Monday, June 30, 2014

I've given up on SyFy's Defiance

I watched the season opener and recorded the second episode, but couldn't bring myself to go any farther and ultimately ended up deleting the episode without starting it.

There are a few reasons.
1. Franchisitis
This is the word I think of when I think of Batman post Tim Burton, Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2, any mainstream comic book series since "The Death of Superman", any soap opera.

It can also be thought of as sequelitis or just a fucking cash grab.  Anytime a villain survives a battle in a movie when there isn't a really good fucking reason, I start to feel a case of any of these diseases coming on. In fact, with each new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the Avengers, I've been pretty concerned. Loki? Responsible for billions of dollars in property damage and countless human lives? On house arrest. OK. That's lucid.

It's why in comic books you can't ever say anyone is dead even if they are dead. Seriously Spider-Man? Clone Gwen Stacy? What the fuck?

And Defiance has always suffered from this as it's been tied to some dumb game.  The show's actors and creators touting it as a great feature where characters go to and from the TV show to the game.

So this is just some world we're watching and there's no real point even if there are the occasional plot points. Soap opera.
Comic book.

And a cash grab more than it is a fan service.
2. Cool kid syndrome
I don't have a problem with dark. I really don't. I devoured "Game of Thrones" before losing faith in Martin as a writer and creator.

I don't have a problem with darkness. But darkness for darkness's sake? I get it, the world sucks. Move the fuck on. Fallout at least is humorous. The Book of Eli was riveting. Are any of the characters here at all sympathetic? They all have some dark skeleton that you'd think might be mitigable or understandable or something, but in the end they're really just douchebags.

They're written as douchebags because douchebags are "cool", but not really. Badasses can be cool, but they have to actively be badasses to be cool. They can't just phone it in during an episode or you have nothing other than douchebags running around performing douchebaggery.

Even characters that you want to like are annoying.

Battlestar Galactica almost lost me as a viewer when there was a shift in power and they settled on that dumbass planet for a year or more or whatever.  This entire show feels like being stuck on that dumbass planet.

I've checked out. I will continue to watch Dominion, because angels, demons and the apocalypse are some krytonitey shit for this particular consumer (could you tell? Zero Angel. Apocalypse Designs), but I won't watch Defiance anymore.

I've begun to lose faith in Marvel cinematic universe even though Cap 2 was the best Marvel film I've ever seen (entirely because of fears of franchisitis). I've lost faith in Amazing Spider-Man. I've regularly lost faith in a variety of television programs because of this (Inu-yasha, Heroes, Smallville, Doctor Who, to name a few).

I'm just so sick of getting my hopes dashed. I'm not going to tolerate some show that doesn't even inspire me to the same emotional heights as good television and movies do.

The pilot was pretty good.  After saying all of that above, if the show had been just a little less drawn out (which is yet another symptom of franchisitis. Inu-Yasha made up an entire season of filler episodes while they waited for the manga to catch up.  Can you imagine Game of Thrones TV doing this? Heroes started sucking when practically nothing happened for entire episodes.  ) then it may have held my attention. At least I wouldn't have felt like my time's been wasted.

Another symptom of franchisitis by the way? Multiple part seasons. Season 1 Part 1. Season 1 Part 2. Blah blah blah. Fuck you Stargate Universe, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica. And I loved those shows.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What happens when your favorite character is the villain?

So as it turns out, there is a character of mine that I connect with above all other characters. There is a single entity that I myself have created and poured so much of everything into that this one character is my favorite above all others.

And I mean, I've created dozens, if not hundreds, of characters. I've created shadow assassins literally made of shadows, I've made dwarves that the earth itself bowed down before, I've made undersea shark wranglers and outcast dragons and blood magi, but there's one character that stands above all the rest.

And he's a villain. He's black as pitch.


TV Recommendation: Arrow

The CW's Arrow is the best superhero television show I've seen outside of Spectacular Spider-Man (RIP).

The show follows the exploits of the titular character, based on DC's Green Arrow AKA Oliver Queen. You may remember the character as having a pretty major role in the last few years of Smallville on the same network (although this is a different version), but chances are that this is one comic book character you've never heard of.

And it's all the better for not having any preconceived biases. I confess to being a fan of Smallville, particularly the first few seasons, but the show definitely suffered from its naming and never became the Superman that we (or I suppose, maybe just me) wanted it to be. Although you can definitely tell that Arrow is playing on the CW (for instance, the need to have a party every other episode and the main character placing his base under a nightclub, which logistically, is a pretty absurd hideout), but surprisingly, IT DOESN'T SUCK.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Evangelion Twelve Years Later

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the single most influential anime on my childhood.  I'm using the word "childhood" a little loosely, in that I grew up during the running of the series. It helped make me who I am.

