Monday, July 31, 2017

Vatican Miracle Examiner is Awesomly Ridiculus

So I decided to check this show out after seeing Vrai and JosieNextDoor talk about it, they created their own tag on Twitter, #VaticanBros.   Calling it the best "So Bad it's Good" Anime this season.

First two episodes had me interested, then 3 and 4 sold me on it.  This is the show the Digibro and Nate should have did their Podcast on.

It's a wonderfully Campy mix of absurd Pulpy B Movies tropes.  I've watched lots of B movies abuot the Occuls, and cheap Exorcist knock offs, and listened to hours of William Scenbelen's crazy stories.  This is the Anime version of that Madness and it's beautiful.

The 4 episodes that have already aired seem to be the first Novel, so we'll see if the next story can live up to the hype.

Friday, July 28, 2017

I don't like Justice League Doom either.

I had been excited for the idea of a Tower of Babel adaptation.  But this movie majorly disappointed.

First of all throwing a bunch of other Villains in with the Legion of Doom idea was unnecessary.  I feel like they mostly did it as an excuse to shoe horn Bane in who's involvement in Rises made him more marketable then ever.

Even just replacing Ra's Al Ghoul with Savage was lame, it definitely works best that the mastermind of this story was a Batman nemesis.

I would have preferred them keep the original's Justice League line up, including Plastic Man, and Kyle as the Green Lantern and Wally as The Flash.  And them throwing Cyborg in just because they're beginning the process of lining up these animated films with the New52 line up really annoyed me.

But my biggest issue, was how they changed the nature of Batman's contignecey plans.

1. The Comic had made sure to make them Non Leathal, hence not using Green Kryptonite even though he had some.

2. But what's additionally stupid is how the plans in this movie were dependent on them all having their normal personalities.  They are supposed to be plans in case they got body swapped or brainwashed or something.  In which case especially the plans used in this film on Superman and Hal Jordan would be utterly useless.

Once again, this is another movie that proves, no, DC has never been perfect at making Animated movies.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I'm going to talk about Tsunderes, but it's not because I'm like them or anything

One character archetype a lot of modern critics seem to be harshest on is the Anime Tsundere, where I see comments like "the tsundere schtick is handled well when the trope is treated like a mental hangup bordering on mental illness."-a YouTuber calling themselves Char Azanbel.

You see, I've paid enough attention to the world to know that the Tsundere isn't unique to Anime.  It can be traced back to Shakespeare at least.  Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing describes Beatrice's feelings for Benedick thusly:
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought.
Skye Sweetnam had a song called Tangled Up In Me where she was basically singing about being a Tsundere.  That whole common idea you've heard that if a girl was picking on you on the playground it probably means she likes you, is exactly what the Tsundere is based on.  It's only become so well categorized in Anime because we Otaku obsess over categorizing everything.

Asuka from Evangelion keeps getting praised as the best written Tsundere. I was unable to find her likeable regardless of her backstory, and that's as someone who's bias is always to favor the female characters.  So I get sick of seeing Asuka praised for being Traumatized, while Rin Tohsaka is considered just a visual novel cliche by "educated" critics. And Kagami ignored for being from an Anime that isn't story driven at all, but that's what I like about Lucky Star.

Everything above is basically copied from an earlier post I did where this Tsundere rant was a mere example of a broader subject.   But now I want to expand on it.

I've been looking at the Anime Tsunderes who predate the term being coined in the early-mid 2000s.  Auska and Misty of Pokemon are among them, Misty is another character I wasn't fond of in-spite of my general bias for female characters.  Do I simply not like Proto-Tsunderes as much as the modern caricature???  Not really.

You see what I've found really interesting looking at 90s Anime is that Tsundere traits most showed up in Shoujo Anime (Anime marketed to young girls), often in the main character, the one the audience is supposed to most be able to project themselves onto.

Heck it possibly starts with Sailor Moon herself, Usagi Tsukino, who is at the beginning very much a Tsundere towards Mamoru.  Rei Hino is also a Tsundere both towards her male love interest (and towards Usagi).  I also notice this in Wedding Peach with Momoko towards Youske, and Hinagiku towards her love interest.  Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne also does the same thing.  In most of these cases the Tsun is mutual from the male in question.

That suggests the average Japanese School Girl could to some degree relate to it, or at the very least enjoy watching it play out.

Otaku centric Light Novels and Visual Novels and the Anime adapted from them began to more and more define some characters almost solely around this trait.  But why is the Tsundere seemingly always the most popular?  When my observations of the Meme generating community suggests the other characters have more vocal fans among typical Otaku?  Is it possible the female audience that many want to pretend doesn't exist for these shows are in fact the ones rooting for the Tsunderes?

Or maybe it's that regardless of Gender the Tsundere is the most relateable, more so then she is an ideal fantasy lover?  Since after all we can all relate to being conflicted, to being in denial, or to warming up to someone or something over time.  I relate to Hiragi Kagmi so much she's currently my Avatar almost everywhere online, even though in theory Konata is who an anti-social lazy Otaku like myself should most identify with.  The thing is I'm not as self confident as Konata is.  EndlessJess relates to Asuka the most of anyone in Evangelion.  I relate to Rei Ayanami most in Eva, so I guess it depends on what kind of Tsudnere it is for me.

When I first made that earlier post I hadn't seen Toradora yet.  It's great, I recommend it, and it's Dub is great too.  Taiga is a very fun little Tsundere.  But there are other cool characters as well.

For a fun epilogue, here is a YouTube video of mine made for Lucky Star fans.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I miss how Hulu used to be

With all the debate I'm seeing in the Anime community right now between Crunchyroll's model and the new additions of Netflix and Amazon's Anime Strike service. I just find myself remembering how much I loved Hulu not that long ago.

