Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Wolverine 3

His being a mutant is entirely unrelated to his ability to create blades of wind.
In addition to my love of anime, I’ve always retained a bit of a soft spot for American comic books and super heroes, and while the announcement of Iron Man did little to excite me, when I heard about Wolverine’s anime adaptation, I was understandably excited. Thoughts of my 90’s childhood, and Saturday mornings camped out in front of the TV, bowl of cereal in hand watching X-Men were at the forefront of my mind. Once Wolverine released, however, the number of bad reviews, and pressing school engagements kept me from watching it until now.

At this point, a teaser might be expected, but I see no reason to shy away from the obvious. It was bad. Multiple, hilarious reasons below the jump.

When American comics and Japanese manga/anime mix, the results, and often the quality, is as varied as their ‘source material.’ There have been successes, like Heroman, a surprisingly enjoyable collaboration between Studio Bones, and Marvel Comics’ legend Stan Lee. In contrast, there was Iron Man, starring the Marvel superhero of the same name, whose failings can and have been the subject of multiple reviews elsewhere. Wolverine, which, like Iron Man, was produced by Madhouse studios, is not a success.
The first minute of Wolverine is full of pointless establishing shots. The next two have him talking to Mariko Yashida, a character last seen in Marvel Comics continuity some decades ago, for reasons that might be seen as a spoiler, despite the fact that SPOILER: |We see him carrying her dead body in the closing credits.|
The conversation goes on for about ten seconds before being interrupted by ninjas; it’s that kind of show. It’s a credit to the show’s 80s and 90s cheesy vibe, that the ninjas sneak up on the pair while underwater, only to jump out of the water and fly around on jetpacks, using machine guns as their weapon of choice. Oh, and the battle music (and the opening and 1/3rd of closing credits) are all 80’s rock/hair metal guitar riffs.
In terms of plot development, quite a lot happens in each episode, but very little is ever accomplished. Rescuing Mariko is the football continually pulled away from Wolverine’s inner Charlie Brown. Breaking into her father’s heavily armed mansion? Drugged and tossed onto train tracks. Trying to get your cop buddy to arrest him? Your buddy is dead, and you’ve been stupidly framed for his murder. Trying to disrupt the Big Bad’s drug deals (why, again?)? Omega Red shows up and attacks you.
Now matter how bad I find the show, paradoxically, my favorite moments are when the show embraces its stupidity. In episode 2 for example, Wolverine cuts open a door and jumps out of it, only to look down and realize he’s been so into the moment that he’s accidentally jumped off the top floor of an office building, and is dangling in midair above the parking lot below. Sadly, the Wolverine never really shows itself to be genre-saavy enough to make the most of these moments, and most of them are apparently accidental.
The number of stupid, stupid moments are too high to count, and some Time-Lord science is used to make things ‘bigger on the inside,’ where a single moment will contain more stupidity than that amount of screentime will allow. Wolverine and his newfound partner, Xena, the Warrior Ninja-Assassin, are running away from the cops, and throwing out some truly sickening clichés about “I’ll put my chips on your chance of winning.” Stupid enough, but then a look at the background reveals they’re running away from the cops in broad daylight, with no buildings or cover within sight.
This is made doubly stupid by the preceding scene ending with a cop realizing that the samurai fighting with Logan is also a potential suspect for the murder Logan was framed for, last episode. (A hint to would be assassins trying to frame someone: don’t wait around the murder scene and/or let the cops get a clear look at you.)
Any action within this episode was a letdown as well, with the first ten minutes of the show devoted to one of the most boring fights with a mutant samurai assassin ever put on screen. (The fact that I even had to write that line hurts me on the inside.) On the more technical side, the show has a bit more going for it: the character designs are distinctive, (even if I find some of them downright painful to watch,) and although this episode in particular has a noticeable drop in animation quality, Studio Madhouse still shows itself to be a capable animation studio.
Overall, this episode was boring, and a general waste of time. The plot was just one line of flimsy exposition away from becoming a “Random Events Plot,” the music is boring and repetitive, and the character-work is non-existent. If this wasn’t so entertaining to pull apart and dissect, I’d honestly never watch it again. I strongly encourage my readers to go one step further, travel back in time, and stop me from watching it at all.

Wolverine, Episode 3
Plot Advancement: 1/5
Action/Fight Scenes: 1/5
Characters: 0/5
Episode Plot: 1/5
Animation Quality: 2/5
Overall: 1/5
P.S. Have I mentioned the ending credits are three entirely different sets of music and visuals put end to end? Because I think that’s just great. X3

1 comment:

  1. Madhouse had some of the same problems with Devil May Cry but it looks sounds like Wolverine is more degraded. But look on the bright side, you didn't watch it after it was licensed by Funimation Entertainment.