Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
They are a pop band in Japan consisting of 51 idol singer girl divided up into 3 teams. Team "A", Team "B", and wait for it.... Team "C".
Their purpose? Well it seems some really really smart man, named Yasushi Akimoto figured he could gather up 48 beautiful women and tell them they are all part of a band, while he writes songs for them. His goal is that at some point during the day (every day), some of the girls will be hanging around the Otaku HQ, Akibahara. Also some of them put on a show everyday in good ole' Akiba. Their name is derived from that. Get it? Akibahara = AKB. The 48 comes from how many original members there were. I guess they don't want to do a name change every week they add a new girl.
You have to give it to the Japanese. If anything is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.
"You love idols? Here is 50 of them!" Thanks Japan.
They seem to be the exact creative opposite of Hatsune Miku, the completely fictitious idol of Japan, who contains absolutely no physical presence. Even her voice is computer generated. And she is beloved over there. In that case I guess less is more is the philosophy.
In any case, I just heard about AKB48 because their "B" team is going to start writing, directing, and animating their own anime. I bet it will be horrible, but I also bet it sells like crazy in Electric City, especially if the girls are there in person to hand out the DVDs.
I haven't heard any of their songs yet, but I bet many of their fans haven't heard them either.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The New York Times just published a great Feature about the moe culture in Japan. They call it "2-D Love" which probably is a good approximation of the phenomenon. They even profile a poor fellow who's forsaken human relationships to instead be in a steady relationship with his Nemu body pillow. Nemu is cute, now if it was Tsukasa I could understand...
This formula had worked gangbusters for them in the past. Both Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield are examples of this strategy from NBC. The best parallel is Tartikoff who took over as Cheif of NBC Entertainment at the age of 31. Tartikoff was the architect of 20 years of NBC prim time dominance. It is not a stretch that when NBC hired Silverman they saw the shadow of Tartikoff in him. The fact is Silverman just didn't deliver. This list of his Clunkers is like a who's who of what's crappy on television. He Green Lit, among others, “Knight Rider,” “My Own Worst Enemy,” “Kath & Kim,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Crusoe,” “Kings,” “The Philanthropist,” “American Gladiators,” “America’s Toughest Jobs,” “Phenomenon,” “The Chopping Block,” “Superstars of Dance,” “Ame$ia,” “My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad,” “Mommma’s Boys,” “Howie Do It,” “The Listener,” “Merlin” and the “Rosie Live!” pilot/special. He also presided over the absolute disaster that has become HEROES. I guy who can't find a way to Fire Tim Kring, shouldn't be in that position. Maybe they can actually have "Comedy Night, Done Right."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Pretty much since I last posted about our Lordess and Savior, the entire Haruhi fan community has turned into a pit of rabid dogs and are just shy of breaking down the doors of Kyoto Animation and killing everyone inside.
As I predicted (pat myself on the back) the next new episodes were "Endless Eight". However, they are going on slightly longer then anyone could have imagined.
Basically it is Groundhog's Day and every day repeats itself over and over. Except imagine that the film Groundhog's Day consisted on one day in Bill Murray's life and then the sequel consisted of another day, until you are all the way up to Ground Hog's Day 20: Day 20. People would be pretty upset.
Seems that is what is happening on Haruhi right now. They are five episodes into this series with every episode being a very slight variation of the episode before it. The crazy thing is, no animation is being reused or recycled. It's all freshly animated. Same scenes over and over just from different angels.
Needless to say people are pissed. I'm not, but I am willing to give the producers a wide birth as they are known to pull these kind of pranks on their fanbase. In the end I am sure they have something grand in mind. And I still think all these new episodes are just teaser to an entirely new season after this one is done.
I also wonder if the producers face what Hideki Anno faced towards the end of Evangelion, and started to become disenchanted by the Otaku fanbase, and feels the need to get back at them in some way. Maybe they are trying to prove a point that the Otaku will watch anything with Haruhi slapped on it, even if it is the same thing over and over. Anno's efforts paid off and took the series to a whole new level. I don't know if the same can be said for Haruhi, but at least they are trying new things, I guess.
In any case I think I will just wait on watching any new Haruhi until this season is totally completed, and I can skip though some of this Endless Eight retread, without getting myself in a tizzy every weekend.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Of course this means nothing, but it's still fun to be a sensationalist.
Harry Knowles: ...I see that Bob Hoskins is playing Mr. Fezziwig in this, did you have any discussions with him about returning as Eddie Valiant?
