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This Boy Can Fight Aliens (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 13, 2012 by  



“This Boy Can Fight Aliens” is a worthy Blu-ray release for the anime fans who are appreciative of independent talent that are coming from Japan.  Appreciating the work of an individual who is passionate about creating anime and willing to do it on their home computer and using software and dreaming that their work can be appreciated by a group of people, let alone people all over the world.  Makoto Shinkai accomplished that a decade ago, and now for Soubi Yamamoto, this is her time to shine!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Sentai Filmworks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: This Boy Can Fight Aliens

SERIES AIR DATE: 2012

DURATION: 30 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV PG V

COMPANY: CoMix Wave Films, Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2012

Directed by Soubi Yamamoto

Screenplay by by Soubi Yamamoto

Originally created by Soubi Yamamoto

Anime Production by CoMix Wave Inc.

Featuring the voices of:

Ryohei Kimura/Blake Shepard as Kakashi

Daisuke Hirakawa/David Matranga as Shiro

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Greg Ayres as Arikawa

When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa, one of the defense command staff, accidentally discovers a young man lying on a hill. Tests soon prove the impossible: this one teenager, Kakashi, has the power to defeat the attackers! Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power. Moving Kakashi in with himself and his own commander, Shiro, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships. A triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations! From up and coming director Soubi Yamamoto, and CoMix Wave, who spearheaded Japan’s new wave of independent anime production, comes a film that turns The War of The Worlds inside out: THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS!

Back in 1999, a young man in Japan named Makoto Shinkai who worked for video game company Falcom, would go to work on a five minute animated piece titled “She and Her Cat” and would eventually win a major animation contest.  The young man would then go to work in creating an animated OVA titled “Voices of a Distant Star” created by himself on a Mac.

And since then, Makoto Shinkai has become one of the rarities in the anime industry, who used the current technology available in software and home computers, to create his own anime.  And while he won awards, many people in the anime industry warned that this is rare and not anyone can just go and create their own anime OVA like Makoto.

CoMix Wave Films, who are known for their distribution of Makoto Shinkai’s work have featured another young anime creator, who has literally created anime shorts by herself and also was inspired by Makoto Shinkai.

Her name is Soubi Yamamoto, a manga and anime fan, a big fan of Shonen Ai games (stories featuring boys in love or affectionate towards each other), who would go on to create several shorts on her iMac, using software such as Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, RETAS, ComicStudio and Cinema 4D.

Similar to Shinkai, Soubi would create a few anime shorts such as “Sekaike Sekairon”, “ra/radio noise planet” and “Robotica Robotics” and then later, create something longer at 30 minutes.  The result was an anime OVA titled “This Boy Can Fight Aliens”.

And now, the OVA along with her three shorts will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“This Boy Can Fight Aliens” (Uchū-jin to Tatakaemasu.) is set in Japan, where aliens have invaded the world.  And as Earth seems to be losing, a teenager named Arikawa who can fight back against the aliens, has been discovered by the Defense Command Staff, which include teenagers Kakashi and Shiro.

While both take Arikawa back home and as Kakashi and Shiro try to become his friend and to let him know that only he can save the world, there is one problem.

For some reason Arikawa has lost all memory and not sure how he can fight back against the hordes of aliens.  But the more Arikawa stays with Kakashi and Shiro, he begins to wonder why he is important to them, to the world and why no one has contacted him on his cell phone.  The would-be hero then becomes to question his own motivation which can jeopardize the planet.

VIDEO:

“This Boy Can Fight The Aliens” and the three shorts are presented in 1080p High Definition.  One thing that separates Soubi Yamamoto from Makoto Shinkai, is that Shinkai was more focused on developing anime that looked like a big budget studio had made it.  He also emphasized on character development and storyline.  For Soubi Yamamoto, unlike Shinkai who was influenced by science fiction, she was influenced by Shonen-Ai.

With that being said, Soubi Yamamoto takes a more creative, artistic style of animation and graphic design to her work.  While Shinkai emphasized clouds and character, Soubi Yamamoto’s style is visual in terms of utilizing space with colors, with text boxes, with literally like looking at a manga panel, as much space is used for her design.  And so, it was great to see a creative person utilize an anime OVA in this kind of nontraditional approach.

As for the Blu-ray release, “This Boy Can Fight Aliens” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is absolutely vibrant in HD.  Soubi emphasizes colors that pop, while characters have emphasis in their eye areas.  If anything, her approach is entirely artistic and the OVA and the included three shorts look great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“This Boy Can Fight” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Dialogue and effects are concentrated on the front channels and for the main OVA, the dialogue is crystal clear.  It’s important to note that the shorts vary.  As one can expect from low budget, home-made animation, she utilized what she can to capture the voices.  And so the Japanese vocal track may seem a bit uneven, or even to high at times for the shorts.  While the English vocal tracks are well-done!

