Hellboy: Sword of Storms
Hellboy: Sword of Storms 2006
In between the two Hellboy movies, there were a couple animated movies that were released on DVD. Apparently they also aired on Cartoon Network, but I never knew that until just now. It’s a little tough if you really want to nail down the timeline between all four of the movies, but since this one doesn’t include any references to Professor Broom, I imagine that it takes place after the first movie, while the next animated movie: Blood & Iron takes place before the first movie. It doesn’t really matter much though, because they are all separate stories that really have no connection to anything else. They are both very stand-alone BPRD missions, but in the context of what Hellboy and the rest of the BPRD do, it makes perfect sense. One of the things I greatly enjoyed about this movie is its exploration of Japanese mythology. In fact, taken as a whole, each Hellboy movie seems to explore a different facet of the world’s mythology, with Cthulhu in the first movie, Irish and other European folklore in the second movie, Japanese mythology in this movie, and vampire mythology in the second animated movie. And yet they all are tied together with a slightly tongue in cheek yet at the same time completely serious tone.
Even though there’s not much explanation given to the Japanese Onis, I am familiar enough with them that I recognized a lot of the creatures. From the Kappa water demon, to the Kitsune fox spirit, to the siren-type creatures with the long necks. Although the last one I recognized from the anime Vampire Hunter D, rather than any stories or the Legend of the Five Rings card game that I’m familiar with. There’s definitely a nice Asian style to everything, which helps since the movie takes place in Japan. Hellboy also spends most of the movie in a spirit realm where he encounters all of these different creatures, including a very unique group of Oni who appear human, but at night their heads come free from their bodies and fly around on their own. Unfortunately, it was also one of my gripes about the movie, as Hellboy was never the scholar of the group, yet he seemed to know quite easily how to dispatch the creatures.
My other gripe about this movie is that most of it is fairly random and disconnected. There is the overall story about the twin demons Thunder and Lightning and the star crossed love story between the Daimyo’s daughter and the Samurai warrior. But all the battles leading up to the final showdown don’t seem to connect in any way shape or form. Hellboy is just going through the spirit realm facing various random demons. And while I thought all the fights were pretty cool and interesting on their own, they never really felt like part of a whole. There’s also the weird sort-of romantic tension between Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman. During their underwater plane crash, they share a couple life-giving kisses, but they are posed in a way that gives a very romantic vibe to them. And even though there is an over the top moment to dispel the tension, it just didn’t feel right based on how they’ve interacted in all the other movies.
Once you get past that brief moment in the Abe/Liz subplot of the movie, their journey is a fun little one. Again, it’s a little tough to get the feel for where in the timeline this movie fits, because Liz is still somewhat unsure of her powers, yet she has pretty decent control over them outside of the first fight with the mummies which were also completely unrelated to the rest of the plot. She also has a mole or nose ring on her nose that seemed like an odd choice. I’m not sure if it was something that came from the comics and wasn’t used in the movies, or if it was something new for these cartoons, I just didn’t care much for it.
Enough of the things I didn’t like about this movie, let’s move on to the good stuff, which there is a lot of. Even though I didn’t think it was connected enough to the main storyline, I still enjoyed Hellboy’s entire trip through the Japanese spirit realm. From his encounter with the flying head demons to the guy carving people’s names on cucumbers for the Kappa demon… because he really likes cucumbers of course. Hellboy is really at his best when he is out of his element, and he is quite a bit out of his element in Japan. I also liked the introduction of the character Katie. She’s a nice addition with a fun little personality and she fits in well with the rest of the BPRD, I think she would have been a much better choice in the first Hellboy movie than Agent Meyer. Even though once again, I didn’t much like what I felt was a subtle romantic subtext between her and Hellboy. The action itself was also a lot of fun, allowing Hellboy to wield both his gun as well as a samurai sword which he would again pick up in the Golden Army. And even though I thought that Doug Jones and Selma Blair had a bit of a harder time finding their characters voices in the animation, I’m glad they were able to stick with the original movie cast and Ron Perlman just did a fantastic job on his voicework, I doubt that there is a better choice for Hellboy than him. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.