Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hey Anime, Thanks for Finally Growing a Pair

I started watching Spice and Wolf last week. This show has been on my "Must Watch" list since it came out, which would have been three years ago. I'm not really going to get into a review of it here, maybe some other time when I actually finish it.

I'm on episode four currently, and something happened that made me finally say, "Thank God that cliche is finally going away." Spice and Wolf isn't the first modern series to do this, its been a trend I've been noticing over the last few series I've been watching, this was the one that pushed it over the top for me personally.

The cliche, or plot device, I'm referring to is the male lead who can't make a move on the female lead despite both having an obvious attraction for each other. They will both flirt and misunderstand each other for most of the series and then at the end of the series they might hold hands, and if you are lucky, an implied kiss.

Some, but not all, offenders include: Tenchi Muyo!, Love Hina, Ah! My Goddess. Of course those are all Harem shows, and Spice and Wolf certainly is not a harem show, but I think you catch my drift. Pretty much every anime in the 80s and 90s prescribed to this formula, most likely due to the shows being written by people who had never been involved in a romantic relationship, or at least thought the audience could only identify with a insecure male lead who didn't know the first thing about the opposite sex.

Thankfully, this plot device is going the way of the dodo, as the people who grew up on this type of anime are now in charge of making it themselves, and can say, "You know that was total bullshit when I watched 50 episodes of Tenchi and he never even hinted at a girl he might have possibly been interested in."

Earlier this year, Bakemonogatari was the show that made this point really clear to me. By the third episode the male lead and female lead are officially dating as boyfriend and girlfriend. Bakemonogatari even has some Harem elements, as every arc introduces a new female character, that has an attraction to the main character. But it doesn't matter because he is madly in love with his girlfriend and they progress naturally as a couple.

Though he is still timid in making a move on her, there is no mistaking they are a real couple.

Spice and Wolf, although I don't know how it will all turn out, at least by the forth episode, Lawerence, the male character, and Holo, the female love interest, have a nice intimate scene where he tries to kiss her and then something happens and they don't actually kiss. But at least he put forth some kind of effort.

Also, there was no scene were he sat with some worried expression, saying nonsensical dialog like, "Should I kiss her? What are these feelings I feel inside me? But she is the spirit of a wolf and I am a human, how could this work?"

None of that. He sees her looking vulnerable, they look lovingly at each other and he goes for the kiss. Subtle, and effective.

Even more testosterone filled shows deal with these issues on a more regular bases. Gurren Lagann has a few good romantic couples. The somewhat oblivious Kamina, realizes the beautiful Yoko has the hots for him and doesn't even take a second to think about kissing her. Even something like Code Geass has a better implied romantic relationship between CC and Lelouch then any of the scenes between Keitaro and Naru in Love Hina.

Of course this isn't the case for all modern anime and we still have a lot of shows with the spineless male lead who doesn't know the difference between a vagina and a hole in the ground (read Yuji of Shakugan Shana). But there some standout hits that discard this tired formula.

What I'm getting at is that, even though Modern Anime takes a lot of crap for mostly being shallow and derivative in a lot of regards, there are some elements that are pushing the genre forward and out of some of the old stereotypes. In a way we are in the wild west of anime, where a lot of things are being tried, and tested while the industry sees what sticks. This means a lot of moe and ecchi, but lets be honest, moe is just the new harem and ecchi has been around from the beginning. In fact now that I think about it, moe is probably a direct response to shitty harem anime where the male lead never made a move on the girl. It makes sense to just get rid of the idiot male character and watch the girls do cute things. If you hate moe, then blame the harem anime of the 90s. These things just cycle over and over, it's nothing new.

As long as some of these advances, like dealing with character relationships on a more mature level are part of the elements that stick, then future anime will only improve as a result.

Monday, June 28, 2010

How Much would the Deathstar Cost?

