Danger Zone

I’ve been sick with either a cold or a flu, so yesterday I stayed in bed and watched Point Break. It’s really a perfect Saturday afternoon movie. I’d never seen it before, but it had been on my list for a while and the other movies I had on hand seemed too deep to watch while fever-tripping (Atonement, The Sound of My Voice, and Never Let Me Go).

I’d forgotten how shitty the early 90s looked. The clothes and the boxy cars gave me a feeling of constriction and heat stroke, like I was wearing too-tight clothes in a noisy office with no air conditioning. And it’s got that L.A. River again from Terminator 2, probably one of the crappiest rivers in the world.

I do wonder how the surfing scenes were shot. It would have been hilarious if the director had used the same trick as Elvis in Blue Hawaii, but the actors and their doubles were actually out there on the waves. And kudos to all for the sky diving scenes. They make no sense and are barely justifiable in plot terms, but they do tie in thematically to the whole “freedom” thing the surfers are into. I must mention that my only exposure to surfer talk is from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it was kind of weird hearing people say “radical” with no trace of irony.

I also have to give props for how the action unfolds. The movie zips along from scene to scene with nary a slow part. The biggest negative to the movie is, once again, Keanu Reeves’ acting. I forget every time how wooden he is and am reminded whenever I see a new movie with him in it.

Overall, though, I found this movie diverting.

Woe, you sons of Israel

Terrible news, everyone! I’ve just come across rumours that a second season of The Devil is a Part-Timer will not be produced. Apparently publishers of light novel series, like the one this anime is based on, often fund the development of an anime solely to drum up interest in the original books. With their mission accomplished, they often do not bother producing more seasons. It’s cheaper to publish books than to make an entire anime, after all.

I’m hoping this is nothing but baseless speculation, but by spring it’ll be almost two years since the first season was broadcast. I’m starting to get antsy and may eventually cave and buy the books or the manga, playing right into the publisher’s hands. At least the story will continue somewhere, but I will still hope with all my heart that an animated adaptation is still coming sometime.

Happy Saturnalia

Wishing you all the best in your solstice orgies.

The end of an era

Well, Legend of Korra ended. The final finale for the fictional universe first depicted on Avatar: The Last Airbender has aired. What do I think about it?

I think it had a suitably awesome ending. No deus ex machina and an exciting use of the dubstep laser, so this is ahead of other Avatar finales.

I liked that Korra won not by beating up her enemy, but by being a better person. And let me get a hell yeah for our heroine not ending up with Mako (that was a close one) and walking off into the sunset hand in hand with her beloved.

Having said that, though, let’s not forget that another, more obscure and less noticed series ended as well. Yes, I’m talking about Argevollen.

You know, calling Argevollen‘s finale good or bad implies that it could have ended any other way. I honestly don’t see how else the show could have ended and remained true to itself and its deliberately low-key approach. I mean, looked at what happened: the relationship between the two leads remains platonic, there was no giant battle, the angry rival dies in his suit without ever crossing swords with the hero, and a suicidal man gets talked down from his ledge.

It’s as if they tried to make the opposite of a typical giant robot anime. I hadn’t realized how entrenched the clichés were in this subgenre until I saw this finale. I seriously doubt Argevollen will be a big earner for its studio, considering how different it is from Valvrave and whatnot. I predict that the Blu-ray and DVD collections will end up remaindered and become collectors’ items among a very small subset of anime fans. I liked Argevollen, but I have to ask, how in the hell did this show get made in the first place?

Anime: the year that was

Okay, this video of basically every anime TV series that came out in 2014 is quite impressive in its breadth and its aesthetic unity. Props go to its obsessive creator. I think I only recognized maybe 2% of the shows that were featured.

There and back again

Ever watch the movie Primer, about a couple of engineers inventing and exploiting a time machine in their garage? Ever wonder what it would be like to see that seemingly-realistic depiction of science at work in an anime setting?

Because Steins;Gate has you covered. I like this series, which is actually an adaptation of a visual novel game – in essence, a Choose Your Own Adventure story with added pictures. And guess what? The translated version is available for digital purchase straight from the comfort of your couch.

The game is $30, though, so it seems that the Japanese haven’t gotten the hang of this digital pricing thing yet. Were it $5 I would seriously be tempted to get it. But hey, maybe there’ll be a deal there someday.

