jterrell

IMDb member since February 2000
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Reviews

She's Out of Control
(1989)

25 years later?
In March 1989, I was on spring break, staying at my dad's house, when I saw a TV commercial for "She's Out of Control." Although I was a guy, I was fascinated by the idea of a geek who miraculously changes and ends up conquering all. It seemed to me like an underdog story, and I've always liked that kind of story. But upon rushing to the theater on opening night--April 14, 1989--I was surprised to discover that the movie was really about the dad and his obsession over protecting his daughter. Still, I found it enjoyable enough, even with the PG rating.

Exactly 25 years later, I find myself typing a review after having watched "She's Out of Control" for the second time--on DVD, and on my Xbox One. What compelled me to revisit a movie so notoriously reviled by Siskel and Ebert? I suppose I just wanted to watch again it 25 years to the day (for the perfect timing), and see it from the perspective of a 42-year-old, as opposed to my 17-year-old self in 1989.

As many others have noted, this movie is really a movie-length sitcom with some mild profanity, and some other PG-rated material. It's mostly harmless, at least for people 10 and older. It doesn't break any new ground or develop its themes in any insightful way, but I found it reasonably entertaining and likable. It's what you call a "family movie," meaning that it tries to appeal to everybody--children, teens, and adults.

Those of you looking for late 80s nostalgia will be bombarded with music video-inspired editing and closeups, Paula Abdul-choreographed dancing, and Aqua Net-assisted hair. The girls' bedroom, with its George Michael poster, oversized Swatch clock, and Apple IIc, particularly encapsulates the final years of the Pastel Decade. Also, look for appearances by Todd Bridges and Dustin Diamond.

So, what do I think of it today? Am I any smarter than I was in 1989, two months before my high school graduation? Nah, I'm still stupid--and had a good time being stupid for the second time.

Exactly 25 years from now--April 14, 2039--I may find myself watching "She's Out of Control" for the THIRD time--in 4K. If IMDb still exists, I'll be sure to let all of you know about it on the review page.

Happy 25th birthday, "She's Out of Control."

13 Going on 30
(2004)

Get it right!
This movie is pretty much like all the others of its kind, so I won't comment on it in general. Instead, I'll talk about how it falls into the same trap that so many other "nostalgic" movies do.

Too many people believe that a decade is the same all the way through, forgetting that the cultural scene changes all the time, not just at the end of each decade. For example, most of us think of the 60s as the hippie decade, even though the counterculture didn't come along until about '66. Many think of the 70s as the disco decade, even though that music didn't make its debut until '76. The cultural consultants on this movie apparently believe that the mid-80s represent the entire decade, which is, of course completely wrong: 1980 and 1989 may have been in the same decade, but if anybody takes the time to compare the music, clothes, hair, etc. from these two years, he'll quickly discover that they were very different.

As Colette Corr, the previous reviewer, pointed out, this movie doesn't make any distinction between the late 80s (when the film starts out) and the mid-80s. The first thing I'll look at is the music. Rick Springfield was most popular in the mid-80s, and his song "Jessie's Girl" was released in 1981--by 1987, no teenage girls were interested in him (although, as Linda Blair can attest, HE may have been interested in THEM). Michael Jackson? The song "Thriller" was released in '82, and the video was made in '83--YEARS before this movie starts out. During '84, Jackson's _Thriller_ album was so over-hyped and so overexposed that by the following year, NOBODY wanted to listen to him anymore. In fact, it wasn't safe to admit you liked Michael until Fall '87, when the _Bad_ album was released.

Why didn't the producers pick stuff from 1987? If they needed a music video with a bunch of people dancing, they could have used Jackson's "Bad" (okay, so that wasn't released until Fall '87, a few months after Jenna's birthday party takes place, but better to be off a few months than a few years). If they wanted a heartthrob, why not somebody like Tom Cruise or Patrick Swayze (yes, I know _Dirty Dancing_ was released in August '87)? As for the clothes, the producers go with those wink-wink, nudge-nudge pastels. I'm no historian of 1980s teen fashion, but I recall girls in 1987 wearing stuff like Guess? and Forenza. Hey, even _Miami Vice_ lost the pastels after the first one or two seasons. Even the lingo is dated--the expression "totally awesome" is Valley Girl talk and went out of style around 1983.

I suppose they chose to show these things because they're what people remember most from the 80s: people do tend to remember "Thriller" better than they do "Bad." But I really don't think anybody believes the 80s were ALL parachute pants, crimped hair, etc. VH-1 is currently showing a series called "I Love the 80s Strikes Back," which looks at the decade year by year.

The movie does have some songs appropriate to the exact year, such as "Mad About You" (released in 1986, but at least it was recent enough that it was still being regularly played in '87). The 1987 sequence lasts for only about 15 minutes, and for most people, the "80s nostalgia" stuff will be good enough. The only reason it wasn't good enough for me is that my memory's too good, so I tend to remember stuff year by year.

