Saturday, August 1, 2009
Here's the weather. I realize you guys probably don't give a damn about weather but it's gonna be what I talk about in my new podcast where I talk about walking and hiking. If you're un-athletic, then you can still join the WALKING NATION.
Right click save as to download mp3. Go here for the ogg.
Today on the anime cross fire, it is Kannagi vs. Akikan! Who is hated more? Listen on to find out!
In other more important news, New Challenger and Shin Mazinger are discussed. Please, just go out and watch Shin Mazinger.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
The most noticeable difference between the movie and the series versions of Utena is the animation. The original had some great designs, both in its characters and in the architecture of the huge Academy it takes place in. Still, the difference between the TV and movie’s look is light and day. Not to be-little the look of the original but it was still working with the limitations of a TV budget, which meant lots of re-used animation, every single episode.
The animation and design in the movie is like nothing I’ve seen in anime before. The bright colour scheme almost hurt my eyes, and is a big change from the occasionally muted colours of the TV, the characters are also unique, with designs which take cues from 70’s shoujo, with long flowing hair, saucer pan eyes and intricate clothing (Uniforms with what I guess is a very European style.) The designs in Adolescence are similar to the ones in the TV-Series, but ramped up to 11. In the movie Utena is more boyish, Anthy is sexier and similarly the architecture of Ohtori Academy is even more distorted, more exaggerated and even detailed. Unlike most anime, in Adolescence Of Utena in every frame something is moving, and something is happening, and this goes for the backgrounds as well. The Ohtori Academy literally shifts, and movies and spirals around the students in almost every scene.
Adolescence is technically a remake, but works far better if you’ve already seen the series than alone. The animation is breathtaking on its own, but many of these visual cues are even more meaningful after seeing the TV Series (and how it ended.) In fact, on its own the movie really isn’t anything special. I showed it to my brother to test this (He had never seen any of, or heard of Utena before.) but the movie moves too fast, with little exposition or explanation of who the characters are for him to really grasp what was going on. Taken on its own Adolescence of Utena is just a very odd little film with some beautiful animation and imagery, but a nonsensical and seemingly random plot; as my brother shouted when he finished watching it “MAJOR MINDFUCK.”
So, Adolescence of Utena is a film for the fans. Taken with previous knowledge of the series the movie works well as a deeper exploration of the characters we’ve already come to know. It doesn’t really work as a remake, it’s not an easy watch without prior knowledge, but it does work as a sequel.
In a way, the ending of the TV series is so obscure, and the movie so surreal, that maybe it could be taken as a sequel. (Albeit, a very loose one.) The most obvious evidence for this are the characters, each one slightly different from their portrayal in the series, but perhaps slightly fitting if they were taken to be the characters they became at the end of the series. Let me give an example.
1. Anthy Himemiya
For most of the series Himemiya is polite and extremely submissive. Suffocated by her brother she play’s the role of a motherly figure who lives to do whatever the person she’s engaged to tells her to. It’s only at the end of the series when Utena grants her revolution that she breaks out of this demure role, finally leaving her brother and becoming her own person.
This fits in well with the Anthy we are introduced to in the movie. Like at the end of the TV series she’s become much more liberated, more sexually aggressive and even looks like she does at the end of the series, long flowing hair and no glasses; wide innocent eyes. In a way, she’s even able to stand up to her brother in the film, with holding the key to his car from him, and causing him to go mad, killing himself.
2. Akio “The Prince”
Since I made my hate for this character obvious in the last post, it goes without saying that I was extremely happy when he got what he deserved at the end of the series, Utena rejecting him as a prince, and Anthy finally being granted revolution and walking out on him.
Again, the version of Akio we see in the movie fits this nicely. He’s not in the movie for very long (In fact, he’s dead before the film even starts.) But what we do see of him is a demasculated version of what we saw before, not only in his design (looking much younger than he did in the series, far less intimidating, more of a typical bishounen character.) He’s no longer as sexually aggressive as he was, now resorting to drugging his sister, and when his sinful deed is revealed he’s sent into a panic. He doesn’t even have his big red car anymore, and his huge tower is decaying.
