Ten year old Nate is off bug-hunting with his best friends when he discovers a mysterious vending machine in the woods. Ok... so instead of a lamp post, they have a vending machine. Curious, Nate sticks in a coin and opens the pod that comes out. Inside the pod is a ghost-like spirit who introduces himself as a yo-kai, a creature of Japanese mythology, and gives his name: Whisper. Whisper is so grateful to be free he volunteers to be Nate’s butler and gives him the magical Yo-Kai Watch, a tool that allows him to see Yo-Kai.
Now, Yo-Kai are mischievous spirits, all the time causing trouble for humans and influencing their actions. None of them are really dangerous, and can be reasoned with. Unlike the other Japanese import Pokemon, the idea is to befriend the Yo-Kai, rather than fight them or make them fight. As Whisper and Nate go around befriending Yo-Kai and freeing people from their influence they find themselves in sticky situations and adventures beyond what Nate ever dreamed. Can he make all the Yo-Kai his friends?
Nate is an ordinary kid, whose biggest ambition in life was to find a cool bug to impress his crush Katie... given most girls’ aversion to bugs, maybe not the best idea. When he meets Whisper, he has a whole world thrust onto his shoulders. But Nate’s a good kid and takes it in stride. Whisper is incredibly loyal and a good friend to Nate, which helps other Yo-Kai see that Nate is trustworthy. The magical creatures also come to love Nate and defend him from all threats and help him if he needs it.
The Yo-Kai, in traditional mythology, are similar to fairies. They can be ghosts (Yo-Kai Hungramps, Jibanyan, and Manjimutt are examples of Yo-Kai who were once flesh and blood) but not all of them are. Some of them are even objects that gained sentience, due to a belief in Japan that objects over a certain age gain a spirit. That could get awkward. Can you imagine? “Honey, we can’t use the dining room set anymore. It’s sentient.”
Because of these factors, some of them have very sad backstories. For example, Jibanyan is the ghost of a cat who died saving his young mistress from an oncoming truck, and was rewarded for his devotion by being given magical power. (Some reward!)
Manjimutt opens up a whole new can of worms, in a different area than the spiritual aspects mentioned above. Manjimutt is… rather obsessed with women. Manjimutt was born when a low-level businessman was killed in a drunken accident at the same time as a dog, creating the “man faced dog” a boogeyman of Japanese folklore and one of the only Yo-Kai who can be seen without aid of the Yo-Kai Watch. Because of the state that Manjimutt finds himself in, (being killed when he was) he struggles to reinvent himself in different ways; afterlife crises, if you will. Many or most of his daydreams involve women and girls fawning over him in some way. He never succeeds and this only results in him getting thrown in jail. His antics are uncomfortable to watch and would be very hard to explain to kids in the Yo-Kai Watch target age group. When his segments are replaced by the adventures of the sweet and guileless Komasan, it’s a great relief.
Other issues involve Jibanyan’s obsession with the girl singing group Next Harmeowny, but this is likely leftover from his time with his mistress. Another incident involves Nate and his two best buddies trying to stay up and watch a naughty movie (and are interrupted by a Yo-Kai). More issues arise from the multiple episodes built around potty humor gags and potty humor themed Yo-Kai. Even Spongebob would blush at the shear volume of potty humor related gags in these episodes!
When all’s said, be very choosy about the Yo-Kai you befriend if you watch this show. Some of them are good friends, some of them just stink. While I do consider it a viable alternative to Pokemon, caution must be used when watching this show. This is definitely one that grown-ups will want to preview before letting kids see. Recommended, but with some cautions.
Hatori Chise feels worthless. Shuffled from relative to relative after her father left her and her mother committed suicide, Chise no longer cares if she lives or dies. Cheery. Willing to do anything for a real home, she sells herself as a slave in a magical marketplace. You see, Chise can see faeries and spirits and control them better than any other mage in the world, but this leaves her with a shortened lifespan. Seriously, how much more depressing could this get?
Rather than see her abused and left to die, a half-faerie mage named Elias rescues Chise. He takes her back to his home in England to be his apprentice, and perhaps someday… his bride. Wait, what?!
Elias’s intentions are pure, all he wishes is for human companionship. He is too much faerie to be human, and too human to be faerie, caught in the terrible twilight, he rescues a girl in the same spot in hopes of claiming some form of humanity. Under Elias’s protection, Chise dares to feel again, and finds herself surrounded by more friends than she could imagine.
Elias is the friend of the elemental creatures, and is kind and gentle, most of the time. He doesn’t quite get humans, (not uncommon with faeries in folklore) so Chise teaches him about empathy and other human virtues. Being formerly an Unseelie fae, Elias can’t process emotions as words, only sensations, he has to learn from Chise the names of what he feels. This is the main gist of the show, the reclamation and restoration of humanity. It tries, anyway...
