Dracula Love Triangle

 Anime  Comments Off on Dracula Love Triangle
Oct 312011
 

When this Dracula anime was made in 1980, vampires were something of a living fossil. While Interview with a Vampire had been published a few years beforehand, the new wave of goth-erotic vampiredom had yet to really sink in with most peeps. To the average dude, Dracula and his ilk were little more than late night UHF flicks and easy-to-make Halloween costumes at best. Drac was totally passé.

With that in mind, the Dracula anime is kinda awesome.

The plot of this Dracula movie is all about old terror (vampires) versus new terror (Satanism). 1980′s right in the midst of all those “Dungeons and Dragons is of Satan!” scares and the like. Boogyemen and vampires didn’t scare people, but they were scared of their neighbor being a human-sacrificing Satan worshiper. Well, some people were scared of that shit– the Satanism angle was far more culturally relevant at the time.

So here we have this cult of Satan trying to bring their dark lord to the mortal plane, and they intend to gift him with a hand-chosen bride so that they will be in his good graces when the time comes for him to do his evil deeds. But Dracula’s pissed at Satan. Satan may have made him the bloodsucking monster that we all love, but Dracula is sick of that shit. He’s been chased out of his beloved home of Transylvania by hordes of do-gooding vampire hunters and has been forced to live in Boston, and Dracula is pissed. So what does he do? When the Satanists are trying to present their master with his new bride, Dracula masquerades as Lucifer and claims the bride as his own with the intent of killing her out of spite for the being that created him.

It’s almost as if this antiquated movie monster is pissed at these young usurpers and wants to get back at them for stealing his job. The catalyst of the movie’s plot is spite. It’s like one of those stories where the old actress or veteran cop wants to get back at the up-and-comer or some shit like that, except it’s an old school monster being jealous of the new wave of terror.

So, on that level the movie’s pretty interesting. It’s made in this transitional period where we’re moving away from the classic movie monsters and into the realm of slashers and other tropes, and the old guard is fighting back. But that isn’t what makes this movie awesome.

The movie is crazy in all the right ways.

Dracula steals away Satan’s bride. That’s the catalyst of all the shit that goes down in this movie. But it isn’t the act of theft that pisses off Satan. If anything, Satan was probably cracking up over Dracula’s little prank. Satan’s all about the punking, and he can probably appreciate a good one when it’s pulled on him. What brings forth Satan’s wrath is the fact that Dracula falls in love with Satan’s intended bride. Again, Satan wouldn’t mind sharing this woman with Drac. He’s all about the menage a trois and would probably want a piece of Drac’s booty at the same time. It’s the notion that one of his servants is capable of love that infuriates Satan. Satan doesn’t roll with that love shit.

And to make matters worse, Dracula sires a child with his new bride, and Dracula loves this kid with all of his heart.

So Satan’s pissed at Dracula for turning this movie into a touching father and son drama. I’d be pissed about that too and I’m nowhere near Dark Lord of Hell levels of evil.

Drac’s son is at the heart of this movie’s weirdness. By giving him a son, the movie is trying to make Dracula into a sympathetic figure. When we flash back to his days as Vlad Tepes, Drac tries to tell us that his people were peaceful and virtuous and that he did nothing to instigate the constant invasions from barbarians and the like. And while Vlad’s impaling nature is acknowledged, it’s brushed off as a necessary tactic to use against his enemies to scare them away. Nevermind that the real life Vlad was a sociopathic murderer who butchered his own people. Nope. This Vlad is a Balkan version of Robin Hood or some shit.

Despite his attempts to convince the audience that he’s merely a tragic hero forced into undeadhood by Satan, Dracula’s actions tell a different story. While he falls in love with Dolores, Satan’s bride, at first sight, almost immediately after that he hits the town and savagely attacks and murders at least two other women. Mind you, these women are completely innocent as far as we know. While we find out that Dolores came from a rough family and fell into Satanism as a lark, she’s the one that chose to become Satan’s bride. Despite her sins against God, she’s spared Dracula’s wrath due to his arbitrary love-at-first-sight, while these women who, y’know, aren’t willing brides of Satan get unceremoniously devoured by Dracula. The bastard isn’t even kind enough to turn them into the undead. He just leave them to die.

