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"Munto 2" Explosions, Character Development, and More Explosions

Munto is quite an odd little film. A seemingly stand-alone fan project that garnered some really nice animation and was a pretty nice success, but a sequel wasn’t guarenteed. That is where the Japanese fans come in, as they funded the sequel out of their own pockets, something virtually unheard of in this day and age. The result of the fan’s funding? Munto 2: Beyond the Door of Time.

Cover art for Munto 2: Beyond the Door of Time.It’s been about a year since young Yumemi (Wow, is that ever awkward to say) got caught up in an adventure to save the Kingdom of Heaven with the red-haired King named Munto. As she contemplates her future, Munto is busy with his own problems. The Holgooze Army of the Old Central Alliance wants Yumemi’s power for themselves so they can save heaven, but the Magic Kingdom is ready to stand in their way. Munto and Gass use every bit of power they have to starve off the army’s gigantic numbers (And I mean gigantic. There’s about four waves that our heroes fight, and each wave has about 5,000 ships), but it’s not enough. Munto knows he needs Yumemi’s help, but refuses to accept it. Yumemi, meanwhile, doesn’t know what to do, and Ichiko starts to lose her mind when faced with the possibility that she may lose her best friend forever.

The film is divided into two halves, essentially. Most of the first half takes place in Munto’s world, which is pure, unabashed fighting with a side helping of explosions, explosions, and more explosions. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, as the fighting is extremely enjoyable and well choreographed. Plus, it features lots of scenes where our heroes use their ginormous powers (Yes, ginormous is a word) to utterly decimate the opposing army. The fighting is enhanced by the wonderful animation, which I’ll get into later, and is a spectacle to watch, even against other high-budget anime such as Ghost in the Shell, IGPX, and anything by Gonzo. Sure, there’s some storyline here, but most of it is glossed over or moved by quickly so Munto can destory more giant robot golems, which is fine by me, as he does it so exceptionally well.

Will Yumemi be able to save the Magic Kingdom from the evil that is Comcast...err...Holgooze?Unfortunately, this great fun is tempered in the second half, which focuses on Yumemi and Ichiko. Now, I don’t mind this half all that much, but eventually Yumemi’s questioning and Ichiko’s sorrow becomes tiresome and makes me wish they would hurry up and have Yumemi and Munto meet, especially near the end when they’re all at the amusement park. By then, things just seem to be dragging along in order to increase the running time, especially with the movie being so short. Speaking of the end, it’s rather abrupt and leaves a lot of dangling plot threads, such as the significance of the rock in Takashi’s shrine, who the other allied nations are and why they joined up with the Helgooze, and in general not explaining what the hell the war is all about very well. But the ending leaves with a cliffhanger, which makes me think we’ll see all of those questions answered when Munto 3 eventually gets made. The only problem is it won’t be here until 2007 at the earliest, and that’s far too long! I want more Munto now!

Wow. That’s all I can say about the animation. Just, wow. The animation is simply beautiful to watch, especially in the first half, and anybody who says that anime can never have animation as good as American shows needs to watch this in action. Everything is fluid, the many explosions look wonderful, the coloring is solid, bright, & effective, and the CG is used extremely effectively, enhancing the coolness of Munto’s and Gass’ powers. There’s one scene where Munto is hounded by a few dozen giant robot golems, and he simply charges up an energy ball and fires, blowing them all away. Most anime would have simple, cost-effective animation for this scene, but Munto’s energy ball has several colors and crackles with energy as the camera sweeps to and fro trying to capture the vivid explosions as each and every robot blows up in a gigantic fireball that ecplises the scrawny Munto. The only problem was during one scene where a ship was being attacked, but the CG there isn’t too bad and it really is a minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, combined with the excellent fighting, the beautiful animation, and the perfectly-used CG, this may be some of the greatest animation I’ve ever seen. It simply blows practically everything else out of the water, it truly is that good.

On the audio front, Sean Schemmel (Goku in Dragonball Z) turns in a really good performance as Munto, and he’s much more reserved than his normal roles, which works. Yumemi is, once again, voiced by Veronica Taylor (Ash and May in Pokémon, April in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and as everybody should know, Ms. Taylor is seemingly incapable of acting crappily, though she doesn’t get to show off her talent as much since Yumemi doesn’t get to do a whole lot with Munto and Ichiko hogging up all the screen time. The rest of the English cast and the Japanese cast are also admirable, and there aren’t really any truly horrible casting choices on either side. The music, meanwhile, enhances the action extremely well, but it’s not too memorable by itself. Still, it should please anybody listening. The only problem is the film isn’t in surround sound. If there’s any film in Central Park Media’s library that deserves to be in surround sound, it’s this one, what with all the action and explosions going on.

Leica fulfills her duty as badass female with a sword.Unfortunately, we kind of got stiffed in the extras department. We get both English and Japanese versions of the Munto recap (where newcomers can see what happened in the first movie before diving into this film), the TV warning (You know, where they say not to sit too close to the TV), and the trailer. There are also Art, Character, and Background Galleries, plus a whole bunch of trailers. Here is where the problem comes in. There are no interviews or commentaries or anything giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the production. Unusual for a Central Park Media release, this is one movie which would’ve benefitted greatly from these kinds of extras. I would’ve liked to see the Japanese fandom, or an explanation on the process of how this movie got made, but we get nothing in this regard. Maybe when #3 comes around.

Overall, this is an excellent movie for those looking for some gorgeous action or for those fans of the original Munto. If you haven’t even heard of this movie, I suggest you try it out. You might like it.

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