3. Utena Tenjou
Utena is the hardest character to compare because her fate at the end of the series is not explicitly stated. However, the series ends with her thinking she has failed to save Anthy or become the prince, when in fact she has managed to do just that.
The movie begins with her wrapped in guilt over her past, and haunted by her memories. The only difference however, is that the guilt she feels is completely un-related to the one she feels in the series.
So, if Utena is intended to be a sequel to the series rather than a loose retelling, where does it fit in? That’s hard to say. Adolescence Of Utena is set in a world where reality and fantasy are one in the same. It’s hard to be sure what exactly is real in the film and what’s just a dream, or a fragmented memory. Still, at the end of the series Anthy says something to Akio before walking out on him, when Akio remarks that the school is already forgetting utena, Anthy tells him that Utena is merely on a different plain than him, one he is unable to reach. Perhaps Adolescence of Utena is how Anthy finally re-unites with Utena, this time saving Utena from the prince, and granting the world revolution together, helping Utena to get over her guilt, and together, ascending to “a world without roads.”
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Akio'd be the one.”- Lacrimosa (M) on Akio Ohtori
One of the more interesting things about Utena is the way it plays with its many character’s roles throughout the series. Most obviously the titular character, Utena, plays with gender roles, wearing a boy’s uniform, and wanting to be a prince. There’s also the other Main character (if she can be called that) Himemiya who at first appears to be a submissive young girl, being used by the members of the school council as the “Rose Bride.” Now, further into the series and I’m not sure how innocent she really is.
Akio Ohtori is similar; in his first appearance he seems to be nothing more than a very handsome bishounen, eye candy and doujin fodder, with some very sexy vocals. In many ways he appears to be a symbol of masculinity, phallic symbols follow him wherever he goes, whether it be the tower he lives in, or his big red car. Despite his good looks and charms though, there’s something a bit off putting about Akio from the start. In a lot of ways he’s the proto typical Shoujo love interest, a strong and handsome bishounen, an older and dangerous man. Still, if there’s one thing Utena loves doing its taking Shoujo elements like this and deconstructing them.
And so it becomes evident pretty quickly that Akio is not quite the gentlemen he makes himself out to be. Chairman of the academy Akio uses his older good looks, and big red car, to impress the younger girls of the academy, and sleeping with them. Even Utena, a character who remains mostly oblivious to her surroundings and what is going on in the series, is affected by Akio, and easily falls for his guise.
Akio is a disturbing character to watch. Almost all the characters remain blissfully unaware of how he is using people for his own gain and desires. He’s never portrayed as outwardly evil, or as a menacing character. He’s a suave gentlemen, a typical shoujo love interest, which makes the fact that he manipulates these characters in the way he does even more disturbing.
But then at time I have to wonder, am I really supposed to be disturbed by Akio? He has a large fanbase, plenty of doujin and fan-fiction about him, maybe he’s really is supposed to be a dreamy bishounen character. I found the way he tries to impress and manipulate much younger girls scary, but then, age in anime is relative, maybe that’s supposed to be perfectly normal in this Japanese cartoon? But then there’s his relationship with Utena, she’s fallen completely in love with him, and yet he only seems to be using her. Putting on an act whenever with her, and yet whenever with Touga talking about her only as an object. Surely this is all signs of him being a fabulous bastard?
Utena is a show which ultimate goal seems to be to trick the viewer. The outcome has never been what I expect, and with only three episodes left, I look forward to seeing if Akio really is the magnificent bastard I think he is.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
It seems a little sacrilegious that I consider myself a “Super Robot” fan and yet before recently I’d never seen one episode of the “first ever Super Robot”, Mazinger Z (Well, actually that award probably goes to Testujin 28 or Giant Robo, but Mazinger is up there!)
But in anticipation of Imagawa’s new Mazinger series I’ve decided to fill this gap in my anime knowledge and watch some of this series. First up there’s the original series from the 70’s, I’ve been watching some things here and there of the original show, or as it was called in the US, TRANZOR-Z (I do wonder why they bothered to change the title, is Mazinger that much harder to say than Tranzor?) The animation might be sketchy by today’s standards, but everything we love about super robots today is still here in Mazinger Z. Crazy robot designs, AWESOME music, and robots punching each other. From a distance (ROCKET PUNCH!)
