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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tenchi Universe

In 2000, this show aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami block and it is from that point on that I think that anime began to leave a pretty large imprint on my life. While I don't really remember Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki from my childhood, I do remember Tenchi Universe enough to apply the label of "nostalgia" to a few of the episodes. This series is actually a bonafide TV series in that it was made and broadcasted for television and not for video like its preceding series. This show ran in Japan in 1995 on TV Tokyo. 

When this show played on Toonami in the States it was heavily edited, but I don't remember just what the editing took away from the show. I was ten when I first saw it and I don't remember that much. But it is weird to think that a harem anime could ever be converted into a show aimed at preteens. Yeah, it's goofy and silly and sometimes even stupid, but the plot does get a bit complicated toward the end and... yeah, there's that whole "harem" thing going on. 

I don't know. Looking back it really is amazing what passed for kid shows back then compared to what does today. 

Anyway, that was then and this is now. This time around I acted like a good anime fan and watched the uncut sub thanks to FUNimation streaming on my ROKU 3. 

The reason I chose to watch the sub was because the dub just didn't quite do it for me anymore. Sure, it's more familiar because I remember hearing those English-speaking voices so long ago, but nostalgia tends to impede on objectivity. Plus I really have gotten to where I enjoy watching subs for shows I haven't seen a million times. 

Having watched the show in a much different fashion this time around, I can honestly say that Tenchi Universe is everything I remember and even some things I didn't think I did or could. 

The nostalgia was there even though the voices were not English anymore and the music wasn't what I remembered, either. Toonami never did use Japanese opening or ending music theme that often. 

Anyway, the deeper into the series I got the more that the nostalgia began to overflow and by the time I made it to the last episode I could remember what I was thinking and where I was at mentally the first time I saw it. I can remember what I felt back then and it was the same as what I felt as I watched the final episode a few days ago. 

Emotion really does transcend time and cultural barriers, I think. 

Okay, enough of that. 

You gotta see the show. It's a dynamo! You gotta see the show. It's rock n' roll!

Tenchi Universe is a loose adaptation of the first OVA of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. So it's not a sequel, but a re-telling. There are some character changes in terms of temperament and a few character additions, too. These changes work for the story, though. Mihoshi's space partner Kiyone, the bounty hunter Nagi, and the cabbit Ken-Ohki all bring a neat charm to this show that the OVA didn't have. 

The fact that this show is meant for TV means that the episodes are no longer than 23 minutes. I actually prefer this show for that reason because it has a much more linear and cohesive storyline than the OVA series. The plot isn't quite so out there and when the series ends it is a definite end. There could very well be another entry in Ryo-Ohki, but adding anything to the end of Tenchi Universe? Nothing could do it justice. Although an attempt to do so would have been better than another re-telling in the form of Tenchi in Tokyo

The first half of this series is Tenchi and harem hijinks at home. Tenchi meets all of the space girls over again in different ways and they end up living with him and his grandfather and father again. Comedy and chaos ensue.

The second half of the show takes place in space and Tenchi and the harem travel to planet Jurai to seek justice on behalf of Princess Ayeka. Of course, the journey isn't easy and all of them are branded criminals. But there's apparently time for a swimsuit contest for the most wanted fugitives in the universe so it obviously isn't all that bad, right?

By the time it is over the show is almost stripped of the comedy, though. It gets more serious and more serious and then the final episode is almost insanely depressing. For the longest time it appears that several of the characters are dead. 

But spirits are lifted just a little at the very end when it is time for one of life's ultimate lessons:

The carnival always goes away for a while, but it always comes back, too. 

This is one of the good shows, folks. Classic harem anime with a bit of slice of life thrown in for good measure. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Wolverine

It's been awhile since I've seen any of the X-Men trilogy or X-Men: Origins - Wolverine. And it's been even longer since I've seen the '90s X-Men cartoon that has Logan actually wearing that bright yellow and black suit of his. While I remember enjoying the first film when I saw it (on VHS, no less) and I liked the second film when I saw it one of those dozens of times it was being replayed on FX, I can honestly say that I didn't care for X Men: The Last Stand. I like it much less than Origins. I've heard X-Men: First Class is excellent but I haven't seen it so I can't judge that yet.

But from what I have seen of this movie franchise until this recent film The Wolverine, I could honestly have said that the X-Men films are better than the forgetful Fantastic Four films and the terrible Green Hornet, Punisher: War Zone, and Green Lantern movies. That's about it, though. X2 comes really close to being great (from what I remember), but one good film doesn't necessarily equal a great series. And if X Men: First Class is one of those great ones then allow me to change my previous statement to "two good films." 

Now we have The Wolverine, though.

This is a film where I wasn't expecting much from. Again, I'm not that big of a comic book nerd or an X-Men nerd. I typically avoid comics and only know about the X-Men from the cartoons and movies. So the smallest and minutest of changes really don't bother me. A lot times I'm not really aware of them. The big ones like essentially erasing Gambit from the movies with the exception of Origins or the exclusion of Jubilee from all of the films altogether does bother me a little bit, but it's still not the end of the world for me. 

No, the main reason I went to see The Wolverine was because somebody said "Wolverine goes to Japan." 

That was all it took. 

I love Japan in case you haven't noticed. Or maybe I just love Japanese stereotypes. Maybe a little of both. Yeah, I'm up front enough to admit that. 

Either way, I was going to see this movie. 

In case you have been living under a rock then you know that brooding superheroes are in these days. Hell, even Superman brooded in Man of Steel. Wolverine post-Last Stand is very good at brooding. But I think Wolverine has a much better reason to brood than Superman. While I didn't care for X3, I can say that the storyline did leave the possibility for an interesting continuation and I think The Wolverine makes good use of that. 

So while the dream scenes that feature Famke Janssen reprising her role as Jean Grey were perfectly acceptable within the confines of the movie. When the movie starts out Logan is wondering around the wilderness essentially wishing he could die and be with Jean again. When he is approached by an anime-haired Japanese girl (portrayed by Rila Fukushima) with the powers to see the future, Logan is finally given a chance to step out of his exile.  

And to Japan they go to say goodbye to an old acquaintance of Logan's. 

There's mischief afoot, though. We have the Japanese mafia, an offer to give Wolverine mortality, a fight on a bullet train, evil mutants doing super evil things, and a big-ass silver samurai robot thingy. 

But this movie is really about Logan's recovery from the depths of despair so the pace is deliberately slower and not always as actiony as some folks would prefer. Even I expected a little more action. I was pleased with the film, though. 

With the exception of the bullet train segment and the fight against the silver samurai at the end, a lot of the fights are really about choreography rather than special effects. So they don't quite have the same over the top feel as... say, the final half hour of Man of Steel.

Personally, I was pretty pleased by the performance of the largely Japanese cast and I think James Mangold did a good job with this one. There were a few things that could have been a bit different, though. I think that the role of Viper (portrayed by Svetlana Khodchenkova) was rather pointless, but she was decent eye-candy so I guess I can let that pass. I also think that the connection between Logan and Yukio could have been a little more thought out. 