Since this show is called “Ancient Magus’s Bride” and we are working with faeries and such, there is quite a bit of magic. Elias, Chise, and other mages are seen to be singing chants to the elements to make them do their bidding. Each mage also has at least one familiar, a faerie that helps them do their magic. In the context of this series, the familiars are there to help the mage amplify and control their magic, nothing more. So far, fortune telling has not come up. Necromancy has come up, and is viewed as disgusting and perverted, and something no honest mage would do.
Chise’s faerie is called Ruth, a black dog that can transform into a boy about Chise’s age. He’s a boy dog, but his name is Ruth… like Babe Ruth? Anyway, ln his former life, Ruth, then Ulysse, was the pet of a girl who looked something like Chise. When his girl is killed in a tragic accident, the faithful dog stays by her grave until he too passes. Just when thought it couldn’t get more depressing! Buddhist theology teaches that humans and creatures who do good are “upgraded” upon their death into something better as a reward for their good work. In this case from a normal, if very intelligent dog to a powerful faerie that can take human form. Part of the ceremony that binds Chise and Ruth involves cutting her palm. Also some of Ruth’s lines hark back to the biblical Book of Ruth.
Many characters have Biblical names, and certain aspects of the series are associated with Christianity. One of Elias’s friends is Father Simon, a priest charged with looking after him. Elias doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t mind so long as the church doesn’t bother him. He does favors for the Church in exchange for not having people checking in on him every day. That does not stop him from helping people that Simon sends his way, doling out gentle natural medicines. Chise also goes to Simon for help when she needs it.
The Queen of the Faeries, Tatiana refers dismissively to God and the Church (also not uncommon to unseelie faeries in folklore) and both she and King Oberon are morally ambiguous. Elias is put out by the Queen’s dismissal of Father Simon and the faeries’ general moral ambiguity, which is implied to be his reason for leaving Tir Na Nog. Tatiana says that the human world is toxic to the soul and that’s why humans age and die. (Theologically, can’t say she’s entirely wrong… sin is toxic.) The forest god Cernunnos and his pregnant bride show up in the Christmas-themed episode for about five seconds. There are also witches who try to get Chise to join their coven in exchange for saving her life.
There are some sexual content concerns. Tatiana’s dress is very open at the top, leaving very little to the imagination. This pattern is repeated with Cernunnos’s bride and a faerie named Leanan Sidhe (LEE-an-NAN SHEE). Leanan lives in the garden of an elderly man named Joel, but contrary to her type (vampire) she does not hurt him. After his death she never hurts another man again. In two episodes, Chise tends to a wounded and frightened Elias in his room. This appears to be entirely chaste, though Elias struggles not to eat Chise at one point. Chise also gives Elias a kiss on the cheek. In the first episode, Elias helps Chise get ready for a bath, and we later see her side and back, never anything more than that. Chise is humiliated, but Elias doesn’t understand her embarrassment. And this is all before they get married for real… when Chise is 16.
To his detriment, Elias shows himself to be jealous, possessive, and stalker-y at times, demanding to know where Chise is at all times. He claims it’s so he can protect her, but I have my doubts. Chise is more than capable of defending herself and Ruth does everything he can to protect her, and is often of more use than Elias. Elias does not respect Chise’s personal space, clearly not comprehending it makes her uncomfortable.
Blood is also on display, for instance if Chise uses too much magic it can cause her to vomit blood. There are also incidents of bloody violence, much of it involving Chise. Disturbing monsters and imagery abound, adding a gloss of horror to the this usually strictly urban fantasy genre anime. Recurring villain Cartaphilus (AKA the Wandering Jew) loses an arm, takes one from another man, and then tries to kill Chise. He uses parts from Ruth’s young mistress to create an undead monster. One of the minor characters, Alice used to be a drug addict, and defends herself from her former dealer. A faerie doctor fakes drowning Chise in order to heal her wounds. An Unseelie called Ashen Eye kidnaps Elias and a little boy and uses words to entrap foolish humans, including Chise. There is also the occasional swear word (strongest used is the P-word).
In all, Ancient Magus Bride is a beautiful, but confused mess, much like it’s hero. The show is has much truth and beauty, but it is spiritually confused. Much like Elias himself, it can’t escape its own web of confusion, therefore, my stamp of disapproval rests on this show. Ancient Magus’ Bride had lots of promise, but it embodies everything people criticize about Beauty and the Beast stories and fairy tales in general, not to mention it’s just plain depressing. Move over Phantom, Elias is going to give you a run for your money!
What I expected:
What I got:
"Excuse me?" Starlight jumped and looked up. There was a beautiful blonde doll in red standing in front of her. "My name is Apple White." "I'm Starlight Glimmer." "Why don't you go talk to the other ponies? They won't bite!" "I don't know if I should..." "Why don't you come have a bite to eat with me? We can have a girl-to-girl talk."
