 20 meters tall. ..

What does this giant monster have to do with Haruka? If he didn't tall Takuya back, who did? Did I already mention that being a product of the 1980s it degenerates into a music video at random? Are we heading for a BIG KAIJU-MECHA BATTLE?

I don't plan on giving everything away. I need to keep you guys leeching and trading with me somehow.

While not the zenith of the OAV artform by a long shot - that honor goes to MEGAZONE 23 PART 2 and you all know it - Hagane no Oni is still a fine representation of what made 1980s direct to video projects so magical and unique. While animators prior had worked slavishly on cheap TV shows and movies designed to appeal to the masses, releasing projects direct to video without fear of censorship or stretching a budget far beyond a few episodes' worth of material allowed directors to create, effectively, whatever the hell they wanted to. Hagane no Oni is a prime example, being a self-contained and original story that makes fine use of its' roughly hour long runtime by cramming in a lot of interpersonal drama, neat Lovecraft inspired trans-dimensional invaders, and - being a piece of Japanese monster cinema - hulking skyscraper sized beasts beating the ever living crap out of each other, complete with the motif of their "pilots" (or maybe 'hosts' would be a better description) screaming in the most manly manner possible.

The character animation is competent, but occasionally unimpressive, with the majority of the budget reserved specifically for the complex dimension-shattering final battle. It was a wise move, as the production essentially goes from looking okay to being absolutely mesmerizing, until the abrupt - but reasonably logical - end. Both Aikawa's love for obscure world-religion imagery and Ohata's boner for obscenely complex bio-mechanical monstrosities are allowed to shine, and while I haven't yet pinpointed Hirano's common fetish I've yet to see a work he's directed that wasn't as full of surreal spectacle as it was fascinating human drama... but I've never seen ANGEL HEART, either. Whatever the case, the staff is firing on all cylinders on a modest budget, and the final result is a well crafted - but not breath taking - piece of pulp enhanced Japan centric Science Fiction.

If anything drags the whole down, it's probably the unassuming "epic" soundtrack that, despite having a moment or two of metal infused blood pumping, degenerates into horrible throaty man-angst rock for the image and ending songs. Don't get me wrong, they aren't anywhere near as cringe inducing as JESUS*JESUS in Riki-Oh, or that horrific 80s... noise, that was attached to the Starship Troopers OAV, but lord, it isn't good either.

As far as the technical presentation goes, the R2 DVD isn't all that bad. A 2002 release as part of the OVA Masterpiece Selection, the feature was obviously given a brand new telecine, and as such the print is nice and sharp with a coat of natural film grain and not a hint of dot-crawl. The transfer is even "mostly" progressive, slipping into interlaced mode only a few times. The only glaring flaw on the video I can spot is that - for whatever reason - the transfer is letterboxed to about 1.75:1, when an anamorphic transfer with just a bit of window-boxing on the sides to preserve the aspect ratio would have made the transfer ideal. Being the crazy fucker that I am, I placed the English subtitles in the image, so that if you choose to watch the show on a 16:9 monitor you can zoom in all the way without losing the translation.

Yes, 16:9 friendly. Why can't any "real" R1 anime studio be this considerate?

The audio is 384kbps stereo. A shame a R2 didn't go for an uncompressed PCM track, as they oft do, but the audio doesn't sound half bad either. The average video bitrate is 7.76Mbps. For extras there's a series of Ohata monster designs, and a collection of Pioneer OVA Classics trailers, including Hagane no Oni itself, as well as Maryu Senki, Iczer-One, and M.D. Geist, which means you get to watch tasty previews for all sorts of delicious looking Pioneer Japan owned classics. Sadly, Maryu Senki isn't available on DVD (in Japan or otherwise), which makes a gorgeous DVD quality trailer nothing but a tease after having seen the nearly unwatchable VHS tape of the first episode. That just isn't cool, man.

The most fascinating part of the actual Hagane no Oni trailer is that NONE of the trailer footage happens in the OAV! Seriously, the whole thing was slapped together based on concept art or, something: none of the characters are on model, the mood is far darker and more epic... while I certainly enjoyed seeing the OAV we got, I can't say I'd have minded the darker, more horror centric looking film we were promised, either.

As always, enjoy the show.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Legend of Lemammaries: The Best Release Ever

That's right kiddies, God of Shiny Nipples, Satoshi URUSHIHARA's loving re-imagining of the "Tarna" sketch from Heavy Metal - LEGEND OF LEMNEAR: THE GREAT BLACK WINGS OF VALKYSAS - has been fansubbed by yours truly and chucked up on ye olde usual sources for your amusement.

Why would I bother fansubbing the R2 when there's already an uncensored (albeit out of print) R1 on the market? Here's the first reason:


The R1 on the left, R2 on the right. Ewww. Ironically the R1 is progressive, the R2 isn't (I'm using Telecide via FFDShow up there), so had the Japanese version come up looking worse it'd at least have an excuse. Sadly, this was a CPM catalog release, and as a cost cutting measure they basically took the old dub tape masters, synched the Japanese audio and subtitles to them, and dumped them out on DVD via whatever incompetent authoring house was cheapest to deal with. I can't say that I blame them, exactly, but it's always made CPM discs look... let's say 'less good' than they perhaps could have.

The second is that the R2 DVD includes a short "Pilot Film", that's basically the whole OAV with crappier animation in under 3 minutes. It was probably used by the producer to drum up funding for the actual production, which based on the complex and gorgeous animation quality, probably cost a small fortune.

Anyway, enjoy it.

No Shit: Murakami's NIGHT SHIFT NURSES HEROINE SERIES, Uncensored in Germany


That's right, all 3 episodes of MURAKAMI Teruakii's sadistic, vouyeristic, and... just plain sick YAKIN BYOUTOU HEROINE SERIES have been released uncensored thanks to the German label Trimax under the title KRANKENHAUS NACHTSCHICHT - which is "Hospital Night Shift" in German, which means that they translated the title properly while Anime 18 didn't. Weird.

Best known in America as Night Shift Nurses, Yakin Byoutou has become one of my favorite EroAnime series' ever. I've blogged about its' inevitable demise to self-parody and crappy spinoffs, but the Murakami show is... different. How so?

