Thursday, September 17, 2009


This September sees two movies based on anime that have found success in North America getting a limited engagement in theaters: one night only. They are:

EUREKA SEVEN: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers


EVANGELION 1.0: You are [NOT] Alone

Now, I get EVANGELION, Gainax Studio's Golden Cash Cow, which is pretty universally worshiped by nerds the world over as the definitive gateway to anime fandom. Whether or no you understand it's complex and adult plot, it's philosophical musings, or it'd delving into psuedo-Jewish mystism, it's stands as one of those things that people seem to just have an experience watching; wowed by the visuals, shocked by the content, and challenged by the plot. Plus, with FUNIMATION being the MICROSOFT of anime these days, it's not surprising they'd want to get some more widespread exposure for what will probably be their biggest money-maker for now and probably for years to come.

EUREKA SEVEN on the other hand I understand a little less. It was popular when it was on, but I don't really think it was a breakout success for either YTV or CARTOON NETWORK, as YTV has pretty much marginalized it's block of prime-time adult oriented anime programing (I think BIONIX is now on at 1:00-3:00 am Saturday nights or something, whereas it was formerly their Friday Night nerd grabbing ratings machine), which leads me to believe that it was to costly to license those shows with very little ratings payoff. As for how it did on DVD I can't say; I don't really follow the industry that closely. The only sure-fire way I know to just a shows success in North America is by seeing how many people cosplay as characters from that show at ANIME NORTH; the answer being very few. Add to that that BANDAI is not nearly the industry giant it was before, having less new material coming out as compared to FUNIMATION, and with less consistency (from personal experience, 9 out of 10 releases, of late, have seen some sort of delay or re-solicitation). But, then, that may explain why they'd put the effort into getting exposure for a movie tied into a series that probably did ok for them a few years ago; problem is that I don't think the modern anime-nerd's memory is that long.

I'm also suspect as to how well similar releases in past years have worked out for other companies such as VIZ or MANGA CORPS. NARUTO rakes it in hand over fist for VIZ on a nearly daily basis, but how many sales did their one day screening of CLASH IN THE LAND OF ICE AND SNOW,or the BLEACH movie MEMORIES OF NOBODY really generate? I'm fairly certain that the little attended screening of KARAS that Jerry and I attended (and which was super-awesome by the by) didn't generate many sales for MANGA CORPS... outside of me that is.

So I guess my question is: does this work? Aside from Miyazaki movies, wide release anime has never really been all that successful without some kind of successful franchise tie-in. POKEMON go four wide releases before the diminishing returns killed it, as did DIGIMON (awesome and totally superior to POKEMON as a series and standalone movie in every way) and YU-GI-OH (a guilty pleasure of mine), while STEAMBOY and PAPRIKA, while garnering critical acclaim (STEAMBOY was a full house at TIFF the year I saw it, and PAPRIKA is at 82% positive on ROTTENTOMATOES), went mostly unnoticed.

My theory is that if the end result is that it sells a lot of DVD's, that's all that matters; but if no one goes to see it, how many DVD's does it really sell, especially in the modern age of internet thievery and fan-entitlement gone wild? In that case, is it still worth it?

At any rate, I'm excited about getting the chance to see either EUREKA SEVEN or EVAGELION on the big screen, but I don't think that either will be successful enough to achieve my dream of seeing popular anime getting wide releases in North American theaters.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

X-MEN: MISFITS - Marvel Shoujo Manga: Rise or Fall?

At Chris' request, I read MARVEL's joint venture with DEL-REY to cross the world of X-MEN with the world of Shoujo (Japanese comics for girls). The result was... ambiguous.

I've actually got no problem with either the concept or the genre; I actually think it's an interesting mix and a fresh perspective that could potentially mine a very profitably demographic that MARVEL's either never had success with or even tried to target: teenage girls.

X-MEN: MISFITS' (Written by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, and illustrated by Anzu) premise is that Kitty Pryde, an average, maybe even below average (... thoughts on this later), girl from a simple family in Chicago. Her only standout feature is her strange ability to uncontrollably pass through solid objects. Her life changes drastically when her family is approached by a handsome middle-aged man named Eric Lensherr who has a name for what she is: "Mutant", and invites her to a private boarding school that specializes in the education and training of Mutants (sound familiar?).

Not wanting to cause her family any more trouble, and afraid of what she might do to herself if she doesn't learn how to control herself, Kitty agrees to attend 'The Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters' in Westchester, New York. Having powers made her a standout and a misfit at her school, so she secretly hopes that being at a school of Mutants will allow her to fit in and fade into the background; but she couldn't be more mistaken! Upon arrival she discovers that she's the school's only female student, and is soon in the middle of a power struggle between the schools exclusively male student body of super-hot teenage boys! What's a girl to do?

