Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting started with Pokemon: Best Wishes

So, I sat and watched the first two episodes of "Pokemon: Best Wishes" just now as a break from my nearly-completed homework. I have to say, it's following the model pokemon has set for itself pretty closely so far.

I watched it entirely for Araragi, but I might stick around for Iris and Dent. (Dent hasn't shown up yet but I'm looking forward to it.) Araragi seemed pretty standard fare for professors who aren't Prof. Oak. She didn't get much of a personality, but I'm hoping this will change in the future. She got excited over Pikachu since he's not from Isshu, but otherwise didn't come across as anything special, which is a shame.

Iris on the other hand is adorable. She does a lot of making fun of Ash, but I think my favorite thing about her is that her Kibago lives/rides in her hair. I'm looking forward to what she brings to the series since she seems very different to Ash's previous 3 female side-kicks. she's is excitable and not as egotistical or vain as the past three.

I am less impressed with Shooti, who seems to be the basic douche-canoe rival, this time with the "exciting" twist of obsessively taking pictures of everything. His only redeeming quality is that he chose Tsutarja as his starter pokemon. Though, I really don't blame him for being kind of a jerk to Ash. Shooti was trying to pick his starter and get his journey started, and Ash was kind of up in his space and being a pain in the ass.

Shooti and Ash had a battle in the first episode which Ash lost because Zekrom broke Pikachu's electrical abilities... And then... fixed them? I'm really confused by this event. I'd heard about it before I watched the episodes, but it sounded like it was something that was going to go on for a while. But it was cleared up in like five minutes. And while it was hilarious to watch Ash tell Pikachu to use all of his electrical attacks on him, I'm bothered by this. Unless it's going to be something that happens regularly (which may just get annoying), it is a really unnecessary plot hiccup.

Though, so far, I think my favorite part is Mijumaru...

Don't be fooled by his cute face. This little guy is the craziest stalker. He was disappointed that Shooti didn't pick him as his starter, and I guess decided to follow Ash around. He saves them all from Team Rocket, who surprisingly would have finally gotten away with stealing Pikachu (and Kibago) if Mijumaru hadn't stepped in. I'm sure eventually Ash will catch him officially, but for now he's just following them around, akin to that crazy old stalker Jigglypuff.

So, I'll keep watching to see where it goes, but for now it seems like Best Wishes is following the set-up that the previous seasons have created. I'm hoping that Best Wishes will break out of it a bit in the near future. We'll have to see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Clone High: The Manga

Ages ago, Suri and I were in our local B&;N and we found a manga called "Afterschool Charisma". The cover featured a fairly standard teenage boy alongside teenage... historical figures. On the front was Marie Curie, on the back was Sigmund Freud, Napolean Bonaparte, and Florence Nightingale. Flipping through, it seemed to be about this boy going to a high school full of cloned historical figures.

I turned to Suri and said, "I just found Clone High: The Manga".

Last Friday I went out with my friends Hillary and Philip (or Letao. I'm not sure what he prefers to be called at this point) to finally see Scott Pilgrim. I guess that should have it's own write-up, but it probably won't since you've likely all seen it already. That's what I get for being late to the party.

But after lunch and before the movie we stopped at the big-ass B&N in Union Square. Now, I've made jokes about this manga to everyone I've been in a B&N with since I first found it. But this time I actually worked up the nerve to buy it.

As anticipated, it's so bad that it's spectacular. It's pretty ridiculous, but if you're willing to not take it seriously and ignore the fact that it is basically kicking history in the balls it is a pretty entertaining read. Basically, if you have an opinion on "Axis Powers Hetalia", you pretty much already have an opinion on "Afterschool Charisma", because you are going to think the same things. You're going to enjoy it because it's ridiculous (though AC is not a straight comedy like Hetalia), or you're going to hate it for being dumb about history.

Like I've said, the basic stripped down plot is basically the same as Clone High. Various historical figures have been cloned and are in high school. There is also Shiro, the son of the man who cloned all of the historical figures, attending high school with them. Many of the clones have a bias against him since he is not a clone like them, but he's still managed to amass a group of friends, so really it's just like normal high school except he calls his friends "Queen Elizabeth" and "Joan of Arc" or by their full or last names, which is really kind of weird if you think about it.

He was apparently pretty close with Marie Curie, but she's out of the picture before the first volume even starts, her departure setting up some of the conflict within the story. Mostly with Mozart, who is mostly a complete tool for all of the time we spend with him. He has his reasons for this, but still he comes across as a total jerk.