The "End of Evangelion" released in 2002 (in America), and it effectively shut the series off from me unfortunately. Not because I found it lacking. As a reimagining of the final two episodes of the original series, I found it deeply rewarding. Unfortunately, Manga fucked the dog with the DVD release and a series of botched discs made their way to the market. I got one, returned it and got another. Making it halfway through the film to stop at Rei's absorption and not able to continue past that point in the film resulted in me repeating the word "fuck" while my processes rebooted and a deep terrible disappointment settled in. (By the way, this really is not a spoiler for the new stuff because I'm pretty sure they're going a different route.)

Eventually, my best friend managed to procure a disc that was able to play on one of the DVD players we had between us and I managed to watch the final interpretation of the series.

Still, I've seen most of the episodes at a minimum of ten times.

I can't describe what this series was to me. The psychological issues, trust issues, everything. It was incredibly important for me to experience it. Growing up and being the same age as the main characters is something I've rarely experienced and it only contributed to the intimacy I felt with this show.

My very first exposure to evangelion, besides osmosis of course, was a VHS version of 2 episodes introducing Asuka. I'm not quite sure how I came to own that actually. But soon enough I began purchasing DVDs of the series at the store Suncoast for a whopping $30 per disc (and then they started dropping the number of episodes to 3 per disc).

The Hedgehog's Dilemma. Self-Hatred. Loathing.

It was such a powerful experience that even in hindsight I'm bowled over from the burgeoning resurfacing emotions and memories.

And then the terrible action.

And I say "terrible" in the sense that God is terrible. That devils and angels are terrible. Truly, truly terrible.

Watching Shinji explode from the Sea of Dirac. Watching the Eva release. Things that I've seen dozens of times that never stopped affecting me.

It's more than a favorite series. It's part of me.

So I naturally had more than a little inertia resisting watching the rebuilds: 1.11 and 2.22.

Not knowing exactly what the rebuilds were and fearing a money-grab raping my childhood added to the morass preventing me from consuming these. It turns out that they are the first two of four films remaking the series.

My fiancee bought 1.11 for me months ago and it took until this last week for me to finally put it into the Playstation to watch.

I have to keep stopping myself from going off on a stream-of-consciousness explosion, so please forgive the short, fragmented paragraphs.

Let me start by saying 1.11 is definitely worth the watch. Nostalgia abounds and many scenes are take-for-take identical to the original series, but with just enough of a change to turn your head. Besides being redrawn gorgeously.

The fact that I already knew the lines characters were supposed to say and then to hear them said differently really drove into me how well I knew the series originally. I've seen the series once when I introduced my future wife to it, but otherwise have probably not watched it an additional time in 10 years.

That said, I don't know if the Japanese was unchanged and it's a result of a different translation. I've probably only seen the series in Japanese 2 or 3 times and I immediately turned off the Japanese on 1.11 due to the subtitles being lost against the background (unfortunately my Japanese is not anywhere near what it was 10 years ago).

They make some pretty major changes as the show continues, I'll avoid spoilers. I can understand people getting emotional about the changes, but fuck your attachment. Many of them make sense and others contribute to the film being fresh and new while still retaining the nostalgia. If you want to watch the original series, go watch the original series. If you want to watch how you think the series should be, then write fanfiction or something.

2.22 really accelerates the changes and the culminating battle is one of the most exciting battles of the original series, but so much better now. I just finished watching this at 3 AM in the morning and was screaming "FUCK" at the television, forcing myself to not cover my eyes and trying to unclench my fists.

There are not words. My nostalgia has been erased and I just want to see where this new film series is going.

These are theatrical films. Amazing, amazing theatrical films. Easily the most approachable entrypoint for people that have never taken the time to watch this pillar of animedom before. If you've enjoyed Evangelion in the past, there is so much to enjoy about this new version, you have to watch it.

I did not think that Eva was capable of mind-fucking me in a whole new way, but these first two films are testament to its ability to do so. They dropped a lot of the heavy-duty psychological analysis stuff and ALL of the filler; which you know, modern audiences wouldn't be able to handle the long-shots of scenery with cicadas droning on in the background like a warning buzzer and most would probably be unable to deal with the discussions of ego and id etc too.

They're just not holding back. Where the series took its time developing, the films are not taking anything for granted. Watching the films you feel like you just sat through 4 hours of anime when it's only 2. I cannot recommend these films enough. You HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about animated media, you HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about Evangelion, you HAVE to watch these movies if you want to understand me at all, you HAVE to watch these movies.

3.33 is supposed to be out in August.