Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I think anime shows about ninja usually aren't all that great. Why? Well, for the same reason I think that the high school setting for anime shows are insanely overdone: They just freakin' are. Just about every other anime has a bunch of high school kids in it. Even Dragonball Z has a segment that has the "high school" thing going on a for a bit. Evangelion, Escaflowne, Rumbling Hearts, Girls Bravo, InuYasha, Code Geass, and on and on and on. Trust me, high school ain't that interesting! I went there. It kinda sucked.

Anyway, I'm going to abandon that particular subject and get back to ninjas. I think the one thing that really irked me was Naruto. Yeah, it's an okay show, but it's one that followed the path of Dragonball Z and Bleach and went on for freaking ever. A lot of kids liked it much the same way I loved Dragonball Z when I first saw it although I did stop liking it as much once Majin Buu got involved: fat or not, pink villains just aren't cool. 

But I remember Toonami showing Naruto all the time before it went belly-up and I've had a bad taste in my mouth ever since. Naturally, Toonami is playing it again. Some folks never learn.

So had I known that Basilisk was going to be a show about ninjas (with superpowers, of course) then I might not have bought it. But what did have me interested was the Shakespearean plot of the show. In high school, I really liked Shakespeare and I wrote my own little word doodles that kind of mimicked Shakespeare's sonnets. My pseudo-sonnets all sucked, but they killed some time and helped spread the wings of my imagination a bit.

One thing I learned from my time studying Shakespeare was that the main characters almost always get offed or they go insane and then get offed. There were no great plot twists when it comes to Shakespeare. Interesting things happened and there was suspense. But I had that knowing sense of dread that no matter how things may look now... things will not look so good later (and Shakespeare had a way with ripping somebody a new asshole with a perfect elegance that no one else has today. Language of the times, I guess.) 

Basilisk is a lot like that. It starts off as a conglomerate of fight scenes between some spider-looking guy and some other long-haired ninja dude. Then a lot of other guys fight while our two main characters remain sort of ignorant of the fighting and do their whole "two lovebirds" bit. But once our main characters are made aware of the bloodshed... that's when the show takes off as far as I'm concerned. It's the meat and all of the build-up was just a fatty appetizer. 

Our two main characters are Oboro of the Iga clan and Gennosuke of the Kouga clan. These two serve as our Romeo and Juliet of the the story while the Iga and Kouga clans serve as our Montagues and Capulets. 

The Iga and Kouga clans had been at war for a long time, but a cease-fire was finally enforced by Hattori Hanzo the 1st to prevent further bloodshed in the early 16th century. The two clans were forced to serve the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu as a result of this pact. Thus making any act of violence toward the other clan a treasonous act.

But when it is time for Ieyasu to step down, a dispute as to who is his rightful heir ensues. Of course, it does. 

So Ieyasu decides to do away with the no hostilities pact and have the Kouga and Iga duke it out to decide which of Ieyasu's grandsons will become the undisputed heir to the Shogunate. Ten ninjas from each clan are written on a list and these lists contain the ninjas who must be killed in order for the competition to be won. 

The winning clan will gain favor from the Shogun for a thousand years.

But Gennosuke and Oboro are in love and they were originally betrothed with hopes that a union between the two could stop the deep-seated hatred between the two clans. 

Now, with the leaders of their clans dead by each others hands, Oboro and Gennosuke must face a difficult future in which their clans are back to killing each other and they are the ones who must now lead the charge. 

Naturally, there's a bunch of action, too. It wouldn't be much of a ninja anime if there wasn't fighting. But this show is primarily a drama and a romance. 

The show is very flashback prone as well. They aren't useless flashbacks, but they do happen at slightly inopportune times. Characters who died in the first few episodes have a way of re-appearing much later on in the series. Even characters who were initially just there to prove that there were ten names on each scroll get a bit more screen time after they've already bitten the dust. So it is kinda awkward to watch at times because it seems you only know more of the characters after they're dead and that makes it difficult to really connect with them... since they're already dead at this point and have been for a few episodes. And there are almost as many "main" characters as there are episodes so a lot characterization is really squeezed in even if it is in a backwards kind of way. 