Still, I have a lot’ trouble sitting through an entire super robot series. They’re fun for the first couple of episodes, but after 75 the monster of the week formula may have gotten stale.
The OAV’s of these shows are a lot better (at least for me) At the most they’ll be 13 episodes, with better animation, more badass characters and usually less annoying child characters. Mazinkaiser is one of those shows, made for that generation who grew up watching the first series, it seems to have everything which was awesome about the original with a few things which wouldn’t fly on a Saturday morning cartoon. (I can’t figure out why robots gush gallons of blood in Mazinkaiser, but it sure is cool.)
Super Robot shows are a tried and true formula. It goes like, introduce an evil robot, heroes attack robot dramatically, heroes get there ass handed to them, heroes return (Dramatically) with heroic music egging them on as they defeat the evil monster. Rinse repeat.
Shows like Mazinkaiser don’t try to change this, they just run with the concept and have a whole lot of fun with it. If you don’t want to see robots fighting each other in a dramatic fashion, while our heroes make manly speeches and state how awesome they are, please leave immediately.
Though, if I had one complaint with these OAV’s of older super robot shows, like Mazinkaiser, it’d be the way in which they try to attract an older audience. This is a show about giant toys fighting each other, do we really need the random fan-service every episode? Even the violence feels out of place. I mean sure, its totally awesome when Kouji Kabuto kills a girl by driving a Jet through her chest (you heard me) But do her clothes have to rip of while this happens?
(Took this picture before her shirt magically flies off.)
But then it cuts to the robots again, as they rocket punch mechanical monster into oblivion, and I forget these flaws. The egregious fan-service is a minor price to pay for a few hours of robots beating the shit out of each other.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
‘Uh, sir, what does this say?’
‘and , uh this one?’
‘oh, ok thank you sir’.
Now the teacher wasn’t all that bad, he was actually a decent guy. He just didn’t really seem to know where his priorities lie. or he just didn’t give a shit about us, which was commendable, and quite understandable. Now, the funny thing is, this class, is the one I remember the most. Its lessons sticking to me like dead flies on fly paper. The most important thing I learnt was “televisions uses emotion, to sell you anything and everything”. And the news is the guiltiest at this, their selling you fear. Television on the other hand uses emotion to sell you, well, literally everything. From food, to personal hygiene products. But don’t worry citizens, sure here in the western world, we’re kind of starting to detach from the whole hubbub of this television commercial relationship mess. (Now it’s just an all out war between us, the consumer and them, the companies; who will try to push their product on us like a group of glorified drug lords).
But this isn’t really about the whole issue of commercialism; I want to talk about television in the Philippines, my home country. Now my personal friends know that I’m a self hating filipino, but it is not a hate towards being Filipino. No, I’m actually proud to be Filipino. I’m proud of the fact that we have a martial art that uses rebar covered in light foam for duelling and that we export the largest amount of child pornography (suck it you thai-boxing bastards!) But, what I am not proud of is how the Philippines is running it’s self into the ground. Our people are going into further poverty and the country is not going to be any better. Not with the presence of GMA, the worst TV channel in the world. Now, I will give them this, they did play some of the most awesome anime on TV and got me hooked to anime. I mean they played Voltes V and mojacko for fuck’s sake!
BUT as I reflect back and look at it now, it is disgusting decadent and retarded. Pure retardation. One of the biggest examples of this is that they have three, count them THREE fucking shows just for celebrity talk. THEN they have three more variety shows dedicated to MORE celebrities. You know what this does? It takes away from what’s important. It tells the people “hey man, Francis M’s death? Yeah more important that the fact that we have more murders than in most countries. You know Gaby Conception was seen with another woman? Yeah more important than the poverty rates and rising gas prices.” But the news media is surprisingly eye opening. It’s as if it’s a subtle but deep stab at society. One time, I saw how they reported on this large festival involving the poor people. And they showed all these idiots who believed that by touching a cloth touched by the statue, their lives will default to something better. They also showed these people running towards the statue, getting run by the cart, people accused of stealing.
