Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Battle Rap Wednesday - Danny Myers vs. Mark Miner

This plus the Ill Will battle being posted after KOTD and UW had such dope events is a really good look.   SMACK is big enough that they can just keep doing them and not lose much steam.  As far as this battle:

YIKES.  I wondered what would happen if Myers went up against someone with nowhere near the skill of Rum Nitty, and here I got my answer.  Myers KILLS this dude in the first round, then comes back to desecrate the corpse in rounds two and three.   The only thing I remember of Miner's is that X-Men scheme, and that was the only time the room wasn't fucking dead for him.   Each time Myers started up though, you could almost feel the energy in the room change and the hype fill the air.  I love it--we need as many new guys as possible. 

Bottom of the Pile: Jan. 22, 2014

Woo, this a lot later than I planned.  So let's just jump into it?

Justice League 27
Really, Geoff?   I mean, I miss 90's comics as much as the next guy but are we really going so far back as to give entire mini-origins (defining trait + real name + superpower + superhero name) in single speech bubbles?  Who talks like that? 

 All-New X-Factor 01

 What you're looking at here is what will likely be the focal point for PAD's secondary X-Factor run.  It's a fairly interesting idea, considering that as it stands mutants being the next evolution of man doesn't make sense (what are these evolutions helping us deal with, if not just existence itself?).  But unfortunately, it's one of those ideas that's so wide in scope that while it demands being utilized by the rest of the universe from whence it came, it probably won't ever be spoken of again after PAD stops writing the team.

All-New X-Men 22
I'm waiting for the day when a comic book reveals this to be every telepath's biggest lie: that they read minds all the time because it's easier to just take the truth than ask for it when you can know what they REALLY feel anyway.

Avengers 25

It's amazing how a single page can turn your entire perspective of what you think a comic is about.  Here in Avengers we see Jonathan Hickman do his own twist on the "evil version of a team of heroes", initially making readers recall the classic, "Silver Age" Avengers only to pull the rug out from under us with this page, simultaneously perverting the arc word "Avengers World" he's been using for some time now.  If I had to guess, this is where things start to go wrong for the team and their plans.

Avengers World 2
It's a tad ironic that a guy named Captain Terror ascribed to one of the highest ideals of heroism, but hey, it was the 1940's. Back when there were guys and girls whose only power was "the ability to deal two-fisted justice" thought it was a good idea to create and wear complex, brightly-colored outfit to help in the war effort rather than simply enlisting like normal people.  

Black Widow 2

Situation Awareness is apparently a very real thing, but at the moment I'm just pretending writer Nathan Edmonson made an Archer reference here.

Hawkeye 16
In a way, this single issue is more obscure than Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie's Phonogram ever was.  But if you can put that aside for a few minutes you'll find a fairly decent and entertaining story that delves into the craziness, the allure, even to some extent the hypocrisy of the music and culture of the sixties. 
Iron Man 20

Speaking of  Kieron, here in Iron Man 20 he echoes the thoughts of countless comic book fans.  Myself included.  I miss when events happened in the span of a single month and then we moved on.

Mighty Avengers 5
For some reason, there's no trope name (that I can think of, at least) for this.  When characters can break the established rules of their particular universe in the name of comedy, or emotional reasons.  This is why Spider-Man, a guy who's supposedly agile enough to take on an entire X-Men team and not be immediately trounced and has a Spider-Sense that warns him far before any danger can ACTUALLY come to him, is currently being hit in the face by a pissed-off mom. 

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up 9

I posted this for three reasons: One, I love the idea of self-proclaimed uber-genius Otto Octavius mispronouncing the name "Tupac" as "Two Packs".  Two, I loved Anna Maria already, and I love her even more now that she's apparently a rap fan.  Three, I just wanted to say that while I initially hated the idea of Superior Spider-Man, in the grand scheme of things its a part of a much larger story Dan Slott has been telling, and he's really been doing the best work of his career so far on that title.

And that does it for me.  Until Thursday, when I catch up on THIS week's comics.  >_<

Author's Note: Bottom of the Pile is a weekly column (or at least, my attempt at said) in which I cover the comics that found their way to the bottom of my pile, thus being the best as I've always been a proponent of "saving the best for last".   Since bog standard reviews can be found literally anywhere, coverage can range from mini-reviews to funny comments to commentary on a creator's run or comics as a whole, depending on a wide range of factors including the comic itself, the amount of time I have, and my general mood.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bottom of the Pile: January 15th, 2014

Aaaand, we're back.  Bit of a full week this time...