A few characters just don't get much time because they killed so quickly, though. It's difficult to remember who killed who because the one guy who killed this other guy gets killed in the next five minutes by some other guy. It's a lot to digest for a show that is just 24 episodes. 

But, this slight roadblock aside, I think the show is worth it. It is a bit dense, but it's very much worth it. The bad guy has the coolest ability of them all and he is so easy to hate. Our two main characters are very sympathetic and I think their plight would do the bard proud. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Movies I Will Never See

There are tons and tons of movies I want to see that I've never seen before. Some of those movies are ones that have never been made before and if I had the time and money and the talent then I'd love to make them myself. But I don't so I have to depend on the talents of others. And some people are very talented even though they may make a poor choice here and there. Greats like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, John Wayne,  Marlon Brando, and Clint Eastwood have all been in clunkers. But I'm willing to watch one of their clunkers because I'm one of those weird completist kind of guys. I get in a kick to watch an Eastwood movie and I'll end up watching an entire slew of Eastwood movies in a row over a period of weeks or months. 

This particular blog entry doesn't concern any of the guys I just mentioned, but it is something to bear in mind. I will watch terrible films from time to time. Ever seen Plan 9 from Outer Space? Don't. Go watch The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra instead. But if you must then be sure to see how they cycle the same Bela Lugosi footage over and over. It's either hilarious or incredibly sad and insulting. Maybe both. Ever watch Waterworld? It's no Mad Max and I hated it when I first saw it, but now I do like it a bit more. Waterworld still sucks compared to many movies, but it's an okay kind of suck. I enjoy it more than I enjoy the average Vin Diesel movie, that's for sure. Although I will watch a Diesel flick from time to time. I like his Riddick movies. 

While I try to keep a lot of the cinematic trash I watch to a minimum, I still say that I am willing to watch some trash every now and then for reasons that might not be particularly healthy. 

However, even though I am normally willing to watch almost any movie once there are still a few films that I refuse to watch.... without having seen them. Pauly Shore comes to mind here. Sort of. Why? Well, why the hell would I watch a Pauly Shore movie? I watched half of In The Army Now and that was enough. He doesn't resonate with me at all. He's not intelligent enough to be funny and not relevant enough to me for me to dislike him. Instead I nothing him. That's right. I nothing him. Watching a Pauly Shore movie is like staring at a wall. It kills time, but there's no point in doing it when I could be doing something that will actually encourage a reaction from myself. Good or bad. 

And this is where I get to the issue of this blog entry.

There is one particular movie that I refuse to watch. I wouldn't buy it if it was free because I don't want it in my collection. I don't want to know who was in it. I don't want to know anything about the movie and I want to forget it ever happened. If someone told me to borrow their copy I would be insulted to discover that I know someone who has a copy of the movie. 

Normally, you would never hear such a polarizing statement come from me so allow me to elucidate. 

I am a huge Dragonball and Dragonball Z fan. I collected the toys and the tapes that only had three episodes on 'em. I got posters and shirts and even a keychain. I got some collector's playing cards somewhere. I also used to draw pretty much all of the characters and I've still got those and I know I still have a few Beckett DBZ magazines somewhere. 

I know the show by heart, really. 

So when I first heard that Dragonball Evolution was going to be made I was sort of cautious about it. Very cautious. But it wasn't until I saw how the character Goku looked that I knew I would never see this movie. It was just a simple gut-reaction and nothing I've heard or thought about it since has made me rethink that initial reaction. In fact, I would gladly watch any Pauly Shore movie or go through an entire marathon of Pauly Shore movies before I watch Dragonball Evolution. It's just not ever happening. 

And I know it sounds very elitist to say I will never watch a film I've never seen. It could very well surprise me, right? Maybe I'm missing out on something. 