There's also the fact that the first clone, of JFK, is assassinated when he announces he's going to run for president, leading into a plot involving a mysterious group planning to kill all of the clones. On top of that, a few of the clones have formed some kind of cult worshiping Dolly, the first successfully cloned mammal. This hasn't amounted to much yet, but I'm hoping something interesting will come of it.

My favorite characters so far are Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, Napolean Boneparte, and (as tasteless as it may sound) Adolf Hitler.

I know, I know. It's Hitler. Hitler is bad and everything he did is bad and heaven knows I will never try and argue that. But that is exactly what makes Clone-Hitler so interesting in this manga. No one likes him. Well, Shiro does, but only because they had a conversation about everyone hating both of them based on their circumstances. (Hitler being Hitler and Shiro being not a clone.) Hitler is willing to accept not having any of the clones as his friends and being alone most of the time, and claims it is "punishment for his sins".

As Hitler puts it, they are the "clone and non-clone odd-men-out". I find this to be incredibly interesting. If he's handled well as a character he could make for some very very interesting storytelling. I like the potential that he has, and that they just outright acknowledge that "Hitler = As bad as it gets". It makes Clone!Hitler sympathetic without making Real!Hitler sympathetic. (Because he's not.)

When Suri and I first found the manga and flipped through it, we founds a scene with Hitler and Joan Of Arc arguing (after reading it, I learned they were arguing over whether or not Shiro can understand their feelings as clones since he is not one) and declared that I shipped Joan/Hitler. After reading it, I still kind of do. Joan unfortunately gets minimal face-time in the first volume, but is shown to have some really interesting insecurities involving being a clone.

But Joan of Arc makes the cover of volume 2, so I'm hoping that means that in vol 2, we get to see a lot more of her and that the whole "Dolly Cult" (which is run by Rasputin and some girl who was unnamed) will be further explored.

Unfortunately it seems that Volume 2 isn't hitting stores until mid-January, and I can't find it online anywhere. So I'm left hanging for the next four months until it finally comes out.

As a warning, there are some nude boobs in "Afterschool Charisma". It s a manga, so really you shouldn't be surprised. I was more shocked that I missed it when I was flipping through with Suri than the fact that it was actually there. It only happens in two brief scenes, and both end in hilarity.

So if you're a mature reader who can handle that sort of thing without getting OMGOFFENDEDATBOOBS and are willing to laugh at historical inaccuracy, definitely pick up the first volume, enjoy it, and wait with me until January when we can read more!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Generation V Commences!

So, due to pre-orders being sent out early a the flood-gates have opened and all of the new info on Black/White has just come pouring in. It was still forthcoming when I left for class at 2pm today, and when I got home about half an hour ago, apparently the entire new pokedex has been revealed.

Bulbapedia seems to be down but has a full timeline of leaked info. I have to say, from what I can see of the new Elite Four, I love them. I'm not 100% on all of the pokemon, but there's enough that I like in order for me to build a good team, and the rest I don't need to worry about.

From what it looks like, this game is just as good as expectations lead us to believe, and I am looking forward to picking up my copy in the spring. Until then, I just need to keep training my SoulSilver team. Which reminds me, I should do that tonight since I"m meeting up with friends tomorrow and we've decided to have a battle or two!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anime Workshop - Week 1 Response

Last week I started my Anime Workshop class at school. Each week I am required to write a one paragraph response to the assigned readings we're given. This week we were asked to read chapter's one and two of Susan Napier's "Anime From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle" and chapters two and three of Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" (which I have read a hundred times before). I ended up writing a multi-paragraph essay which I thought might be interesting to post here as well.

The first chapter of Susan Napier's book raises some interesting points about anime as a cultural phenomina and how it has managed to stretch to places that it may not have been expected to. I agree that anime's popularity outside of Japan has lead to a revival and expansion of the American animation industry, but the fact that every time Napier mentions of American animation seem to call it “predictable”, only point out it's flaws and seems to look down on it bothers me. This book is not so old that it can ignore American animated shows like “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “My Life As A Teenage Robot”, “Samurai Jack”, and even “Futurama” and “The Venture Bros.”.

Yes, these shows were very obviously anime influenced, but they are not anime, and deserve credit for what they are – Attempts to increase the audience of American animation. Especially shows like “Futurama” and “the Venture Bros.” which draw minimally on anime and are more influenced by other sources. The same goes for her treatment of American animated films, which have made incredible advancements in catering to older audiences. It is because of these things, which are influenced by anime, that Western Animation is truly capable of advancing, and looking down on it is only making her seem elitist and difficult to read.

