Friday, May 30, 2008

D'Mite - Read a Book, Read a Muthafuckin' Book!

Thanks to Eric Kim for pointing this out.

One of BET's Animations first projects... and it's pretty fucking amazing. Of course it's not without controversy...

Uuuuuuuuuh... I'll have to see what Curtis and Geoffery think about this. To me, it seems like pretty obvious parody. How is this really that different from BOONDOCKS?

Would there still be a controversy if this shit was being yelled at everybody? Because, the thing that makes me love the video, is that it's GOOD ADVICE BEING SHOUTED AT YOU TO A BEAT. EVERYONE could benefit from this. I certainly could... I should read a muthafuckin' book. Not a comic book... not a graphic novel... but a book. A muthafuckin' book. I could also stand to drink some water... especially after drinking, like, two pitchers of Keith's Red... God I'm tired.


Every once and awhile I take a look on Apple to see the trailers for upcoming movies and write down my reactions to the ones that I look forward too... or the ones that confound me.


The third THE DARK KNIGHT trailer only raises my anticipation of this movie. A lot of people are throwing around "IRON MAN is the best superheroe movie ever!", which I can't agree with... was it surprisingly good? Yes. Was it perfectly entertaining? Absolutely. It was the most fun I've had watching a movie, and it did everything I'd want it too, but didn't really EXCEED my expecations in any way. THE DARK KNIGHT looks like it'll exceed my expectations. It looks like they've fixed any problems the almost immaculate first movie had, and with the whole origin stuff out of the way, they can concentrate on what makes you want to see this movie... the conflict between the Joker and Batman. And the Joker looks... amazing. I like that he's got sort of an ethos and motivation, even though it seems like he just floats in on the wind, with no past and no way of identifying him... a monster born for the soul purpose of being an enemy to Batman. I also like the idea that he's an actual threat to Batman because he's the one person that will go too far... people mean nothing to the Joker.

This looks incredible.


I really liked the first movie, and this looks to be more, bigger, and better. More action, more monsters, more weird Hellboy shit, The Invisible Man, and RAMMSTIEN! MORE RAMMSTIEN!



I like how it's just THE INCREDIBLE HULK and not HULK II... I sort of think that this is the only way to save the franchise... by refusing to acknowledge the first movie at all. ^_^;;; It was... hugely disappointing. This, on the other hand, with this new trailer, has got my hopes up. It looks to have everything I'd want from a HULK movie, the CG is coming together, and I like the cast (though I think Eric Banna was a fantastic Bruce Banner... he was just in the wrong movie). I like that this movie addresses the HULK as being in a sort of grey area... neither hero nor villain, a man on the run trying to protect the world from himself, he does bring a lot of pain to peoples lives, but it's only because he's constantly being provoked.

This looks good. I think we'll all be pleasently surprised. I hope...


Really? It's been YEARS since the last TERRIBLY disappointing MUMMY movie, and it's absolute mess of a spin off, THE SCORPION KING (I really wanted that movie to be good too... I love the Rock), does that world really need another MUMMY? That said, this doesn't look that bad... it's no stupider than the original, and looks like it could at least succeed in the way the original did: being a good summer popcorn movie. Not fine art, but a fun escape. I like Jet Li in anything, though I wish they'd stop typecasting him. The guy leaves Hong Kong cinema for Hollywood because he's tired of playing stoic martial arts heroes and period royalty, and what parts does he get in Hollywood? Wacky martial arts heroes, and undead period royalty. Jet Li will probably always have to play the martial arts bad ass, but I wish he'd do something more contemporary. Actually... he should look at getting in on the IRON MAN franchise... my roomate Andrew is all for James Hong being the Manderin a la BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, but Jet Li would make a good contemporary Manderin.

I'll probably see this movie is there's nothing better out that week.


HA HA HA! I'd never watch this! The big problem in this movie is that they don't answer E-MAIL. Amazing. Fuck this movie. Oh God, "Why can't you just stop thinking about it and follow your heart?" "Because... he BROKE my heart!" TEEEEEEEEERRIBLE.


This movie has this sort of weird European comics feel to it... a dark children's adventure movie about a group of children living in a Doomsday Shelter built to work only 200 years, to force people back to the surface, only they forget that they're supposed to leave, and these kids have to decipher clues, overcome danger, and defy their complacent elders to lead them to light. I had movies like this when I was a kid... movies for children where the stakes are high and the dangers are real, and it's all about kids using guts, determination, and intelligence, to overcome adversity. This is sort of in the same vein as THE NEVERENDING STORY, LABYRINTH, GOONIES, etc. I LOVE these kind of movies! Still do.

I'll TOTALLY see this.