But I guess everybody has a line that they don't want crossed. This is mine. I know that if I do watch I will hate it intensely and be embarrassed that other people actually watched this, most of 'em passing it off as an indictment on anime in general while the others ran home and cried bloody murder on their favorite anime message boards. I don't want to justify one side or give voice to the other (and I'd be one of those others, I'm afraid... even though I really don't frequent anime boards) so I'd like to remain happily neutral and just never see this movie. Ever. 

Maybe a good live action movie can be done from material like Dragonball. I think Tarantino could if his Kill Bill movies are any indication. J.J. Abrams or Peter Jackson probably could, too. Maybe Ang Lee could, but I remember how he mangled Hulk so I don't know. It would take a lot of vision and balls (literally: you'll get the joke if you know the show) and a willingness to really go for it. The goal has to be to make the story come to life and I think there are very few that can do that. 

But this fake trailer looks better than the real trailer for Dragonball Evolution so somebody must be capable of it. 

But I'm a realist. A decent adaptation isn't going to happen because the ratio of anime-to-live action films in America being a success is a pitiful one. Even anime itself isn't that big here and theatrical anime movies shown here are rare. Successes even rarer. Cowboy Bebop, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Digimon had their animated theatrical movies in America, but only one of those are really are worth watching or owning. The others are okay for kids or maybe for a die hard, but certainly not for mainstream appeal. 

So if I want anything resembling a faithful anime adaptation than I got to stick with the Japanese live action movies. Oddly enough, I don't think there are any Dragonball adaptations from Japan just yet. 

Another film I don't think I ever want to see is The Last Airbender. I don't particularly like the show (because I haven't seen it), but M. Night Shyamalan has been on a downward spiral and nothing I've heard about The Last Airbender has made me think that maybe he's finally gotten out of his slump. Maybe that new film with Will Smith called After Earth is a slight return to his The Sixth Sense days of being kinda good, but I have my doubts. 

At any rate, these are some films I won't watch. I hope you have been able to tolerate my nerdiness. Next post will probably be less nerdy. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

I'm not what you'd call a hardcore Trekkie, but I have seen all of the movies (multiple times with the exception of the newest one) and I'm pretty familiar with the first two shows in the series. I just haven't seen all of the episodes yet. So I guess you could put me into the "not quite as obsessed as the usual Trekkie, but still a fan of the show and characters" category of Trekkies. I sure as hell can't speak Klingon, that's for sure.

However, I do happen to know a damn good movie when I see one. Star Trek Into Darkness is a damn good movie. I saw it last night and feel like I need to see it again. And again. There's just so much there and I feel like I need to study the damn movie to really get it. This is the type of movie that will surely divide the Trekkies for a few reasons, but all of that isn't really my concern at the moment. I don't care about what the Trekkies or critics or anyone else might say about this movie because even though I've seen it I still haven't soaked it in just yet. I'm not going to expose myself to something that might taint my memory of such a fresh experience. So I'll say no to even glancing at the IMDB board or just about any other site that talks about movies.

If you saw the 2009 film Star Trek -if you haven't seen Star Trek then what the hell are you doing here? Go watch it and come back to me- then you know that Spock came back in time along with an evil Romulan douchebag on his heels and thus sent history into disarray. Of course, the question as to whether or not the film can count as canon is a relevant one but it is also besides the point. 

The point is that this movie takes up where Star Trek left off and leads us further down the rabbit hole of this oddly familiar but different world. Kirk and Spock are pushed in this movie in ways that they haven't quite been pushed before. Ways they wouldn't have been pushed if not for the elder Mr. Spock coming back in time.

Chris Pine has certain acting chops that should win him awards in the future. Or now. That would work just as well. William Shatner is Kirk to me, but Chris Pine is, too. Even more so now I think. Zachary Quinto is back as younger Spock and I think he is also beginning to own his role. In fact, I can say that I don't think I've ever seen Spock whip so much freakin' ass before. That's not a phrase one would usually attribute to a Vulcan, but it works here. 