Now aren't you sorry you asked?

I'm actually less an admirer of Murakami than I'd like to be, because despite having mastered the hand-held "Max Hardcore" style of gonzo pornography in 2D animated form, he's also become so accustomed to pleasing his own fetishes that the shows literally becomes nauseating to watch, and hard to figure out what the fuck's going on at any given point. You can also only see a girl with stray pubes stuck in her teeth a dozen times before it goes from creepy to retarded. In short, the man needs to mix it up a little, since being at the top of his game is getting him off, but not me.

The German DVDs are 15 Euros a pop, and with no R1 release in sight it's a tempting price compared to the R2 singles, and equal to the 90 minute "Angelic Rape Complete" collection. Unfortunately, Trimax is all sorts of shit: all of their titles are manufactured on DVD-R (proving you can't get a thousand Germans to pay for scat anime), there's the expected NTSC-PAL ghosting, and perhaps most frustratingly there are no subtitles, German or otherwise, which I could babelfish into English with narry an ounce of effort. Trimax are a lazy bunch of weiner eating bastards, and thus despite having a professional German translation they figure nobody will care enough to watch it in Japanese with German subtitles. They're probably right, too, but it's frustrating none the less.

We also have to deal with their fugly name all over the cover, like so:

Somehow, slapping all those 'DVD Video' and 'Trimax' logos on the gorgeous Japanese cover is uglier than any of the waggling shit-covered tongues in the OAV itself.

So, 45 Euros, or a little over $70, for uncensored/PAL un-subbed Murakami wank fodder that's too repetitive and seizure-inducing for me to actually even get off on... I hate to say it, but it's still the most attractive German hentai release I've ever set my eyes on.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gurren La-pse in Judgement?


Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Pierce the heavens with your drill. Super Robots vs Real Robots with stunning Gainax animation and it's tongue firmly in cheek. In short, it's the greatest piece of art the 21st century has insofar given us, and likely may remain that way for the next decade or two.

Originally licensed by ADV Films, they basically imploded earlier this year for a few weeks, taking down their licenses from mid 2006 onwards and - at least as I hear it - ran back to Japan with their penis tucked firmly between their legs to beg Sojitz, their Japanese backing company, for a second chance (which, clearly, they were awarded). No, you won't hear this from any "official" news source; all they said at this time after a week or two of deafening silence and no releases being shipped was that they were going to release Blu-Ray titles by the end of Spring, which was so chock full of bullshit I'm amazed everyone with a quarter brain didn't immediately call them on it. Anyway, 4 weeks later ADV was back in full swing, minus three things: credibility, Sergeant Frog (Keroro Gunsou), and my beloved, Gurren Lagann.

A couple weeks ago Bandai Entertainment International announced their plans to release Gurren Lagann, starting in July as a trio of subtitled-only sets for a mere $30 a piece ($40 if you want it with a bonus CD), with a bi-lingual special edition to follow in 2009. They've since announced that while the sub-only sets are making the rounds, the English dub version will also start airing on the Sci-Fi Channel's AniMonday block, which is great news for everyone who's too lazy to follow the fansub circles but know an awesome show when they see it. Of course I can already see the dubniggers* watching the show in English, buying it in Japanese and their heads exploding already... it really is a beautiful sight.

*Dubnigger (n): A self-professed foreign film fan (in this instance relating to Japanese animation) who refuses to purchase or enjoy a title if it has not been dubbed into their native language, or if flaws inherent in the English dub keep them from purchasing or enjoying a title that they have a perfectly viable option to watch in its' original language with


Dubnigger: "Cool, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence has been rescued by Bandai! Now I can finally listen to Mary Elizabeth McGlynn playing The Major. Again."

Otaku: "Shut the fuck up, dubnigger. I'm watching Code Geass R2 here."

So, where's the problem? Whole show subtitled for $90 retail, don't have to wait for a dub... sounds like paradise, until ANN drops the following "D'oh!" moment:

"Sci Fi Channel's run and Bandai Entertainment's first box set in July will include the same version of episode 6 that originally aired in Japan. However, Bandai Entertainment's later bilingual DVD release will include both this version and the updated version that premiered in the Japanese DVD release."

Waaaaaait... so, we buy the show as it first comes out, and as a result we get the far less interesting TV cut, which features an 8 minute recap (of the first 5 damn episodes!) because an entire chunk of it dedicated to Kamina trying to scope out hot spring boobs (complete with shota pee-pee and kanchoing for good measre... see here for more examples) was simply too much for the show's Sunday Morning slot. If Bandai couldn't get the uncensored episode in the first place, I'd be pissed but understand. That they'd potentially hold the DVD version hostage as a special feature for the dub-friendly version is nothing short of frickin' criminal.

It's already been suggested that this is all just a failure to communicate, and that the TV version will actually be the extra on the bi-lingual version, with the sub-only sets featuring the DVD cut of episode 6. If this is true, I'll still purchase the Subtitled Only Ghetto Edition, with or without CD (...really, why the hell would you offer a 2 disc sub-only cheap-o set, AND THEN THROW IN A CD FOR $10?!) but if this report turns out to be legit, Bandai has lost the first guy in line for the show. Hell, I've only watched the first 6 episodes because I knew damn well that I wanted it, and figured I'd wait 'till I had a professionally translated, well authored DVD to watch the rest of it (figuring it would happen very soon - and would have, had ADV not screwed the pooch). So much for being clever about it all... I guess one could argue that the presence of both should be a given on either version, and since Bandai is including clean OP/ED animation, it's not like this subtitled set release is completely bare bones. (Plus, optional CD. OPTIONAL CD!? Por que?!)

More and more, this subtitled version is sounding less like an ideal release for those who genuinely don't care about a dub, and more like a slapped-out cash dash product trying to get to the market as fast as possible, with no regard to the standards that either Bandai Entertainment, or the US anime market has come to expect--

Oh, my, god... it's a legitimate speedsub.

I'm actually fine with that, too: I watched the fansubs because I liked the show, and I'll buy the speedsub DVD release, too, so long as I don't think that waiting 4 months will get me a bunch of Japanese based extras I should have gotten the first time around, anyway. More and more my gut is telling me to wait, even if that means I'll pay more for the dub. At least that way I might get a special edition with a box to hold the series in.