But... this is still a pretty good movie. Not quite great, but certainly a good one. Especially if you like subtitles. And kudos to writers for putting "fuck" in the movie. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Bridge to the Starry Skies (Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi)

I don't really know why I watched this show. It could be that I was just finding something to kill time while FUNimation was having difficulties streaming the sub of Tenchi Universe. I found myself stuck with having to actually watch real television or find something else to watch. So I went to Crunchyroll and settled on A Bridge to the Starry Skies after about two minutes of debating. I mean, there were only 12 episodes and by the time I got those out of the way I figured I should be able to stream Tenchi Universe again. Well, I was correct in my brilliant deduction, but I find myself having to talk about yet another anime here. I like doing that, but my anime posts typically seem to be about as popular as a bad case of hemorrhoids. Oh, well.

Hoshino Kazuma and his little brother Ayumu have moved out to the countryside to a little town called Yamabiko. On their first day there they get lost and run into two girls named Ui Nakatsugawa and Ibuki Hinata somewhere in the woods. Their encounter is embarrassing. Hoshino accidently falls down on her and kisses her. Now I don't know about you, but I think that if one were to fall onto someone else's mouth than that would mean some teeth are getting knocked loose. In other words: It would fucking hurt. 

Of course, this is anime and this happens all the time in anime. This encounter ends with both Hoshino and Ui looking red-faced while Ibuki stumbles across them and almost kills Hoshino while Ui is too breathless to say anything to defend him. 

Of course, the very next day Hoshino discovers that Ui and Ibuki are in the same class he is in. Awkward. 

Thus begins our story. 

This show consists of twelve episodes and one OVA (although I haven't seen the OVA because Crunchyroll doesn't have it) and it was released in Japan in 2011. So A Bridge to the Starry Skies is still relatively new, but it is old enough for everyone to know that it probably isn't going to get a sequel. And it really shouldn't get one because it doesn't need one or really deserve one.

This is just a typical harem/dating anime.

The fanservice is a little bit different this time around, though. The few main male characters there are have nude shots where you can see their butts, but the female characters (and there are a quite a few) all get nude bath scenes but those are blurred out by fog. So... they aren't really nude shots at all. This is obviously an attempt to get you to buy the uncensored DVDs. Personally, I hate it when that happens because I typically hate censorship in general, but I didn't initially understand why the male nudity was allowed and the female nudity wasn't. 

Perhaps this show was meant to be aimed more at females at one point. That could very well have been the case, but that doesn't wash with me because the very essence of a harem anime is typically a guy kind of thing. A lot of women generally don't like seeing pantyshots of other women.

This show is conflicted as to what it wants to be, but there is a reason for that and I will get to it in a minute.

The animation style is so similar to Shuffle! that I at first thought this show was some sort of sequel or something. In fact, the animation was what drew me because I did like Shuffle! (especially toward the end) and I thought this show might be in a similar vein. I was wrong about that. While no one will ever mistake Shuffle! for being the greatest anime of all time, it was at least memorable. A Bridge to the Starry Skies doesn't have that same quality. There's nothing really impactful about this show. When a few of the female characters were rejected by the main male lead there could have been an attempt to make the show a bit more darker or gut-wrenching. 

A scene in the opening credits shows one of the female characters walking through the rain with a lifeless and borderline homicidal look in her eyes. Maybe the creators of the show forgot that scene was there because it didn't amount to anything. I wasn't exactly expecting School Days Part II with this show, but the thing is that I wasn't sure what to expect at first and then in the end I realized that there was absolutely nothing to expect because nothing happened out of the ordinary. 

So why have that particular scene in the opening credits? I think I know. I called this a "harem/dating" show because other girls are introduced and they are given their chance to bond with Hoshino, but there is no doubt that Ui is really the one Hoshino will end up with. So why go down that road when you know where it will lead? Well, it's because this show plays it safe. It doesn't rock the boat too hard, but it also doesn't want to look like it is completely boring. So it tries to make it look more interesting than it really is. With a main character who is seemingly decent and not a complete idiot and some decent animation and a moderately paced story, this show does just enough to keep you watching. 

It certainly made me keep watching. But I obviously wouldn't have been watching it unless something better had been on. 

This show reeks of ordinary. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Beatles from Worst to First

I've done these lists for Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Wednesday 13, Type O Negative, and Rammstein. Those were all fun (if not really, really time-consuming), but not doing a list about The Beatles would be a horrendous oversight on my part.

Well, now here is my list for The Beatles.

Ah, The Beatles. I don't think there will ever be any other group of people to ever truly forge such an impressive career. Hell, even their drummer was a reasonably talented songwriter and singer to an extent. Everyone has covered one of their songs, it seems like. And everyone seems to take sides as to which of The Beatles was really the key to their success. Was it John or Paul? Was it the quiet George? Or was it the goofy Ringo? To me, it was all of them together that made The Beatles what they were. And if they had been around at any other time then who really knows if they would be as renowned as they are today. I mean, can you seriously imagine what music would be like if The Beatles had never existed? There still would have been Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. Certainly a lot of the folks inspired by Little Richard and Elvis still would have been around, but I think there would have been a massive void left unfilled in today if there had never been The Beatles. Certainly, The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds (inspired by Rubber Soul) probably wouldn't have been made. 

Anyway, when I was about ten I hated listening to The Beatles. Of course, I didn't have a true appreciation for Black Sabbath, either. Now I not only have an appreciation for The Beatles, but I have an even greater appreciation for the ones that inspired The Beatles. I'm also going through a similar thing with movies. I find myself greatly appreciating older and older movies and sooner or later I'm going to make that jump to watching *gasp* pre-talkie movies on a semi-regular basis. For a while at least. 

Right now I'm watching anime strictly in Japanese so those silent films are on the backburner for the moment.

None of this information is really important to my ranking and my ranking isn't technically important to anyone else except me, but I think knowing where I'm coming from makes listening to me easier to understand.

Unlike my lists about Deep Purple or Black Sabbath, this list is easy when it comes to the band members. They are the Fab Four, of course. John, Paul, George, and Ringo. 

It's their catalog that is screwy. A lot of their albums were broken up into bits in different countries and naming all of them would be a real pain in the ass. Trying to point out the differences between mono and stereo releases of certain albums and all of the different versions of some songs (a la Let It Be... which four versions of the song do you prefer?) out there would also be a great pain. So I'm not going to go into any of that. I've limited myself to their twelve core albums as we all know them. 

12. Beatles for Sale - I'd take The Beatles at their worst over Metallica or Anthrax or Megadeth at their best. Released in 1964 and consisting of only seven original songs, Beatles for Sale comes from a band tired of Beatlemania. But even at their "worst," the Fab Four still managed to crank out great tunes like the somber No Reply, the upbeat Eight Days a Week, and the Dylanesque I'm a Loser. There's nothing too special about their covers, but hey, I'd take The Beatles covering someone else over someone else covering The Beatles eight days out of the week. 