Say what you will about Will Smith, but he has rarely failed to bring an entertaining movie to the screen... except for WILD WILD WEST, that was fucking awful. Still, he's got a great track record for making movies that are great entertainment.

When I saw the first teaser trailer, I didn't really think much about HANCOCK... a drunken loser superhero? Meh. The new trailer, though, has got me interested... it starts out as a comedy, and then turns into a heroes journey sort of story, about a guy who's alone and isolated by his power, struggling with day to day life and cracking under the pressure, before finding the reason WHY he should be a hero. With great power comes great responsibility, but if you have nothing to fight for, you'll eventually crack under that responsibility.

This looks pretty good... some good set pieces, decent effects, a good cast (Jason Bateman is fucking EVERYWHERE... the dudes phenominal). I'll see this.


Uuuuuuh, I'm not the only one completely undewhelmed by this, am I?

I don't think I even car about STAR WARS anymore... THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ME, GEORGE LUCAS!!! I'M A NERD THAT DOESN'T CARE ABOUT STAR WARS ANYMORE! It's almost like saying I don't believe in God.

I'll still watch it... I just won't care. :B


This could go either way... I'm expecting the shit way, but it could go either way. Robert Downey looks hilarious though.


What is it with all the action/comedies this year?

I... sort of want to see this. I don't know why I keep watching Adam Sandler films, but I keep watching them. I-I... just can't stop.


A documentary about America's hypocritical stance on steroid use. Looks sort of interesting, though I find it a little weird that it limits itself to America, like only Americans do steroids... the tone of a lot of these types of documentaries seems to be a sort of American self loathing about problems that exist in a lot of other countries.


I have to admit... this looks pretty fucking hilarious. It's about a down and out actor that writes a sequel to HAMLET to be preformed by his highschool acting class, featuring time travel, light sabers, a musical score by the Philidelphia Gay Men's Chorus, and a song called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus." AMAZING.


Good God... no one stopped to tell Frank Miller that he HAS NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT HE'S DOING! It's going to be really interesting to see how terrible this turns out... because I think it's going to be pretty fucking terrible.


I sort of like this... it's like the history of Genghis Khan if it was told like CONAN THE BARBARIAN. I'll watch this.


... What are the values you learn from this movie? Beauty and Popularity trump intelligence and honesty. FUCK YOU HAPPY MADISON! -_- Terrible... fucking terrible.


A French spooky distopian teens VS cannibals movie by the guy that directed SILENT HILL, which was fucking spooky. I'm not to big on splatter movies, but this looks fucking creepy.


A weird comedy about a guy that becomes a social vigilante. It actually looks sort of interesting, but it's been a LOOOOOOOONG time since Tim Robbin's has done anything good.

That's it for now!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Special thanks to everyone that helped out this weekend:

Parrish, Joanna, Jason Azzopardi, Zack Worton, Eric Kim (however briefly), Ryan North and his girlfriend (I never got her name... sorry sorry. ^_^;;;), Jerry Resendez, Carlos, Amanda, Becka, Maggie, Kayla Hillier, Kai Boyzen, James and Lynn, Jamie and Shoshana, and of course Chris Butcher and Peter Birkimoe.

Special thanks also to Erik Ko and UDON for the ride home and the DARKSTALKERS TPB, which I've been looking for for awhile now.

Special thanks also to Heather for getting me out of the dealers room for awhile to get a TOFU... I really needed that. Thanks to the TOFU people for being awesome. Thanks to Tubby for coming back to Canada... sorry I totally blew my chance to hang out with you again. -_-;;;

If I missed anyone, let me know.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anime North 2008: The Year We Screamed Defiantly, Hearts Ablaze, Spirits United...

Anime North 2008 Post Con Wrap Up

For the past few years I've been working ANIME NORTH with the BEGUILING, having previously attended as an "artist" with my friends. Frankly, the only way I can do AN anymore is as a retailer. I never quite felt comfortably in artist alley as the only guy without a comic or prints to sell, and a terribly unpopular style that netted me about $10 in commissions in my TOTAL AN experience (seriously... in the, what, 8 years I've been going to AN, I only ever made $10 off of my art), and I spend way to much money to justify my being there... there's just no logic in me paying 60 dollars so I can spend $200 in the dealers room (ha ha... I spent WAY more than that this year...).

I have to say, I do enjoy the AN retail experience. It's the one time a year I'm actually doing a job that I like; selling manga/anime/comics related merchandise. Even with the heavy lifting, even with the long hours, I love working AN. I get paid to hang out with all my friends, and talk up shit that I love to other people who are into the same thing... something I NEVER get to do, because no one is really into the same stuff as me. ^_^;;;

Of course it's not all sunshine and roses. AN can be... taxing at times. This year wasn't that bad though. Very few people grated on me, and I didn't leave with my usual level of resentment for humanity. Only two people REALLY pissed me off, aside from a few others that only irked me, because they all shared the same bad customer habits.

