April 16, 2015

Obligatory

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April 13, 2015

All That and a Bowl of Grits

The first half of the Fate Stay Night remake that aired last season started well above average and proceeded to get steadily better. I liked the original immensely, but this is really surpassing it in lots of ways, in no small part because this focused much more on Rin, who is awesome. 



Rin is also the feminine form of the word "win".


The original series was based on a visual novel and this is, I am given to understand, following a different story path, however it seems to have diverged quite a bit as several unexpected developments have completely changed the dynamic of the show, though not the premise. There has been a lot of good characterization and the writing has been top notch. The production values are absolutely superb.



Rin is a very well realized heroine. A young mage thrust by birth and circumstances into a  deadly contest, she is clever, audacious, knowledgeable and graced with a strong sense of ethics that tends to complicate her situation rather a lot. Shiro,the previous shows lead, seems, to be the duteragonist of the story. Much like in the original, he is much less skilled and powerful character who is thrown into the situation without warning and is far out of his depth. However, he can think on his feet and is principled and idealistic to a fault, and by that I mean he's something of an idiot at times. In comparison to the original 2006 TV show though,  Shiro is a much more relatable and rather more likable character. 



Both of this seasons episodes have been full of surprises and there has been unexpectedly thoughtful development of the villains as well, some of whom are fascinating in their complexity and some of whom are breathtaking in their depravity.


"OMG! You're bootlegging Sriracha!?"

 Be advised that this show goes to dark places occasionally...and this latest episode was not at all as...nuanced...as previous episodes were in that regard. 

This is not a show one should watch with the kids but it is a very solid supernatural adventure yarn and 14 episodes in it's looking to be one of the best in the genre and may quite handily surpass the show it's re-imagining.

 This one's looking to be a keeper.


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April 12, 2015

BYOM


The 1916 version of Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, once thought lost, is available and in the public domain. 


This is a remarkable film. It's the earliest surviving example of underwater motion picture photography (and may be the earliest ever). They couldn't build an underwater camera at the time and so used cameras on boats filming the underwater action via periscopes. I'll cut them a lot of slack on the blackface because, not only did they get Nemo's ethnicity and background largely right, he's a very sympathetic character with lots of melanin...in 1916

Of course they do diverge a bit from the novel. This film works the sequel (Mysterious Island) into the story and unlike either book, the film is in addition to a sci-fi story, both a period piece and a melodrama. 

You'll have to provide your own music, but it's probably worth 111 minutes of your time.

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April 11, 2015

Log Horizon Ends

The last two episodes revolve around Shiroe gathering together a scratch force of people who are not comatose, several of whom we have not met before ('cause they are all that's left). 

It seems that the communications tower in "Shibuya" is now the source of the narcolepsy-itis that is plaguing everybody. Specifically, it has been taken over by a swarm of sleep moths which take flight every night and spread moth dust, which is the source of the proble. Shiro notes ruefully that as soon as they had determined that the tower might be a key to returning everybody home, this situation pops up, which might well, necessitate them destroying the tower.

It also hints that fate...or someone, is just screwing with them.

Not to fear, Shiroe  has a particularly cunning plan... 



 
And so it ends...

The ending was as satisfying as possible given that they have apparently caught up to the source material, at least to the point that there is not enough for another season right now. The show left off at a perfectly good break point and the end certainly did not smack of Gainax.


As for the series overall, the production values on this show were quite cheap, occasionally to the point of distraction, but the story for the 50 episode run was astoundingly good throughout. The characterizations were excellent and the general tone and direction of the story were uncommonly upbeat despite a grim premise. This is a show about civics; people working together to improve their community and banding together in the face of danger. 

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the show was that, in stark contrast to most others in the genre, it truly has an ensemble cast. Shiroe is generally held to be the lead, but the focus frequently cuts to the rest of the cast, whose adventures and quirks are vital to the story.  Shiro can't do it by himself, and in fact is not even a major player in nearly half of the episodes.  Even when it is clear that he is above average at certain aspects of video gaming he does't come off as a Gary Stu. Indeed, it is in the other characters that some of the best characterizations take place, e.g.Crusty and Lenessia are one of the better anime couples of recent years. 

Another amusing bit was that there was actually some borderline "sci-fi" involved in this parade of whimsy..... If one has people that can do fireballs via sorcery, and one has the ability to make an iron pressure vessel and fill it with wate....BOILERS! 
OK, so it's actually Spelljammer, but its nice to see that the characters are smart enough to figure this out. I don't think they are going to have too much of a problem getting to the moon. 

Given the premise and "setting" the potential for this being a gratuitous fan service fest was quite high. That they refrained from that almost entirely was actually refreshing. 
 

This show has a fractally silly premise that they went a long way towards justifying and despite a visibly low budget, its strengths were such that I enjoyed Log Horizon tremendously, beginning to end. 

It is certainly to be hoped that they do another season eventually. With that in mind, we'll give Best Kunoichi the last word.






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April 05, 2015

Well This is Still One to Watch (UPDATED)

The Fate Stay Night remake returns following a three month hiatus. After the unexpected turn the show took in episode 12 and three months of anticipation it was, of course, unlikely that number 13 could live up to....


"Oh. Wow..."

I confess I did not see that coming. 



13 was a thoroughly entertaining episode which had a couple of unexpected twists including more character development in 23 minutes than many shows have altogether.


I am enjoying this immensely...



...certainly more than these two are here.

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April 03, 2015

14 Hours to Go!


.
Saturday mornings are saved!

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