October 03, 2018
Oh. Wow. This Looks...GOOD!?
I think Miles Morales is going to work out just fine.
This is very promising...right up until that point that the trailer becomes sublime.
It looks really fun, and as a special bonus it seems to be completely respectful of Marvel canon.
ALL OF THE CANON.
Oh my stars and garters, this is on my watch list!
September 14, 2018
An Admittedly Poor Substitute For Actual Content:
But the editing is quite good.
September 05, 2018
Stein's Gate is a series from 2011 that was popular and fairly well regarded. I'd missed it at the time, but as the one reported beacon of goodness in the vast wasteland that is this season is a sequel to that show, I decided to check it out before starting Sten's Gate Zero.
This turned out to be a sound decision, not only because Stein's Gate Zero makes exactly zero sense without the prequel, but because Stein's Gate is a very neat show.
The story begins with Rintaro Okabe and Itaru Hashida two nerdy male college students and Mayuri Shiina, a moe-blob cosplayer. They run a small applied sciences lab in an apartment rented over a used electronics store. Their current project involves a highly modified food service microwave oven which has been modified to operate via cell phone and internet connection. As the dumpster derived device had no working magnetron, they're also working on a magnetron analog of their own design which is performing...rather erratically.
When two of them decide to go to a physics lecture being given by a controversial scientist, they bump into Kurisu Makise, a neuroscience graduate student on summer break from her studies in the U.S.
And then things get weird.
This is an odd show with all sorts of overused cliche's, gratuitous fanboy references and adult onset Chuunibyou.
It also manages to be absolutely riveting.
In the course of 24 episodes our band of 3 nerdy tinkerers and their otaku shield bearers find themselves involved with a whole slew of science weirdness, international conspiracies, the Akihabara chamber of commerce, the Large Hadron Collider and...traps.
Be advised that the superficial wackieness serves as comic relief and a tension breaker. This is dark science fantasy. The story is absolutely gut wrenching at times, almost to the point of sadism in some scenes. However, the characters are endearing and there is a most definite thread of hope that runs through the whole show.
All the characters tend to have surprising (often hidden) depths. My only complaint is that Kurisu Makise, the awesome female lead is somewhat underutilized, at least at first.
All in all, I quite enjoyed Stein's Gate. It's smart, enjoyable and full of surprises.
Aside from the caveat that you go in understanding that it is occasionally quite brutal, I highly recommend this series.
It's just really well done.
July 26, 2018
Not Everything I Saw At Moe Lane's Blog This Morning Caused Me to Fear For Humanity...
July 17, 2018
Intersectionality: Am I Doing it Right?
Art by Mokerou
July 08, 2018
The Feng Shui of Superheroing For most of this season, My Hero Academia has had amazing pacing. The stakes of the characters' actions have become steadily higher as the show has gone on and this superhero cartoon is one of the few shows that has really kept me on the edge of my seat.
This has been a really well done story in which our heroes witness what appears to be the denouement of an epic tale that has defined a previous generation of heroes.
The episode that wrapped up that arc (ep49) was just...EXCESLIOR!1!!!
Now, In episode 51 we are well into the "High-School Kids Decorate Their Dorm Rooms" arc.
This ought to be something of a let down but it works as a respite from the incredible tension of the first half of the season. Furthermore, these two episodes, which have been devoid of fights have had some serious character and plot development and have been eminently watchable.
In this sense the show reminds me of the old Claremont run on X-Men or some of the books like Young Justice where much of the important stuff was happening when 'nothing was happening'.
They've also looked at ethical issues that these kids are facing; namely the unnerving fact that there is no hard and fast Venn diagram comparing 'Law and Justice' or 'Legal and Right', which, as the late Steve Ditko might have said, is ultimately The Question.
I'm sure there will be some hemming and hawing about "FILLER ARC!" but the way they are doing these less action oriented episodes actually seems to me to be good storytelling. Furthermore, while this is definitely a Japanese Shounen type of show, it's clear that the creators really GET American superhero comics.
Besides, it looks like the down time will be of limited duration....
I'm an old fart and am enjoying the heck out of this show, but if you have kids they are the ones that should be watching it.
What....did I just watch?
Logging in to Crunchyroll revealed some new shows so I randomly picked a show that was at Episode zero.
I perused One Room's blurb and frankly read too much into it.
