Oh, sure, in theory trying to write something about Tron: Legacy while it's fresh in my mind would make sense. But no, I actually went & failed a tower defense challenge a couple more times between watching it and now.

It's a really good movie, in some ways. The CGI is really well done, the use of 3D is subversive & clever, it manages to incorporate some 1980's design sensibility into a 2010 technical sensibility, & it uses the title character in an odd but poetic way.

But I regret what's not in it, & think there are enough untouched elements to make a very wild sequel from those.

There are only two female characters who actually do anything in the whole movie, & neither is continued from the first movie. Another Hollywood film where father-son relationships are TEH MOST IMPORTANT TIHNG EVER, and women are transient utilities. This is the trope that actually irks me about the film.

There is, as someone else noted, an self-restricting choice to leave the grid as a world in a single box. What the sentient programs would make of the internet is yet unexplored. I think this makes a kind of sense, in that it returns us to the terrifying world of Tron. But it means that there is so much untouched fodder for more.

I'd like to write--or feed ideas to someone who actually would write--a script where we see further developments of Tron, Quorra, Sam, & their worlds. I imagine the internet would offer threats undreamt of by the programs from the old grid. Also, some actual Bechdel passing would be gratifying.

Really, this is one reason I roll my eyes a bit when people talk smack about Joss Whedon or Chris Claremont, & complain about them "not really being feminist." You think those guys are sexist? So much of popular culture treats women as MacGuffins at best! There's a tv show I love, where the central cast is female, called Cougar Town. But it still has a majority-male regular cast, heavily male writers, & occasionally that Hollywood male bias still shows through. And it's actually one that avoids the male-centered worldview. Mainstream Hollywood is run by men to an astonishing degree. That's why someone like Joss (who packed Buffy with female characters) or Claremont (who just kept adding female characters to X-Men--and made them point-of-view characters when many writers would not have) have appealed to so many of us fans, male and female. They don't treat half the human race as props.

Anyway, yeah, major sexfail in Tron: Legacy, but it's a failure by absence, & one that perhaps could be filled in.* What is actually in the movie is pretty good. And Quorra (the Olivia Wilde character) could perhaps become something more than a one-movie cute thing if allowed.
_
* Nah, really, I just don't want people to hate this movie for its flaws when they are standard issue for Hollywood action movies &/or a lot of Disney's stuff.
Stranger Than Fiction

Finally saw this. Well, it is strange. But I suppose there is a point at the end about the poetry of irony versus doing good in the world.
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (what?)
Movies that pretend to be more real than they are to cheat you into suspending your disbelief:

spoiler cut for those who want to go in believing )
Escape from Terra, p. 13:
image )

So "Hitchens" is a substitute for "Hell"? Well, that was provocative enough for me to post this panel.

Reading on, I guess the writer intends readers to find the Ceres anarchists sympathetic, but he's doing a pretty good job of making me not like them. The apparently "contemptible" protagonist is an idealistic civil servant, the anarchists are jerks & snobs. I was maybe 35 pages in when it hit me that maybe I'm actually supposed to automatically hate him because he's French.

Yeah, by page 40, I could see where the tract was going. No thanks.
So apparently I've been watching trilingual movies now?

Free Zone starts with a woman crying in the back of a car for several minutes. It gets better, though. Later, there's a story told by one character to another that seems like the movie was made to tell that story. Then the movie sort of thrashes about for an ending, & ends with the realization that resolution is not coming quickly for all of us, but others of us can at least leave.

Somewhat more conventional, The Band's Visit is a melancholy little film, with rudeness from a beautiful woman, an amusing lesson in dating, & some music, both Arabic & Western. It is to some degree about loneliness in particular, & melancholy in general.

Both pretty interesting. I think on balance I may like Free Zone better.
I haven't been doing my stupid little reviews. I have been reading stuff, though, if not really a volume a day.

Am not quite through Chikyu Misaki v2. Am loving all the eight-panel pages. This is narrative, people.

