Monday, 17 October 2016
There's been a few times this blog's progenitor, Lunatic Obscurity, when I've been the first person to ever write english-language reviews of some games. For the first time, Lunar Garbage Hell can make such a claim, though I am cheating slightly. You see, I chanced across this one-shot story in an issue of Animedia Pocke Comic I picked up a few years ago. I then scanned it and commissioned Tumblr user and friend trubografx16 to translate it.
It's an okay story, and the art is obviously excellent, as you'd expect from an artist as talented as Akaishizawa. If it was intended as a pilot, I wonder how far it could have gone with the "poacher's zany plan of the week" format. Maybe it would have moved on to cover Nana's parent's work as scientists on the monster planet, or maybe show planets where stolen monsters had been successfully deployed as weapons of mass destruction? I guess we'll never know. Anyway, Monster Princess is no lost classic, but reading it's a pretty fun way to spend five minutes or so.
Monday, 1 August 2016
I'm not really familiar with Patton Oswalt's work, but he seems to be pretty popular with a certain kind of Funko Pop-collecting "nerd culture" types, and watching this, I can see why. It's like if The Big Bang Theory was made a decade earlier. Easy references to things everyone knows like Star Trek, Star Wars and Spider-man's origin being treated as jokes on their own, along with tired old cliches about overweight nerds at conventions in ill-fitting costumes and male nerds being unable to talk in the presence of a woman. There's even a part where a character gets angry to the point of yelling when someone suggests characters from the Marvel and DC universes meeting up.
Being a pilot, I can forgive some of the problems the show has, like the audience sounding as if its made up of about ten people, and the plot obviously being little more than a set up for future shenanigans, but the biggest crimes that Super Nerds commits are unforgivable for a sitcom: it's never funny and all the characters are boring. Another way in which it's similar to The Big Bang Theory! There's been plenty of failed pilots that I've watched and wished the show got made, but Super Nerds definitely isn't one of them.
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Thursday, 30 June 2016
It's a very rare movie, and as far as I know, has never had a DVD release anywhere in the world. The copy I have is a .avi rip of a french VHS release from 1996, with french hardsubs and english softsubs super-imposed on top. I think watching a seedy old piece of crap like this in such a way adds something to the experience. Please understand, though, that I use the term "seedy piece of crap" as one of endearment, as I did enjoy this movie. It really seems like it was made as a labour of love for no money, and it honestly is pretty funny. It's so cheap that, along with a joke ad for an electric shaver aimed at the werewolf market, there's also a trailer for the first ExorSister movie partway through it. (The first movie seems to feature sukebans and a vampire with a penis for a nose, by the way.)
A lot of the movie revolves around very lowbrow comedy: slapstick, terrible special effects, dirty jokes, breaking the fourth wall, and so on. I think we can say that it actually breaks the second and third walls, too, as the plot wraps up via Sister Crow chasing another character, the Neon Medusa Fairy, across the set, coincidentally landing them right next to the nurse who'd been blackmailed into supplying the cheap knock-off blood. The Neon Medusa Fairy is a great character, by the way. She's a fairy with multcoloured hair that flies around in a skimpy dress, wrapped in christmas tree lights who jumps on men's backs and brainwashes them into sleeping with prostitutes. She's also a greedy backstabbing jerk and a coward, making her a great enemy/sidekick/comedy foil to Sister Crow. Plus, she stars in the only remotely entertaining one of the three sex scenes in the movie!
Yeah, there's three sex scenes, making up about a quarter of the film's length in total. Two of them are both boring and incredibly unpleasant, being demon-on-human rape scenes (one with wiggly tentacles, one without). The third is The Neon Medusa Fairy having a fun ol' time with a naked salaryman in a bathroom. It's not particularly sexy, but it's a lot better (and easier to watch) than the other two (which i actually skipped, so unappetising were they). To be honest, this would be a much better movie if it stuck to innuendo and boob/butt-flashing, eschewing the actual sex scenes and just being a particularly blue comedy.
So yeah, mostly, I liked this movie, and if you like the sound of it, look it up if you can. I think there are rips going about the internet of the first ExorSister, and possibly the fourth one too? But I don't think either of them have English subs.
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
So they go to the Guggenheim in the dead of night, to discover that it's being burgled. The taxi driver gets shot by the burglars, enraging Conan, who swiftly deipathes them. Eventually the cops show up, and Conan climbs to the top of the museum, where he gets struck by lightning, which returns him home. It's a really fun story, and the art in particular is excellent, managng to be both dark and colourful. And I've never been to New York at all, never mind how it was a decade before I was born, but it really captures the feel of the place I've gotten from watching TV shows and movies from that era.