You are the protagonist. A new project in virtual anime from SMIRAL Animation that also brought you the "Anitore" series and "Makuranodanshi." This time, the project is about 3 stories that develop in your (one) room.
From that straightforward discription I somehow thought this was going to be experimental story telling. While it kind of is, it's less My Dinner With Andre' than How I Met Moe'. It says right there in the blurb 'you are the protagonist'...and indeed Episode zero involves "You" (presumably a mute) answering the door to find Yui Hasanaka, a young girl who asks "You" to help her study for her entrance exams.
The episode then proceeds to be a montage of her being...disturbingly...Moe'. By the time the show's four minutes was up I was thinking that Yui may need therapy. There's a LOT of codependency there.
It then dawned on me that there may be more to this show, because I never even made it to the refrigerator when a glaring inconsistency emerged:
Yui is from the country and is completely bewildered by life in the most pleasant and resident-friendly big city in the world. She's in need of remedial tutoring for her college entrance exams. She's a helpless waif...out of her element.
June 18, 2018
This Week's Code Word is Janissary
Not pictured: the actual, honest to God tear running down my cheek...from watching a fricking superhero cartoon.
The current crop of anime has largely been a vast, insipid wasteland. However, My Hero Academia is really making up for that.
My only complaint is that they cannot possibly keep this up.
May 12, 2018
A Place Farther Than the Universe (eps. 1-3)
What a wondrous age we live in! Despite having run its entire 13 episodes over the winter A Place Further Than the Universe can still be watched on Crunchyroll, and that is a wonderful thing because it would have been a crying shame to have missed this show.
Mari Tamaki is inert. Suffering from an excess of anxiety and a deficit in motivation, she suddenly realizes to her abject horror that she's accomplished nothing of note in her entire life. No achievements beyond the most perfunctory, no books written, lovers loved, children raised, careers, or adventures of any kind have punctuated her monotonous existence.
She's also 16 so she's in a better position to rectify this sort of deep and profound personal failure than most of us.
After several false attempts at breaking her life's cycle of unrelenting banality, she notes a young lady drop something while rushing to catch the train.
Oh look. Foreshadowing!
When her attempt to return the item fails, she notices that it contains 1,000,000 yen. The girl was wearing a uniform from Mari's school so our heroine tracks her down and eventually reunites Shirase Kobuchizawa with her cash. As this is Japan and not an America high school, the money is not the result of Miss Kobuchizawa selling reprocessed fentanyl to the gym coach*, but rather money that she's been tallying up from various part time jobs with a specific goal in mind.
Shirase Kobuchizawa wants to go to Antarctica.
You see, Kobuchizawa's mother was an Antarctic researcher. 3 years prior, Mom went to Antarctica as part of a research expedition. In the process she encountered some mishap, and no body was ever found. Just before she left Mrs. Kobuchizawa had written a book (titled A Place Farther Than the Universe ) , a copy of which Kobuchizawa gives Mari.
Mari is quite impressed that Shirase has her act together to such a degree, and is working towards a genuinely outre' and interesting goal. She asks to help and tag along in hopes of doing....something...and so the adventure begins.
The show has a very different style than most. Live action backgrounds are used occasionally and the animation, while top-notch, gives off a very experimental vibe. In some ways it reminds me of a visual novel in its look. This is a genuinely well done show on all levels.the characters are surprisingly well realized and are pretty believable as precocious 16 year olds. That is, they alternate between determined, clever, naive and...dumb as a box of hair...much like actual teenagers.
"Wait...THAT was you're plan?"
Other characters include Yuzuki Shiraishi a lurking cultist a successful but lonely singer and You-Tube personality, whose character type is somewhat cliche' but is beautifully handled here. Her mother/manager/slave-driver has signed her up to do an eco-friendly youth reporting gig on the expedition, and to say that Shiraishi is unenthusiastic is a massive understatement. When the girls try to sign on a junior reporters she tries to arrange for them to go in her stead....but is only half successful. On the other hand, finding friends that don't see her as a prop, connection or tool is an acceptable trade off.
There is also, intriguingly, a rare, positive portrayal of a young Freeta. Hinata Miyake is a 16 year old who works in the Lawsons that Mari ends up working at. Miyake does not go to high school, and supports herself. Japan, you see, has no compulsory education past 16. Hinata's is not at all interested in dealing with the BS of high school and since high school in Japan is mostly college prep, she's just gone ahead and taken the equivalent of a GED exam. She is studying independantly and plans to apply to college in a few years after building a nest egg and hopefully doing some traveling. Miyake has saved up a fair bit of money and when she finds out about the heroes plan, she eagerly asks to contribute.