Amazing X-Men 3

"Claremont's Rule: The longer two superheroes of matching sexual orientations remain on a team together, the closer the probability of a serious relationship tease gets to 1."  Storm and Nightcrawler have been on teams together since Giant Size X-Men #1 in the mid-70's, so despite having never heard of anything remotely close to them liking each we are.   Something to remember when I start back working on Alpha Squad

Astro City 8

The thing I love the most about Astro City in comparison to every other superhero universe is just how much work goes into the world building, and how casual Kurt does it.  This page is essentially this world's Big Three (Winged Victory, The Confessor, and the Samaritan) staring down a list of Winged Victory's rogues' gallery, but its done in such a nonchalant way you'd never notice it if you weren't paying attention to it.  

Fantastic Four 16
 After about halfway in, Matt Fraction's Fantastic Four/FF run was treading a fine line between genius and mildly irritating.  With the whole thing almost completely finished now, I can say that I'm impressed with just how much crazy he shoved into 31 issues (with the 32nd due out soon, I'd assume).  That said: Can this be the last time we see "cosmic being tries random human food; finds it delicious"?    And can it absolutely be the last time said cosmic being mispronounces something that was pronounced perfectly the first time?  It was cute circa 2003's Teen Titans' Starfire, but that was over ten years ago now.

Justice League 3000

The overly violent heroes...the two people in charge bickering over the "correct" action for their creations....essentially, Justice League 3000 has turned into meta-commentary on DC Comics as a whole.   Now whether it's a good book because/despite that?  I haven't been able to decide yet.  But it's got my interest for at least one more issue.

Superior Spider-Man 25

One of the things that's always bugged me about the Marvel public at large is that they're never very grateful. This scene is reminiscent of Civil War when some random bystander hit Johnny Storm with a brick for something that didn't even occur in New York.  They're a very "what have you done for me lately" sort of people.

Superman/Wonder Woman 4

I hate to be that guy, but these four panels are the closest we've gotten to the real Diana in over two years.   An encouraging, supportive role model to young girls (to everyone, really), and overall capable of doing more than just stabbing people with pointy things and lifting heavy objects.

Thor: God of Thunder 17

This would make Thor's godly title a bit of a misnomer, but then I suppose Thor, God of Thunder...and Occasional Trickery doesn't quite have the same ring to it.   I will say that this "Malekith the Accursed" arc is both much stronger than the "Godkiller" one, and a nice way to entrench Thor firmly in the realm of high fantasy.  Aside from a brief trip to Earth, this whole arc took place entirely within the other eight realms and was still highly entertaining.   Too bad the Malekith in the film isn't as entertaining as this one.

 Transformers: More than Meets the Eye 25

Even in the midst of a massive crossover and potentially universe-ending threats, the crew of the Lost Light doesn't lose its sense of humor.

Uncanny X-Men 16

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Grant Morrison run was that at the end, we were given a harsh reminder that Magneto, at his core, was a villain.  Uncanny X-Men 16 brings us back to that, in more ways than just this page portrays.   Though knowing the cyclical nature of comics (which can suck in cases like this), I'm certain he'll be back to the side of angels in about, oh...ten years or so.

Welp, that's three weeks down.  See you next week.

Author's Note: Bottom of the Pile is a weekly column (or at least, my attempt at said) in which I cover the comics that found their way to the bottom of my pile, thus being the best as I've always been a proponent of "saving the best for last".   Since bog standard reviews can be found literally anywhere, coverage can range from mini-reviews to funny comments to commentary on a creator's run or comics as a whole, depending on a wide range of factors including the comic itself, the amount of time I have, and my general mood. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Anime Final Thoughts: Fall 2013

With this, you can probably consider the Picks series of columns done for now.  I just think it's more effective to discuss actual thoughts on series now rather than merely predictions. 

As I discussed before, Fall 2013 was actually the first season last year that managed to become something truly decent, helping drag anime from the moe filth it had been drowning in for three seasons straight.  In my Fall picks article I had over a dozen series I intended to watch, so let's see how that turned out:

Tokyo Ravens: If you recall the First Impressions, you'll know I dropped this as of episode 2.  I just wasn't in the mood for any derivative idiocy that season, so it was an easy cut.

Coppelion: Despite GoHands' beautiful work bringing this anime to life, I just couldn't get into a series about a trio of high-school aged girls exploring a ruined post-apocalyptic city.   Imagine that.  Honestly, I gave this series the boot after the first episode.  It wasn't bad, I just didn't want what they were selling.

Strike the Blood: While this series isn't finished, it's unfortunately constantly teetering on the edge between "watchable" and FTS (fuck this shit).  While I enjoy the amount of work that's gone into the world building, what that really means is while I'd love to see more about the complexities of this formerly war-torn world locked into a stalemate and the changes the main character (the only person powerful enough to break said stalemate) bring about merely by existing...what actually happens is that I get stuck watching this series equate blood-sucking to having sex over and over with all the subtlety of being pelted with a ton of bricks. 

