The Avengers

 Anime, Astro Fighter Sunred, Azumanga Daioh  Comments Off on The Avengers
May 052012

So I saw that Avengers movie the other day.

The short of it, if you’re the type adverse to spoilers and shit? Avengers was pretty decent.

The long of it, if you love having movies ruined of have already seen it and are looking for your opinion to be repeated back to you? Keep on readin’ and stuff.


The Characters

They made Captain America’s gosh-howdy earnestness work. The “he’s so old he doesn’t get the modern world” jokes got stale quick, but they made his gung-ho patriotism and goody-goody nature not only palatable but cool. And they emphasized his role as the heart of the team and made his leadership shine. He wasn’t just standing there with a flag waving behind him, all posturing and no substance, he was taking command when no one else could and making sure everyone used their skills to the fullest.

Iron Man was Robert Downey Jr, and that’s about all I need to say. He puts on the same act that he did in the Iron Man movies and that smarmy asshole routine finally butts heads with people who can headbutt back. He isn’t put in his place so much as he finally meets people who are his equal, and that’s pretty cool. And that bit where he faces down Loki is pretty great.

Hulk smashes awesomely. I really dig how they portrayed Bruce Banner. He’s self-depreciating, but he does it in a gallows humor sort of way. He’s laughing at his plight and not wallowing in it. He’s a messed up dude that’s all too aware of it and kinda relishes it to a certain extent– at peace with never being at peace and all that. And Hulk smashes awesomely. Awesome smashingness. Smasherific awesometality. He hits really good.

Thor… had a good line or two? “He’s adopted.” That’s about it. Had Loki not been in this movie, thus making Thor relevant, he’d be dead weight. I did dig the Thor/Iron Man scene, but it wasn’t necessary.

Black Widow was every Joss Whedon female character ever. She felt like she was there to have a token female character rather than because she was integral to the team. She had some cool moments, especially the bit where she gets info out of Loki that no one else could, but the whole spry lithe female martial artist badass is SO Joss Whedonish. If it hadn’t been his movie it might not feel that way, so maybe I’m just being a jerk by picking on the character. But I’d rather have, say, Wasp or Scarlet Witch or someone a little more obscure like Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye may as well have not been in the movie. He’s brainwashed for most of the movie, and after that he’s just the dude with a bow. He’s only relevant because of his relationship with Black Widow, and I wasn’t too keen on her presence either. I did like his quiver that could make arrow tips that fit the situation. That was a cool touch that I don’t remember from the comics. But “cool backpack” isn’t much to say about a character.

Nick Fury was underwhelming, especially since it felt like Sam Jackson was phoning in the part. He had to be there since he’s the guy that brought all of this together, but all he did was shoot a gun and look mildly irritated. Eh.

But Agent Coulson, who has also been there the whole time, was far more interesting. His geeking out over Captain America was cute and all, but by having him in all of these lead-up movies made his death (spoiler) all the more awesome. You got to know the dude much like how all of these other characters got to know him, and his death actually meant something. And he got to go out with style. It wasn’t the Whedon-Death everyone was fearing. It mattered. I really hope those “Coulson becomes Vision” rumors are complete bullshit. Turning him into a ghost-cyborg would ruin the impact of his sacrifice.

Loki’s scheme was nonsensical, but this is Loki we’re talking about. This dude isn’t your megalomaniacal Dr. Doom type. He isn’t out for control (despite his claims). He isn’t out for money. He isn’t even out for revenge. If he wanted any of that he’d already have it. The dude just wants attention. He’s the younger brother acting out to get attention from his emotionally distant parents and to one-up his big brother. And his alien, god-like logic leads him to join up with a worshiper of Death (end credits spoiler) in order to basically jump up and down and say “LOOK AT ME BIG BROTHER! GIVE ME A HUG BIG BROTHER!” Loki is so moe.

The Rest

The dialogue was pretty decent and avoided the Whedonisms I was fearing (for the most part). It was easily the best-written of all of these Avengers-related movies. It wasn’t just a matter of actors having chemistry, like in the Iron Man movies. They also had interesting stuff to say to one another.

The “gathering the team” beginning part was a bit slow-going. The individual scenes worked, but it didn’t quite work as a narrative whole. It was like reading a couple of issues of a comic book back to back rather than watching a cohesive movie. At least things picked up once Loki started dicking around in Germany. After that, the movie flows pretty well.