Ryszard Gold, A reader at Gizmodo calculated the real cost of building the Deathstar in today's money based on an estimation of it's size and the cost of transport and materials.  His figures:
• First, assume that 1/10 of the 17.16 quadrillion cubic meters of the Death Star is something other than empty space and 6/10 of the total volume is pressurized space.
• That will require 1.71 quadrillion cubic meters of steel, about 134 quadrillion tonnes. That's $12.95 quintillion in current 2008 prices, and that's without counting strange alloys and elements.
• Shipping that to space will cost $95 million per tonne: So add $12.79 Septillion in transport.
• Now you need to add air, which will require 8.23 quintillion cubic meters of Nitrogen, and 1.65 quintillion cubic meters of oxygen, for a total delivery cost of $2.81 Septillions and $212.46 quintillion.

The total: $15,602,022,489,829,821,422,840,226.94.

So the current GDP of the entire world is somewhere $61 Trillion Dollars.  That's $15 Octillion Dollars.  Or about 200 Trillion times the current Earth Economic Output.  You'd really need a Galactic Empire to afford one of these things...

Source -- Gizmodo and Ryszard Gold

Lonecow's Top 10 Anime Women - Ritsu Tainaka

Lists of beautiful women, 2D or 3D, are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, and I have no qualms about going down the self-indulgent route of making one myself. However, my goal is to bring something a little bit different in the way of content then some of the other lists out there.

I intend to take one girl from my list, starting with Number 10, and go into some background on the character, the series they hail from, and what I hope will be unique to this feature, the voice actress (seiyuu) that brings the character to life. And I'll do my best to keep away from phrases like, "Wow bro, check out the curves on this bodacious babe!"

This feature will replace my Tsundere Tuesday feature, as most of my picks will most likely be Tsunderes. So let's get started shall we?

Number 10: Ritsu Tainaka Show: K-On!

Background: Although she might not seem it at times, Ritsu is the single founding member of the high school group Afternoon Tea Time. After all the previous members of the Light Music Club graduated, she took it upon herself to make sure the club didn't meet an untimely end. She knew she wouldn't have the motivation or drive to keep the club alive herself, she she called on her best friend, Mio, to help her get the group established.

Ritsu is the drummer for Afternoon Tea Time, and not surprisingly her biggest inspiration is the erratic drummer from the classic rock band The Who, Keith Moon. While Moon was much more on the lunatic realm of the spectrum, it is clear that Ritsu takes a lot of cues from her idol, just short of utterly destroying her drum kit on stage.

Why she is on my list: When I was deciding on my picks for this list, I wanted to set some boundaries for myself. My main rule was that I wouldn't include girls from shows that were made to be drooled over. What I mean by this, is that most Ecchi shows and Moe shows got voted right out. I couldn't include anyone from Queen's Blade, Strike Witches, or Ikki Tousen. Or at least this was the plan. I stuck to my guns with the Ecchi shows, and most Moe, but I kept going back to K-On, and the characters there.

I know there is a lot of moe haters out there, and I've defended K-On in the past for being a really good show, that happens to be covered in moe stickiness, so I won't go into all that. I read on a blog somewhere, where someone made the declaration, that if you take an anime and then change the gender of the main characters, if you would no longer watch the show then it isn't a good show.

I disagree that this is a valid way to judge the merits of any work of fiction, but in the case of K-On it doesn't work. K-On starring an all male cast would still be a good show, because it would just be me and my friends in high school. The main reason K-On appeals to me is that all the girls are simply female versions of me and my friends in school. One friend was the quiet popular one, another was a brainless guitar player, one was the rich kid who wished he wasn't, another was the overtly serious realist, and I was Ritsu, the slightly erratic, oddball who would do a barrel roll into a room for no good reason and be ignored by the rest of my chums.

I realize that was a round about way as to why Ritsu is on this list, but it is because I relate so much to her and her personality that makes me instantly drawn to her character. If I had been born a Japanese moe school girl, I would be Ritsu. I have no shame in admitting that.