The majority of time I have spent streaming Anime online legally was on Hulu from 2014 to a certain point in 2016.  They ran smoothly, I could watch and even comment (via Facebook) on the video without needing an account, but was also able to make a free account so I could have a Queue and favorites.  And the ads were placed in the designed commercial break spots.  I might have complained about some small things at the time, but now I really appreciate what I no longer have.  The only real improvement they needed was even more shows to choose from.  Plus they included the Dubs just as Free as the Subs for almost everything that had Dubs, Sailor Moon and Attack on the Titan were the only exceptions there.

From when I first watched Noir till sometime in 2014 I was not an Otaku, not knowingly, I was just a Nerd who happened to have seen a few more Anime then the average American nerd.  Finding TVTropes in 2012 started increasing my Anime curiosity (since due to the Alphabet the Anime and Manga examples were first on almost every Trope's page), but I wasn't feeling too compelled to jump into all that just yet.

The hype around Sailor Moon's comeback is what first lead me to Hulu.  And from there It was on Hulu I first watched Madoka, and Utena (including the Utena movie) and The Rose of Versailles.  (A few others Animes I watched at that time I don't recall if Hulu or Funimation's website is where I watched them.)  And I re-watched Death Note and El Cazador there, I noted that they had Noir and Fujiko Mine but those I had on DVD so I didn't need Hulu for them.  And they had lots of other options.

Doing all of that mostly on Hulu was how I first got really into Anime.  Eventually to the point where I almost felt like I didn't need anything else.  How easy and convenient it was is what made it possible.

In theory everything I loved about Hulu should apply to Crunchyroll's current model.  But for me it just hasn't ran as smoothly the few times I've tried to use it.  Maybe that can be blamed on my cheap Laptop, but I used the same Laptop for Hulu.  Plus Crunchyroll frequently doesn't include include Dubs, at least for free.

But then Hulu changed.

Two things happened.  They dropped most of their Anime, the most notable thing they still have is the exclusive streaming rights to the original Sailor Moon and it's official Viz Subs (and some of the Viz Dub).  But even worse is that a lot less, possibly nothing by now, became possible to view without a paying subscription.  I first noticed this with non Anime stuff, a few non Anime shows I'd watched there, and I had wanted to use it for Pretty Little Liars last half season so I could just not need my TV at all anymore, but then found it wouldn't be view-able for free.

Now even Sailor Moon can't be viewed without a subscription anymore.  (And I inherently don't trust Free 30 day trails, my family has gotten billed for things we canceled before.)

Some of the few shows they do have I might feel inclined to try right now, after all I should maybe look at Vampire Knight for the Halloween Recommendations post I'm working on for October.  But I don't have the ability to pay for it.

Amazon's double pay wall is people's main annoyance with it.  What bugs me though is how none of the stuff Amazon gets seem to get Dubbed, unless I've missed something, I haven't really checked all of them, but they had Vivid Strike which ain't getting Dubbed.  I'm still unclear how all the licensing stuff works.  As someone who prefers Dubs, knowing every Netflix show will get Dubbed is a major relief.

Amazon most annoys me when it gets what I feel could be a good entry point Anime.  Princess Principal could be a great Anime for the people I know who are into New Pulp stuff. But I can't expect them to pay all that money just to checkout one show.

What's funny about Netflix is how for Western Television their Binge watching model is being viewed as the wave of the future, people think the success of the Marvel Defenders shows is making this the eventual new standard. 

But for Western Anime fans it's basically the opposite, since we used to mostly not hear about shows till they were complete in Japan.  The ability to now watch shows relatively close to when they first aired, especially doing so legally, is a new experience, so going back to waiting till we have a full season to binge feels like an attmept to turn the clock backwards.

Of course that wouldn't happen if the shows weren't airing on the normal weekly model in Japan.  If the shows got made for the Binge model release to start with like Marvel's shows are, there would be no difference in how this practice is viewed for Anime and how it is for Western TV.  What annoys Western Fans is being forced to wait for something others aren't.  For centuries that was the unavoidable norm with imported media, but one of the benefits of the Internet is supposed to be tearing those walls down.

Thing is even for Western Television I think the Netflix model will turn out to be a fad. While I do want to see every show become Streamable once each episode airs.  The experience of knowing that at a certain time many other fans are watching at the exact same time you are, and being able to live tweet and post on forums and groups about it as it airs and right after.  And then spend a week speculating about what will happen next together.  Is as fun for fans of Western TV as it is for Anime fans.  I know this as someone who just finished spending 7 years as a PLL fan, and before that did TVD and Smallville.  And so in time I think the novelty of what Netflix is doing will die out.

But in the meantime I wish Netflix would focus on giving Dubs for older shows that simply didn't get Dubbed.  They tried that with "Glitter Force" but dropped the ball by Americanizing it.  This time drop Saban and try another PreCure series, like maybe Suite, and do it properly this time.  I'd also like to see Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Rose of Versailles, and La Seine No Hoshi.  And there is sure as heck a market out there for Legends of the Galactic Heroes.  Also some of the Gundam series that fell thought the dubbing cracks like Turn A Gundam.

And/or get into the business of doing New Dubs for shows where the old one is flawed, or generally hated.  Like Utena, or Higurashi, or their own failure with Smile Pretty Cure.  Also really old stuff like Space Battleship Yamato, and a number of Mecha shows.  For languages other then English, it sounds from what I hear like France deserves a do over on it's Rose of Versailles dub.

That leads me to thinking, perhaps in general the compromise should be giving us the Subbed version right away but then hyping the drop it all at once gimmick for the Dub.

Kong: Skull Island was an effective Anti-War film

I've read a lot about how so many Anti-War films, from Apocalypse Now to Jarhead seem to intentionally or not undermine themselves.  Because Soldiers watching the movie will cheer on the violence no matter what.

I'm starting to wonder if maybe this is the one kind of message that is better served by a Popcorn Comic Booky kinds of films then something taken 100% seriously.  Because in these films the idea that the audience will gain some pleasure watching what the film is actually criticizing is just an accepted thing we're used to.