When the action was all shooty-shooty, it was pretty clear. The way they zipped around the battleground and showed things was shot well. The hand to hand fighting could have benefited from the camera being pulled back a bit so we could see what’s happening. But Baysplosions it was not. The action made sense and was comprehensible.

All in all it was a fairly well-made movie. It lacked a bit in terms of individual style (anyone could have directed most of the movie), but it worked.

The Ultra-Spoiler

Thanos. Alien demi-god who has an Eternal boner for Mistress Death. He totally wants to fuck with Earth, since doing so will be like “courting death.” Since, yeah, the dude wants to court Death. He totally wants her to be his girlfriend. The dude’s fucked up like that. So fucked up that he’s tried to wipe out the entire universe just to get Death’s attention.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go with this. Are they gonna go full-on Infinity Gauntlet with this? Are they gonna sow seeds in the upcoming stand-alone movies? That’s kinda cool, since Avengers is a big-time summer movie and shit like The Infinity Gauntlet is the comic equivalent of the big-time summer movie.

The Bitching

We need SUPERVILLAINS. All of these movies have one name-brand villain and waves of fodder. Cap had Red Skull and Hydra goons. Thor had Loki and frost giant goons (And Destroyer, but eh). The Iron Man movies were all about generic cannon fodder enemies. Hulk sucked and doesn’t get a vote. Avengers had a rehash of Loki with some alien robot skeleton things from that Ultimates universe that no one really gives a damn about.

The fight needs to be on a more personal level. The X-Men movies did a good job of that, since those movies boil down to These Mutants vs Those Mutants, and we get to know characters on both sides. It was a clash of personalities rather than a clash of bodies.

When Loki is going at it with one of the heroes, whether it’s verbally or physically, it carried a lot more weight than the endless hordes of video game enemies. That final battle with the aliens was very well-made, but I don’t give a fuck about defeating an army. Leave that shit to the Call of Duty generation. I want to defeat SUPERVILLAINS in a SUPERHERO movie.

Also, it’s a shame that it’s taken us SIX movies just to get to the point that we have a team that can DO STUFF.

Really. Other than the Captain America movie, I haven’t really enjoyed any of these Pre-Avengers movies as stand-alone movies. They’ve felt like extended trailers teasing of what’s to come. They’ve had individual elements that worked well (mostly character interaction stuff), but as actual movies they’ve haven’t worked. It’s like I paid money to see two-hour commercials for the movie I finally saw yesterday, and half of that movie was build-up to what really mattered.

Now we’re finally at the point where the characters can breathe and do their thing and we have to wait until, what, 2015 to see a movie that can have its own stand-alone narrative? That’s fine when you’re churning out movies in the series with greater regularity, but this isn’t the 60s where a new Bond movie came out every year. They take 2-4 years between installments because of the time it takes to do special effects and the like. That just doesn’t fly.

Basically, in the number of movies it took, say, Harry Potter to tell the majority of it’s story, the Avengers’ story is just beginning. That’s great marketing but lousy storytelling. That sort of “development” can work in comics since you wait maybe a month or so between issues, on in a TV series where you get a new episode ever week or so, but it doesn’t work in movies.

The Statement Added to the End to Give This a Positive Finish

But yeah, despite my whining I liked the movie. I still prefer X-2 and First Class as far as Marvel movies go, but that’s my inner X-Fanboy talking. This was good stuff. I just wish we could have gotten to this goodness sooner.

Self-Indulgence 12: One Million Total

 A Certain Magical Index, Anime, Astro Fighter Sunred, Azumanga Daioh  Comments Off on Self-Indulgence 12: One Million Total
Feb 282012

Mecha Guignol hit one million hits earlier today.

Goal achieved. The End. Adios. Etc.

Also, I lied. About the “The End” part, that is.

I’ve talked about this before, but I may as well talk about it again now that I have a few more regular peeps at this place. I originally started this blog as a way to get my creative juices going again. Before I started blogging, my main online activities revolved around a fiction writing website. But when I started Mecha Guignol in 2009, my drive to write was waning hardcore. I hadn’t written anything of substance in, like, a year. I needed some project that’d force me to write on something resembling a regular basis so I’d get into some kind of rhythm. Since I had the idea of doing an anime blog running in the back of my head for a while (despite never having read an actual anime blog up to that point), I decided to use that as the “spark” to get my writing mojo back.