No Reply 2:15
I'm a Loser 2:31
Baby's in Black 2:02
Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry) 2:32
I'll Follow the Sun 1:46
Mr. Moonlight (Roy Lee Johnson) 2:33
Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/Richard Penniman) 2:33
Eight Days a Week 2:44
Words of Love (Buddy Holly) 2:12
Honey Don't (Carl Perkins) 2:55
Every Little Thing 2:01
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party 2:33
What You're Doing 2:30
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby (Perkins) 2:23

11. With the Beatles - This album was recorded four months after their debut album Please Please Me. These days you have to wait about five years and two world tours until you hear a new single from a supposed new album that hasn't even been finished yet. The fact that The Beatles were only around for a whopping seven years before disbanding... Well, it's pretty easy to see why they only lasted for that long, but the sheer brilliance of their work during such a short span puts most bands with the exception of maybe Cream (recorded four albums in three years) to shame. Containing the hit All My Loving and a couple of rocking covers like Roll Over Beethoven and Please Mister Postman, With the Beatles is a fitting follow-up to Please Please Me, but it's nowhere near the level of later releases. 

It Won't Be Long 2:13
All I've Got to Do 2:03
All My Loving 2:08
Don't Bother Me 2:28
Little Child 1:46
Till There Was You (Meredith Willson) 2:14
Please Mister Postman (Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman) 2:34
Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry) 2:45
Hold Me Tight 2:32
You Really Got a Hold on Me (Smokey Robinson) 3:01
I Wanna Be Your Man 2:00
Devil in Her Heart (Richard Drapkin) 2:26
Not a Second Time 2:07
Money (That's What I Want) (Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy) 2:50

10. Please Please Me - I Saw Her Standing There and Love Me Do. These are easily their most well known original compositions from their landmark 1963 debut album. Naturally, the other songs are just as good. Even the bulk of the covers. Just listen to Twist and Shout or Baby, It's You if you don't believe me. The energy is here and that's the difference between The Beatles of '63 and The Beatles of '64.

I Saw Her Standing There 2:54
Misery 1:49
Anna (Go to Him) (Arthur Alexander) 2:57
Chains (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) 2:26
Boys (Luther Dixon, Wes Farrell) 2:27
Ask Me Why 2:26
Please Please Me 2:03
Love Me Do 2:23
P.S. I Love You 2:04
Baby It's You (Mack David, Barney Williams, Burt Bacharach) 2:40
Do You Want to Know a Secret 1:59
A Taste of Honey (Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow) 2:03
There's a Place 1:51
Twist and Shout (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) 2:37

09. Let It Be - Oh, where do I begin. First of all, whether or not you prefer this album or the Let It Be... Naked version, there's no doubt that McCartney and Co. created some fine tunes for what would end up being their swan song. Paul McCartney obviously had issues with with Phil Spector's over-production and use of an orchestra on The Long and Winding Road, but I personally enjoy both versions although I typically do side with musicians on issues like this. I don't really see Let It Be... Naked as a Beatles album, though. I mean, it had Harrison's approval and obviously McCartney's but by the time Let It Be... Naked saw the airwaves the year was 2003 and The Beatles were long since broken up, John had long since died, and George Harrison had since joined John on the other side, too. Don't hate this version for the "wall of sound," but treasure this version of Let It Be as what it is: The final album by a band that should never have broken up. This album was of its time and therefore should be treated as the natural conclusion to a stellar career. Let It Be... Naked is just a neat alternate take.

But I will say that all the fuss over which version is better probably what drops this album so low.

Two of Us 3:37
Dig a Pony 3:55
Across the Universe 3:48
I Me Mine 2:26
Dig It 0:50
Let It Be 4:03
Maggie Mae (traditional) 0:40
I've Got a Feeling 3:38
One After 909 2:54
The Long and Winding Road 3:38
For You Blue 2:32
Get Back 3:09

08. Help! - The fifth album by the Fab Four and the one containing their most covered song, Help! is a welcome step in the right direction after their "slump" with Beatles for Sale. Containing songs like Help!, Ticket to Ride, the countrified I've Just Seen a Face, and Yesterday (their most covered song in case you haven't guessed that), Help! can now be seen as the stepping stone from their early days to their more legendary later days. But it's a pretty good stepping stone. 

Help! 2:18
The Night Before 2:33
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away 2:08
I Need You 2:28
Another Girl 2:05
You're Going to Lose That Girl 2:17
Ticket to Ride 3:10
Act Naturally (Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison) 2:29
It's Only Love 1:54
You Like Me Too Much 2:35
Tell Me What You See 2:36
I've Just Seen a Face 2:04
Yesterday 2:03
Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Larry Williams) 2:53

07. A Hard Day's Night - I sometimes get this one confused with Help! because they are very close in terms of sound and style. While Help! is certainly the more experimental of the two, I think that A Hard Day's Night is just the better of the two. It's tough to say why, but I think Any Time at All might have something to do with that. Don't know why, but that's one of my favorite Beatles tunes. 

A Hard Day's Night 2:34
I Should Have Known Better 2:43
If I Fell 2:19
I'm Happy Just to Dance with You 1:56
And I Love Her 2:30
Tell Me Why 2:09
Can't Buy Me Love 2:12
Any Time at All 2:11
I'll Cry Instead 1:46
Things We Said Today 2:35
When I Get Home 2:17
You Can't Do That 2:35
I'll Be Back 2:24

06. The Beatles - Double albums are typically frustrating for me. Why? Because they are too long and too full of filler. There's no point in making a double album when the material just isn't there. Double albums would be much better if they weren't double albums. As the case with the famous "White Album," this is also true. However, no one has quite managed to create one as good as this one. Even the filler, which is rather pedestrian by the standards of the Fab Four, isn't too shabby when you compare it to so many of the double albums that have since followed by other bands who wish to have a taste of the same brand of self-indulgence. Gun N' Roses, System of a Down, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, and even Nine Inch Nails have gone down the double album road, but very few of them could create the aura that surrounds this peculiar self-titled album. But this album, ironically called The Beatles, is actually a series of solo recordings where each member chooses to stand out on their own with their own songs. The "Lennon-McCartney" writing credits are rather misleading.

One of the most popular songs on this album, Helter Skelter, has been covered by everyone from U2 to Motley Crue and it is notorious for its odd relationship with Charles Manson. In fact, the entire album supposedly painted out Charles Manson's vision of an apocalyptic race war. Or something like that. But Helter Skelter seems like the kind of song a lot of rock bands would enjoy covering. Anyway, if there is one track to avoid on this album it is Revolution 9. I'm as much a fan of weird avant-garde crap as the next guy, but there could have been four more songs on this album that could have been much more interesting and listenable instead of this one nine minute time-waster. I blame the drugs and Yoko for this one.