Which is another way of saying, "The stars are right".
Thus far, this is one of the best of the 'Cute Girls doing Cute Things' shows I've seen and unlike most has a sense of real direction personal growth.
Remember though, this is a show about putting together an expedition to find what happened to someone who dissappeared...in Antarctica. The title of the show and the book that guides our heroines is A Place Farther Than the Universe, a title which has all sorts of eldritch implications**. We've all read enough Frank Belknap Long, John Campbell Jr. and Lovecraft to know where this delightful girls adventure series is really going. As of episode 3 however, there is little indication of the any impending dread. I guess they are building the tension gradually.
Here's the show stats at this point:
*No indication is given as to what Shirase's job is, so fentanyl is technically a possibility.
** (I think that's where Azathoth lives)
May 09, 2018
In the Queue This is what I'm looking at as I'm trying to get caught up amongst some of the shows that came and went while I was distracted.
Laid Back Camp: Another high-school after school club with an all girl membership, this show nevertheless is highly recommended by people whose judgement I trust, so I'm giving it a go.
A Place Farther Than the Universe: A girl goes to Antarctica to find her missing father, dragging her friends along in the process. This one is particularly intriguing. Allegedly another high school girls show focusing on self-discovery, it's plot involves Antarctica as well as missing people and I've read enough Frank Belknap Long and H.P. Lovecraft to know where this is going.
Yona of the Dawn: Another journey of the hero story where a young noble must gather together a team consisting entirely of the opposite sex to avenge the late king and save the land. The protagonist, Yona, is a princess in an exotic medieval fantasy world, one with a decidedly asian flavor and where women's breasts are much smaller than their heads.
May 07, 2018
It's Back IT'S BACK!
Actually My Hero Academia has been back for over a month, but given exams, papers, work and health issuesI've been completely oblivious to this happy development.
This was, perhaps, fortuitous as the first episode and a half of the new season are rather uninspiring. Had I been watching them as they came out, I might have dropped the show. That would have been a shame.
The season opener is a recap of previous episodes through the eyes of characters reflecting on the events of the last 38 episodes including a new instructor being given a run down of every character's superpower. They top off this collection of Shounen tropes by making it a beach episode.
A completely safe for work beach episode.
Episode two starts off much the same but ends with some vague hints that the series might be turning around. Episode three continues to remind us that this is definitely based on a Japanese shounen comic, as it is liberally sprinkled with the cliche's of that genre. However, these are well done and it turns out that...
This is where season three REALLY begins!
So far this is everything that the second half of season one was. This is a kids show, and yet as I watched these 5 episodes, it actually brought tears to my eyes. It's more enjoyable and better storytelling than 99% of what's on. If I had a kid they'd be watching it. Probably. I say probably because especially around episode 42 parental previewing is advised. Your milage may vary, but, parents be aware that, while the heroes (with a few pointed exceptions) are very idealistic in a particularly American silver-age way, the villains are...not.
At its heart, My Hero Academia is a love letter to American superhero comics of yesteryear and its Japanese flavor makes it something more. The show continues to do things that one doesn't see much of in American comics and visual media any more. It ponders the nature of heroism, while acknowledging the virtues of arete', stoicism honor and sacrifice.
If you dropped My Hero Academia after the first episodes of this season, be aware that you've been led astray by a cunning trick perpetrated by nefarious villains to get people to drop the show, get it cancelled and deny the world this show's heroic life lessons. DON'T FALL FOR IT! Go watch it now!
March 11, 2018
On a Lighter Note...
March 04, 2018
I Have Been Wrong For two years now, the SyFy Channel has been running a show called The Expanse.
During those two years, I did not watch it.
This was a grievous error in judgement on my part which I only recently rectified.
Now, having purchased both seasons on DVD and having watched every single episode (some twice), I can say that this is a remarkably good show.
The Expanse follows the crew of the Ice Freighter Canterburry and its crew of working class stiffs as they do their mundane, difficult and absolutely necessary work of hauling ice from Saturn to the frontier metropolis that is Ceres.
Despite a limited budget, the show makes considerable nods to hard science, both with its depiction of spin gravity...
OK, actually, that implies a much smaller spin radius than that location should have, but hey, coriolis!
