"Welcome to Beacon"
In the last episode of RWBY, the plot advanced a bit before being interrupted by spectacular action that was basically gratuitous albeit entertaining. By contrast, this episode is a series of quiet conversations interspersed with teenagers playing something akin to Risk. This was the better episode.
They've really come a long way from last season with both the animation and in particular the pacing....
First, I'm struck by the fact that this does not feel like a different series at all. This episode is following right on the heels of the finale of the previous series, for instance Uiharu and Saten still have Haruue as their roommate and the three of them have enlisted Misaka to help them respond to one aspect of the previous show's aftermath. This series is NOT a standalone purchase.
Misaka thus far remains one of the more likable anime heroines I've seen.
On the other hand the episode introduces Shoukuho Misaki and in 2 minutes manages to establish her as of the most repulsive and genuinely scary antagonists I've ever seen.
This girl needs to die a lot.
She's arrogant, presumptuous, cruel, has no respect for personal space, thinks of people as objects for her amusement, and, being absolutely gorgeous, has a fawning cadre of "retainers". It's unclear if her fans are simply poor judges of character or are victims as she is a level 5 mind controller. She seems particularly upset that Misaka is immune to her talent and in a momentary fit of pique demonstrates that "Level 5" and "Mind Control" should never be allowed to overlap.
Which begs the question. What the hell were the people who study and train these kids thinking? Gracious!
Beyond that the premiere is a standard Railgun episode establishing what decent people Misaka and most of her friends are and why they tolerate Kuroko...because she is very useful to have around when Misaka needs to do something gratuitously awesome.
The good news is that Misaki (aka "Mental Out") doesn't show up again in the series except for a cameo in the last episode.
Which is good because in the canon she eventually does something really foul to Mikoto, which they didn't include in this series. I thought Mikoto would kill her for it, but I guess that's a step too far for Mikoto, who seems to be the only Level 5 who isn't a sociopath.
Misaki is a sociopath, and there's a strong implication that she is too old to be in middle school, but stays there by using her power to change everyone's memory, including administrators. (And if you think Misaki is a monster, wait until you see Accelerator.)
Her fawning cadre aren't that way because she's beautiful. She uses her power to rewrite their memories to make them that way.
The first 16 episodes this time are the Sisters arc, which is dark dark dark but has a good ending. The rest of the series (beginning ep 19) is the SIlent Party arc, which is great from start to finish.
I don't buy the party line on the protags in Railgun. In my opinion they are pretty awful , with lower ranks being less so. Railgun's lesbian friend is the only anime character ever who made me consider how I should kill her (my answer is the poison: can't teleport out of that). Of course, any such thinking is pointless and the main character magic will make them triumph. For that reason I'm not going to root for any antagonists like the girl pictured in the post: they are all puppets of the screenwriter, made to be sacrificed.
At least Naruto and Goku used the main character magic for good.
 (with the exception of a techer woman that seemed human)
Oh you get no arguments from me on Kuroko. She's a rotten human being. In an earlier post I lamented
(*She tries (and fails spectacularly) to drug and presumably molest Mikoto at least twice...I mean good Lord, she's pretty much horrible. The only reason she's a "good guy" is because she feels personally invested in her identity as a Judgement officer, likes the power she gets from the job and is the vector for getting Mikoto and the others involved in the larger story. Yes she's comic relief, but.... )
However, I think Mikoto is pretty decent. She's not perfect but just the fact that she's fairly she's down to earth is a major accomplishment given that everyone else we've seen on her level is corrupted by their power and they do not seem to be discouraged from that.
She's also a "good guy" for the right reasons, as opposed to Kuroko who is on a power trip.
What were they thinking? Something like this. (spoilers for Index, also quite dark...)
"The supernatural exists, including literal angels and literal demons. Some of these supernatural entities have as their objective the complete extermination of humanity. Those are -angels-, the demons are considerably worse. Disaster has so far been staved off only by the intervention of a power-mad church willing to plumb any depths of sin in order to preserve its own secret mastery. Humankind is at the precipice over a sea of horrors where the living would envy the dead.