I figured I’d do this for a bit, get used to writing again, and re-channel that energy into one of my other projects. I never intended to, like, be an anime blogger. I like anime, but at the time I wasn’t really watching that much shit. I’d check out one or two new series a season and rarely finished them. When I started this thing up, the only series I had finished from 2009 was Canaan, and the only reason why I picked up things like the second season of Darker than Black and Trapeze was for something to write about when I first started my blog.

Fast forward a few months from then. I’m watching more anime at that moment than I had at any given point prior. I was writing a couple of times a week. I had my mojo back. But what do I do? I don’t work my magic and funnel that enthusiasm into something else. Sure, I’d write something non-blog-related every now and then, but my focus was on Mecha Guignol. Fast forward another two years or so, and here I am bragging about how this blog that I never intended to keep has reached one million hits.

Yeah, I got into this shit purely by accident. It’s an experiment gone awry, like some otaku Frankenstein rampaging across the Balkan Mountains or whatever.

Anyway, here’s some photographic proof that I’ve hit this point, to prove to y’all heathen skeptics that this shit is real. The first pic shows my stats from my days while the second is what I’ve gathered since switching over to self-hosting.

And that’s pretty much it. Mecha Guignol is one of those happy accidents that parents talk about when they refer to that kid they never really wanted but love regardless.

Also, since I talked about my fiction writing and shit, here’s an example. It’s called Celestial Cleaner Celeste (with Pussycat). It’s a little something I wrote inspired by the pic I used at the start of this post.

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.

Guilty Horizon

 Anime, Aquarion EVOL, Astro Fighter Sunred, Azumanga Daioh  Comments Off on Guilty Horizon
Oct 142011

Nothing’s original. Everything’s a rift on something that came before. All that shit we’ve heard zillions of times over. You either accept that things borrow from other things or you turn into some asshat that can’t enjoy a damn thing. The catch is that some shows do a better job of making you forget about the things it’s stealing from, and that ability to make you forget about the origin of its shtick is often one way to judge whether a series is gonna be particularly memorable.

If that’s the case, neither Guilty Crown nor Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon are gonna be particularly memorable. But at least they do some shit right.

Guilty Crown steals from Code Geass (the most obvious source), Ghost in the Shell, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Macross, and plenty of other shows in the first episode alone. Japan’s occupied by foreign powers, robots with cloaking devices and cute little four-legged robots are running about, and pop singers fighting the “good fight” have weapons drawn out of their chests so they can revolutionize Japan or some shit. The problem isn’t that Guilty Crown is messing around with all of these references– the problem is that the whole thing didn’t come together smooth enough to make me not notice until after the fact. Instead of being wrapped up in this near future scenario, getting into the action and intrigue and all that, I spent the episode saying “Hey, I know where that comes from!” Blame it on the fact that the lead character is your generic teenager audience surrogate who stumbles across everything only to become a participant when he’s granted super powers by Chemical X or some shit. Or you can blame it on the awkward pacing of the episode. Or you can blame it on the way the music doesn’t quite synch with what’s transpiring, only to abruptly cut out like a scene out of a 70′s grindhouse flick.

There’s something “off” about the first episode of Guilty Crown, and it caused all of its “influences” to become glaringly obvious to the point of distraction. That isn’t to say that it was bad, but it was decidedly awkward in execution and didn’t really mesh together. It’s damn pretty and has my interest so far, but it ain’t all that just yet.

You can say the same thing for Horizon. Instead of rifting on half of the popular series to air over the past 30 years, Horizon opts to steal from every JRPG made since Dragon Warrior.

Horizon has the same sort of convoluted, laughable back story as 99% of all console RPGs. Something about heaven and earth colliding and mingling and going to war and blahblahblah now it’s the future and peeps have space ships or something. All of the characters wear the same sort of gravity-defying, cosplay-ready outfits that might look good when converted into 8-bit pixels on the NES but look hilariously gaudy when thrust into an anime. The characters seem to be divided into “classes” not unlike an RPG, with warrior types and thief types and magic using types and racist stereotype types. There’s even slimes!

