Disney Bought Star Wars? GOOD!

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Oct 302012
 

So yeah, Disney just bought Lucasfilm for billions of dollars and who knows how many souls of young orphaned children.

They now own Han Solo. And Indiana Jones. And The Muppets. And while they may not own the movie rights to them, they own the likes of Spiderman and the X-Men. All Disney needs to do is buy the Ian Fleming estate and they’ll own all of my childhood heroes.

I’m OK with this.

Disney is a monstrous, monolithic megacorp. They’re the sort of “the man” who “the man” fears. They would assimilate all forms of commerce and become a nation unto themselves if it wasn’t easier to keep doing things as they do now. We as nerds hate this sort of thing with some sort of innate underdog instinct. They don’t want them to touch our precious childhood treasures. Sure, we know that shit’s already owned by evil companies milking us for every dollar they can while delivering a mostly mediocre product, but in our minds Disney’s far worse. Disney is Mechagodzilla to George Lucas’ Rodan– we’re all too eager to root for the lesser city-destroying monster so long as he doesn’t team up with the world-destroying guy that comes along in the next movie.

So I get people’s knee jerk reactions. We don’t want Disney to win. They buy up something like Star Wars, or something like Marvel a few years back, and we piss and moan and speak in doomsday tones.

We totally forget that this behemoth has birthed the very same smelling shit we claim to protect.

Look at those Pirates of the Caribbean movies. On the surface they’re the sort of byproduct of focus group marketing we so fear, but when you actually watch the damn things you can see they’re made from the same cloth as Star Wars. You got your working class kid thrust into adventure. You got your plucky princess who can get dirty like the rest of the guys. You got your roguish anti-hero who likes to play tough but really gives a damn. You have evil empires and strange monsters and all that other stuff we love about Star Wars, and when you look at both franchises they’re about on par with each other quality-wise. Each of them began pretty brilliantly and defied all the odds in becoming super-popular and then quickly sank into mediocrity once the people behind the scenes stopped giving a damn. It took Star Wars a little longer to get there, but the first Pirates movie and the original Star Wars trilogy hit all the same notes. The only real reasons why I prefer Star Wars over Pirates are the ever-nagging feelings of nostalgia and my own preference for sci-fi over fantasy/period shit.

Deep down, Disney’s already making the same sort of movie we expect out of Star Wars. They just slap a different brand on the outside.

Then there’s all that Marvel stuff. I might not be the biggest fan of their Avengers-centric movies (Captain America and Avengers proper are the only two I genuinely like.), but the comic fans are eating that up. Disney is pleasing the hardcore Marvel Zombies, and they’re just as stuck up and stubborn about their precious fandoms as the Star Wars fanatics.

Hell, Disney was willing to revive fucking Tron after twenty or so years. Tron. Tron fans are mostly the same people who fell in love with Star Wars. Tron Legacy might not have been all that, but someone out there cared enough to bother with that damn thing and make a new movie and cartoon series.

Given all this, I just don’t see Disney fucking up Star Wars any more than it’s already been ruined. Hell, in my mind Star Wars is in about the same position as Marvel was pre-buyout, and since Marvel got snatched up by Disney all they’ve done is improved and renewed my interest in their stuff.

Yeah, I’m down with this thing. Just don’t stick Star Wars in Kingdom Hearts, please. Kingdom Hearts fucking sucks.

The New Chuuni Doo Mysteries

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Oct 282012
 

So the cheerleader girl in Chuunibyou’s also a former delusional kid. OK. I didn’t see that coming, but it makes sense. This is a show about kids dealing with that geeky phase in some manner, so that makes her fit the theme or whatever.

But here’s the deal. We have two “straight men” in this show who aren’t really fit for the role– two kids who scream and throw immature fits when someone dare to break away from the normal high school routine. In fact, I’d say their ridiculous acts of denial are far more immature than the LARPing antics of Patch Girl and her minion. At least they’re honest with themselves and aren’t being insufferably obnoxious. So, do we really need this sort of dynamic between the characters? I don’t know, man.