I might wait until Bandai one way or another owns up to which version of episode 6 is on the sub-only release. While I've avoided ADV "extras stripped" thinpacks for years, and tend to avoid any version skipping content just because the studio feels it can milk me for another release later on, Gurren Lagann is such a breath taking experience that I honestly want Gainax to bleed my wallet for it. Heck, I'd buy the sub-only release first hand to show my love and then buy the bi-lingual version used for the goodies, no problem. I just don't want to send them the message that screwing me out of uncensored episodes just because I want it NOW! is okay, because it isn't. I'm willing to forego interviews and double sided covers and whatever other nice things the bi-lingual version could have to some degree, but deny me awesome boob humor and I'm fucking out.

Also: Japan never got the TV version on DVD, not even as an extra. American Exclusives are on the rise after that whole "Haruhi Broadcast Order" clusterfuck, I guess.

I should also say that Bandai Visual has eaten itself, and is currently liquidating itself to Bandai Entertainment. Good riddance. I'll miss pointing and laughing at their eternal tumble down an up-escalator to nowhere, but this might mean that Diebuster (Gunbuster 2) and Demon Prince Enma get a reasonably priced release via the "good" Bandai, now the "only" Bandai.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Tipping the Lanczos Scale

What resolution is that PC screen of yours running?

No, I'm not trying to be rude or give you an inferiority complex, just make a point: ever watched a DVD or some crappy download, hit "fullscreen" and then recoiled at how awful the whole thing looks? Well, there's a multitude of factors that go into making a video file look good, but one of the most basic - that of upscaling - is one that whizzes by most people's notice. Effectively, you have a video file or image that's x number of pixels by y number of pixels, but you want to fill up your screen or zoom it in for some reason; when this happens, some scaling algorithm is used to multiply the pixels and "fill in the gaps" mathematically.

Outside of graphic artists, the concept of upscaling didn't mean crap to much of anybody until HDTVs - and also their cheaper, smaller equivalents, the high resolution desktop computer screen - started to sell in greater numbers. Hardware manufacturers started marketing upscaling DVD players that could "improve" the video quality dramatically compared to any NTSC or PAL output when coupled with an upscaled progressive output via DVI or HDMI, which promise to convert the SD signal to HD resolutions. Sound too good to be true? Well... it really is. See, modern HD monitors, LCD, DLP, pretty much anything that isn't a big honkin' CRT monitor, are by their nature a fixed resolution display. In my case, I have a 1680x1050 monitor. I can feed it a smaller or larger resolution, but the hardware in the monitor itself will simply scale the signal to 1680x1050. If it didn't, and I were to feed it a 720x480 DVD, I'd get a picture that literally only filled roughly 20% of the screen. Since virtually no monitor will do this without specific instructions to do so, it means that every single HD monitor on the market has a built in scaling algorithm and "improves" SD signals to the monitor's HD resolution anyway.

At face value, upscalers all do a relatively decent job at what they do. If they didn't, they wouldn't bother making the chipsets that performed the algorithms. Unfortunately, there's no magical chip that'll make a 480p DVD equal a 1080p Blu-Ray, because you can't replicate 6x the resolution from scaling alone. What scaling does is averages the pixels, and tries to guess what pixels "should" be between them at higher resolutions. A sharper scaling algorithm usually does this by adding more ringing or halos to the signal, which trick the eye into seeing detail when really it's basically more random noise. A softer algorithm won't look very sharp or impressive, but may be a closer representation of what the original low resolution signal looked like. Of course, you can't please everyone with the same algorithm, but somewhere along the line, HTPC users found a way to pick whatever it was they liked about upscaling and push it as far as they could.

FFDShow is, for all intents and purposes, a video codec pack that replaces your MPEG-4 (DivX/XviD) codec, MKV splitters, WMV decoders, and any other third party piece you have to use to decode any given video file. You can download it here, if you want to give it a try, just make sure when you open it to set "Raw Video" to "All" under the codecs tab. To check if it worked, open up a video file and see if a "FFv" icon appears in your taskbar. If you did, then congrats, you can now use FFDShow for all sorts of awesome things! Also, Media Player 8+ sucks balls. Just use the third party edit, Media Player Classic, here. After you've installed both of them, go into MPC's "Options", and on the "External Filters" tree, add "FFDShow Video Decoder" and set the priority to "Prefer". After doing this, damn near anything you play with MPC should go direct to FFDShow. You can also add the FFDShow Audio Decoder, but that's another can of worms I'm not going to touch for right now.

As an aside: VLC Media Player cannot use FFDShow. If you're already using VLC Player... well, frankly you probably already know where I'm heading with this, so just skip reading all of this crap and lulz at the attached picture below. If you'd stay with it despite knowing well enough to go beyond PowerDVD, you probably have your reasons.

Still with me? Okay... while watching a video, double click that FFv icon on your taskbar. There's a bajillion options, with one of my personal favorites being the option to add artificial film scratches, grain, and dirt under the "Noise" tab...

Hey, don't judge me 'till you've watched a grindhouse showing of Grand Theft Anal 10 and Throat Gaggers 14. It's a double feature and everything.

In all seriousness though, there's a lot of awesome things you can make FFDSHow do for you, and - most importantly - your DVDs. Yes, it also works with DivX and MKV downloads, and yes, I know you have plenty of them. Unfortunately, DivX... how to put this nicely... looks like festering shite? No, not quite, but you get the message. FFDShow does improve performance on MPEG-4 video pretty drastically, but the real reason it's become the HTPC darling that it is, without a doubt, is for its' high quality scaling algorithms. Bicubic, Lanczos, Spline - all very effective tools for making a sharp real-time upscale, if you have the CPU horsepower to back it all up.

The most popular method for DVD playback is more or less the following - keep in mind that you can actually move the check-boxes for these options up and down to your liking, with the first process being the top and working their way down...

AVISYNTH - Everyone's favorite professional video freeware editor, now in real time!

POSTPROCESSING - Let FFDShow automatically fix compression artifacts.

BLUR & NR - Use "Denoise 3D" and other options to get rid of video noise.