Anyway, don't let these inaccuracies spoil your fun--I just had to rant about them because 1987 was one of my favorite years. Don't screw up my year, guys! ;)

Kimagure Orenji Rôdo
(1989)

These "Sweet Memories" are too bland
A year ago, I watched the _Kimagure Orange Road_ TV series, and I was amazed by its complexity, plot, and character development. It was not only entertaining, but, in a rare move for anime, also made you think. So I purchased this OVA series on the assumption that it was a continuation of the TV one and that it was just as good. But what I got instead was an ordinary anime series that just happened to take place in the _KOR_ universe.

The main problem with the OVA series is probably that it was designed to stand on its own, so that viewers who hadn't seen the TV series would still be able to follow this one. (In fact, in America, AnimEigo released the 8-episode OVA and the first _KOR_ movie before tackling the 48-episode TV series.) Personally, I have no problem with that, especially when I consider that the TV series wouldn't have yet been available on video back in 1989. What I do object to is that the OVA not only lacks continuity, but is much watered-down from the TV series.

The 8 episodes are mostly just typical anime stories that fail to develop either the _KOR_ story or the characters. For example, two episodes are devoted to a story about a rock singer who decides to get back together with his old high school flame. This might have been acceptable for a single episode, but stretching it to two makes me wonder whether the writers were running out of ideas. Another episode involves a kidnapping story with an action-filled climax, neither of which belong in the _KOR_ world. Don't get me wrong: I do like to see a series try to go in new directions. But these new kinds of stories lack the development and reflection of the TV stories. And the complex themes of the TV series (such as the concept of time, and the idea that people act out certain roles in life as though they were actors) are nowhere to be found here.

As for continued character development, there is none; even Akane, the only new character in the OVA, is relegated to the status of a plot device. In fact, viewers are treated to a watered-down version of the romantic triangle that was the basis of the TV show. Maybe this series was just supposed to kill time before the release of the first _KOR_ movie, but since it WAS a new series, don't you think a LITTLE further character development would have been nice?

But the biggest fault of this OVA series?

It completely ignores the ending of the TV series. Apparently we're supposed to forget that at the end of that series, Ayukawa and Kyosuke get together, and she finds out about his psychic powers. [END OF SPOILERS]. The OVA clearly states that it takes place after the TV show, so this is an unpardonable continuity error. Maybe Studio Pierrot decided to do the OVA series AFTER writing all the episodes for the TV series, and maybe some of the OVA episodes were originally supposed to be TV ones. But they still could have found some way to write the ending of the TV series into these OVA episodes. It's really too bad that they didn't make Ayukawa and Kyosuke a couple; that would have been a very interesting development. But we'll apparently have to see the first movie for that.

There ARE a few good things about this OVA. The animation seems a little better than in the TV series, and there's a nice new opening sequence, as well as two new closing ones. Studio Pierrot did manage to duplicate the look and feel of the TV series; they just left out the soul.

Maybe I should judge the OVA series on its own, instead of comparing it to the TV series. But after the exceptionality of the TV show, that's impossible.

Even though this OVA series is _KOR_ lite, fans will still want to check it out. But if you're coming to _KOR_ for the first time, start with the TV series.

Kimagure orenji rôdo: Ano hi ni kaeritai
(1988)

The series grows up with a "Bang!" in this "Bittersweet Memory"
It seems that watching the entire _Kimagure Orange Road_ series (TV series, OVAs, and movies) is becoming a yearly summer event for me. I've just watched the TV series for the third time, and the OVAs for the second. It's unusual for me to watch ANYTHING, anime or otherwise, more than once, so there must be something unique about _KOR_, at least for me. This first movie is one reason why.

As the other reviewers have mentioned, the basic purpose of _I Want to Return to that Day_ is resolving the romantic triangle that has persisted throughout the 48-episode TV series and the 8-episode OVA one. But it also shows the characters realizing they're outgrowing their high school sensibilities and, well, moving on. Remember how you hung out with a group of friends through high school? How you started to drift apart as graduation approached and you all decided to go to different colleges? How things simply weren't the same the summer after graduation, even though you tried to keep them that way? And how it all suddenly ended when college started, even if you DID try at first to keep in touch? I'll bet you've often wondered over the years what happened to those people--just like Kyosuke does with Madoka and Hikaru. After all these TV and OVA episodes, the _KOR_ characters are like friends, and now it's time to say goodbye to them, at least until _New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning_. After all, an anime series doesn't last forever any more than a high school clique does. I'll bet many Japanese viewers who watched this movie back in '88 spent the next eight years pondering the fates of Madoka, Kyosuke, and Hikaru, not to mention those of the many supporting characters.

