Thursday, 11 September 2014

Sonic X Part 11 - Episodes #51 - 55



Sonic X
Sonic X
Part 11 - Episodes #51 - 55

Ep 51: Friends ‘til the End
   Chris and Sonic run away to the mountains  after Chris shuts down the Chaos Control device.
   They hide out in a cabin Chris visited as a child until Chris realises he was wrong to keep Sonic trapped on earth.

Sonic and Chris

   This is a really nice episode. It’s great to have a whole ep that’s nothing but interaction between two characters, especially seeing how little time Sonic and Chris actually spend together. The dialogue they share is great and Chris grows up a lot when he realises he has to let Sonic go.

Ep 52: A new start
   The last episode of either Season 1 or 2 depending on which version of the show you’re watching, this episode sees Eggman launch an attack on his homeworld in the absence of Sonic.

   The battle here feels a little forced, there’s no real reason for it other than to fill up the episode, I can’t help but feel this one would work better if they’d just added an extra ten minutes onto the last episode, dealing with Sonic’s return home onwards.

   That said, it’s still a pretty cool episode, we get to see a little more of Sonic’s world, though not quite as much as I’d like, a highly emotive reunion between Sonic and Amy and a really cool finale which shows Chris and his friends as adults, working on a chaos control device to take them to Sonic’s world.
   It’s really cool and was originally supposed to be the end to the show before another season was demanded by fans (for some reason). All in all, it’s a pretty cool finale.

Ep 53: A Cosmic Call
   While battling a mysterious robot in space, Sonic uses chaos control to scatter the emeralds across the world.
   After recuperating at Eggman’s base, he leaps straight back into action when another robot attacks, stealing the planet egg, the world’s lifeforce.

Adult Chris

   A pretty uninteresting opening to the new series to be honest. While the Metarex are a pretty cool series of villains, their designs are too generic for my tastes. They just don’t look like Sonic characters.
   As for the plot, there’s not a whole bunch to hold your attention. The episode ends with the adult Chris finally getting his machine to work, teleporting to Sonic’s world, and turning back into a child…..oh dear…

Ep 54: Cosmic Crisis
   Cosmo explains to the gang that she is the last of an alien species whose home planet was destroyed by the Metarex. The gang build a spaceship intending to take the fight to the metarex themselves.

Fight fight fight

   This is another weak episode, the main body of the ep is a fight between sonic and another Metarex and it’s just dull…to be fair, this is still in the beginning stages of the arc, we’re still learning about the metarex and their goals…but yeah….it’s boring…

Ep 55: H2 Whoa
   The gang land on a water logged planet, searching for a chaos emerald. While hunting, they are attacked by a group of fishy metarex.

   A decent enough episode, this one sees Chris battle with the emotions surrounding his newfound predicament. When attacked by the Metarex he tries to put his kung fu training into effect but finds it ineffective due to the lack of strength in his child-like body. The frustrations of being a grown man stuck in the body of a kid begin to wear him down and he struggles to find his place in the gang.
   It’s pretty interesting and while it never goes as deep as I’d like, it’s an interesting look at Chris’ psychology after travelling to Sonic’s homeworld. 

Sonic Says 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince



Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 
JK Rowling

   From a book I didn’t love to one I absolutely adore. After the overly drawn out fifth instalment, book six in the Harry Potter is the adrenaline shot the series needed. The sixth book delivers all of the plot advancement that the previous chapter but does so in a much punchier manner, delivering hit after hit after hit with several fascinating developments throughout and a couple of killer twists.

   Harry returns to Hogwarts for his sixth year but it is a very different place, after Harry’s battle with Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic, the wizarding world knows that you-know-who has returned. No longer hiding in the shadows, Voldemort has begun to make moves toward dominance…the war has begun.

   Once again, Harry’s role in the action seems a little secondary; after all, he’s still at School while Voldemort plots out in the real world. However, this time around, Harry’s actions throughout the book feel much more purposeful. He makes many trips with Dumbledore into the pensieve (a device which allows the user to travel into other people’s memories) to unravel further, the origins of Lord Voldermort. We get to see some of his family background as well as Dumbledore rescuing the young Voldermort, then Tom Riddle, from an orphanage to take him to Hogwarts. All throughout Riddle is a sinister figure, suggesting the evil of Voldemort always lay somewhere within him.
   These flashbacks are a great way of explaining how Harry’s nemesis was gradually shed of his humanity to become the beast he is today, they present a grim and frightening look as Riddle rots away, though they also do a great job of humanising him. The reader almost feels sorry for him when he returns to Hogwarts for the last time to apply for the position of defence against the dark arts teacher, already showing the signs that his lust for power is destroying him.
  
