X-Men Teh Anime – Better than the general concept has any right to be

Grandma, what a big....arm span you haveLook who showed up

NOTE: This show is two episodes in at the time of review.

This show is far better than its other Marvel anime predescessors Wolverine and Iron Man, but that’s hardly a great feat. Now, since Wolverine is better than Iron Man (which not only had bad Stark characterization but mysteriously transported him to Japan to pair with an annoying genki girl for no good reason), one might deduce that the production teams are learning from their mistakes as they go along. I’m not too sure how valid that reasoning is, because I think all three shows were done in parallel at least in terms of general conceptualization. Still, what IS clear is that X-Men not only has a better character designer, the animation budget on display so far seems more well padded as well, which makes the first 2 eps a real treat especially when everything X-Men was previously under the aegis of western animators. I think the best explanation that fits the facts is that this particular series is meant to drum up momentum for the upcoming First Class film, which would explain the bigger resources used.

The show leverages on the Whedon created character Armor, who due to her Japanese ancestry makes for a easy (and plausible) plot reason to move the X-Men team to Japan on a rescue mission. (For obvious practical reasons this is a general requirement to bankroll this project, like with the two other sister shows) In this continuity she hasn’t met any of the senior X-Men before being swirled up in the U-Men main plot, who are the boogeys here. The series jumpstarts a bit from the end of the movie franchise with the death of Jean Grey, and retains the annoying Emoclops Summers from the same source. Now complaining about writers mauling Scott’ in mainstream Marvel continuity is a lost cause, some fans are still bitter with the shacking up with Emma, but generally speaking the Scott of the anime is the worst offender in terms of character assassination for the poor guy since the Dark Phoenix saga. If you get me, a notorious Lamerine (see?) hater, siding with the furry Canadian over Mr Optic Man it just goes to show how far the character has sunk. Now, anime shows have no issue with emotastic main leads, but it’s generally hard to carry the writing concept for a Western-centric franchise. Team dynamic stories do tend to ride this kind of development better though, so let’s hope he snaps out of it, especially with Ms Frost appearing. Then again, considering how Frost is used in the plot here, it might make things worse.

There are other minor things to point out, such as Storm being way too genteel or seriously nerfed in the powers department, all significant problems for a character that de facto led the X-Men for long stretches in the 00 years. Now, I have a sinking suspicion that all these changes are due to the traditional Japanese writer mindset, as presumably Frost is there to round out the tough nails girl quota and everyone with ovaries has to be written otherwise to please the otakus back home. This might be fatal down the road, or it might not. Still, Wolverine, Beast and ol’ Xavier are pretty spot on, which is encouraging. I found particular amusement in Wolverine, since he’s pretty much Takamura from Hajime no Ippo in terms of writing and acting, which is due to them sharing the same voice actor. (I was half-expecting the DYNAMITE PUNCHCLAWS song) In terms of the technical aspects, I’m pleased to see episode 2 maintaining the level of art design and animation, which gives me hope the quality won’t fall off a cliff by mid-show. Hopefully this will be the one gem that allows more superhero shows from the West to crossover into the Japanese animation world, and usher in more quality efforts in the future.

UPDATE: I was making ribald jokes on Emma having obtained a Better Bodies mod, but turns out there’s precedent in mainstream Marvel products. Ah well, she’s pretty much the rich man’s Power Girl now. Or a rich man’s ojou, judging from the cliche hair twirls.

Gosick Mid-Season Update

not manly
manly

CONTRADICTION,  YOUR [email protected]

So, at episode 12 of Gosick, has this show gotten any better? The answer, manifestly, is a big honking NO. In fact, the verdict is now DOA. Turns out that the first arc was the height of deduction for this series so far, which is staggering for a whodunnit. We’re talking elementary school reasoning capabilities at work and Victorique continues with her staggering leaps of poor logic that gets worse and worse as the cases come along.

Now, I understand (adopts otaku-browbeating condescending tone) that the focus of the show is really the gothic lolita, which is all it takes to sell it the show to the scum that will actually fork out cash for it. But even they have to admit she never gets any better in characterization and makes a mockery of the “old wise crone” act she always loves putting on in terms of maturity. The humour quotient also takes a huge plunge and is just made more insulting by Kujo (who is really one of a kind for Victorique) being the densest, most annoying Watson ever in the history of whodunnit literature in all forms of media. In fact, I would suspect him of being a Watson parody if the writing had shown the slightest bit of cleverness with his character, but instead he’s simply just your dumb harem lead transplanted into a different genre, as shown by his rejection of Avril to settle for the daily dose of ritualistic abusement at the hands of the not so brilliant Sherlock rip-off.

The sheer ineptitude of our muscle help here is demonstrated in the third arc (Golden Wolves) in which not only is he of zero use subduing the killer, but he had to be improbably saved from falling to his death by Victorique (the most laughable case of physics ever). If the aim of the character was to annoy me into a blinding rage, I congratulate the writing team, because they’ve succeeded splendidly. Not only are his lines pure drivel (I dare anyone not to grit his teeth at the constant VICTORIKA?^2) but the voice actor also plays his part in making Kujo pure plot poison every time he opens the mouth. My personal theory is that the character was written in this fashion because of the need to contrast the two archetypes, and Victorique is such a poor sleuth that Kujo HAS to be written in this fashion to make her sound brilliant. Any cliché attempts to beef up his character with the third son of soldier backstory is completely laughable, as shown in the pics. Of course, if the show had been clever it would have tried to equalize the dynamic by fusing the Inspector with his sister and having a more level-headed Watson give acerbic one-liners on the soundness of her deduction.

All in all, this show is a huge dud. About all I can recommend is the art direction for the architecture and background sets, which is generally far more inspired than the work for the character designs. Still it’s clearly not enough to save the train wreck.

FRESH POTS!

In honour of the new Foo Fighters album Wasting Light (it rocks), I present the Foo’s front man Dave Grohl in one of his finest moments.

von Trier Destructo-Psyche attack, roll vs -8 to save

unlimited powah
Unlimited Powah, tak skal du have?

Melancholia is von Trier’s new film, and looks to follow Monsters back in 2010 in taking a mainstream Hollywood concept and relegating it to a basic background plot premise in order to focus on the characters. Of course, this is a v.Trier film, which means it’s going to veer hard right into demented territory. I don’t expect it to have the raw impact of Dogville and/or Antichrist though, unless that whole trailer throws us for a loop. This is the man who claimed that all of his films till now have had happy endings. He’s either a supreme troll, a subversive genius or a complete nut. Perhaps a little bit of all three. Still, if he’s bonkers, it’s the good kind of bonkery.

“Dear Mother in Heaven, I am a raging dyke…”

master of liverwurst knife ryuuOperation Toast In Mouth to begin at 0800 hrs

Oh look, Maria†Holic is back. With the nosebleeding business as usual and Sugita’s hilarious OP, thumbs up in my book. In more Shaft news, Madoka will reach its (depressing?) ending on 4/21, with both episodes 11 and 12 aired back to back. I guess they have to take out all the water amirite, Shinbo?