February 26, 2014

This Continues to Look Quite Promising


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February 23, 2014

A Four Ring Circus of WIN


Log Horizon has been discussed here before.
Since then it has continued to surpass expectations despite its unspectacular animation and dubious concept. The show has all the tropes one would expect from a fantasy adventure series, plus a great many in-jokes and references to online RPGs, however it uses them in very clever ways and is surprisingly intelligent.

21 episides in they still have 5 episodes to wreck it, but I'm going out on a limb recomending this one strongly. I started to do a regular review but this is a show spoilers will completely spoil, so here is a deliberately vague overview of  what sorts of characters are involved in the three to four distinct but interlocking plots that stem from a mishap with a Massively Muliplayer Online Virtual Reality Role Playing Game that traps thousands of players in the game with no way to log out.

In Ring One:

We have our designated hero. He's overall a decent guy and goes to great lengths to do the right thing. He's not a frontline action hero however, and he tends to gets by on smarts, using game theory as well as working feverishly to develop political/interpersonal skills he'd never really had to (nor wanted to) pursue until just recently.

We have a thoroughly conventional would-be love interest/side-kick. Well, not quite: She's so utterly smitten and so thoroughly into the "serving her noble master" roleplay that she's a little creepy and stalky. However she's really good at her job (which involves kicking ass, and cutting throats). She's also quite smart and her perceptiveness and different perspective on things is actually crucial to everyone's survival.
Also: It's always nice to find a DFC' in anime who is non-neurotic, utterly awesome and at ease with themselves.

There is one annoying, token lunkhead: He may have Tourettes as he frequently makes sexist comments despite the fact that they immediately result in great pain and temporary physical disability (see above).

We have an older gentleman who is intellectually curious enough to, on a lark, try something completely new (and apparently pointless) just to see what will happen. In the process, he changes the world.
In a complete break with convention, the old guy is not a perv and in fact prides himself in being a gentleman...in the very best sense of the word. He's an all round cool cat, whose urbane, almost aristocratic mannerisms belie an exemplary ethical  compass plus great moral and physical courage.

In Ring Two:

We've got five teenagers who find a mixture of idealism, inexperience  and bravado has subsequently landed them in a dire situation, far from help with the fate of thousands on their shoulders.  Remarkably, all four young adults are striving to actually be adults...how's that for novel? Of course, as they're young, they're learning and everything they punch at is well above their weight. This is an action flick so everything can punch back....hard

The group includes a crackerjack young lady who, due to her levelheadedness and self discipline becomes their leader via acclaim.  She's learning as she goes about the ins and outs of command and leadership, and doing everything she can to improve herself so that she can better keep her outmatched little party alive.

Her brother is a good man and physically brave, but, he's terribly inexperienced and it often seems that he has more balls than sense. He is however, indomitable in his determination and can think on his feet.

  There is also a girl who has been through a special hell recently and is still somewhat traumatized from the experience. She's striving to confront her demons, improve herself and save her friends...all the while coming to terms with the sheer gravity of what she's lost.

An idealistic but grounded young woman who has sufficient grasp of her own limitations that she can use her limited talents to surprising effect. Her modesty belies her remarkable effectiveness in combat which acts as a nice foil to her polar opposite in the group...

...A dapper young man of 19 years who seems to be trying to somehow weaponize the Dunning-Kruger Effect. His boastfulness seems to be in direct proportion to his failings, of which there are many...physical courage, it should be noted, is not amongst them.

In Ring Three:




The greatest test of ones character is when one finds that doing what is right requires one to make a sacrifice or take a great risk while simply walking away carries no negative judgement or cost.

Also in this ring: You magnificent bastard! You found a keeper!



In Ring Four:

There are also bout 20 different quirky supporting characters involved in a slice of life show about small businesses and local politics...oh and steam engineering and a war. Most of them are interesting enough and sufficiently fleshed out that the fanfic practically writes itself*.


**************************
  Log Horizon has been very entertaining so far and frankly if I had kids this is the sort of show I'd be wanting them to watch. It's a show about courage, ethics, hope and even civics, where intelligence and thinking things through is important, experience matters because life lessons are hard earned and most of the protagonists are pretty decent people.  It's also a surprisingly lacking in the gratuitous fan service department..one epic miniskirt notwithstanding.

Be advised though that the OP is an obnoxious, weaponized earworm.



 Those who've been watching it, have at it in the comments. I'm curious what other people think.

Update:
A few theories on what is actually going on

Spoiler tags here are as follows:
[-S-P-O-I-L-E-R-] [/S-P-O-I-L-E-R-]   
...but lower case and without any of the dashes


* As opposed to that other show where Tite Kubo got bogged down writing his own fanfic.

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February 13, 2014

Ignore This Poster. It is Highly Misleading



Director Carl Rinch gives the classic tale of Bushido a supernatural twist. The film boasts an all star cast of Japanese A-listers including Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Min Tanaka and Jin Akashini. They are joined by Keneau Reeves portraying a magical honkey who teaches our heroes an important lesson in respect and tolerance.


Despite that...last bit, this is not a bad film. It is rather strange though.

A brief narration gives a decent overview of the political situation in 18th century Japan and the fact that this film is based on a historical event...shortly before introducing the audience to some really impressive supernatural weirdness. This is a Japan where the Tengu and other Yokai are real and can be quite dangerous. Thanks in part to the supernatural element, Reeves's character is not entirely egregious and his incongruous presence actually serves to establish the decency of the Lord Asano character ( Min Tanaka).  In spite of a somewhat dubious romantic subplot between him and Ko Shibasaki, Reeves is, at best a deutoragonist and, in fact Hirouki Sanada as Oishi emerges in his historical role as the lead. This is actually a fairly straightforward retelling of the story....Well....aside from a much grander scale, the occasional supernatural horror, and Pirates of the Caribbean homages. This is all done with an astonishing amount of what appears to be...sincerity.

  47 Ronin is a pretty odd film, but if one HAD to somehow work Keneau Reeves into this story, this is about as respectful to the source material as one could hope for. If one wanted to remake this film without the supernatural elements...well, there's no point in that because  Hiroshi Inegaki nailed it in 1962. As it is, this is a pretty good popcorn flick that, surprisingly, does not cop out on the point of the story. It's even clever at times with a few moments of 'fridge brilliance'

I admit I went into this with low expectations, but, while no great work of art, it is a surprisingly solid film.

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February 03, 2014

Oh Good. They Weren't Just Trolling Us With That Ending.

RWBY will resume in July.
There will be a premire at RTX (July 4-6) and it will be released online shortly after that.




Volume 2 will reportedly be 12 episodes of around 12 minutes which is a good thing as the wildly varying 4-15 minute length last season was non-conducive to pacing. Though resuming after an 8 month hiatus, this second volume is apparently considered to be the second half of season one.

For all this show's quirks, I find myself looking forward to this. They're doing some interesting things with the nigh nonexistent budget I am genuinely curious where it will go from here.

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