RESIZE & ASPECT - Select your resolution, algorithm, and additional sharpening.

Sounds like the perfect crime, doesn't it? Well... it is and isn't. See, the big issue I have with this concept is the inclusion of the Blur & NR tab. DVDs are compressed, and thus have compression artifacts. I can't argue that. The idea here is that if you use the DeNoise3D setting in low incriments (say 1.0,0,4.0 even) you'll smooth out the compression noise hiding in the chroma (color) channel, without actually smearing out any detail in the luma (gray scale) channel. If this we're true, it'd be the perfect... but chroma contains valid color information, including natural film grain and the like, so even on the above setting, if you're prone to temporal NR smearing you're doing more harm to most DVDs than good. While DivX looks like shit no matter what you do, and smearing its' fine detail out isn't going to disturb much, the majority of DVDs on the market are... well, maybe not spectacular, but they still have more detail than they do noise.

Applying NR - even after the upscale - is also kinda' redundant, if we consider that DVDs are already heavily compressed, and thus smoothed out plenty of "noise" before you ever saw it! Softening and then sharpening has a logical argument if you haven't already compressed the hell out of the video, but really, softening an already heavily softened consumer release is nothing short of pants on head retardation.

So, how well does that scaling bullshit work, anyway?

CLAMP's Clover music video R2 DVD single. These lossless PNGs are because I love you.

On the top, BICUBIC, on the bottom, LANCZOS (3 taps), with zero settings changed aside from 'accurate rounding' checked. There's no artificial sharpening at work here aside from Lanczos doing its' thing. Both were set to 1280x720 (and cropped for ease of comparison/bandwidth saving), and rendered in real time with a Pentium 4, 3.4 ghz CPU. I went with Bicubic as a starting point because it's the best resize function built into WMV9 Render, and as is probably similar to the scaling method that overlay settings use on a less than Godly video card during overlay mode. It's considered a decent scaling algorithm by most, but Lanczos is probably the de-facto reason to bother fiddling with FFDShow in the first place.

The first thing that jumps out and cock-slaps me is the fact that Bicubic gets very blocky around the facial and hair outlines. The irises are much smoother and less pixelated on the Lanczos scale. Also check out the hand painted details in the background: what looks like a fuzzy mess in Bicubic looks hand painted and textured with Lanczos. The nose is again sharper on Lanczos, and probably the nicest thing is that they both have roughly the same amount of ringing - a natural side-effect of upscaling, but something present on pretty much every DVD on the market to begin with. You could sharpen the living hell out of this even further, but when you start doing it with EE or even the built in sharpness controls, all you're really doing is adding EE. And EE is bad.

The only downside is that Lanczos has produced a slightly noisier image, with noise around the earing and eyelashes even easier to spot with all that lovely sharpening going on. This is, unfortunately, the sacrifice you make my sharpening video. Personally I'd rather see a little bit of noise, even compression artifacts, if it means I can maximize the crisp look of the picture overall. If you don't like seeing that much detail, FFDShow even has blurring options as part of the upscale, and you bet softening out the chroma will help alleviate some noise. Personally I like noise, as it usually represents stuff that was more or less squeezed out of the master to begin with, but I'm trying to encourage you all to play with the settings, so I'll leave it at that. The last thing I need is someone going "Kentai, your settings look like ass! Shut the fuck up and go back to showing us porn! And make me a sammich, bitch." or whatever.

Upping the taps in Lanczos will mathematically produce a sharper image, but I'll be honest in saying that the returns after 3 taps are totally negligible and really just eat up additional CPU cycles in terms of performance. If you have a quad core beast and want to go for 10 taps, by all means, give it a shot. There's also SPLINE, hands down the greatest upscaling algorithm ever designed in performance to CPU cycle ratio: it actually produces crisper results than even a 4 tap Lanczos scale, and manages to do so without producing as much noise. I do not know how the hell it does it, but man, it is awesome, and you all will see it in action one of these days via a future Kentai Films DVD release, I promise. Unfortunately, my 3.4 ghz psuedo-dual core can't keep up, so I'm keeping at a 720p scale with Lanczos until I upgrade... which likely won't be any time soon.

Hopefully this public service announcement for the FFDShow IS the Shiz foundation has been an enlightening and entertaining experience. Remember, you're not an anal retentive and hopeless weirdo, as long as you turn out to be right in the end.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Inconvienant Price Gap

So, irony abound in the fact that I'm finally experimenting (successfully, I might add) with Dual Layer DVD media, but probably can't afford to actually use any of them in regular DVD production until cheaper Blu-Ray burners drop the price on DVD-R to cost, just like DVD burners did to CD-R.

Super Media Store, my general go-to guys for cheap DVD-Rs delivered in a week with no shipping charge, offer the following prices for printable DVD media:

8x Inkjet Taiyo Yuden DVD-R: $43.99 per 100 Pack (44 cents per disc)

16x Inkjet Water Proof Taiyo Yuden DVD-R
: $66.99 per 100 Pack + Spindle (67 cents per disc)

2.4x Verbatim Inkjet DVD+R DL: $62.99 per 20 Pack + Spindle ($2.10 per disc)

Let it be known that eons ago I used to spray my DVD-R babies with clear acrylic paint so that they wouldn't smudge, but became frustrated that it wasn't perfectly clear and would sometimes create bubbles and the like. Paying an extra 50% for a smear-free coating (and a handy spindle) is likely something that I'll invest in just so I don't have to worry about an errant bead of sweat ruining a blank, but nearly 5 times the price for less than twice the disc capacity?! This wouldn't be so bad if the discs didn't have "Verbatim DVD+R DL - 2.4x" printed on the inner hub, which sorta' destroys that level of professionalism I've always tried to run with.

And no, Light Scribe isn't an option, nice and easy as that would have been. They simply don't make dual-layer Light Scribe discs, because guys like me are Hollywood's worst enemy.

It's entirely possible that 90% of the people who are buying bootlegs don't give a crap about a dual layer disc or the same disc with a lower video bitrate and no PCM/DTS track, but there reaches a point where it just becomes redundant. The anamorphic X DVD is a great example: what good is that gorgeous Japanese 16:9 transfer is I just have to re-encode it and riddle it with compression artifacts? Other projects, like the Bloodlust Ultimate Edition, which would include 2 DVD-9s for English and Japanese DTS tracks, are literally impossible on DVD-5 discs unless I wanted to split a 90 minute film across 2 DVDs. I know I'm cheap and all, but if I ever even consider doing something like that, please whack me in the back of the head or something.