I like that the Big Secret is really not managing to survive long at all. The girls had to tell Misaki's dad last volume, & now Sanae's little bros have seen the monster & taken pictures, & he's interacted with two other characters.

There's a lot of story going on, & Iwahara wisely gives us a lot of story, instead of relying on the continuing-comic-book hook of "trying & succeeding to keep the same secret over & over."
(continued from here)

OK, Just read volume 6 of King of Thorn. (In a version translated from a Portuguese translation.) Ow. Ever read something where your mind is trying to make it all a dream so it makes sense/is less horrifying?

Yeah, it's like that. Clever enough, surprising twists in every volume despite actual foreshadowing throughout of one of the final ones, & I think mostly internally consistent.

Ow, my head.

Uurrg

Aug. 22nd, 2010 06:47 pm
Well, I've read King of Thorn vols. 4 & 5 now. One to go. Realized after borrowing a physical copy of 5 that I could read the whole thing in scanslation online. Stupid.

Well, no, I like having a physical copy I can thumb through to look back at previous scenes. It's quicker.

Um, review? 4 has twists, starts to explain just how weird the weirdness really is. There's a long flashback, 2 or 3 chapters.

5 takes it further. Starting to get a bit "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" by the end?

I guess I'll read 6 in scanslation now. (continued)
philippos42: (manga)
Oh, as for the actual story of Whistle! v2: It's pretty cool, actually. In v1 the team was effectively stripped down to six named characters, & we saw them come together to become a new team. This volume gets two more characters that were hanging around the edges to rejoin. But at some point the book has to have a footie game, right? In order to get to eleven members for the new team's first game, we have three characters added in amidst that without fanfare or introduction. I wonder if the book will get back to them.

Then we have the new team's first actual full game. I give the writer props for making the goalie on the opposing team really cool, possibly even cooler than Shō & Tatsuya. But of course he has a nasty heavy on that team too, to give Tatsuya problems.

Well, there's a bit of cliffhanger--or halftime--at the end of the volume. I guess I'll continue this when I get to it.

Thirsty?

Aug. 17th, 2010 04:48 pm
OK, up to two volumes of Whistle!

Shonen Jump's translation of vol. 2 is disappointing. It looks very rushed. There are word balloons with misplaced arrows. I saw multiple cases of a character saying "he" when he means "I." And when a mysterious new character is introduced (some quick online research indicates it's Matsushita Soujū), he's called "Shō"--like the name of the lead character--the first time, then some pages later "Sō." I guess the translator & the adaptor each rushed & relied on the other one?

It sucks is what I'm saying. Actually, no, the plot is intelligible, regardless.

Oya-san gets a good line early on about how it takes time & effort to get anything up to standard. Here it is in another translation that hasn't been taken offline yet. Actually, Oya-san has more than one good line in that scene.

So, yeah, good manga, shame the print translation got a bit sloppy.

(Here, by contrast, is Soujū's first appearance in scanslation. Not looking good for the official adaptation.)
In about the last week, I have read vols. 3-5 of Yotsuba&! in the ADV edition (Javier Lopez's translation). Also an online scanslation of vol. 2. And found out about the Yen Press editions. After a good while of knowing Yotsuba only from the occasional clips in scans_daily, I'm in full fan mode.

So yeah, the new Greatest Thing Ever, & less ironic than I usually mean that.

And of course, as the first full volumes I read were ADV, I got used to that voice for Yotsuba. The way Lopez had her call Koiwai-san "Dad" instead of "Daddy" sounds right to me now. I could justify it, but it's just how I was introduced. Isn't her speech supposed to be a little-kid version of her father's masculine idiom?

Also, the first ADV volume jokingly suggests that Yotsuba may be from another planet. Then I read it. Oh, yeah, she could be. She's from "overseas." She has green hair. She swims like a fish, even though her father calls himself an "iron hammer." When the surf flipped her floaty-tube over at the beach, she was upside-down in the water for a moment, & seemed not to mind when she came out. And then there are lines the stargazing story which can be read to indicate that Koiwai got her somewhere other than Earth.

