Go, go, Power Rangers

Despite never having read the manga, I’m sure you already know the story of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. Briefly, the protagonist is awakened to his destiny by an animal guide and told to find his reincarnated teammates to fight an evil sorcerer bent on destruction.

It’s been done and redone by series as diverse as Sailor Moon and god knows how many tokusatsu shows (i.e., Power Rangers type shows). So you can kind of guess where the story is supposed to go, but it keeps going the opposite way. The series even gets meta with the characters watching a magical girl anime and snarking about the cliches to be found in the destined hero narratives that their own story deconstructs.

A woman cheerfully being recruited in her bedroom by a talking snake

This is a joyfully clever comic, and in small ways and large ways – like in this scene – it keeps pulling the rug out from under you. I’d be more specific but I don’t want to take away from the enjoyment of anyone who want to try this manga out. Read it already, everyone.

Return to Baldur’s Gate

One of the Children of Bhaal from Baldur's Gate 2 (don't ask me which one, I haven't encountered her in my game yet but she's got a staff and a feathered headdress)

I’m finally playing Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal. I installed the BGT mod, which turns the entire Baldur’s Gate series into one really long game. Essentially I’ve been playing the same game off and on for eight or nine years now. The last time I touched this game was probably back in 2011 but here I am back in the saddle.

I’d forgotten how fun playing Baldur’s Gate 2 was. In my last session I used the Zapp Brannigan strategy to clear out the sewers under Saradush by sending out wave after wave of expendable minions to overwhelm my enemies. I believe I summoned some dire bears, a couple of skeletons, an efreet, two ogres, an earth elemental, a bunch of lesser earth elementals, a berserker warrior, a wyvern, an invisible stalker, two air elementals, a nishru, a hakeashar, and probably a few more creatures that I’m forgetting.

Meanwhile, my party of adventurers waited near the dungeon entrance for the screaming to die down. It’s a lot easier than going toe-to-toe with all those umber hulks and orcs and mages.

Space cowboy and gangster of love

I finally watched Cowboy Bebop. I tried it out probably eight years ago and found it boring, but it turns out that was because I was watching it with subtitles. After I tried the English dub I finally got how cool the show was. The music especially was great. This show and Baccano are joining my short list of great English-dubbed anime.

Oh, and happy Victoria Day weekend once again to all of you in cyberspace.

Shakespeare in the original Klingon

This is a weird thing I just came across, but I discovered a trailer for Legend of Korra in the original Japanese.

I jest, of course. But something seems off about the voices. Continue reading Shakespeare in the original Klingon

Back to the future

Screenshot of fake Amiga-style computer GUI circa 1988

I just finished Christine Love’s game Digital: A Love Story and now I just want to proclaim my enjoyment for that particular visual novel. The game and its interface are set up to look like a computer system from 1988, which initially made me think it was a hacking simulator like Uplink. However, the game itself is quite small and, mechanically speaking, is not much more complicated than a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Savvy players could probably beat the game over one weekend. It’s essentially a game of clicking a succession of different buttons on the screen.

Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the appeal of this game is not in the gameplay but in revelling in the aesthetic presentation. I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for the whine and screech of a modem connecting to another system, yet here I am in the 21st century deliberately seeking out such a thing. This is a cute little game that could and I’m glad Christine Love was seemingly able to follow it up with commercially-successful titles.

I’m certainly looking forward to playing more of Love’s work. You can even see for yourself if her stuff is for you without incurring even the most minimal financial cost – the game is free to download from Love’s website. If anything I wrote here even mildly piqued your curiosity then go right ahead and try the game out. I think you’ll like it.

Wake me up inside

I was sick a few weekends ago so I watched all of Daredevil in one day. I’m not a huge fan of DD but I’ve read a bunch of the comics and I have to state that the show somehow translated the sensibility of the comics to TV. The consequences of living in a world with superheroes is an unspoken concern for the show and for its characters. It’s not quite The Authority in questioning the ability of weirdos in circus costumes to enact positive social changes through fisticuffs, but at times the show kind of hinted in that direction.

I was somewhat surprised at the very oblique appearance of mystical Oriental hoodoo. I’d thought that the show was going to be completely grounded in the street level stuff and would be just about DD versus the Kingpin. By the way, Wilson Fisk is never called Kingpin in the show, nor is Leland Owlsley ever referred to as The Owl. Anyway, I assume that this Orientalism is for setting up the Iron Fist kung fu show that’s coming later. Perhaps we’ll soon see the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven.