We have the story of American and Japanese WWII soldiers who became good friends when they were stranded on the island and borders no longer mattered.  We have a character who's blinded by War being all he knows.  The line about sometimes there only being an enemy if you're looking for one.  The whole plot can be read as a commentary on Vietnam, which in turn can be compared to the wars we're fighting today, with so many people caring more about if we "Win" then if we're right.

Wonder Woman was going for something similar.  Wonder Woman was a great Superhero origin film, but Skull Island is more effective at the Anti-War message.

But perhaps the best as this is the Gundam franchise.  I still haven't seen much Gundam myself yet, but I know it's reputation is for being very effective at sending a War is Hell message.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I don't like the 2009 animated Wonder Woman movie

A lot of people seemed to like it, and I don't get why.  Before we had a Live Action Wonder Woman movie people kept saying this is what it should be like.  Now that we do have one, (one I still highly recommend, if you haven't seen it yet you need to),  I haven't yet seen anyone say that animated movie was better, but I have seen people while praising the Gal Gadot film overall saying they preferred the 2009 cartoon's Ares at least.

I can't relate even to that.  First of all how Ares looked in that animated movie isn't justified by the Comics which usually revolved around us not seeing his face at all.  But either way I don't care how Ares looked in the Comics, I know that the Ancient Greeks took pride in that their gods looked like Human beings and not animals like the gods of the "Barbarians" (since they took too literally certain Mesopotamian and Egyptians depictions of their gods).  Ares in the 2009 animated movie looked like they were going for a vaguely Final Fantasy or Anime look, and not a very informed one.

This movie's issues are different from my general issues with this DTV animated film line that I laid out in the Year One post.  Since it was not a direct adaptation of anything they designed it to fit the 70 minute run-time well, and I can't really complain about the voice acting either.

The Ares complaint above is just the most superficial, alongside my being annoyed how Hades was depicted, and having Hippolyta have a child with Ares.  Those mistakes also parallel things I dislike in an equivalent way in the 2017 film, and so clearly are things I could get over.

What I can't forgive is Trevor and Diana's relationship revolving around him mansplaining to her about gender relations.  That's literally the opposite of what I wanted from that relationship.  And I have seen other feminists express the same complaint, in a comments section on the DCWomenKickingAss Tumblr.

I was also really annoyed by the Persephone character, and her ranting to Hippolyta in their fight at the end.  The last thing I want to hear in a Wonder Woman movie is a moral about how women need men.

Basically it managed to undermine everything Wonder Woman should be about.

The only redeeming value it has is the Alexa character, voiced very well by the great Tara Strong.  I liked her, and could enjoy seeing her re-imagined in a better Wonder Woman story.

But that's not enough to save it, and so every time I see Angry Joe say this stupid thing is how Wonder Woman should be, I want to punch my computer screen.

Now that we have a good Wonder Woman movie staring Gal Gadot, we no longer need to settle for this crap, just ignore it and act like it never existed.

Hopefully we will get the Animated movie staring Lynda Carter that has been rumored since the Adam West and Burt Ward animated movie did well (Rest In Peace in Adam West).  And then we can finally have an at least respectable animated Wonder Woman.

Monday, July 24, 2017

I just saw the Teen Titans Judas Contract animated movie.

It was enjoyable, the films in this New52 series seem to get better as they go along.  Much of it in this case however is drawing on the original Judas Contract story, more so then the 2000s Cartoon did.

The lack of Jericho I expected.  They tried to make Damien's history with Drathstroke in this universe relevant to the story even though it really still wasn't.

The biggest disappointment for me was them flat out not showing the battle between Terra and Raven.  That was one of the few things I enjoyed about the 2000s show's version of the story.  And the main moment in this particular film where I thought "if only it wasn't limited to 70 minutes" again.  But then I noticed this run-time is 84 minutes, so they are letting them get a little longer now, but I still think at least a full 90 is necessary for a story like this.

But I have to talk about Terra's characterization, once again we have an adaptation of the story trying to make her less unrepentantly evil.  Now it's weird of me to complain about this since I in-general like depth in character, and like when villains can be redeemed.  In fact that came up in a recent Reblog I did on Tumblr.  However it only bothers me when a story goes out of it's way to send an anti-redemption message.  Terra was a character who never sought redemption, and that really made her stand out compared to other mole/traitor stories in this genre.

However what really makes their characterization of Terra odd here is how they are throwing this aspect into it, even though some moments they want to have play out exactly like in the original Comic.  And so that makes some of Terra's inconsistencies seem less like she's conflicted and more like two different writing philosophies where behind this character.

We got a tease of Donna Troy at the end, I'll watch another of these Teen Titans films if it means we get more of her.

And that leads me to the subject of casting.  None of the main cast of this film, protagonists or antagonists, really wowed me.

Now with these New52 films I don't know how much of the problem is hiring people who don't specialize in voice acting, since I mostly don't even know who these actors are.  It may just as much be my personal preference for the voice acting done in Anime dubs.  And this is a great film to return to that subject on because....

Crispan Freeman was in it, as two characters.  I recognized him immediately as "Scientist" a character who spoke in only one scene he was in.  That moment was the most my ears perked up listening to this, and it was all wasted.  In the credits I noticed he was also Speedy in the 5 years earlier flashback at the beginning.  In that role he showed he had more range then even I thought.  Still it was another small role.  To WB/DC the cream of the crop of Anime Dub actors is merely a filler actor for roles you won't waste an expensive star on.

Crispan Freeman should have been Brother Blood, just think about how awesome he is as roles like Kotomine Kirei, he'd have been perfect for Brother Blood.  Instead we got the lamest most uninspired cult leader I've ever heard.

This Slade had his moments, but I still prefer Ron Pearlman, an opinion that arguably goes against the general philosophy I've expressed here.

All of the Titans themselves could have been improved by Anime actors.  This Raven in particular is such a disappointment to me, and not like it is for others who are nostalgic for Terra Strong's Raven.  Tara Strong is great but Raven was not her best role.  In my opinion we still don't have an ideal Raven voice.  There are several Anime Dub actresses who could make a great Raven.