Here are some of this years highlights, followed by some pictures... this is all very stream of consciousness, as I'm still pretty tired, and didn't make any notes or anything, so I might not be remembering things correctly.


I arrived at the store around 5:45pm to help with the load in... this is significant in that it was already mostly done by the time I got there, and thus not nearly as back breaking for me personally as it could have been. I'm not one to shy away from hard work when it needs to be done, but neither am I a masochist. ^_^;;; What little there was left to be done was quick and painless, and then we went for drinks and food at the VICTORY CAFE, which is always good. I went to bed early to ensure I'd be up at 5:45 the next morning.


I think I got up at 5:15am actually... what the fuck is wrong with me? Rather than go back to bed, I just fucked around on the internet until 5:50am and then left for the subway. I think I got downtown at around 6:20am and took my time getting to the store, stopping by the TIM HORTONS for some breakfast and a very large coffee. I like to be early when I need to be some place, especially if it's work, and especially if it's in the morning, so I can wake up a bit and so that I'm sure not to be late.

Kayla showed up a little after I did, and then I can't really remember what happened... decisions were made, and we were off to the wilds of Mississauga for AN load out.

When we got there, Peter had already started unloading, and had procured a pretty sweet spot right next to the door. I don't think there was anything really significant about the load out... it went pretty smoothly, and there was a lot of going back and forth, which allowed me to look at some of the other tables and see who was carrying what, knowing I'd never had the oppurtunity to leave the table the first day, but not wanting to get fucked out of any potential purchases on the first day, like I was last year. Turns out the only table of interest to me other than Ryan from MIDDLE MAN's (great guy, who usually has the best selection of artbooks at any given show... I usually spend a lot of money at his table, and he's nice enough to get me a hookup, even if I don't ask for one. Fantastic guy) was the Hentai table. These guys didn't have a store or anything... it's just some guy that goes to Japan every few monthes, buys an assload of doujin and hentai takubon, marks them up, and sells them at North American conventions for a profit. I have no idea what he pays, but a lot of his doujin was from the most recent comiket, so he's not buying them at a discount. Overall while his prices aren't great, they are pretty reasonable for a product that's simply not available here, and he is the only game in town. Plus I like filthy filthy doujin... what can I say? I am a man, and a nerd, and a nerd-man. There's no real way for me to defend my hunger for filthy comics. NONE AT ALL.

Everything was going pretty good at this point... the load out was pretty quick, and the organizing and set-up was progressing at pace... we stood to be show reading without time to spare... until the overstock order arrived. A second truck with over 2000 some odd books! ALL UNSORTED. Unloading it didn't bother me at all... physical labor is pretty mindless and easy for me... but I did almost lose it a bit when I was told to sort, like, 20-25 boxes of Shonen Jump an hour before the doors opened. I really regret not just calmly rolling up my sleeves and digging in... I'm supposed to be solution oriented. Either way, Peter, Amanda, Kai, and I somehow managed to get it somewhat straighten out, literally moments before the show started, giving me about 10 minutes to run over to the Hentai table and make an impulse purchase... I wouldn't know until that night if I'd actually approve of my purchase, and I regret not having taken the time to actually look through everything and see what he had first... I could have done SO much better. >_<>_< style="font-style: italic;">AN TANGENT: PEOPLE THAT PISSED ME OFF ON SATURDAY*

The first guy that pissed me off was this older guy... I think Chris actually tried to engage him as well. I think he was in his late 30's early 40's or so, and obviously wasn't there with a child or anything like that... he was there for himself. The thing that pissed me off about this guy was that he came off as a snob... he acted like he was too good to be at AN, but let me tell you this... if you're AT ANIME NORTH, you're definately not to good for ANIME NORTH. He was looking at various books in my section, which was mostly artbooks of various types ranging form Import books, Art Instruction, and Art Appreciation (essays and the type). He'd been looking around aimlessly for awhile, flipping through various things, picking things up, building a pile, reconsidering, and putting things back, so I engaged him while he was looking at the Sketching Manga artbook and tried to give him a little information on it, which had, to this point, worked very well in selling the books, only to be met with, "I'm an experienced artist! I don't need this book. I have no interest in anime or manga other than the art, and I don't like any of the art you're suggesting to me!" WHAT... THE FUCK? If you don't need it, WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT IT? Also, even an experienced artist can benefit from a really good book on art instruction... that's why people STILL reference the ANIMATORS SURVIVAL GUIDE (which we also had, but seemed to be lost on this asshole). He then proceeded to shit all over anything he looked at, but still bought some stuff... I can't remember which. It didn't matter though, because now I hated this stuck up asshole (who would later return and buy MORE stuff).