After the stargazing story ADV abandoned the translations. Did they finally decide this wasn't really about an alien after all, thus not kewl enough?

It's all ADV's fault ;)

Well, one thing that's not. I got the idea that Yotsuba was only 3 or 4 years old. See, I decided that Fuka was roughly 12-14, then Ena was enough smaller she might be 8. Then I started out thinking Yotsuba was maybe 6 (just a little younger than Ena). But Yotsuba was so much smaller, & not visibly in school, that I decided she might be younger. So yeah, I didn't know, but maybe 3-5. But she's six, I guess. At least, she says she's six at one point. And Fuka is sixteen. And Ena is...10?

Anyway, this is really cool. I recommend Yotsuba to practically everyone.
She's the daughter of a noble sorceror family down on its luck. She doesn't use magic very much because she's not that good--she understands the theory, just lacks control in practice. But hey she has (yet to be explained in volume 1) super strength.

He's the prince, but he has an alternate identity as an anonymous spaz.

The first three chapters all end with some variation on, "I will master magic & make it to the palace! I will!"

Oh, & the prince figures out that the heroine can't control her powers not so much because she sucks at control (as she believes) but because she's so awesomely powerful.

But when there's an emergency she kind of can control them.

Eyes rolling yet?

So, yeah, it's like that.

The Lapis Lazuli Crown, by Natsuna Kawase (or LAPISLAZULI NO OUKAN, by Kawase Natsune).

I can forgive this a lot because the author is clearly having so much fun with it.

And, you know, she created her own characters. :P

Translator Sheldon Drzka did his own script adaptation on the CMX version. That's different. Really, the script is a little shaky in places, but I think that may be from the original.

First volume has a back-up story, bizarrely titled "Daisy Romance." I would call it something else, like "The New Moon Thief." The back cover of the volume has a bit of art with the characters from that short story, & its heroine looks enough like Miel, the heroine of The Lapis Lazuli Crown, that I assumed it was Miel. Confusing!

Oh, well, it's very silly, but it's not offensive. Just tropey. OK, maybe offensively tropey.
philippos42: (manga)
This has got to be a put-on.

* * *

Earlier this week I was up all night, due to giving Penguin Revolution v2 a close rereading; arguably not worth it.

Then I decided to go ahead & water the plants, & sleep some in the morning. Then, instead of going to sleep, I read the entire first volume of Yotsuba&!

Now that I'm not so sleep-deprived, I may be backing off from saying this really is The Greatest Thing Ever. But man, I hope this stays in print for a long time to come. It's that good.

I think this series benefits from the digest-sized pages. If it were in the comic-book format used for manga imports when I was a kid, some of the pages would be a little spare. Not all of them, certainly, or even most--but I think this one looks good statted down.

Later, I was walking the dog, & thinking she's a bit Yotsuba-like, but then, the dog is three. Yotsuba is probably about three.

I like how Yotsuba calls the neighbor "Mom" (or whatever the Japanese idiom is here) as if it's her name, & is completely oblivious to others' concerns about her not having a mom.

http://koiwai.biz/eng/v1/ch06/06_23120x180_jpg.htm
http://koiwai.biz/eng/v1/ch07/07_18120x174_jpg.htm
Levitation, 2007, GT Labs, Jim Ottaviani & Janine Johnston.

Historical, in the sense that it's about actual historical persons. Howard Thurston was apparently deeply odd for a magician.

I've read one or two other books in this series from GT Labs. This one was actually pretty funny, though.

I like this. The framing of history through the device of fictionalization is pretty well done.

We get the story narrated by engineer Guy Jarrett, who actually wrote a book that's in the bibliography (along with ten other books).
philippos42: (manga)
After much delay, my attempt at a review of Land of the Blindfolded vols. 4 & 5.