Despite the tsundere and the overall idiocy of the main cast though, the drool-worthy animation supplied by Silver Link and the occasional battle scenes have pushed me to keep watching this series, even if I doubt it'll actually be worth buying in the end.

Log Horizon: Database, database, just living in the...oh, right.    Yeah, Log Horizon turned out to be the motherfucking MVP of the season.  This show is just excellently constructed, front to back.  The OP is fucking hype incarnate, the ED is adorable, and the animation is exactly what you'd expect from Satelight, taking this intricately constructed world from light novel to anime perfectly.   

I said in the impressions that the first episode seemed centered around telling us how the rules of this MMO worked, but I wasn't sure if they'd stick with it--especially since Sword Art Online did the same thing and well...we all know how that turned out.  But fortunately, Log Horizon has instead taken the time to give a lot of fans what they wanted from SAO: an MMO world painstakingly brought to life.   The story is still developing, but I'm 12 episodes in and this series has yet to lose its way, so I'm going to say that barring any last-minute fuck ups in the late teens/early 20's, this is probably going to take the spot of best show of the season.

(Extra points for managing to make pretty much every character in the series awesome, and for making a glasses' wearing character a fucking boss.)

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta: ....I can't lie.  I could never bring myself to watch this.  Even when I wasn't busy, I just never felt compelled to do so after giving the series two tries already.

Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! (I want to become the Strongest in the World!): Dem porno screams and the fact that the main character was a jobber combined to make me drop this in the second episode.   I know there's a chance things could've gotten better, but I looked ahead to find out in the third episode she proceeds to lose the next twenty matches.   I...just can't.

Unbreakable Machine Doll: One of the few shows I picked that actually ended with the start of the winter season and that I finished, Unbreakable Machine Doll was actually fairly good.  It's guilty of a number of things that piss me off about anime lately (misunderstanding upon misunderstanding, tsundere female lead), but overall it set up a fairly entertaining world of intrigue and mystery.  The only bad thing about this series is unless it receives a season 2 there'll be a ton of unanswered questions since it only adapted a small portion of the available light novels.  

Gundam Build Fighters:  Gundam Build Fighters would've beaten out every other series this season for the title of "best" if Log Horizon wasn't so consistently awesome.  Still, Build Fighters is a very close second, and as far as new series go, nothing else comes close.

Following Gundam model builder Iori Sei and mysteriously talented new pilot Reiji, Gundam Build Fighters is an affectionate pastiche of literally everything Gundam, from mainstream series like SEED to the obscure and sometimes downright hated pieces of Gundam lore like the G-Saviour and SD Gundam.   Build Fighters manages to cover everything, and despite being "just another tournament with kids in it" or "a 20 minute toy commercial" or whatever you want to call it, still manages to make each and every episode feel important, so you never want to miss a single one.  (Plus I think before it's all said and done, and we finally move on to dat UC goodness in Gundam: The Origin, Build Fighters is going to give us at least one or two surprises.)

BlazBlue: Alter Memory: Despite a very interesting first episode, a disjointed plot that was slowly told and uninteresting characters made me give this series up after the fourth episode. 

Samurai Flamenco: Only got two episodes into this before my school workload and an overall lack of desire to finish this lead to me putting it on hold.  I'm told some stuff happens that would actually appeal to me later on, so I may pick it back up later. 

Galilei Donna: This is one of those series I think is just "okay".  I like that it centered entirely around this family of sisters trying to save themselves from a world with less than savory intentions for what they could do, but it never made that interesting enough for me to keep watching.   It's one of those series that you intend to finish but never will, or even if you do it won't be all that important, it'll just be something you did to say you did it.  

Magi - The Kingdom of Magic: First off, let me just say that this ending is surprisingly boss.

Anyway, one of the returning champs from the surprisingly great Fall 2012 season, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic is actually better than Labyrinth was.  More faithful to the manga, and in general shonen manga always take some time to start up and tend to be at their best in the middle rather than the beginning or end.   Since the Magnostadt arc is probably going to end up being roughly the middle of Magi, this is most likely as good as it gets.  Fortunately, that's very, very good.   With more impressive fights as we get down to the war between Magnostadt and the Kou Empire, and the eventual fate of Hakuryuu Ren's soul, Magi is in the zone right now and for the second time manages to be one of the best series in its season.

Whew!  That's a lot more work than the Picks columns ever were.  I'll be doing another one of these when the Spring series rolls around for the Winter.  Look forward to it.