   The book isn’t all doom and gloom though, thankfully, Rowling breaks up the growing tension with some spot on comedic relief, leading to some of the funniest scenes in the whole series.
   Most notable of which sees Ron eat a box of love potion spiked chocolates intended for Harry, which make him fall in love with the girl who sent them, much to the chagrin of Ron’s girlfriend.

   The plot demonstrates yet more of Harry and his friends growing up. Ron and Hermione seem to move closer together and Harry actually starts a relationship with ron’s sister Ginny (though he does break it off towards the end of the book in a effort to keep her safe). It’s all a much needed chance to humanise the characters, to give them some real world experiences instead of magical ones and it works perfectly. It’s never too soppy or overdone, it’s just right.

   And then there’s the ending. I shouldn’t even need to type out what happens at the end of this book because I doubt there’s a single person alive today that doesn’t know the eventual outcome of this story, even those that have no interest in reading the books.
   Put simply, it’s arguably the best and most shocking conclusion to a piece of media that my generation has ever seen. The final act of the Half Blood Prince is akin to learning for the first time that Darth Vader is Luke’s Father, that Rosebud was a sledge, that Sherlock survived his fall from the Reichenbach. It might sound like it’s overselling it, but no, it’s honestly that damn good.

   The Half Blood Prince is JK Rowling’s masterpiece, it ups the tension while delivering vital information to the plot but keeping the action, intrigue and humour all perfectly balanced. It’s a hard thing to pull off but she manages perfectly and leaves the stage set for book seven’s dramatic conclusion. And after the events of Half Blood Prince…who knows what might happen? 

JK Rowling
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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sonic X Part 10 - Episodes #46 - 50



Sonic X
Sonic X
Part 10 - Episodes #46 - 50

Ep 46: A Wild Win
   Emerl wins the fighting tournament and gets the Chaos Emerald. However, the energy from the emerald makes him go berserk and he attacks the stadium.

   I didn’t enjoy this episode half as much as the tournament itself, but it has its moments, most notably the ending, which sees Emerl take down Sonic and his friends before Cream jumps in and takes him down.
   After being a defenceless little kid throughout the series, it’s good to see Cream actually doing something and the fact that it’s her that saves the day is pretty cool.

Ep 47: Map of Mayhem
   When a G.U.N. ship goes missing, Sonic and Co. set out to investigate. Meanwhile, Eggman steals a map that leads to a mysterious lost continent.

   This story is pretty weak to be honest. Eggman wants to find a lost continent because it has a volcano that, if forcibly erupted, will cause a chain reaction that covers the earth in lava.
   It’s a pretty dumb plot that leads to a pretty dumb, boring episode. The only real redeeming factor is Eggman’s giant pirate ship, which is utterly badass. I loves it…I want one.

Ep 48: The Volcanic Venture
   Sonic and Co. follow Eggman to the island where he intends to set off the volcano in what must be the most boring episode so far….holy crap…is that Mothra?

No...seriously, Mothra...

   Yeah, for some reason, the island is inhabited by Godzilla villains, which means we get to see Sonic take on Mothra (or Mothmacin as she’s called here) and M.O.G.U.E.R.A. (Mongroun). There’s even a statue in a cave that looks a little too much like Godzilla himself to be a coincidence.
   Exactly why there are Godzilla characters on the island is unclear. It’s suggested that the people who lived there built them but…why are they Godzilla characters? Not that I’m complaining mind you, seeing Sonic go toe to toe with some of cinemas most famous kaiju is freakin’ awesome.

This is the best thing ever...

Ep 49: The Beginning of the End
   The group learn that Sonic’s world and Earth were once one and the same, and that if Sonic and Co. do not return home soon, time will freeze as the two  world’s timeframes merge.