Robert Zemeckis: [Laughs] Oh yes, he always has them with me. He loves Eddie Valiant and he would love to do it. We talk about it and it’s something we are thinking about.
"He couldn't confirm or deny ROGER RABBIT 2... BUT he said if it DID happen that all the 2D toons would REMAIN 2D. That doesn't mean there wouldn't be 3-D animation (Pixar characters maybe?), but he wanted us to know that he's not upgrading the characters."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
So I take back what I said earlier about "spending too much time already" talking about Queen's Blade. I now only have two episodes left of the show and I am savoring them.
This show is excellent.
You won't hear many people admit that in anime circles. And no, I'm not claiming it is a hard hitting long lasting series like Eva or Gundam. Or am I even saying it will be remembered in 10 years, but it could very well be a genre defining anime. That genre of course being ecchi.
The reason I feel the shows needs a defense is against all the haters out there on message boards, who, as soon as a second season was announced, message boards everywhere (i.e. the anus of the internet according to a head producer of Gurren Lagann), went wild with screams of....
"This crap gets a second season but my precious __________ doesn't! This is what is wrong with the anime industry!"
Of course I'm sure most of these people haven't even watched Queen's Blade. It's reputation proceeds it. Nor is that to say that their precious anime of choice even NEEDS a second season. Most anime are developed with one season in mind to tell a full story. Or the complete opposite, they go on for hundreds of episodes with no end in sight. Rarely do we get a second season to a 12 or 24 episode season. I'll admit it is nice when we do, but it isn't a reflection of the success of the anime. The creators just decided to end it there and make the rest of their money on DVD and figure releases.
And here is where the breakdown happens. People think that Queen's Blade can't be taken seriously because of the fan service. Despite the fact that anime has had bare breasts in it for decades. Never to the degree of Queen's Blade perhaps, but if you take out the ecchi factor, and say, did Queen's Blade like Claymore. Tasteful sword and sorcery, no one would have a problem.
This is the problem. These same people will go apeshit if the media says video games are for kids and shouldn't have sexual themes. But then if their anime has sexual themes in it, they think it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Hypocrisy.
And this may come off as misogynistic or homophobic, but after slowly watching the anime fanbase being hijacked by female yaoi fans, it's nice to see this type of show come up and say, "Hey it's okay to enjoy this type of thing. Anime isn't just about gay vampires now."
This is milk on here face by the way... Holy Milk. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Friday, July 17, 2009
To me this seems to be merely posturing. The facts are most fans will not return to the show if those key voice actors are replaced. I could see them actually have new cast members, but replacing only the voices would be stupid. I will say that if things do go down this path that: 1) Again FOX has missed the point, and 2) I will not be watching these new episodes."We love the Futurama voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands. While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on. We are confident that we will find terrific new performers to give voice to Matt and David's brilliantly subversive characters."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Out of sheer guilty pleasure I started watching Queen's Blade. If you want some great ecchi fan service this show delivers in spades. The only other show I can think of that compares, is Ikki Tousen, and in my opinion Queen's Blade blows it out of the water.
Ikki Tousen tried too hard to force it's Romance of the Three Kingdoms plots and usually ended up too convoluted for its own good. Queen's Blade has a very simple premise, female warriors fight for the crown of Queen for four years.
Now if it was that simple of a show I wouldn't bother too much with it, but the individual characters stories are done really well, considering the show is a thinly veiled opportunity to show boobs on tv. The writers seem to have realized this and actually challenged themselves to come up with compelling stories. It reminds me in the 80s when cartoons started off pretty much the same episode every week (Megatron wants to destroy Earth, here come the Autobots), and then you can tell the writers got bored and started to build a mytholgy for the show (enter the Matrix). Except here on the outset the writers knew they were in trouble when handed the plot of the show so they started strong.
The main girl, Leina, story in the first episode didn't grab me too much, but the second episode with Tomoe was just excellent, and I really wish she was the main focus of the series. She is a Shinto Priestess and wants to become Queen to rid the church of corruption, but to do so she has to leave the temple behind. However her temple is attacked and she is forced to actually order her other Shinto priestess to suicide bomb the enemy. She makes the choice quick, but you can tell she is wholly disturbed by having to do this. In any case her character has the best motivation for becoming Queen when it is all said and done. But I am afraid the spoiled Princess, Leina, will eventually claim the crown.