Now if Warner does want to take advice for the future.  Get Kari Walgren for Donna Troy, a voice similar to what she does for Saber/Artoria could be great for Troia.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

We're Three Episodes into the Summer Season

The 'Three Episode Rule" is a somewhat controversial concept in Anime fandom.  That you should give a show at least three episodes before you drop it.  I decided to anyalize my thoughts on it in the context of the three shows I'd been keeping an eye so far this Summer.  I may watch more Summer shows later on, once the Simuldubs start.

But for context.  Digibro did a trio of videos on the subject (they were the first Digibro videos I watched) expressing his disagreement with it.  While I very much agree with his defense of the first episodes of Steins;Gate and Lucky Star, and continually change my mind what I think of the broadcast order of Haruhi.  (I kinda wish the Haruhi novels had just been done as movies from the start, same with most Light Novels.)  They don't really change the fact that a lot of Anime first episodes are difficult to see what's great about them on their own.

Thing is that I kinda don't even see it as unique to Anime.  The Pilot of Pretty Little Liars has become iconic to us fans who followed the show for seven years of continually calling back to it, but it doesn't on it's own capture what that show is.  I also remember this coming up a lot when The Vampire Diaries started.  But Western shows are often less crafted in advance then Anime, so their early episodes often include elements that the writers chose to drop later.  The first episode I watched of One Tree Hill was it's sixth one.

While there are some Anime that quickly annoyed me in ways I had to drop them off of only 1 or 2 episodes, I generally agree with the three episode rule.  So how good is this season at demonstrating why?

Netsuzou Trap is my first time watching an Anime I already read some of the Manga for.  So I didn't need three episodes to know what I think plot-wise.  I'm just deciding what I think of it as an adaptation and so that makes it a little different.  I brought it up in my recent post on the Animated Year One movie, and indeed I feel kinda like I stuck around for episode three only because I was planning to do this post.  For now I've just put it on hold though, since it's important to the Yuri genre.  If it gets a Dub (which I doubt) I'll give it a second chance then.

Princess Principal is definitely a show that you Get much more once you've seen three episodes.  I did a post on the first episode of itI commented on Tumblr about how the second episode made me think of Pretty Little Liars.  But with the third episode I now know I'm in for the long haul unless they really drop the ball somehow.  I highly recommend everyone check it out.  I currently think it'll be the crown jewel of this season, as Twin Angel was last season.

And then there is Fate/Apocrypha.  (This show I may have seen the fourth episode of by the time I finish writing this).  It's art-style bugs me, and how quickly their introducing the whole cast reminds me of things I've said before about my issues with Gotham, Game of Thrones and True Blood.  I made a Tumblr post on just the first two episodes.  And then a smaller one on the third.

The show definitely should Not be one's introduction to Fate/.  You need to start with the UFOtable shows as I've explained before.

Digibro and Some Guy are doing a podcast on Fate/Apocrypha, I kind of agree with most of their criticisms.  None the less the show hasn't completely lost me yet.

Getting back to the Three Episode Rule.  I think in general Light Novel adaptations are the main exceptions.  And so I'm kind of curious what episode will mark finishing the first Light Novel of this series?

But regardless the show only has a chance of appealing to you if you're already into Fate/.

Update: Now that I've seen Episode 4 of Fate/Apocrypha , it was way better then the first three episodes.  It feels like this probably was the climax of the first novel.

Fat Blond Hitler Stach guy is an amusing caricature.

A key improvement is not forcing every single character into the episode.

So for Fate/Apocrypha I recommend giving it 4 episodes till you make up your mind.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Feminist defense of "Cute Girls doing Cute Things" and Yuri Anime

 First I'm going to talk just about "Cute Girls doing Cute Things" for awhile.  Then talk about Yuri at the end.

I'm not really an expert on the genre, there are a number of important shows I have seen little or none of yet, Aria, Azumanga Dioh, Manibi Straight, Hidemari Sketch, Nichijo and Is The Order a Rabbit.  And the shows Digibro talked about in his How to Distinguish between Cute Girl Shows video.  All shows I intend to get to eventually.  Well Aria seems comparatively boring so maybe not that one.

This genre of Anime is in a similar place to Twilight in that I can't sympathize with the Feminist criticism as much as I maybe should, since I know the hatedom is truly driven by Misogyny and Homophobia, yet because Sexists always try to deny they'rer Sexists, they then use the Feminist criticisms as a shield.  The difference being I don't particularly like Twilight myself so have no personal investment in pointing this out for that one.

Before most Western Feminists even heard the term "Moeblob".  The outrage against these shows started among 80s/90s Nerds who missed the days when Anime (or at least the Anime that got localized in America) was dominated by hyper masculine shows, from Giant Robots to Shounon fighting shows.  Who are deeply offended by the very idea of men enjoying girly shows, even if they are ones technically marketed to men rather then women.  Who see it as an example of how modern society is trying to emasculate them in their paranoid minds. 

Before I became a full Otaku, most of the girly shows I liked were shows that were made for women at least partly, and are shows I still like to varying degrees.  From Buffy, to One Tree Hill, to The Vampire Diaries to Pretty Little Liars.  Before those I even recall being into Party of Five and Xena.  And of course one of my earliest exposures to Anime was Sailor Moon.  I've also genuinely enjoyed a number of Lifetime movies.  And all of this was stuff I got crap for on IMDB if it came up on a board where most of the visitors were typical male nerds.

And my favorite characters have always been female characters no matter how male oriented a show or movie is.  And not just because I found them attractive.  Even though I'm Cisgender, I have a tendency to relate and identify with female characters far more often then male ones in the fiction I enjoy.