The rest of the cast is exceptionally fine. One name you'll hear floating above the rest is Benedict Cumberbatch. I don't know who the hell he is, but he played the role of villain exceptionally well. Even though I've never heard of him before I'll certainly remember him from now on. 

Cumberbatch plays the rogue Starfleet operative John Harrison and while his name may sound dull, you can rest assured that he is most definitely not. In fact, there's quite a bit more to him than meets the eye. And James Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are about to find that out. 

I'm not going to say more and I advise you strongly not to search out for more without going to the theater yourself and sitting your butt in the seat. Watch the movie and be thrilled by its surprises. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Black Lagoon

It isn't very often when I watch a show and wonder whether or not I liked it or I loved it. It's difficult to say because I literally just got through watching the finale of the show. I will say that it certainly has all the elements of a show that I would love: kick-ass scantily-clad dames, guns, violence, and enough swearing to make the mother of the Sopranos blush. A lot of shows typically avoid the dirtier words like "fuck" and "goddamn" and even "cunt," but Black Lagoon really keeps it coming with the colorful metaphors. Not for the kids. 

The story is thus:

Rokuro "Rock" Okajima is your typical Japanese hard-working lackey. He does what he is told and works for a shitty boss and one day he finds out that he's become an expendable dodo and finds himself being held at gunpoint. The ones holding him at gunpoint are Dutch and Revy. Revy is one of those kick-ass scantily-clad dames I mentioned and her nickname is "Two-Hands." Dutch is an African American Vietnam war vet who runs his own little shipping company known as the Lagoon Company. Revy is an employee of the Lagoon Company and she serves more or less as the brutal enforcer while Dutch is typically the man behind the scenes even though he is perfectly willing to get his hands dirty from time to time.

I don't want to spoil the hows or whys, but Rock eventually decides to stick it to his boss and actually joins the Lagoon Company. Since the Lagoon Company is made up of three Americans in total (I haven't mentioned Benny yet), Rokuro is given the name of Rock and a permanent place on the crew assuming he can earn his stripes.

But this won't be a walk in the park. Roanapur (a fictional harbor city located in south Thailand) is a place of blood and vendettas and it is far different than the world Rock was so accustomed to. It's one thing to say that Rock didn't like being pushed around by his bosses, but can he really stand side by side with people who could pop lead into a motherfucker at the drop of a dime?

From left to right: Benny, Rock, Revy, and Dutch

The Lagoon Company takes on a variety of jobs from a variety of dishonest clients. Neo-nazis with a fetish for Aryan artwork? Check. The Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow? Check. Church-going nuns who happen to wear some serious firepower? Also check.

Frequently, Rock finds himself on that thin line between good and evil. He tries to help people in his newfound role as one of the brains for Lagoon Company, but... who is he really helping? 

There really isn't a hero in all of this. Our main characters are sympathetic to a point and they even seem amicable and amusing when they aren't giving some poor guy a third eye in his skull (actually they do seem amusing even while they are doing that, too), but they are villains and that is what they do. 

What I think really ties this series together is that it references pop culture in a way that I think makes everything seem more believable. Two characters sit down and talk about books and authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice. There's a poster of The Wild Bunch on Revy's wall. There are mentions of films like My Bloody Valentine and The Terminator. It just gives it more of an authentic feeling because these are things that everyone does. Not everyone goes batshit and kills an entire building full of people using a samurai sword. 

The locations, although animated, feel real, too. 

This show really is more of a down to earth Cowboy Bebop now that I think about it. Not quite the same, of course, but there are similarities between them that should be fairly recognizable. 

It's an homage to action and Quentin Tarantino and John Woo. It is an obvious ode to the "girls with guns" genre as well. The most badass characters here are the women. There's part of the show that seems like it is right out of a Stephen King or an Anne Rice novel, too. The vampire twins are just about my favorite villains of the show next to the unkillable killer maid and if that doesn't intrigue you then I don't know what will. 

Even though there is nudity in this show there really is a downplay on the sexual content. Like it's something repressed. Even Revy (who seems to have a thing for Rock at times) doesn't discuss sex or even seem to have it. I find it very hard to believe that a character as good as she looks doesn't get laid. 

