Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Top 20 Anime Abandon Episodes

Given my track record for intros so far, I would bring up this guy’s simmering disrespect for Tim Burton as reason enough for why I don’t like him. Hell, for a long time, Bennett The Sage was legitimately my least favourite reviewer (that I was aware of at the time) for that very reason. And yet, as the series being spotlighted today ‘Anime Abandon’ grew and his prior series ‘Sage Reviews’ fell more and more by the wayside, the guy well and truly won me over. So much so that this guy might be the single best reviewer I’ve seen in terms of storylines, something I’ll clarify about as we go through today’s list. As such, let’s get into my picks for Top 20 best episodes of Anime Abandon.

#20. Agent Aika

Opening on a note of questioning the difference between exploitation for the sake of satire and just plain old exploitation (wondering how much of the joke is intended? Sage and the Rap Critic should do a collab at some point), this review is littered with that pondering that brings certain parts of the story and production into a clearer light, which is pretty symptomatic of a lot of Sage’s deeper musings in certain episodes. As a result, this is the perfect way to start out our list. That, and it showcases quite possibly one of the best extended counting gags of any video.

#19: Night Warriors

While filtering through a film that is balls-to-the-wall stupid, and yet keeps trying to pretend that it isn’t, we get a taste of Sage’s past aggression in his outburst towards whoever it was that left us with the main character we have in this series. It gives a nice reminder of how impulsive and psychopathic Sage’s character used to be, which works as a really good contrast for some of the episodes that we’ll get to later on down the list, especially with how it stands next to his depiction of being lonely that occurs not long after that initial outburst.

#18: Aeon Flux

Reviewed as part of Not-Quite Anime Month, Sage goes into detail about how this is easily the worst show he’s ever seen; even more so than the show’s whipping boy Neon Genesis Evangelion. While a lot of the review revolves around the series’ philosophical touches, and admittedly my brain continues to glaze over at a lot of the finer points in the massive block of explanation Sage gives to bring the audience up to speed on Gnosticism, his grievances with the show are definitely made perfectly clear.

#17: Akira

A look at one of the most celebrated anime films of all time, Sage manages to give the film its due in terms of influence and grandeur, all the while admitting that a film doesn’t need to be ‘good’ to be ‘important’. Indeed, between the original horrible dub and the story gutting that it went through during the adaptation process, he shows that the film has a lot of problems. And yet, none of those problems take away from the film’s positives, and Sage in no way thinks that they should.

#16: Ninja Resurrection

This is one of Sage’s freakout episodes where the subject is so bad that he actually has a mental breakdown, and while I would argue that the idea is getting slightly overused of late, that doesn’t detract heavily from the ones that work. Take, for instance, this one where the battle between legendary ninjas and major religious figures reaches the heights of lunacy. This is also one of the more gory freakouts on Sage’s part, which is something that adds to quite a bit of the character mythos. After spending so long playing the depraved murderous sicko, it’s kind of interesting how violent his traumatic visions end up being.

#15: 8 Man After

Billing something as a ‘gritty reboot’ is just about the worst label possible that doesn’t involve the word “Jai”, “Theresa” or “Akiva Goldsman”, and this might show the absolute worst traits associated with that label: Mandated connections to the original that feel amazingly disjointed, serious tonal issues, not to mention plot developments that make no sense. I’m with Sage on this one: A brain in a jar shouldn’t be this poorly explained.

#14: Tokyo Revelation

Getting into a couple’s spat with his big book of gay jokes, the hipster demon worshipper, the nonsensical demonic ritual in question, the over-your-head jokes that are almost Adult Swim in how weirdly funny they are; this is almost like a highlight reel of great Sage moments. Given how insanely weird the plot is, it makes sense how something like this could inspire so many great little moments in such a small package.

#13: Virgin Fleet

Even with how much worse his subject material would get (and in fact, had already been), this is easily the angriest review of the series. The hatred is just dripping from his voice with every word, not to mention the fact that he almost looks like he’s going to explode under his own power near the end, and he brings up more than legitimate reasons for him to be. Somehow, I doubt that the concept of ‘virgin energy planes’ could sound good to anyone.

#12: Burn-Up W

Using Jackass as a means to explain the line between mindless fun and just mindless idiocy is a decent enough footing to start off with, along with using Movie 43 as a clear example of how not to do either, but he extends his examination of that same line to the review proper. Not only that, he cuts off a nice bit of potential conspiracy theorizing concerning a certain mech look-a-like, and his “Someone’s waifu is missing!” line just cracks me up.

#11: Tokyo Godfathers

Sage prefers anime dubs over anime subs. That’s a pretty hefty deal-breaker for some people, but damn it all if he doesn’t give a damn good reason for thinking so. His little experiment to test his theory about the experience of watching a subbed film is interesting and makes for some nice points. It probably helps that the film he chose to review and break his usually-stringent rule about dubs is one that genuinely deserves to be looked at.

#10: Love Hina Spring Movie

This is just straight-up reaction porn, as Sage’s facial expressions and cries of utter bewilderment at what is happening on screen, flying turtles included, rank up there among some of the best I’ve seen from an Internet critic. I haven’t watched any of the Love Hina series outside of the clips from his reviews, but based on his own feelings and the content inside, just the fact that this is rounding off a trilogy of reviews gives this video a lot of oomph as well. This is all in spite of an opening gag with Oancitizen that ends on a note that, honestly, I’m still having difficulty reading into even after watching and re-watching it an unhealthy number of times.