Battle Rap Wednesdays: Lotta Zay vs. KG the Poet

The word you're looking for is "bars".  All fucking day.  I'd never heard of KG the Poet but after he blacked out in Round 2, I guess I have to pay attention to the dude from now on.  Lotta did pretty much what I expected him to do since I saw his battle against Syahboy, which was turn this into something epic.  

We're a week away from Hollow vs. Loaded Lux: The Event and Blackout 4, which means hopefully in the near future I can stop linking shit from last year.  We'll see. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Anime First Impressions: Winter 2014

Something I'm doing instead of picks, for now.

Nobunaga the Fool: Nobunaga the Fool is slightly reminiscent of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, only far better explained.  Utilizing the Rule of Cool to mix giant robots with old eastern/western design aesthetics, Nobunaga takes advantage of having Satelight as their primary animators to create a world that's both unique and beautiful to look at in its first episode.  With guest appearances from historical figures such as Jeanne d'Arc, Leonardo di Vinci and Magellan, this anime would have the potential to be one of the most distinctive series this season if it weren't for a certain other anime that happened to tread very similar ground.

Most likely I'll finish this out, unless King Arthur turns out to be a villain, or just overall lame.  (I admit I have specific rules, but time is so precious because its limited, so I think it's best spent doing things one enjoys.)

Hamatora the Animation I had zero expectations going into this, save that it had potential from its PV.  Fortunately, at least for this first episode, it didn't really let me down.  Hamatora the Animation is kind of like Getbackers, only with a larger cast of detectives and with the BL angle turned way down, and both of these are factors I see as positives.   The plot for this was kind of simplistic, but I'll let it slide for three reasons.   One: This was clearly an intro episode.  Two: So far it's missing a lot of the fetishistic idiocy of modern anime, and feels more like an 90's or an early 2000's series.  Three: It's so pretty.  Seriously it's like GoHands has an apprentice animation studio nobody told me about, because this is one of the most stunningly gorgeous anime I've seen since K, and it's easily twice as interesting as that series was. 

It's very early on, but I doubt I'll stop watching this series.  Absent of tsundere, lolis, or any other typical shit that pisses me off about current anime, and being so very close to realizing it's potential as an overall entertaining series--there's just no reason to give up on it. 

Nobunagun: I showed this to my friends and they flipped the fuck out at the concept.  Me?  I'm sorry but ALIEN REINCARNATION FURRIES GIANT GUNS AND BLADES ended up being just a little too much for me, exceeding Nobunaga the Fool's simple "Rule of Cool" application and pushing right into Ninja Pirate Zombie Robots.   They just threw a bunch of cool shit in a blender and spat it back out at me, assuming if enough shit blew up in cool enough colors that I wouldn't give a fuck.  Normally that would be true, but the world they had set up before they introduced the craziness simply wasn't detailed enough.

Still, I'll probably finish this anime off inertia alone unless it becomes ridiculously dark later on.

Witch Craft Works: With the female lead of this uttering lines to male lead like "You're my princess" and "Stay by my side", the first episode of this was filled with enough gender role reversal to make a ton of people flip right the fuck out.  Witch Craft Works lost a few points by having a male lead who's kinda useless (like Shirou from Fate/Stay Night) and I almost deleted it when I saw the evil rabbit robots, but overall I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet.  It's giving off the aura of a harem, but from what some of its manga fans have said that's not quite where its headed.   Still and all, I'm also quite tired of the "#1 student/most average student" dichotomy that most anime seem so infatuated with, and I don't think that aspect is going anywhere. 

As far as where I stand, this anime is pretty much on the razor's edge as to whether I'll keep watching or not.  It could easily find a hook that makes me finish the series out, particularly if its just a one cour (13 episodes), but more likely the male lead will say something incomprehensibly dumb and I'll drop it before I hit episode 5.  Hope not though, because I like the female lead so far.  

Mahou Sensou:  Still unclear on this one. This series has the makings of your typical harem/tsundere/Three's Company misunderstanding idiocy, but amusingly enough the actual plot got in the way so much that it went away too quickly to get pissed about it.  With what sounded like a ton of work put into the world-building of this universe, and slick Madhouse animation, this wasn't a bad opener if you can deal with a few cliches.

Like Witch Craft Works, this shit could get dropped at any moment from some unnecessary stupidity.  Or I may drop it because counting Hunter x Hunter and the leftovers from fall plus what's on this list, I'm well over a dozen anime and counting and that's a lot of fucking series to watch every freaking week.   Who knows.