There is just little sex going on here. The tits and pantyshots in this show are just part of the scenery. Nothing special and no different anything else. When Revy catches a certain woman watching a dirty movie she says, "Is that woman taking it up the ass?" as if she had never heard of such a thing. Revy kills people with no hesitation and seems to get off on it most of the time... but a video featuring a dude ramming his rod up some chick's butt throws her for a loop. Something backward about that. 

I think that could be a subtle observation about Americans in general, though. We're violent motherfuckers and we can take buckets of blood and guts, but God forbid you show too many tits or even some full frontal. 

At the end of the second season (each season has only twelve episodes, btw) we aren't really left with a lot of clarity or closure. Rock's personal demons and Revy's relationship with him aren't advanced enough to make it feel like I witnessed some genuine growth. Instead, it feels like another mission ended and it is back to business like usual. Only the show is over and we won't see the next mission so fuck us. Rock remains undecided and in the "twilight" (as he put it) and Revy won't say anything on her progress (if any) with Rock. 

There really needs to be a third season. Until I know these things I'm "undecided" as to just how much I dig this anime. You must watch it, though. Unresolved as it may be, it's still superb. 

But there is an OVA set to be released this year so there is that. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Labyrinth's End

Brian Keene has a new message board and hopefully this time around it will stay for a bit. His Keenedom 2.0 on Branch was a bit bizarre because of the format and it has since been done away with. Now we have the Labyrinth's End. I am a member of this new incarnation of an old board and I am inviting those who are not douchebags to join this forum. Admittedly, I have no idea if this board will really stick around for very long because I've been down this road before, but who the hell knows. I'm just having fun with while it's around and hopefully injecting some class into the place. And I'm always into discovering new readings recs the folks in the F.U.K.U. (Fans 'uv Keene United) normally have a way of introducing me to new and interesting writers. 

Here's the URL if you want to join:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Escaflowne: The Movie

I once reviewed the series called The Vision of Escaflowne here

The following review is for the movie and I won't repeat what I said in my review for the series so you might have to click on the above link for a refresher for your memory. 

There are few anime movies that I think are really great. Those are generally made by Hayao Miyazaki and I would prescribe his movies even to people that don't like anime. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is in that class, too. There are a lot of anime movies that I think are pretty good to decent, but those are the ones I'd probably recommend to other anime fans. 

Escaflowne: The Movie is a film I would recommend to nobody. 

Allow me to list my reasons as bullet points (because I almost never use the damn things): 

  • The characters are completely different. I stated that in my other review that I knew they would be different, but the movie assumes you know the series and therefore the characters. Thus there is so little backstory given. I could forgive that if the characters were in fact the same characters from the series, but in all cases the characters have different personalities and roles and there is no apparent reason for it. So why no backstory? The main character Hitomi does seem to fall in love with Van but there is no reason given for it and it makes no sense within the context of the movie. Apparently, she did so just because she did so in the series but since her character is so different... Why bother trying to imitate the series at all when you are doing a re-telling and are generally pretending that the series didn't exist in the first place? Either make a movie that stands on its own or don't make one at all. 
  • This movie is an hour and a half. Perhaps the reason that a lot of depth wasn't given to the new incarnations of the Escaflowne characters was because there wasn't any time. Of course, I don't think two hours would have worked either because the movie didn't feel organic from the start. It felt like Escaflowne and Neon Genesis Evangelion were stirred together in one big bastardized pot and most of it spilled on the floor while the rest of it apparently made it to film. 
  • Too many characters. Yes, quite a few of them are familiar indeed, but they are essentially given five minute cameos and you are left to wonder what purpose they serve in the first place. Instead of trying to feature every popular character from the series just to please fans they should have tried to make the characters that the movie was actually about the focus of the story. 
  • You need to watch the series to really understand anything in this movie, but watching the series doesn't make you appreciate it anymore. It just makes you wonder what the point was in the first place. Especially since the series was pretty darn good on its own. Pretending it doesn't exist is just silly. That's just about the most damning thing I can say about a movie that is supposed to be a re-telling and is supposed to be independent of the series it is based on. 
So those are my bullet points on why I wouldn't recommend the film to anyone.


