Sunday, September 20, 2009

Superheroes: Threat Or Menace?

Another of my brief rants. I'll be adding these periodically as they come up, and do my best to keep them short 'cause I hate it when people go on and on in cases like this. We get it. You're angry. Go shoot something in a video game and calm the fck down.

Anyhow. You know what really grinds my gears? The complaints about superheroes dominating the comic book industry. Don't get me wrong, its definitely true, but to hear these people talk, they sound like they'd be happy if superheroes were wiped out from comics entirely.

...Word, son? So then comics can be a respectable medium of storytelling like the others? And on top of that, exactly the same, too. Filled with the exact same genres except with nowhere near as interesting stories. Brilliant.

Don't get me wrong--I don't hate ALL indy comics. Vertigo frequently comes out with some gems, and I really enjoy a lot of the licensed comics coming out of BOOM! and IDW, and I'm giving thought to checking out some things from Dynamite as well.

But really, setting aside the quality of most independent comics...just, look at the genres. Mystery. Horror. Sci-Fi. Horror. Fantasy. Horror. (Yeah, three times. There's a lot of horror stories in writers, for some strange reason.) Haven't we seen these before? Like, in every other form of storytelling there is?

Superheroes started in comics, and they're unique to comics. Yes yes, I know, they're in cartoons and movies, but really. 2008 was hailed as this great year for superhero movies--how many did we actually get? Three. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Dark Knight. 2009 was devoid of them, to my knowledge. (Not counting Watchmen.)

New cartoons come out pretty much every year, but superheroes make up a miniscule portion of those cartoons, not even comprising all of the action series to be released. Between DC and Marvel, there's currently a total of five superhero on the air: Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, and Batman: Brave and the Bold. (And, recently, The Super Hero Squad.) That's the most that's been on at one time all decade, and even WITH all four of those on the air, you gotta know at best they're all going to die after 65 episodes, while Spongebob continues to run and gain an episode count into the 100s.

There's live-action, but Warners has been trying to get a series that isn't Smallville off the ground for the better part of the last five years to absolutely zero success. Marvel didn't even try.

The fact is, for all of their popularity, the only place superheroes have REALLY been able to live, nevermind thrive, is in comics. And you want to wipe them out THERE, too? Wow. Selfish. You get every other form of storytelling there is, and you want this one too?

Plus, you can't actually tell me all superhero comic books are awful. Not without having some ridiculous bias. Kurt Busiek's Astro City. The Busiek/Perez Avengers run. Kurt Busiek's Iron Man. Grant Morrison's stint on JLA, with all its epic insanity. Keith Giffen's comedic take on the same characters in JLI. Morrison's New X-Men. Brubaker, Fraction, and David Aja's Immortal Iron Fist. Grant Morrison's Flex Mentallo. Chuck Dixon's 100 issue Robin run, which was basically the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man of its era. Busiek's Marvels mini-series. Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue. Neil Gaiman's 1602. Geoff Johns' Hawkman. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's The Legion. Geoff Johns' JSA. Joe Casey's modern-day take on the early years of the Avengers, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The epic weekly series by Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and Grant Morrison, 52. Peter David's wonderful 80 issue run on Supergirl. Geoff Johns' Green Lantern. Peter David's classic Aquaman run. Gail Simone's All-New Atom. Allan Heinberg's Young Avengers. Peter David's Young Justice series. James Robinson's Starman.

Those are just the titles I thought of off the top of my head. If you can tell me NONE of those titles are any good, then fine. I guess you hate superheroes. But that's not really the genres fault, because they've churned out plenty of quality work, ranging from pure superhero action (Avengers) to futuristic sci-fi (The Legion) to romance stories (Spider-Man: Blue). And there are so many stories I left out. Dozens that I've read, not to mention the older stories I've never read. Wolfman/Perez's Titans. Paul Levitz's Legion. Mark Waid's Flash. Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams' Batman. O'Neil's The Question.

Yeah, there's crap. Plenty of it. But that's in EVERY genre. Sure, the fans can be annoying. Again, in EVERY genre. But to pretend like the medium would be better off without superheroes...its not just selfish...its kind of offensive. Basically, you're saying you don't enjoy good stories.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Anime Season!

Here we are again. Its been awhile since I've done one of these, or it seems like its been awhile. Troubles with my connection have been making me pull back on anime a bit. Hopefully that won't last for much longer. As always, the giant chart is posted above. (Click it to get the full image.) Or go here. (More HQ version.)

I actually haven't read it yet, so this will be a new experience for all of us!

Queen's Blade: Heir to the Throne

Brief Summary: The super fanservice-y show from this Spring returns with a sequel! (...Scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't we?) You know the deal: There's a competition to decide the next Queen, where the winner will be allowed to rule, while the contestants need only be older than 12. They can be from any race, or country.