Noragami: This season takes the cake for anime with most interesting and unique concepts.  Noragami takes the typical shonen "One day, everybody's going to know my name!" idea that Naruto's been running with since like 1999, and applies it to a god who wants to be worshipped by millions.  Wonderfully irreverent, Noragami is pretty hilarious for most of the episode, with all of its major characters possessing almost perfect comedic timing.   Supposedly it takes a more action-y bent over time, but really I hope it doesn't lose its humorous edge.

I'll definitely end up finishing this one, though it's a shame it's confirmed for one cour and thus will likely end up irrelevant with respect to actually wrapping up all the plot threads it introduces.

Seitokai Yakuindomo*: The pottymouths at Ousai Academy are back with the newest season of SYN, and I honestly couldn't be happier.  It took a bit of time to actually settle back into the multiple shorts to one episode format the series almost perfected in season one, but once it did everything was gravy.  

Quite frankly, this series is the only one I know I WILL finish this season.  What would I do without my raunchy school sex comedy series, after all?

Buddy Complex: Probably the strongest series I've seen of the new season so far.  It had a fairly Sunrise-y beginning with the "normal school life until one day....", only the lead protagonist seemed to be possessed of this strange thing called competence.   But like I said, it's Sunrise so when they throw you some shit like time travel and potential time paradoxes, you completely expect it.  Still, there was nothing really offensive to this opening episode, and it actually got me excited for what was coming next.   With beautiful character, mecha, and world designs, great fight scene animation, and nothing so far to piss me off, it's impossible for me to hate it at this point.

Now I just need to pray that this series doesn't go to shit on me in 20 episodes like Code Geass did. 

Z/X Ignition: This anime is some kind of really strange cross between Yu-Gi-Oh/Digimon, only aged up for teens so they added a "wrecked Earth" element.   Still, despite a rather depressing prologue, the world itself actually doesn't seem to be so bad, at least in certain spots.   On the whole, this episode had some pacing problems, going so far as to completely set up a conflict before jumping back in time to explain the main character's back story.  But other than that, I can see a lot of potential in this being just a fun, brainless anime on the level of a Digimon, and I'm cool with that.    There's a lot of world building to be done, and I like all the intricate designs of the "Z/X".  If this series fixes its pacing issues it should be a good way to burn 24 minutes.

Will be adding more to this until I actually finish...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bottom of the Pile: Jan. 8th, 2014

All-New X-Factor 01

So, here's your high concept for the "All-New X-Factor".  Although "first corporate superhero team" is a bit of a misnomer.   There's the Power Company over at DC, and Wildcats 3.0 for WildStorm (though that's technically DC as well now), both of which predate this idea by about ten years, plus many more.  I wonder if any of them would sue over this claim...

Avengers A.I. 8

It seems Artificial Intelligence doesn't care much for the idea of Anon.  Or fake user names, for that matter.  In the robot future, only normal names will be accepted.  (But then, what if your name really was Cool Sex Falcon?)

Avengers World 1

Sunspot and Cannonball are the Booster Gold and Blue Beetle of the Marvel Universe, apparently.   Not the worst idea ever, either: superhero comics these days are full of so much seriousness it's nice to have a break from time to time.  Anyway, Avengers World 1 is probably the comic most of you were wanting Jonathan Hickman's Avengers #2 to be: stuffed to the brim with kick-ass moments featuring the greatest super-team in the Marvel Universe.

Black Widow 1

I swear you can almost hear an echo of Scarlett Johanson's "red in my ledger" speech from Avengers with this book.  It's amazing how quickly characterizations change once a character is featured in a popular film.

Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man 3

When I got into the Ultimate Universe almost ten years ago, the defining difference was that this was the Marvel Universe proper, only with "realism" applied to both personalities and their powers.  Apparently some time between then and now, that went out the window, as here Cloak shows us he's capable of long-distance teleportation with potentially no upper limit on distance or even number of people he can transport.  Wow.

Earth 2 19

So if you were wondering, this is basically a little mini-back story on Earth 2's "Aquawoman".   So...yeah.  I know last week I said that Arthur Curry was cool and all, but I'd be completely okay if they traded him for her.   Just get her a costume with actual clothes and change the name of the book to "Marella, Badass Queen of the Seas".   I bet there'd be a spike in sales. My feelings on Earth 2 have been mixed since the "second" war with Apokolips started, and this issue didn't exactly change my feelings, but Marella alone will keep me reading for a while, I think.

Iron Man 20

First: I'm absolutely positive that she's not speaking real English.  Second, what is it with Marvel and redheads with flame powers.  Even Iron Man 3 couldn't get away from that.