It was religious chaos, and it was retarded, and the news media showing it knew it, and they knew it good. But, they still sell fear, but I think in the Filipino context, if you talk about a murder, it would be a common thing and not at all shocking. Since even living conditions for the middle class aren’t much higher than low class citizens (it’s high enough to live a nice peaceful life). But the news media is still trying to sell its reporters as people who you have to be attached to like characters in a bad “telebabad” (filipino soaps, and don’t get me started on them, this would be longer than needed)
Now, to those who are media savvy and are into Marshal MacLuhan’s theories about TV, you will see that the Filipino TV is like that, but worse, MUCH WORSE.
Another example is when this asshat, some fucker named Francis M died. They wouldn’t shut up about it. They wouldn’t even show what he did or how he was relevant to humanity. All they said was He was just a “nice guy” or he was “my friend” OR “he worked with us, so we’re only doing it out of corporate obligation. When I die, I want people to say things like “I remember how he saved my ass form poverty” or “I remember when he saved a small child from being raped by a bear”.
Or the most awesome “I remember when he conquered the song empire for all of the Mongol peoples, gave us sweet meats, slept with the women of his enemies, rode their horses and ate their foods.” (That one I would have said for my homeboy Genghizzle Kahn). What I’m trying to say is that, just like American television, It shares the same problems. But the problems are magnified and worsened in Filipino television.
Things are so sensationalized that even the lives of stars are being sold similarly as real life soap operas. I guess this all comes from the fact that the poor outweigh the middle class and the rich. So there is this demand for escapism, but escaping doesn’t fix problems, it only lets them fester and grow. I guess what I’m trying to say is, fuck you Francis M, may you be burning and hell, and I hope the Filipino infrastructure crumbles, so when it looks up and shouts “save us” I will be standing there, looking down and whispering “no”. Also fuck you GMA, keep poisoning the masses with your arbitrary garbage. I hope you all puke and die on it.
P.S. This article does not do justice to the rage I am feeling at this moment, so again, go suck a cock GMA execs, may Satan and God double team your mouths and asses in the afterlife. Like they are doing to your precious Francis M, I hope he is being double teamed by God and Satan, you fucks.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Turn A Gundam stands out however, and its obvious just by looking at it. The titular mecha the Turn A, or White Moustache as it’s sometimes called (Designed by Syd Mead of BladeRunner fame, don’t cha’ know?) seems to be a purposely bizarre design, most obviously because of the V symbol on its mouth which resembles a moustache. The other mecha are just as odd, usually looking a little like animals (not necessarily any real animals I can think of, just strangely animalistic) and overall less flashy than your usual Gundam mecha, and at times, dare I say, more realistic. (Actually, realistic may be a bad word to use when describing mecha.)
Then there’s also the main character of the series, Loran, he’s very different than what fans are used to when it comes to the hero’s of Gundam. For one thing he’s not aggressive, he’s shy and well spoken, and also seems pretty sensitive. And yet he doesn’t whine like other gundam pilots do, he takes everything in stride and does whatever he can to make those around him at ease, and the world more peaceful, unlike most he has a very idealised view of the world (the last part is actually more of a gripe I have with the series, but maybe I’ll get to that into another article.) And of course, the main difference between him and other Gundam pilots (at the time at least) is that he’s very feminine, voiced by a woman, and even forced to cross dress in some episodes (For perfectly non perverted reasons of course) He’s more the kind of hero I’d expect in a shoujo work than shounen robot show, but I can’t say I dislike him, he’s no where near as grating as
most Gundam pilots.