   This is a slow, plot heavy episode and it’s all the better for it. There are some pretty emotive scenes here such and Chuck’s speech to Tails about how much he’ll miss him when he returns home and Chris’ emotional breakdown as he tries to get Eggman to admit the whole scenario is a trick, which it isn’t.
   Chris’ sadness at the thought of not getting to see Sonic and his friends anymore is touching and the slow pace of the episde allows for that tension to build perfectly. It’s a great start to the arc that will see Sonic sent home.

Ep 50: Running Out of Time
   This episode starts with a rogue G.U.N. agent launching an attack on Eggman, suspecting he is planning one last attack before returning home.
    It’s a bit of a weak opening to what is otherwise a pretty cool episode. The main body of the episode sees Tails and Chuck complete their chaos control machine and the gang offering their final farewells before heading home. Ella offers Amy a book of her recipes and Topaz breaks down completely when Rouge leaves.

Goodbye?

   It’s an emotional episode and delivers some great moments. The episode ends on a great cliffhanger, with Chris shutting down the machine before Sonic can step through, desperate to keep him on Earth.

Sonic says: Destroy all monsters

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix



Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

JK Rowling

   Voldeort is back but the Wizarding world is reluctant to accept it. The ministry of Magic, keen to do everything in its power to suppress the voices of Harry Potter and Dumbledore, begin to interfere at Hogwarts. As their methods become ore and more restrictive, Harry and his friends are forced to take matters into their own hands.

   This book is definitely the hump in the series. Many people, myself included, were turned away from the Harry Potter series after having this monolith drop into their laps. While the Goblet of Fire presented a much longer story than previous instalments, it did so without ever feeling like padding. The Order of the Phoenix however, presents a story that’s even longer but feels to be made up almost entirely of padded scenes.

   It’s perhaps a necessary evil, as the series passes the halfway point and begins to move toward the conclusion, there’s a lot of information to get across and a lot of threads to tie together before we move on, the result though, is a book with far too many plotlines running throughout it.
   There’s the efforts of the ministry to get rid of Dumbledore by strangling Hogwarts, there’s the reformation of the order of the phoenix, the group of wizards brought together by Dumbledore to fight Voldemort, there’s Dubledore’s army, the defence against the dark arts group Harry founds when their new teacher refuses to give any practical lessons, there’s the new teacher herself, Dolores Umbridge, who works for the ministry, is the one responsible for the new restrictions on the school and who literally tortures Harry during their detentions together, then there’s the secret that Hagrid is hiding in the woods, the Dementors joining Voldemort  and breaking the death eaters out of Azkaban, the talk of prophecies, the psychic link between Harry and Voldemort, Harry and Cho, the aftermath of Cedric’s death, ….there’s just too much going on and none of it is glossed over, each story is given full attention and enough detail and pacing to make it the focus of its own novel let alone a small subplot…

    All of this would be fine of not for the fact that, for all that’s constantly happening in this book….nothing ever really feels like it’s happening. In fact, much of the real action seems to be taking place off page. The order of the Phoenix is constantly going on raids and missions, learning all sorts of new information about Voldemort’s movements, but Harry is never let in on any of this. He asks constantly for an opportunity to prove himself, to help out, but is never granted one. The result, is a book where the main character is frustrated that he is left out of the main story and the reader is frustrated by this also.
  
   All of this is not to say I didn’t find any enjoyment in the book, I tend to prefer stories with a slower pace, where characters and dialogue take precedence over action and this instalment definitely has me covered in that regard. As a result, there’s actually a lot here that I really enjoyed.
   The new characters are great, from the shape shifting Tonks to Umbridge herself who may well be the most despicable character in the whole series apart from Voldeort himself. She’s a great villain and her frustrating proclamations that smother the school throughout make her the type of character you just love to loathe.
   Likewise, the plots ad subplots are gripping and exciting and despite how many of them there are, you do want to see the through to the end to see where they lead.

   This is still a great book and a fine addition to the series. It gets across all of the information we need as we move into the closing chapters of the saga and it’s entertaining. The main problem is simply that, after the huge cliffhanger of the last book, the events that take up the majority of book five just seem so…minor…we’re introduced to a hundred new characters all of whom are important but only in minor roles, and we’re given a hundred new plot threads, all of which are important but only in a minor way…meanwhile, Voldemort is still around, building his army in the background, away from the eyes of the reader, the main plot continuing to unfurl without us.