To be fair, the X-MEN have always been MARVEL's most diverse cast of characters; one of the first books to feature an international team of heroes, and really explore and showcase their respective cultures, as well as having a larger cast of female characters than most books. The decision to make Kitty Pryde the focus of a romance adventure book about an outcast girl sent away to a boarding school for Mutants, being that she was the youngest and more accessible of X-Men's female characters, and her background is pretty much unchanged in the transition from male-oriented superhero/adventure comic to girl-oriented romance/drama manga. To bad her character wasn't equally unchanged.

To me, X-MEN: MISFITS is almost too good at it's job of trying to emulate your typical Shoujo manga; it's so typically Shoujo that there's almost nothing standout about it.

What could have been a really fasinating and original take on both the characters and the genre, instead falls back on cliched troupes of the genre and character arch-types; the ditzy, underachieving heroine in Kitty Pryde, the hot-headed and slightly abusive prettyboy in Pyro, and the equally pretty "tsundere" rival in Ice-Man. It's not particularly mishandled or anything, I just don't find it particularly stand out. These characters easily fall into those arch-types, but that also leaves them without any depth... particularly Kitty Pryde.

I just don't understand why they felt the need to dumb down someone who has always been portrayed as intelligent and adventurous, and most importantly, INDEPENDENT. She called Professor X a jerk, damnit! The Kitty Pryde presented in MISFITS would never have that kind of courage. I was actually hoping for a little more HANA YORI DANGO or PEACH GIRL in her character rather than... name any other bullshit shoujo book about a ditzy girl not particularly intelligent, clever, or independent, with no particular goal to achieve. The MISFIT Kitty Pryde doesn't even decide to enter into her first relationship with Pyro; she just sort of does what she's told to by, well, everyone. My only hope for the character is that the writers have some kind of long term character arc in mind where she somehow becomes a strong and independent woman.

But even if that's the plan, it doesn't mean she has to be portrayed as an unintelligent underachiever! Plenty of Shoujo heroines are defined by their cleverness, or strong willed natures and determination to overcome their circumstances without becoming unrelatable or inaccessible. Are you telling me that the only character that would appeal and be relatable to a young girl is an underachieving, boy-obsessed, ditz?

Aside from that, I'm actually more interested in the world of MISFITS, and the choices of how to reinterpret the characters into the Shoujo dynamic. The Pyro/Iceman romantic rivalry makes sense, having been established in the movies, and it's a nice allegorical contrast, and they fit their respective arch-types. It's also veeeeeeery manga that their personalities match their powers. I just wish there was more depth to them.

Storm is cast as being an older teacher, and they us the '80's mohawk Storm, which is fairly iconic, and played for some laughs. I've never really understood why various re-interpretations of the X-MEN insist on making Storm an older authority figure... I've always liked the fresh, young, unsure, Storm of the NEW X-MEN, who embraces her new surroundings with zealous curiousity, reinventing herself and adapting to her environment. Given her relationship with Kitty in the comics, I think she'd have made a better secondary character to befriend Kitty, but I digress... I guess most people focus on the more regal, strong willed and authoritarian 'Goddess' Storm that came to lead the X-MEN in later years.

The most interesting re-interpretations are really Cyclops and Havok as diametrically opposed siblings falling on different sides of the schism dividing the school (Scott's a cool and calculating Vegan who believes in the peaceful co-existance between humans and mutants, while Havok is a hot-headed and angry anti-authoritarian who solves all his problems with violence), Blob as a gentle giant who acts as comic relief, which is pretty again type for that character, and Nightcrawler as a monsterous (but still super pretty) mutant outcast who, rather than being a brooding emo-kid, is actually pretty at ease with himself and has nothing to prove to anyone, which brings comfort to Kitty who hopes to one day achieve similar self-acceptance, and finds friendship with him after being initially afraid of him because their powers are similarly non-offensive and only really good for running away.

Forge is also an interesting re-interpretation, and probably the only holdover from a more yaoi-centric storyline that Chris said had been scrapped (Forge becomes Kitty's best friend, and makes a pass as Pyro... and probably everyone else in the book), which I think is a cop-out on MARVEL's part, but am glad to see it survived at least in some respect. Hey, Scott Pilgrim has a cool, gay, friend, and it's the most popular book on the planet! How can you go wrong by giving Kitty a cool, gay, MUTANT, friend? Just saying.

Gambit also makes a quick cameo in the kitchen, though it took me a second to figure out who he was supposed to be.

For the most part, there is potential in the book; it's successful at what it does stylistically. The art and layout is a dead on emulation of Shoujo comics distinctly girlie style and troupes(though not particularly up my ally... I just prefer more solid and volumetric cartooning and line work. Though Beast is pretty fucking adorable...), such as headshots of pretty boys surrounded by flowers and sparkles, chibi-ized characters for visual gags, free-form, borderless panel layouts and collages, thin, wispy, linework, liberal use of screentone, simplified backgrounds, and fashion conscious character designs. Personally, though, I find it hard to tell the male characters apart as everyone looks alike: absurdly effeminate and pretty with no real definable facial structure. Which is, basically, how Shoujo comics are supposed to look.