Back in the U.S.S.R. 2:43
Dear Prudence 3:56
Glass Onion 2:17
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da 3:08
Wild Honey Pie 0:52
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill 3:14
While My Guitar Gently Weeps 4:45
Happiness Is a Warm Gun 2:43
Martha My Dear 2:28
I'm So Tired 2:03
Blackbird 2:18
Piggies 2:04
Rocky Raccoon 3:33
Don't Pass Me By 3:51
Why Don't We Do It in the Road? 1:41
I Will 1:46
Julia 2:54
Birthday 2:42
Yer Blues 4:01
Mother Nature's Son 2:48
Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey 2:24
Sexy Sadie 3:15
Helter Skelter 4:29
Long, Long, Long 3:04
Revolution 1 4:15
Honey Pie 2:41
Savoy Truffle 2:54
Cry Baby Cry 3:02
Revolution 9 8:22
Good Night 3:13

05. Magical Mystery Tour - This is not technically an album, but a compilation. The first six songs are a part of the Magical Mystery Tour film soundtrack and the final five songs are singles that were released in 1967. Capitol did this against the wishes of The Beatles because EPs generally weren't popular in the US. But I think that Capitol did the right thing. Hello, Goodbye and Penny Lane deserve to be on an actual album. 

Magical Mystery Tour 2:48
The Fool on the Hill 3:00
Flying 2:16
Blue Jay Way 3:50
Your Mother Should Know 2:33
I Am the Walrus 4:35
Hello, Goodbye 3:24
Strawberry Fields Forever 4:05
Penny Lane 3:00
Baby, You're a Rich Man 3:07
All You Need Is Love 3:57

04. Rubber Soul - You know, I really enjoy this album and I think it is a great album, but I don't quite see how it can be ranked as the fifth greatest album of all time according to Rolling Stones. Yes, it's a great album, but I barely consider it a top five Beatle album. Revolver on the other hand? Very much so. I think that what they started on Rubber Soul they managed to perfect on Revolver and then on Sgt. Pepper's. The difference in greatness is minute, I think, but still there. So while I don't consider this album a top five greatest of all time... I do consider it top ten. In My Life, Drive My Car, and If I Needed Someone are favorites of mine from this album. Run For Your Life is also a favorite, but only because it's got that sadistic edge to it than naturally falls within my territory.    

Drive My Car 2:25
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) 2:01
You Won't See Me 3:18
Nowhere Man 2:40
Think for Yourself 2:16
The Word 2:41
Michelle 2:33
What Goes On 2:47
Girl 2:30
I'm Looking Through You 2:23
In My Life 2:24
Wait 2:12
If I Needed Someone 2:20
Run for Your Life 2:18

03. Abbey Road - This is one of those peculiar albums that make you wonder why it's so popular. Much like The Beatles, I suppose. Yes, it's good, but what makes it so good? The artwork is certainly iconic, but the song styles are unusual even for The Beatles. More importantly, why is this one generally held so favorably while Let It Be isn't quite at that level? I think it's because The Beatles just tried harder on this one and their songwriting was better, too. The first two songs alone are among their greatest. The second half of the album features a bunch of finished and unfinished songs stringed together in a medley format, but the weird thing is that it works here. You Never Give Me Your Money is probably my favorite of those particular pieces. I just wish some of those song fragments were more like actual songs. 

Come Together 4:20
Something 3:03
Maxwell's Silver Hammer 3:27
Oh! Darling 3:26
Octopus's Garden 2:51
I Want You (She's So Heavy) 7:47
Here Comes the Sun 3:05
Because 2:45
You Never Give Me Your Money 4:02
Sun King 2:26
Mean Mr. Mustard 1:06
Polythene Pam 1:12
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window 1:57
Golden Slumbers 1:31
Carry That Weight 1:36
The End 2:05
Her Majesty 0:23

02. Revolver - Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine, Good Day SunshineHere, There, and Everywhere. Man, the Fab Four really loaded up the hits for this one. And the songs that aren't "hits" in terms of the Billboard sense are still really good. I mean, The Beatles are one of those few groups that could probably play an entire album today in concert (if everyone was alive and put aside their personal issues to reform the band, of course) and everyone in the audience would still know the words to all of the songs. I don't know if The Beatles ever did anything like that back then (I know a lot of bands do that now, though), but if there's any album that could easily be played live from front to back then Revolver would definitely be one of those. 

Taxman 2:39
Eleanor Rigby 2:08
I'm Only Sleeping 3:02
Love You To 3:01
Here, There and Everywhere 2:26
Yellow Submarine 2:40
She Said She Said 2:37
Good Day Sunshine 2:10
And Your Bird Can Sing 2:02
For No One 2:01
Doctor Robert 2:15
I Want to Tell You 2:30
Got to Get You into My Life 2:31
Tomorrow Never Knows 2:57

01. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Frank Zappa didn't like this album and believed that The Beatles were "only in it for the money" at this point. Exploiting the hippie subculture just to sell records and all of that stuff. That could very well have been true, but Zappa's own Freak Out! was supposedly a large influence on this particular album so that means this album deserved some leniency from Frank as far as I'm concerned. I got to give The Beatles some credit for giving Zappa a nod. Of course, Zappa would release his own album not too long after called We're Only In It For The Money that blasted Sgt. Pepper's and the hippie subculture.  

This was going to be Zappa's original cover for that album, but it was relegated to being interior artwork out of fear of possible legal action.
At any rate, The Beatles released a fine album whether they did it just for the money or not. In addition to Zappa, The Beatles were also inspired by The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds (which, as I mentioned earlier, was inspired by Rubber Soul). With Zappa, The Beach Boys, and probably some mind-altering drugs at the ready, The Beatles obviously did something right by adding their own twist to that mix. Is this the greatest album of all time? Hmm... it's got to be close. If it isn't number one then it is number two. And I honestly can't think of a legitimate number one not named Sgt. Pepper's. The movie is god awful, though. 

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 2:02
With a Little Help from My Friends 2:44
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds 3:28
Getting Better 2:48
Fixing a Hole 2:36
She's Leaving Home 3:35
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! 2:37
Within You Without You 5:04
When I'm Sixty-Four 2:37
Lovely Rita 2:42
Good Morning Good Morning 2:41
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) 1:19
A Day in the Life 5:39

Otaku House Turned 3 on 7/22!

It's hard to believe that yesterday was the day that my little ole blog turned three. I'm counting from when I made my first post because I honestly can't remember when I signed up for Blogger or any of that other stuff.

My first post was titled "The First One" and from re-reading that I can tell that my intention for this blog (as if I forgot what it was in the first place) was for this to be a thing where I could post my stories in relative obscurity. I still would like to do that, but it seems that the whole story thing gets away from me from time to time, though. It's not that I don't like writing or don't think I'm good (I think I could be good with more practice and less time dicking around with Twitter or Facebook), but it's just that I have a lot to say about things and my brain just works sideways.

Anyway, I was going to post something commemorating my blog's birthday on Monday and it was going to have a few bells and whistles celebrating all of the fantastic things I've done since I've been on here, but I was being lazy.

So here we are.

Happy Belated Birthday, Otaku House!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand

Andrew Mayhem is just your average guy who doesn't like to work. He dislikes working so much that he actively seeks out difficult and odd jobs to keep from having to get one of those "real jobs." Well, he doesn't "actively" seek those jobs out because that would actually require effort on his part, but when a chance to make money falls into his lap Andrew is often tempted to take that chance.

