Last September I reviewed Afro Samurai which was one of the best anime’s I’d seen in a long time. By the end of the first movie Afro had avenged his father and found a life of peace. In this sequel that peace is shattered by the arrival of a woman from his past (Sio, voiced by Lucy Liu) who is intent in schooling Afro in the same brutal lessons he dealt those who stood in his way as he searched for the number one headband. In a revenge fuelled attack, Sio steals the number 1 headband as well as the skull of Afro’s dead father. With this she intends to resurrect Afro’s late father and torture him. This movie sees Afro restart his journey, he must first find the Number Two Headband so that he can earn the right to challenge Sio. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Afro and again provides the voice of ‘Ninja Ninja’ Afro’s imaginary who symbolizes his inner feelings and always acts as the voice of Afro’s conscience.
Like the original series, Afro Samurai provides some great action with plenty of gore and limbs flying around the place, as well as the usual bittersweet, and often tragic drama that asks some pretty profound morale questions. The visual style of the animation is stunning, as is the musical score, which was performed once again by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s a great continuation of one the best anime series I’ve seen in a long time.
Hellsing – The Collection
The Hellsing Organization is a supernatural collective dedicated to protecting mankind from a war that rages in the Earth’s shadows in which humanity is only a pawn. Able to keep the dark forces at bay for so long, Hellsing has recently been coming across artificially spawned vampires so powerful that they can do nothing to stop them. So, the Organization calls in Alucard, a rogue vampire who combats this army of the undead with Seras Victoria, a female companion he rescued from death by vampirising. Whilst I found this series entertaining, and I did enjoy it a lot. It didn’t really feel like it had any depth. The series tries to build an aura of mystery surrounding Alucard and yet never really succeeds in explaining why such a powerful vampire decided to become a servant to a human master. Everyone should also also realise fairly quickly that ‘Alucard’ is an anagram of ‘Dracula’.
Mysterious Cities of Gold
Ok, so this isn’t really what I’d class as anime, but it is animation 😉 I recall how much in enjoyed this series as a child and couldn’t resist purchasing it when it became available last year. It’s take a while to watch it all, and I can report that it is still as wonderful now as it was then. For those who have never seen this or even heard of it, I recommend it thoroughly. This series comes from an era when story telling was paramount, watching it again I was surprised at how the series, although humorous and fun, required more maturity on the part of the audience than the sort of vacuous cartoons kids seem to watch these days. Plus I’ve always loved the opening score …