My thanks go out to Hanako Games for alerting me to this opportunity. I’m afraid I’m not going to buy Long Live the Queen as many reviews say that it’s too short, but I’ll keep an eye out for other games from this studio.

The superhero from apartment 23

Everyone, meet your new Jessica Jones: Krysten Ritter, the bitch from Apartment 23! And Michael Colter is the frontrunner for playing Luke Cage. I’m not familiar with him, but I lurve Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Possibly Ritter may need to bulk up a bit to play our washed out superhero, but she’s certainly got the comedic timing for the funny bits, and her turn as Jesse Pinkman’s drug addict girlfriend in Breaking Bad shows that she’s pretty good at this drama thing too.

It’s interesting to look back on my posts about the TV adaptation of Alias. The earliest rumblings of such a thing were back in 2010, meaning that it took at least five years, and probably a bit more, to get this show from being a vague idea to something that shows up on your TV screen. I wonder, is that the normal development timeframe?

Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic. I wonder who will play Daredevil and Iron Fist? Here’s hoping for more casting news soon.

The return of the king

A new version of King’s Quest is coming in 2015 . . . for the PS3 and PS4? What the hell?

My thoughts, in the order they came to me: First, the game studio Sierra has been resurrected and is making games again? Second, this adventure game franchise has been dead for like 15 years now. There are avid gamers of voting age who have never heard of these games. Third, all previous game are indelibly linked to the PC and it would be odd to play them with a controller. Fourth, I’m getting the awful impression from the trailer that this new game will be full of Quick Time Events – i.e., flashing prompts will show up on screen telling you to press up, press down, press R2, and do the hokey pokey, and god help you if you screw up because you’ll have to start all over again.

Boy, I’m just full of positive energy, aren’t I? I’ll allow that this might turn out to be a fun game, but unless it gets near-universally good word of mouth then I’ll probably never play it.

What particularly sucks for me is that apparently Telltale Entertainment, makers of The Walking Dead game, were in the midst of developing their own take on King’s Quest when they had to drop it and make way for this one. Ah, what might have been.

Morituri te salutant

I bought Dark Souls 2 over the weekend, and I’ve been playing it every day since. It’s quite fun.

Among many in the video game community, the Souls games are held up as the pinnacle of difficulty, with a typical playthrough resulting in at least hundreds of deaths for the player. I don’t really see it, though. My failures are the result of my miscalculations and are essentially just part of the learning process for a new player.

I do want to share my favourite story so far, which is about the first time my game got invaded. Other players may enter your game to help or hinder you, as they wish, and one such person did so to me. I was just minding my own business when someone glowing red showed up in my game. I bowed to him, since it seemed the polite thing to do, then he bowed back, then I stepped forward to get a closer look at him and he shot me in the chest with a crossbow. I didn’t know we were supposed to be fighting. He was classy about it and messaged me saying "Valar morghulis", so of course I replied back "Valar dohaeris" since no one is outdorking me.

Anyway, I also discovered this list of player names banned from Dark Souls 2. Players may choose the names of their characters, and if you’re familiar with certain parts of the Internet then you’ve already guessed that most of the banned names involve sex acts or are various synonyms for genitals. It’s kind of awe-inspiring that so much human creativity is expended on slipping obscenities into a video game.

Vox dei

I’ve been following the series When Supernatural Battles Were Commonplace. It’s okay. I like the premise of teenagers gaining superpowers for absolutely no purpose – no evil conspiracies to fight, no invading aliens, no villains bent on world domination. So they spend their time doing nothing of worth in their after-school literature club.

The group’s useless everyday conflicts, however, are not as engaging as I’d wish, so I’d say this is one of those nice but inessential anime.

Having said that, I quite like the work that the voice actress has been doing for Hatoko (the ranting girl in the cardigan), so I looked her up and she’s actually voiced a bunch of characters that I’ve liked.

Saori Hayami has done the voices for:

  • Tsuruko from Anohana
  • Yotsugi Ononoki from Monogatari (the corpse girl who kept saying “I said, with a posed look” after every sentence)
  • Yukino Yukinoshita from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
  • Izumiko Suzuhara from Red Data Girl

The thing of it is that each character Hayami has voiced has sounded distinct from the others. I have to say that she’s quite versatile in her work.