Young Avengers 15

*deep breath* As someone who's pretty much in love with nearly anything Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie work on, Young Avengers was one of my favorite books of 2013; a bright spot in a year where I all but lost my favorite comic book publisher (more on that later), a book I could continually return to and be guaranteed of its quality.   Still, there's this image.  It's so fucking contemporary pop, it hurts.

I could be an crotchety old comic book fan and bitch about so many things in this final issue of a series that I loved so much this year.  The fact that Loki apparently exists now to be a tumblr pin-up boy, or the fact that in general this book is almost entirely designed for tumblr folk (with whom I usually have very little to do with). The usage of Instagram in the page aboveHow apparently it was impossible for anyone to just be heterosexual in this book.  How nearly everyone changed in ways that I find questionable in terms of being faithful to their prior representations.  (Chiefly: LOKI.)

Or I could take a different tack, one that's admittedly a bit more difficult for your average fanboy to manage.  I could accept that these characters are fictional.  That they are not real, and that they exist as ways for us to tell a wide variety of stories that can and must change just as we change and grow as a society.  I can accept that it isn't the 1960's anymore, or the 70's, or even the 90's, and people want to see stories about new things and ideas.  Chief of which are acceptance, and equal representation.  

And if that's too difficult for some of you, at the very least you can take solace in knowing that neither of these creators will be working on these characters again any time soon.  Of course in my case that's more of a reason to be sad than anything else.

*exhale*  Okay, that's another week down.  50 more to go. 

Author's Note: Bottom of the Pile is a weekly column (or at least, my attempt at said) in which I cover the comics that found their way to the bottom of my pile, thus being the best as I've always been a proponent of "saving the best for last".   Since bog standard reviews can be found literally anywhere, coverage can range from mini-reviews to funny comments to commentary on a creator's run or comics as a whole, depending on a wide range of factors including the comic itself, the amount of time I have, and my general mood. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Battle Rap Wednesday: Rum Nitty vs. Danny Myers

Battle rap in its truest, most raw form.  No personals.  No unnecessary, fake-ass aggression knowing good and gotdamn well you dapping up with dude after the battle and suddenly ya'll cool again.   Just all fucking bars.   I present you with your Chilla Jones vs. JC of 2014.  Not because it's the best battle of the year, but because it's a great fucking battle that few will ever watch, while people bitch about Hitman Holla vs. Conceited but that shit is near 900,000 views in only three months. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Looking Forward: 2014 Anime

Yesterday I showed you what it was like for me in 2013 as an anime fan.  To put it kindly, it wasn't a pretty sight.  Fortunately, today we're looking at what 2014 has in store, and it's doing quite a bit better than last year already.    However, between Winter and Spring there's roughly 64 anime coming out between January and April, so we're just going to hit broadstrokes and talk about a lot of the heavy hitters.

Space Dandy

If you follow anime much at all--even if its just watching Toonami on the weekends--you've heard of this by now.  Essentially, this is a comedic version of Cowboy Bebop, brought to you by the people who made Cowboy Bebop.  Everyone from mastermind director Shinichiro Watanabe, to screenwriters Dai Sato and Keiko Nobumoto, to fan favorite animation studio BONES has teamed up together to create what pretty much everyone's hoping to be the next anime masterpiece.   In fact, Toonami had so much faith in this product that they secured the dub and airing rights before it'll even air in Japan.  (Only by a day, but still.)

Now, Watanabe-san is known for working on projects that perfectly blend character, story and music to create a detailed, immersive world that fans can lose themselves in.  I don't know much about masterpieces, but if I can get that?  I'll be happy.

Seitokai Yakuindomo*

So, that trailer is a complete WTF, I realize.   It tells you essentially nothing about the show itself, which is a high school-based series about a guy who's attending a school which recently became co-ed, and became a part of the student council.   I'll be honest and say I can't recall for the life of me why I watched this originally, but I do know it turned out to be one of the greatest surprises of that season.

SYN is a delightfully raunchy comedy that's everything you wouldn't expect when you hear the words "student council series".  There's no romance bullshit or any other idiocy--it's all about the comedy.   I'm glad to have it back.

Buddy Complex

The question here is, just how Sunrise is this series.  I never really get tired of Sunrise's mecha designs--they do some of the best work in the industry aside from Shouji Kawamori's Valkyries.  But their plots can fall flat, or worse; they fall victim to using cheap shlocky methods to keep the viewers invested.  It works (on some), but I'm about done with all that.   So I'm deeply hoping this is the Sunrise who developed Gundam 00, not the one who created Valvrape.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

In the fall of 2012, animation studio David Productions got a runaway hit on their hands when they lovingly brought to life Hirohiro Araki's classic shonen manga, Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken, or Jojo's Bizarre Adventures.  Adapting the adventures of the first and second Joestars to great success, this time David Production is back to show us the series that gave JJBA a lot of its popularity in the first place: Stardust Crusaders.

