Archive for June, 2010

Serial Experiments Lain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 28, 2010 by Griff

boy, Serial Experiments Lain is a weird one

I saw this way back in 2003 on Tech TV when they first started showing anime (it might have been the first series they showed) and as you can imagine being only 13 at the time this anime weirded me out big time, I barely understood what was going on

however after finally watching it as an adult (tee hee) do I understand it better now? well I understand a little better, but not really

anyway the show starts off relatively simply, Lain is a school girl who’s very weird and withdrawn and one of her classmates commits suicide, then everyone at her school receives an Email from the dead girl which prompts Lain to get a computer of her own and try to talk with this girl, she succeeds and this dead girl tells her that “Lain, there is a God” and thus begins Lain’s weird Odyssey to find out the truth

creepy premise huh? it sounds though like it could just turn into a generic J-Horror type deal, but instead Serial Experiments Lain goes for a very David Lynch style, that is to say really, really surreal

it’s also set in a strange near future world that in some ways is surprisingly retro, here computers are known as “Navis” and the internet is known as “The Wired”, however it’s not simply the internet, it’s more like some bizarre evolved version of the internet or something, one that you would hope has moved on past things like rickrolling

the show captures pretty well just how well weird the internet can sometimes be and is filled with memorable creepy moments and atmosphere

it really makes you realize that this is an anime that would have trouble being made today, I can’t think of any anime that’s come out in the last few years that’s as philosophical and unconventional

however that said I don’t the series is all that great, don’t get me wrong I appreciate it for what it is, but very little is explained, it all amounts to a bunch of vague random stuff that’s fascinating, but just being vague does not instantly equal brilliance in my opinion

but man, that opening song sure is great

Advertisements

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Griff

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a criminally underrated series that I have no idea why it’s not better known

it has a pretty big pedigree, it’s made by studio Gainax and seems like a spiritual successor to FLCL, it contains similar themes of growing up and a similar zany sense of humor and style, it was even referenced in Gurren Lagaan (which I have not seen yet mind you), the evil robot in episode 3 for example looks exactly like some of the robots in Gurren Lagann

yet it seems pretty forgotten, which is a shame because this is one of the funniest animes I’ve ever seen, I first watched over 5 years ago when they played it on G4-Tech TV (as it was known then)

the show is set in Osaka and follows two kids named Sasshi and Arumi, Sasshi is a nerd who wears a cowboy hat strapped to his back and Arumi is a girl with tanned skin, pig tails and a simple white dress

they’re families run stores in a “shopping arcade” that unfortunately is about to be tore down, Sasshi’s family place has already been torn down, but Arumi’s grandpa is resisting it and wants to keep his French restaurant open

one day though a fatass cat gets on top of a small pelican statue that used to be one of four animal statures placed at different parts of the arcade, but is now the only one

grandpa tries to knock the cat off, but in the process falls and hurts himself and smash the pelican stature, next thing they know our heroes Sasshi and Arumi find themselves transported to strange worlds, what’s going on?

the series is mostly episodic but has episodes that continue the main story

the worlds Sasshi and Arumi all seem to based on things that Sasshi likes (everything from sci fi, to kung fu movies, to dating games) and parody the genres pretty hilariously, the sci fi episode in particular is a masterpiece, it’s amazing how crazy and fast paced it is, but also how funny it is, I love the 2001 parody

by far though my favorite episode would be the Hollywood episode, it contains about a million American movie references and is funny as hell, it’s hilarious to see these western movies parodied by an anime

by the way, did I mention that almost al of the characters speak with southern accents? yes in the English dub to adapt the Osaka accents they give them the American equivalents which are southern accents, it seems quite weird at first but you quickly realize that voices fit them perfectly

so why is not better known? it’s hilarious, has great characters designs and comes from studio Gainax , I really don’t know, but if you haven’t seen it it’s not too hard to find and is worth buying

Read or Die

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Griff

the marathon has just been taken to another level (warning this will be a very long winded review)