"And don't you think it's weird that our girl is... a grown up?" "Well, maybe a little, but we're here for a reason. We model for her clothes." "Clothes?" "Yes, our girl has a little business fixing dolls and toys and making clothes for us. See my cape? She made if for me. That's why she bought you!"
Mune, an adorable faun lives in a world governed by two roaming temples, one towing the sun, the other the moon. The action kicks off when the Guardians of the Sun and Moon are going to retire and leave their charges in the hands of their apprentices. Sohone, the apprentice of the Sun, is accepted into his job, but the Moon’s apprentice, Leeyoon is passed over in favor of Mune. Do their names really have to rhyme with “moon”? Mune hasn’t had a day of training for this, and through accidents, he causes the sun to be stolen by Necross, a former Sun Guardian who became greedy. The moon slowly disintegrates, forcing Mune to team up with Sohone and a waxen girl called Glim to chase after the sun before it’s too late.
The world of Mune is lush and beautifully animated. I have rarely seen a movie so overflowing with genuine storybook magic as this one. The main characters are admirable and lovable, even through their faults, which the movie does not shy away from. Glim disobeys her father (who is only concerned about her wellbeing) to go see the investiture ceremony, but she is there to see that something is very wrong with the world when nobody else will listen. Sohone has a huge ego, but learns to overcome it when he has to work with meek Mune and sassy Glim to save the world. As for our hero, he is a fearful little thing, and learns to triumph over his fears and failings throughout his adventure.
Sohone is considered… hot stuff to the land’s ladies. (Yes, I made that pun and I’m proud) Glim is also enraptured by Sohone at first, before falling for Mune’s gentler charms and humble spirit. By the end of the movie, Glim and Mune are an official couple, sharing a chase kiss atop the moon temple, with Sohone generously giving way for the better man.
Necross is driven to dark deeds by glowing white snake like spirits. These creatures spout lies and inflame negative feelings like greed and anger. It’s not known where these creatures come from, only that they exist to disrupt the delicate balance of nature. Necross is shown set free from the corruption, and dies in peace.
There is some violence in this movie, but it’s mostly frightening imagery that is troublesome in this regard. Two characters die in the pursuit of the quest, both laying down their lives for the greater good of the whole world. Sohone also pops off one minor swear word.
All this being said, I loved Mune. It was a beautiful animated film, great for family viewing. Yes, some parts are scary and sad, but all the pain of the quest is worth it in the end. I am thrilled to recommend this cute little flick to my friends here at Movie Wimsey!
When word of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reached the ears of this reviewer, I thought that it was just another nostalgia driven cash grab, but after watching it I can say there is a lot to like here.
The series centers around unicorn Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong), a studious unicorn and her friends Applejack (Ashleigh Ball), Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman) Rainbow Dash (also Ashleigh Ball), and Fluttershy (also Andrea Libman) as they learn about friendship and have many adventures throughout the land of Equestria (literally translates to “ponyland”). Equestria is ruled by a group of Princesses, Celestia, (Nicole Oliver) who is Twilight’s teacher and sponsor, Luna (again, Tabitha St. Germain) Celestia’s sister, and their niece Cadence (Britt McKillip) each ruling over a specific area of Equestria. Though the series is dominated by female characters, there are also several important male characters, Prince Shining Armor, (Andrew Francis) Cadence’s husband, Big Mac, (Peter New) Applejack’s big brother, the riotous Cheese Sandwich (Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic) and the equally riotous dragon Discord (John De Lancie, the Q of Star Trek fame). Twilight and her friends face adventure and danger with a smile and a song, teaching small lessons and having loads of fun, but doing it in a way that probably won’t drive parents crazy!
Part of the popularity of this series is the distinctive personalities of the heroines. Every girl can find a pony that she can relate to and I feel that this is a great thing. The writing and animation are solid despite it’s soft and fluffy appearance and cotton candy colors. Stories featuring villains are rare, but when they are they are never all that threatening and are easily defeated by Twilight and her pals. The only exception is in the last two episodes of season three when Twilight must face a powerful villain alone and the villain causes carnage everywhere, even destroying Twilight’s home.
Some parents may have a problem with the use of magic in the show, but it’s really mild, you’d see the same things in a Disney movie. Then of course there is the issue of some members of the fandom drawing or writing about the characters in the show in creepy and perverted ways, letting little ones surf for their favorite pony alone is a bad move. (I realize most of the people reading this wouldn’t let their kids surf the internet alone, but it needs to be said.) There is very little potty humor (I have never once heard any gas jokes) and any violence is usually slapsticky and silly and rarely results in serious harm.
Taking everything into account, I can recommend My Little Pony for little girls first grade age and up. The bouncy, upbeat attitude and innocence of the ponies make for great family viewing. With the addition of adult friendly celebrities like Weird Al and John De Lancie, My Little Pony upped their game to welcome adult viewers, not just little girls to the franchise. Because of the high production quality and welcoming attitudes toward parents, your faithful doll-maker can give My Little Pony two hooves up!
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Mondays and Fridays.