And so Padme is my favorite Star Wars character, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are my favorite Batman characters, Donna Troy and Raven are my favorite non Batman DC characters.  My favorite Narnia character was Susan.  Even when I read Children of Hurin I liked Niniel the best.  With Pokemon it was weird at first that I didn't like Misty much, but then I got Lisa in the 3rd Movie, Domino in Mewtwo Returns, and in time May and Dawn, and Leaf in the games (I also like the Lass trainers).

I want to write a show that would be essentially the Western Live Action counterpart to Lucky Star.  And the thing is I wanted to write that before I knew Lucky Star existed.  Back around 2010-11, I started working in my head on a show that ostensibly had a Sci-Fi/Fantasy premise, but most of the scenes I cared about were just my characters, which were mostly 4 teenage girls, talking with each other about random and often nerdy stuff.  So when in mid 2016 I discovered Lucky Star, and discovered there was an audience for doing that without the Genre pretense, I felt really liberated.

Digibro likes to compare the appeal of shows like Lucky Star to the appeal of Let's Plays, or at least Let's Plays with more then one person involved.  And indeed the above show I planned even included a few scenes of them talking while the others were watching one play a Video Game, even though I hadn't really heard of Let's Plays yet.

The first show I watched that could be considered a Cute Girls doing Cute Things show, isn't one strictly since it did have one prominent male character love interest, that was Engaged to the Unintended.  Later in early 2016 I watched Yuru Yuri, that show really helped me through some stuff.  Then later in the Summer of that year when I watched for the first time Lucky Star, I knew this was a genre I wanted more of.  Lucky Star remains the best in this genre to me.

Next in line was K-On, it is also really great but a bit too plot/story driven for my tastes.   The thing about K-On is it's only in the west Feminists (or anyone) complains about it, in Japan in-spite of being ostensibly marketed more to men, it was written and directed by Women and has a strong female fan-base.

These shows generally do not have what I complained about in my Anime Fanservice post.  Occasionally one will have a little early on while hooking viewers and then completely drop it.

I'm not the only male who's enjoyment of this genre overlaps with an ability to enjoy Girly Shows actually made for Girls.  I don't think it's a coincidence that the biggest advocate of K-On on YouTube was also once the original Brony, or at least the leading one on YouTube.  A number of Digibro's videos about K-On and Lucky Star are in my Kyoto Animation playlist.

Digibro made a chart called A Guide to "Cute Girls doing Cute Things".  And then a YouTube video explaining it.  A lot of the sub-genres in that chart fail to carry over all of the original appeal, in fact some unfortunately do become Fan Service heavy.  The first three categories are really the purest examples of the Genre.  Digibro also did a Podcast on his history with the Genre.

Some of you might be annoyed how often I'm mentioning Digibro.  Well in a lot of ways he's smarter at explaining things then I am.  Yet still I think there is a slight difference between what I look for in the genre and what he does, so I do need to say more then just "Watch Digibro's videos".

The reason I have come lately to mostly like these shows more then actual Shoujo Anime, is that unfortunately Shoujo Anime continues to be made under an assumption that a Het Romance is necessary for girls to care about it.  I mostly find most Het romantic fiction boring, and believe it or not so do a lot of women.

What I'm getting at is, these shows appeal to men who in some ways don't fit society's normal standard of masculinity.  So while these shows may still have problems, and some of the men they appeal to may still be sexist in some ways.  I think it helps far more then hurts that we have these shows.

I mentioned in a comments section once how these shows all pass the Bechdel test rather easily.  And then got responses that I was somehow missing the point of the Bechdel test.  I'm well aware that what the Bechdel test points out is only a symptom not the problem.  The way to pass that test without actually treating the real problem would be a story with like 30 characters but only two are female, and there is no reason to expect or be interested in those two characters talking to each other besides being the only representatives their Gender has, yet they are given a single scene together and it feels forced.  I don't know if such a hypothetical scenario has happened yet, but it's something I suspect will inevitably happen.

Shows that pass the Bechdel test not because of a single scene but because the show is entirely about women who's lives don't revolve round men, are worth celebrating even if they have other problematic issues.  So that we have an entire genre doing that on a regular basis, in-spite of being technically marketed to men, getting almost no credit for it from Western Feminists bugs me.

There is no point in individually criticizing a movie that isn't an ensemble and has a single male lead for not passing the Bechdel test.  The problem is films fitting that description have for decades been most of what Hollywood cares about producing.  Yet TheMarySue felt the need to do a whole article on Spiderman Homecoming not passing the Bechdel test, I still haven't seen that movie, there may be valid reasons to criticize it, but there is no reason to go in hoping it'll pass the Bechdel test.

In the past I've gotten criticized for expressing the above with the statement, "just cause a film has a male lead doesn't mean it can't pass the Bechdel test".   Yes it's hypothetically possible, but there is no good reason to expect it.  And as someone who wants more female lead films, I don't want them to have scenes where the male supporting characters get together to have a conversion that has nothing to do with the lead character I'm watching the movie for.  Still at the same time I enjoy many scenes that others criticize for being useless to the main plot, but those are usually scenes with female characters.  So I may not be the one criticizing a male lead movie for passing the Bechdel Test when it had no obvious reason to, but the criticism would certainly exist.

I think the existence of films with Female Leads that still fail to pass it are far more worth criticizing.  Like The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and I currently suspect The Last Jedi will continue this with Rey spending at least half the film on an island with Luke.  The Wonder Woman film passes it only because of the scenes on Themiscyra, but at least it has a good reason to have Diana mostly interacting with men for the rest of the film.  The new Star Wars films are giving their female leads mostly male support because they seem to think that's just natural.

In Anime this issue rarely happens, when Anime gives us a Superheroine, it also give her a lot of female support.  And if it's related to the Cute Girls doing Cute Things genre, it may well have no male characters at all.

I'm well aware that this genre is kind of driven by a non-sexual objectification, sometimes treating Cute Girls like Cute Animals.  And that is the main Feminist criticism I sympathize with.  But that's relatively harmless compared to most ways a show can be sexist.

