Kick-Ass: B (Movie) and Proud of It

Kick Ass movie poster

I’ve watched Kick-Ass in the cinema right after it was released, and I was thoroughly entertained. I nearly titled this post “Nicholas Cage: B (Movie) and Proud of It” because the last movie of Cage’s that I enjoyed was also a self-aware B-movie, Ghost Rider.

Now, there’s a funny thing about descriptors, that is touched in Philosophy of Language; the part where the reason they had received the name no longer applies. For instance, you might have got the term of distance “foot” from a real person’s foot, but if after the measuring was done (12 inches, or 31 centimeters) the measurements had changed, you didn’t then change the “size” it refers to.

Likewise, Kick-Ass enjoys the highest production qualities, and good acting and directing. Yet it’s a B-movie, partly because it makes a conscious choice to be one. Well, I’m unsure that today any movie is a B-movie that is not aware of its status, and it’s always better to embrace it for its full potential than to succumb to it unintentionally.

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Angel Beats! – It Could’ve Been Wonderful

angel-beats Angel Beats! started great. The hype-machine was in full force. Angel Beats was probably the anime with the most visibility this last season. But in the end, I don’t know how many people who did not watch it this season will even remember or speak of it in two years’ time. It could’ve been great. It wasn’t.

This series is about people who have died, reached a sort of a high-school purgatory, where they can live their lives as school-students. Otonashi, the main protagonist of the series wakes up without memories, dies to someone referred to as “Angel”(Tenshi), and is pressed into the “Rebels Against Gods” (The “SSS Brigade”). You see, if you live your life as a good school student, you disappear. The members of the brigade, having suffered horrible lives, or deaths they cannot accept, cannot accept the will of God (though it’s not really clear how not going to the next life is going to help… just because it’s doing the opposite of what God wants?).

(This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such covers more my thoughts, and is less focused as an actual bona fide review. There will be a LOT of spoilers in this post.) Continue reading

Mecha Anime or Anime With Mecha? China Mieville to the Rescue!

ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam

This blog post will discuss, or at least raise the question, of what exactly is a Mecha Anime, and raise the argument that most anime where mecha appear are in fact not Mecha Anime.

China Miéville, for those who don’t know him is a British sci-fi/fantasy author whom I am quite fond of, and who is to put it succinctly, an “Urban Author”.  China Mieville wrote King Rat, which also deals with London, and the city’s feel, and environs. China Mieville writes in a word called Bas-Lag, the first book deals with the city of New Crobuzon, and the politics of the city, its ethnic (of races) make-up, etc.
His book from 2009 (which I am dearly waiting to acquire) is titled The City & The City, and I assume you can see how cities stand at its core.

The point I am trying to make is, that while in most stories we have cities, in most of them these cities are a backdrop to the action, and don’t figure heavily into the narrative. They are not major characters in the story, and far too often are not even truly supporting characters.
Not so in Mieville’s books, where the city is often as important a character as any of the protagonists and antagonists who make up the story, and while it often doesn’t show itself in any concentrated manner, it appears in small ways interweaved with anything that occurs.

So, this is the point from which I wish to discuss mecha in anime. Just like in many books and series, the city is just a backdrop, or even glossed over completely, in many anime series, including ones that bill themselves as “mecha anime”, the mecha are not a core part of the story, and even if they supposedly are, it’s not often in the “right” way.

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Shower Me With Awesome, Mine Readers!

I meant to post this Friday evening, before I went and had a marvelous weekend with my girlfriend, Chen, but I think posting now after I’ve had a wonderful weekend and returned home will also serve well.

Well, I’ve been away for the last several months, we all know that. We also all know that we do not all share the same interests, but many of us can find truly cool things online. Cool videos, (like Yi and the ove for Gaga‘s Alejandro), cool images (Mefloraine and the Pixiv obsession :-)), cool gadget news (Hikky) or cool blogs.

Speaking of "shower", an image playing on the old "My Neighbour Totoro"'s cover image, from Gelbooru.

So, dear readers. Why not post here about really really cool things you’ve all come across on the internet lately? Feel free to comment and exclaim with wonder about the lovely things your fellow commentors have found.

Also, I will update my “Links” page the coming week, so feel free to share cool sites, cool blogs, or other things worthy of my attention, and my Links page’s love in the comments as well :)

So, love you all, and the next entry will be “China Mieville and Mecha Anime”, the alternative title is “Not all Anime with Mecha are Mecha Anime”!

Edit: This is a post where you, the readers, get to tell me and my other readers what you are excited about. Just post it.

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Harry Potter and Sex, Idealized Settings and Hidden Messages

Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid in Harry Potter and ...

Foreward: This entry was written by myself back at April 2007. The last book was not yet written. I thought it’s interesting, so I am going to share it (with minor cleaning up); especially seeing what I covered in my 100th post, regarding slash-fic. Anyway, onward we go.

