GDO Wheelie

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Nov 282012
 

Now here’s a toy I never thought I’d find; much less pay the exorbitant prices to make it mine. But while making a pit stop to get out of some truly atrocious traffic; I went to a store I seldom go and saw this piece of Transformers plastic.

Now this guy’s somewhat of a rarity; a consequence of being quite the novelty. You see, GDO Wheelie is of course based on the Transformers character Wheelie; who has been hated upon since his debut in the original animated movie. But this toy mold was originally used for the Reveal the Shield Jazz figure; the incongruity of reusing it for the reviled Wheelie created a sort of toy hybrid vigor. One part awesome with another part horrible; somehow made this thing eminently desirable. Long story short; I saw, I took and I bought.

So let’s talk about the good and bad points of this guy; I mean, he’s relatively new so he’s still something you might buy. Honestly there’s not too much to say about this piece of plasticrack recycling; RTS Jazz was a solid toy that had little to no significant shortcoming. It was a good-looking toy with a neat transformation; none of which was lost despite the new head and color decoration. The new head is undeniably Wheelie with it’s big stupid grin; but truthfully all my attention’s on that great giant chin. Another thing that’s new is that he has a slingshot instead of a gun for an accessory; but considering that’s original Wheelie’s trademark item, it’s really rather necessary.

This toy really doesn’t have any significant flaw that I can hold against it; although there may be long-term durability issues because it has a few bits of clear plastic. Clear plastic tends to be a tad more susceptible to stress when applied with force that’s undue, but thanks to the design of this figure I doubt this will be an issue. The clear plastic’s mostly found in parts where applying excessive force would be pretty hard; unless you’re specifically pressing against ‘em like some damn retard.

The only legitimate complaint I have is a QC issue that makes me cringe; there’s a big ol’ ugly splash of paint on my Wheelie’s left door hinge. But don’t let that keep you from a purchase if you make a Wheelie find; much as I loathe to say it but this particular case is probably uniquely mine.

Articulation is pretty solid all around; there’s joints galore to be found. Wheelie can be posed in just about any which on your display isle; although his arms are too short and stubby for a proper Gangnam Style.

A pirate I was meant to be! Trim the sails and roam the sea!

As for his colors, you can see that he’s primarily orange…

That There My Little Pony Comic Book

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Nov 282012
 

The current season of My Little Pony kinda sucks. That opening two-parter felt like the worst kind of self-serious fanfiction a teenager would write during their first attempt at prose, and the other two episodes were lacking in the wit and charm that make the series fun. I was kinda hyped for these new episodes, so to see them be mediocre at best was pretty disappointing, and because of that I wasn’t too thrilled to check out the new comic that came out this week.

Nope. It doesn’t suck. It’s pretty solid stuff.

 

The story’s pretty much a sequel to the second season’s finale. That evil doppelgänger pony chick, Queen Crysalis, is back and she’s getting all body snatchery with the Ponyville peeps…

Actually, is “peeps” appropriate for ponies? It’s short for people, but it’s also the name of a animal-shaped confectionary. Yeah. If a chicken or a rabbit or a snowman can be a “peep,” so can cartoon horses with distorted anime faces.

So yeah, this big bad is turning all the pony peeps into pod people. The whole town’s been rounded up, save for the stars of the show, and they have to do their thing and save the day. It’s all pretty standard stuff– they find the pods, beat up some baddies, get some gags in, and save the day for the most part. The Cutie Mark Crusaders– the trio of kids who run around causing havoc in an effort to gain their Mark of the Cutie Beast– are being held captive by the evil doppelgänger monster thing. Said villain dares the cast to save them within three days because somethingsomethingcometcomingponyMayanendoftheworldprobably.

That scene leads to the best gag in the comic, and it illustrates why I dug this issue:

The kids talk about being kidnapped like it’s one of their little games. “Yeah, maybe we’ll get our cutie mark in being fillynapped!” As kid sidekicks, that’s pretty damn appropriate when you think about it. These sorts of characters exist to be tormented and help captive by the villain in order to make heroes look good. It’s their purpose in life to be fillynapped, so it’d make way too much sense for them to get branded as such for life.