The biggest difference though is probably the setting. As I said in my last entry I REALLY like the setting of the Universal Century, but at this point it’s been diluted by constant sequels and side-stories, some of which were so bad Tomino had to state they weren’t canon. The Alternate Universes were supposed to solve this problem but more often than not they just rehashed the same ideas with a new set of paint. Turn A Gundam however does exactly what one of these AU’s should, it creates a completely new world. The setting (and the series itself) has been compared to a Studio Ghibli film, and while it’s not quite as beautiful, I can see where the comparison comes from. Turn A Gundam is set in America in the very far future, and it is in an age VERY similar to the 1800’s. Aside from the earths mecha (all of which has been recovered from thousands of years ago.) everything is very low tech, and really a lot of the show is just about setting. There are plenty of episodes which don’t rely on action to progress the story, but rather show simple things like the effect the war has on a hospital, how businesses collapses, and even just how the characters react to one another. In the original gundam series I’ve always found the politics and mecha intriguing, but the characters and dialogue are generally the low points. In Turn A just seeing people interact is a plus.
I can help but think something like Turn A Gundam just couldn’t be made nowadays, at least not in the Gundam franchise. Gundam 00 for instance is enjoyable, but it doesn’t really try to make any huge changes to the formula. Hell, I’m surprised Turn A could be made back then, though I’m sure it was because of an assortment of factors. Perhaps it was because the series before it (X) had done so badly that Sunrise decided it was time for a change, or maybe its because Tomino was finnally working on a Gundam series again, Sunrise would probably let him do whatever he wanted as long as his name was on the finished product.
Either way, shockingly it turns out anime fans don’t much care for change, since Turn A was not a commercial success. Still damn good though.
"fucker you didn't wanna mess with". But have you ever seen Clint Eastwood as a caring, kind old man? Someone who gave a lost young man his way in life, and grew to understand a culture so alien and foreign to him?
This is the premise of his latest film, Gran Torino. It's the story of a retired war vet who sees a world changing and growing in front of him. A world of both unfamiliarity and familiarity. In this film, we see the world through Walter Kowalski's(Clint Eastwood) eyes. He sees the youth as disrespectful and brash. His own family ungrateful, and their concerns misplaced. The story begins after Walter's wife has just been buried. We get to see how his own family acts around him. The viewer sees them not as his family, but ungrateful vultures. You can see this in his granddaughter. She asks if she can help her grandfather, only to ask for his prized posession, His Gran Torino.
At first glance, it seems like the average Clint Eastwood film. Clint here plays a cantankerous yet higly respectable old man who brandishes his gun and isn's afraid to talk dirty. But this isn't what this film is about. It's about the old America, seeing the new america. America not as white America, but America as the global america. Walt Kowalski represents old America. Racist, angry, stubborn,hardworking, kind and respectable. His Hmong neighbors on the other hand, represent a new america, they are foreign, they bring something new to the melting pot of america. The way he treats the Hmong is also very reminiscent of old white america. At first, he is afraid, racist and insecure. But slowly he warms up to them, even enjoying their food and company.
During the first half, I couldn't help but laugh at Walt's actions to everything. He would swear up a storm, and I would laugh, he kicked his family out of his house on his birthday and I laughed, he taught Thao how to be a man, I laughed. But halfway through the film, and pretty much near the end you sympathize and grow to love Walt. Eastwood's performance brings life to the character. His performance was so great that me and my friend kept saying how much we wanted to be like Clint. Imagine two 19 yr old guys, wanting to idolizing a 75 yr old man. This film was a tug to a heart, it is a man's "chick flick".
This film almost made me cry (I had a tear in my eye). It's a lovely film, especially the ending, which I won't spoil but it has to do with inheritance and who gets what. This film was beautiful, human and powerful. It's truly a man's film. It reminds us manly men that no matter how tough we act, we're gonna need people to love us, and remember us when we are long gone. If you're gonna watch something more than once, watch this film. IT is the best film of the year. If we ever look back and want to see what life was like in this benchmark era of ours, Gran Torino should be the film.
P.S It really got to me in the end when he's singing the song, fuck I love this film.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Armoured Trooper Votoms and Mobile Suit Gundam are two mecha series I love excessively, despite the flaws I often find in both franchises. Gundam is (or perhaps, was) a series of brilliant ideas, though with some often shoddy execution. The setting of the Universal Century and the many wars within it is one of my favourite ideas in anime, and I’ll keep watching OAV’s and series made about it as long as their produced. Despite this, I have to admit that the original series is often weighed down by some poor mecha designs as well as the awkwardly plotted scenes and dialogue its director, Yoshiyuki Tomino, has become infamous for.