After a while, the Barbarians' crime spree attracts the attention of no less than Captain America, who tries to apprehend them, single-handed, as they rob an exhibit of Hyborean Gold and artifacts. It doesn't go well for Cap, as he finds Conan a formidable opponent, and takes a sword to the shoulder. The two do develop a respect for each other's code of honour, though, and Conan sets up a duel between the two.
All in all, these two issues are two of my favourite What Ifs (and it's a series I've always liked), and definitely the best of the first volume, which had a lot of lacklustre stories, especially compared to later incarnations of the series. I definitely recommend seeking them out.
Sunday, 22 May 2016
At its most basic, the premise is one seen in quite a few shows of the 90s and early 00s: two schoolgirls (Yoko and Eri) suddenly find themselves in a fantasy world in the midst of war, where they're heralded as prophecised saviours. The catch is that they really are just two normal girls, with no latent special powers or anything. However, the world in which they find themselves is inhabited by little potato-looking people, only about 20cm high. So by default the two girls are significantly larger and stronger than everyone around them, which makes them seem like mighty heroes, even if they aren't. There's also the fact that most of the little people believe that they're holy saviours prophecised to end the war one way or another, giving any side they align themselves with a massive psychological advantage over their foes.
Back when it aired on TV, I didn't think very highly of Strange Dawn. It looked like a boring show with silly-looking spud-people, annoying protagonists and lots of time spent with characters sitting around being sad. Watching again as an adult, I'm enjoying it a lot more: there's fantasy political intrigue, Yoko and Eri each have different, but equally believable reactions to their strange situation (and very different personalities in general), and the cute SD character designs actually serve to make the violence, horror and general seriousness of the series' events seem more serious and shocking, simply through the dissonance between the events and the visuals.
As I write this, I'm still a few episodes from the end, but unless it takes a sudden and dramatic downfall in the episodes to come, I can say I'd definitely recommend Strange Dawn to those wanting a serious fantasy cartoon with an unusual twist.
Thursday, 7 April 2016
These outside fighters include a Ninja movie actress who does her own stunts, a sukeban who dropped out of Hopehill the previous year, but wants in on the upcoming fights, and a wrestler with a whip-weilding evil nazi gimmick. Although two of them are adults, they all enrol in the school and wear its uniform while they're there. That's the kind of thing that can happen in the world of Japanese deliquency, I guess? Like in season 2 of Majisuka Gakuen, when Shibuya decides being an adult is boring and re-enrols in high school to go back to being a sukeban.
Unfortunately, though the Hopehill students win the battle with ease, it turns out that the war has only just started, as the Yagyu gang, under the leadership of an evil dominatrix named Panther Eye, start enacting brutal, horrific attacks on the Madonnas when they're alone at night, even going as far as kidnapping one of them and holding her to ransom. All this drives the Hopehill kids to despair up until the point that Panther Eye sends them a message via computer that she will turn their school into hell. This inspires them to vow that "even if we lose, let's go down fighting". Of course, this leads to an even bigger second battle, with the odds ever harder against the Madonnas and Hopehill High, and even higher stakes resting on their resourcefulness and use of guerilla tactics.
Though it was made before I was even born, on paper, Go For Broke! seems like it was made specifically to appeal to my tastes and interests. It's got female wrestlers, sukeban, 80s Japanese computer graphics, and all manner of other cool stuff. In practice, though it's not an all-time classic and it does have a few problems (it's occasionally a little hard to follow, heavy artillery seems to magically appear from nowhere, even the good guys don't mind gunning enemies down willy-nilly, and so on. Plus the usual problem delinquent movies have, that there seems to be almost no adult presence in the world, and no police involvement, no matter how far the violence escalates), it is a fun, entertaining, and very likable movie. It also inhabits a kind of middle ground between the gritty sex and violence of the sukeban movies of the 70s, and the more wholesome action of 80s TV shows like the classic Sukeban Deka (and, of course, its sequels and spin-offs). If you're not some kind of boring snob who needs frivolties like CGI special effects or even decent picture quality (the only copies I know of that exist of this movie are pretty grainy VHS rips. The one I have has english dubbed dialogue and hardcoded greek subtitles), you should definitely give it a try. I don't imagine anyone reading a blog like this would be one of those boring snobs, though. There's not really much for them here, to be honest.
Saturday, 12 March 2016
Furthermore, they're all really cool: they look cool, they dress cool, they're in cool bands, they drink in cool-looking bars, and so on. The romance follows suit, it's not earth-shatteringly melodramatic, and relationships don't seem like they have to be life-long one true loves. They're just a group of people who fall in and out of love, sometimes at inconvenient times. There is one boring romantic trope that's popular in a lot of Japanese comics and cartoons, but I can't really tell you what it is without spoiling it for you, but nevertheless, it's annoying when it turns up. On the plus side, once it does turn up, it's kind of cast aside and everyone moves on. I really liked this story, it's cool and aspirational without being a total fantasy, and it's realistic without being grim and depressing.