I am GIGANTIC fan of Read or Die, I’m talking when I was first exposed to the series I went crazy over it with a furor on the level as any rabid Twilight fan

I think part of the reason I went so crazy for it was I was pretty hyped up for it, I had first read about the Read or Die OVA in a 2003 issue of Official PlayStation Magazine, they didn’t have any pictures from it, just a little blurb describing the plot and man, coupled with the weird title the plot was even stranger, “an army of resurrected historical geniuses”? “a giant paper plane thrown off the statue of liberty”? and “the president wets himself….twice”? needless to say I was very intrigued

however it wasn’t till a year later that they mentioned the tv series was coming out, I was even more intrigued

then a few months later they started to show it on “G4-techTV”, it was love at first sight

then Adult Swim played the OVA just a few weeks later, my God I was blown away

R.O.D. The TV was also the first anime series I ever started buying on dvd

however I haven’t seen either R.O.D The TV or the OVA since 2005 when
R.O.D. The TV ended

that was almost 5 years ago to the day, why have I waited so long to re-watch my favorite anime of all time? well I can’t really say other than procrastination, but I think I also wanted some time to pass so that when I did re-watch it would feel fresher

but now I’ve watched them both and what do I think about them all these years later? well read on…..

the answer is yes, oh hell yes, in fact re-watching it has only confirmed what I always knew, that R.O.D The TV is hands down my favorite anime of all time and re-watching it has only renewed my love for the series

it’s quite bittersweet though because R.O.D is now a tragically forgotten series, it was quite popular when it was new, but as the years have gone by you rarely see anyone talking about it

of course that’s to be expected I guess when nothing new has happened in the franchise in 3 years, the following year the anime ended in America they published the first Read or Die manga and then then they published the Read or Dream manga

and that was 2007 when Read or Dream ended and it’s been dead silence ever since, I still hold out hope that maybe the novels will be translated or more anime will be made, but I can only hope

whew well all that I still haven’t given the anime a proper review yet, well I’ll make it somewhat brief

what makes R.O.D so good is it’s characters, Yomiko, Nenene, the Three Sisters, they’re just all grand, you WILL fall in love with at least one of the characters, or maybe even all of them

the R.O.D OVA is action packed and has beautiful animation, but the tv series has more character development and story, they’re both equally worth checking out, but my favorite is the tv series

I do need to address though that there is some controversy over the second half of R.O.D The TV (in fact it kind of reminds me of the arguments over the last 3 books in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series), basically some people think the series starts to suck after episode 13

there’s a big plot twist after episode 13 and the series shifts gears a lot, and while there may be a lot of plot exposition and stuff, I’ll be blunt and say that I think those people are nuts, maybe it’s just because I was so in love with the characters that I was willing to follow them anywhere, but I think the entire series is excellent

on a side note the music in both the OVA and the TV series is excellent

ok this has gotten long enough so I’ll end it here, the bottom line is if you like anime YOU MUST WATCH R.O.D ands even if you’re not into anime, watch it anyway

The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 15, 2010 by Griff

next up for the Laymon reviews is The Traveling Vampire Show

this was the last book I think that was published before his death in 2001 and he actually post-humorously won a “Bram Stoker Award” for it (which I’m guessing is rewards for Vampire novels?)

it’s set in 1963 and follows 3 16 year old friends, a guy named Dwight, a Gal nicknamed Slim and a chubby horndog named Rusty

one day all over their town they find posters for “The Traveling Vampire Show” a carnival like show featuring “the only known Vampire in captivity”, a sexy Transylvania babe named Valeria (does that rhyme with Malaria?)

it’s being held at an abandoned field with a spooky past and the teenagers are obviously curious about, but are too young to see (18 and over), what are they gonna do?

to be honest the novel is a bit slow, surprisingly the titular Vampire Show is actually the finale of the book and everything else is just leading up to it

this is fine because it gives you time to get to know the characters, but the novel does at times feels like it’s just spinning it’s wheels, it’s never boring though mind you

however when it reaches it’s finale is when the novel really kicks into high gear and becomes freakin’ awesome