As for the resolution of the romantic triangle, the two things Kyosuke does toward this (confessing his love for Madoka and being honest with Hikaru) come so suddenly that we realize that he is finally overcoming his capriciousness and, well, growing up. All the times that Kyosuke has to keep rebuffing Hikaru are agonizing--it's like watching a terminally ill person refuse to die, and you wonder when it will end, or IF it will ever end. But at the end of the movie, everybody moves on.

The movie moves a little slowly during the first half hour, but this is because Kyosuke and Madoka are struggling with their feelings and realizing things are changing; the many brooding silences during this time tell us what they are thinking. And as the other reviewers have pointed out, neither Kyosuke nor his sisters use their psychic powers even once during the movie, nor is there any of the slapstick humor from the TV and OVA series--it's as if the series is growing up as well.

The animation seems slightly better than the TV series's, but, like the movie itself, it's nothing too flashy. So why are the beginning and ending in black and white? Maybe to indicate that as they are walking to the college, Kyosuke and Madoka are now sadder (but wiser)? Maybe to emphasize the fact that, as in the TV and OVA series, these events have taken place in the past, and Kyosuke is recounting them? Or an allusion to _The Wizard of Oz_, perhaps? You'll have to decide for yourself, just as for eight years the original viewers had to conjecture what happens to the characters after this movie ends.

At any rate, it's good to see everything finally resolved, even if this resolution does raise new questions. And be sure to watch the ending credit sequence.

Bang!

Kimagure Orenji Rôdo
(1989)

These "Sweet Memories" are too bland
A year ago, I watched the _Kimagure Orange Road_ TV series, and I was amazed by its complexity, plot, and character development. It was not only entertaining, but, in a rare move for anime, also made you think. So I purchased this OVA series on the assumption that it was a continuation of the TV one and that it was just as good. But what I got instead was an ordinary anime series that just happened to take place in the _KOR_ universe.

The main problem with the OVA series is probably that it was designed to stand on its own, so that viewers who hadn't seen the TV series would still be able to follow this one. (In fact, in America, AnimEigo released the 8-episode OVA and the first _KOR_ movie before tackling the 48-episode TV series.) Personally, I have no problem with that, especially when I consider that the TV series wouldn't have yet been available on video back in 1989. What I do object to is that the OVA not only lacks continuity, but is much watered-down from the TV series.

The 8 episodes are mostly just typical anime stories that fail to develop either the _KOR_ story or the characters. For example, two episodes are devoted to a story about a rock singer who decides to get back together with his old high school flame. This might have been acceptable for a single episode, but stretching it to two makes me wonder whether the writers were running out of ideas. Another episode involves a kidnapping story with an action-filled climax, neither of which belong in the _KOR_ world. Don't get me wrong: I do like to see a series try to go in new directions. But these new kinds of stories lack the development and reflection of the TV stories. And the complex themes of the TV series (such as the concept of time, and the idea that people act out certain roles in life as though they were actors) are nowhere to be found here.

As for continued character development, there is none; even Akane, the only new character in the OVA, is relegated to the status of a plot device. In fact, viewers are treated to a watered-down version of the romantic triangle that was the basis of the TV show. Maybe this series was just supposed to kill time before the release of the first _KOR_ movie, but since it WAS a new series, don't you think a LITTLE further character development would have been nice?

But the biggest fault of this OVA series?

It completely ignores the ending of the TV series. Apparently we're supposed to forget that at the end of that series, Ayukawa and Kyosuke get together, and she finds out about his psychic powers. [END OF SPOILERS]. The OVA clearly states that it takes place after the TV show, so this is an unpardonable continuity error. Maybe Studio Pierrot decided to do the OVA series AFTER writing all the episodes for the TV series, and maybe some of the OVA episodes were originally supposed to be TV ones. But they still could have found some way to write the ending of the TV series into these OVA episodes. It's really too bad that they didn't make Ayukawa and Kyosuke a couple; that would have been a very interesting development. But we'll apparently have to see the first movie for that.

There ARE a few good things about this OVA. The animation seems a little better than in the TV series, and there's a nice new opening sequence, as well as two new closing ones. Studio Pierrot did manage to duplicate the look and feel of the TV series; they just left out the soul.

Maybe I should judge the OVA series on its own, instead of comparing it to the TV series. But after the exceptionality of the TV show, that's impossible.

Even though this OVA series is _KOR_ lite, fans will still want to check it out. But if you're coming to _KOR_ for the first time, start with the TV series.

Day of the Woman
(1978)

Sociology or exploitation? You decide . . .
Like everybody else, the first time I watched _I Spit on Your Grave_ (11 years ago) was because of its notoriety, and on that first viewing, I noticed only its most obvious feminist and revenge themes. However, when I watched it for the second time (on DVD), I noticed several themes and meanings I had missed the first time around. Horror films often carry many subtle psychological and sociological messages, and while the ones in _I Spit_ do not make it a classic, I feel they are worth considering when reviewing the film.