...and the pernicious effects of its absence. That and a myriad of other little sciency details are remarkably realistic in their depiction and well handled plot-wise in this show, which follows Josephus Aloisius Miller, a cynical, somewhat corrupt police detective on Ceres. Saddled with a 'wandering daughter job' he makes a series of discoveries that blow upon the dying embers of his conscience and idealism threatening to rekindle them both. This could be a fatal affliction on Ceres.
Despite a SyFy channel budget, Ceres, a major waypoint between the inner and outer solar systems just works as a sort of Noir Dodge City, if Dodge city were a company town where one had to pay for air.
Where The Expanse really breaks the mould is in its setting which ought not to work but does. This, after all, is a show about the Byzantine day to day intrigues and machinations of one Chrisjen Avasarala, a 70 year old, high level bureaucrat in the Earth government who uncovers a vast conspiracy. This unlikely protagonist is brilliantly portrayed by Shohreh Aghdashloo, who just knocks it out of the park.
Space opera generally requires visually spectacular space battles, which do not comport with scientific realism or SyFy Channel budgets, The Expanse solves both problems by remarkably good writing and pacing. While certainly not super accurate it does have an internally consistent and realistic looking way of portraying space combat, as is to be expected from a show that revolves around a plucky group of Martian Space Marines, and their blood knight squad leader who their ship's captain is trying to keep from starting a war.
Having now watched the 23 episodes that make up the first two seasons I can say that this show is at least as good as Babylon 5, and that's not something I say lightly.
Now of course the show is not without its faults, the biggest one being that season three has not started yet.
That looks like it will be rectified on April 11.
March 03, 2018
Painting By Numbers With Pixels Well, this review is almost two months late, but RWBY Season 5 has ended and it probably warrants some comment.
Perfunctory is the word that comes to mind.
Mid season, this show was looking to be really good. It was paced very differently from previous seasons, though the collection of quiet character studies was reminiscent of parts of season 4.
This whole cour had been expertly developing tension that promised a solid payoff and by about episode 8 there were roughly 5 cliffhangers in the plot queue that promised to come together in an intensely satisfying manner. Notwithstanding those, the episodes generally kept a methodical pace as characters were further developed and the cards of the various players were put on the table for the audience to see.
The final battle, in which the heroes are trapped by the villains who have them completely overmatched in numbers, power, and experience is beautifully set up and the first few minutes of it are absolutely riveting.
This whole scene with the villain's entrance was just sublime.
Annnnnd thennn the battle drug on for FOUR freaking episodes during which the pacing was set to glacial. This was particularly weird because the season ended up with 14 episodes, an odd peculiar number given that the previous seasons had been 12 without the short expository ones. There doesn't seem to have been any reason to pad it out and kill the pacing. It's almost like they were parodying a Shounen Jump show. (There's some irony here. Season three revolved around a sports tournament storyline, which is usually a kiss of death for plotting and pacing, yet that season transcended the trope and was superbly paced and moves the show's story ahead dramatically).
This? The remainder of the show lacked the dynamism of the show's earlier fight scenes and was punctuated by tedious dialog which is all the more aggravating because there was some STELLAR voice acting delivering these uninspired lines. There were one or two neat moments, mainly due to the delivery rather than the direction, pacing or choreography, but they couldn't overcome the disjointed and padded out nature of the season's last four episodes. If they'd just gone with 12 and compressed this fight it would have probably been better.
To say this was dissapointing does not do it justice. In addition to the excellent voice work, the technical aspects of the show were impressive and improved in many ways. The season had been quite good until it face planted.
I do wonder if this season was intended to be much more tightly paced and this finale was supposed to be the halfway point. I engage in this unfounded speculation because RWBY had always been touted as a 5 season show, with a possibility for a spin-off or sequel, and it appears that that was indeed about how much plot they had, because it looks like Rooster Teeth going for six seasons. This is, in fairness not unreasonable since in the show's lackadaisical ambling through the four episode finale, there were several plot threads left dangling (an actual resolution to the main story being the most notable one).
RWBY Season 5 was good enough until the very end that I do intend to watch it next season, but I look forward to it with a sense of apprehension.
January 22, 2018
Wait...What? This ought to be a parody or a dumpster fire, but as Don points out, it's written by Kazuki Nakashima (he of Oh! Edo Rocket, Kill La Kill!, Space Patrol Luluco, and others). This would seem to warrant some attention.
