Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mysterious Girlfriend X

So, I've been watching anime a little more often as of late. By and large I'm very disillusioned with the state of anime at the moment, it seems like everything that comes out is either extremely derivative or a way to sell merchandise through fanservice. Every season has it's stand-outs though, they're often marked by unique stories or experimental art styles. Mysterious Girlfriend X has a story that seems like it could've been ripped out of a thousand different erotic games, visual novels, comics or any of that kind of thing. The art style is very heavily reminiscent of most of the anime produced in the late '80s or early '90s, to be more specific it looks a lot like  Rumiko Takahashi's art. The music is surprisingly diverse and wholly excellent but that's usually not the kind of thing an anime can sell itself on, and it's only part of what has me enraptured with this show. Competent animation, a very nostalgic art style, a story so stupid I only watched the first episode to laugh at it and top notch music somehow blend into a show I find myself dying to see more of. To be clear, I've only seen the first episode so far, and only three episodes have aired so far, but I'm hooked. The little shout-outs to Big O may have the slightest bit to do with that.
Ultra generic '80s/'90s style! Woo!

Somehow not seeing her eyes really does a lot for her character.

Big O!

Blackjack Cat?
Edit: Something I had meant to mention earlier that's coming to light even more in the second episode is how painfully awkward this show can be at times. I feel pangs of shame for praising it so highly when it starts in with gratuitous panty shots, super power scissor fighting and the extremely meek main character. I really don't think I'd be able to continue if the art, animation and soundtrack were so well done.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Alright, so this is a rare thing for me. I watched anime. Not an older series like I tend to lean towards, but something very recent. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a magical girl anime, but it's a decidedly darker take on the genre. What really caught my attention with this series was the art. Most of the time the art is kind of run of the mill, except for the shading in characters eyes, but when a witch encounter is coming up the art takes a turn for the awesome. Witches are kind of the driving force behind the series, I don't think they really fit the role of antagonist, they're just a narrative tool for moving things forward. Anyways, when one is on-screen the art becomes very abstract and strange, if it weren't for the interesting twist in the art style I probably wouldn't have watched past the first episode. 
The music... I don't feel I can really comment on the music as well as I'd like to. I watched the series about a week ago and none of the music struck me as anything but kind of standard. The opening song is pretty memorable, the ending song honestly probably set the tone a lot better though. I suppose that works pretty well with the show as a whole, up front lots of typical mahou shoujo veneer but once you get a bit further in it's much less happy go lucky and more about suffering.

I'm pretty torn about this show. I'm big on the use of concepts borrowed Buddhism but taking a genre show, subverting most of it's tropes and then mixing in religion is something I'm all too familiar with. Neon Genesis Evangelion made it really popular with mecha anime for a few years but it's been kind of a while since it's been done, and as far as I'm aware it's the first time someone's done it with a magical girl show. I suppose overall it's a compliment just how often this series gets compared to Evangelion, and I do happen to love show's where the central theme is suffering (much like in Koi Kaze). I'm glad I watched it, but I can't agree with the massive amount of praise this show garnered. If anything that's probably a new generation of anime fans getting a taste for this darker kind of series, I'd bet fans of whatever series did it before Evangelion felt much the same way when it started taking off.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Worth a watch, nothing revolutionary, but easily among the better stuff released in the past couple of years.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Penis And Everyone Else's[2007]

The follow-up to "My Penis And I", "My Penis And Everyone Else's" is less about Lawrence dealing with his penis and more about him delving into how other people perceive their penises, or just penises in general. Towards the end there is literally a gallery of penises and you won't believe how much our penile documentarian will smile at the sight of other people's dicks. It's undeniably one of the gayest things I've ever seen. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see another entry in this series a few years down the line titled something along the lines of "My Penis And Your Penis: Can We Touch Them Together? Can We Dock Them?".

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Penis and I

I've got a soft spot for documentaries about sexual insecurity, and there are quite a few out there. None shine quite as bright as Laurence Barraclough's "My Penis and I" and it's follow-up "My Penis and Everyone Else's". Lots of golden moments in the first installment, such as Laurence talking to his parents about his small penis, having a medical professional stretch his penis to measure it, an unpleasant experience with an electronic penis pump and getting a plaster cast of his flaccid penis.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


So I just got done watching Chocolate, 85 minutes of watching an autistic teenage girl beat the shit out an endless supply of irate Thai men. Now, I came into this thinking that was exactly what I would get, but I wasn't counting on it being quite so awesome. If you watch past a few seconds of the end credits there's a little bonus sequence of out-takes, it's amazing to see just how real some of the stuff they were doing was. It's really kind of shocking to see Zen (the heroine) get hit in the face so much and then cry. The inclusion of these out-takes really drives home just how rough and rewarding this film must have been to complete, a nice little way to make viewers realize all the hard work that went into the film.

Visually, it's a kung-fu movie, you will see kicks, you will see flips, you will see punches. The fights take place in visually distinct areas that provide their own unique feels and challenges, it's very video game like in that sense. If you want to see grown men get their asses handed to them by a young girl, you will like what you see.

The music was very adequate, none of the pieces strike me as memorable but that may have been because I kept shouting "Holy shit!" when someone did something impressive, which is most of the time.