The assumption that most of these characters are simply one dimensional doesn't hold up, at least not for the shows well known enough that they're the ones articles criticizing this genre default to singling out.  LadyGeekGirl has an article specifically singling out K-On as being a "Moeblob" show with no character depth, even though K-On has so much character development that they seem unrecognizable watching the pilot and finale back to back.  The development is just done subtly, rather then topping off every episode with a "what did we learn today" speech.  Fortunately AnimeFeminist has a good article praising K-On.

Yuri is ultimately a separate Genre though with overlapping appeal.  And all Slice of Life Cute Girls shows have Yuri shipping in their fandoms.  Main reason I want to separate it from everything I said above is that Yuri shows are more likely to include Fan Service.  But I'm not making a separate post because the Toxic Masculinity issue is relevant to what I have to say on both.

A warning before reading on, I will talk about some sexual content below.

Lots has been written online about why Yaoi and Slash Fiction would appeal to women besides the most superficial carnal appeal.  Lots of different appeals get discussed.  But with men the default is to just assume they only care about watching Girl on Girl sex, and most Western Lesbian Porn indeed only cares about appealing that carnal desire.

Digibro again has a Podcast on his personal history with the genre.  But later I'll get to the more insightful thing he said somewhere else.

A lot of the criticism of Yuri is the Purity fixation.  And I agree that that is a problem, but for not exactly the same reason.  If your going off only the most mainstream Yuri Anime, it's easy to think the Purity fixation is why actual Sex rarely happens.  However there are Yuri Doujins (the target audience writing what they want to see) like A Pure Heart (A Nao x Reika from Smile Pretty Cure Doujin) that are about rejecting the idea that Sex takes away Purity, that Doujin was deeply moving to me personally.

Now you can say the reason that happens in the Yuri Genre is because of the whole problematic "Lesbian Sex isn't real Sex because there is no Penetration" idea.  However the reason Lesbain sex has been thought of that way, is intimately related to how society often thinks of Male sexuality as inherently violent.  Digibro said in the PCP podcast on Porn that he used to be inherently turned off by Penises in porn because he thought of them as inherently violent, but that changed once he actually had sex for the first time.  When he said that I felt relieved, since I now knew it wasn't just me.

Just look at how many slang terms for sex, that were originally specifically about intercourse, are also inherently violent terms, Screw, Nail, Bang, the F word, ect.  Toxic Masculinity encourages men to be proud of that association, but for me it's inherently uncomfortable, and it seems like the only Erotica that's at least sometimes free of any violent subtext is Femslash Fan Fiction and Yuri.  And when violence does enter Lesbian Erotica it's always because of the need to have one of the women "play the man".

And this also reminds me of why I really feel that Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the best nuanced works of Feminist fiction.  What a lot of people miss looking at it on the surface level is that it criticizes it's own Protagonist when her Princely ideal leads her to Toxic Masculine behavior.  Sadly this is also the main area where the movie sort of falters.

I shouldn't need to remove my own gender from the scenario for Sex to be non violent.  But the Patriarchy doesn't make it easy.  Interestingly, the one piece of Het Erotica I'm aware of that doesn't have this issue is The Song of Songs that is Solomon's.

So yes, these two genres aren't perfect, and I'd like to see them improved.  But "Cute Girls doing Cute Things" being rejected out of hand by many Feminists annoys me.

Monday, July 17, 2017

I wish I could enjoy Japanese Drama CDs

I've spent some time on this blog advocating for Audio Dramas and Radio Plays.  And over the last year and a half I've been increasingly focused on Anime and to some extent other Otaku media.  So perhaps it's about time I discus Drama CDs.

A lot of Manga seem to get a Drama CD as practice for the Anime.  But some are made to milk an already successful Anime.  So they are an interesting and important part of Japanese Otaku media.

Problem is, they are the least convenient form to enjoy if you don't actually know Japanese.  Part of the appeal of Audio Dramas is that I can listen to it without needing to use my eyes at all.  And you can't really Dub an Audio Drama because once you've replaced the voice acting you've basically replaced all of it.

Pretty much any notable Drama CD has on YouTube or somewhere else a video posted providing English Subs, so the ability does exist, but it's not the ideal form.

Still, the idea of doing remakes of these with the voice actors who do Anime Dubs I would fully support, I've love to hear that.

So basically it's a piece of Otakudom I wish I could delve into more.

First one I heard of was the Origin of Mewtwo Pokemon one, basically a much longer version of the 20 minutes the Anime gave us.  It's something I'm going to have to check out eventually.

However at this time the only one I have actually listened to is the 3rd Puella Magi Madoka Magica Drama CD, Farewell Story.

Ahead will be lots of spoilers for the Madoka Magica story-line.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why I hate the Batman Year One animated movie

Contrary to a lot of people saying "Animation is the one thing DC does perfectly" I have a lot of criticisms of what DC has done in animation.  Mostly it's with the string of straight to DVD animated films that began in 2007 (It's been a decade now, wow).  A lot of that I mainly ranted about on IMDB before I had this blog and so I now realize I haven't adequately archived it.

A lot of what bugs me comes down to the usual 70-75 minute run-time limit of these films.  I prefer movies longer then that to begin with, but especially making run-time a restriction on something adapted from source material is bound to be disastrous.

I get that these are meant to be inherently cheap, but the whole point is these would be cheaper even if they had the full length of a LA film.  But if Warner really doesn't want to put any more budget into these, then cut the number down from 3 to 2 per year, (especially now that they're doing other animated films outside this series like Lego stuff and the Unlimited stuff that I actually feel is underrated).  That way you can give an extra 30 minutes to each film.

A good deal have wound up being pretty good in-spite of this, but even those could have been improved by a little more fleshing out.  The best of them in my opinion are Justice League: New Frontier, Batman: Under The Red Hood, Superman Unbound and the Flashpoint one (my issues there come right from the source material, which is even worse for the New52 based series that followed it).