We have discovered a method by which psychic powers can be induced in test subjects. The method only works on children. Our theories for why it works at all, and exactly what it does, are incomplete and patchy.
We do not have the luxury of time. We require that this potential be developed into weapons - weapons stronger than nukes. Your mission is to deliver those weapons in time to save the world. Any means will be tolerated. Balk at no ethical considerations. The only unacceptable outcome is failure. Get to work, Dr. Mengele."
No, of course not literally. But that's essentially a good description of the situation - in Index, the world is literally one Touma away from apocalypse at one point. If you were the sort of person who can be a nuclear strategist, this is kind of the ultimate nightmare scenario. Threats you do not understand, popping up according to logic you do not understand, responsive to no pressure you can bring to bear, some of which are pinpricks and some of which are mortal blows, and your only defense is an organization who won't talk to you and is willing to kill you just to hide its own existence...
In that situation, the existence of Academy City can be understood - a kind of Manhattan Project that refines little kids instead of uranium, ghastly if you have the right details, but happy enough on the surface that most people can fool themselves into thinking that everything is all right. Of course the scientists are evil - who else would, or could, do what they do? Yet if you believe that those things must be done, then all you can do is tell them to get to it and try not to watch how much fun they're having.
Railgun is about Academy City itself; Index sets it in a world that almost, almost justifies how monstrous it is. It's a shame that Railgun is just a much better show; by itself it's incomplete, but getting through enough Index to get the background means, well, slogging through Index...
My headcanon for Index/Railgun (not having read the books), is that they live in a lesser creation - one in which the Creator left a crazy number of backdoors in his code, which angels, demons, and people have been using to run amuck throughout history. Touma is a "reset" - his Imagine Breaker is identical with the intent of the Creator, which means only reality survives his touch. All the various hacks, backdoors, and cheats, which the espers and magicians and so forth are using to work their will on the world, are egotistical alterations to the Creation as intended, perversions of the literal will of god, and are negated by his right hand.
He's pretty much a walking relic, a saint. It's a hell of a thing to hang on a teen protagonist, aligning him with the original will of god. And people complain about "Jesus Yamato"!
Posted by: Mitch H. at Fri Aug 1 09:21:03 2014 (jwKxK)
They discuss that in pseudo-scientific terms in Index, actually. Essentially, the theory is that the esper generates a "personal reality" in which their power can function, and that the strength of the esper is largely related to how successful they are at superimposing that reality on consensus reality.
By extension, Touma is either extremely powerful, OR his power just has a much easier time of it (because he's not really modifying base reality, just reasserting it or disrupting the modifications to it that are made by others). Difference between pushing the boulder uphill and pushing it down, maybe?
Of course, that might not be what's actually going on (and, frankly, it's not directly contradicting your theory either, just couched in different terms.)
So (says The Brickmuppet, oblivious to the grammatical error he is committing), there's this new character that's been introduced (says The Brickmuppet with a hint of unease in his voice), and her first job is to clean up a "mess"in the testing room (says The Brickmuppet with a rising intonation). Oh my God, this just got grim (says the Brickmuppet unimaginatively blaspheming to emphasize his discomfort.)
He said it appeared the containment system worked. "It limited the problem to one faulty cell. It contained the problem and vented the fumes outside the airplane, as designed," he said, basing his comments on Japan Airlines' initial statements about the incident.
A 13 episode CGDCT series from last year, Love Lab passed beneath my radar though I became tangentially aware of it when I tracked down the source of some animated .gifs I had appropriated for some posts. I initially avoided it like the plague because I looked at the poster and drew the erroneous conclusion that it was based on a dating sim.
Realizing my error, I recently gave it a shot and discovered that it is...different.
Not a vampire...honest.
Meet Riko. She is an athletically inclined young lady from a modest middle class background. While not naturally gifted academically she has worked her butt off and through sheer force of will succeeded in transferring into the prestigious Fuji Girls School. She's got a couple of things going for her, she's extremely athletic and has that "mysterious transfer student" vibe, and as such a number of the student body are in awe of her. Our heroine is oblivious to this or her nickname "Wild Rinko" in part because she has never been popular. As a kid she hung out with the boys, who she frequently beat up and earned a reputation as demonic horror wench...the fangs probably exacerbated this.