The second person to piss me off was similarly a snob, but in a different way. Before the show even began some sort of Library people snuck into the dealers room and tried to buy a whole bunch of shit from us before we'd even finished unpacking. I didn't have to deal with them, but they seemed really pushy, made someone do a lot of work, and then told them to put everything back so they could look around at other tables because they didn't feel they were getting a good enough deal or something (I may be wrong about this though... someone correct me if I am). Anyways, these people ended up in the Anime section, and had a few DVD collections already, before asking me to make suggestions, and sell them on things... and then proceeded to shit all over every suggestion I made by saying, "I'd never watch that!" THEN WHY ASK ME TO MAKE SUGGESTIONS IF YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!?! Even when I asked, "What would you LIKE to see?" they'd just say, "Oh, I don't know, anything, suggestion something." I just can't deal with that (to be fair, this happened with some people in the manga section as well, when I had to work that for a brief period... I don't know how everyone else dealt with that ALL FUCKING WEEKEND). If you don't WANT suggestions, don't ASK for them.

The third person to really piss me off was this one specific bitch that argued with me on the FRUITS postcard set, suggesting that out prices were outlandish because they exactly matched EVERYONE ELSE. Which I already knew was a lie. So I was all like, "If everyone else is selling this incredibly rare thing for the same price, then I have no competition, so why should I give it to you for the suggested FIVE DOLLARS you want to pay?" Seriously... she offered FIVE DOLLARS for it, and insisted that anything more was ridiculous. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?! We were selling it for US cover, which was $15 even. And I KNOW that no one else had it, as people had been telling me that ALL DAY, so that was an outright lie. Long story short, my refusal to budge caused her to leave, and the thing was sold later on anyways, probably for the normal asking price. FUCK YOUR FIVE DOLLARS BITCH!

After what seemed like forever, the say finally ended, and we all returned to Markham and Bloor, and had a delicious dinner at ROCCO'S. I had the Linguine Paradise,which was... amazing, and drank a little to much Richard's Red. Jim Zubkavich was there, telling more of his seemingly endless hilarious stories of the industry, which always fascinates me.

After dinner and drinks, I was barely awake, and didn't really look forward to a 6:00am wakeup to take an long and early bus ride downtown, so Chris was nice enough to put me up. After having one of my favorite conversations EVER about Dr. Mindbender being akin to the GI JOE version of Freddy Mercury, I disappeared myself for awhile to Chris and Andrew clean up (sorry sorry... I hate being a burden ^_^;;;), and talked with Kendall at BMV, which is always fun.

I fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes.


The final day of AN, started at about 7:15am, as I woke up, downed a huge glass of water, and otherwise prepared myself for the day. I snuck out around 7:30am, moving quietly, so as to not disturb Andrew, who didn't need to be up at all, and went to TIM HORTONS for the third morning in a row. I wasn't feeling that great, so I only got a small coffee and some orange juice that sort of tasted like vomit, and went to wait at the store. It was awhile before anyone showed up, so I did some sketching and made some notes on a story I want to try and do. People started showing up, so I helped Parrish and Joanna pack up some stuff, and witnessed the pretty common site of John being a bastard again, surprising no one. Then Chris showed up and it was once again off to AN.

When we arrived, Chris and I went to get food from the LAMEST SOBBEY's I've ever seen, and then returned to do some setup. I was starting to feel a lot better that this point, and after making one final sweep of the dealers room, found that there was nothing else that I wanted (this is when I discovered that the COLOR WALK book was gone. ;_;).

Nothing of much interest happened all day. I think the thing I was proudest of was moving over 230 dollars worth of hentai anime AFTER the show had closed. Man did I sell that filthy, filthy, pornography.

The load in was surprisingly painless despite Show Security fucking us out of a better parking spot. I didn't really have any complaints. The load out seemed rougher than it did last year, but I guess we had significantly less people.

Afterward we had dinner at INSOMNIA, which was pretty good... it's not really my favorite place, but that was a pretty good quesadilla. Finally, I excused myself, and went home, immediately falling asleep while watching the new HE-MAN DVD set I'd bought from the store.


I slept until 1:00 or so, when I got a phone call from Kiza asking if I'd like to go with see INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, which was alright. We then went for Sushi after at SAPPORO, which is, like, my favorite restaurant of all time.


Work was... so fucking BAD. I was still tired, so I decided to take Wednesday off, which is, like, the best idea I've ever had! Next year, I'm definately taking more time off after AN.