The problems that come from limiting the run-time begins with Superman Doomsday, right at the start of this series.  Even leaving aside that it wasn't a direct adaptation of the original story (where if it were I'd say It'd take at least three times this run-time).  It's still following a three act structure where each act should have needed at least a full 30 minutes.

Some comics are short enough that 70 minutes wouldn't be a problem.  In fact I fully get only needing 40 minutes for The Killing Joke.  The problem there is the separate Batgirl story, 1, should not have been that story at all, and 2, should have been like a separate movie on the same disc.

With The Dark Knight Returns they had the right idea splitting it in two, my only issue with those is removing the Film Noir style inner monologues, which hurt the second more then the first, since it totally removed all of Superman's characterization.

So my ongoing issue with how short these were was already building when Year One was announced.  And while I considered that pointless cause everything great about Year One we already saw in Nolan's movies, I was thinking maybe this one had a bit more of a shot at fitting 70 minutes then most.  But then they announced that they couldn't fill 70 minutes, that they had to add some new scenes and still couldn't fill it and that's why it has a DC Showcase short even though that series was supposed to be canceled already.

And I thought "What? what? a story that took 4 volumes you can't even force 70 minutes out of?"  Something didn't add up in my mind.  Then I saw the movie, and saw that they felt each panel was worth about 1 second of screen time, maybe 2 or 3 if they wanted to indulge.  This is the kind of comic where each individual panel is suggesting something that should take far longer to play out then it does to glance at the panel.  And so we wind up with a film that feels more like an hour long trailer.

The Year One comic I have, that I have had since the same year Batman Begins came out.  Is 96 pages, subtracting title pages at the volume breaks I will be generous and say the story took 85 pages.  Each page of this comic was eventful enough that if I directed an adaptation it would warrant at least a full minute per page.

What's interesting is how this issue I had with this Year One adaptation I have been reminded of a few times during my growing Anime fandom, with how some not so well praised Manga adaptations turned out.  I was reminded of it by something SFDebris said in one of his Kannazuki no Miko reviews (when I first watched them he'd only covered up to episode 7).  I think of it when thinking of some of these newer more faithful to the Manga then the original Animes, like Sailor Moon Crystal, Hellsing Ultimate and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (I haven't' watched the latter or any iteration of FMA yet however).  And most recently as I was writing a comment on the Yuri Nation blog about the currently airing Netsuzou Trap anime, my first time watching an Anime I'd already read the Manga for.

My other issue with Year One is another one I have with most of this series of films to some extent, and that is the casting.  I think Eliza Dushku was the most tolerable choice, but I really hate when animated projects hire actors who aren't actually voice actors.

Voice acting and Live Action Acting acting are different talents and different skills.  A few people are good at both, mainly Nolan North, (if you know Nolan only from his Voice work you need to watch Pretty Little Liars).  Lacey Chabert and Michelle Trachtenberg have done some decent voice work, but I may just have a personal bias for them.  Mark Hamil does acceptable live action work, but he's only great at Voice Acting.

Why is Year One worse then others in this regard?  Cause more then ever I feel like these actors weren't even trying.  The actors who do Anime dubs put their all into everything even though I'm sure they can't actually like every project they've done.

I know a lot of people online Fap to the very idea of Bryan Cranston as Gordon.  Maybe he would do it well in Live Action, but I don't see it.  However Cranston is not a voice actor, and it shows every line he speaks in this film.  But he doesn't come off as bad as he should when contrasted with Ben McKenzi's pathetic job as Bruce Wayne.

And I can return to the Budget discussion from before, because a lot of these big name actors who can't voice act are no doubt costing these films more money then most voice actors would.  Perhaps how much money this wastes is most shown in Crisis on Two Earths, I was okay with Mark Harmon's Superman, though I think he'd work better as like an older Earth Two Superman.  However James Woods as Owlman and a Baldwin as Batman?  Would you have guessed that if you didn't read the credits?  Because they gave two of the most uninspired performances as versions of the Batman I have ever heard.

Ya know who I'd like to hear voice Batman?  Crispin Freeman, and Johnny Yong Bosch as The Joker.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I watched the Pilot for Princess Principle

I decided to break what I said my Summer Season plans were for this show largely because Glass Reflection said it has a potential connection to Noir, and then part of that connection is Yuki Kajuri herself, so it had to become a priority.

Also that I'm increasingly doubting I'll stick with Netsuzou Trap.  The 9 minute episodes I could have accepted.  That I found myself comparing it to the Year One animated adaptation I cannot.

The show looks pretty good, and the voice actresses sound decent.  It looks like something people who are into Steam Punk should give a shot to.

But I don't know what happened in the episode.  And I don't mean that as a criticism of the show, the fault lies in how difficult it is for me to watch Subs.  I've watched and enjoyed a lot of Anime Subbed.  But it's easiest for simple Slice of Life shows like Engaged to the Unidentified or Yuru Yuri.

Spy thrillers are an inventively dialogue and exposition heavy genre no matter hard they try to "show don't tell".  My mind tends to wander as I watch something, no matter how engaged I am, but especially when trying a new intellectual property I'm not already into.  However this has never been a problem for me when I only need to listen to know what the characters are saying.  It's when I also have to read that it becomes easy for me lose track.

This is an Amazon Strike show, I may be mistaken, but I think that means it probably won't get a Dub (Vivid Strike I know doesn't seem to be getting one).

So I still want to get into this show, but it's a hurdle.  Maybe repeat viewings will help.  Heck, maybe this show with it's modern Animation will finally give Digibro what he wanted from BeeTrain.

P.S. The odds that I will watch Fate/Apocrypha even if Digi doesn't do a Podcast on it are increasing.  It's a double season show and so would be my first time watching one of those as it airs.   And the inclusion of certain characters gives me reason to want to know something about it before I make my Halloween recommendations post on the First of October.

Update July 15th 2017: I watched the episode again and this time I followed it pretty well, it may be I just wasn't in the right mindset the first time.  Will still take a few for me to know for certain I want to keep following it.