So when Jennifer Ashcraft enters The Blizzard Room and asks him and his good friend Roger Tanglen if they would kindly dig up her husband's grave to find a key in exchange for a payment of 20,000 bucks... Andrew Mayhem is indeed tempted. Roger, not so much, but Roger is a weak-willed guy.

It isn't until the night of Andrew and Roger's night of morally questionable labor that things start going wrong. Well, even more wrong than graverobbing. The corpse they dig up isn't a corpse, but a man armed with a gun on the brink of insanity (the man, not the gun).

Andrew and Roger then find themselves beaten and kidnapped by an unseen adversary who is undoubtedly behind the coffin fiasco, but it isn't until they miraculously escape (well, technically they are just dumped off in a ditch... but "miraculously escape" sounds much better, right?) that the real story begins.

Once awake, Andrew finds himself in a race against time to stop the brutal murders of four innocent people all the while trying to stay one step ahead of what could only be a criminal mastermind. All of this is hard enough for a guy like Sherlock Holmes, but Andrew is no Sherlock and half the time Andrew can't even find a babysitter for the kids. So how can he possibly hope to find a killer?

Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) is a really fun novel. Even when it gets mucky and gooey near the end. Don't take it too seriously and you'll certainly have a good time.

Highly recommended.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blood on the Page: The Complete Short Fiction of Brian Keene, Volume 1

Brian Keene is one of my favorite authors and I was pretty stoked to hear that he was putting out a short story collection I wouldn't have to skip paying my car insurance in order to get. When I heard it would the first of a multiple-volume release, my day became even better. 

But I'm kind of jaded when it comes to horror short stories. I've read all of Stephen King's collections up to this point, I've read Jack Ketchum's Peaceable Kingdoms, I've read Bryan Smith's Highways to Hell, I've read Jeff Strand's Gleefully Macabre, and I've read Dean Koontz's Strange Highways. I don't particularly feel the need to seek out more short story collections. I have couple more and I'll get to them eventually, but I only seek out more collections if something really interests me. So I asked myself what Brian Keene would bring to that table? 

The answer was simple: He brought some pretty good stories and few that were kind of just okay. But that's the thing with making it a "Complete Short Fiction," isn't it? A few clunkers were bound to turn up because not even the best of writers always write at their best.... especially when they are first starting out. But even the "clunkers" are still decent and they are a worthy inclusion if for no other reason than historical purposes. 

I suppose the best thing about this collection is that there are a lot of stories but most of them are in fact quite short. We have about 30 stories and the collection is 268 pages long. So this is a fairly quick read. 

This is the table of contents: 

  • Introduction by Dave Thomas (AKA Meteornotes...Keeper of Ice Bat...Maker of Brownies)
  • Foreword by Brian Keene
  • Portrait Of the Magus As a Writer (Interpolating Magic Realism)
  • Captive Hearts
  • Johnstown
  • Waiting For Darkness
  • Dust
  • Burying Betsy
  • Fast Zombies Suck
  • I Sing a New Psalm
  • Caught In a Mosh
  • I Am an Exit
  • This Is Not an Exit
  • That Which Lingers
  • Halves
  • Without You
  • Couch Potato
  • Fade To Null
  • Babylon Falling
  • A Revolution Of One
  • Full Of It
  • Two-Headed Alien Love Child
  • Bunnies In August
  • The Wind Cries Mary
  • The Resurrection and The Life
  • Stone Tears
  • Red Wood
  • The Ghosts Of Monsters
  • Slouching In Bethlehem
  • Marriage Causes Cancer In Rats
  • Golden Boy

I rather enjoyed Halves, Johnstown, Dust, and Bunnies in August the most. In this collection there are also a few stories that are a part of Brian Keene's Dead Sea and Entombed universe. So that's a pretty cool addition. You won't find any that are a part of The Rising or City of the Dead with the exception of The Resurrection and the Life (a different take on the resurrection of Lazarus) because all of those are collected into The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World. There are also no stories related to Earthworm Gods or Earthworm Gods II: Deluge because those are also in a collection of their own called Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World

I haven't read those two collections yet, but I can say that this one is pretty good. I prefer Keene's novels, but his shorter work isn't too shabby. The only real issue I have is that this collection has a few rather jarring editorial issues. Nothing that bad compared to Leisure's edition of The Rising or some of the other Deadite books I've read, but that still should have been prevented, IMO. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki

Tenchi Muyo! should be a hard series to like and even to define because it is a series plagued with reboots, semi-sequels, and peculiar OVA follow-ups (essentially these are Japanese releases that are straight to video animations rather than straight to TV).

The odd thing is that what is known as the first generation Tenchi Muyo! show is in fact an OVA itself. The first six episodes are what is collectively known as Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki or just plain OVA 1 (although this title can also refer to all of the OVAs, too). This OVA 1 was released in Japan on September 25, 1992. I turned two years old that day.

Then that was it. Put a fork in it because the Tenchi Muyo! series is done.

Not really, though. The series caught on.

In 1994, a Tenchi Muyo! Special called The Night before the Carnival was released. Generally, this is included as part of the greater Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series even though it is really a spacer between what was known as OVA 1 and what would become OVA 2. There was also a Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special released, but I have yet to see that particular entry. FUNimation doesn't have it available for streaming and I don't believe it is available on DVD or blu-ray at the moment. Although I'm sure there are a few places where you (or I) can watch it for free or buy it at an overwhelmingly elevated price. At any rate, the Mihoshi special could only serve to confuse a few people because it takes place in the Ryo-Ohki timeline but introduces a character that would later be in the alternate universe/timeline show Tenchi Universe.

Tenchi Universe is a retelling of Ryo-Ohki OVA 1 and that series lasted for 26 episodes, concluding its run in 1995. Keep in mind that while Tenchi Universe finished its run in Japan in 1995, the third OVA in Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki was eight years down the pipeline. The third OVA in Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki has a different animation style than the first two OVAs of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki and the series Tenchi Universe. The spaceships also look very different, almost like an attempt to make it look like a computer game or something. Kind of hokey, really.

Tenchi in Tokyo was another reboot that came about in 1997 while Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki! still remained unfinished. The third OVA in Ryo-Ohki did not come about until 2003. Tenchi in Tokyo is generally considered the worst of the bunch, but it's been awhile since I've seen it so I can't support or counter that status just yet. 

In 2002 yet another Tenchi-related series came out and this one was called Tenchi Muyo! GXP. GXP takes place in the Ryo-Ohki timeline (a year after the final OVA in Ryo-Ohki even though Ryo-Ohki still remained unfinished at the time), but is not itself a sequel. In fact, the main characters are only given slight cameos because GXP follows different characters. So, while not a spinoff or a reboot, it is not the conclusion to Ryo-Ohki

When Ryo-Ohki did recommence it did so with six more episodes and these final six episodes are called OVA 3. In 2005 a "special episode" of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki called Final Confrontations was released and that is essentially the absolute final episode of the series unless something else happens in the future. 

All in all, we have 20 episodes of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki! released over a span of thirteen years. That's a helluva wait. It still might not be done. Who knows? 