I wrote this shit, and plan on going to the store after. Pictures will be posted once I think of the best way to get pictures online (is available for public viewing, or do you need a Yahoo account?).

Monday, May 19, 2008

TOTO: The Wonderful Adventure VS HARIDAMAO: Magic Cram School

This last week was a BIG manga week (appropriately just before ANIME NORTH as well...), with two new titles in particular coming out from DEL REY that are sort of interesting to compare, as they're both aimed at the same audience... TOTO: The Wonderful Adventure and HARIDAMAO: Magic Cram School.

TOTO: The Wonderful Adventure by Yuko Osada

TOTO is basically a very loose re-imagining of the WIZARD OF OZ, taking only elements of the original story, characters names, and a goal: to reach the city of Emerald.

TOTO is the story of Kakashi, an excitable young boy trapped on a small island city, who dreams of seeing the world. Like any good hero of a children's story, he's an orphan, abandoned by his Father, whose only keepsakes are the journal his father left him; a diary of his travels through the world, and note in the written on the first page, "The World is vast! So my Boy, you do not need a reason... go on an adventure!" Taking this challenge to heart, Kakashi eventually manages to leave his nest, stowing away on a luxury Zeppelin, which just happened to be hijacked by bandits that look like slick 1920's gangsters, decked out in black suits and googles. Kakashi finds a dog roaming around in the cargo hold he is also hiding in, and they immediately become friends, though there seems to be some sort of mystery surrounding the puppy. Unable to eject Kakashi from the Zeppelin, he instead ends up bonding with the leader of the gang (it might be my imagination, but he MAY actually be Kakashi's father...), and learns about honor, before the Zeppelin is shot down by the military. Finally on his own, with only a world map and his dog, Kakashi's real adventure starts when he meets up with a young girl named Dorothy, who wants to meet her parents in the city of Emerald.

TOTO is one of those books that has everything I love about manga, particularly manga aimed at children. The protagonist is full of guts and determination, with uncompromising ethics and unyielding bravery. He's a wide eyed optimist and a dreamer, which is both his reason and motivation for going on an adventure in the first place. Later, when Dorothy shows up, she becomes a good foil for Kakashi, who left to his own devices might just wander aimlessly with no real goal, whereas Dorothy has a definite goal for herself, and, being more of a realist, she manages to ground Kakashi in reality, pointing out the things they need and providing information about the state of this fantasy world that Kakashi doesn't have, being from "the boonies" as it were. Toto, for his part, is the ever adorable McGuffin; the series mascot and mystery, a small dog with a huge amount of hidden power. His association with Kakashi and Dorothy provides an antagonist in the form of the Military, who are attempting to recover Toto, for unknown reasons.

The story is very well paced, and moves fast, but in a very decompressed way, taking time at the beginning to establish Kakashi's character, and then giving him the tools he'll need to progress in the story. It's actually almost like playing an RPG, picking up items of signifigance as he moves along... the World Map, his over-sized coat, Toto, a motorcycle with side car... each item is signifigant to progressing the story or building his character. As the story progresses, Kakashi learns and grows; it's all very much a coming of age/hero's journey type story.

In terms of it's references to THE WIZARD OF OZ, it's all very loose, but clever in it's own way... it bears almost no resemblance to the original stories, or the movie, in terms of it's plot, but references a number of the characters and other signifigant elements. Dorothy, for example, still looks very much like a small town Kansas girl, but is the head of her school's Tornado Senjutsu team (ha ha ha! Japanese LOVE puns), making her a formidable opponent rather than a helpless tag-along. Kakashi's name means "Scarecrow", and though he's not especially bright, he's not really off in search of a brain. Dorothy gives Toto his name, but he's actually Kakashi's friend first. And I'm sure many more references are to come.

The art in TOTO is fantastic! It's the kind of art you don't really see in a a lot of modern manga... it stands out as being more cartoonish, with exaggerated expressions, extreme, gestural , posing, and lots of contast, shadows, and detailed backgrounds. The line work is has a lot of variety and is very well thought out, and screentone is used very sparingly, either for dramatic lighting, or to create depth by separating foreground and background elements. The character designs are all very diverse and imaginative, with no two characters looking alike or unconsidered. The storytelling and page layouts are very dynamic but clear.

TOTO is definately a wonderful adventure, that I enjoyed from beginning to end.


HARIDAMAO: Magic Cram School by Atsushi Suzumi

HARIDAMAO was described to me as being "Manga Harry Potter", which is a fair, if slightly misleading, description. It doesn't have nearly the depth of mythology that Harry Potter has, being that it's a one-shot, but it is about kids at Magic School.