Dracula’s personality is “inconsistent” like this throughout the movie. While he mourns the death of his son at the hands of the Satanists, he shows no hint of remorse when vampire hunters come looking for him out of revenge. Two of the vampire hunters are descendants of victims of Dracula, and they mourn their losses just as much as Dracula mourns his son, but he shows no sign of sympathy. Finding true love in Dolores and fatherly love in his son has done nothing to shed light on his past deeds– Dracula is still the vicious hand of Satan that he was before.

And when God resurrects Drac’s dead son, only to use the boy as a vessel to kill vampires, Dracula’s first concern isn’t over his son’s rebirth. Dracula is pissed that this is going to lead to his son killing him.

Basically, Dracula’s a bit of an hypocritical dick in this movie. He wants all the love and adoration that comes with having a family, but he still wants to be the Prince of Darkness feared by all the mortals of the world. And as far as he’s concerned, those mortals aren’t deserving of the same quaint delights that he enjoys with his new family.

Then there’s all the crazy quirky moments strung about the movie. When Drac looses his vampirehood, he feels all of the hunger he never felt due to his undead nature. It was as if all those cravings of the munchies from the past 500 years all came back and hit him at once. So what does he do? He mugs some poor bastard and uses the cash to buy a hamburger and Denny’s. And when God resurrects Drac’s son, the kid is aged to a full-grown adult decked out in an outfit that looks like something out of a Blue Beetle comic book. And to make the whole situation crazier, the kid is basically a nega-vampire, complete with sunlight coming out of his eyes and the ability to turn into a golden eagle instead of a bat. This kid could have had his own Saturday morning cartoon airing after Thundarr the Barbarian. Then there’s the bit where Dolores suddenly gains saintly miracle powers and kicks Satan’s ass. That tells me that the direct way to sainthood is to become a Satanist and then kick Satan’s ass. I’m sure that’s how Mother Theresa did it.

So Dracula’s this weird little artifact that could have only been made during the late 70′ or early 80′s. It’s great stuff.

Recycled Kidnapping

 Recycled Kidnapping  Anime, Working!!, Working'!!  Comments Off on Recycled Kidnapping
Oct 302011
 

I can’t take credit for this little tidbit from the latest episode of Working. Updatedude pointed this out to me and made the following picture. All credit goes to him, except for the fact that I’m stealing it from him and claiming it as my own. Mwahaha and stuff.

 

 

 

This ain’t uncommon or anything, but this is one example of why I dig Working. It may be a generic, formula-driven comedy, but it gets it when it comes to the details. Like the glasses chick that always appears but never talks and shit like that. It’s these little, inconsequential things that give the whole thing a certain vibe that other color-by-trope series don’t have. Rock on, Working.

SHFiguarts: Wild Tiger

 Air Master, Anime, Astro Fighter Sunred  Comments Off on SHFiguarts: Wild Tiger
Oct 292011
 

Time for a wild review!

So this here is the inaugural exclusive to Mecha Guignol toy review thingy. We’re kicking off with the SHFiguarts version of Wild Tiger from Tiger & Bunny. If you wanna know what’s up with that series, well, just click on that there link. So onto the toy itself.

Alright, let’s start off with getting the bad news out of the way. We have two items of badness. The first is the price, which isn’t cheap, even for an imported toy like SHFiguarts. All in all, this guy cost me about 55USD. Granted, I bought ‘em from a shop that tends to sell stuff a little pricier than most other shops, but at the original retail price (4500 yen) plus shipping, you’ll be paying thereabouts that amount anyway. That is, if you can find this guy online. He sold out on pre-order pretty quick, like, in just a few hours. The point is, he’s expensive and he’s hard to find.