Her talk about the “modes” of anime also bothers me quite a bit. Yes these things exist, but I do not think that different anime fall into one or the other, or even switch between them within a series as she seems to imply. I firmly believe that all three, as well as other “modes” (which I would prefer to apply the term 'emotion' to, since 'mode' implies that only one at a time can happen) can not only exist simultaneously, but happen simultaneously more often than they do individually. To try and break things down into one piece at a time can strongly devalue how the other pieces play into a specific moment. Specific examples of my point can be found in episodes 9 through 11 of “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann”, the first two “Pokemon” films, and throughout the anime series “Baccano!” and "Magic Knight Rayearth. (I have offered to write a second essay elaborating on this point. We'll see if that happens.)

McCloud, much more tolerably, acknowledges comics as a whole and simply points out differences between western comics and manga, and their influences on one another (Not just one side to the other!) without devaluing either side. He focuses not only on America and Japan and how they have seeped into other cultures, but on the fact that other cultures have their own comics and sequential illustrations and that those have also influenced America and Japan. In fact, he gives much credit for the birth of comics to Europe.

Though I suppose since McCloud's book is on comics as a whole and Napir is focusing specifically on anime (and by association, manga), I guess it is to be expected that she is not going on about Europe in the 1700's. Still, I feel that Napir is over-analyzing anime and manga and putting it above other forms of comics and animation, while McCloud is simply taking the things we all know about comics, making it easier to understand and talk about, and then expanding on it.

I'm going to hopefully keep posting my weekly class responses here, but it really depends on if I find my responses interesting enough. Hopefully my teacher will want me to write the essay I offered on elaborating points about the "modes" Napier mentions, because I can basically rip that to shreds and that might be interesting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Penguin > Aquaman? ...What? Seriously?

I've mentioned my buddy McLovin in the past. If he does as I tell him, maybe in the near future he'll have a blog of his own I can link to so you can read all of his crazy toy ramblings. Yell at him in the comments of this post about how he should start a blog so you can read it. I'll link him to it and prove I was right. Dude has good opinions about toys.

But that's not why I'm here today.

Today I am here to talk about those super cute DC Universe plushes that Funko is producing that I've seen at Toys-R-Us and a few other stores. They are, seriously, the cutest thing I've ever seen. There's also Alice In Wonderland ones I think, but I'm not as interested in those because I do not care about that movie at all.

Wave 1 consisted of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

Okay that is all pretty standard fare. But, because I am me, I wanted an Aquaman. The idea of an Aquaman plush in this style filled me with delight. I ranted to McLovin and Suri that Aquaman was cooler than The Flash and should have taken his place in that set. But, y'know, Flash is generally a good comedic figure and anyone who watched the old Justice League shows remember him fondly. I know I do. So I could accept it.

Now, I just found out there is a second wave of these plushes. Another set of four coming out sometime this October. (From what I've heard, October is going to be a huge month for releases this year.) Do you want to know who is in this set? I'm going to tell you either way, so you might as well say yes.

That's right. Wonder Woman, Catwoman, The Joker, and The Penguin.

The. Fucking. Penguin.

They are all still super cute, but how the hell did The Penguin get a plush over Aquaman? No one gives a damn about The Penguin, do they?! Please correct me if I'm wrong but I haven't seen The Penguin do anything worthwhile in a long time, while Aquaman has ended up being a pretty popular character lately thanks to "Batman: The Brave & The Bold".

I can understand Wonder Woman and The Joker being chosen above Aquaman. Most people are not me and tend to prefer those two. I can even kind of understand Catwoman, just for the sake of throwing more chicks into the mix since were all into the gender diversity shit. But THE GODDAMN PENGUIN? Seriously? C'mon, Funko. Get your shit together.

There had better be a third wave consisting of Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and... Hell, I don't know. The Question? He might not be as cute since he has no face and therefore can't have the cute button eyes. But he sure would have a cute little hat.

What DC characters would you like to see Funko put into this line, guys? Any favorites? I would love to hear who you guys would like to see among this line! My vote is still straight up for Aquaman, but I love DC's cast so much and I'd like to see more of these.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Almost to the release date!!!

Okay, so we've gotten our last big leak of info before Pokemon: Black/White hits it's release in like 5 days. It revealed some information on characters and a big handful of new pokemon. Unfortunately for me, the information on Darumakka has been minimal since he first showed up. But I guess that just means I get to be surprised.

So let's start with the new pokemon and my terrible opinions on them. Prep for a ridiculously long post...