The writing, for the most part, is pretty decent, and a nice blend of girly romance, mutant politics, and superhero action. They set up the premise and introduce the characters efficiently, and there are a few clever gags and affectations for Kitty, such as her wearing knee and elbow pads and a bike helmet for fear of accidentally falling through things, and some various 'cat' mannerisms which play offer her name. Characters personalities and relationships are clearly established, and there are some subtle setups of future plot points that are sure to pay off, such as the difference of opinion in the opposing philosophies of Xavier and Magneto, and Magneto's favortism towards the Hellfire Club as the schools 'Mutant Elite', and their antagonistic treatment of students that have adopted Xavier's peacenik ways.

It doesn't break any new ground with the "Mutants as an allegory for racism or alienation" theme, but it's not like X-MEN as a franchise hasn't been beating that dead horse for 40 years, and the title is X-MEN: MISFITS, so it'd be pretty weird if they weren't ostracized in some way. I'd just like to see the X-Men in a world that's at least TRYING to accept them. Why not have the human that has a cool mutant friend, or the guy that's dating the mutant girl? I think an X-World that's a little more progressive is something that we've never seen before.

Overall, I'm pretty much just ambivalent about the book. while I have my issues with choices made, overall the book is harmless fun, decently produced, and successful for what is. It's just another X-MEN book when you get down to it... not particularly great, but completely unoffensive. I do believe that there is potential, and I hope that potential can be realized, because I think there is a market for this kind of book; I just don't think that market needs another underachieving book about an underachiever, when you have a potentially strong female character at your disposal.

On a final note, I think a totally hilarious joke that could have been made would have been if Kitty Pryde had remarked, "They should have called this school, 'The Xavier Institute for Super-Hot Guys'. Yow-za!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

HEROES: I've Been Burned Before...

Yeah, I know... HEROES sucks. No, really, I understand this. I really liked the first season, I was totally onboard with the idea of a dramatic "what if it was real" show about people with powers, because that's the kind of stuff I like, being the kind of nerd I am. When it started the show WAS good. Then they blew it in the end. Then they blew it again in the second season. Then they blew it again in the third. And then, just as shit was starting to look up at the end of the third season... they blew it AGAIN! I'm not stupid. I don't wear fanboy blinders and just continue to watch out of habit and make excuses and rationalizations; they fucked it up. But that doesn't mean I don't want it to stop trying to be better.

I liked HEROES once, because once it was good, and I'd like to think it can be again, and, looking at this trailer, it seems like steps are being taken to fix what has definately been broken: A smaller cast, a unifying theme, ramped back powers, and a central villian in the form of Robert Knoeper, who is an actor I really like. I really like the idea of the secret war, and in this case, the contrast between the regulars, whose central theme is that they want to be normal, and the new villians, who have embraced their sideshow freakiness. But that's what I said about the trailer for season 3.

Make no mistake, HEROES has a lot to bounce back from; possibly moreso than any other TV show I've ever followed. They've alienated fans twice with lame duck, cliched, and sometimes just SENSELESS, storyarcs, and publically admitted that they've fucked up (which is pretty unprecidented in Hollywood to cop to your mistakes instead of trying to spin them), so how to they get the audiences trust back? Easy: STOP FUMBLING THE BALL AT THE FUCKING GOAL LINE! Except for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (which I have more to say on in another post), HEROES is possibly televisions greatest cocktease, constantly building up to some huge, epic, satisfying, ending and then completely fucking it up in either a desperate attempt to maintain the status quo, or because they just have no fucking clue what to do. Go in with a plan and fucking STICK TO IT. And don't pussy out in the season finale. If shit is supposed to blow up, BLOW IT THE FUCK UP! If someone needs to die, KILL THEM. Stop jerking us around and do your fucking job: ENTERTAIN ME.

This is the last time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

COOKING MADE SIMPLE: Pay Attention College Kids.

I think I'm starting to feel my age. I work with two guys that are 4 years younger than me, one of whom lives at home with his parents, and one who lives on his own. Neither of them knows how to cook for themselves, and both subsist on a steady diet of microwave dinners, McDonalds, and junk food. So to educate you hapless college kids that never had the inclination to take a home-ec class (like one of my co-workers) because, quote, "I thought home-ec was for pussies...", here's a quick, simple, and delicious recipe you can do at home using stuff that you should probably have on hand anyways, and will cost you fuck all in money or effort.


