Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why wouldn't buildings bleed?

Since Guder is too fuck lazy to post it his damn self.
This actually worked better without sound; appears to be a non-final trailer with a hideously mangled temp voice over by the director.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looks like it's time to gripe about another fallen creator

Kishiro, Kishiro, what are we going to do with you? In volume 10 of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, you gave us hope that the plot was lurching forward at long, long last, but apparently that was too exciting and you decided we needed an entire volume of downtime to recover, as the alleged main character sits out an entire volume, AGAIN. There's at least a better reason for it than usual, but the main problem is that you don't seem capable of taking anything seriously anymore. Sure, we get our usual dose of macho existential transcendental martial arts philosophizin', but it's in the middle of two chapters of dick jokes. Which I suppose itself may be a metacomment on said philosophy.

The problem with sequels is that, ideally, you've already said everything you wanted to the first time around, so your choices are either to go with your second-best idea, or just kill time vamping. And Kishiro definitely seems to have gone the second route. He claimed that the ending of the original Battle Angel was not his first choice, hence this extended do-over, but either he's fibbing, or it was a happy accident that it ended as well as it did (I'm recalling the other story about how his editors completely changed his original concept for the series and "somehow it all worked out OK"). He definitely wouldn't be the first creator to accidentally ruin a story by overthinking it.

The reason BAA was so impressive was that the story MOVED. Nine volumes was more than enough to show massive growth in Alita as a character, and that really stood out from both the American and Japanese books I was reading at the time. Last Order almost in its entirety is the Motorball arc writ large-- something Kishiro was wise enough to limit to two volumes the first time around. Now it's just another tournament fighting series, and frankly about as boring as all the rest.

I suspect Kishiro is as bored with this as I am. I dunno whether his editors are forcing him to continue this, but his interest now seems purely on the art side. And if you just want to draw wacky shit but can't be bothered to put in the work to actually write things, a fighting tournament is the perfect lazy answer. The rise of generic cocky badass Sechs is no accident-- (s)he has no personality, so (s)he's much easier to slot into random fights.

So Last Order, at its best, is just a glimmer of what I liked about the original BAA. Perhaps the original story isn't as good as I recall it, or maybe this stuff just isn't as original the second time around, but I'm in for the long haul, anyway. Kishiro may just be hacking out the story, but it's at least pretty to look at. I just miss the days when it was also interesting to read.

Japan still has it

In between the sort of relentlessly bland human dramas the fucktards running the Seattle Film Festival exclusively wasted their time booking, Japan still manages to turn out completely insane shit.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kino's Increasingly Irrelevant Travels

Just how out of ideas is Sigsawa? He did three volumes of his new series without a blessed thing of interest happening, and now he shits out a Kino no Tabi book with ONE damn story worth reading. And even that one would have been a mildly interesting quickie in his heyday.
Whatever good will that story briefly generated is instantly dissolved by the blood boilingly bad story about a country that only had four wheeled cars and two wheeled bicycles, in which a fucking endless number of people decide to make a decision based on which of the two passes by outside only to have Kino and Hermes pass instead. A few of these, and then something clever dealing with how they react? Sure, a good story. But no, we just get fucking twenty of them and then the fucking story ends. Insultingly bad.
I dunno if he's just gotten protective or what. Half the best Kino no Tabi stories were always ones where she was unrelentingly vicious, but she's been neutered to the point of not even having a personality for ages now, even with Sigsawa attempting to cast her as the villain in a story last time around. Nothing happens in her stories; only the Shisho and Shizu stories contain anything remotely like an event.
It gets so bad he actually fucking does a god damn alternate realty story this time around - a fucking story about a slave who fails to warn his owners that they're about to eat poison, then finds a fucking talking motorrad that correctly realizes what the owners never did - the slave is a girl. (On the last page, Kino and Hermes find the bodies, so I suppose it technically isn't an alternate reality, but still, the parallels were obvious, and all the more fucking inept because of it.
Man, I hope Sigsawa pulls out of this slump soon. It hurts to watch him embarrass himself like this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"May the Force be with you."

Thailand is really coming along, eh? I mean, they're no Nigeria, but they are crankin' out a bunch of decent-to-excellent fu flicks, at the very least.

In the best fu movie tradition, Mercury Man's plot basically makes no sense. We get an explanation of the hero's super powers that totally fails to address the other superdude running around, a conflicting Engrished technobabble explanation that actually removed information from my mind, and then finally it takes the bad guys the entire movie to think of the most practical use for their magic amulet.