I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s Laymon at his best, a mixture of gore, sex and tension, just what the doctor ordered!

the 1963 setting is mostly just window dressing to set the novel apart from Laymon’s other works, there’s plenty of cultural references you don’t get that melancholic nostalgic feel you get from Stephen King works like IT or The Body , but mostly I think the setting is there to make this mysterious show more believable

bottom line the novel is a little slow to start, but the finale is some of the best work Laymon has ever done, I say check it out

Blood Games by Richard Laymon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 15, 2010 by Griff

since things are slow to start, I’ve decided to post two book reviews I wrote a few weeks ago

so I like horror novels, my favorite overall author in fact is Stephen King (which I’ll be sure to post some reviews of him eventually)

however there’s another horror author out there named Richard Laymon, who sadly passed away in 2001, apparently most of his books were only published in the UK, Australia and New Zealand (despite the fact that he was American) and a few years after his death a company called Leisure Books decided to publish some of books in America and have been doing so since 2002 (I think)

he’s not as good as Stephen King, he is a little hit or miss (I’ve read one book by him that just flat out sucked), but when he’s a hit he can be darn entertaining, he may not be high art, but he can craft an entertaining story

so anyway on to review of Blood Games, this is the first book by him that I’m reviewing because it’s the first book I’ve read by him in a while, but I’ve read plenty of others before, I’ll have to give those a re-read and review them at a later date

Blood Games is about a group of 5 women in their mid 20’s who befriended each other while in college and while there would engage in all sorts of mischief and pranks

after college they decided to get together once a year and go on a vacation of one of the group’s choosing (each person would get a turn), this year it’s Helen’s turn, a fat woman who likes horror related stuff and she chose to visit an abandoned lodge in the middle of the woods in Vermont, needless to say, things don’t go so well

one of Laymon’s strength is likable characters and Blood Games in no exception, unlike a slasher movie ala Friday The 13th he rarely uses “canon fodder” characters who’s only purpose is to get killed, instead he makes you care about the characters which only makes it all the more scarier when they’re in danger, you don’t WANT them to get killed

the story of Blood Games in interspersed with flash backs to the girl’s college years and even their previous vacations, these parts are pretty fun to read (especially the first flashback) and makes me wish the book was a bit longer and had more of them , by the end of the book you really grow to like the characters a lot

so there you have it, I would definitely recommend you check it out if you’re into horror, it was re-published in America in 2003 and I’m not sure if it’s out of print again, but it should be easy to find at any used book store (which is where I got my copy) and is available on Amazon I think

Hellsing: the tv series

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 15, 2010 by Griff

let’s get the obvious out of the way first, is the Hellsing tv series as good the manga? not even close, nothing as cool as what happens in the manga happens in the tv series and the at times somewhat crude animation is blown away by the insanely detailed art of the manga, in fact many of the secondary characters in the tv series look like extras from Fist of The North Star, they don’t resemble Kouta Hirano’s art style at all, it’s also only very loosely based on the manga, there’s no Millennium Nazis of course, the story goes in a completely different direction that although not bad, is still not anywhere as good as the manga

however all that said the tv series still has a few interesting things about it that make it worth checking out and for many people (me included) this was their first introduction to Hellsing, so it’s worthy of respect at least

perhaps the most interesting difference from the manga is the paramilitary aspects of Hellsing that are only hinted at in the manga, in the manga you really only see the guards at the Hellsing mansion, it also seems that only Alucard (and later Seras) does the actual vampire hunting

however the tv series treats the Hellsing agency as more of a vampire hunting SWAT team, with Alucard as apparently a last resort, I think that’s a pretty cool idea, as a matter of fact I remember reading in a tv guide years ago about some tv show that was basically a ripoff of Hellsing that they were gonna make, it never went anywhere though

by far the best thing about the tv series though is it’s excellent dub, Geneon (or Pioneer as it was known then) went all out with the dub and the cast is all perfect, especially Crispin Freeman’s deep voice as Alucard, I also especially like Victoria Harwood and KT Gray as Integra and Seras respectively