Overall, good watch. There was one point where I had to pause the action and take a break, just because my suspense of disbelief had been shredded to pieces completely. I don't want to spoil what this event was, but I will say it's pretty minor and the film picks up again once it's over. Basically anytime the movie isn't focusing on Zen fighting a room full of people you're going to be suffering and waiting for the action to start again. Aside from Zen and Moom, nobody really feels human or relate-able, they're all just there for the illusion of story. I should probably mention Moom, he's the chubby sidekick friend who tries to help but doesn't really do much. I feel like there's so much more I want to say about this movie, but I don't want to just describe particularly awesome kicks or flips or flip-kicks for an hour. At least not unless I can do so using my mouth to make crashing noises. Chocolate isn't a movie that's big on plot, but who needs plot when you've got action sequences this good?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


This is the first time I've spoken of something on this blog that was still running, it's also the first comic. So double whammy. I'm actually a big fan of the books Image puts out, and I've been reading maybe a dozen or so of their titles for the past few years. I don't read a whole lot of comics, aside from a brief interest with Marvel during the civil war event and a little Batman here and there it's almost been entirely Vertigo and Image titles for me. Chew's premise reads like a cross between Bones and Fear Factor, a tiny asian man eating gross stuff to learn it's history.

The art in this series is very fun, lots of interesting little details everywhere, some degree of caricature and generally very appealing to the eye. The artist's style serves the story well in it's transition from humorous moments to more serious ones. It strikes me as extremely redundant to say this about a comic but it's just generally very visually appealing, I at no point had to take a break to give me eyes a rest while reading it, the depth is there if you want it, but at no point is it forced upon the viewer. If that makes any sense.

The story packs on meat in every issue without fail, 23 chapters in and every book brings up new questions, some of which I'm sure are meant to remain unanswered, others feel like minor details which could very easily develop into their own arcs. I'm curious to see how complex it'll have become 50 chapters in. The characters are all very unique, vibrant and interesting in terms of both their visualizations and their personalities. Rather than being one giant story broken up by a few one-offs here and there the story is separated into 3-5 chapters arcs by case. It may not sound like it'd be somehow better grouping it into small arcs like that but I've appreciated it, it's still a long-form story but it gives a good indication of where particular parts of the story begin and end. For people who like to let the material build a while before reading through it allows them to pick up and go every few months rather than picking arbitrary times like catching up once every year.

Overall Chew is one of the best books in print right now, which I feel is saying something with so many other strong competitors out there right now. It's every bit the kind of story I got into comics to read. It oozes style, is packed with humor and knows how to shift to drama when it suits the story. There are elements of cheesy '70s cop flicks, cynicism and science fiction. Even if the idea of reading a comic that sounds suspiciously similar to Bones trust me when I say you'd be doing yourself a disservice to not read at least the first chapter, and it only gets better from there.

Blacks Books

So I watched season one of Portlandia on Netflix a few days back, I'd gone into it expecting some kind of documentary about hipsters, instead I got a sketch comedy show about hipsters. Sounds awful right? Surprisingly it wasn't, it felt a bit like Kids In The Hall, which is something I don't think I've ever said about a show since Kids In The Hall, so I see it as a very welcome thing. Anyways, I hop over to IMDB to check out all the pertinent facts and I find a review proclaiming Portlandia to be complete bollocks and in fact a rip off of an earlier BBC series called Black Books. Now, I'm generally a fan of what the BBC does, so a show that I liked being an inferior copy from a company that I find generally does above average work was exciting news indeed. I rushed to download the entire series and see what a marvelous wonder it was sure to be.

I cue up the first episode and I see two familiar looking faces who I'm sure can only be a good sign of things to come. Dylan Moran who I recalled as being a prominent character from Shaun of the Dead and Bill Bailey who I probably remember from some stand up television special. Being that Portlandia is supposedly derivative of this show I come into it expecting sketch comedy.

It's a sitcom, which is strike one. Sitcoms are where comedy goes to retire. The only exception to this rule is Spaced, and possibly the intentionally edgy sitcoms such as Married With Children and It's Always Sunny In Phillidelphia depending on how generous I'm being. Spaced is the only one that was genuinely good though. Seinfeld was pretty good for a while, it just went on for too long. Whatever, Black Books, it's funnier than Friends. That's about as much praise as I'm willing to give it in comparing it to other sitcoms.

Visually it's very boring outside of the opening credits. They ask you to imagine a lot of things, like vermin on the floor or filth at angles the camera never shoots. The two or three times they film outside of the studio it's quite refreshing, but these moments are quite brief. I really can't help but feel so much more could've been done in that regard.

The music...what's there ranges from unnoticeable to pretty good. The opening credits are by far my favorite part of the entire show. There's canned laughter, I'm never a fan of that. That's pretty much all there is on that front really

Overall, it's not a bad show, had I come into it objectively without such high expectations I'd probably not have been quite so disappointed with it. If you've got nothing better it's a pretty watchable series with one or two stand out episodes mostly in the second season. Fever in particular is an episode I remember getting a laugh out of, mostly because it didn't focus quite so much on the main character Bernard and instead focused more on his side-kicks, the ever quirky Manny and Fran who's kind of the normal one. There's a few celebrity guest appearances, most notably Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Shaun Of The Dead fame. So there's that going for it.