I didn't hate it. Not sure I even disliked it. I just wonder what the point was. It's okay, I guess. The animation is on par with the series (okay, but nothing great... unless you love pointy noses) and the music is good. The action sequences are pretty good, too. 

But there just isn't an audience for this type of movie that I know of off the top of my head. If you like the series you might want to watch this movie. You might even enjoy it. But you honestly wouldn't be able to tell me that this movie stand on its own. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The TBR List of Jacobia

You know, I've yet to post a TBR list. I've posted about Amazon Wish List stuff, and books I've read, but not about books I haven't read yet.

It's time to correct that with a list!

Okay, this list is based solely on books I actually own and they are the ones that are absolute priority. Otherwise I couldn't even begin to know where to start. And these aren't in any particular order, btw.

The Late Night Horror Show by Bryan Smith
Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand
The Man with the Getaway Face by Richard Stark
Muerte Con Carne by Shane McKenzie
Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury
The Valley/The Invasion by William Meikle
Dark Melodies by William Meikle
Scattered Ashes by Scott Nicholson
Savage by Richard Laymon
The Diabolical Conspiracy by Bryan Smith
Grimm Awakening by Bryan Smith
Benjamin's Parasite by Jeff Strand
The Freakshow by Bryan Smith
Kayla Undead by Bryan Smith
Addicted to the Dead by Shane McKenzie
Dead City by Joe McKinney
Remorseless by Thomas Tessier
After Midnight by Richard Laymon
Come Out Tonight by Richard Laymon
Dreadful Tales by Richard Laymon
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
City Infernal by Edward Lee
A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King (I keep putting this one off because I feel like I'd have to do it the "proper way" by reading it within the context of the series and I just don't feel up to that at the moment. So while the book is a priority read... re-reading books I've already read isn't a priority to me at the moment. Talk about your catch-22, right?)

I should add that I constantly get books so a book could remain on my priority list for a year before I actually read it. I'm pathetic, I know.

Imagine how big my list would be if I included pretty much all of the other books I owned...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Iron Man 3

I've been a bad blogger. I watched this movie on Friday night and I didn't make a post about it. I've posted just about everywhere else about it, but not here. But to be honest, I have been trying to write a story and all the night shifts I've had to endure are screwing up my initiative to do anything other than sit on my ass and read or watch anime or movies. And I'm kinda feeling shitty lately. I actually called in today. This is the fourth day of work I've missed in a year and I'm kinda bummed about that.

Anyway, forgive me for not posting about the movie sooner.

I knew I was going to watch it not long after I watched that Evil Dead remake. I made plans about a month in advance and the gods favored me by letting me have May 3rd off. I'd be working nights the following two days so I wanted to go while I had the chance because I wasn't sure what the next week's schedule was going to throw my way.

My initial goal was to see the 8:00 showing because I figure it would give my dad enough time to get home and eat something, but the showing wasn't too late in the night, either. But the 8:00 showing was sold out and I was forced to buy tickets for the 9:00 showing. I think it's pretty funny that they gave me a discount because of my dad; they thought he was a senior.

Well, me and my dad had an hour to kill so we went across the street to Target and I bought both Kill Bill movies.

And then after that nice little adventure we made it back to the theater with about ten minutes to spare.

There wasn't a damn place to park and I joked that we should have parked in the Cracker Barrel or the Kohl's parking lots next door; it would have been quicker. But the time it took to find a decent spot is the time it took out of finding a decent seat which I thought was more important.

So we ended up on the front row of auditorium 1 on the far left.

I had the second seat from the aisle and my dad had the first. It was pretty uncomfortable.

But then the movie began.

I liked Iron Man and Iron Man 2 well enough. The second one was funny and beginning that arch into Avengers territory, but it wasn't exactly as good as Captain America or Thor. Iron Man 2 was more on par with The Incredible Hulk. Good but not great.