In any event, one day she is instructed by a teacher to drop some papers by the student council office, where, having forgotten to knock, she makes a horrifying discovery.
First some background...Maki, the student council president, is extremely good at her job, a straight "A" student and greatly admired by the student body and teachers alike, so to walk in on her and find her making out with a comfort pillow named Huggy in the student council office is officially scandalous.
Well it gets worse. It seems that Maki has been using the student council to conduct experiments, and role playing sessions (with Huggy). She's turned it into a Love Lab in order to prepare herself for...romance.
She's already mastered the dramatic bloody cough
The fact that any contact with boys is grounds for expulsion only makes this abuse of school facilities more scandalous and dark secrets must be kept. Riko is drafted into being the POTSC's aid, partly in order to keep Maki's secret and partly to give a non-pillow perspective on Maki's ideas. When Riko points out that most of Maki's notions are stark-raving cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, Maki gets the impression that Riko's extensive experience with boys is actually extensive EXPERIENCE with boys. Riko's failure to clarify this complicates everything further and hilarity ensues as several other oddball students are drawn into this dark circle of depravity.
Love Lab breaks no new ground but it has very high production values and is a thoroughly pleasant show. The soundtrack is minimalist but surprisingly effective. I laughed and enjoyed it though the series has very limited rewatch value as most of the humor is based on surprises. It does get sappy towards the end as things begin to come to a head and some late series developments are not really resolved, I'm not sure if it was cut short or ran an episode too long. Nevertheless, I did not feel robbed or insulted and the show is upbeat, amusing and double entendres notwithstanding, not at all vulgar.
I'd seen this thing in some TV shows but I'd always thought it was a special effect.
The Williams WASP was designed to meet an Army from the 1970's. It actually fulfilled all the requirements but twas not adopted as the Army beleatedly decided that the requirements were ill-considered.
Good grief! With a range of 30 miles it's really not all that much more impractical than a motorcycle for commuting. It can fly above traffic and the fact that it flies means it's significantly less dorky than a Segway.
It will be interesting to watch how this does, because the director (Hiromasa Yonebayashi) is only 41, and the question for years has been what will happen to Ghibli once Miyazaki and Takahata are gone. And it certainly looks the part.
15 PeopleRWBY is interesting not the least because it shows how much technology empowers small groups of limited means to do things that not long ago would have been possible only with a major company, considerable capital outlay and then only after persuading the suits to back the project.
Volume two builds on the lessons they learned by doing volume one and boasts a greatly expanded production staff....of 15 people (about a third of whom are also part of the cast).
Thus, the total cast and crew of this series is now in the vicinity of 20 people. This vastly lowers the hurdles to producing ones vision, and the internet largely solves the distribution issue. This is a game changer, and it's just starting. The production diaries remind me of some of the things I've read about the early years of silent films, before the studio system was established,where things had to be figured out, but there was a lot of creative freedom.
Now, while I've liked RWBY, it is true that there are criticisms of this particular show,...it's a superhero version of a Japanese highschool show set in a high-tech Hogwarts. Plus there are technical issues and the first volume ended on a bit of a nonsequiter. However, the show's cast and crew are, in a lot of ways, blazing new trails which will become very interesting paths indeed as more and more people get out there and produce stuff. A lot of it will be utter crap of course, Sturgeon's Law will still apply, but a group of people no bigger than a mid-sized doujin circle (or an APA for those that remember that niche of American fandom) and with similar initial capital outlay ( Poser Pro costs $450.00) will be able to do animated shorts and distribute them, free of the gatekeepers who even today presume to tell us what we shall see.
This is an exciting time. If I had talent, I'd be ecstatic, as it is, I'm merely pleased and hopeful.
UPDATE: Heavily edited the post.
There was a paragraph that seemed to be dubiously psychoanalyzing those who hate the show with awhite hot fury. It was actually in response to a particular article that ranted about how these people were nobodies doing glorified fanfic. Well, upon reading the comments I belatedly realized I had not provided a hyperlink and spent an hour trying to track down the article...to no avail. Unfortunately, without the context of the article, the post came off as mocking those for whom the show was simply not their cup of tea, thus I've removed the paragraph which without the specific and somewhat crazy example could indeed be taken as offensive. ....note that any comment that seems to be a nonsequiter was actually spot on and insightful when written.