In my opinion she is the stand out cast member of the show. All the other girls fit more traditional stereotypes, where Ritsu seems more real, and certainly much more flawed. She get jealous, and pouty. She gets frustrated with her music and abilities, but always tries to remain upbeat, but is not always successful. She wants to be a famous musician, but is also incredibly lazy. It is her contradictions that makes her real, and more human. Of all the K-On characters, she would have the most success as a spin off character. I'd love to see a show with just her, and maybe Mio (as her foil) in college trying to make it.

She is a unique jewel in the vast, overflowing sea of moe, and for that she earns her spot on this list.

Seiyuu: Satomi Sato

Nicknamed Sugar, due to her last name meaning "sugar" in Japanese, she was born in 1986 in the Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. She began professionally voice acting in 2007, mostly as additional voices and background characters. Her big break was in 2009 for, not surprisingly, K-On!, and since then has slowly started to voice other main characters in shows such as Asura Cryin' and To aru Kagaku no Railgun.

She won a Seiyuu award in 2009 along with the other K-On! actresses for Best Song.

In the future I hope the Seiyuu section of these articles becomes a lot more robust then this week. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of information on Miss Satomi Sato, as she is still in the "fresh upcoming talent" category of voice actors. But I don't think I am alone in my anticipation, seeing what new characters she will voice in the future.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPhone 4 Unboxing... starring Asuka

iPhone 4 arrives a day early! So I give Asuka the honors to open it herself, and she proceeds yelling at the box to open on command. Asuka, not all your problems can be solved by yelling at them.

Her next plan of action, is of course, excessive violence. Careful! Don't damage the goods inside!

Even Asuka is stunned by the majesty that is the iPhone 4. Who can blame her really?

A moment of silent reflection before the true unboxing.

Asuka attacks!

Behold that glorious scratch resistant surface. Wait... the plastic cover is still on the front. Asuka, if you would please do the honor of removing the plastic.....

A challenger appears!

"Give it here," demands Mari. "Only I can unlock iPhone 4's Beast mode!"

"Oh no you don't," replies Asuka. "You won't steal my thunder again!"

Girls, please, there is plenty of iPhone 4 for everyone (as long as you preordered).

*sigh* Guess I will play with it later, once they are done duking it out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Critic's Critic: Toy Story 3

Over the weekend I had the chance to watch Toy Story 3 with some friends for my birthday. Easily the best film of the year, and probably Pixar's best film to date. But I'm not here to review Toy Story 3 as much as I am here to review another review of Toy Story 3.

The victim of this week's Critic's Critic is none other than Roger Ebert. When I first came up with the grand plan to rip on movie critics, I thought I would try my best to stay away from Roger Ebert, because this man has cred. More cred then I will have in my lifetime. He knows how to review films.

I'm not an Ebert hater by any stretch of the imagination. I have a degree in film, and we spent a good amount of time studying Ebert and his film critiques and how he can deconstruct each film he sees into it's building blocks, and then reassemble them to make his arguments. There is a reason he is the Wolverine in his chosen field (he is the best at what he does). Or at least he used to be.

However, in the past year his reviews have gone from insightful critique, to out right trolling. I'm not even going to mention his tirade about "video games as art" (although I just did). Even his Sex and the City II review, although I agree that movie was consumerism garbage, seemed like a bitter old man just sick of it all.

I read his Toy Story 3 review before I saw the movie. I actually usually try to avoid this, because if the review is accurate, as I watch the movie the flaws seem even more glaring. However, as I watched the latest Toy Story, with Ebert's comments swirling in the back of my head, I couldn't help but think, "he's wrong, wrong, wrong."

You don't have to go far into his review to find the first inaccuracy (from rogerebert.com, Chicago Sun Times):

"The first two 'Toy Story' movies centered on the relationship between a boy and his toys. In Disney/Pixar's 'Toy Story 3,' Andy has grown to college age and the story leaves the toys pretty much on their own. In a third act where they find themselves fighting for life on a conveyor belt to a garbage incinerator, we fear it could be renamed 'Toy Story Triage."