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Many of these subtle issues deal with the woman, Jennifer, and with her femininity. Jennifer writes cliche-ridden romance stories about submissive women, suggesting that she herself is a model of the traditional woman who is vulnerable to danger and, particularly, to misogyny. We see this when one of the attackers mockingly reads aloud from her manuscript and then tears it up before raping her. However, in accordance with Rudyard Kipling's statement that "The female is the most dangerous of the species," Jennifer's femininity also enables her to lure two of the men to their deaths after she has recovered. So the director is saying that the same feminine qualities that can cause women to be victimized can also cause them to become empowered, which is, after all, a goal of feminism.

As for the men, the director shows them as not only overconfident, but also self-deluded and easily manipulated by society. For example, the retarded man, Matthew, only rapes Jennifer when the others goad him on, suggesting that sexism is not natural, but learned from others. Also, Matthew goes along with the other three men because they are his friends and he wants to please them: sexism, the director is saying, is something men display to impress each other. Since Matthew has limited intellectual capabilities, his actions and attitudes are more natural, showing how the other men's are unnatural: for example, he cannot climax when raping Jennifer, but can later in the film, when she pretends that she desires him.

Finally, the film shows how everybody has both good and bad in him, and how the two often conflict with each other. Jennifer takes revenge on the four men, of course, but goes into a church and asks forgiveness before doing so, suggesting that she has not become completely bad. Also, she witnesses the ringleader spending time with his wife and children; this scene humanizes this character and shows how sexism, as bad as it is, is a part of society. One last example comes when the man has gone missing: his wife curses the other two men and calls them bums, but then walks over to one of her children and hugs them. Love and hate do coexist.

I could go on and on, but you see my point. If I can write a term paper on _I Spit on Your Grave_, it shows that the film is more complex than most people realize. It does have excruciating scenes of rape and murder, but the viewer who can look beyond those things will find many subtle themes and meanings.

(END OF SPOILERS)

I have to disagree with those who call _I Spit on Your Grave_ an "art film" based on the cinematography. If the cinematography in this movie is different from the typical Hollywood film, it's because this is a low budget independent film. Being different from the mainstream does not an art film make. I would call this an "independent film" or even an "alternative film," but it doesn't fall into the "art film" category. Even though the film is well made, the production values are too low. Plus, I'd have to say that _I Spit_ is more a 70s exploitation film with some redeeming qualities than an art film with some sleazy qualities. The rapes and murders are effectively brutal and unglamorized, and they contribute to the film's sociological meanings, but no one is about to believe that the director didn't have the drive-in crowd in mind.

So I'd say that _I Spit on Your Grave_ is both exploitation AND sociological commentary. Of course, this film definitely isn't for everybody, and it may not even be for most people. Many have difficulty focusing on anything in the movie but the violence, but violence is a part of life, and this movie makes that point.

Cosmic Fantasy 2
(1991)

"Maybe someday we'll meet again . . ."
That line comes from the lyrics of the song that plays during the end credits. Since I played this game back in 1994, I'm not sure if those are the exact words, but nevertheless, this song (and some other things in this game) will always stick in my mind.

You see, in 1994, the TurboDuo system was being discontinued, so I picked this game up for $9.95. But despite the clearout price, _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ turned out to be a great RPG for this system, along with _Ys Book I and II_ and _Dragon Slayer_. As with those other two games, this was largely because of the recorded music and cutscenes that the TurboGrafx / TurboDuo CD-ROM drive made possible. Unlike the contemporaneous Sega CD system, whose games relied heavily on full motion video, the Turbo CDs featured lots of anime-inspired cutscenes, with brighter colors to boot (the Turbo could display 256 colors, compared to the Genesis / Sega CD's 64). The gameplay was very standard fantasy RPG stuff (wander around, fight monsters, cast spells, etc.), but the CD music and watching the story unfold through the cutscenes made these games memorable. In Japan, the PC Engine (the original Japanese version of the Turbo) was very successful, so many anime-inspired games (many based on actual anime) were made, but the Turbo never quite conquered the market over here, so very few of these games were translated into English (and it didn't help that very few Americans were familiar with anime back then).

The American (TurboGrafx / TurboDuo) version of _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ was made and distributed by Working Designs, who both translated the story well and hired good voice actors for the cutscenes. Most of the voice actors are relative unknowns who mostly worked on other Working Designs anime games (although one actor, Ashley Parker Angel, has gone on to become a member of the band O-Town and star in some minor live-action roles). Yet they do a great job, and are comparable to the voice actors who do the English dubs of regular anime. They bring the characters to life and make you actually care about them, much as you do with the characters in your favorite anime shows. Personally, as much as I like _Ys_ and _Dragon Slayer_, I don't enjoy the acting in those games quite as much: _Ys_'s voices are a little too straightforward and serious (although appropriate to the story and cutscenes), and _Dragon Slayer_'s often fall flat.