The second thing of note are his hips. They’re both too tight. On mine, the right hip in particular, is/was super tight. The problem isn’t that I don’t like tight hips. In fact, most collectors probably prefer tighter joints. The problem is that they’re so tight that they might cause breakage when you move them. I’ve seen a picture of a broken hip prior to getting my Wild Tiger, so I made sure to check for stress marks on his hips prior to purchase. My Wild Tiger’s left hip creaks when moved, whilst the right hip was nearly unmovable out of the box. Fortunately, I had some WD-40 to lubricate that hip. There’s a little squekiness when I move the right hip now, but at least I don’t feel like I’m putting too much strain on it now. The reason for the overly tight joints is that the sockets for the ball joints are too small, so there’s just way too much friction. Since these are ball joints, in time, wear and tear will loosen the hips naturally, but for now, I gotta lube Wild Tiger up as a preventive measure.

So those are the main bad points with Wild Tiger. Should they prevent you from getting him though? Nope! (Well, unless you really can’t afford it. Don’t be too financially irresponsible kids!)

So here’s why you should get Wild Tiger anyway. One, he’s Wild Tiger. I mean, honestly, that’s a pretty damn good reason why you should get this guy. Not only should you get him simply because he’s Wild Tiger, but he’s a SHFiguarts toy and he’s pimping SHFiguarts on his right shoulder. Save yourself some STDs, skip a couple 20 dollar whores and get SHFiguarts Wild Tiger instead. It’ll be good for the economy, which in turn is good for your financial outlook, which translates to being able to afford pricier but better whores in the long run (or you can use that hypothetical money to buy the upcoming SHFiguarts Bunny instead).

Hips issue aside, this is an excellent toy. The hips issue can be fixed in a variety of ways, WD-40 is just one option. But once fixed, you have yourself an excellent action figure. He looks great, he’s a representation of a character from a terrific if somewhat relatively obscure show, he’s highly articulated and he’s got a good range of extras. I think he also has die-cast, ‘cause his lower body feels rather heavy, but there doesn’t seem to be any or much die-cast on the surface. So it’s possible he has die-cast metal hidden in his lower legs or something, so as to provide a lower center of gravity and better balance in general.

For his extras, he comes with a display stand tailored for his character. He has a pair of gun thingies to represent his Tiger Shoot grappling cables ability. He comes with 2 extra pairs of hands, one pair of which is ostensibly to hold the Tiger Shooters, but totally look like they’re meant for holding motorcycle handles. I’m guessing they plan to release his bike eventually. Last but not least, Wild Tiger comes with his “Good Luck Mode” forearm/fist of coolness.


So the hips can be fixed. But what about the high pricing? Is he worth the price? Well, no. He’s almost worth the price, even as a standalone figure, but unless you’re a huge fan of the show, he’s objectively slightly more expensive than he ought to be. If you ARE a fan and you have enough disposable income for the purchase to be affordable, then yeah, Tiger’s worth it. But if you’re financially responsible, it’s a bit hard to justify the purchase. Me? I’m crazy, I plan to get the entire Heroes line up, but that’s me.

So, Wild Tiger is recommended as a figurebut not necessarily as a purchase. Also, it’s imperative that you be aware and fix the hips. I think there’s a high probability of breakage if you don’t take preventive measures.

Also: updatedude has a gallery with more pics over at his joint: Turquoise Version. Check it out and stuff.

Tanto Cuore

 Black Lagoon, Book of Bantorra  Comments Off on Tanto Cuore
Oct 282011
 

Pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. When hanging out with my real life friends, we don’t watch much anime. My real life friends and I are united by table top gaming. Back in the day we were all about Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, and all that shit. I’ve even dabbled in LARPing (Think I’ve said I’d tell that story before, and I still need to tell it, but not today.) But yeah, we don’t have the time to concoct convoluted adventures, create maps, and all that stuff that goes into RPing. We still do it every now and then, but for the most part we stick with board games and card games when he do our weekly gaming night.