Instantly, Ebert has missed the point and also failed to recall the previous two films accurately. The human/toy relationship scenes have always bookended the Toy Story films, with the Toys on some madcap adventure through the middle of the film. Andy plays a much bigger part in this film then any of the previous adventures. In fact, the use of human characters was sparsely used in the first film because back then, animating human characters (and making them look realistic) was a very difficult task. Leaving them out as much as possible was the best course of action.

For the first time in Toy Story the human characters are given actual emotion and a story outside of moving along the action so the Toys can get into more trouble. This entire film is about the human and toy dynamic and how you can't forget things that made you who you are, but at the same time you have to move on with your own life. The scenes between Andy and the Toys are more poignant than any scene from previous Toy Story films.

"What with one thing and another, the other toys find themselves at the day-care center, which they think they'll like, because there will be plenty of kids to play with them all day long. There seems to be relatively little grieving about the loss of Andy's affections; he did, after all, sentence them to a toy box for years, and toys by nature are self-centered and want to be played with."

I do agree with his assessment that Toys in this universe are self centered, because they all fight to be the favorite. The first Toy Story is actually a fairly dark tale, where Woody is a jealous and vengeful toy, that at one point tries to kill Buzz to be Andy's favorite, then only tries to save Buzz so the other toys won't hate him, not to redeem himself. That plot point has been mostly forgotten by now with all the "You Got a Friend in Me" songs that play every five seconds, but Woody was actually the antagonist in the first film.

" If you ask me, Barbie (Jodi Benson) is anorexic, and Ken (Michael Keaton) is gay, but nobody in the movie knows this, so I'm just sayin'."

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about in new Ebert articles that just seem out of place. It's the kind of sentence you would read on a blog (like this one!) or a message board, and it also reeks with an old man being out of touch. Ken is obviously meant to be a homosexual. It isn't even really hinted about. There are jokes made about his effeminate mannerisms, and his love for clothing and cross dressing. The only thing keeping him anywhere in the realm of being "straight" is that he is head over heels in love with Barbie. But if you think about it, toys don't really have a gender. Ken, we all know, has no genitalia, so really, by being in love with another toy of the same type as himself, by definition, makes him a homosexual. The Buzz and Jessie or Woody and Bo Peep would, I suppose, be considered "straight" relationships because they are different types (genders) of toys.

Regardless, Ebert threw that sentence in there to make him seem "hip" by being able to identify a homosexual stereotype. Way to go. There is also nothing to suggest Barbie is anorexic, other then the plastic body Mattel gave her.

"Man, the toys have a dangerous time of it after they eventually find themselves at a garbage collection center. You have no idea what garbage has to go through before becoming landfill, and even an Indiana Jones toy would have trouble surviving the rotating blades. There is a happy ending, of course, but I suspect these toys may be traumatized for eternity."

It makes me think he slept through this part of the film and had someone tell him about it later. I won't spoil it, but this is the part of the film that turns Toy Story 3 from a good film to a great film. Cartoon characters deal with the issue of mortality. It's like if Bugs Bunny was in Apocalypse Now. Alright maybe not that dramatic, but it deals with some pretty harsh realities.

Also it has the best (and most literal) use of Deus ex Machina I ever seen in a film.

"This is a jolly, slapstick comedy, lacking the almost eerie humanity that infused the earlier 'Toy Story' sagas, and happier with action and jokes than with characters and emotions. But hey, what can you expect from a movie named 'Toy Story 3,' especially with the humans mostly offstage? I expect its target audience will love it, and at the box office, it may take right up where "How to Train Your Dragon" left off. Just don't get me started about the 3-D."

Most of this I already covered, but it's like we watched two different films. This film has more humanity across the board, not just from the humans, but from the toys as well. Andy isn't the only human in this world. His mother, sister, and more importantly a new human girl named Bonnie are very integral and important parts of the overall narrative.

I am a fan of most Pixar films, I don't deny a possible bias, but I've never been a huge Toy Story fan. I actually groaned at the announcement of a third one. But this film could stand on its own. The first two could be direct-to-DVD prequels compared to this one. This is Pixar at the top of their game. They have matured and grown in the same way as Andy, and this film is a testament to that fact.