   Despite my problems with the novel, I can hardly tell you not to bother with it. It contains a lot of info you’ll need if you’re to see the series through to the end. Instead I’ll say, it’s a weak point in the series, it contains soe really great stuff, but it’s one of the weaker books overall. I’d urge you, if you find yourself struggling with it, as I did myself the first time I read it, to power through it. Because from here on, the series only goes up. 

JK Rowling
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Friday, 29 August 2014

Sonic X Part 9 - Episodes #41 - 45



Sonic X
Sonic X
Part 9 - Episodes #41 - 45

Ep 41: Eggman for President
   As angry mobs hunt down Sonic, Eggman reveals his true plan, hypnotising the population into voting Eggman in as president.
   This episode's a little dull, it sees Sonic uncover Eggman’s plan, battle with Knuckles who thinks Sonic is a villain and Mr Tanaka fly a spaceship to the Eggmoon to fix the problem. There’s too much going on and none of it’s really interesting.
   The end sees Eggman stopped and forced to flee. As he does, the gang appear in front of him with a series of questions that lead Eggman down a series of paths, either to freedom or into the arms of the law. It’s a really weird ending that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t fit in with anything else that happens in the episode.

   All in all a pretty weak finish to what was a pretty weak arc in the first place.

Ep 42: A date to forget
   Sonic stands Amy up on a date so she goes for a drive with Sam Speed instead.

Emrl

   This episode is really weak, there’s a subplot about Eggman trying to breakout of prison and we get our first glimpse of Emerl, but for the most part it’s just Sam and Amy. There’s supposed to be some kind of character development on Amy’s behalf here but I’m not really sure what it is…at one point she’s driving as fast as Sonic, she realises why Sonic loves running so much and just…sorta forgives him for standing her up…I don’t get it…what’s the epiphany here?

Ep 43: Mean Machines
   The premise for this episode is just…weird….Sonic has become so popular that people have began imitating him. Running everywhere, sleeping on rooftops and even quitting their jobs so they’re able to lead Sonic’s nomadic lifestyle.
   This spate of people quitting their jobs leads to a lack of production workers in Chris’ Father’s factory, leading to thousands of complaints about the poor quality of his products.
   In prison, Eggman is given the job of fixing all the broken machines but he turns them into evil robots and escapes prison.

Hippie carver dude.

   Yeah….that’s what happens. It’s just weird. I don’t know what’s more odd, the image of Sonic battling evil vacuum cleaners and fridges or the idea of society basically crumbling because people love Sonic so much…as you can imagine, none of this really gels together and the episode’s a bit of a mess.
   There’s also some stuff about Emrl copying Sonic’s skills but frankly…I stopped paying attention…

Ep 44: The Sewer Search
   Another dull episode which sees Chris and his friends captured by Eggman and held captive in his base in the sewers.
   Mister Stewart’s cover is nearly blown which could have been aninteresting reveal but it’s not to be. Instead the kids just blindly accept his impressive breakout skills.

   Sonic spends the episode running around looking for Chris until the eventual battle in the sewers….it’s a weak one.

Ep 45: Prize Fight
   The president hosts a fighting tournament with a chaos emerald as the grand prize. Sonic and Co enter the tournament as well as some of Eggman’s cronies.

   This is supposed to be an adaptation of Sonic battle and while not perfect, it kinda makes sense. Not sure what else they could have done with an adaptation of a beat-em-up.
   This episode is actually pretty great. Despite a pretty silly premise, the plot gives plenty of opportunity for action and comedy. Several characters make a return for the tournament, including lucky, who keeps getting through due to circumstances outside the tournament like Decoe and Bocoe getting arrested. The presidents aid even enters disguised as the black night which is…actually pretty hilarious. Big the Cat has a match against Ella in the original Japanese episode, sadly, it got cut from the dub for some reason. A real shame seeing as it marks Big’s final appearance in the show…

   Overall, it’s an unexpected gem. An adaptation that you wouldn’t expect to work, but which does perfectly.

sonic says

Friday, 22 August 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire



Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
JK Rowling

   Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his fourth year. When he and his friends arrive, an announcement is made that the Triwizard tournament, a fierce competition held between three rival magic schools, will be held at Hogwarts that year.
   Harry is not eligible to enter, being too young, but is surprised when the Goblet of Fire, the magical cup that chooses each schools competitor, selects him, forcing him to enter the tournament.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sonic X Part 8 - Episodes #36 - 40



Sonic EGGMAN X
Part 8 - Episodes #36 - 40

Ep 36: Shadow World
   Shadow takes Chris into space and we get our first look at the ARK as Eggman uses it to destroy the moon. Back on Earth, Sonic, Kunckles and the gang battle their way into Eggman’s base to find a way into space.