Let's start with these three. Right now we don't have 100% confirmation, but these three, along with their third-stage forms, were leaked a week or so ago, and then showed up again in the CoroCoro scans, though we're not sure if they've been faked. But since everywhere is reporting on them, I'm going to weigh in as if they're legit.

Up top is Janoby, our stage two for Tsutarja, the grass type, then there's Chaobu, Pokabu the fire type's stage two, and finally Futachimaru, Mijumaru the water type's stage two. They all seem fairly standard for stage two pokemon. The same basic pokemon, just a little bigger and stronger. I think Futachimaru is my favorite of the second stages, even though I'm probably still going to pick Tsutarja to start. The only reason I might give in and go to Mijumaru is what I'm going to discuss next...

The monkey trio (from left to right), Baoppu the fire monkey, Yanappu the grass monkey who we have seen from previous leaks, and Hiyappu the water monkey. These three belong to the leaders of the first gym (seen with them above), Poddo, Dento, and Kon respectively. While I had initially assumed that you fought a triple battle against these three, I was apparently wrong.

I assumed this because when rumors of the monkey trio first began to surface it was said that they were created to help demonstrate triple battles (much like how Plusle and Minun came as a double-battle pair). But in the case of the first gym, you do not get a triple battle against three awesome waiters. You get to fight the one that has a type advantage against you. Which I personally find stupid. It removes a lot of strategy from picking your first pokemon, and also ignores a perfect opportunity for us to see the new battle mechanic played out. It also means I have to fight Poddo instead of Dento if I pick Tsutarja. And I have developed a huge crush on Dento.

The monkey trio themselves I am on the fence on. I'm not fond of Baoppu just because he seems to be a rehashed Chimchar. Not to mention we have Hihidaruma, the fire-baboon, to cover our fire-monkey needs already. The other two I am willing to give a little more leeway since they're something we haven't already seen. But I guess if you have two, you need the third, yes?

On the left, from top to bottom, we have Buffalon, Dangoro, and Mebukijika. Buffalon is obviously a buffalo, though Suri insists on calling it "Afro-Tauros", which is also pretty funny. I'm not a big fan of Dangoro just because what the hell is it? It's like a rock-Oddish except less cute. I am not impressed. I do like Mebukijika though. It's enough to make me train a Shikijika so it will evolve into CRAZY PLANT-ANTLERS DEER. He looks like an ass-kicker.

Down the right we have Tabunne, Monmen (exclusive to Black), Churine (exclusive to White), and Tamagetake. Tabunne seems to be our replacement Chansey, which I am okay with. It is pretty cute and if it evolves, I bet it's evolution is really pretty. I'm iffy on Monmen, but I really like Churine. It disappoints me that I want to get Black (because I like Reshiram better than Zekrom) but then have to get Monmen instead of Churine, which I like much better. I just find Tamagetake to be dumb. I could see it being implemented interestingly on the overworld map, but I just don't like it's giant pokeball mushroom thing.

So again, down the left we have the two versions of Basurao (which are different between the two games), Yorterri, and Choroneko. The only one here that I'm really digging is Yorterri. I'm not a big fan of Yorkshire Terriers (because Suri's is a huge bitch), but it is super super cute, and again I'm picturing it having an awesome evolution. Basurao is okay but we've had piranha before, haven't we? I do like that it's different between games though. I think that is pretty cool. Choroneko just seems to be a rehashed Glameow to me. I like it more than Glameow, but I mean... our past three cat pokemon (Meowth/Persian, Skitty/Delcatty, and Glameow/Purugly) have all been vastly different from each other and I'm a little disappointed that Gen V didn't seem to follow suit.

On the right are Desukan, Ononokusu, Denchura, and Doryuzu. I do not like Desukan. It is interesting, but I don't think it really fits in the context of what we've always had for ghost-type pokemon. It is something very solid and I'm bothered by that for some reason. I like Ononokusu's design, but not quite it's color scheme. Puke-yellow doesn't look good on anything, Nintendo. Denchura is an interesting type combo (Bug/Electric) but it looks too much like a recolored Ariados for me to really get into it. But I've always been picky with my bug-types. Doryuzu is just terrifying, even if I do see him pulling off some cool drill moves. There is just something about serrated blades that makes me uneasy.

We also got a look at our evil organization leader. Leading Team Plasma is Geechisu (left) and his enormous skirt. Definitely space-knights. Given that they have similar motives and that they look similar, I'm putting it out there right now that Geechisu and N are related soemhow. Father and son would be the most typical, but I'm also willing to accept uncle/nephew or ridiculous clone. N apparently also has a choroneko, which solidifies his place as the game's token asshole.