There is no sex in Harry Potter.
As far as we know, all the non-parent characters are virgins. We know Harry is a virgin, Ron is a virgin unless he got some action during his summer vacations, which is unlikely, living at home and far away from civilization and other humans.
Hermione is the most likely one to have had sex, seeing she spends her summer vacations amongst humanity, and we know very little of what she does during that time.

We know the characters’ parents, and parental characters had sex, but we only know of it because they have children.
This is a rather prudish way of handling things.

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The Brothers Lionheart – Favourite Childhood Book

Lionheart brothers

Sometimes you come across something that is perfect. A moment frozen in time that you can return to time and time again. Books can be good at that. Such a perfect book for me when I was a child, that I still read every several years, is The Brothers Lionheart, by Astrid Lindgren who is best known for writing Pippi Longstocking.

I first read this book in the third grade. A story about life and death, a story about living under occupation, of fighting for freedom where freedom should be assured for you, for life after death, about death after death. It is a story about sacrifice, of growing up, of love, of loving your older brother, of being loved by your older brother. It is a story about being weak. It is a story about mythology.

What is the plot about? Karl adores his big brother Jonatan, and they die, then they get to live in this land beyond death, but treachery and an evil tyrant loom over the peaceful valleys. And things progress from there.

 When I tell you that the book is perfect, and that I really love it, I mean it. Look on its Amazon page, out of 53 reviews, 50 give it a five stars. That’s almost unprecedented. We have two copies of this book in our household, as I was unwilling to give the book to my younger siblings to read. This book, it is just mine.

This book does not cut corners. The protagonist is a ten-year-old boy. I read it as a nine-year-old boy, the first time. And yet, as you can see, those are some really heady issues that the book does not shirk from. You get to face these issues squarely as Karl, the protagonist, does. This book speaks to children without making light their capability to understand these topics. As such, it’s also a book that you’d be perfectly happy to read as an adult, because it’s a book that speaks in the language it does, not trying to speak to children or over their heads.

I don’t have much to say of this book, because I have SO much to say of the book. I could write thousands and thousands of words about the book, but it’d be best if you’d read it. I could write thousands upon thousands of words regarding the book, but I’d rather do it in a discussion with you guys, and not here from my position as a blogger.

I have said often before that one of the main criteria I use to judge books is its emotional impact. I can use that criteria to judge this book. Both using that criteria, and not using that criteria, this book is just about perfect.

This book gets a 10/10 score, and only because I can’t give it 11.

So what are your favourite childhood books, and why? And do you think you’ll still enjoy them today?

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Yaoi/Slash is Porn; But Does it Have Males?

Zephyrus and Hyacinth; Attic red-figure cup fr...

So, here’s the deal. Slash is a form of fan-fiction written that for the most part covers (male) homosexual relationships between two characters, from the same fantasy world, or even crossing boundaries (pun). Yaoi is anime/manga focused on homoeroticism.
So far, so good?

These are porn, and the characters written within them often fail to portray people of the gender they seemingly portray, not unlike lesbian pornorgraphy (pornography with two (or more!) women, mostly aimed at men, as distinct from pornography aimed at the lesbian community).

Now, I’m going to leave aside the discussion of whether Porn is or isn’t bad, but if we’re honest, fiction written in order to get people sexually aroused and which people use in order to get sexually aroused? I don’t really see any term to use to describe it aside from pornography.

My other claim which is a bit more controversial (that is less to say, it’s more of an opinion), is that there’s a “gender-swap” going on. The men in yaoi/slash, while they are males (biological distinction), are not men (social distinction). What they are, is women, or to put it in a crass but catchy manner – they are chicks with dicks.

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Portal – I Came Late to the Party, No Cake was Left

The box art for the PC version of Portal.

Well, Portal is two years old, and recently, I assume to celebrate Steam becoming available for Mac users, Valve/Steam had released Portal for free, for about a week.

What is Portal? Historically, it’s a small game that came bundled with Half Life 2: The Second Episode, also bundled came Team Fortress 2. I passed on this game, and never did pick up Portal alone.

Portal had won numerous accolades, and if I had to describe what kind of game it is, it’s a puzzle game, and as many puzzle games, it’s also a platformer. It’s a 3D platformer, but that’s not entirely new, as there had been Rayman 3(D) before. It’s also a first person platformer, which is slightly rarer. Here is a 2D platformer flash based version of Portal someone made online. The maps from this version were later added to the actual game.

Portal, is a game that in a way is based on the physics engine of Half-Life 2, and is a game where you have two weapons: Your wits, and the portal gun. Do try to keep your wits about you. Your Portal Gun (Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device) is capable of shooting two portals, one for entry and one for egress. You can easily cross chasms or walls in this manner, or leap a great distance forward.

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