#9: The Guyver

Yeah, this video has gotten very little regard since its release that it inspired quite possibly one of the greatest responses of any video, which itself got dramatized into its own video. That said, I’m highlighting this video because of its place in the storyline of Bennett The Sage, specifically his past appearances. His interaction with the Nostalgia Critic is basically his earlier sins and violent tendencies coming back to bite him (like his infamous appearance on Ask That Guy With The Glasses), with Sage’s stance essentially being to try and see past his previous actions in favour of who he is now. That, and his banter with the Critic is funny as well, but I like this primarily for its thematic elements.

#8: Tenchi 2: The Daughter Of Darkness

This isn’t the first time Sage has gotten into the Tenchi Muyo series, but he certainly lends the credence to why people would be into it by going through the characters and the essential premise and pointing out its inherent strengths. Hell, he even gives lip service to what is a pretty damn effective bit of drama in the film proper. That said, this is still a Christmas film that in no way should be a Christmas film, and barely even qualifies for that matter, and Sage gives it the hiding it deserves on those grounds.

#7: Inuyasha: Affections Touching Across Time [Nuts & Bolts]

This review’s impact may be heightened with me personally because this is the one review that I was seriously waiting for him to do. When the 100th episode came out and it wasn’t Inuyasha, I’ll admit, I was a bit pissed. But then this review came out and, even with its notions about the archetypical ‘bad boy’ that I could make serious disagreements about, his gripes with the series and the characters are all solid. I really like when someone points out how a possessive relationship where the girl is abusive is still possessive and abusive; this might get me some hideous feedback, but I like the gender-equal view on that one. That, and the line in response to the freeing of the demon at the beginning is absolutely hilarious.

#6: A Wind Named Amnesia

This is a film that, for reasons of idiocy, I checked out after having seen the review. Really, after having to sit through this mass of pretentious twaddle with its empty and sickening platitudes about the human condition, not to mention the piss-poor conclusion that the story comes to, I fully understand Sage’s anger with this one. It also helps that seeing someone else tear this thing a new one is hella satisfying as well.

#5: Fake

Have to admit, this is probably the last place I was expecting to find some amazingly poignant statements about the depiction of gay characters in fiction, even in porn. And yet, his espousing about how yaoi titles are tailored for audiences that can’t participate in such courtships is genuinely fascinating, especially when you consider that this isn’t limited just to homosexual guys. In lieu of a long rant that would take a whole other post to get everything across, I’ll just say that you’d be surprised how little lesbian porn out there is actually made for lesbians, rather than straight guys.

#4: Twilight Of The Cockroaches

This entire review is done as a send-up to the Simpsons spin-off show The Critic. And yet, this video is extremely funny even if you don’t know anything about the original show; I should know, as I still haven’t watched any episodes of the show yet and I still found this to be awesome. Sage’s performance is top-notch, but I honestly love Neer in this review as he probably gets some of the best lines of the entire series.

#3: Memories

So far, I’ve covered a few videos that have honestly changed how I view media; this is another one in that grouping. Through looking at this anthology’s utter mastery of the animated medium, between the artistry of Millennium Rose, the slapstick of Stink Bomb and the experimentation of Cannon Fodder, he also explains about the finer points of animation that, since seeing it just a short amount of time ago, has given me a better understanding of animation than I had before watching it.

A seriously risky venture on Sage’s part who, after spending months setting up his review of the almost legendarily awful of Violence Jack, instead made a video that was a dramatization of the making of the review. While some viewers were (somewhat reasonably) pissed off by this decision, I and many others found merit in the legitimate drama that went into this thing. From Sage’s conviction in showing the dilemma he’s in when it comes to showing the review, to Neer playing the raging superego that insists he completes it to Gabe in one of his less butt-monkey roles as the emotional support, this is a wrenching watch that is honestly more engaging than a slew of the stuff that he ends up reviewing. As if that feat of outdoing his opposition wasn’t good enough, the video itself ends on a note that is seriously tear-jerking in how well it’s played.

#1: Video Girl Ai [N&B]

How in the hell do you outdo the finesse of the Violence Jack “review”? Well, making one of the most comforting videos of all time is a good way to go. Seriously, with how easily the subject matter lends itself to cheap laughs at the expense of others, the way he gives it a disarming amount of pathos is worth all the kudos I can bestow unto him. He talks about how different people cope with their lives, from movies to anime to… well, video girls, and the way he is able to normalize all of it and even takes time to give comfort to people that may relate to such a title is insanely admirable. This, in my humble opinion, is the highest dramatic point of Sage’s karmic character arc. After spending so long having to pay for his past sins and actions, with the mental strain of his demons and his want to redeem himself regularly causing him to mentally break down mid-review, this is the point where he reaches utter redemption and shows humility and compassion where few people do. He may have continued making mental freakout reviews later on, but I still consider this to be his ultimate moment in terms of development; it is just plain heart-warming to hear this guy speak in such a tone.
Since we’re already look at reviewers of Japanese media that may be somewhat underappreciated for his legitimate talents, time to dive even deeper into that pool next time with a look at a reviewer that is well and truly underrated.

1 comment:

  1. My personal favorite is top 20 Giant Robots, but the list you got is quite good.