And finally we got some new information on the Dream World...

The Dream World is accessed via PC, and you play mini-games there. If you do well at them, you can bring the Dream World's Pokemon back to BW with you. Aerodactyl, Lotad and Magikarp are pictured as examples of terrain-specific Pokemon in the Dream World, as the latter two are in ponds while Aerodactyl is in the sky. Also, it turns out that you don't need to catch Munna to access the Dream World - Makomo lends you her own.
- Via Psypokes

It also had some cute new art of Makomo. Though I am getting kind of jealous that Makomo seems to get way more face-time than Araragi. Especially since you get your starter pokemon as a gift from your parents instead of from Araragi. But I assume she still at least gives you the pokedex and explains ho to be a pokemon trainer.

But Araragi is at least recognized as the Regional Professor, which makes her cooler. And I'm hoping that SHE is the one to visit me when I beat the pokemon league.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Perfect Ending Get!

So, the final chapter of "The Lucifer & The Biscuit Hammer" (aka "Hoshi no Samidare") just came out. My friends and I have been waiting about a month for it, and I told myself that once it was done I'd give a blog post about it. We all just immediately fell in love with this series, and it's conclusion seemed like a good time to write about it.

The ending of this story was perfect. It was everything I had hoped for and more. Loyalties to certain characters were rewarded, and brilliant surprises were not in short supply. But I think before I can really explain how wonderful the ending was to me (while avoiding as many spoilers as I can), I need to explain how and why I fell in love with the series in the first place.

Most of my friends (with a few exceptions) had started reading this before me. If you recall, Suri actually cosplayed the male lead for Otakon this year. I had only started reading it a few weeks before that, so the story was most of the way along by the time I'd gotten started.

It all really started when one of my friends found an out of context panel, and we had to know what it was from.

They managed to track the series down and eventually we were all reading it and discussing it when we got together. Early on, I fell very quickly in love with the character of Shinonome Hangetsu, and the relationship between he and Samidare's older sister, Asahina Hisame. My love of these two has carried over throughout the entire series, in spite of... "adversity", shall we say. And the last chapter rewarded me for that.

But the greatest thing about this series is that it's really hard not to get attached to all of the characters, both good guys and bad guys. The conflicts are intense, the relationships are intricate, and there is always something being pulled out of left field to keep you on your toes. You get lost in the story, forming attachments before you even know what happened. I cried multiple times through out this story from beginning to end.

The last chapter, set 10 years after the rest of the story, is very much an epilogue. It's meant to let us know what became of all of the characters we loved after the epic struggle of the previous 64 chapters. Everyone is covered. We learn things we hadn't known before, little mysteries are solved, and resolutions are given. And all that is presented to us is amazing. I could not have hoped for more than getting to see the characters I loved so happy after fighting so hard. Even Hangetsu and Hisame, in a round-about way, manage to get themselves a happy ending together.

Chapters 1-64 are up on MangaReader, and since I don't know when 65 will get there, you can find that over at, who have been translating the whole thing, and did a spectacular job of it.

We're all hoping that Gainax will pick it up as an anime since there are multiple references to songs by The Pillows, and for the drama CD Yuuhi has the same voice actor as Simon in Gurren Lagann. It is a bit unlikely that it will ever happen, but my friends and I, and the series' fandom in general, as holding out hope.

If you're looking for a manga to read, I cannot recommend this one enough. It has more than secured itself a place as one of my favorite manga ever.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just checking in at the moment.

So, the newest Pokemon games, "Black Version" and "White Version" come out in Japan in less than two weeks. The influx of leaked info has been minimal lately and mostly confined to info about the new anime arc, "Best Wishes". I am debating actually watching it because I have developed a huge crush on Dento and I want to see more of Araragi.

While new info is slow now, I'm expecting it to explode in two weeks when the games finally get released. I'll do my best to keep up, but since I'm heading back for my final two semesters at SVA on the 7th, and will therefore have classwork to keep up with, I don't know how much info I'll be able to give.

On the upside, my first Senior Series class is "Anime Workshop". This is a class on exploring different types of anime and it's influences. So we'll be watching a lot of classic anime films ("Akira", "Naussica", ect.), and I'll have those to write about while I'm in the class. The whole "Aizen is a total psycho" arc of Bleach also seems to be hitting it's final stretch, so once that ends I am sure I will have a long and meaningless post to write about that. I'm predicting I'll have some things to say about Bakuman again in the near future as well.

So stick around. We've got lots coming.

Enhanced by Zemanta