But it isn’t just the situation gag that makes this little bit awesome. That look of exasperation and disappointment on Applejack’s face is great. You get some good outtakes in the cartoon, but the static permanence of a comic lets that irritated look sink in. Crysalis’ “I’m gonna kill these fuckers if you don’t hurry up and fall into my trap” look is pretty great as well. The entire comic has this sort of dynamic comic strip style to it. It’s easy to recognize it as something from the Friendship is Magic universe, but it also has its own distinct style. It’s doing its own thing while still being the original thing. That’s about as good as you can get from a licensed comic like this.

This is good stuff. If you don’t have some sort of misplaced psychological allergic reaction to the whole pony thing, check it out and stuff. It’s a hell of a lot better than the currently airing season, that’s for sure.

Also: Magnum P.I. and Higgins ponies.

Smarter than the Average Polar Bear

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Nov 262012
 

Polar Bear Cafe. Hanna Barbara animal cartoons. Same universe. Different time periods.

Boomerang, Cartoon Network’s “let’s sluff off all this old shit onto a station no one can watch because these things don’t sell toys anymore” channel, had a little Yogi Bear marathon on Turkey Day. I hadn’t really watched any of those old HB animal cartoons in a while, so I sat down and watched a few episodes. It’s just as charmingly cheap as I remember, with the limited animation, reused backgrounds, and same two or three voices used for every incidental character.

In the midst of all of the comfortable familiarity I noticed something for the first time: Yogi Bear’s existence is pretty damn bleak. He and the other bears in Jellystone Park possess all of the intelligence and emotions of humans, but they’re treated like property. On several occasions Yogi refers to himself as “property of the government.” He isn’t a “person,” despite possessing many of the emotional and mental traits we associate with that concept– Yogi Bear is a thing in the eyes of humanity.

You could call Yogi’s situation slavery. He isn’t expected to do much in the way of labor– he’s only expected to pose for photographs with tourists and not steal their food– but he’s constantly threatened with being shipped off to the zoo if he steps out of line. Yogi doesn’t even have the right to live where he pleases. He has to depend on the grace of the government to determine if he gets rewarded with continued housing in his natural habitat.

But what makes matters all the worse is that Yogi and his fellow bears aren’t trusted by the government and its park rangers. Check this out. One episode deals with the Army running some war games in Jellystone Park. One side of the “war” decides to don bear costumes to infiltrate the “enemy” side. Yogi and Boo Boo get conscripted into the Army, since the soldiers can’t tell the difference between a real bear and some dude in a costume. They’re assumed to be lazy soldiers slacking off. One thing leads to another and Yogi teaches the soldiers how to “live off the land,” which means “stealing picnic baskets.” Thing is, these soldiers do it at gunpoint.

Ranger Smith’s conclusion: the bears have risen up and are revolting. First gut reaction. Those damn dirty bears are getting uppity and want to start a race war.

Things get worse. Smith and a few other rangers arm themselves and go to see if all of this is true. They run across some of the soldiers in bear disguise. Said soldiers fire blanks at the rangers to scare them off, since they don’t want civilians getting involved in their war games. The rangers, who apparently don’t realize there are tanks and shit in their forest, panic and hole up in the ranger office, thinking everything’s falling apart around them. When a tank driven by Yogi comes barreling down on the station, the rangers start talking as if they’ll be remembered like the soldiers at The Alamo– falling for the greater good to protect humanity from the bear uprising. Never mind Yogi’s trying to stop the tank and save the rangers. Nope. The humans in control of the bear population assume the worst every chance they get.

Bears aren’t trusted. There’s an entire episode devoted to Ranger Smith trying to trick Yogi into breaking the rules, so he can have Yogi shipped off to the zoo. Smith goes undercover as a polar bear and pretends to be a fellow bear who wants to live in the Park. He tries to get Yogi to steal picnic baskets, all while constantly reminding Yogi of the rules. He’s clearly baiting Yogi into committing a crime so he can be rid of the Park’s ringleader, and he isn’t afraid to use underhanded tricks to prove his assumptions.

Given that Yogi’s from the late 50s and early 60s, you could look at it as the early days of an animal civil rights movement. Yogi’s a free-thinking bear who wants to be treated as an equal. He’s no saint, but he’s no worse than any of the humans around him. Despite being “smarter than the average bear,” he just wants to be like everyone else– eating the same food, living in the same modes of shelter, and afforded the same rights. He’s something of an early activist for his kind.