For me, JJBA was one of my favorite series of 2012, one that I'd managed to get all my friends involved in because it was so damned bad-ass.  The freaky powers and insanely creative fights were incredibly addicting, and from what I've heard it only gets better from here.  Especially now that you-know-who is back.

Fairy Tail

Nakama Tail returns, bitches!  I was heartbroken when I went through the trouble of catching up with the the story of Erza and the rest of Fairy Tail (...What do you mean she's not the main character?), only to have to hear that the series was going to come to an end a few short months later.  To see it make a return as, presumably, creator Hiro Mashima is drawing it's manga version to an end, have my hype levels at an all time high.  Plus, as I understand it the latest arcs have been some of the most interesting yet, as the team fights to prevent a dark future for all of humanity.  

Fairy Tail is back on the air this April.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V

 I can't adequately explain just how annoying it was to have ZEXAL on the air.  As someone who enjoys the anime as much as I enjoy the game, it was nearly infuriating to have the game grow ever more interesting (obvious idiocy aside) while the anime was low-tier garbage.

I'll admit, Yu-Gi-Oh! has never been high art by even the smallest qualitative measuring stick, but damn.  A duelist that's going out of his way to suck?   That shit's mind-numbingly stupid. 

So far, we know next to nothing about the series or our protagonist, other than his name is Yuuya Sakaki, and the first episode has him riding hippo, which I hear will be in in Japan this April, so at least he's fashionable?  I do know his monsters look cool as all heck, so here's to having a new series where the main character wins duels with extremely situational cards...but doesn't need someone's help to know what extremely situational card to use in exactly the right situations.

Sword Art Online II

One of the most popular (and polarizing) series of 2012, Sword Art Online comes back to tell it's next two story arcs, Phantom Bullet and Alicization.  Initially I was shocked by this reveal, but given the series probably got an immense boost in popularity after airing on Toonami, it made a lot more sense.  I can't wait to see Kirito mercilessly pwn everything in sight.  He better add at least two extra hoes to his harem too, or it's a no-sale.  (The key to loving SAO is to not take things so seriously.  Yes, it has its bad bits, but I promise you it could be so much worse.)

SAO II doesn't have a release date yet, but I'm betting on another summer premiere.  

Now there you have it.  While both the Winter and Spring seasons offer more than this--it's actually too much more to go into in a single article.  Particularly when there are still entries that will go in far more detail about these things.  Be patient.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Battle Rap Thursday: Charlie Clips vs. Tsu Surf

This must be what its like when guys see their favorite sports team win.  Watching Charlie Clips give this 3-0 out is probably one of my favorite moments in battle rap this year.  Tsu Surf says some ridiculous shit in his rounds sometimes, and seeing Clips dismantle that shit?  Amazing.
Favorite bar: "And I hate when you be throwing shots/You swing, and your bars go over top.  So you say shit like 'Urn in Ash'--that's nash./Nigga, no it's not.  'Urn in Ash' is Urnash, with your bird-ass/if you WERE Nash, you wouldn't understand that until your third pass."

Between that and the Big T gun sounds?  Hysterical.

Now I need all the fans to stop lying.  This didn't look different on cam.  This ain't no close battle.  The first round isn't debatable.  This is a fucking 3-0 loss.  Surf just had a off night--he's got a match against Calicoe this month, it's not like his career is dead. 

A Look Back on 2013: Anime

As the new year begins, I thought now was as good a time as any to look back on what last year brought us in terms of anime, video games, comics and other forms of entertainment.

As someone who's been following (on this blog, even) each season of anime for roughly six years, I was honestly surprised at just how good Fall 2012 was.  There seemed to be something for nearly every kind of anime fan: comedies, action series, parodies, manga adaptations of both classics and newcomers--both the variety and quality were unparalleled.   Being me though, I always like to check out the next season to see what I have to look forward to.  I admitted to myself that Winter looked weak, but I had faith that the season would eventually fill out with some interesting latecomers; they always do, after all.

Unfortunately, it didn't..  The Winter season was one in which nearly 40 different anime television series aired...and I could only think of five or six I actually wanted to sit through on first glance, and by the end of it, I could only stick with one (there were others, but they were all sequels of series I hadn't seen yet):

This was a good show, but being the only interesting series of Winter was depressing.