I guess wither or not I make the leap will be dependent upon wither or not anyone gives a crap. There's also all of those arguments that dual layer DVD+R is less compatible than single layer media, but having tested some burns myself I'm willing to bet the real issue is DVD+R DL "Burned with Nero" is the real culprit. ImgBurn is about as awesome a tool as there's ever been, and I defy anyone to find one that's better (let alone free) at doing those things that it does.

Since this wasn't overly interesting, here's a look at the uber-rare early 80s Go Nagai ecchi OAV CHOUTAIRIKI SHOUJO BARABANBA (Ultra Womb Power Girl Barabanba).

Never seen it? Haha... never will.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

KITE LIBERATOR - Umetsu does it again... with... moe.

I know. All the reviews are "meh", at best, and I bought it anyway, sight unseen. I liked the first 5 or so MEZZO TV episodes I saw, I abso-fucking-lutely adore both A-KITE (or just "Kite", if you ask Media Blasters) and MEZZO FORTE, and lest anyone forget, ROBOT CARNIVAL (including Umetsu's short PRESENCE) was only the second anime my formerly virgin eyes ever glanced upon. In short, I felt that Yasuomi UMETSU was a man I could trust, and knowing that the DVD sold for a scant $14 and change on Deep Discount didn't hurt either.

So, having watched the whole thing, I'm incredibly torn. I know some of you I know think that KITE LIBERATOR is the worst kind of post-modern self referential trash, and that it single handedly encapsulates everything bad about teh animuz as it exists today. I also know that anyone reading this blog probably has a natural thirst for hot naked girls and spewing blood, both of which Umetsu delivered in abundance the last time (along with time-lapse exploding bullets and hardcore 12 year old rape for good measure). In trying to be fair to what Liberator is, I have to first point out what it is not: it is, in no way, a spiritual successor to the 1998 Action Noir OVA series A-Kite. More so, it's a reimagining of the core concept, that of a lonely teenage girl who plays an innocent student on the outside but is a cold blooded assassin at her core. This, along with Umetsu's trademark over the top fight sequences, love for creepy mascot characters, wicked father figures, and a fascination with jiggly girls who aren't legal in any civilized country, remain the hallmarks of everything he's done in the last decade.

I'm afraid that's where the similarity to its' original namesake ends, and Liberator becomes something I don't think anyone out there expected.

While the original A-Kite worked itself into a sort of sweaty Neo-Noir frenzy that culminated in hardcore rape, gory and sadistic violence, jet black humor, urban decay that made Tokyo look like Detroit, and a coat of foreboding grit that required the use of a toothbrush to get out of the roof of your mouth, this approach was abandoned completely 2 years later in Mezzo Forte. Despite taking place in the exact same city - if there was any doubt, both Sawa and the custom Fisher Price Gun(TM) make an appearance - that OAV is full of ad libbed wise cracks, sex androids, a VW Beetle that defied gravity, and a plot about the heroine and villainess being sisters that Umetsu brought up once, and immediately grew bored with (until the TV series, at least). Mezzo Forte was the tongue in cheek satire to A-Kite's shameless combination of La Femme Nikita and Thriller: A Cruel Picture, but never felt like it was directly calling the original out. It was merely the next step in Umetsu's directorial evolution, and expanded the black humor of the world he already created to the point where the action went from over the top to simply awesome. I love A-Kite more than I do Mezzo Forte, but I won't deny that thematically and technically the latter is a much more satisfying - and more importantly, fun - film*.

*Both A-Kite and Mezzo Forte are 2 episode OVA series', but as even the Director's Cut of both (which also excised pretty much all the sex... go figure) turn them into single 50-odd minute movies, it's easy to think of them as single works.

Mezzo Forte would be continued conceptually in Mezzo TV in 2004, which was always Umetsu's original hope - to create a "variety" show that created a cast that could be at home in an action setting as they were a Sci-Fi or comedic setup. Mikura belting out karaoke may not be the artistic highlight of the 21st century, but I'm hard pressed to say I didn't laugh. They lacked just one thing; a budget, which was seemingly exhausted by the end second episode, with Arms pointing out - as if in desperation - that the animation would be improved on DVD (this was before re-animating TV shows for DVD was essentially a given, mind). While Umetsu certainly has appeal in his character designs and writing, without the over the top set pieces... it just isn't the same. After the charming but limited TV series, I think all of Umetsu's fans waited with high expectations to his return to the OVA format, which leads us to...

KITE LIBERATOR begins in Space, where a combination of the sun's radiation and some experimental food stuffs has mutated a pair of NASA crew members into bone-covered lovechildren birthed by the lesbian coupling of Genocyber and Rem from DEATH NOTE. Meanwhile on Earth, a teenage girl by the name of NOGUCHI Monaka is leading a double life, at once the clumsy yet smart high school student during the day, and the bullet delivering ghost like vigilante The Angel of Death at sundown. Killing only criminals she's hired to destroy by an effeminate bar owner Amuzu (who works her as a cosplay waitress in the evenings) Monaka is forced to hide her extra-curricular activities from both her deadbeat but well meaning uncle, and nosy cousin (at least I think she's a cousin). Somehow, someway, these two plot lines will crash head long in the final act...

If you're already going "whut?", Kite Liberator likely isn't something you'll enjoy - or at least you'll be incredibly confused about what the hell makes this a sequel to A-Kite. I, honestly, think that the whole shebag is a joke, a spoof after having already satirized his life's greatest work, which puts Liberator into a rather frustrating catch 22. See, Liberator presents us with villains who cry over their lost family members while their future 8 year old rape victims squirm in the background (understand he stops mid-rape to make this call), or make their mark by starting off a hostage situation by literally blowing off a puppy's head. It's the best puppy mutilation gag since GOZU, hands down. Monaka is an unlikely heroine who leaves a calling card in the form of a feather bomb, proving once and for all how redundant CLAMP's fascination with feathers and other pretty doodle-fodder details is in the real world*, and is at once an American comic book superhero (complete with a cape and secret identity) and a klutzy moe stereotype. Mix this already chaotic and convoluted plot with... well, ALIEN (I almost consider Monaka to be the sub-plot here) and the most unlikely villainous organization I've ever remembered hearing about, and action set pieces that border on the asinine - it's more Samurai Champloo that Afro Samurai, if you follow - and you wind up with a bubbling crock of stupidity that can't seem to decide if it's genuine hard boiled action or straight up comedy.