Leina becomes a lot more interesting in the following episode where we see more of her human side. But I digress. I've already spent more time talking about this show then it probably deserves. But for what it is, it is enjoyable, and at least the story is interesting enough to keep you watching if the boobs alone aren't.
In any case, check out some of these lovely women from Queen's Blade. I like the elf girl on the right, Echidna, and yes that in a real snake she has for underware. And yes, the snake comes off frequently.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
The manga recommendation for this week is a book that has been going on since 2002 called Kurohime.
The series starts off with a little boy named Zero getting saved by a world famous magician called Kurohime. Kurohime saves the boy then goes on with her life.
The kid then trains for 10 years, not being able to use magic himself he learns to becomes the fastest duel wielding gunsmith in the world (actually he uses four guns at once), with his goal in mind of being like the woman who saved him all those years ago and become a defender of justice.
Long story short, he ends up saving a little girl, Himeko, from a bunch of thugs and the little girl ends up really being Kurohime. Seems Kurohime pissed off the God of Love somehow and was reduced to the form of a child, with most of her powers sealed away. The terms of her contract, is that until she finds love she can't return to normal. After Zero confesses that he has spent the last 10 years looking for her, and that he loved her, she shared this love for an instant, breaking the spell.
The clincher is that as soon as she becomes Kurohime she resorts back to her self-centered self and starts to think of how she can use Zero for her own benefit, thus she turns back into Himeko. This is pretty much how the series progresses from there. She is all powerful as long as she is Kurohime, but she has to feel a spark of love to turn into her, so if she isn't feeling it, she isn't worth much in battle.
So far the characters are all compelling and the story is good and action packed. Zero and Kurohime form a relationship pretty quick in the series, which is rare for Shonen manga, and I hope they are able to keep the relationship dynamic enough to keep it interesting. Kurohime and Himeko are the jealous type, so whenever Zero seems to show interest in a new cute girl it screws up her powers (transforming wise anyway).
I'm not a huge fan of fantasy type settings in general, but the world in Kurohime is pretty interesting, even if it has been done before. It has that fantasy old west feel as all the characters are gunslingers. All the magician characters, can only use spells attached to bullets, so there is no magic wands or any of that stuff. Kurohime's specialty is making bullets that summon animal type creatures from the barrel of the gun. For instance she summons a T-Rex type dinosaur fossilized skeleton and as it fights it's skin stats to grow back.
This dynamic makes for some interesting battles.
My only real complaint is that, being Shonen, it falls to some of the stereotypes associated with the genre. Namely, the characters yelling exposition and background info while engaged in a battle to the death. For example, we find out which God put the curse on Kurohime during a battle when she randomly yells out, for no real reason, "The God of Love was the one who turned me into a child and the spell can only be broken if I find love." She yells all this while flying across the battlefield, avoiding being shot. It might also just be the translation. And it isn't a huge complaint because it doesn't happen too often, it just kind of takes you out of the flow when it does.
The artwork is also very stunning. With such beautiful and lively character designs, this manga is just begging to be animated and I'm surprised it hasn't.
In America, Viz has the license for it so you can go pick it up at your local bookstore or Amazon. Further volumes are being scanlated and can probably be found at your favorite scanlation site. But of course, please support the licensed version first.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I have, undeservedly, been labeled a "Rei Hater", and I am here to defend myself, and to renounce that title once and for all.
I recently pulled out a bunch of my Eva figures from storage and placed them up on the shelf above my computer at home. When I did this I made a startling discovery. For every two Asuka figures I have one Rei figure.
I have come to call this my Asuka (Rei)tio, 2 Asuka's for every Rei. In the figures I pulled from storage (which is by no means ALL my Eva figures), I have displayed 16 Asuka figures, which means I have 8 Rei figures displayed.
So what does this mean? Well you could say it means that I love Asuka twice as much as Rei, and this might very well be true. It also means I have AT LEAST 8 Rei figures.
Let me break down what that means. Asuka and Haruhi are far and away my favorite anime girls. But as far as Haruhi figures go, I only have 3. It seems blasphemous that I only have three figures to show my love for the creator of the world, but sadly it is true.
Rei, however, gets an astonishing +8 figures in my collection. Now does it seem like I would have THAT MANY figures of a character I hate? Certainly not. I love Rei. She is a wonderful designed, and very mysterious character, and at her time, was one of a kind.