*** CAUTION! MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD! ***

But what I'll always remember most about _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is the big plot shocker that comes at the end of the game, after the battle with the main bad guy. If you don't mind having it spoiled, here it is: Laura, the main character's (Van's) girlfriend, dies (it's been almost 9 years since I played this, so I don't remember how or why). All right, maybe you've seen this kind of plot twist before, but it was the first time I'd even seen one in a video game; it certainly distinguished _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ from the other RPGs at the time that wrapped everything up so neatly. The brief cutscene of Van's devastated reaction mirrored my surprise, and Laura's death is particularly sad when you recall the flashback cutscene at the beginning of the game, where Van and Laura (as children) have carved their names into a tree and sworn undying love. Finally, those lyrics ("Maybe someday we'll meet again") in the ending credits song obviously allude to Van and Laura. Man, this game really rubs it into you! I admit that I haven't played many RPGs, so the ending probably affected me more than it would most other gamers, but I liked seeing a game that wasn't afraid to take a chance in its plotline. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but the ending alone is almost worth playing through this game. _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is the only game in a series of about five games that made it to the US, so I have no idea whether Laura somehow gets resurrected in any of the sequels. I'd appreciate it if anybody would let me know if she does.

*** END OF SPOILER ***

So if you ever pick up a TurboDuo (or TurboGrafx with the CD-ROM attachment; _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is a regular CD game, so it'll play on either one), be sure to check this one out. The packaging on the American version is awful and looks very unlike the actual game (again, back in 1992, anime was mostly unknown here, so game companies didn't want to put anime-style characters on their packaging), and the failure of the Turbo kept most gamers from playing this, but this game is a hidden treasure. You could even say that it "wasn't properly appreciated in its own time." I'd really like to see an update of this game, but I would still insist that the original version be included on the disc (of course). Maybe someday _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ and I will meet again. . .

Zapped Again!
(1990)

It keeps you reasonably entertained for 90 minutes, which is its purpose
The only reason I watched _Zapped Again_ was because I had again watched the original _Zapped!_ after 19 years (see my review for _Zapped!_). From some of the reviews in video books and on the IMDb, I was prepared for an unmitigated disaster. Surprisingly, I found myself reasonably entertained for an hour and a half.

First of all, I should say that _Zapped Again_ isn't a great movie. Its origins and status as a low budget, direct-to-video movie clearly show. The plot is very superficial, the constant double entendres (especially the "wiener" jokes) get a little annoying, and the stand-up-for-your-friends-and-don't-go-with-the-popular-crowd moral that pops up in every teen film has been conveyed much more effectively. Even the special effects are worse than the original _Zapped!_, which actually came out seven years earlier.

But in spite of all of this, I didn't think this was half bad, probably because I went in with lowered expectations. One reason was because the movie doesn't rely on strong profanity, sex scenes, or gross-out scenes to entertain its target audience, the way so many other teen movies do. In fact, this is basically a PG-rated movie with some nude scenes incongruously thrown in--just like the original _Zapped!_. I'm no prude, and I have to agree with the reviewer who said that the movie is "gosh darn wholesome," but not all movies--or even all teen movies--require racy elements. Maybe this IS too much like _Saved by the Bell_, but it does have PG-rated material (and those nude scenes, the only reason why this is rated R).

I should devote a separate paragraph to Kelli Williams, who plays the hero's love interest (by the way, her mother, Shannon Wilcox, plays the hero's mom in the opening scenes). I had never heard of her before watching _Zapped Again_ (I never watch TV, so I hadn't even seen her on _The Practice_), but let me tell you, she helps this movie immeasurably. You see, her character is supposed to be a science nerd, just like Felice Schachter in the original _Zapped_, but Kelli lights up the movie every time she appears onscreen. Not only is she the perfect "sweet nice girl" (I always had a weakness for those characters), but she plays this part without overacting or resorting to caricature; she gets it just right. Although roles like this are never meant to win Oscars, Kelli takes this little part in a direct-to-video flick and actually does something with it. Although I'm sure she'd like to forget all about _Zapped Again_, the movie is much better for her presence. I'm not surprised that she went on to her present success on _The Practice_.