HARIDAMAO is about a world where there is a power called YING and YANG, and spells can be cast by moving you Ki from Ying to Yang and vice versa. In this world there are also though who are born without both Ying and Yang, who are called Obsidian's, as they are required to carry a small Obsidian stone to supplement whichever power it is they're missing. Obsidian's are considered handicapped because they can never be as powerful as an ordinary magician. HARIDAMAO is the story of two Obsidian's, Kokuyo and Harika, who both share the same dream of becoming the world's greatest Magician despite their mutual handicap. Together they fight monsters, overcome obstacles, and study to overcome their limitations, learning to turn their weakness into strength.

HARIDAMAO is a pretty standard shonen, "I want to be the best whatever it is I am" type story, about a character that has lofty ambitions, but appears to be a slacker, while harboring great hidden potential. It's a very by the book story that I've read a number of times in other manga, and doesn't really add anything new. It's just a wholly unremarkable book. ^_^;;; The resolution in particular is very predictable... you see it coming a MILE away. As such, the characters are also fall into predictable arch-types; Kokuyo is the underachiever with hidden potential and unexpected tenacity, and Harika is the "tsundere" character (Tsundere is a term used for a type of character that seems aloof or cold but can unexpectantly show warmth or become cute) that nags him while secretly harboring feelings, and Nekomi is the rival that becomes a friend.

The only real saving grace is some really nice art, but even the art is very generic and unimaginative... there are a number of books that looks like this, and the mixing of traditional Japanese costuming with British formal dress is rather jarring and doesn't mix that well. It's all very well drawn, but there's nothing particularly special or engaging about it.

HARIDAMAO is just an all around lackluster book that will probably become popular anyways, as these kind of lackluster books inexplicably tend too. It's not particularly terrible, just not that great.


I think the main point of difference and the reason why I chose to compare these books is the issue of accessiblity. I have three nieces (well... second cousins, but it's easier to say nieces and it's closer to the kind of relationship I have with them) for whom I buy books, and I mostly try to buy them manga, as it's the only thing I've found that has any sort of appeal to girls. The problem I've found with a lot of manga and anime when buying for young readers is finding books that bridge the cultural divide between North America and Japan... it's already tough enough explaining to them why they have to read it backwards (something I now take for granted, having done it for years), without having to explain all the different cultural aspects to 8, 10, and 12 year old girls... things like the honorifics, school uniforms, etc etc. People that are already familiar with manga already have that cultural shorthand, and tend to take it for granted, but it's weird and jarring to a young kid that has no regular exposure to manga or Japanese culture as a whole.

I think that's the thing I like most about TOTO, and stories like it... it's more universally accessible, having no real specific cultural or periodic setting, as well as making reference to something that's already familiar, bringing in a new kind of shorthand for the story, as you already know these characters, in a way. HARIDAMAO, for it's part, is somewhat more accessible than your average manga, but there are still cultural references that your average North American 8-12 year old has probably never encountered... such as the philosophy behind Ying and Yang. This is part of why I've become partial to DEL REY's manga... they're really the only publisher that puts in liner notes explaining cultural references or things that otherwise don't translate directly to North American culture (VIZ and DARKHORSE do this sometimes, but not all the time... EXCEL SAGA has the most extensive liner notes of any manga being published, though).

Anyways... just some thoughts.

Monday, May 12, 2008

MANGA CVN 73: US Navy Manga

This is sort of interesting... The US Navy is publishing a manga about the USS George Washington as a way of trying to not scare the fuck out of the Japanese, as it's now stationed off the coast or something.

I-I... I'm not sure how I feel about that... on one level I think it's cool, on another level, absurd. I can easily see how this could become a very one-sided "YAY AMERICA!" propaganda piece.


(Got this off the the Icarus Comics Blog)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

SPEED RACER: I Get it, But no One Else Does.

I went to see SPEED RACER yesterday with my friends Jerry, Murray, and Carlos, and it was pretty much exactly what I both expected and wanted from the movie... which is why I can understand the intensely negative critism the movies been getting (seriously... 35% at Rotten Tomatoes is a little harsh....), because what I expected and wanted from this movie is vastly different from what your average critic, or even your average movie goer, is looking for.

See... the problem is that SPEED RACER is a PERFECT adaptation of the cartoon. It is EXACTLY like the cartoon in every possible way. Nothing was really done to tone down the 1960's absurdity of the material they were adapting... no effort was made to make this movie darker or more realistic, or in any way more palatable to a 21st Century audience. Characters have names like "Inspector Detector", or "Crusher Block", Racer X is still has an incredibly melodramatic back story, and Spriddle and Chim-Chim are still annoying but somehow endearing. Some of the movie's humor involving Spriddle and his pet monkey was positively groan worthy at times, but obviously appeals to a younger audience (they literally throw monkey poo at a guy... kids LOVE that kind of shit, pun intended). The improbable stunts, the simplistic, "Everything will be ok if I can just win this race..." plot... it's all there.