As for Ebert, I will always respect him as a movie critic, but I believe his age is starting to show in his reviews and he might be on the cusp of being out of touch. Although I do agree that 3D is being overused.

Look at Aya Hirano's Twitter

I love Aya Hirano. I haven't followed her as much lately as I used to, but it doens't mean I love her any less. People just get busy and don't always have time for the ones they love.

But now, at least for one day, I can stare lovingly at Aya Hirano's Twitter.

Or at least for one day. She is shutting it down after 24 hours. The only reason she is using it, is to promote her new album: Hysteric Barbie.

But for one day at least Aya's Twitter is mine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Reaction to E3 using MEMEs




One Million Evangelion 2.22 shipped

As of yesterday, One million Blu-Ray and DVD discs of the second Evangelion Rebuild films has shipped.

One million.

One million means it eclipses anything Japan has ever put out on those respective formats. Those million will sell out, and this thing will keep selling. It has also made the sales of the first move hit the number two spot, despite being over two years old. This movie is the biggest damn thing Japan has produced in a long time... AND NO ONE FROM THE U.S. HAS PURCHASED THE RIGHTS TO IT!

This isn't to say that Funimation, or ADV (or whatever they are calling themselves now), or any American distributor is to blame. Mostly the blame probably lies with Studio Khara, Gainax, or King's Records. All they see is "We have the biggest animated film since whatever Miyazaki did last. They should pay us BILLIONS for the rights! MUH-HAHAHA!"

Of course the problem is these tiny American distributors can't afford this, and it isn't worth the investment on their part because this is a sequel to a very niche series. Most of us have already downloaded it and watched it online (wouldn't stop me from buying it at all).

For the price Khara wants for Eva, a theatrical run here would be necessary for it to recoup some of its losses. But Evangelion 1 didn't do that well because it was being backed by one of the aforementioned anime distributors and couldn't afford to do a bigger run. I applaud them for their effort, and God knows they tried their best with what they had. But from the beginning the first movie should have been purchased by a major studio who could have given it the attention it deserved.

A real, grown up studio, could have advertised it a lot better to general fans. Funimation only advertised to the hardcore, at anime conventions and at film festivals like AFI, (which is located in the same city they are based out of (way to extend you reach Funi)). The entire Rebuild series was approached in a way so that new fans and casual fans could go and watch it without trying to understand all the underlying psychology, and religion, etc, that goes along with Evangelion. Any product can be sold, if you know how to advertise it. Funimation did not, nor had the resources to do so.

I'll admit 2.22 blows 1.11 out of the water, and is a much better film. I doubt anyone could have guessed how much 2.22 would turn into it's own monster and deviate from the television show.

At this point, Funimation should sell their rights to 1 for a big price to a major studio, so the major studio can get 2.22 and do it right. This won't happen of course. We will probably never see a stateside release. At least not for another 5 or 10 years, when Khara realizes they aren't making any money off it in America.

The only hope America has left to see Theatrical Evangelion is the live action films, which from all reports (surprisingly) seems to be moving forward. I know I'll sound like a snob, but at this point a live action Eva scares the absolute hell out of me. I have the Rebuild movies, and they are making me happy. If I have to see Toby Maguire play Shinji Ikari my mind might snap quicker then it did watching the last two episodes of the TV series.

My idea: have the live action Eva take place in the American branch of NERV during the same time period. No Shinji, no Rei or Asuka. MAYBE have Mari in there and Kaji to tie them all together. Again, these are things that will never happen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Google Background images

I know I'm probably really late to the game with this one. But I had no idea until yesterday you could change the background image on google.com to be whatever you want.

There is a little tiny link at the bottom left hand screen. Click on that and upload your favorite picture.

Basically I'm just posting this to show the awesomeness of my Google background:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Piece of #$%#

Quick and Painless.