We have two current kids indulging in their fantasies, two who are trying way too hard to distance themselves from said fantasies, and one goofy girl who claims she likes naps but who comes off more like a pothead sort of character. To put it in Scooby Doo terms, we have two Scrappys– the sort of character all too eager to charge in and believe in the monster, two Scoobys– cowardly and denying anything strange is happening, and one Shaggy– sleeping and being a dopey doofus.

That’s the sort of dynamic we got in the Scooby Doo universe in the late 70s and early 80s. They ditched Fred, Daphne, and Velma and concentrated on the comedy relief characters. Not only did they introduce that abomination known as Scrappy, they brought in other members of the Doo family. While the likes of Scooby Dum weren’t nearly as annoying as Scrappy or Flim Flam from the otherwise awesome 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo (a show that thankfully brought back Daphne for some levity in the opposite direction), the whole dynamic of the show was thrown off, and every decent iteration of the series since has stuck to a more balanced character make-up.

So yeah, I’m digging Chuunibyou this far, but once we added in the pig tailed girl and the cheerleader girl, the series has suddenly skewed towards that sort of imbalance, and it reminds me way too much of those lousy Scooby Doo seasons. What they needs if for Patch Girl’s sister to have more of a role in the series. Or maybe they can indulge us more in their little fantasies, showing us what they’re thinking more often. Or maybe the uptight kids can finally realize there’s nothing wrong with being a goofy kid doing goofy shit.

Because this is a Bizarro Universe Anime where, if they’re gonna double up on the Scooby Doos, we need more Scrappys to keep them in check.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to type that sentence. Painful.

Also: Yeah. “Nap” club. Yep. I believe that. Except no. She’s a pot head. Those pillows are filled with different strains of marijuana. She lights up, tunes out, and drifts away to “dream land.” She needs to pass the joint along to cheerleader and main dude. Maybe they’ll lighten the fuck up.

An Obvious Pun, Changing Tetris to Sextris

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Oct 212012
 

The best gag in that Nintendo/Sega “Console War” anime, Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de, involves the Tetris equivalent character. The dude’s a total pervert, and equating Tetris with sex jokes makes way too much sense for it to work as an actual gag. But it does.

Tetris is pretty much a metaphor for foreplay, isn’t it? It’s all about building up blocks in order to slot in that straight line block to remove four lines from the screen. You slowly build up blocks in an intricate pattern, making sure you don’t prematurely “score” lines unless absolutely necessary. It’s all about teasing and playing around that narrow slot until the timing is perfect and then sliding it in to make a Tetris.

Really folks, this shit’s damn obvious. The gameplay is foreplay and the ultimate score is the climax.

So that’s why making this Tejilof guy into a groping, lecherous, “self pleasuring” bastard makes perfect sense. That’s the sort of reference that shows the writer actually gets the subject matter being parodied. It isn’t just some guy speaking Russian and dropping blocks from the sky like you’d expect from some show, anime or otherwise, that’s riffing off of old school video games. For a crude sex joke, it’s pretty damn sophisticated.

That’s what I’m digging about the first episode of this series. While that’s the most elaborate and elegant reference in the show thus far, the way the series is building its characters isn’t aping off of the most obvious imagery and tropes. When we’re introduced to the Mario equivalent, yeah, he’s riding on a dinosaur-like creature. There’s your Yoshi bit. But there’s no fireballs. No mushrooms. No “It’sa Me.” He looks more like Freddie Mercury or Haggar from Final Fight than he does the squat Italian dude we’re used to.

But how does he fight? He jumps on shit. He launches himself at some warships and simply lands on them to destroy them. No “pluck” sound accompanying it or anything, but he’s clearly doing the classic Mario jump attack. On a giant battleship. It’s pretty awesome.