But you know, often times the Winter season tends to be weak, so I let that go.  The only thing that truly stung was the fall of Fairy Tail, but I had hope that the Spring season would bring life back into this art-form that I love so much.  And then the Spring season looked like this.  Now I know, everyone was hyped for Shingeki no Kyojin, but don't let that blind you from the sea of lolis, "slice of life" moe-blobs, chibified bullshit and marshmallow hell harems that had already been the driving force of anime for an entire season.  So now we were looking at three more months of hardcore otaku nonsense that's basically the reason why when you recommend an anime series to someone, you usually can't actually call it anime. 

When this represents the vast majority of a season, there's a problem.

I tried to give the sudden deluge of mecha anime a try, but Suisei no Galgantia I gave up on early because I predicted it would either turn ultra-violent or be incredibly boring, and Valvrave was all the idiocy you'd expect from Sunrise, turned up to 11.  Flashy, trashy, devoid of most substance, and stuffed to the brim with all sorts of bullshit done purely for shock value (from the gruesome death in episode 1 to the rape in episode 10 or so), that that series was popular at all speaks volumes about the utter lack of taste that's developed in anime fans over the past decade.  That it was extremely popular gives me the answer of "Why do they keep making this garbage?!": because it sells.

Meanwhile, one of the best mecha series of the year was written off by the vast majority of the anime watching public within the first two episodes.  Majestic Prince was filled with awesome mecha fights, likable characters, a ton of heart and loving references to other series, but its slow start left most fans cold, sadly enough. 

So with two strikes already on the scoreboard, I looked forward to July's offerings because I am ever hopeful.  Aaand strike 3.   This was what it was like to be plunged into the utter depths of hopelessness as an anime fan.  The year had been lost to a seemingly never-ending onslaught of series about prepubescent magical girls, slice of life bullshit, and sequels to series gone by.  I clung desperately to the tiny life raft of Hunter x Hunter (which was entering the Chimera Ant arc around then) and Majestic Prince, but for awhile there things got truly depressing.

From March to October, this was the only new series I watched.  >_<

But then, a ray of hope finally arrived in October, with the Fall Season.  Like a beleaguered soldier who had survived a night of cruel onslaughts from enemy forces hunkered down in a tattered bunker with only the most meager of rations to sustain me, October was like the dawn of a new, hope-filled day.   Once again variety in animation had returned to Nippon's airwaves.  Despite three seasons of fanboy pandering idiocy, the Fall seemed determined to apologize to me and any anime fan who wasn't satisfied by the unending parade of inane ecchi and sleep-inducing slice of life shows.

...Is this what hope feels like?  I had forgotten.

With series like Log Horizon, Gundam Build Fighters, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, Galilei Donna, Unbreakable Machine Doll and more, I was finally guided towards the light.   I'll admit that not all the series were winners, and that's something I'll get into later when I start my new column next week, but after nine solid months and only two new shows worth watching, I'll take what I can get.

And fortunately, the future looks even brighter.  But!  That's something we'll get into tomorrow. 

(Source: Neregate, the most awesome and consistent chart-makers.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bottom of the Pile: December 31st, 2013

The last comics of 2013.  What up.

Aquaman 26

When a creative team switches, it's customary for you to give the next team at least one issue to see if they've got the stuff.  If they don't, you stop reading; no harm, no foul.  Fortunately, it seems as if writer Jeff Parker does indeed have that "it" factor necessary to keep me reading.  Which is apparently Godzilla-sized crustaceans.  Well, that and continuing what Geoff Johns started in showing Aquaman and Mera to be complete bad-asses. 

 Flash 26

This book wins purely off the virtue of having a Flash fact.  Oh, and being a one-shot.  That's truly impressive, all things considered.  The new team for this takes over in either February or March, but I do hope we see Christos Gage on more DC stuff.  They could use more writing on this level.

Guardians of the Galaxy 10

The interesting thing about this book is the idea of seeing Angela's "people".  If you didn't already know, Angela's people are from Image comics, unless Neil Gaiman got THAT in the lawsuit as well.  If not, well...retcon incoming, I suppose.  Either way, this was a fairly hilarious book involving two ass-kicking ladies doing what they do best. 
 New Avengers 13

Holy SHIT this book is fucking bleak. Last issue teased the other threats the Illuminati would have to deal with if they were to stop this incursion of universes, mentioning a number of fearsome-sounding opponents.  This issue we get to see one of them, the Black Kings.  And what you see there is the result, albeit on a team from a different universe.  Jonathan Hickman has been using NA to ask such interesting questions, and the one presented to us this time is: What makes our heroes any different from these?

If you notice Bottom of the Pile is taking on a different form.  Less review, more overall commentary.  I only review comics I like anyway, which means every week I have to come up with different ways to say "Pretty pictures" and "This book wuz gud".   New year, new changes.  Hopefully what comes out of this will be more interesting.