Watching Uwe Boll films. Reading the Great Gatsby. Listening to country music. (Think Brad Paisley, and Kenny Chesney, not cool outlaw country music from the seventies.) Sleeping with the most obese female in your area over and over for a year. I think I’d rather endure all of those things than to give the One Piece anime anymore of my time.

Harsh huh? I was mildly exaggerating with the aforementioned torture ideas, but One Piece was mostly unwatchable for me. It was a bold move on my part. Everybody who likes any amount of anime has at least heard of One Piece, so it would be redundant to rehash the premise. With over 400 episodes, I was going to be in for a wild ride. I want my time back. Unfortunately, like any other anime I’ve enjoyed, I needed to become invested into the characters. Getting less than twenty episodes in a series of that magnitude may not be enough to understand if the show is worth a damn or not, but at least in the first few episodes, I should like…something.

I had my fill of Monkey D. Luffy quickly. I knew that if I made it to the “end”, Luffy would have made that shit eating grin in every episode no matter what. I knew that all of his battles would have been the same. He would have gotten his ass kicked, gave a monologue that not even Frank Langella’s Skeletor could save, and then proceed to beat the hell out of the one-dimensional villain we could care less about. It is presumptuous I know, but I bet I'm not too far off. The rest of the characters seemed uninspired, and the only seemingly interesting character (Zoro) still wasn't interesting enough to keep me going. The record would have kept spinning over and over.

I don’t even care about aesthetics. I didn’t need someone as suave or cool as Spike Spiegel or Kamina. I didn’t need someone emotionally unavailable, depressed or sociopathic. I thought that Luffy looked so ridiculous, and by how funny he looked, he had the potential to be more than what I saw. When it comes to long running anime series, you are on one of three ships (pun intended); Bleach, Naruto, or One Piece. I can't do it. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t endure a series that long. This isn’t about fillers, poor animation, or shoddy storytelling. This is just a series that with so many fans, I honestly thought I would like it, heck, if anything tolerate it. By the end of the last episode I watched, I begged God for a mulligan. Give me my time back!!

However, and there is a however, I want to give the manga a chance. I want to like a series like this. The premise is marginally interesting, and I’ve read other for lesser reasons. Plus, it has received the same amount of praise, and I can cruise through manga quicker than absorbing countless episodes on my television. The writing is probably undoubtedly better, the battles fiercer and more interesting, and I can avoid fillers at all cost. All in all I think I just choose the wrong medium.

Wish me luck, and keep it savory.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Mortal Kombat.... Something?

I have no doubt that this will go viral before the week is out.  At first it seemed a little cheap; maybe something Micheal Jai White was doing for a buddy, then when Jeri Ryan also walks in as Sonya Blade I started to second guess myself.  The production values still seem too cheap to be a Full Feature.  It could be a cut scene for a video game.  The way it's setup it also strikes me as a great setup for a TV Series.  

Evangelion 2.22 Review and preamble

It's no secret to anyone that I love Evangelion. For me, it is the single most important piece of fiction that I have ever encountered in my entire life. And I know this gets thrown around a lot, but it literally changed my life. Needlesstosay, the idea of going back and "rebuilding" the Evangelion series is not a subject I take lightly.

Now I realize there are a lot of Evangelion haters out there, and there are also a lot of snobs who say it is the greatest anime ever created. Hopefully I don't come off as the later (Critic will disagree). But my love for the series is a very personal thing.

I am sure there are a lot of bandwagon Evangelion fans, who got into it because it was popular, and I'm not here to say, "I loved it first!". Neither of those things matter to me. What I want to convey is that I had no preconceived notion of what Eva was when I watched it. I didn't know it was supposed to be this "revolutionary" anime or "DEEP", I took it completely at face value.

I was working at Blockbuster at the time, and we had a measly anime section and one VHS of Evangelion, that actually took place in the middle of the series (Episode 11 to be precise: the Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still). I watched that episode, immediately fell in love with the characters and their dynamic together. So then I went out and found another video store who had all of the episodes in order, and proceeded to watch the series in full.

That was the moment I switched from a casual, Toonami, anime fan, into a full blown anime otaku.