Since we do the table top gaming thing, I’m always looking for ways to connect that with my anime nerdiness. I’ve talked about a few other games that have bridged this gap before, but I found what may be the best example yet of melding otakudom with my other hobby: Tanto Cuore.

Tanto Cuore is what we gaming geeks like to call a deck-building game. If you’ve played Dominion or Thunderstone or the new Resident Evil card game, you’ve played this sort of game before. The catch being that instead of buying land, forming adventuring parties, or loading up on guns to kill zombies, you’re hiring maids to work in your luxurious mansion, and whoever does the best job of running their household wins the game.

Yeah. It’s a card game that effectively re-enacts a harem anime, except with the twist of competing with other players’ harems to see who is the awesomest harem constructor.

Anyway, for those of y’all that haven’t played one of these deck-building games, here’s the gist of it:

You start with a pre-determined deck of cards. You use these cards to:

  • Buy more cards from a set pool that you add to your deck so you can use them later, and P
  • Perform actions that net you victory points.

It’s all about trying to create a smooth-flowing deck that lets you do stuff to get victory points in an efficient manner. If you’ve ever played in a M:tG draft tournament, it’s kinda like that. The catch being that the drafting process is built into the mechanics of the actual game.

With Tanto, you start with a deck of 10 cards. Seven of these cards are Love cards. Love is the currency in the game. So yeah, according to this game, you aren’t exactly paying for these maids with cash. Nope. You’re basically using your inexplicable main character charms to make these maids fall in love with you, and thus do your chores and shit before you cast them out of the house after they’ve done what you need them to do(That is, discard them at the end of the turn.). It that regard the game is exactly like a harem anime, except chicks move in and out of your harem as you see fit. It’s a very practical way of hareming.

You use these Love cards to buy new cards from the general pool. You can buy larger denominations of Love (Each of your starting Love cards is worth 1 Love, and you can buy it in denominations of 2 and 3 as well.) or you can hire maids. When you use your Love to hire a maid (or almost any other card for that matter), it goes into your discard pile for later use. Once you run out of cards in your current deck, you shuffle your discard pile and make a new deck out of those cards. That way, your cards are constantly cycling through and you can get to those new cards you bought.

Those maid cards you buy let you do extra stuff during your turn. On your turn you start with five cards. In addition to that you can:

  • Play one card from your hand, which in-game terms is called a “service” since it represents a maid doing some menial task for you like sewing something, doing your laundry, or slacking off and falling asleep in the courtyard.
  • Buy one card from the general pool,which in-game terms is called “hiring.”
When you perform a “service” on your turn, the maid in question allows you to do at least one of the following:
  • Immediately draw one or more extra cards.
  • Gain extra Love to buy stuff this turn.
  • Perform additional “services” after this one.
  • Hire additional maids from the pool.
  • Some specified actions printed on the card.

So you buy maids with your Love, use these maids to buy even more maids, and essentially reap the rewards of their meager efforts all while trying to impress the other “masters” in the game with how well you run your house of moe moe indentured servants. It’s exactly like an anime.

It’s a pretty straightforward game once you see it in action. It’s all about streamlining your deck to do stuff that’ll net you victory points (Some maids give you VP for simply owning them, some give you VP if you have certain other cards or multiples, and so on.). Once so many cards have been bought from the pool, the game ends and you add your shit up.

The “charm” of the game comes from the theme. Like I’ve been saying, it’s all about buying maids with love. You get to play out your own generic harem storyline all in card form. All of the maids have a specialty written on their card. So the one that lets you take two additional “services” after playing her is the Sewing Maid. Because, I don’t know, she sews up a nice, new suit for you and it lets you impress the other maids so much that they’re more willing to do things for you this “turn.” Then there’s the Treasury Maid, who lets you draw more cards and buy more things. Maybe you’re using your meek charms to “cook the books,” so to speak, and she’s working things so that you can get to your inheritance easier or something like that.