The acting is actually better than in _Zapped!_, which is one main reason why I liked _Zapped Again_ better. However, I thought that the types that

some of the characters were supposed to represent were inconsistent with those characters' portrayal and actions. Kevin (played by Todd Eric Andrews) acts just too "cool" to be an outcast nerd; I can't see why he would have any social problems. As for Kelli Williams as Lucy, I just couldn't accept her as a nerd girl (although I certainly don't object to her presence here). Not only does she look too good for the part, but her attempts at nerdy intellectualism fall flat, and the two scenes where she inexplicably wears glasses (and just as inexplicably takes them off) look like weak attempts by the filmmakers to establish her character. They should have just had her play a straightforward "nice girl" (which she does admirably). Linda Blair doesn't cut it as "the hottest teacher in the school": not only does she not look "sexy" enough, but her character is also just too nice.

Still, I thought that _Zapped Again_ was a half-decent movie, especially because the acting was better than _Zapped!_ (maybe because 1989 was a more exciting year than 1982, and had that hip attitude?). Hey, it kept me entertained, and sometimes I like to take a break from the Criterion Collection and watch something that does nothing more than entertain you.

If you demand that all teen movies and sex comedies have refugees from WB Network shows, big budgets, and great soundtracks (always a big selling point with teen films), then you'll hate _Zapped Again_ (which, by the way, is more a remake of _Zapped!_ than a sequel). But as long as you lower your expectations, and as long as you don't expect a late 80s teen classic like _Heathers_ or _Say Anything_, you might get a little something out of this.

Zapped!
(1982)

Good for nostalgia, not much else
Way back in 1983, when I was 11 1/2, I saw _Zapped!_ on HBO. The funny part about it was that my grandmother, who was visiting at the time, wanted to know what I wanted to watch, so she took out the HBO Guide and read the blurb on it. I clearly remember her reading aloud, "Scott Baio stars as the boy who can maneuver both a baseball and the buttons on a girl's blouse," and (POTENTIAL SPOILER), although I can't remember the exact words, how he blows off everybody's clothes at the prom. She insisted on sitting up with me, presumably for my protection. Well, she fell asleep, so I got to watch the whole thing. But even at 11 1/2, I was surprised at how tame the movie was (except for the nude scenes). I got to thinking about _Zapped!_ recently, so I bought a VHS copy to watch it again. What do I think about it 19 years later? Read on.

According to the IMDb, _Zapped!_ was originally rated PG, but the filmmakers added the nude scenes to raise the rating to an R. Watching it again, I'd have to agree: the entire film seems like a made-for-TV movie or an after school special. There's only mild, PG-rated profanity, no gross-out scenes, and nothing really offensive (unless you consider the nude scenes offensive). What you have, then, is a PG-rated movie with some incongruous nudity added. And it probably doesn't help any that _Zapped!_ was made in 1982, a bland year if ever there was one.

Unfortunately, the acting is bland along with the rest of the movie. The three leads were all TV actors (Baio from _Happy Days_, Aames from _Eight is Enough_, and Schachter from _The Facts of Life_), so they resort to that bland TV style of acting, making _Zapped!_ seem even more like a television production trapped in a feature film's body. Scatman Crothers, as the baseball coach, and Eddie Deezen, in his brief appearance at the frat house, are better, but their talents are wasted here.

The special effects involving levitation are quite good, and even though the animation used looks cheesy today (remember, _Zapped!_ was made 20 years ago), it's still fun to watch and see how far computer animation has come.

But unfortunately, _Zapped!_ isn't funny. The main reason for this is probably that the filmmakers play it too safe, supporting the theory that the movie was originally supposed to be rated PG. Yes, I know that Baio and Aames were TV stars, so they wanted to make a movie that their younger stars could go see in the theater (home video wasn't that big in '82, so you had to get 'em into the theaters). But there were many PG-rated movies at that time (_Airplane!_ immediately comes to mind) that pushed the envelope, so the original rating is really no excuse.

Personally, I only found two good scenes in this movie: 1) the scene after the baseball game, when Baio gets revenge on the people in the convertible; and 2) the prom scene (of course). When I watched _Zapped!_ for the second time, I had seen _Carrie_, so I appreciated the prom scene a lot more (including the "prism" shot of Heather Thomas, taken directly from DePalma's film).

It was interesting to watch _Zapped!_ again and see how much of it I remembered (which was a lot), and those early 80s clothes and hair are always a hoot, but the movie itself was disappointing. I'd recommend this only if you're a fan of any of the cast, or if you want to relive the early 80s.

Baburugamu kuraishisu
(1987)

Well-made robot anime with many distinctive touches
I have recently finished watching 'Bubblegum Crisis' for the second time, on DVD, and I found myself both entertained and impressed.

The problem with most sci-fi and robot anime is that they are too heavy-handed and dark; as well, they often suffer from plodding and boring plots, to the point where they are not enjoyable to watch. Not so with 'Bubblegum Crisis'. The series is actually divided into two main storylines which comprise six episodes, and two side stories for the other two episodes. While the main stories require some concentration, they are interesting without being convoluted. _BC_ does not try to ponder the human condition or find the meaning of life, as other SF stories do, but simply creates stories that the viewer can enjoy. As well, there are some plot threads that are developed throughout the series, making events and characters more significant and more part of the story. While some may argue that 'BC' is nothing but science fiction lite, it keeps the viewer absorbed, which is more than I can say for most of the sci-fi anime I have watched.