Finally, I have to wonder just how much Marvel’s New York is like the one of our world. The battle in the Avengers couldn’t have turned present-day Clinton to this show’s Hell’s Kitchen no matter how badly the reconstruction was mismanaged. The widespread police corruption, at the very least, couldn’t have happened in just a couple of years (one of the cops says 18 months). The only explanation I can come up with is that Fisk was already entwined in the fabric of the city long before aliens invaded.

Anyway, I did like the show. I almost never binge watch, so when I do, it’s because a show is exactly on my wavelength. If this is what Netflix’s Daredevil is like, then I’m looking forward to the rest of the superhero shows that are coming. Personally, it’s Jessica Jones that I’m most interested in.

What’s the story

You know, I’d forgotten how easy it was to watch – or rather, re-watch – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. I’ve already gotten through the first season again and even the OVA. It’s not too heavy and not too light. Individual episodes aren’t weighty enough to require time to process but there’s enough of a hook in the relationships that I want to see more and can’t just leave the show and return two weeks later like I do for other shows.

And I like where the show is going in the latest episode. There’s actual forward movement happening in the relationships. A lesser show would have stuck to the status quo and just covered the wacky hijinks of the club.

In fact, Hachiman’s desire to stay safe in his own corner is shown to be self-destructive. I especially liked that Yukinoshita is angry at him for always volunteering himself as a punching bag, which wouldn’t have bothered her at the beginning of the series. Relationships are changing, and while I don’t think this conflict is arising from romantic feelings, it’s not coming from nothing either. Friends hate it when their friends are hurt, and especially so when they’re the ones doing it to themselves.

I’m just looking forward to the next episode.

The return of Haruhi Suzumiya

Spring is here and with it the new spring anime. Today I come to discuss one series in particular – The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato.

It’s been quite a few years since we saw anything related to Haruhi Suzumiya, so you might be forgiven for not remembering that Nagato is the anti-social alien android pretending to be a high school girl to keep a close eye on God (a.k.a. Haruhi Suzumiya, a Japanese schoolgirl unaware of her position as the Prime Mover and the source of all Creation). The original show had all kinds of crazy stuff – time travellers, psychics, dream projection, and enough sci-fi cliches for a Star Trek series.

However, The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato is about a parallel universe where those things seemingly don’t exist. Specifically, it’s about an alternate ending to the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya where the protagonist chose to stay in the universe of the ordinary people. So without the science fiction elements, what are we left with? A rather ordinary slice-of-life high school story about a girl, the boy she likes, and the literature club they belong to. Watching this premiere, I realized that there was a good reason that Nagato was only a supporting character in the regular show. Quite honestly, a quiet and shy wallflower is not heroine material. The conflict and forward movement in the plot was only able to happen in this episode because of the actions of two other characters who were more outgoing than the supposed protagonist.

There are encouraging hints that all is not as it seems. Nagato experiences a moment of deja vu when she spots the alternate Haruhi Suzumiya on the street, while Asakura remains disturbingly skilled with a knife despite being a regular student. And let’s remember that this world conforms too perfectly to a happy and idyllic story of teen romance for one Yuki Nagato. Anyway, I hope very much that these oddities are explored more in the rest of this season.

This is only the first episode, so I’ll stick with this show a little bit more. If I see any pocket universes or sandworms later on I’ll let you know.

See you later, boy

This weekend I realized I’m too old to play Jet Set Radio. I thought it was fun when I had the Xbox version quite a number of years ago but I never finished it before I sold my 360.

That’s why I snapped up this game when it arrived on PS+, but I’d forgotten how much reflexes count in this game. I did the tutorial and was fumbling like a jackass trying to make my cool sk8er boi do his sick tricks. Finally I gave up and uninstalled the game. I think I could have gotten my old skills back but I don’t have the time to be practising and I don’t really want to finish the game that badly. Ah well.

By the way, this is the trailer for the HD re-release in 2012, not the original trailer from back when.

You are winner

14 Game of Thrones Actors on Who Should Sit on the Iron Throne

Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth)

“Dude! I’m with Team Stannis! It’s got to be Stan the Man, doesn’t it? He’s the right man for the job! And I work for him. But if you go any lower, it should be Davos. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Mostly I’m perturbed at the image of Davos saying “dude”. Although Pod’s choice is exactly what my answer would be if I were him:

Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne)

“Brienne of Tarth, ’cause I work for her, and I need a job at the end of the day.”