But Iron Man 3 is great and it is a worthy quasi-sequel to The Avengers. The writers were smart enough to keep in elements from the climax of The Avengers and have it sort of bleed into this movie. It really worked.

Tony Stark develops a post traumatic stress disorder in this movie from his time in the hole in the sky at the end of The Avengers and he has times where he just starts wigging out. And the new villain on the rise called the Mandarin is just what Stark doesn't need to make his life even more complicated. Soon Stark loses his home and his suits and he's left to hoof it through the wilds of Tennessee while he cooks up a plan to take down the Mandarin.

I think this could be the first time in cinematic history where Tennessee is actually a major plot destination in a movie, by the way.

Guy Pierce is sort of vanilla in his role, but Ben Kingsley and Ty Simpkins do great jobs in their respective parts. That Robert Downey Jr. guy ain't too shabby either.

 If you ain't watched it then give it a watch.


I think I am a sucker for a harem anime. A nerdy doofus of a guy gets surrounded by a bunch of voluptuous women and for some reason they fawn over the doofus and try to win his affections. And the doofus is such a doofus that he doesn't know how to act around them and takes them for granted. Yeah, I can dig a show like that because I'm pretty much a nerdy doofus, too.

But not all of them (harem shows, not nerdy doofuses) are created equal. Tenchi Muyo is undoubtedly the king of these type of shows, but there are others that range from really good to derivative junk food for the brain. Girls Bravo is derivative junk food, but I still liked it okay enough. I mean, it was fun and stupid and I was in the mood for that. So it worked for me.

Other harem style shows like School Days are just screwed up. Really screwed up. I'm talking about "women getting pushed too far and going on killing sprees" type of screwed up.

And I think that Shuffle bridges the gap between Girls Bravo and School Days quite nicely.

The story starts innocently enough. Rin Tsuchimi is your average seventeen year old Japanese high school kid. And one day he gets chosen to be either the king of the gods or the king of the demons. You see, this is a world where gods and demons live in harmony on earth with humans even though both of them have their own respective worlds, too. The king of demons chooses Rin as the one to marry his daughter and the king of the gods does the same. To make matters worse, they both move in right next to Rin's house so they can keep an eye on him.

Rin is already living with a girl named Kaede who cooks for him, but he doesn't have a relationship with her like you might think. I'm not going to spoil things, but they just are not an item even though it looks like they should be.

So Rin basically has three girls in his life now and he's chased by these groups that want to keep the girls all to themselves. The groups are just silly and stupid moments in the show and they basically go away before too long. Pay them no mind if you can help it.

In addition to the three girls vying for his affections there a few others out there with feelings for Rin. And they are all smokin' hot. Again, this is typical of harem anime shows and if you are a fan of this type of show then you obviously aren't too offended by the sexism that could be inferred by this. But if this offends you then it probably isn't for you.

Now if you know me then you know I love a good twist. I mean, the genre bending type of twist. A heist story turns into a vampire story. An sci-fi movie turns into a horror movie. I just eat that stuff up because it's kind of like getting two different stories for the price of one. Of course, it's got to be handled well or else it will suck, but the same can be said of just about everything else.

Well, Shuffle is one those shows that makes the transition to stupid harem comedy to a kind stupid but heartfelt dramedy to a full blown "holy shit, one of these characters is about to kill everyone" suspenseful type of drama. In some ways it is kind of like School Days, but these characters are all pretty likeable despite their flaws whereas I just hated everyone in School Days and I was glad when some of those assholes got their asses killed.

The transition takes place at halfway through the show during episode 13. And then at about episode 19 or so the comedy almost entirely disappears and you might want to check to make sure someone isn't about to creep up on you because it does get hairy.

There is full frontal female nudity in the show. Quite a few pantyshots, too. So if you're into fanservice then consider this one to be on your list of "must watch" shows.

If you don't like shows that get too heavy or too dark then you'll want to steer clear.