January 14, 2018
Justice League In stark contrast to a certain other recent tent-pole film, this latest installment in Time Warner's answer to Disney's Marvel franchise is a surprisingly thoughtful yet enjoyable romp that fills in rather than creates plot holes and has considerable respect for the source material.
A direct sequel to Batman VS Superman the film takes place less than a month after the events in that film and is a direct continuation of that story and it both reinforces the good elements of that film and fills in some gaps.
The film is a superhero flick so there is much fighting, biologically improbable displays of prowess, dubious physics, spectacular fight choreography and exquisite pyrotechnics. It also has a damned good story and has some unexpectedly insightful things to say about leadership and command. This film also develops the characters quite well. Ben Affleck's Batman for instance is not particularly likable but what makes the character work is that he is aware of this fact and trying to correct for it. Gale Gadot as Wonder Woman is awesome in a way that defies my ability to describe in words. Aquaman, redneck prince of Atlantis is a completely off the wall take on the character that works surprisingly well and The Flash is just perfect. Odd man out is Cyborg, who is not really given an opportunity to shine character-wise in the same way ( and who is from a different book anyway). Nevertheless he does develop during the course of the film and there is a perfectly valid reason plot-wise that his bionics are so far beyond the state of the art.
The film, although it is fantasy, it is quite consistent with and follows its internal logic and rules...unlike some movies we've seen recently.
Justice League got some negative buzz and had a dissapointing box office, so I was surprised at how good it turned out to be. If it has a weakness, it is it's prequel, Batman vs Superman. That is, the two films are really one story, much more tightly integrated than is usually the case with sequels. The events and plot devices of the first film are so important to the second, that, having seen both movies, I'm unsure if the exposition is adequate to explain some of the plot elements if one has not seen the first film. The two films are more like two chapters in an old serial in that regard.
Anyway, if you have a chance I strongly suggest you go see the film before it finally vanishes.
December 05, 2017
December 03, 2017
Rwby at Mid-Season There was a fight four episodes ago.
There are, I believe four episodes left in this series.
It was rather more low key than the series is known for but pretty cool nonetheless.
The subsequent episodes have all been mostly quiet mood pieces focusing on either character development, exposition or an admittedly well-crafted sense of dread.
These most recent stories have mostly ended in cliffhangers, which have all been left hanging from their respective cliffs while our widely separated characters gradually regroup, show how far they have come as people, and learn more about what is actually going on.
I count at this point three separate cliffs being hung upon, two major plot developments that have been strongly hinted at, plus three major subplots, and these are all related to but distinct from the main antagonist.
There are, I believe four episodes left in this series.
November 05, 2017
Here. You Should Try This.
Seriously, all the cool kids are doing it and besides, Doki Doki Literature Club is free! It's also available on STEAM.
Go ahead try it!
It's a dating sim, which is not generally my cup of tea, but this game has got some interesting interactivity features that, amongst other things, give the player the option of using the word effulgent in proper context and iambic pentameter. The route I chose took about 4 hours (give or take...or give...I suppose it's a matter of perspective). I'll definitely be revisiting this.
Well, yeah... the game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed, or suffer from anxiety or depression but you aren't you aren't one of them are you?
You just gotta promise.
Once you've played it...
October 31, 2017
There is Already an Impressive Amount of RWBY Fan Art
Art by Esu
..for Sienna Khan, the leader of the White Fang. She's been mentioned in the show a couple of times as ruthless, but not ax-crazy. She's the one who changed the organization from one focused on peaceful protests to what can most politely be called 'direct action'. Nevertheless, she has been described as opposed to the murderous assault on Beacon in volume 3 and indeed, in episode 2 of this season, this leader of a terrorist organization is shown as the voice of reason amongst the villains. Khan is superbly voiced by Monica Rial who gives the character a regal demeanor and the impression of a mind like a steel trap.
Three episodes in, RWBY fifth (and reportedly last) season remains quite good. While the villains plot, our heroes, still scattered to the four winds, continue to do hero stuff, be likable, and make shocking discoveries. The show has really hit its stride and is doing a fantastic job of delivering genuinely surprising plot twists.
OK not all of them are twists to the audience. but it's nice to see our heroes finally in the loop.
I particularly like the idea that the only press in Australia Menagerie all appear to be bloggers.
'cause nobody trusts Lisa Lavender!
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