There is another series called Tenchi Muyo! War on Geminar that was released in 2009 and this series takes place 15 years after GXP so it's technically part of the Ryo-Ohki storyline, but it doesn't feature Tenchi or the other main characters much like GXP. This newer series follows Tenchi's half-brother Kenshi around. 

Got all of that? Good. I'm not repeating it. 

Now I'm going to talk about the series itself. 

In case you haven't guessed, Tenchi Muyo! (regardless of which universe or alternate telling we are talking about) follows around boy named Tenchi Masaki as he goes through the trouble of everyday life of being the center of a harem. In Ryo-Ohki, Tenchi accidently revives an old space pirate named Ryoko and that's when all hell breaks loose. Through happenstance and luck, Tenchi manages to keep from being killed by the pirate but he doesn't escape from her clutches. It seems that Ryoko has developed a sudden and rather intense crush on the young boy. And, in perfectly understandable fashion, she refuses to leave his home. The rest of the harem essentially follows that established pattern. Ayeka, Sasami, Washu, and Mihoshi all wind up with Tenchi through luck or misfortune and end up living with Tenchi and Tenchi's grandfather and with each other. 

While this may sound like a typical harem anime, it really isn't. Tenchi doesn't accept any of the advances from the women because he prefers to keep the family unit intact rather than try to dissolve it by pursuing romance. He also isn't a complete idiot or wimp. 

There's also the plot to consider. On one hand you could write it off as being just another thing to wade through as you wait for the boob or pantyshot of your favorite female character, but the plot is pretty complicated and intriguing. Each of the OVAs has a different main villain and a different storyline, but they all advance with each episode and by the time you reach the end of OVA 3 things will undoubtedly seem bizarre and confusing. Yeah, I know it's "just a harem anime," but they must've put a lot of thought into this or did some hard drugs or something because the solution to everything seems... Well, almost Lovecraftian. We have space people. We have trees and rabbits that control or are spaceships with superpowers. We have gods who seek to know if there's anything greater above them. Gods who are trees. Gods who are kids. Time travel. And carrots. 

Then of course we have Tenchi and his harem thrown into all of this. Somehow Tenchi is at the center of all of this because he is the manifestation of what the gods were trying to accomplish. Something like that, anyway. 

I watched this series in Japanese with English subtitles very recently, but all of the details seem pretty muddy. I'm not sure I like the final OVA as much as I like the first two, but it's a decent if not confusing conclusion. 

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki is a classic anime show, though. At least the first two OVAs are. If you haven't seen them then you just aren't an anime fan. It's like claiming to be a music fan without having ever listened to classical music. If you don't know your roots then you just don't know anything. 

This show is streaming on FUNimation with the first thirteen episodes being labeled as Tenchi Muyo! OVA Series and the final seven episodes being labeled as Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. Or you could buy them on Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon, but I believe they are also divided up in the same fashion. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

My 13 Favorite Anime Songs

These are anime songs I like that I've heard. There are a million of them I know and millions more that I don't know, but these are the ones I felt like putting the effort into mentioning. Don't think that the songs really represent my taste in music, though. It does to an extent, but don't put too much into it. Outside of anime I don't listen to "pop music," but pop music sounds better when it's sung in a different language. And not all of these songs are pop music. I like a lot of songs from Cowboy Bebop (enough to fill up this list), but I settled for only two. I will give honorable mentions to Call Me, Rain, Space Lion, and Blue, though. Again, I'm a democratic guy so that's why I gave other shows a chance to have a song.

I intensely dislike DBGT in English and prefer to watch it in Japanese or not at all because the Dan Dan... theme song is so much better than that absolute wretched crap music the English dub has tacked on to it.

If you click on the title of the song it will pop open a new window and you should be able to listen to the full version of each song.

I am always open to suggestions when it comes to jams and shows and movies, but just because you don't see your favorite godawful Naruto theme here or your favorite Yu Yu Hakusho or Space Express 999 theme song... it doesn't mean I haven't heard them or seen the shows. Like I said, there are a millions songs I've heard and a million others I haven't. A lot of them are difficult to tell apart after a bit. The same goes with the shows, really.

Anyway, here's my list. If the links don't work then take it up with YouTube.

13. Claymore - Danzai no Hana
12. Black Lagoon - Don't Look Behind
11. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - God Knows
10. Mobile Fighter G Gundam - Flying in the Sky
09. Shuffle! - You
08. Dragonball GT - Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku
07. Elfen Lied - Lilium
06. Outlaw Star - Through the Night
05. Neon Genesis Evangelion - Zankoku Na Tenshi No Thesis
04. Cowboy Bebop - Tank!
03. Dragonball Z - Boku-tachi Wa Tenshi Datta
02. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni - Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
01. Cowboy Bebop - The Real Folk Blues

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana)

While I'd love to say this post is about the old Mountain album of the same name and how kickass the title song from that album is, this post is actually a review of the anime based on the manga which is in turn loosely based on French poet Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal (which you can guess means The Flowers of Evil). While Mountain's song Flowers of Evil and album are not inspired by Baudelaire's work, the Marilyn Manson song The Flowers of Evil is so that should let you know things are going to be weird in this show. 

Now this anime is obviously not the manga and the characters look nothing like they do in the manga. Why? Well, the anime was filmed using the process of rotoscope. That means that the Japanese people look like actual Japanese people because they are (gasp!). For some reason I don't understand this has drawn a bit of criticism. No, it doesn't look like the manga, but so what? I like things to look a bit different every now and then. I mean, I've seen enough green-haired girls with anime eyes and anime hair that I honestly can't tell 'em apart anymore. But the red-haired girl named Nakamura in the anime adaptation of Flowers of Evil? I'll remember her for a while. Because she looked real and not as prettified by the animation process. In fact, this entire show has a real grimy and ugly look to it. 

It's an experience and not just something you can draw because you own the How to Draw Anime book. Of course, I was the kid who owned the How to Draw the Titanic book when I was younger and you can learn a lot more by drawing real people then you can fake people, I can tell you that. Drawing real people is hard as hell because there are less lines and everything is less defined. Even the nose is a pain because half of the time it doesn't even look like it's there. Whereas in anime drawing all you have to do is make a check mark and boom, there's the nose! In anime eyes can just be horizontal lines for the far away scenes. In real life the lines aren't visible (and technically not even real lines) from far away and that's why a lot of the characters look more and more like blobs in this show the farther away from the camera they are. 

The animation isn't pretty, okay? But hey, people aren't pretty. Chances are even Charlize Theron has ugly toes or something. And that's kinda the point here and the point of the whole series so far. If you are so consumed by how something looks then you are obviously not focusing on what it is

The anime has a slow pace, too. But the pace works because these seemingly ordinary and everyday events cause a sense of underlying dread and what starts out as a teenager just doing awkward teenager stuff suddenly becomes so much more important. When Kasuga Takao takes Saeki's gym uniform because he secretly liked her and felt that was the closest he could get to her, the situation was presented like we were watching a pedophile sneaking into a daycare center or something. It was the END OF THE FUCKING WORLD!!!!! Let's be honest, while what Kasuga did wasn't right, it still wasn't the end of the world. It's just an awkward teenage guy being an awkward teenage guy and doing awkward teenage guy stuff. 