Why I'm Interested: Well...why not? The first one, as I understand it, was full of complete insanity, so the second should be the same, if not crank it up a notch. After all at this point, it has an established fanbase.

Interest Level: C+

Nyan Koi!

Brief Summary: Junpei Kosaka is allergic to, and thus, despises cats. However, his high school crush, Kaede Mizuno, loves them. One day, Junpei kicks an empty can and awakens a guardian cat deity, and then finds he can now understand the language of cats. However, if he does not grant 100 wishes from cats, he will become a cat himself.

Why I'm Interested: Kittens rock. TALKING kittens rule even more. (Any time an animal talks in a show, it gains points from me.) Plus, this looks like it'll be a decent comedy, and I need that.

Interest Level: A-


Brief Summary: Natsuru Seno, an ordinary high school boy, suddenly wakes up one morning to find he is a girl, as explained by a disemboweled plush tiger. Natsuru eventually discovers that (s)he has been chosen to participate in Kampfer battles with other girls.

Why I'm Interested: Gotta say. Normally I dislike these "x character wakes up a boy/girl!" series. Waking up as another gender sounds...well, terrifying. Right now my interest hinges on exactly what a Kampfer fight is, and whether or not I care.

Interest Level: B-

Asura Cryin' 2

Brief Summary: Semi-serious school action story revolves around Tomoharu Natsume, a boy who has been haunted by a ghostly girl who was a childhood friend. (Wiki)

Why I'm Interested: Y'know what's funny? I didn't even know there was an Asura Cryin' 1. I don't really try to remember things I don't think will be good, so I actually had to Wiki this thing, then look back on my Spring chart. Asura Cryin' 1 had the exact same description, except the picture above it had a boy and girl back to back in school uniforms and a sakura tree in the background.

That's so boring my eyes wouldn't LET me see it the first time. The new picture (in the chart) features a hot sniper girl, a cute warrior miko, and mecha in the background. The large disparity between the awesomeness of the picture and the blandness of the description tells me there's GOT to be more to this series than I initially guessed, so I'll be looking into season 1 to see exactly what's up with this show, and hopefully it'll be worth my time.

Interest Level: B

Armed Librarians: Book of Bantorra

Brief Summary: In a world where dead people turn into books and are stored in the Bantorra Library, anyone who reads a book can learn their past. Bantorra Library is maintained by Armed Librarians who wield psychic powers and their enemy is a religious society known as Sindeki Kyoudan. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: A library made interesting? Sure, why not? Whole story seems to promise at least a halfway interesting plot. Good Fights (almost a necessity if the series isn't a comedy) seem to be promised as well--last series I saw with crazy psychic powers (I believe) was Scryed, and that one definitely delivered.

Interest Level: B+

Tegami Bachi

Brief Summary: Lag Seeling is a young boy born on The Day of Flicker, when the man made sun disappeared. His ambition is to be a Letter Bee, couriers that deliver mail throughout Amber Ground, and follow in the footsteps of the disappeared Gauche, a precious friend from his early childhood.

Why I'm Interested: Huh. A shonen series not about ninjas or pirates or spells. You don't see these every day. I'd been seeing the manga pop up on TheSubWire every few weeks or so, but really didn't have the drive to check it out. Still, as its now gotten an anime, I think the series deserves a shot, no? Hopefully the adaptation will be pretty tight, as this has a lot of potential to be one of the more original shonen series.

Interest Level: B

Seiken no Blacksmith

Brief Summary: Once upon a time, there was a tragic war, in which the power of the devils was involved. After the war, the devils' power was banned and the world was restored to peace. Cecily Campbell is a knight, who has been looking for a blacksmith to repair her old sword given by her father. One day, she saw a man fighting with a ruffian who used the tabooed devil's power. The man defeated him with one blow of his weirdly shaped sword. The man turned out to be a blacksmith called Luke. The fateful encounter was the beginning of the adventure. (MAL)

Why I'm Interested: Swordfights. Every season needs a good sword dueling anime. The show need only have Cecily either start out as, or become a good swordswoman, and I'm sold. Even the plot doesn't have to be all that. The swordfights can make up for them.

Interest Level: A

Shin Koihime Musou

Brief Summary: The continued adventures of Rinrin and Aisha, the Bandit Hunters. A loose (very) adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Why I'm Interested: 'Cause Koihime Musou turned out to be as awesome as I thought it was, hah! Lots of comedy, relatively little fanservice (...seriously, for this series SO much more could've happened), and even some decent action scenes! Shin should come a bit closer to the actual events of Rot3K, since essentially KM was like a prologue to everything before the countries began fighting one another. Personally when they first ended this thing I was just beginning to love it, so to learn a second season's coming out makes me happy. Now who do I petition for more Kachou Mask and more Ryofu Housen and her puppies?