Everything about this movie was exactly like the cartoon... which is awesome if you've got that prior knowledge. It was actually interesting going with Jerry and Murray, because it perfectly illustrates the divide between someone with an affinity for the original content, and the average movie goer who never watched SPEED RACER, or even any anime at all, and thus just would not "get" a lot of the movie's visual cues, in-jokes, and homages. In the end, Jerry ended up enjoying the movie a lot more than Murray did, and that's exactly how it's going to be for EVERYBODY. This movie is just going to fly right over people heads. Which is too bad, because it was actually pretty entertaining, and I really enjoyed the visual style... my only real critism with the movie is that it starts REALLY slow; especially for a movie about RACING. It took at least 15-20 minutes to get all of the plot setup out of the way and get to the shit you actually came to see... absurd car stunts, ninja's, mobsters, secret identities, cute girls flying helicopters, race-car vikings (YES... VIKINGS), melodrama, speed-lines, and a pounding orchestral (the chimes and harps make it sound very Hanna Barbara) soundtrack. Which this movie delivers in spades. It's a slightly deeper and more complex story than the cartoon (a parable about Big Business VS the Little Guy, corporate politics, and cheaters never prospering), but it still has that childlike sense of focus... "If I can just win this one race, everything will be ok."

Visually, I found the movie went back and forth between looking garish and looking stylish, but I really enjoyed a lot of the anime style wipes and transitions. The cast was perfect, and everyone played their parts to a T (particularly John Goodman, who I always like anyways, but seemed to be really channeling something as Pops Racer). This is a movie that will appeal greatly to children, who will appreciate the bright colors, fast paced action, and monkey-poo humor, and adults with prior knowledge or fond memories of the series, or at least some exposure to oldschool anime, and it's conventions. The only thing this movie really needed was to end on a watercolor still of Speed jumping out of the Mach 5 and taking his iconic pose.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN: I'm Still Out on This One...

MARVEL's posted a new trailer for their new X-MEN animated series coming out.... TBA.

(Special thanks to my favorite LJ-er, Prozacpark for inadvertantly alerting me to this)

Here are my first impressions...


- Darker themed story, combining regular, EVOLUTION, and movie continuity's.
- They're making use of a HUGE cast of characters, for a sort of nerd-"Where's Waldo", really... X-panding (heeeeeeeee) the universe.
- Art direction and animation looks generally pretty decent.
- Voice cast isn't bad (STEVEN J. BLUM AS WOLVERINE!), and Magneto actually sort of sounds like Ian McKellan.


- I'm not a huge fan of the character designs... a lot of them look really blocky, buldgy, and top heavy, and way to many characters have "cancer cheeks"... plus, why the pouty lips on EVERYBODY!?! Baffling.
- Art direction and animation is ONLY decent... maybe X-MEN: EVOLUTION just spoiled me, but com'n MARVEL... you can do better than "decent" with your first tier franchise!
- Wolverine as a title character... I don't think he can carry and ensemble piece... given that he's traditionally been portrayed as an anti-establishment loner for 20 SOME-ODD YEARS!
- The line-up is Forge, Ice-Man, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Cyclops, and Emma Frost? I get Cyclops and Emma Frost, but... did they just throw darts at a board? Is this someone's fan-fiction? Why can't anyone every put fucking Colossus in a series!?!

One great thing about the various X-Toons has always been that they're intelligently written, serialized, stories with broad spectrum appeal. To bad the original cartoon doesn't age well at all, but it was still some serious shit back in '92, and X-MEN: EVOLUTION... let's face it, it was, and always will be, the show to beat in terms of animated ADAPTATIONS of MARVEL characters (WARNER BROS still has MARVEL beat as a whole, though... they just can't compete with Bruce Timm... the guy knows how to produce a show that hits all the right nerd-buttons). Still... this looks like it'll be pretty good.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I'm working on something that I find sort of exciting right now, and should have it done in a day or two, so watch this space.

Special Thanks to EK for helping to set this up.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

THE MACHINE GIRL: What the Fuck is Wrong with the Japanese?

Eric Kim, Parrish, some of Eric Kim's friends, and I went the the midnight showing of THE MACHINE GIRL at the TOO FAR FILM FESTIVAL last night... I only really had this trailer to go on when I went to see it, so I sort of knew what to expect, but... I was still completely unprepared for just how COMPLETELY FUCKED UP this movie was.