Things become even more sinister when the strange and ill-tempered Nakamura catches up with Kasuga later and tells him that she saw him steal Saeki's gym uniform. She tells him that she will spread his dirty little secret to the whole world if he doesn't "take her to the other side" or "take off his mask."

And that's kind of what the whole show is about. Everything that happens between Kasuga, Nakamura, and Saeki essentially happens not because Kasuga stole a gym uniform but because Nakamura threatened to blackmail Kasuga because he stole Saeki's gym uniform. So who's the villain here? Tough to say, I guess. But Nakamura really is a crazy bitch more so than an awkward teenager so I'd volunteer her for that position. 

The show is comprised of 13 episodes and not once does it seem like anything other than heavy and bleak and depressing. There's no fanservice or comedic filler. It's all pretty much a dirge and trudge about darkness and distrust. It's slow and hypnotic and relentless. 

The music is kind of like the animation, too. Listenable, but herky-jerky. Catchy, but not glossy. There are four opening songs and all of them are actually a part of the same song by a band called Uchujin. 

The ending of each episode is creepy as hell. Super, super creepy. Not sure I can even call it music as we all know it, but it's memorable. Look up "Aku no Hana ending theme" on YouTube and tell me if you've heard anything like it. Then try going to sleep after hearing it. 

My only gripe with the series is that the last episode is either a preview of things to come in the next season or it is a hazy and non-coherent blob of the possible future for each of the characters. I didn't pay too much attention because I didn't know if I was seeing any major spoilers for a possible second season or not. 

I hope there is another season, but with people getting pissy about the show's animation or pace it's tough to say if it will. But it's really good even with the jumbled final episode and the "controversial" animation. This show is a breath of fresh air for those out there who are tired of seeing Dragonball Z get repackaged over and over again. 

Just give it a chance. 

And another thing... I kind of hope this doesn't get a dub. It'd take away from the realism to see a Japanese guy speaking perfect American. This show is all about the surreal but that would take away from the experience, I think. 

But if this were remade in America using the same rotoscoping method then that would be interesting to see. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My 20 Favorite Bands

You know, this list was both easier and harder to come up with than I thought it would be. The bands were the first ones to pop into my mind. A couple of groups like the Dave Matthews Band, the Alice Cooper Band, and Guns N Roses are noticeably absent (as far as I'm concerned anyway), but I'm very satisfied with this list overall. It suits where I'm at right now.

20. Wednesday 13 - He's a relative newcomer to my listening habits, but the man and all of his groups are really good to great. I first wrote him off as another follower on the Manson /Zombie wagon, but he's a bit more humorous and more rocking than that. I think Kill You Before You Kill Me was the song that won me over.

19. Marilyn Manson - He hasn't been the same in years but his early albums are still classics to me and I always go back to Antichrist Superstar as being the first album that ever actually scared me.

18. Rammstein - My german teacher got me into this band and after that I started buying up all of their albums. Their biggest song Du Hast is easily one of my least favorite of theirs, but Mein Teil (a song about cannibalism, of course) ranks as one of my favorite jams. I know more of their lyrics than I do the lyrics of most English-singing bands.

17. Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper is a song that really just gets on my nerves because I've heard it so many times, but their first five albums and Fire of Unknown Origin are classics. I know they have other later albums but nothing I've heard off any of them can hold a candle to the likes of 7 Screaming Diz Busters. Although I do like that song Dancin' in the Ruins from Club Ninja.

16. Pantera - Dimebag is a hero of mine and always will be. I love hearing the crunch of his guitar. I don't care for their early glam stuff, but there will always be room in my heart for Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven

15. Jethro Tull - I don't think you see the Tull in a lot of lists. Sure, a lot of people like Aqualung, but what about Heavy Horses or Songs from the Wood? Admittedly I don't venture beyond 1979's Stormwatch that much. Although I will give A a listen every now and then for kicks.

14. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - Always have been a big SRV fan. His rendition of Little Wing always sends chills up my spine every time I listen to it. Hendrix was legend while he was alive and he is also one of guitar heroes, but I dare say that SRV made Hendrix's songs better. I just love Vaughan's tone, too. Not many people can play that flashy and that clean without making a serious fool of themselves.

13. Pink Floyd - There are a lot of versions of Floyd and that's what I like about them (and a lot of other bands, if my list is in any way telling). There's their early Syd Barrett psychedelic stuff, their more commercial psychedelic stuff (I like to call that period their "Roger Waters Ego Trip Years"), and then the more obscure but still good David Gilmour output. I'm not sure which one is Pink, but I know which one rocks. And they all do. 

12. Mountain - From their early days before they were even known as Mountain (what is widely known as the first Mountain album Mountain is in fact a Leslie West solo album... the first proper Mountain album is actually Climbing!) until their more modern years long after the passing of renowned bassist and producer Felix Pappalardi, Mountain are much more than a one hit wonder. Spark, Nantucket Sleighride, Never in my Life, Theme from an Imaginary Western, Flowers of Evil... all great songs that should be enjoyed by a larger audience.

11. Slayer - With the unfortunate passing of Jeff Hanneman and the outright douchiness of Kerry King and co. by carrying on as if nothing has happened, Slayer have fallen a bit out of favor with me. Plus, I really don't dig them as much as I used to. It's one thing to be 16 and love Satanic metal bands that aren't really Satanic but use the imagery to sell records, but it's another to be almost 23 years old and out of that "I'm listening to Slayer just because they are Slayer" phase. True enough, I love some evil tunage every now and then and Slayer will cure that fix, but I like music that isn't completely evil, too. 

10. Bruce Springsteen - My dad recorded a few of the Boss's songs on some of his old tapes and I always liked listening to Glory Days and I'm on Fire. Then when we got the Boss's entire catalog (not exactly legitimately, I should mention) onto our iTunes and I listened to a lot of his other songs while I wrote a story and many fragments of others. I always enjoyed listening to Atlantic City in particular as well as the Nebraska album as a whole. With the title song about Charles Starkweather, the Boss proved he could write music just as heavy as any metal band. 

09. Led Zeppelin - I think someone said that the greatest of innovators are often the greatest of thieves and while that phrase could apply to a few other bands on here (Deep Purple), I dare say that Zeppelin fits that phrase so much more. Seems like their first two albums were solely written by other uncredited musicians at one point and that even the main riff of Stairway to Heaven from their classic untitled fourth album was lifted from a Spirit song (although there were a few modifications made). But Zep had a talent that matched their apparent ballsiness and they literally got away with doing whatever the hell they wanted to do. Outside of a few legal struggles, of course. While Robert Plant isn't my favorite singer, Page isn't really my ideal guitar player, and their last album (the John Paul Jones album) In Through the Out Door isn't my favorite, I'll say that just about every other Zeppelin album is flawless. Especially Presence and Physical Graffiti

08. Frank Zappa - Zappa doesn't get anywhere near the attention or respect he deserves. He probably never will. His music is far too off the wall and random for a lot of people to really catch on. Kind of like the musical version of Monty Python, really. Although, I'm sure more people know Python than they do Zappa. You either really get it or you really don't. From his early work with the Mothers to his days of shutting up and playing his guitar, Zappa played an insane brand of "jazz from hell" and did it very well. Trouble Every Day, San Ber'dinoCamarillo Brillo, and My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Momma are favorite songs of mine.