I hate when people insult Shinji Ikari. It is always like a personal insult. At the time I watched Eva, I was Shinji. I was insecure, always depressed, severely introverted, and awkward around people in general. I also hate when people call Shinji whiny. He is a fourteen year old kid, that gets treated by shit by his worthless father, and then has everyone expecting him to save their ass every second of every day. He has the right to bitch. And to be fair it is only at the beginning and at the end that he sits and hugs his knees all the time, and rightfully so in my opinion. He isn't a reluctant hero like those in so many other anime, who don't want to fight because they hate the idea of war, or whatever bullshit reason. He is a normal insecure teenage kid who is sick of feeling used. Who hasn't felt that in their lifetime. I wonder if most people who insult Shinji's personality would be so inclined to look back on themselves at the same awkward age and tell their previous selves how much they suck.

But I digress.

The other part of Evangelion that people have a problem with are the last two episodes of the television series. Yes, I agree that Gainax probably blew their budget early and had to use minimum animation for the final two episodes. But, that does not mean they are bad. For me, those last two episodes were the moment my life completely changed.

Evangelion, was heavily inspired by psychology and philosophy. The entire idea of Instrumentality is based on the whole mind/body problem, one of the most heavily debated ideas in philosophy. Anno and crew wanted to show psychological thought through animation and have a character come to terms with his own failings and accept them through internal thought alone, and use animation tricks to convey this. The idea of their being multiple versions of yourself that exist, in the way you view yourself is completely different then the way your friends see you, and your family sees you, was a mind bending thought to me. If you spend all your time worrying about how others see you, then you will never be happy. About the same time Shinji came to the realization that he had to live for himself, I came to the same realization, and boom, like that I was a different person.

I changed who I was completely. I was more open, and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was more outgoing (though I still retain a some of my shyness around a lot of new people), and honestly I haven't felt an ounce of depression since that time in my life. Of course I owe a large part of this to my wife, whom I met around that time. But I can guarantee I wouldn't even be with her if I hadn't gotten over my own shit, and I owe a lot of that to Evangelion.

I know it seems silly to say my life was changed by a television show, but that is the truth of it. A lot of people have life changing experiences from books they read or movies, and no one says anything against that. So I don't mind saying that about an anime. Gainax incorporated very real psychology into their mech show and I credit that aspect of Evangelion for helping me change. It's not the giant robots fighting Angels or any of the pseudo religious stuff that opened my eyes, it was the substance put behind that.

End of Evangelion gave me the closure I needed for the show that those last two episodes, I admit, did not provide. I was happy Shinji came out of it alright, but I needed to know what happened to everyone else. End of Eva is the ending most people need. If you aren't in the same mindset as I was when watching the last two episodes of Evangelion, then you will hate those episodes. I understand that. End of Evangelion is for everyone else. It impacted me in a different way then the TV show did, and I will always say it is the best movie ever made.

So what does all this rambling have to do with Evangelion 2.22, the second part of the "Rebuild of Evangelion". Well I want to point out that I am a very different person then I was when I watched the original. I'm happy with life now, I'm more social, etc. I'm no longer Shinji Ikari. My emotional investment shouldn't be the same as it used to be. This should just be something I can sit back and enjoy, and any problems I have with it I can just say, "At least I still have the originals."

But I watched this movie three days ago, and for the life of me I CAN'T stop thinking about it. I can't stop reading impressions, or posting on forums about what it all means. I am back in Evangelion fever.

It's not quite the same though, like I said, I don't identify with Shinji like I once did, and in these new movies he is mostly dealing with his issues with his father, which I never related to in the original as well. But it is like watching an old friend deal with problems and hoping he comes out of it as unscathed as possible.

The differences in 2.22 aren't as much as I thought there would be. There are quite a few scenes that are lifted directly from the original, just reanimated. And I'm glad they didn't deviate as much as I thought they would. The major change happen about 3/4ths of the way through when a character different from the tv show, pilot's Eva-03. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It had to be that character, as it wouldn't have worked with any other. If you saw the original series, you almost felt safe going into that battle because you knew what was going to happen. By putting someone else in that situation, the movie basically says, "All bets are off." I can no longer feel safe watching Rebuild.