Fast forward to the present and look at the world of Polar Bear Cafe. Animals are integrated into society. They still get the odd look, since not everyone is used to socializing with animals, but they don’t appear to be treated any differently as a whole. They can get driver’s licenses. They can own their own businesses. They can own their own homes. There might be some places in society where they aren’t fully accepted, since we see that animals are only fully accepted in roles and jobs humans consider animal-appropriate, so in a way they’re more or less in the same position as most minorities who live in countries with a dominant culture.

You could say that Yogi Bear takes place in Polar Bear Cafe’s past. Animals haven’t always had it this good, and at one time were nothing more than pieces of property to be sold and traded at will. Since then, animals have been able to integrate into human society and be accepted the way they are in Polar Bear Cafe.

There would be no Polar Bear Cafe or Bar the Grizzly without the zany struggles of Yogi Bear and Boo Boo.

SOMETHING WITH A CHICK WEARING A MEDICAL EYEPATCH THAT’S LEGITIMATELY COOL (AND ISN’T CHUUNIBYOU)

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Nov 232012
 

Yeah man, Chuunibyou has pissed me off the past couple of weeks. I knew the forced drama and tame teenage romance was on its way. I knew I wasn’t gonna like that shit, but it didn’t bother me all that much. It wasn’t a deal breaker. What got me was this notion that one becomes a chuunibyou or geek or nerd or whatever you wanna call it because of some sort of personal problem. Rikka started her “delusions” when she wanted to believe her father was still alive. Before that, as far as we can tell, she was perfectly “normal.” She isn’t a geek retreating into her fantasies to deal with the real world, she’s someone who didn’t become a geek until after the harshness of reality struck.

There are implications that being “different” is something wrong– something you become when you’re too weak to deal with life’s problems– and the way Rikka’s sister reacts reinforces this. Rikka is wrong for acting this way. She’s immature and needs to be dealt with so she can become “normal” once again.

This is lame. Ultralame. Fuck this shit. It’s ruining my enjoyment of the series as a whole.

So yeah, I wasn’t too happy with these developments. Then Updatedude showed me this little manga called Jyashin-chan Dropkick. It has a girl who dresses in gothic lolita fashion and goes around with one of those disposable medical eyepatches. She’s all into the occult and shit. She has her own nickname: The Preacher of Evil, Zabiel the Black. She’s even older than Rikka, being college-aged or something. She’s more of an extreme chuunibyou than Little Miss Chuunibyou Hotness Rikka.

Also, her delusions are totally real. Demons exist, and she accidentally summoned one.

Yeah. This girl, Yurine, summoned a Lamia– one of those half-snake half chick monsters from myth. She’s the Jyashin-chan from the manga’s title. The “Dropkick” part comes from the fact that Jyashin is constantly trying to murder Yurine. See, in order for Jyashin to go back home to Hell, the person who summoned her has to die. Yurine isn’t too keen on offering herself up just so her lamia “friend” can catch a ride home, so there’s a constant battle of wits and lack thereof to see who is the dominant species: demon or LARPer.

It’s some cool stuff, very much in the vein of Azazel-san. Demons turned into cute shit, while still possessing that “I’m all evil and junk, please let me kill you and reap your immortal soul” edge is the height of comedy. So most of the chapters flow like this: Jyashin comes up with some scheme to murder Yurine. Yurine saw it coming a mile away and prepped for it Batman-style. Jyashin gets pissed off and tries to use one of her various dropkick maneuvers on Yurine. Yurine blocks it and enacts her vengeance by brutally beating Jyahsin in some way. So maybe Jyashin invites her Medusa friend for a visit, intending to have her turn Yurine into stone. Yurine sees it coming and buys some bracelet that makes you immune to that sort of thing. Because, you know, they sell shit like that in Shibuya or whatever. Jyashin’s plan fall through, so Yurine makes a deep cut in Jyashin’s side and hangs her upside down to let the blood drain out of her. Wocka Wocka Wocka.

So it takes the same “chuunibyou are SO FUNNY” concept and runs with the actual comedy side of things. There’s no hint of things getting serious, it’s all about reveling in ridiculousness sadism. Pretty much my ideal sort of comedy.