07. AC/DC - Probably the most famous band to pull of the lead singer change and become even more popular next to Iron Maiden. Purists probably still hold the Bon Scott era over the Brian Johnson era, but I like them both pretty equally. Both the raw 70's AC/DC and the commercial 80's AC/DC are better than anything else around today. Oddly enough, my favorite album could very well be the Rick Rubin-produced Ballbreaker from the 90's. It's really hard to choose, though. Since so many of their albums are typical AC/DC it's hard to differentiate and judge them based on their own merits... and that's probably both a good and bad thing, I suppose. 

06. Ozzy Osbourne - He's the Ozzman. Like Stephen King, I got to have every Ozzy release. Remember when The Ultimate Sin was a pain in the ass to find if you didn't have Amazon at the ready? Well, I found  a German import of it in an actual physical store. Of course, one of the cons of being an Ozzy fan is the pain in the ass of having certain songs and albums deleted entirely from his back catalog. I mean, the original Bark at the Moon 1995 remaster is thirty bucks on Amazon while the "bastardized" version with the bonus tracks is less than ten bucks. God, Ozzy and Sharon can really be fucking kids at times. That's why I think I choose to like post-Ozzy Sabbath sometimes: Just to spite them. 

05. Type O Negative - It's only fitting that Peter Steele's last T.O.N. album before suffering heart failure and passing away at the age of 40 would be called Dead Again. Unfortunate, but fitting. T.O.N. has songs like Life is Killing Me, Everyone I Love is Dead, and Love You to Death, but they never seemed to get too bent outta shape despite their gloomy subject matter. Pete and the group could be funny, too. In their own way. Just check out their fake live album The Origin of the Feces or their songs I Like Goils and Stay Out of My Dreams

04. Motorhead - Michael Palin of Monty Python gave a prayer on the album Rock N' Roll that the folks from Motorhead could buy at least one more pair of trousers. If you have missed out on that important moment in rock history then that really is a pity. Chances are you didn't have that album because it didn't have Ace of Spades on it. Shame on you. 

03. The Beatles - You could call them the most overrated act in the history of music and they'd still be underrated. Hell, even their drummer could write and sing good songs! Do you know how hard that is to find? Sure, Ringo wasn't the greatest singer of the bunch, but try to forget about who his bandmates were (yeah, I'm asking a lot) and you'll realize that he could hold his own against a lot his contemporaries.

02. Deep Purple - You know, I think that Purple does get the short when it comes to their legacy. Zeppelin and Sabbath are obviously still pretty popular these days, but in the states Purple seems shelved into the one hit wonder classic rock circuit. Gillan said in an interview recently that everywhere else in the world 18 year old kids are going to the shows, but in the States the audience is typically as old as the members of Purple. They aren't reaching a new audience here. And they should. Their modern albums are pretty good and much better than some of the stuff by popular rock acts like, say, Avenged Sevenfold or Five Finger Death Punch. Calling Deep Purple a one hit wonder... absolute ridiculousness. I know that a lot of folks my age and slightly older and younger really have shit taste in music even for rock fans, but let us try a little better and support the Purple ones. I can't do it all myself.

01. Black Sabbath - Anyone who has read this blog for long time or anyone who knows me already knows that I love pretty much all of the lineups of Sabbath. The reason is because of Tony Iommi, really. Even on the crummier albums like Technical Ecstasy of Forbidden, Tony still manages to shine a bit. I'm not writing off the contributions of any of the other members, but by sticking with the Sabbath banner when everybody else left, I can't help but think of him as being Black Sabbath regardless of who he plays with. I mean, the odds of Iommi ever being fired from Sabbath are like the odds of Ozzy being fired from Ozzy's solo band. But, sticking with all of the titles under the Sabbath name and all of the various sounds and immensely talented singers they've had over the years, I think it's just difficult to say no to them. So I don't.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Severing Crime Edge (Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge)

Between Mysterious Girlfriend X, The Severing Crime Edge, and Dog & Scissors, I dare say that scissors must be a popular weapon these days. But in the case of this particular series the scissors are wielded by a male protagonist named Haimura Kiri who has a fascination with cutting hair. 

It seems that the Japanese have a real fascination for hair if their horror movies and anime shows are any indication, but I don't mind it so much because I think the culture is really cool. And, of course, not all Japanese people like anime or horror movies, but I'm quite certain the anime culture in Japan is a lot more fervent than the anime culture in America and they apparently take hair very seriously. Personally, I'd kill for anime hair because then I wouldn't have worry about things like premature graying or baldness.

Anyway, our main character meets up with the character dubbed the Queen of Hair, Mushanokoji Iwai. Iwai has really long black hair that cannot be cut by ordinary scissors. However, through chance and circumstance Kiri meets up with Iwai and he tries to cut her hair. It isn't until that Kiri tries to cut her hair with his own pair of scissors that we are introduced to what is essentially the central plot of the series. 

Kiri's pair of scissors has a history behind it and the original owner was supposedly a man who killed hundreds of people. There are other people out there who inherited certain devices with morbid histories and these device speak out to their owners and drive them insane with the urge to kill. The devices are called "killing goods" and the people haunted by these devices are called "authors." To stay sane and to keep from indulging in mass murder everyday, some authors use "insteads" and insteads are people who are willing to bear the brunt of an author's urge. Think of it this way, in this show a woman has a syringe and when her urge gets too great her friend fills the syringe with saline and allows her to stab her and inject her with it in the arm as many times as it takes until the urge passes. This way nobody dies. 

The thing is, Kiri doesn't feel an urge to kill people; He just wants to cut hair. However, when the Gossip organization (a shady group that watches over authors and the hair queen) reinstates the "kill the hair queen game," Kiri must use his scissors to protect Iwai from authors who believe that killing the Queen of Hair will allow their inner most desires come true. 

Along the way Kiri discovers that maybe he is a true author after all and that maybe there are those out there who are worse than your typical author. 

This show isn't great but it is pretty decent. As goofy as the premise is it largely works because it is mostly played straight-faced with the exception of the odd comedic moment. Some of the humor is a bit ill-timed considering that I thought a more serious approach was the way to go, but it is serious at a lot of times and it does get bloody when the situation calls for it. Of course, there are a few ecchi shots and that's all fine and dandy until you remember that Iwai is supposed to be fourteen years old. Then it gets uncomfortable. 

Not a lot is resolved by the end and we see glimpses of what could very well be a second season if this goes over well in Japan. Hopefully, it will because I like the story enough for it to continue. 

Naturally, I watched this show in Japanese with English subtitles and aside from the high-voiced Iwai, I don't think any of the voice-actors got on my nerves too much. If this gets an English dub, it'd be interesting to see who will do the show. I'd say it's iffy that this show gets a dub, but I honestly didn't think Mysterious Girlfriend X would get a dub, either. So we'll see.