First get some boneless chicken breasts. You either grill it plain, or use a simple spice rub (as I did) to give it some flavor. Don't overcook the chicken; you don't want to dry it out. I cooked mine for 15 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit on my George Foreman grill. Cut the chicken into strips, lengthwise.

Next, I made a fresh salad, and just used that as a garnish. Lettuce, carrots, green peppers, radish, and cherry tomatoes.

Now grate some cheese (I used mozzarella in this case).

Finally get your dressing ready (anything can do, I'm using ceaser dressing in this case).

First, lay out your fajita.

Add chicken strips, laying them lengthwise, side by side.

Add dressing, spreading it evenly.

Add cheese, also spread out evenly.

Garnish with a good selection of vegetables.

Fold the bottom up.

Fold over, and roll.

VOILA! You're done! Now add a salad, maybe throw some leftover chicken in there, and garnish with any leftover cheese you have, and whatever dressing you like.

Done! A healthy, easy to make, meal that costs you fuck all! You should get about four fajita's out of one chicken breast. Now...

Eat that shit! And...

Enjoy that shit!


Some photos I took today to show off my condo, since I've yet to figure out what form my house-warming should take (I'm open to suggestions... ^_^;;;), just to further prove that I know how to take care of myself.

BREAKFAST: 09/07/09

During the week I don't have enough time in the morning to make a really elaborate breakfast, so I usually just have cereal and some kind of fruit, and wait until I get to work to have my morning coffee, but on the weekends I cut loose. Breakfast is my favorite meal; let's face it, it's fucking delicious. Here is my usual "Big Breakfast" special: Two buttermilk pancakes, four pieces of bacon; crispy, two sausages, home fries, scrambled eggs, orange juice and coffee. MMM-HMMMMM, GOOD!

KITCHEN: Entry View

A little dark, but hopefully it gives a sense of scale.

KITCHEN: Front View

Kitchen from the front.

KITCHEN: Side View

Kitchen from the side. Not very interesting, really... it has stuff I use to keep myself alive in it.


The living room, which is where I do all my living! From here you can see my computer desk, which is covered with interesting knick-knacks and do-dads; sketch books, change bucket, some toys (Pluto defends the modem from hackers, while Nami and Vivi flank my giant COMPLETE CALVIN AND HOBBES hardcover).


From here you can see my two awesome book shelves (the BENNO from Ikea... superior to the BILLY in my opinion; sturdier, more customizable, and cost effective), the right one has all my oversized and 'special' manga, and the left one for my various hardcovers and 'special' comics. I won't go into what makes a book 'special' here, but it boils down to books that I am not embarassed to have on display when my parents or comics snobs visit.


A little dark again, but you can see my moderately not shitty view... better than looking out on scenic Yonge Street! :B You can see my grandmothers old house from here, as well as a school that is most assuredly going to become a condo someday!


From here you can see my "Tower of Triumph", which is all my electronics stacked on top of each other. They combine together like DEVASTATOR or some other TRANSFORMER gestalt to form ENTERTAINOR, the only being in the universe who has the power to fight off my boredom. You can also see a small part of my DVD collection... all my TV shows and nerd DVD's. I need more shelves. -_-


And we're back around to the kitchen.

BATHROOM: Entry View

Bathroom... stay out of it for at least 35... 45 minutes (points to anyone that gets that reference).

BEDROOM: Entry View

Now entering my bedroom...

BEDROOM: North East

This is what I see when I wake up in the morning. And if you think that TV is too big for a bedroom, you are WRONG! If only it could be bigger...


The first of my many NERDWALLS... look at all the books! Of course... this isn't all the books I brought with me... I've had to shed a LOT of stuff. A LOT. And I have yet more to shed... -_-

BEDROOM: North West

A little dark, but this is my secondary manga shelf. I'll have to replace it with something else eventually, and put these in the living room. I use that TV table as a nightstand when I sleep.

BEDROOM: South West

Speaking of sleep... my bed! This is probably the BEST futon I've ever had... I got it from IKEA, like most of my furniture, and it's operation is as smooth as silk and requires no effort on my part at all. It's queen size, has a comfortable, firm, matress, and is entirely affordable at, like, $250.00 CAD. Plus there's storage space underneath.

BEDROOM: Closet Right

I like keeping my nerdwalls behind doors, so that I can hide my nerdiness if nessessary... though I guess that's pointless, since there are other nerdwalls all over the place. Still, when the doors are closed, at least I'm only 75% nerd. The dresser has more manga in it, and there's anime and import manga sitting on top.

BEDROOM: Closet Left

More anime, and then art books... guess what's in that inconspicuous brown box. Just guess.

BEDROOM: Display Case

And finally, this is the display case were I keep (most) of my toys. Unfortunately, I'm totally out of space, and I still have a rather large box of gashapon left in my storage locker that I'm trying to figure out what to do with...

ME: Enjoying the Fuck out of Life

Yes I am.