I'd say that this series's greatest strength is its characters. Not only are they well developed, but they interact wonderfully with one another. Their differing and often conflicting personalities make the viewer identify with them, their lives, and their problems. We see people trying to cope with violence and destruction on a daily basis and simultaneously keep their humanity somehow. I believe that too many anime fall into the trap of trying to impress the viewer with things such as animation, sex, and violence, forgetting more important things such as character development and interaction. Like all the other best anime, however, 'BC' not only avoids this trap, but defines new standards.

'Bubblegum Crisis' also succeeds in its use of rock music, integrating it into the series and drawing the viewer in. Even though the songs are in Japanese, I still enjoyed them and was impressed by the quality of the songwriting. I should point out that these songs are some of the few I remember from any anime.

I thought the animation was excellent, especially for an OVA. The inevitable darkness of Neo Tokyo was nicely balanced by the brighter colors of the interiors of homes, shops, etc. This was another thing that kept the series from descending into sci-fi boredom. As well, the characters are animated according to their personalities, helping to develop them.

So I would call 'Bubblegum Crisis' a success because it manages to entertain all audiences, not just sci-fi and robot fans. In fact, it even entertained me.

Aa! Megamisama!
(1993)

Ah! My Lightness!
I have just watched this series for the second time, and many of the impressions I had when I watched it for the first time seven years ago have been reinforced.

One of those impressions is that _Aa! Megamisama!_ is a fabulously produced piece of work. The animation is superb for an OVA, the voice acting is good, and the beginning and ending credit songs are imaginative.

Now for the bad news . . .

The main problem with this series is that it is too short: four 30-minute episodes and a 45-minute one. As a result, it spends most of its time setting up the story and introducing the characters; the third goddess, Skuld, does not make an appearance until episode #3. In fact, the entire series plays more like a prologue than a complete story. This is fine if more series are to follow, but the only follow-up so far is the movie (correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the "Mini Goddess" series is a direct sequel to this).

Another shortcoming was the general tone of the series, a tone which is excessively light and airy. No, I don't think that all anime has to be dark and serious. But I would have liked something that didn't look as if it were aimed at ten- to twelve-year-olds. I think it's good that such anime exists (for those too young for _Akira_), but since AnimEigo, the series's American distributor, seems to be marketing this to adults as well as children, I would expect something more substantial. Adding to this problem is the simplicity of the smaller plots of the individual episodes, as well as of the larger plot of the series in general. The smaller plots generally involve some immediate problem which gets solved at the end of the episode. While this approach works well with TV series anime, the viewer who commits himself to watching an OVA wants more of an ongoing story and less of a sitcom-style plot. As a result of these issues, _Aa! Megamisama!_, IMHO, becomes that dreaded term "a piece of fluff," though a well made piece of fluff.

--POSSIBLE SPOILER-- One thing I found interesting in this series was the theme of commitment, symbolized in the ring that Keiichi buys Belldandy and in the ending credits song. The entire series becomes something of a celebration of purity and virtuosity, undoubtedly influenced by the fact that Keiichi's love interest is a goddess who cannot be sullied. This wholesomeness is something often missing from anime, though it makes me wonder if the target audience for _Aa! Megamisama!_ is much younger than I am.

I don't dislike this series. In fact, it was a welcome change from the usual stuff. I plan to watch the movie, and would watch a sequel series if one ever came out. I have never read the manga, so maybe I'm missing something. At any rate, it's worth watching for the animation alone.

Kimagure Orenji Rôdo
(1985)

"I Will Dance in the Sweet Memory"
Seven years after first learning about _Kimagure Orange Road_ from a preview on one of AnimEigo's tapes, I have finally watched the entire TV series. I must say that I'm glad I finally got around to it, and wish I had done it sooner.

This series reminds me a lot of Rumiko Takahashi's manga (and the anime adapted from it): among other things, it has slapstick humor, a romantic triangle, and a sense that everything is eventually going to come crashing down. But one important difference in _Kimagure_ is the way that the story is presented.

For example, Kyosuke Kasuga is not only the protagonist of the story, but also its narrator, having several voice-overs that comment on the action. Also, at several points (particularly at the ends of episodes), the "camera" zooms back from the picture on the screen, revealing that it is a photograph; at other times, the entire screen will black out, except for a character's face, further giving the impression of a photograph and allowing Kyosuke to make a comment. These techniques all contribute to the feeling that the true story of _Kimagure Orange Road_ is not what is happening, but how Kyosuke remembers it: he is reflecting on his junior high days, the things he did then, the emotional changes he went through, etc. We all go through the kinds of things that Kyosuke and the others do, and we often find ourselves thinking back to "those days."