My favorite card was the Sleeping Maid. That’s what it says on her card. The way I see it, you hire her thinking she’s gonna do shit for you, but once you have her perform a “service” she just goes out into the yard and falls asleep. That’s why she gives you three Love and allows you to buy one extra thing that turn. It isn’t because she’s helping you, it’s because you’re so pissed off that you feel compelled to hire more maids to pick up the slack, so you have to muster extra charm (the 3 love) to hire two maids to do what this one maid couldn’t do. Sure, the card may show the “master” laying in said sleeping maid’s lap, as if the extra love is supposed to represent that tender moment shared dozing under a cherry tree while looking at the cloudless sky, but screw that. This maid’s worthless and you need to find a replacement STAT!

My gaming buddies got a kick out of it. Most of them are used to the sort of cute-but-suggestive style of art that’s present in this genre of anime stuff, but they still laughed at things like the maidwho just barely flash their panties or who are posed in such a way that it might not be all that innocent-seeming. They know the drill, but they aren’t deadened to it the way many of us are.

All in all, Tanto Cuore’s a pretty decent deck-building game. I think I like Thunderstone a bit more, but that’s because there’s a good bit of action in that game, but Tanto is amusing enough as is. Cracking jokes about the absurd nature of the game almost makes up for the lack of slicing minotaurs in half. Almost.

Two Years (And Change)

 Meaningless Crap  Comments Off on Two Years (And Change)
Oct 272011
 

Meant to do something “special” when this joint hit its two-year anniversary back on the 15th. I was gonna do some elaborate scheme where I claimed that this thing had been around for decades and I would link to posts that I had “written” during various points in the past. I would have gone way back to, like, Astro Boy or something like that. You know, something stupid to amuse me briefly before getting distracted by something shinier.

The catch is that said distraction came before I ever launched into said scheme and I forgot all about it until I decided it was high time I wrote something about entering the terrible twos.

So yeah, Mecha Guignol is two years old. It’s a horrific toddler running rampant, demanding to buy ever damn action figure on the toy aisle and spilling orange juice all over my carpet. And just like that kind of obnoxious hellspawn of a child, I love it despite its oppressive presence. And just like any parent who is dealing with such a horrible and beautiful situation, I’m reaching out to others to see what in the hell I should do with this thing. Doesn’t matter if they know what they’re doing or if they even have “kids” of their own, I just wanna hear what peeps have to say.

I got a relatively firm grasp of what I wanna do with this place. Which is to say I wanna keep with my meandering, write-about-whatever-the-fuck-I-wanna style. I blog about new series, but I don’t do the whole “episodic” thing since I rarely have anything to say about every episode of a series. But maybe that could change? That’s why I’m here asking y’all. Maybe that’s something I could do.

I also wanna stick with posting “random” shit like stuff on card games or video games or whatever else that has a loose-at-best connection to anime. I’ve been meaning to do some more fighting game-related posts and just haven’t gotten around to them. Then again, maybe y’all hate that shit. Again, I’m looking to see what y’all think.

And I really dig talking about old anime. I should get around to finishing up my Space Adventure Cobra posts, and I wanna do some stuff on Dirty Pair. Not that anyone’ll read or respond to them, but that’s never stopped me before. Or maybe it should. Blahblah what do y’all think.

Or maybe there’s something I’m completely missing. I’m willing to bet there’s something that I’m looking right at but I’m incapable of seeing. Is there anything y’all think that I should do that I’ve yet to do yet? Some manner of post or series of posts that fits my shtick to a T but I’ve yet to tackle? That’d be awesome if someone would slap me across the face with the obvious like that.

So, what should I do with this joint? What can I improve? What sucks about it? What rocks? Tell me stuff, my minions!

Also, I was this close to renaming my blog Jet Piranha. But I didn’t. Now there’s an alternate universe where I did rename the blog and by doing so it became ultra-world famous and made millions of dollars for me. Damn you, alternate universe me.