one thing I had totally forgotten about though was the previews, which borrow Hirano’s uh “silly art style” (for lack of a better term) that he uses during the funny parts in the manga, I thought that was a nice touch

overall the tv series is pretty much a novelty these days thanks to both the manga and the OVAs, but it’s still worth checking out if you’re “thirsty” for more Hellsing and want a different take on it that doesn’t involve Nazis

intro

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by Griff

greetings and welcome to my humble blog, a blog is something I’ve contemplated doing for a while now and I figure I’ll write an introduction explaining what I’m all about

a word of caution though, I’m not big on exact punctuation and whatnot, I’m more of a casual writer, so if you’re a grammar Nazi and that sort of stuff irritates you to no end, well I say read it anyway and lighten up

anyway I’m a big anime fan, or at least I used to be, but over the past couple of years my anime watching has seriously waned, to the point where these days the most I do is read a few manga series

a brief note about my history with anime, I wish I had some interesting and unique tale about how I got into anime, but instead I’m simply a member of the Pokemon and Toonami generation, I started watching Pokemon in early 1999 and Dragon Ball Z in 1998

I watched those shows religiously and also watched a few other shows on Toonami like Tenchi Muyo, Outlaw Star and even a little Sailor Moon

then in 2001 two things happened, one was Adult Swim started and two was my parents got the movie channels

I still remember the night Adult Swim premiered well and I remember seeing Cowboy Bebop for the first time, needless to say it blew me away

the Starz movie channels played some anime, mostly anime movies which where I saw movies like Metropolis and Akira for the first time, but a channel called Encore Action would played a few tv series and OVAs, one of the first non-kid friendly anime I ever saw was Gun Smith Cats, I’ll never forget seeing that scene with Minnie May in lingerie and the camera focusing on her ass, needless to say as a 12 year boy I found this very interesting (I also remember being fascinated by that shot of that woman’s cleavage in the first episode of Cowboy Bebop)

so then I started to watch Adult Swim and I saw a ton of series there, I also saw a few anime series on Tech TV (remember that channel?) and later G4-Tech TV (now just G4 and no longer showing any anime), so that’s my story

anyhoo I used to watch Adult Swim religiously, but in 2008 when they started playing Code Geass they changed the time it aired to something like 5:00 AM, which was a little too late for me and I haven’t watched Adult Swim regularly (save for The Venture Brothers) since and I’ve still never seen Code Geass in it’s entirety

and my God, there’s countless series that have come out over the past few years and were wildly popular on the internet that I haven’t seen, over the past 4 years the only anime that has come out and was a huge success that I’ve seen is Lucky Star, Darker Than Black and Death Note, I haven’t even seen The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya yet, can you believe that? pathetic isn’t it?

so I figure it’s time for an anime revolution, it’s time that I reignite the flame of my anime passion like an old couple trying to reinvigorate their sex life (errr maybe not the best metaphor), it’s marathon time boys and girls! an anime marathon is something I’ve been planing for longer than I like to admit (did I mention I’m a terrible procrastinator?), but now is the time

here’s what I’m gonna do, I’ve got a list of series, some old, some more recent, some really popular and some a bit more obscure that I’m gonna watch, I’m gonna watch them through a variety of ways, some anime I already own on dvd, some I’m gonna rent the dvds from Netflix and some I’m gonna watch on Hulu

there’s some series that I’m gonna re-watch and some series I’m seeing for the first time

a word of warning though, I’m not gonna devote my time exclusively to anime, I’m still gonna play video games and whatnot so don’t expect daily reviews or even weekly reviews, but I’ll try to watch them as fast as I can get the reviews up as quickly as I can, I also expect this to be a pretty long journey

so there you have it, I hope you enjoy this blog and one man’s decent into animadness, after my anime marathon is over I may continue the blog with movie reviews, video game reviews and whatnot, we’ll see