It's all a matter of taste. I enjoyed the show and I'm glad I purchased it. I'll rewatch it eventually.

FYI: This show is based off an adult visual novel, but there are no graphic sex scenes in the show. And that's a good thing.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sinister Grin Press

Shane McKenzie is an up and coming author and I believe I posted about his advice on writing gross stuff before. Well, he has his own publishing business where he serves as editor. It's called Sinister Grin Press and they make a helluva product. They basically release signed limited editions and a few paperbacks, too. They are just starting out and things are still being tweaked. So if you want to help out the folks at Sinister Grin then give their page a visit and buy some stuff.

You can become a member for just $1.00. This requires you to buy all of their new limited releases from their three lines as they become available. You are essentially guaranteed a copy because you'll have to buy them and you can't do that if you can't get a copy. At about fifty or so bucks per book it ain't exactly for the infrequent buyer, but they tell you that the membership plan is for serious collectors only in the first place. Here's the info about becoming a member if you're interested:

If you don't buy a book within a given timeframe and if you make no plans to pay then you lose your membership so that's certainly something to think about.

But you certainly don't have to become a member to buy one of their books. Just buy one of their paperbacks or maybe you'll luck out and get one of those signed limiteds.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files

It's been awhile since I've talked anime. So here we go with another witty and thrilling journey into my domain of nerdom. Yu Yu Hakusho is a popular show. I describe it as being the perfect show to kill a Dragonball Z hangover. If you are looking for a show in the same vein then Yu Yu Hakusho is a great place to start. We also have a lot of the same voice talent and Funimation is behind the English editions of both shows. So there is a familiarity. But it's also different enough to stand on its own.

Comprising of 112 episodes split into four sagas (and four seasons in America), Yu Yu Hakusho is a longish show but not long enough to where you wonder if the thing will ever end. I mean, I love some long shows, but sometimes things go on for freaking ever and you forget what the hell happened in the first saga by the time you get to the ninth saga.

As with Dragonball Z, we get characters coming back to life and more or less ruining a lot of the time and effort put into killing them off in the first place. We get the endless horde of villains who become more evil and stronger the further into the series you go. And of course we have the necessary happy ending because the show is really about fighting and fun and ending the show on a down note wouldn't have been true to style.

That's not to say the show isn't good, though.

It is.

If you're not expecting Cowboy Bebop type of greatness and drama.

The show starts out with our main character Yusuke Urameshi (just reverse the order of the first and last names if you want to be a real anime nerd) giving his life to protect a child. Well, Yusuke was a real prick in life and the folks in the spirit realm are pretty surprised that Yusuke would do such a thing. So surprised in fact that there is actually no spot reserved for Yusuke in the spirit realm just yet.

Thus our fourteen year old dead hero is given a second chance at life, but there's a catch. Of course there is.

Yusuke must become spirit detective if or once he regains his life.

All of this stuff is pretty much resolved in the Spirit Detective Saga. So this is nothing too spoilery. And this show is twenty years old and has been available in English for ten years. If you're still missing this show then it's time you unfuck that.

The second saga is the Dark Tournament Saga and it takes us from episode 26 to 66 and it is by far my favorite part of the show. The younger Toguro brother is my favorite villain in this show and it doesn't hurt that he's voiced by Dameon Clark, either. While I like the show as a whole and the final two sagas are good... there's just no topping this part of the show.

The third saga is the Chapter Black saga and it is sort of a place filler. I mean, it's good and it is far from pointless and Sensui is a cool villain, but he isn't Toguro and that epic feel from the previous saga just isn't there. Again, it's not bad and there are some great parts, but is it better than the Dark Tournament? Not quite.

The fourth saga is the Three Kings saga and I'm not quite sure what the hell happened here. Our main character is now sort of demonic and demon world has now become a place of democracy where contestants fight in order to claim the throne. It is basically a fusion of the last two sagas.

But the resolution is worth it. I just couldn't help feeling that maybe the Dark Tournament Saga cast too much of a large shadow over the rest of the show.