Votoms on the other hand is the opposite, it’s a series where I adore the mecha, and find the characters a welcome change from the norm. And yet the thing which un-interests me most about Votoms is the setting, despite loving the mecha and technology of the series, the world they inhabit just strikes me as a little bland, or at the very least a bit unexplored.
I think the only way to really please me would be to combine these two shows, take Gundam’s setting of the universal century, the richly detailed history of the One Year War, and mix it with the more believable characters and technology of Votoms. I shall call this masterpiece, ARMORED SUIT GUNTOMS!
C’mon, that’d be a sweet series.
Still, even if I my beautiful GUNTOMS will never see the light of day, there is another show which at least on a surface level seems to fit that description. Fang of The Sun Dougram is a series directed by Ryouske Takahashi who of course also directed Votoms, and was a series which followed on from Gundam and further cemented the popularity of the real robot genre. The plot is pretty standard Real Robot stuff, and deals with a rag tag group of rebels who have to deal with the The Earth Federation who have allowed a dictatorship to reign on they’re home colony (Mecha has taught me that Earth Federations are not a good idea, they are ALWAYS evil!) The designs are what initially stood out to me in this series, their by Kunio Okawara, who did both Votoms and Gundam (Notice the incestuous relationship real robot series seemed to have?) The designs in this series are pretty realistic for the time, they may be huge mechanical juggernauts but so far they haven’t done anything which seems to be too far out of the realm of reality (though there’s still plenty of time.) And it follows Ryouske Takahashi’s general rule of focusing more on grunt units and tactics rather than the super powered machines we’re more used to right now.
Its pretty refreshing when most mecha anime nowadays try to focus on the robots being as shiny and stylish as possible, to watch something where the mecha are unwieldy things, and despite the ridiculousness of giant robots there is a certain degree of logic to how they’re designed. I can’t say I’m very far through, but it’ll be interesting to see where this series goes.
Check it out here. http://xnebula.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
After reflecting upon Yakitate Japan and watching Mr. Ajikko I realized that a man's stomach is governed by nature.
Mr. Ajikko and Yakitate Japan are manly shows about food. Yakitate Japan deals specifically with bread, but Mr. Ajikko deals with food in general. Mr. Ajikko can be said to be the father of cooking anime.
You may think that you're spaghetti meat sauce is perfect with your years of experience and authority in the field. You're sauce may have deep flavor with over 9 ingredients to make the base. You may just have perfected it with walnuts to bring out flavor. You truly are the best in your field...
But this guy can and probably has developed something better.
Yield victory to the young man as you eat his perfected spaghetti meat sauce!
Mr. Ajikko is one of the most intense anime I have ever seen. As I was watching the show I found myself loosing my breath in anticipation to see what Youichi (the young chef) would do next.
Yasuhiro Imagawa only proves his excellence as a director. While I admit I have only seen episode 3, it was one of the craziest rides I have had with a one episode spin. With that said I am upset that only 3 episodes of Mr. Ajikko have been fansubbed whereas shows like Kanon in their horrid fanbase get fansubbed like vultures to carrion flesh.
It is surprising with Yakitate Japan's popularity that Mr. Ajikko has not gotten as much attention as it commands, but enough on that.
All I can command is that someone fansub this. It's a crazy show about being a manly chef and making people who eat your food go on LSD trips. It is sad that shows like this are left in the dark to mainstream fandom. Fansubbers, get on the horse and fansub more of this. It may not be shiny like your fancy recently aired crap, but it certainly is a gem in the rough by reason of skilled directing and incredible enjoyment brought on by over the top and creative cooking challenges.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
right click save as to download
go here for OGG.
Today, I talk about on-going two shows: Tentai Senshi Sunred and Tytania.
but... at the start I talk about
Watch Kamen Rider Dragon Knight - Official Trailer April 2008 in Entertainment Videos | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
And then I talk about:
Dancouga Nova (16:08)
Koutetsushin Jeeg (23:21)
TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN (26:29)
Anime Pacific (11:14)
Anime World Order (25:57)