THE MACHINE GIRL is the story of Ami, a slightly above average Japanese highschool orphan girl, who is forced to raise her beloved pussy of a little brother, after their parents commit suicide when they are both accused of being alleged murderers. Ami is popular, intelligent, and a good athlete, as well as being incredibly strong and seemingly superhumanly tough. Her brother, though, is comparatively weak and easily bullied by the son of the local Yakuza, who is also the descendant of Hattori Hanzo ninja.

One day, the bullying goes too far, and the bully, Sho, kills Ami's brother, Yu, dropping him and his friend Takeshi from a roof. Being the son of a Yakuza, the murder is covered up by the police, and no one will take the word of the daughter of alleged murderers, and after being attacked by the irrational parents of one of Sho's gang, Ami snaps and descends into a revenge fueled kill-crazy rampage. "Even if it means I must become a demon, I will avenge you Sho!" she cries, sacrificing her body, soul, and sanity to become the Machine Girl.


The only thing I can possibly compare THE MACHINE GIRL to that would give people any sort of basis for comparison would be RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RIKI, in terms of how completely disgusting and FUCKED UP it is. THE MACHINE GIRL is obviously heavily influenced by messed up old grindhouse movies, and particularly Robert Rodriguez recent attempt at resurrecting the genre, PLANET TERROR, though instead of having a machine gun for a leg, she has it on her arm, though one other character later replaces her leg with a chainsaw. It's just completely, unforgivably, violent and disgusting... in such as way that it is completely cartoonish and entertaining, rather than actually shocking... through you will probably vomit. A few times. In what I think is the movies most memorable scene, a middle aged woman starts vomiting when her sons decapitated head pops up in a pot of tempura batter, only to be stabbed in the brain by Ami from behind, while vomiting, rendering her brain dead and thus cutting off her gag reflex, so that she actually VOMITS UP HER OWN INTESTINES INTO THE POT. Ami then takes the body of the deceased boy into the bathroom where his father is bathing, and squeezes the body, spraying him with blood and scream, "WASH YOUR HAIR WITH YOUR SONS BLOOD AS CONDITIONER!"

The movie sort of stumbles drunkenly around on the borderline between trying to be an actual movie, as there are some pretty decent effects mixed in with the obviously cheezy ones, and some decent cinematography, and the story could almost be forgivable, if not for the massive plotholes that seemed to be purposely left there, or the way certain plot points are just simply and unceremoniously explained away (at one point the mother of Takeshi asks her husband, who is stitching up Ami's dismembered arm, "Do you know what you're doing?" to which his reply is, "Of course. Have yo forgotten that I'm the son of a doctor? Not to mention all the times I stitched up your wounds when you were in that crazy biker gang..." easily dismissing two potential plot holes with one ridiculous piece of dialouge).

The theme of the movie also sort of stumbles around, especially in the penultimate fight, as Ami is sort of a hypocrite, and it's really hard to have any sort of sympathy for her, as she easily discards her morals, almost immediately contradicting herself, to become a murderous psychopath.... which apparently runs in the family (this was pretty hilarious... there was one piece of dialouge where Ami states, "My brother and father would NEVER murder anyone..." which sort of implies that her mother probably WAS a murderer all along, and passed her murder skills down to Ami, who even the ninja Yakuza admit to having an impressive knack for the disgusting art of the kill-crazy revenge rampage). One memorable line from Takeshi's mother seems to change the moral barometer of the movie, where she states, "You're going to murder them all? GOOD! If there's a way to get revenge without killing a LOT of people, I don't know what it is."

THE MACHINE GIRL is one of those films that is sort of infuriating as you watch it... even though you have no sympathy for Ami, as she's proven to be a pretty unforgivable and terrible human being, she is the lessor of two evils, and is abused and looked down upon by a uncaring cast of even more callous and cruel characters... the unjust nature of her situation, and the fact that no matter how many, or how brutally, she kills ANYONE they send to stop her, the movies villainous family of arrogant and haughty Yakuza Ninja never admit her righteousness or that they fear her. It just frustrates the hell out of me when the villain won't admit how cool the hero is... even when they are being horribly murdered by her... there's something unfulfilling about that.

THE MACHINE GIRL is one of those movies that's a great movie because it's a terrible movie. It's just completely and almost unforgivably fucked up, and you'll spend the entire two hours tasting bile as you choke back your own vomit. It's a well crafted, terrible movie, much along the lines of RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RIKI, and equally as disgusting and violent, filled with characters that you have no sympathy for. We had a BLAST, as the theater was filled with laughs, cheers, groans, and the sound of puke hitting the floor.

I recommend this to anyone throwing a midnight room party with friends that can appreciate terrible movies.