*That's not to say I'd suggest CLAMP stop reveling in their kinky fetishes. Yes, those girls like feathers. And sakura petals. And blood. Prove me wrong, go on, try.

But if Kite Liberator is a spoof, who is the joke being told to? Fans of A-Kite already had a mouth full of jet black humor in the nihilistic original, and anyone who wanted to see the same world with a twist of fun just had to watch Mezzo Forte. Liberator feels very much like its' trying to use the same basic setup - the exploding bullets, the cute girl with an itchy trigger finger, the dangerous father figure(s), the emotionally important jewelry... yeah, that's all the big points I remember - and turn it into something for the 21st century. Which, inevitably, means it's crammed chock full of moe. For those who have better things to do than follow trends in crazy Japanese pop-culture, the basic concept of moe is that you create something (usually a character) that is so cute that the viewer just wants to coddle and protect it from itself and the world around it. While A-Kite would have vomited all over the concept of moe characteristics - and arguably did, raping girls while the film cut back and fourth to psuedo Disney characters watching - Liberator turns Monaka from a cold blooded killer into a girl who eats ice cream while she listens to pop music, and trips all over herself in short skirts for good measure. She literally looks like she wandered out of a bad dating simulator anime when not on the clock, and despite her best efforts to be a badass mother fucker, the moment someone implies she has a boyfriend she's back to her klutzy self. To Umetsu's credit, he establishes almost subliminally that The Angel of Death has existed since Monaka was very young, so we're left to assume that neither is a "core" personality but that they're merely two halves of the whole.

In other words, you will be killed by moe. I'd say this revalation was funny if ELFEN LIED and HIGURASHI NO NAKU KORO NI hadn't beaten Liberator to the punch by several years.

Even more frustrating to my overly analytical mind is the fact that the familiar image of the dangerous Father Figure from A-Kite is in full swing, but unlike Sawa, poor Monaka has to deal with two of them: the fursuiting Sputnik and... well, watch the OVA and you'll get to revel in the other. Once again, a piece of blood red jewelry also establishes the father/daughter relationship for what it really is, and while Sputnik isn't given more than a few lines, I'm left with the impression that he genuinely does care for The Angel of Death - perhaps not so much Monaka, which kinda' makes sense in context. If that wasn't enough, we're also left with Mukai, a single mother with ass-kicking tendencies who, logically, is this sequel's Sawa in Big Sister form. She more than anything established the difference between A-Kite and Liberator: In A-Kite, a kick to the pills left us with a long scene of the man gripping his junk, twitching, vomiting and passing out. There was pain and believability and the overwhelming sensation that A-Kite was more human than any live action film. In Liberator, a kick to the dick cuts immediately to an ambulance wailing and a nervous boss scolding her for hospitalizing the same customer twice in one week. Once this became clear, I could almost stop wincing at the fact that Umetsu delivered to me everything that A-Kite wasn't, but under the circumstances it's clear he wasn't trying to in the first place.

Unfortunately, the biggest flaw is that there's zero character development for ANYBODY. Seriously, we don't know how or even why Monaka is the Angel of Death, nor do we know jack about Mukai other than she's violently protective of cute jail bait, likely because she has a daughter of her own (but how can she spot a trained killer? We can only guess...). Hell, even the unlikely villain isn't given an excuse to clarify what the hell he was doing using people in Space as guinea pigs: he goes from crying that it was all a mistake to being relieved that there's no evidence left, without any real clarification on what it is he was trying to accomplish in the first place. Was he in it for the money, or the science? And what happened to the rest of the NASA crew, anyway? Were they killed by the villainous organization I won't spoil, or what? Don't get me started on that sexy as hell scar on Monaka's back that's given absolutely zero explanation, to say nothing of why the "Good Cop" is after Monaka: is he just attracted to young girls (as we all are... come on, don't lie!), or does he have an inkling that she could be The Angel of Death? If that wasn't enough, the OVA literally hits the 55 minute mark and just... ends. No climax, no answers, no... nothing. Umetsu simply cuts the deck only winds up several cards short, shrugs, and it's game over.

Despite the notably positive aspects running through the work - the CG in outer space is rather spectacular, I like the stripped down Sci-Fi monster aspects for being a fun throwback to bad Alien/s knock-offs, and as always, the character designs are brilliant - the whole is far less than the sum of its' parts. While not entirely unwatchable, it's Umetsu's weakest film by a long shot, and even the first episode of Mezzo TV was both more emotionally satisfying and action packed, which is just sad. While Umetsu clearly did the design work, even the action comes off as flat and unimpressive, with Monaka's anti-gravity jumps and the rubber skulls of her opponents having neither the harsh realism that made A-Kite a nail biting success, or the over the top sensation that we were dealing with a genuine nitro powered heroine like in both incarnations of Mezzo. Monaka stands 3 feet away from a fucking explosion and isn't even thrown back.... for fuck's sake, Sawa lost chunks of her hair and had to walk around covered in bandaids the whole second episode! (And, yes, that gets me off. I know. I'm a bad man.) The action is all too brief, played for laughs, with the best fight scene being two people shooting at each other at point blank range and missing every shot... what the hell? It's just so inconsequential that I'm hard pressed to think of Liberator as an "action" title so much as I do a Sci-Fi/Moe with minimal gunplay because the final conflict requires it for dramatic effect. Umetsu claims in an interview available on Anime News Network (but not on the DVD... more on that in a minute) that he wanted to create "A Noir with Sci-Fi elements", but I'm hoping he said this out of denial over the finished product, because there's simply no Noir to be found here.