Horizon is every single console RPG ever made smashed into one anime, and much like Guilty Crown all of those influences are right there in the open. Horizon makes no real attempt to make any of this shit its own. It’s just a hodge podge of “cool stuff” strung together. And the actual plot of the damn thing is so banal when compared to all the world-building going on in the background– it’s slice of life aboard a floating monolith.

What makes Horizon watchable is all of the crazy bits going on in said background. You got slimes and robots and an incubus hanging out in this classroom with no explanation other than some inferences that they might be from heaven. The characters fight in a very RPG-like way, with little attempt to “translate” attacks into something a little more anime-friendly. And in the second episode one of the supporting characters went off on a serious monologue about how she was nearly forced to have a sex change in order to further her family’s political potential. The catch is that said monologue was all a set-up to explain why she has such a small chest, and the whole thing ended with a breast joke. Those are the sort of hilarious touches that make generic shit like this amusing. It doesn’t make Horizon particularly good, but it’s sure as hell a lot more watchable than half the series currently airing, since it counters its banality with craziness.

Dec 312009

When I originally compiled this list, I left out Detroit Metal City because I made some silly “no OVA” rule.

Then Krauser had his way with me and all of that changed.

But DMC didn’t quite make it to the top despite all of that. Yeah.



12. Michiko e Hatchin

I wrote about Michiko e Hatchin in this post, and the gist of the series’ problems is that it just doesn’t quite come together. There’s a lot going for it, with its music and action and interesting Latin America/exploitation movie fusion, but all of these elements don’t blend into something cohesive. But those individual elements are strong enough on their own to make the series a pretty cool thing. It has a lot of the cool one-off characters like its spiritual predecessors Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo that make each individual episode enjoyable on its own strengths. The main characters have lots of potential, what with them being two strong-headed women (well, woman and young girl) who defy your usual anime stereotypes for the most part. Unfortunately, they don’t get to do much beyond run and bicker. That might be the series’ biggest flaw: there’s a lot of cool things going on around the lead characters, but half the time they’re barely involved. They just sort of stumble across things Forrest Gump style, and things get resolved through coincidence and happenstance. But yeah, cool style, cool details, the big picture just isn’t quite there.

11. Fireball

It’s CGI. It’s made by Disney. It’s episodes are, like, three minutes long. Despite what some of you may be thinking, yes, Fireball is anime. It’s a cartoon. It’s made for a Japanese audience. That fits the traditional English definition for “anime.” And it’s easily the best of the “lasts as long as most anime openings” series out there. It’s pretty simplistic, since it comes down to two robots bickering with each other, but it has more wit and charm about it than most series ten times its length, episode-wise. And despite it being a comedy filled with puns and sight gags and shit like that, there’s also some really cool undertones. The robots acknowledge that they live in a distant future where humans have died off. They may even be the last two sentient beings on Earth, since no other robots demonstrate any real sentience and nothing outside of their “palace” is ever seen. We may be witnessing the last vestiges of “life” on Earth in the form of a buddy comedy. The sun may be ready to die out any minute in the background, and all of that’s just background fluff. That’s awesome stuff. Also, Drossel is the best Disney Princess. No contest.

10. Kaiba

I don’t pay a lot of attention to anime directors, mainly because most series come of so “samey” when it comes to style and whatnot, but Masaaki Yuasa is one of the few I do care about because his stuff is so distinctive. That said, Kaiba is the weakest of his major projects, but even with that it’s a pretty great series. It plays off of a lot of cool transhuman concepts and other sci-fi elements and it hits on a bunch of philosophical shit about identity and whatnot. And the art style is brilliant, what with its old school cartoon vibe. That style matches the themes of the series perfectly, since the “toon” look makes everything that much more alien and foreign. It’s a shame the ending pretty much sucks and brings the series down from genuine brilliance to being merely “really cool.” Still worth watching, even if it isn’t as great as Mind Game or Kemonozume.