   This episode is pretty dull. As a whole, the Shadow arc fails to hold your attention as well as the previous Chaos storyline, this episode is a prime example. The action scenes are boring and make up the majority of the episode, the plot isn’t advanced all that much and the art….oh boy.
   The art in Sonic X can vary from the excellent to the pitiful. When the art is good it’s great, but when it’s bad it can render the episodes near unwatchable. This episode must be one of the worst in the series in terms of quality, you’d be hard pressed to find a single shot where anybody is on model. The human characters like Eggman and the President especially, more often than not have proportions more suited to the animal characters and their animation is pathetic. You’re taken completely out of the story and left wondering how this art was ever allowed into the finished episode.

Ep 37: Robotnik’s Revenge
   As the Shadow arc heads towards it’s conclusion we get a lot more info on the backstory of the project. Mr Stewart who, over the course of the arc, has been posing as a journalist trying to find information on project shadow, with little success finally finds the man who led the the attack team on the ARK. He reveals that Robotnik was performing genetic experiments and the government had his team wiped out. We also learn the man leading the attack team saw Maria Robotnik release the Shadow creature from the ARK and killed her.
   Meanwhile, Rouge steals all of Eggman’s files on project shadow and discovers that Shadow isn’t the true ultimate life form he believes himself to be.

Eggman

   This is a great episode, packed with plot and enough action to break it up. The episode ends with Sonic and Shadow battling on the eclipse cannon while Eggman powers it up, only to uncover a video recording by his Grandfather revealing the true purpose of the eclipse cannon.

Ep 38: Showdown in Space
   The Shadow arc reaches it’s conclusion with a finale that sees Eggman and Sonic team up to stop the ARK crashing into the planet.

The Biolizard

   This is just awesome and, while I don’t think it’s quite as cool as the end of the Chaos arc, it’s still definitely worth a watch. The highlight is of course, seeing Super Sonic and Super Shadow team up to destroy the true ultimate life form the BioLizard (though I don’t think it’s ever actually named). The final battle is an awesome sight, with the two hedgehogs battling the space station sized beast, Shadow  casting of his inhibitor rings and gaining the final energy boost needed to destroy the creature sacrificing himself in the process.

Super Shadow

   It’s a brilliant episode start to finish ad ends on a humorous note with Eggman saying that while destroying the planet would be wrong, he still wants to conquer it. Check it out, it’s a good one.

Ep 39: Defective Detectives
   When parts of Sonic’s home world start appearing all over the city, The Chaotix Detective Agency find themselves on earth with a case to solve.
   The episode also introduces Cream’s mother who also finds her way to earth, meanwhile, Eggman sets about repairing the broken half of the moon, replacing it with a mechanical structure.

Chaotix

   This was a really fun episode, it centres almost exclusively around the interactions between the three members of Chaotix, who are some of my favourite characters in the Sonic Universe. Their constant bickering leads to some funny moments and it’s good to have an episode based around characters rather than action scenes.
   The first half of the episode is bogged down by reused footage from previous episodes and a lot of unnecessary exposition, but it’s a good one nonetheless.

Ep 40: Sunblock Solution
   Eggman claims to have lost control of the Eggmoon and it causes an elclipse which shrouds the world in darkness. He is employed by the president to harness the sun’s light which he sells to people in the form of Sunshine balls, and orb of sunlight that can be installed on the lawn.

   The people of earth are awfully willing to forgive Eggman it seems, or they at least have awful memories as this is about the third time Eggman has claimed to be a goody in the series so far. Sonic is the only one who doesn’t believe him and starts smashing the towers he uses to relay the light, making him public enemy number one.

   It’s a fun episode even if the premise is a little silly, my favourite part of the episode has to be the very end, which sees the show rebranded as EggmanX now that Eggman is the hero and Sonic the villain. The idea of Eggman having a home shopping network is just brilliant too. 

Sonic Says