That said, Clusterfucks like this don't just "happen", they're made. Despite having two Japanese producers (one who worked on Mezzo Forte, and one from Mezzo TV) there's a third man calling the shots, and that man is John Sirabella, CEO of Media Blasters. Umetsu said over a year ago that the storyline was initially about "Sawa as a single mother raising a teenage daughter". This is clearly no longer the case (even if Mukai is an older Sawa with different colored hair, Monaka ain't her kid), so something dramatic happened between point A and point B to become Liberator. Similarly, this is one of the few times where an American investor is listed as a "Producer" and not just a silent partner. Neither A-Kite nor Mezzo Forte was written to be pornographic, but producers insisted on H scenes to justify the budgets required and ensure a certain demographic would pick it up for the wank factor. Is it possible that here Umetsu was so busy trying to please Sirabella - who I can tell you from experience is a friggin' nut job (albeit with a good business sense) - that he had to drop several aspects from the finished OVA? Both Gundress and Urotsukidoji V: The Final Chapter were released to the public without being "Finished", is that exactly what happened here? Even with another 10 minutes worth of explanations many aspects of the title would still pretty feel weak, but I can't help but think a Director's Cut would actually serve Liberator a purpose instead of being the marketing gimmick it was for both A-Kite and Mezzo Forte.

If the DVD presentation were better maybe I'd be less grumpy, but Sirabella couldn't even get that right. Oh sure, the package is pretty, with a slipcover that doesn't list all the technical specs, opens at the side and even features completely different artwork than the cover underneath. Media Blasters may piss me off regularly, but I'll always love their slipcovers. Presented in interlaced anamorphic widescreen, the disc looks... okay. Not jaw dropping, but decent. Frustratingly the disc features both stereo and 5.1 surround audio, the latter of which was a very weak upmix that sounds incredibly flat. One could argue the 2.0 mix is too dynamic for its' own good, with very LOUD explosions and very tinny dialog, but I personally have no complaints. The feature comes with decent looking yellow subtitles. I didn't watch the dub, and as I'm not exactly stoked to watch this again I doubt I ever will. The only extra included is the 27 minute Tokyo International Film Festival Digest Version, which literally drops characters and sub-plots left and right, but doesn't manage to make Liberator dramatically better in any way. Also, there's an easter egg with the OP for SEIREI NO MORIBITO as a psuedo-trailer. Just Sirabella's way of saying "ha, look what we got beeyotch!"

What it don't got, sadly, is the TIFF Red Carpet/Making-Of, Staff and Cast Interview, or Umetsu commentary on the Japanese 2 disc Limited Edition. I can forgive not including the box and storyboard booklet featured on the R2, but denying extras that Sirabella fucking paid to have made is unacceptable. I'm fully expecting a 2 disc Special Edition someday... if it includes a Director's Cut with no less than 5 minutes of new footage, I may bite. Otherwise, I'm perfectly content with the Digest Version that allows me to experience all the frustration of Liberator in only half the time.

If you ever wanted to see a talented director spoof his own work and fail rather spectacularly in the process, Kite Liberator is probably your best chance to do so. The girls are cute, some of the jokes are funny, and there's a cool monster running around... but don't mistake this for being a sequel to A-Kite. The most telling moment is when Monaka is being told that her gun once belonged to a pretty teenage girl about her age. When she asks what her name was... he couldn't remember. While this felt like a belt in the mouth to all fans of the original, it's entirely possible that Umetsu was trying to admit that, somewhere along the line, he too forgot what that beautiful young assassin's name was. With all of the common threads between A-Kite and Liberator I still feel that there was an intensional attempt to poke fun at the original, but being a spoof doesn't forgive any director of sloppy storytelling or not delivering the people what they paid for.

Don't misunderstand: this is far from the biggest belly flop I can remember. Compared to Dario Argento's full blown career suicide in La Terza Madre or ITANO Ichirou's first convoluted and asinine episode of Blassreiter, Liberator comes out smelling like a rose. Even if I can't write off the cosmic irony of Liberator entirely as being a fascinating failed experiment, I will call it what it is: unfinished, unimpressive, and woefully unfortunate. Perhaps KISS AND CRY will be a return to form.

Rent it, anyway. It's a decent Moe/Sci-Fi OVA with just a hint of that "what the fuck was wrong with OVAs?" flavor that more or less dried up after the end of the 1980s. Just try to convince yourself it has nothing to do with anything else Umetsu's done in the past. Once you've lied hard enough, the pain slowly ebbs until the comedy kicks in.

Cannibal King vs Kentai Films: Futility at its' Finest

I've got to share something amusing with everyone.

Late last year Kurotokagi Gumi (aka Cannibal King, god of DVD bootleggging) released BOHACHI BUSHIDO SABURAI (roughly "The Clan of Eight's Villainous Code of Honor"), which is the awesome combination of an action packed Lone Wolf and Cub flick and a psychadellic Teruo Ishii soft porn film. In short, lots of tits, lots of spewing blood, lots of hideous souled human beings and a never ending spray of fucking awesomeness. I've only watched the first 10 minutes translated and can already guarantee it's worth your time. Seriously, how many films cut to the title card using the spraying blood from a raped white girl's throat as a transition?

What you see here is the transfer from Cannibal King. I gotta' hand it to him, whoever did the encode tried like hell to restore the VHS tape they mastered it from: the black bars were replaced with AVISynth or similar user-generated blacks to cut down on noise, it was upscaled to anamorphic resolution (not too poorly, even), and was given an IVTC... or, at least an attempted IVTC. The source had fucked 3:2 pulldown, so a truly progressive scan transfer is a literal impossibility. I know. I've tried.

Even the translation needed some help. Thankfully my Austrian partner in crime Kemushi took care of that, meaning I just had to do the patching part. I can live with that.

This is a recording I made back in, oh, 2006 or so? Compare the two (open them in a new tab for a fullscreen look). Notice something... off, in the CK transfer? Not only are the blacks crushed, hiding all those subtle dark gray details in his shiny-ass hair, but the color correction went horribly awry and left the rich blacks of the original VHS something of a murky gray, which may well have been a side-effect of not realizing that US and Japan analog NTSC handle black differently: basically Japan has always broadcasted black as 16 and white as 235 on a 0-255 IRE scale ("Blacker than Black" and "Whiter than White" doesn't exist on DVD, and is accomplished by stretching the black and white levels artificially). American analog formats have black at IRE 32, so if you record a US VHS/Laserdisc/NTSC broadcast, you need to drop the black levels of suffer with not-black blacks. It's entirely possible that whoever did the restoration simply didn't realize the blacks should have been left as-is, or it could even be a side-effect from using a stand alone TBC or a similar piece of restoration hardware.