9. Ryoko’s Case Files

Ryoko’s Case Files reminds me of The X-Files. You have two law enforcement officers investigating oddball cases. You have the sexual tension between said characters. You have some of the same humor running through both series. The main difference is that Ryoko is something of a “perfect” character, being your “smart and sexy and an asskicker and…” type. But she manages to be more like someone like Cobra than some bland, generic, annoying type since she’s brash and hotheaded at the same time. She can do all of this shit, but most people find her a bit irritating and unbearable. And she’s pretty cool for that. And there’s plenty of weird stuff going on in the series as well, making the whole thing a hell of a lot of fun. It’s one of those “forgotten” series that doesn’t deserve being stuffed under the rug.

8. Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei

Is it the same old Zetsubou shit? Yep, pretty much. Is the same old Zetsubou shit superior to most anime comedies? Yep, pretty much.




7. Urusei Yatsura: The Obstacle Course Swim Meet






6. Ranma 1/2 Akumu! Shunmin Kou

Took these one-off, throwback OVAs to get subbed, but when they did I was finally able to bask in their awesomeness. They’re both more of the same when it comes to their respective series, but since Ranma and Lum are two of my all-time favorite comedies, that’s more than welcome. That’s about all there is to say about these things. If you’re one of those heathens that’s never gotten into Lum or Ranma, you’ll be at a loss. If you dig this shit, they’re a welcome return. I’d totally be down with a revival of either series. Especially Ranma.

5. Mnemosyne

Repulsive, grotesque exploitation. Awesome, repulsive, grotesque exploitation. It’s more than a little hateful. It’s more than a little trashy. It’s about immortals screwing around with each other over petty conspiracies and grudges and some fucked up spiritual shit. I love this stuff. It’s unforgivably violent and nihilistic. People, especially women, are treated horribly. There’s absolutely nothing nice about it. The story’s secondary to the sensationalism. It’s everything you, dear reader, dread about anime. It’s the shit that gave anime a bad reputation back in the 90s. It’s kissing cousins with Urotsukidouji. And I fucking dig it. Yeah.

4. Ga-Rei Zero

I’ve said it before in other posts: Go watch the first episode. That one episode is one of the greatest things ever put in animated form. Seriously. Just go watch it already. The rest of the series is decent, but it’s just there to take up time since they can’t just air one episode and call it a series.



3. Detroit Metal City

Let me say this about DMC: I hate heavy metal. Totally. It’s obnoxious. The tough guy posturing and faux-Satanism and “GRRR! RAARRARAR!”ness of it all sucks. Even when I was an obnoxious teenager filled with baseless angst, I hated the shit. And yet I fucking love Detroit Metal City. It’s fucking funny. Funny as raping Tokyo Tower funny. So funny that it makes me forget about my loathing of the musical genre in question. So funny that it lets me forgive the series for making fun of a genre of music much closer to my own personal tastes. Yeah, I’d rather listen to his “Swedish pop.” Go To DMC!

2. Astro Fighter Sunred

I really love the dynamic between Sunred and Kayoko. It’s probably one of the most realistic relationships ever depicted in anime. Sunred’s an inconsiderate bum, but he genuinely loves Kayoko. Kayoko’s suffers through Sunred’s idiocy and supports him financially because she also genuinely loves him. It isn’t some fairy tale relationship, where everyone’s all doki doki and shit, and it isn’t some ridiculous “tsundere” relationship where one character is so insufferable and annoying that it’s impossible to believe anyone would put up with their shit. With Sunred we get two flawed people who deal with each other shit because there’s some connection there that we outsiders can barely glimpse. Oh yeah, and Sunred’s damn funny too. Blahblahblah sentai hero gags and cool monsters that I’ve already talked about elsewhere.

1. Cobra the Animation: The Psychogun

It might be the weakest Cobra story I’ve seen, but Psychogun is still the best thing I’ve seen from 2008. It deals with the Pirate Guild wanting to get a hold of a three billion year old snail whose shell contains the history of the universe, and said history tells the location of a device that contains what amounts to a portable Big Bang. There’s three duck people who look a lot like Huey, Dewey, and Louie who craft dimensional space drives. There’s worm creatures that eat people and turn their “people juices” into nerve toxins used to turn women into sex slaves. People ride flying vehicles that turn you into a skeleton frozen in Carbonite while piloting it. SAND WHALES. It has all of the awesome details that makes the Cobra series my all-time favorite shit. And it has the return of Crystal Boy. Awesomeness.