The series also makes several references to live-action films, such as _The Graduate_, _Top Gun_, and even Nagisa Oshima's _Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence_. I had fun finding them out. The reference to _The Graduate_ (in episode #11) is particularly clever.

One thing that I like about this series is that even though --POSSIBLE SPOILER-- Kyosuke and his sisters have psychic powers, the plots do not use this gimmick as a crutch. In fact, the powers take a backseat to the interactions among the characters, and in some episodes, the Kasugas do not use them at all.

The three characters in the show are likable enough, although I would have liked to see more development of Madoka Arukawa (but I suppose her mysteriousness is part of what makes the story) and Hikaru. Their interactions with one another, as well as their personalities, make you care what happens to them. The numerous supporting characters (another similarity to Takahashi) add to the story as well, often providing comic relief.

I think the animation in this series is very good and is well suited to the story and characters. Strangely enough, even though this show ran for only one season, it has three different opening sequences and three different closing credit sequences, each with its own song.

So I highly recommend this series for anybody who likes clever plots and good storytelling. In a word, this show is about life.

Majingâ Zetto
(1972)

Good early mecha series
As it did with many Americans, my first exposure to _Majinga Zetto_ came in 1985, when the English language version, _Tranzor Z_, came out. I didn't pay much attention to it, and don't believe I ever watched a complete episode. Undoubtedly, the presentation of _Tranzor Z_ as a kiddie show would have given me the impression that it wasn't worth wasting my time on. And the fact that there were two other giant robot series (_Voltron_ and _Transformers_) on at the time didn't help either. Even though I had seen _Battle of the Planets_, the animated movie _Jack and the Beanstalk_, and _Speed Racer_, I had no idea in 1985 what anime was, so I just wrote the show off.

A few years ago, however, I found out that _Tranzor Z_ was anime, giving me some interest in watching it and seeing what I had missed. I didn't really act on this interest until several months ago, when I did a search on eBay and found people auctioning CD-ROMS with some of the episodes. I won and received a set.

Even though it is edited from a 1972-74 show, _Tranzor Z_ is a very typical mid-Eighties kids' show, from the voice acting to the music. With its main theme music and cheesy narration, the opening credit sequence in particular exemplifies children's programming during the Reagan years. However, this did not prevent me from enjoying the show and the animation. If I had given this a chance in '85, I could see myself getting into it as I had done with the other shows I mentioned.

Going back to eBay, I ran across a 12-DVD set of the complete _Majinga Zetto_ series, so I won it. Watching the original Japanese version of the show was like exploring a whole new world, a much more exciting and meaningful one than the syndication hell of _Tranzor Z_. --SPOILER--For example, in the first episode, a minor character is murdered, and Kouji (Tommy Davis in _Z_) comes home to find Shiro (Toad in _Z_) crying over her body. Of course, this was something that you can't show in a kids' show in America, but it gives you some idea of how different the two versions are from one another, and also proves once again that the Japanese are not afraid to take chances. --SPOILER-- Another example is when Count Brocken (Devleen in the American version) kills a man's puppies and frames Kouji for it. But I'm not suggesting that _Majinga Z_ is better simply because it has more violence. It also has bits of humor that American lobbying groups would find unacceptable, such as when --SPOILER-- a puppy urinates on Shiro at the end of one episode. In general, _Majinga Zetto_ was aimed at a much wider audience, one that included adults as well as children, whereas _Tranzor Z_ reflects the pre-Simpsons belief in America that animation is only for children.

The show ran for 92 episodes (two seasons), and becomes more interesting in the second season. Even the opening credit sequence for the second season is better (same theme song, but a different montage of action scenes). New characters are introduced, and the old ones acquire new robots. Throughout the entire series, the colors are often darker than _Tranzor Z_, and the music, while it has that Seventies sound to it, is also better.

There are still some shortcomings to the show. The action is too repetitive, consisting of endless robot fights that rarely vary. And the writers have trouble with creating interesting plot resolutions: --POSSIBLE SPOILER-- invariably, Kouji uses Majinga Zetto's super powers on the enemy robot until he finds a weak spot or it is caught off guard, then he pours on the attacks and destroys it. I would have liked to see more originality, especially since there are so many episodes.

However, the show manages to be entertaining, and provide likeable characters (even though they are not very developed and do not change or grow any over the course of the series). It strains itself a little over so many episodes, but it managed to keep me entertained--and I normally don't like mecha anime. I was particularly impressed with how well it holds up after thirty years. Good anime tends to last, as _Jack and the Beanstalk_ shows.

So if you like mechas, or just want to see some old anime, check this out.

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