So then I started to think back. Where did it all go wrong? When did it become all about Asuka, and not about Rei. I remembered back when watching the show how, before Asuka and Shinji's kiss, I was perfectly happy with Shinji ending up with either girl. I also recalled getting mad at Asuka (yes we can get mad at the ones we love the most) for treating Rei like such a bitch.
But I think it goes back to the aforementioned "kiss". At that point it became clear that Shinji's romantic interests laid with Asuka. Yet, there were always people trying to pair Shinji and Rei together. It just didn't make sense. In End of Evangelion, Shinji goes to a comotose Asuka and he says specifically, "I'm scared of Ayanami". Then proceeds to do the unspeakable over Asuka's naked torso. So no matter how screwed up the relationship is, in the original series it is ShinjixAsuka all the way. Trying to defend that point over years and years on "teh Internets" completely made me polarize and turn on a character I loved dearly. So yes I am blaming the internet.
And I fully accept that in these new films, it seems to be shaping up to a ReixShinji relationship. From a story standpoint it only makes sense. In the first film, there is no Asuka even mentioned, and the film ends with Shinji saving Rei's life. Clearly the audience is led to beleive this is the male/female relationship in these films. In TV it is fine to introduce a romantic lead well into the lifespan of the show. In movies we have different expectations. The hero must make an appearance in the first 10 minutes, and there must be a clear male and female lead.
Of course, they also play up (more then the TV show ever did) that Rei is actually the biological material of Shinji's dead mother, which adds a whole Oedipus Complex thing to the story, but after the disappointing ending to "Akasaka" I know that type of plot is not below Japanese storytelling.
In any case, I am here to reclaim my title as a Rei lover. I will always love Asuka more, that's just the type of guy I am, but Rei will always hold a special place in my heart as well. In fact, for years, even before Eva, Lilith was my favorite character in all of mythology, and Rei IS essentially Lilith, so to deny her would be to deny one of the greatest characters in modern myth.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Link to Quicktime Trailer HERE
You know, over the years I've become a subsnob (or is it dubsnob), where listening to a dubbed anime is about on par with listening to nails being dragged across a chalkboard. And there are many cringe-worthy moments even in this trailer, as most the actors still feel they are in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and need to use voices that you would never hear people speak with in day to day life.
However, since the first time I watched Eva was with the dubbed actors, I was gleeful to hear at least Misato's voice (played wonderfully by Allison Keith), taking a much darker tone then in the series. Also, even though Spike Spencer's Shinji is a little overboard for my particular tastes, it was still nostalgic, and I am glad they got him on board.
And even though she isn't in this film, Tiffany Grant will always be #1 Asuka in my book. I wish they could make a special feature on the Blu-Ray at least, where you could pick which actors you like for certain voices. I think I would keep Tiffany Grant as Asuka, and Allison Keith as Misato, and maybe Aaron Krhon as Kaji. I think all those choices would even make sense within the storyline. I mean Asuka and Kaji were both in America, and Misato probably lived overseas for a while. And they all work in a UN so they have to be multilingual. I also like to think a post-Second Impact society has learned to communicate with other races better.
Okay maybe I'm stretching it, but I would still like to pick my voice actors on American DVD releases.
In any case I am glad Funimation is finally putting this out, and it is great they are getting it to come to theaters.
Now ADV what is the status on the Live Action Evangelion?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Today's Manga recommendation is a little out of left field, and though I usually hate when a description for a work can be summed up as X meets Y, this combo is the beautiful fusion of two of my favorite things: Evangelion and Persona.
Of course the Persona part isn't official, and the Eva part is.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku is an ongoing weekly manga that is currently running in Monthly Asuka. The plot uses MAJORLY modified versions of the Eva cast, all enrolled in a Catholic High School, where it soon becomes neccisary for them to use a hidden power within them called Evangelion which provides them with different weapons to fight the Angels... who actually look like angels.
It's a fun concept, and as far as being an Eva story not handled by the original creators it is a whole hell of a lot more enjoyable then Angelic Days. The story is good and the characters are interesting. It doesn't stay completly off base from the original show as a lot of the benchmark moments are there, such as Shinji's absentee father, and issues surrounding that. Also, Karou and Rei are both genetically created to fight Angels, and Asuka is hot and awesome (though so far I think Rei might be my favorite female in this series so far (She fights with the Lance of Longinus!!!)).
Admittedly I haven't gotten that far into it, but as an Eva fan I already highly recomend it. The downside of course being that while "offically" put out by Gainax, it is one step away from being doujin (which isn't a bad thing necessacarily).