As for the "venom" directed at this show, I think there have always been people who "hate" something that they could easily avoid (just ask my dad about any sci-fi). Before the Internet, they had to actually leave their house and go somewhere else to vent at fans of their "hated" activity. But now, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, they can find fans to annoy with only a few mouse clicks.
As for me, I found the show uneven, but still enjoyable. And you can't argue with the price...
Posted by: Siergen at Tue Jul 15 17:00:53 2014 (8/vFI)
Actually, the bit about the venomous criticism was supposed to have a hyperlink to a particular article THAT I CANNOT FIND NOW.
It was going on a tear about how this is hust glorified fanfic and they shouldn't be getting all this attention when they're basically nobodies. I only now realized that I didn't include the hyperlink.
I don't mind RWBY existing in the abstract, but showing it on Crunchy materially impacts my intrerests due to incremental opportunity costs. At least all the K-junk and Live Action stuff they show has own section.
The idea being that Crunchy only has X resources and spending those resources on RWBY means that there are other shows that they're not showing? Not sure I buy that, for a few reasons:
-It's unlikely Crunchy is spending significant cash to get the rights in the first place.
-Nor is Crunchy primarily limited by physical factors such as storage space; bandwidth sure, but I doubt that RWBY is a major portion of the bandwidth of a service that streams Naruto and several other shounen offerings. And, to the extent that it is, it's directly proportional to the popularity of the show, so if lots of people are watching, that's an argument by itself that people are interested.
-It's perfectly fair to note that RWBY has some flaws. It's got a disjointed narrative, it's got Teen Titans syndrome (where it's taking a more Western kind of story, but throwing in a lot of anime facial cues and takes for humor, even more jarring here because they're not always suited to the 3D rendered medium), and the acting is, well...
I hate to criticize any voice actors because it's bloody goddamned hard to do well. The average US viewer has been exposed to top-quality Hollywood acting and production values, not that I'm saying that everything Hollywood does is top-quality, but if you've seen some Japanese live-action you can appreciate the gap in general production values. With respect to voice acting, we're partly insulated from bad Japanese voice acting because most of us don't speak the language and even a mediocre performance doesn't necessarily set off the "this is poor quality" alarm when it's in Japanese. In English not so much. I suck at voice acting and people who can give a good performance in the booth, and get a good performance out of actors in the booth, have a rare talent; I prefer subtitles for the obvious reasons but can appreciate a good dub.
Let us just say RWBY's acting falls short even with that in mind.
-And yet... it's still a good thing that RWBY is on Crunchy, because it's got its own charm, I happen to enjoy it despite the above, and above all, giving this kind of project some oxygen is a positive development. If RWBY can do well, other teams can emulate them with their own stories (and Rooster Teeth can follow up with a new offering and take advantage of some hard-won experience.)
Think of it like e-books and self-publishing. Yeah, at the beginning many of the projects were mediocre quality, but a few successes gave a lot of people opportunities they simply wouldn't have had before, and while there's a lot of crap, there are quite a few gems to be found here and there.
I see robot-girl returns. I wonder if we'll learn more about her manufacture back-story...
Posted by: Siergen at Sat Jul 5 13:57:03 2014 (8/vFI)
I'm pretty sure we will. She and her team are seen briefly in the OP.
(...and she does not look to be happy to be there).
I note that it looks like Pyrrha is going toe to toe with one of the big three baddies. Yangs new uniform looks very Matsumoto-ie.
Posted by: DougO at Fri Jul 4 14:29:42 2014 (8qU9I)
Well, based on that effects reel, he used the actual faces from other footage, so it would naturally look right. Although to me there were a few issues matching angles/focal length, especially the shot with Clara.
Posted by: Mauser at Fri Jul 4 16:19:22 2014 (TJ7ih)
My first thought was "wow, Clara's eyes got even bigger; she's almost an anime girl now".