The Link equivalent is the same. He looks nothing like Link, save for his blonde hair. But when he swings his sword he shoots lasers. That’s the only real hint as to which character he’s referencing, but it should be obvious to anyone who knows these games who he is.

The same goes for the main dude. His name’s Gear, and he’s Sonic the Hedgehog. He runs. He keeps talking about how he has to keep going forward– never stopping and never looking back. When he attacks someone, he crashes into them at top speed. He has no ring gimmick or anything like that, but everything about him reeks of that Hedgehog.

So we have two forms of referencing here. We either have relatively subtle but obvious references, or we have some relatively sophisticated bits that make perfect sense but might not be too obvious for those not in the know. While the actual show might not be all that– there’s some fanservice that’s downright lame, if anime-era-appropriate– it’s pretty clear that this is made by someone who gets this era of video gaming rather than someone just reminiscing about all the COOL STUFF he simply remembers.

I’d compare it to the difference between the references you’d hear in Family Guy versus those in Venture Bros. Family Guy hits you with the obvious shit, rubs it in your face, and then explains it, since it assumes you’re too stupid to understand shitty 80s sitcom references. Venture Bros is just as steeped in reference humor, but it’s far more sly about it and manages to craft genuinely funny dialogue and scenarios. Basically, the former thinks its clever to have Peter Griffith sing a B-52′s song and call that a joke while the latter turns David Bowie into a reoccurring villain who leads a clandestine organization akin to HYDRA or SPECTRE. One of these is funny, and there is a correct choice.

And yeah, the whole thing feels like an anime straight out of the mid-90s. Gotta give it props for that, too.

JoJo’s Universal Hammer Horror Monster Movie

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Oct 202012
 

I’m familiar enough with the JoJo franchise to know it veers off into absurd shounen action territory. I’ve played the fighting game. I’ve heard about the OVAs. Think I saw an episode or two back in the day. It’s primarily about the punching and the Stands and cool shit like that.

But when you look at this first story arc detailing how Dio becomes what he is, it feels more like some old school monster movie than something out of a Shounen Jump magazine.

Wealthy aristocrat delves into ancient mysteries no man should investigate.

The ward of a noble plots to replace the real heir of the household and steal the family fortune.

Desire for power leads to a man becoming a monster.

Filthy back alleys and fights in burning manors.

Without knowing it was an anime adaptation of a manga written for young boys, reading the description of the first arc of JoJo makes it sound more like something out of a Universal or Hammer monster movie. It has all the trappings of those gothic horrors– all about falling into sin while seeking forbidden knowledge and power and all that.

You JoJo, who comes off as something of an amalgamation of Dr. Van Helsing and Kenshiro. He’s your classic protagonist who’s mistakes have led to the birth of a true monster, and only his actions can save the world from falling into darkness.

Then you have Dio, a fiend you can almost sympathize with. He may be a treacherous schemer who doesn’t care who he hurts in his quest for power, but he’s also a product of circumstance and fate. Being born into evil isn’t something he can control, and he’s only reacting to his circumstances in the most logical way possible by his reasoning. He’s like Dracula in the obvious vampirism bit. He’s like Frankenstein in that he’s not entirely at fault for his atrocities, albeit he still needs to be destroyed. You even have some Mummy vibes here, with rich, naive white men tampering with ancient powers of “primitive” cultures with the Aztec vampire mask.

All of this became pretty blatant in the third episode of the series. The confrontation at the Joestar estate, leading to the place burning down is a classic finale for this sort of movie. Add in the ample amounts of gore and yeah, this thing felt like the ending to one of the Hammer Frankenstein movies– creation trying to destroy creator as Hell erupts around them.

Damn good stuff here, and not what you’d initially expect when your prior knowledge is based around a fighting game where you can play as an ugly puppy with weird spirit powers.

Get Your Hate On – My Most Hated Anime

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Oct 182012
 

/anime-i-hate/

There it is. 10 anime I hate. I’ve had some peeps ask for this sort of thing. I was finally in a bad enough mood to go through with it.

Hate is beautiful