The scene where Shinji watches helplessly as his Eva-01 destroys Eva-03 never really effected me in the original series. Not like it was supposed to. Here in 2.22 it did, in the biggest way possible. It's a shock I'm still reeling from.

There is a new character introduced in this film, one that has garnered a slight amount of criticism: Mari Illustrious Makinami. My only fear going into 2.22 was that Mari would overshadow Asuka. This did not happen at all. In fact, Mari is only in three short scenes, and by God I want to see more of her. She is the most peppy character of the Evangelion cast, and someone the series has needed since the beginning. She is slightly erratic, free spirited, and is a touch eccentric. By the end of the movie her motivations are never stated, and her purpose seems non existent, and she is being called the "fan service" character. I disagree with this. I have full faith in the creative team and it is quite clear she will provide an important role later on. All she had to do in this film was win people over, and as far as I'm concerned she did just that.

Now, as for my favorite Evangelion character: Asuka. As I mentioned before, I was slightly apprehensive about how she would be treated with Mari being introduced, and with the Rei/Shinji dynamic being the main "romantic relationship" (if it can be called that) in Rebuild. This might be slightly controversial to say, but this is Asuka's movie. As far as film conventions go, she is given a powerful introduction, and then the viewer clearly sees her struggles, and out of all the characters in Evangelion, despite having two movies to come to some kind of realization, Asuka is the only one who got over her own shit. It's something we never see in the original series until End of Evangelion (and almost with the same result now that I think about it), but she voiced her feelings to other people and became a better person from it. Of course, this is Eva and nothing can ever be that simple.

Rei has vastly improved in my opinion as well. I already liked her more in Rebuild 1.11, but she really shines in 2.22. She also stops just floating around and takes a proactive role trying to get Shinji and his father on speaking terms. I don't think anyone ever tried to do that before, and good for her for trying. Again, things can never be that simple, and as you can imagine things don't really work out. But as a whole Rei is a lot more lovable in Rebuild. She shows personality and feelings of a human being, and has motivation for change and for helping others. She is still very quiet compared to Asuka, Misato, and Mari, so she does still tend to be hard to notice in a crowd, but it is because she is so different from the other boisterous women that it makes her stand out. A double edged sword I suppose.

If people think Mari is pandering to a certain audience, then I wonder what they think about a certain scene between Kaji and Shinji. Maybe it's because I hate how Yaoi and Boys Love is given such a free pass when it comes to degrading stereotypes, but this scene stands out like a sore thumb. Personally it ruined the character of Kaji for me, where before he was a cool loner outsider, now he is just a pervert. Not that there is anything wrong with being gay. But he says he doesn't care what sex someone is, and apparently doesn't care about age since Shinji is 14. Kaji says he is kidding about the whole thing, but it is still weird and out of place. At least save that stuff for when Kaoru shows up since it fits his character.

The final scene is powerful and gave me the same kind of chills that End of Evangelion gave me, and as a whole, the entire Rebuild series makes me feeling like I'm watching a really long cut of End of Evangelion. It is the unexpected and the fear of what will happen that drives my interest. It's a different experience that I felt then when I watched the original series, but it is still a feeling I like.

No matter what, the original series will always be the best in my opinion because of what it meant to me, but these new movies are just as good in their own respect. I'm already sad that it is coming to a conclusion, but at the same time I can't wait to see what tricks they pull for the grand finale.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

A-Kon 21

Just as a heads up, The Zeonic Front (Lonecow, Critic, Diviner) will be attending A-Kon 21 in Dallas this year.

A-Kon is the longest running anime con in the United States. They always have one hell of Dealers Room, so if anything you should go for that.

If you are in the Dallas area, let us know if you plan on going or not. We are going to try and update the site every day with impressions and pictures. ( I shouldn't make promises I know I can't keep).

Hope to see you there!

A-Kon Website