But who needs plot when you have spider fire magnetic arbitrary powers? This movie is heavily indebted to Spider-Man, and apparently they were really worried no one would notice the similar black outfit or the way he magnetically "web-slings" around town, so they make sure to explicitly reference him and his catchphrase in dialogue, and show TWO DIFFERENT pieces of "Hi Spidy" graffiti (a la the "Spielberg, Lucas, let's do it together!" set decor from Ong Bak).

However, MM is no Peter Parker. For one thing, he is completely irrelevant to the climax of the movie. If you're getting shown up by the comic relief character, you got some problems with your heroing, though this may have been foreshadowed when the elephants kung-fu double-teamed him.

Another sign that he may not be a very good hero is that he will straight up murder people. I'm not sure this is intentional, either on his part or the filmmakers', but as depicted, no one could survive the mangling he hands out to getaway cars, and we don't see anybody get out either.

So what I'm saying is, this movie isn't "good" by conventional human standards, but it's certainly watchable. If for nothing more than a cadre of Engrish-spouting villains and transsexual fashion designer "big sister" kung fu battle against frosted-hair mad scientist.

Jess Franco would be pleased

And so Princess Resurrection kicks off its sixth volume by checking Women In Prison off the list of B-movie genres. By itself, this is an enjoyable volume, but a few things are starting to bug me about the series as a whole.

As noted last time, the violence is getting a bit less over-the-top, especially the bits directed at our sad-sack protagonist. This is one of the things keeping this from just being, like, Rosario + Vampire, so I'm sad to see it get dialed back.

Also, the pace of the plot can only be described as glacial, though to be fair I was initially surprised to see it develop one at all. PR isn't so much chapters in a continuing story as it is a bunch of random action setpieces based on whatever was playing on Cinemax last night. This particular volume is so picaresque that the Princess sustains a major injury between chapters, then heals up completely between the next two.

On the bright side, drawing whatever the hell you feel like isn't such a bad thing if you're a decent artist, and for every unfortunately dressed extra (I have no idea what's going on with the werewolf gang leader's pants) there's an interesting bit like this lens flare effect off the flashlight, which I actually can't recall having seen before, at least in manga. The title character's complete unflappability also leads to a fairly original twist on the old "replaced by doppelganger" gag.

This is still trashy fun, but I fear it's not going to fully live up to its initial promise and become awesome. Prove me wrong, Mitsunaga. I'd also like to ask Del Rey to step up their game on their translation/English adaptation/localization/whatever we're calling it today. I dare anyone to read the Princess' dialogue on the left over there in anything but a halting Shatnerian stammer. You can maybe argue that it feeds into the Ed Wood ambiance, but frankly, I just reread a bunch of Studio Proteus books and I'm not feeling that generous. Even Toren Smith's porn reads way better than this.

Return of the Headless Rider

Dulalala x3!
While Baccano! is definitely Narita Ryohgo's best series, Dulalala! is damn near as good. Like Baccano!, it offers a berserk blend of random genre elements - the title being derived from the Dullahan in exile, working as a underworld courier, her headless mount disguised as a motorcycle. There's been a simmering plot through the series about exactly which evil group of mad scientists and otherwise psychotic puppet masters is currently controlling her stolen head, but this usually takes a back seat to Ikebukuro West Gate Park inspired gang activity. Only with evil swords that possess people. This one promised to bring things to a head; the Anonymous style internet based gang known only as Dollars, the hive mind collected created by the magic sword, and a traditional color gang are each collectively run by the three members of a high school love triangle, who hilariously have kept all this secret from each other despite the fact that their groups hate each other.
I was sort of expecting full on action, really, but it sort of wound up being heavily based on the color gang leader's angsty backstory, to the point where I got half way through the mammoth 440 page book and couldn't for the life of me figure out where all those pages had gone.
I generally think Narita is at his weakest when he's being serious, and this was quite a grim book - but this time around the serious stuff generally worked, and the wacky comedy subplot involving a mad scientist in a white gas mask generally fell totally flat as a result. I certainly missed the headlong enthusiasm that coursed through the first two books in the series, but perhaps it was necessary to resolve this set of plots, and let the Dullahan and other larger than life characters (one dude who gets shot several times, and goes to see a doctor on account of he might get lead poisoning, and then walks out the next day and picks a fight with a moving van) can fuck some shit up proper next volume.
Gosh, I sure get a lot more reading done when I'm riding the bus to work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finally, something on topic crosses my path

Perhaps I should have just pretended the amazing Black Dynamite was on topic and posted about that.
Instead, have a violent trailer!