Interest Level: A+

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Pureeza

Brief Summary: Continuation of last summer's Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. "In the story, Yuuto Ayase is an ordinary boy in an private high school with the usual cliques. Haruka, the school's most unattainable girl, is so idolized in the school for both her beauty and smarts that her classmates nickname her Nuit √Čtoile (The Silver Star of the Night) and Lumi√®re du Clavier (The Shining Princess on the Piano). However, in the school's library, Yuuto stumbles across her and her darkest secret — she is a diehard fan of anime, manga, and otaku culture." (Source: ANN)

Why I'm Interested: Well, obviously I was interested in last year's. Comedy/Romance, when done right, is actually capable of hooking me now--hence my watching (and liking) what I saw of Special A. Bonus points for involving otaku/anime culture.

Interest Level: B

Fairy Tail

Brief Summary: Lucy Heartfilia aims to join the world's most notorious mage guild, "Fairy Tail". During a daring rescue, Lucy encounters Natsu, a teenaged practitioner of the Dragon Slayer magic and a Fairy Tail member. Lucy is welcomed into the guild to start a life of quests and mages.

Why I'm Interested: Mage Battles rank right under sword battles in terms of interest for me, so there's that. Plus I liked what I read of the manga, the only complaint being that I didn't like the artstyle too much. Its a shonen series, so it should run for quite a while (yay), now I only have to hope they have the good sense to switch villains like Yu Yu Hakusho, rather than stick us with only one for the duration.

Interest Level: A

Kiddy Girl-and

Brief Summary: The story is set in the Star Century year 0379, roughly two centuries after the original Kiddy Grade and about five centuries after our present day. The spirited Asukuru and serious Que Feuilles work for the galactic government known as GTO. The two girls are members of ES and are training to become GTO's finest secret agents.

Why I'm Interested: Kiddy Grade is my fourth favorite anime series of all time. There've been rumors of a second series for nearly a half decade now, but I couldn't focus on them lest I get too impatient about it. Now its confirmed though, and I'm absolutely elated about being able to revisit one of my favorite universes of all time. It may be centuries later, but, well...if you've seen the show...

Interest Level: A++

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Brief Summary: 52 episode adaptation of the original Chinese novel that depicted the warring period of second century China and the political intrigue between the different factions. It is a joint partnership between Japanese and Chinese animation companies.

Why I'm Interested: Finally a true, classic rendition of the Chinese legend. Now, presuming they don't get bogged down in the more boring parts of things (I don't need to know when Zhou Yu showers), this should be quite the quality series. Its even being done by Chinese animation companies as well so it'll be a lot closer to the source material. Not saying it'll be exact--check out the C-Dramas (several of them exist) to see about what we'll be getting.

Interest Level: A

And that's about it. 12 series. Not too horrible out of 34 series. I'll be checking out all of these, and the best six or seven or so I'll be sticking with. Of course, I can't forget the number of OVAs being released. Check the chart. I'll be looking at a few of them, but REALLY the one that matters is....

Yu-Gi-Oh! 10th Special

Brief Summary: Crossover movie made for the 10th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh. It'll feature the three main characters of the television series: Yugi Mutou, Judai Yuuki, and Yusei Fudou.

Why I'm Interested: 'Cause I love Yu-Gi-Oh. The surprisingly well done awesomeness of 5D's reminded me of that, so obviously I'll be the one in Yusei's camp. Go Yusei and Stardust! "Clustering hopes will become a new, shining star! Become the path its light shines upon! Take flight, Stardust Dragon!" He is sooo much cooler than Yugi and Judai.

Interest Level: A++

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Song of the Day - Masami Okui: I was born to fall in love

Whew. All this young person stuff is starting to get to me. Let's go for something from a little further back than this decade to finish out this week.

And here we are, with The Queen of Music (I could've stuffed this entire week with her stuff...seriously) and one of her really early songs from her very first album, Gyuu. That places this song at about...1994, or so? Back when NGE was just another giant robot series. Back before people knew what a "digisub" was. And, in a way, back when anime was almost...magical to us folks over here in the West. Kind of a golden age, really.

Heh, 'course, all that's quite before my time. Really when this song first came out I was still watching Power Rangers and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. But, a few years later, right around the time the anime boom was really hitting America (1999-2000), I started watching one of my favorite series, Sorcerer Hunters. Lovely show I'll talk about more later, but, much like the avid moviegoer, one of my most favorite parts of buying a new VHS tape to continue the show, was actually the previews that came before it. They gave me a glimpse into so many other shows--so many other worlds that I wanted to know more about.