It's amusing that both this and Fate/Apocrypha seen to be going up on the Steaming sites I use at close to the exact same time on Sundays.

Another Update: I'll be posting on this show again after episode 3 airs.  For now I liked episode 2 and I suspect they are intentionally making my think of Pretty Little Liars.

Fate/Zero and the art of Prequels

This isn't the first time I've talked about Fate/Zero and the Star Wars Prequels together.  I mentioned Fate/Zero briefly in my Recommended viewing order post, where I expressed my view that Fate/Zero is the best entry point to the Fate/ franchise.  This is also a follow up to my posts advocating for Prequels in general.  

I very firmly disagree with Glass Reflection's recent video on many levels.  Fate/Zero and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy can stand on their own regardless of how much they were written as Prequels.  That Fate/Zero is counting down to a predetermined outcome simply fits why this franchise is named Fate.

If however you insist on watching an incarnation of Fate/Stay Night first, I recommend you start with the first 4 or 5 episodes of UFOtable's Unlimited Blade Works series (not the Unlimited Blade Works movie), plus the Prologue Episode 0.  Deen's Fate/Stay Night adaptations can be tolerable to someone like me who's already into Fate/ and has a high tolerance for the weaknesses of lower budget 00s Anime (in fact I even enjoyed it's easy to mock dub).  But it's weak presentation makes it the worst foot forward to introduce someone to Fate/ with.

The first 4 or 5 episodes of Unlimited Blade Works cover what should happen the same regardless of route.  (I'm unsure where the exact point of diverge is since I haven't played the Visual Novel).  The Prologue Episode 0 is the same, though I think much of that information was originally only revealed in the UBW route.  If you want to watch Deen/Stay Night for no other reason then to see the Fate/Route first, at least watch the beginning of the UBW Anime to get the best presentation.  Then you could theoretically start the Deen series at episode 5, 6 or even 7.

However all things considered, I feel the Fate Route is ultimately useless.  And the way Deen preemptively spoils the key twist of UBW simply isn't wroth it.   However I don't mind what Fate/Zero spoils about Heaven's Feel anymore then I mind Star Wars Prequels spoiling the "I Am your Father" moment.  There is an equally valid advantage to knowing why Sakura is important going in.  In a way Deen/Stay Night spoils Heaven's Feel far more then Fate/Zero does.

I personally started with Unlimited Blade Works, then Fate/Zero, then watched the Deen anime.

Fate/Zero however is especially the better entry point for someone who's not super into Anime yet, there are a lot of reasons Fate/ could appeal to people who aren't normally into Anime, the way it incorporates different mythologies, and Deconstructs the Superhero genre even better then Watchmen.  And Deconstructs Chivalry better then Game of Thrones.  But to those potential fans the High School Harem aspects of Fate/Stay Night are a potential turn off.  Fate/Zero almost doesn't even seem like an Anime.

And don't watch any of the Spin Offs till you've gotten a handle on the main story.

Spoiler Warning.  This post will from here on contain spoilers for Fate/Zero, Fate/Stay Night (well I won't be able to say much on Heaven's Feel besides what's obvious going in), and the Six George Lucas Star Wars films.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Force Awakens was inspired by Nausicaa of the Valley of The Wind

I just found this video on YouTube
And I can't believed I missed these parallels when I watched Nausicaa twice last month.

Some other vids on the subject.
The thing I need to say, even though I don't like sounding like a TFA hater.  Is that when I compare these movies, Nausicaa is way better to me, when I compare Lucas SW films to Flash Gordon or the Forbidden Fortress, as good as they are I like Star Wars better.

Turns out there was a Homage back in Episode I also.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Well, Pretty Little Liars is over

And with it I'm pretty much done with Western Television in general.

It was a fun ride, it earned my favorite TV show of all time position in Season 4.  Then it faltered some.  But I enjoyed it's end.

This show has been important to me, in an odd an influence on how I became so obsessed with Anime.

Thank you PLL for many years of fond memories.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Summer Season Anime preparations

This may change.  But after going over the expected Summer shows on MAL, I think the only one I'm likely to follow is Netsuzou Trap.  And even that I may drop it, my feelings on the Manga are mixed.  It will be my first time watching an Anime I'd read the Manga for first.  I had wanted that honor to go to Citrus, but whatever.

Some movies expected to come out I will watch, the new Nanoha movie for example.  And the third Yuki Yuna Prequel film.

For the most part I'm kinda relived.  I want to spend more time this watching more older Anime I haven't seen yet.  And re-watching ones I already know I like.

I may soon be changing some of what I've rated on MAL.

Very recently I have watched the Girls und Panzer film, which was awesome.  And Code Geass Akito of the Exiled again since the Dub just dropped.  And now I'm definitely much more certain that it's an Anime I liked.

I suspect the Dimensional Supervisor and that Skull thing that gave Shin his powers will be relevant to the upcoming Code Geass R3.

As for the Spring shows I'm not actually done with yet due to following the Simuldubs.

I wound up putting Clockwork Planet on hold.  I had more optimistic for that show then most, but by during episode 6 I got kinda tired of it.

Which leaves me with only Attack on Titan season 2.  Which I'm enjoying but also wishing was a bit slower paced.

Update: I learned between posting this and the day even ending that Digibro and that other guy will be covering a Summer show to follow up their Eromanga-Sensei series. That I'll probably watch for it's sake.

I don't know what I'll think of Fate/Apocrypha.  But anything they say dissing Fate/ in general I will respond to.

I was gonna wait for the Dub for Fate/Apocrypha. But if they guys cover it then I can't do that.

I really love the Fate/ franchise. I say this not just as an Anime, it is the best take on Arthurian/Grail legend done period in well over  a 100 years. And yes I include the Indiana Jones film in that. I also really love the characters and the use of Hermetic Magick. Fate/Zero is the best so far.

Netsuzou Trap again is the only show this season I'm guaranteed to at least start. I read a good deal of the manga and i enjoyed it but ti's not as good as Citrus.