But for the most part, dialogue, special effects and music are well-done for this independent project and the English dub is well-acted by Blake Shepard, Dave Matranga and Greg Ayres.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“This Boy Can Fight Aliens” comes with the following special features:

  • Sekaikei Sekairon – (4:47) An animated short created by Soubi Yamamoto, about a teenager named Rorogi Mutsusuki and whether or not he wants to destroy the world.
  • ra/radio noise planet – (3:33) Mr. Tanaka’s adventures as he walks and talks to different characters that he encounters.
  • Robotica Robotics – (10:39) Two robots named Haru and Natsu and their scientist/master named Masa.  Haru wants to know more about love.
  • Interview with Soubi Yamamoto – A short text-based interview with Soubi.
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmwork trailers.

When the first Makoto Shinkai DVD’s were released, I was immediately supportive for the fact that one individual can create an anime OVA on their own, using their home computer and software, that was absolutely amazing to me and the quality of his work was fantastic.

Here we are today with Soubi Yamamoto and another person who was able to create her own anime OVA via solo on an iMac and a few software and has caught the attention of the anime industry as well.

Granted, while Soubi was inspired by Makoto Shinkai, both of their work is like comparing apples and oranges.  For Soubi Yamamoto, her work does lean more towards bishounen and Shoujo-Ai style.  For “This Boy Can Fight Aliens”, the main character Kakashi has endured some emotional trauma, to the point that he has forgotten things in his life, but most importantly, how to utilize the amazing power to defeat the aliens which have invaded Earth.

Arikawa is a man who wants to help Kakashi and you can tell that both young men are quite affectionate towards each other.

But the story focuses on one man struggling with himself and starting to doubt his purpose in life.  While the story is straightforward, as one can expect from 30 minute OVA, Soubi Yamamoto has said there is more to the story that she would like to tell.  And hopefully, she would be able to get the opportunity to extend the story of Kakashi in a full animated series.

But I tend to look at “This Boy Can Fight Aliens”, similar to Makoto Shinkai’s evolution as an anime creator, as a learning process that will lead to bigger things.  Shinkai started out with a five minute short “She and Her Cat” and then went on to create “Voices of a Distant Star” (“Hoshi no Koe”).    Granted, Makoto Shinkai’s first major work was a rarity, the animation and art backgrounds were breathtaking and magnificent, the use of lighting and the story telling was well done.  But as professionals in the anime industry have said, Makoto Shinkai and what he was able to accomplish was a rarity.

For Soubi Yamamoto, it’s a different style.  “This Boy Can Fight Aliens” is sci-fi but relies less on the actual fighting and focuses more on the emotional aspect, the relationships of characters and moreso on visual creativity.  Not in a realistic way, but something more like bringing a shoujo manga page to life.  Full of colors, utilizing as much space as possible and with so many things featured on screen, you may find yourself discovering something new with each viewing of the OVA.

So, in a way, “This Boy Can Fight Aliens” is a Blu-ray release that is more like a showcase of what Soubi Yamamoto had accomplish on her own so far, but the next step is to see how much she evolves in her next major project.  Possibly a longer storyline or even working with a staff.  We have seen Makoto Shinkai move on to bigger projects and I would like to see Soubi Yamamoto be given a chance to work on something bigger, because she does have amazing talent.

When this Blu-ray is released, many will be hearing or reading that is a “yaoi” release.  There are no scenes of guys kissing each other or anything like that.  It’s pretty much guys who are affectionate towards each other verbally or may it be a gesture of holding one’s hand and giving them encouragement.  So, those who are wondering if this is a “yaoi” release, the answer is no.

As for the Blu-ray release, while 30 minutes may seem short for the OVA, fortunately her three animated shorts are included as special features and viewers can see how she has evolved as an anime creator in her work.  But the picture quality of each of these shorts and the main OVA are vibrant and the inclusion of the English voice dub for each of the animated shorts was great as well (considering most US anime companies in the past have tend to dub the main feature and not the special features).  If I have any problems with this release, I wish it would have included a video-based interview than text-based interview with Soubi Yamamoto, an audio commentary by Soubi would have been a great addition as well.

Overall, “This Boy Can Fight Aliens” is a worthy Blu-ray release for the anime fans who are appreciative of independent talent that are coming from Japan.  Appreciating the work of an individual who is passionate about creating anime and willing to do it on their home computer and using software and dreaming that their work can be appreciated by a group of people, let alone people all over the world.  Makoto Shinkai accomplished that a decade ago, and now for Soubi Yamamoto, this is her time to shine!

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