Jubei Scored 3 Points in Ninja Scroll

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Nov 212012
 

I was watching Ninja Scroll with a couple of friends a few weeks back. I’ve seen the movie numerous times over the years. One buddy of mine has seen it quite a few times as well, but his memory was a little shaky. He was telling our other friend, who is new to anime and has never seen Ninja Scroll, about the amounts of badassitutde possessed by Jubei.

I told him that isn’t the case. Jubei’s a cool character and all, but look at what he actually does in this movie. Is he really a man of action, or is he just a victim of circumstance who sort of stumbles through the movie through chance? My friend didn’t believe me at first, but as we watched the movie he realized that, yeah, Jubei’s main “technique” is fucking luck.

We were keeping a running tally of how many of the Demons Jubei kills. He got 1 point for an out-and-out kill– Jubei fights the dude all on his own and delivers an unassisted killing blow– and 1/2 point for delivering the killing blow to the dude with the aid of Kagero or some other outside element.

Jubei ended the movie with 3 points.

He gets 1/2 point for killing the rock dude. Jubei wouldn’t be able to touch the dude, outside of a blow to his eye that’s more inconvenience than damage, if it weren’t for the fact that the rock dude doomed himself by raping Kagero and fatally poisoning himself in the process. So yeah, Jubei finishes him off, but only due to the poison coursing through his system. Total Score: 1/2

Jubei would have died against snake chick if it weren’t for the aid of the old government monk dude. That guy saved Jubei from her hypnosis, then snake chick bites it at the hands of lightning dude when she starts to talk about their plans. Total Score: 1/2

Bee dude doesn’t even really get killed by Jubei. The guy dies because he jumps into the river after Jubei and all of the bees in his back skewer him in an attempt to escape. We were kind and gave Jubei 1/2 point for this, since his “hide in the water to not get stung” tactic led to bee dude’s death. Total Score: 1

Jubei has a cool sword duel with blind dude, but he’s clearly outmatched due to blind dude’s Daredevil senses. The only reason why Jubei wins is because blind dude can’t hear the location of Kagero’s blade, which happens to be stuck in some bamboo. Jubei fall underneath the blade and lucks into blind dude hitting it instead of him, allowing Jubei to win. There’s another 1/2 point. Total Score: 1 1/2

Shadow dude bites it for the same reasons as rock dude. The mind control trick he uses to manipulate Kagero involves another instance of sexual assault, so he’s poisoned as well during his fight with Jubei. No way in hell Jubei just tosses his blade into the shadows and kills that dude unless he’s weakened by Kagero’s poison, so there’s another 1/2 point. Total Score: 2

Bomb chick offs lightning dude in a bout of unrequited love. Bomb chick gets offed by old monk dude. Jubei nearly got killed by lightning dude in the first instance and wasn’t even present for the second. He’s lucky he doesn’t get penalized for these two bits. Total Score: 2

The only time Jubei gets a straight-up fight with anyone in this movie is his final encounter with Gemma. While Gemma’s immortality is overcome due to a convenient bath of molten gold that just happens to be sinking to the bottom of the ocean, this fight is all Jubei. He kicks Gemma’s ass with his new technique of “dead girlfriend rage,” as he headbutts Gemma to death repeatedly with the stone from Kagero’s headband.

Jubei ends with a Total Score of 3 out of 7. He gets one clean confrontation and several where his survival is due more to happenstance than badassness.

This is one of the reasons why I love this movie. Jubei is cut from the same action hero cloth as the likes of John McClane. He’s a roguish fighter type, but he isn’t some superheroic, unstoppable type. He gets his ass kicked. He needs to be saved. He needs luck and he gets it when he most needs it. He doesn’t really want to be wrapped up in this mess. He just wants to be left alone so he can go around eating his riceballs and doing jack shit. Yeah, he cuts down a swarm of faceless ninja drones, but any main character in these sorts of things can do that shit. That isn’t special, its basic coursework.

And I love the rest of the movie as well. It’s so damn nasty. It’s bad people doing bad things to worse people who do worse things. It’s probably the best piece of anime exploitation ever made. Not sure if that buddy of mine who had never seen it got into it as much as my other friend and I did. We saw it pretty early on, right after it came out on VHS in the 90s. This other guy’s still pretty new to it, but he’s also weened himself on the likes of Fullmetal Alchemist and other similar shows.

Don’t think he’s quite ready for something this mean-spirited or something this “old.”