Sure, my now dead Wal*Mart DVD recorded didn't upscale anything or (fail to) perform an inverse telecine, but at least it didn't completely bork the black levels either or make movement any jerkier than it needed to be. Further proof that trying to polish a turd - in this case a 15 year old ex-rental VHS tape - isn't worth the time of day. The only difference is I wasn't the one going crazy over it this time.

For anyone who asked last time, yes, anything I talk about here is available through the - and that happens to include SABURAI at the moment. Get it while it's gold, gentlemen. You'll also find a few other "Exclusive" DVDs under my profile, so get 'em while someone seeds them, because my share ratio needs no help.

I will point out, however, that the discs I post on ADC are not the same discs that I sell (...or, intend to... damnit, you know what I mean!). I have to keep a market for them somehow, so while the differences will vary from time to title, be prepared for any special editions to be on a purchase or trade basis. Anyone notice that Violence Jack 1986 didn't include the English dub, despite me owning the Manga UK DVD? You'll see why, eventually. Fear not on Saburai, however: I sold the VHS long ago, and even with my new DVD recorder I doubt the quality I'd get would be so dramatically better that it'd be worth recording a second time. I could probably capture everything to an external HDD and perform some AVISynth/CCE SP magic to turn it from a piece of shit into a piece of crap, but as we can see from the above example, sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all. I'll also say the Saburai tape was no looker: while it wasn't an awful blurry grainy mess like, say, OIRAN was, it was still really noisy , which led to more compression artifacts than usual (and my old recorder was damned good at making them). I probably could have tweaked the VCR settings to soften out the picture and minimize the noise, but really, the thought of softening a damned VHS tape just makes me shake my head sadly.

I'll also note that my transfer is probably over saturated, but this may well have been intentional, considering how candy colored the spraying blood is through the film. In effect, the simple VHS-to-DVD Recorder transfer is as good as it'll get until Toei actually restores the flick for DVD, which at the rate they've been going may happen before the decade is out.

I'll also give you guys the heads up that I recently translated a deleted scene (of sorts) for DOLLS OF HAREM (Ooku Jyuhakkei), SUZUKI Norifumi's 1986 tongue in cheek courtesian epic that may as well be the fond farewell to Pinky Violence cinema as we know it. That won't be a Kentai Films release, but I was partially involved, and if you guys are here because you like the movies I like you should probably take the time to check it out once it's finished. I actually only screwed one line really badly (and I had it right the first time... figures), but thankfully a kindly Japanese fellow with a love for this stuff fixed it for me. I also mistook a proper name for a pronoun, but it's not my fault Japan decided to make "Sister" an all-encompassing term of endearment. I guess I'm better at translating that horrible feminine period dialog than I thought I was... uh, so long as I'm allowed to use multiple Japanese-English online dictionaries.

Sorry to leave you all hanging so long without an update. I'm still trying to compose a fair judgment of KITE LIBERATOR, but it's such a train wreck full of glittering diamonds between the smoking choo-choo corpses that doing so is becoming increasingly difficult.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Jacking off on Violence - Part 1... or, is that 3?

In other words, VIOLENCE JACK 1986 (aka Violence Jack 3: Slumking, Violence Jack Harem Bomber Hen, Harlem Bomber, Fist of the North Star: The Worst Lost Episode Ever... what-ever the fuck it is) is finished, and will soon be available via the usual sources. I'm considering dumping these on Usenet in the near future, but I dunno'... doing that doesn't help my share ratio, but may help friends who don't want to spend months seeding on private torrent trackers. What'cha all think?

The disc was created by ripping the subtitles from the Italian Shin Vision DVD, copy and pasting the subtitle dialog from the Critical Mass tapes in, and finally patching the R2 using programs DVD Subtitle Creator (and its' affiliated slave programs), DVDSubEdit, and PGCEdit. Running a mere 37 minutes the disc is small - like, 2.5 gigs - and as with other @ Entertainment DVDs, the only extra included is a still gallery that appears to be primarily made up of screencaps. Yuck. The Italian subtitles appear to actually be Italiano based dubtitles, but they were like 95% accurate and only presented problems during stuff like crowd scenes and narration, which made my part in all of this pretty easy. The timing is just ever so slightly off in places, but it's not half as bad as the X movie R1, and as that wasn't a dubtitle I don't know what the hell Manga's excuse is.

For the record, I did try to salvage X's script, but there was only so much that could be done with that wretched piece of crap.

I didn't include the English dub, as I don't have the uncensored English dub to begin with and don't particularly feel like splicing in Japanese dialog during the delicious raep scenes. I never thought I'd actually want those uncut Critical Mass tapes, but hindsight is always 20/20 and blah-blah. I may re-time the subtitles if I ever do a crazy bi-lingual special edition, but the chances of that happening right now are slim. I have the material, I just don't see the need for Harlem Bomber. I mean, Evil Town is awesome grotesque nihilism at its' finest, and Hells Wind may be the best of the 3 OVAs overall, but does anyone, anyone at all, honestly care about the original 1986 experiment? It's barely even recognizable as a Go Nagai story: Jack is totally out of character and indifferent towards everything in his path, we focus on some retarded Romeo and Juliet knock-off for half an hour without much of a payoff, and the nicest thing I can muster about it is that it has completely gratuitous lesbian rape. It's pretty... underwhelming. It isn't gouge our your eyes with a blunt pen soul-rapingly awful like, I dunno', RIKI-OH 2 or STAR OF DAVID or even GEDOU GAKUEN 5 bad, but it isn't the sort of thing I make it a point to re-watch either.

Don't let my personal grudge against a cheap 20 year old train-wreck that wasn't really based on the manga it took its' name from get in the way of everyone enjoying it, though. Expect it to be on ADC in the next few days, and if you know me, you know what to do to get it.