The second story is called Luncheon of Tears Diary, and it details the long string of tragedies that befall a young comic creator after her series gets abruptly cancelled. It's kind of like a more adult version of the girls' comics being printed in Britain in the 1970s and 80s, where the heroines would tumble through hardship after hardship, living lives of constant despair, all while dreaming they might one day be a ballerina. Always a ballerina. But rather than strict boarding schools and servitude as a maid under a sadistic butler, Natsumi's problems include homelessness, gambling, indentured sevitude as a prostitute, and so on.
It never gets depressing, though, for two reasons. The first is that it's so fast paced, you don't really get to "live" each of Natsumi's tragedies before the next one befalls her. The second is that the comic has a very subtle black humour about it and it's very aware of how over-the-top and melodramatic it is. Again I can't really say much more about it without spoiling anything, but Luncheon of Tears Diary is a great read that I shot through in no time.
Finally, there's Kyoto Super Barhopping Journal, a short, autobiographical story about a rain-sodden drinking trip to Kyoto. It's nice I guess, but it's really just filler. Anyway, Ohikkoshi is an excellent book, and I highly recommend reading it.
Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Obviously, he later falls victim to that very same thief, though since he's out of the room at the time, doesn't get shocked. Somehow, this all culminates in a showdown between the Phantom Thief and Poitrine in some kind of industrial wasteland, where after a very short fight, the thief's identity is revealed, Scooby Doo-style, and everyone gets their games back.
It's a cute, silly little show, and you know I'm always going to be at least a little biased in favour of live-action Japanese action shows from the 80s and early 90s, so I definitely recommend giving it a look. Unfortunately, there's only one subbed episode available, having been released on the 1st of April, 2015, a day that will live in infamy.
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
You might wonder why anyone would bother watching a decades-old educational show, and there are really two reasons. The most obvious is nostalgia: though it was made and broadcast years before I (and, I assume most of my readership) was born, it was still being watched on tape at british primary schools well into the mid-90s, at the very least, along with most of the other Look and Read series that had been going since the early 1970s. Luckily for any adult viewers, some helpful soul by the name of malvolio80 has uploaded the series to Youtube with all but one of the awful educational sections mercifully excised. From what I remember, those parts were so slow and simplistic to be useless even when my age was in single figures, and I can only imagine how tedious and annoying they'd be to an adult viewer.
The other reason is the aesthetic: a dusty old castle full of books and ghosts, mystery-solving teenagers in shabby hand-me-down jumpers and master criminals that drive around in a knackered old van. The makers can't have known at the time, but Dark Towers is almost perfect as a simple introduction to some of the basic concepts of hauntology and late 20th century british folk-horror. Obviously, it's not only a childrens' show, but one made to be shown in schools, so the horror elements aren't particularly strong, and the budget is very low, but the look, the feel and the general ambience of the series work well.
You won't really be missing out on a great deal if you don't watch Dark Towers, but I assume it'll at least have some nostalgic value for most British readers, and it's not a terrible show either (in its edited form, at least). For anyone else interested in British kids' horror, something that skews a bit older in its target audience, like The Owl Service, Chocky, or Elidor, might be a better choice.
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Each episode is split into three segments, the first of which has the three protagonists Fuji, Kato and Mori standing in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, discussing a certain kind of comedy (for example, one-liners, puns, sarcasm, et cetera), and trying to come up with their own examples to try and make each other laugh. The humour in these segments mainly stems from the concept that's at the heart of the show: the characters are robots and as such, none of them has a sense of humour. Even if any of them could understand comedic concepts well enough to successfully make a joke, none of the others would be able to find it funny. So it's a kind of anti-comedy, where you get to enjoy terrible, nonsensical jokes totally falling flat.
The second segment, and by far the weakest, sees the three heroines using a computer simulation to see if the war could be ended by changing the conditions of the world to make things more comedic. So in each episode we see the opening animation again, only this time, all the robots are dizzy, or the entire world is coated in lubricant, or all the guns make farting noises. It's okay I guess, but the show would have been better off losing it.
The final, and by far, the best segement has the robots attempting to perform prop-based improvisational comedy. The great thing about these segments is that they do seem to actually have been improvised by the voice actresses, who are constantly corpsing and struggling to stay in character throughout. There's also moments when they'll make references to things that the other two just don't get and will try and explain the reference while also pretending to be a robot living millenia after the fall of man.
Straight Title Robot Anime instantly became one of my favourite comedy anime once I sat down and watched it, and the fact that it seems to have been ignored by most anime fans (and most of the ones who did watch it obviously didn't get it) shouldn't put you off. Don't bother watching the laugh-free final episode, though.