One of those shows was Compiler, where Masami Okui did one of my favorite songs (with one of my favorite titles), I was born to fall in love. Have a look-see:

Very 80's-ish kinda song, don't you think?

Music Video of the Day - fripSide: Flower of Bravery

Koihime Musou is one of those series that can ONLY come from Japan, with all of its harems and cute schoolgirls with infinite hammerspace capabilities.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters...all reimagined either as busty warrior girls or lolicons, and all of them in skimpy outfits. This would drive your average "artsy" anime fan a bit batty, but if you have a sense of humor, this is JUST amusing enough to be addicting. And this incredibly upbeat song by fripSide is the perfect opening.

Friday, September 4, 2009

(Live!) Song of the Day - Nana Mizuki: Dancing in the Velvet Moon

Of course, sweet as Cosmic Love is (literally, it seems, according to the video), it doesn't come close to the face-burning off pwnery that is Dancing in the Velvet Moon. R+V's end theme, Nana dumps all the cutesy stuff and earns her Sage-bestowed Princess of Music title and shows us her vocal range with what is almost a complete 180 of Cosmic Love.

Dancing in the Velvet Moon's epic, almost symphony-like music, paired with Mizuki's voice comes very close to being one of my favorite anime-related songs of all time. Enjoy.

....Gotta give the girl her props. She knows when and where to put the drama. Love her dress, too. (That is probably the most metrosexual thing I've ever said. ...Hopefully, I can keep it that way.)

Music Video of the Day - Nana Mizuki: Cosmic Love

I feel my Princess of Music hasn't gotten enough attention on here.

Its impossible to unseat Masami-chan, but Nana Mizuki would be the one to do it if anyone were to, and because of that she's earned the title of Princess of Music from me. My first introduction to Mizuki-chan was the fanservice (and panties)-laden Rosario to Vampire, where she voiced the main love interest, Akashiya Moka.

I've never been the type to pay much attention to seiyuu, but when I noticed she also did the peppy opening song to the series, Cosmic Love, that's when I sat up and took notice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Song of the Day - Akino: Go Tight!

Sousei! Gattai! GO! AQUARION!!!

Haha, I really don't get tired of that. Just such a great sync phrase. Aquarion is one of the few ACTUAL Super Robot series left. Everybody's too busy looking at shit like Code Geass or Macross or Gundam (NONE OF WHICH HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH SUPER ROBOTS...aside from G) and calling that Super Robot lately. Oh well.

Akino's second OP for Aquarion is just as awesome as the first, so enjoy folks!s

Music Video of the Day: L'Arc~En~Ciel: Driver's High

...Freaking Hyde. You suck, dude.

No joke. Hyde never has to do another good song for the rest of his life (though he has), and the sheer, nuts-shattering AWESOMENESS of Driver's High will STILL provide him with cool points. Even the freaking video is top quality. *sighs* Carry on, you obnoxiously talented bastard. Carry on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Song of the Day - Asano Masumi: FATE

Another case of a seiyuu singing. This one's the character song for Sonsaku Hakufu, protagonist of Ikki Tousen. Another case of harmonization reeling me in, you not hear that guitar riff? Its the PERFECT song to play while you're kicking the crap out of someone in your favorite fighting game.

(Incidentally, Sonsaku Hakufu has got to be one of the most ridiculous protagonists in a shounen-type series ever.)

Music Video of the Day - FLOW: Colors

Code Geass' first opening.

FLOW is a very interesting rock band, to me. Much like L~Arc, normally I can take them or leave them. But every now and again, they'll get on the right anime OP and rip it. You gotta admire that, on some levels.

Granted, Code Geass sucks, but we'll get into that later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Song of the Day - Cast of BAMBOO BLADE: STAR RISE

Ah, Japan. This whole thing totally threw me at first.

I'm used to them bringing in either nameless singers or big-name guys (see: Phil Collins) for songs in animation series or movies, but in Japan they usually try to get the actual stars of the series to do at least ONE song for the series, often times either doing a song specifically related to their character, or doing the opening or the ending song of the series.

Occasionally, they'll even drag all the seiyuus together into a room and make them do the opening/ending song as a group. Bamboo Blade's Star Rise is one such case. You'd think this would be awful, as carrying a tune is not a skill all humans possess. Generally though, they seem to know when and where to do this, though either way I usually bail on these things.

However, I AM a sucker for good harmonization, something these girls have in spades. So, enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Younha: Houkiboushi

First day of the new month. Let's try a little something different here at JiH, hm?

Its all anime songs week! For the next five days you'll be getting my favorite anime openings and endings. For today, hope you all are in the mood for some J-Pop!