I scribbled notes on volume 4, but I don't think I've posted on it. And now I've lost the notes. I was going to reread volumes 1-3 & refresh my memory, but I haven't yet.

Volume 4 is all LotB (chapters 11-15). Previous volumes had fewer than 5 chapters; they filled the page count with extra backups about other characters. No backup short story in this one. It's basically the "Student Council President" arc. I don't think we learn her name, actually. The student council president tells Arou (the sole member of the Gardening Club) that he has to cut back his garden on the school lot. He eventually gets her to allow him to keep the vegetables growing until harvest.

Tsukuba may have gone for an innocent feel to this series, but she knows what she's doing.1 There's a serious sensuality to the series, however innocent the things portrayed. The way things are framed, the way things are associated, creates implications. All those zucchini!

That said, I also found my reactions were "wrong," being used to fantasy stories with more expansive time scales. When Kanade (Arou's girlfriend who sees glimpses of the future) saw a vision of Arou in the future, looking at a picture of a woman who looked like the student council president but also like Arou, my mind went to, "It's their future daughter!" Well, no, not in this series. Kanade doesn't see that far ahead. The picture is of Arou's mother, who the president just sort of looks like. Which is meaningful.

One episode is a cute little digression with Namiki & his dog--who meet the Student Council President outside of school. At one point I was struck by how old my eyes are & how little one panel was. :sob!: In the "Sakura Mail" Tsukuba asked if we'd noticed the ostriches--I had to go back & peer.

-- - --

Land of the Blindfolded vol. 5 (chaps. 16-20). The word for this volume is "akebanatsu," to throw open the door. So far we'd seen Arou with sort of passive seeing powers, but in this one it seems like something weirder happens. And we meet his junior high friend Honma Eiichirou,2 who's definitely a strong personality & with an emotional nature almost opposite to Arou's in a way. Honma thinks this manga should be more superheroic. Arou disagrees. So, yeah, the power level & possibly the stakes go up in this volume.

Again, Kanade may be innocent, but Tsukuba isn't really avoiding sexuality, just writing a virginal character. Kanade's friend Eri is doing rather more with her boyfriend3 than Kanade is doing with Arou. Kanade considers sharing a room with Arou overnight & then sabotages that.

And Tsukuba is having fun drawing half-naked guys in the beach scenes. The guys are a bit gangly here. The artist had been covering them up to this point, & with their shirts off, their torsoes are clearly a bit idealized--narrow waists & broad shoulders. (This sent me back to Tsukuba's later series Penguin Revolution to compare. I think she did get the hang of shirtless guys more in time. Still idealized, just more expertly drawn.)

The first episode this volume (chapter 16) is going to be creepy to a lot of American readers, with its attempt at a justified crush on teacher. I think it's a relationship with cute elements, & the guy doesn't try dating her while he's in her class. But it could be a trigger.... So, yeah. Just get past that & go on.

I love the way Namiki relates to Arou. He's still trying to be Arou's rival for short plain girl Kanade, but he also comes to Arou's defense when people call Arou a monster. Back & forth, more or less in the same scene.

The collection also adds a tiny (6 p.) backup story about Namiki's dog, showing Namiki's adoption of the dog from the dog's perspective.

...

When I tried to get these on the library's shelves, the library was happy to comply (they'd already started the series), but then we were told that these 2 volumes are permanently out of stock. I don't really know about CMX in general, but at least these two specifically. That was about when CMX's shutdown was announced, & they'd gotten volume 3 not so long before, so I gave up on ordering any CMX. I borrowed these through inter-library loan so I could read them, but I'm not making CMX even a little bit of money now, I suppose now practically no one is.

So, that said, if you're interested, you can read some scanlations through chapter 20/volume 5 here. It's not as good, as they don't translate all the 'Sakura Mail' panels, but it can give you a taste.

1 Of course she does. It is a Love Manga.
2 Whose character design reminds me of the "rebel" guy in Whistle!
3 (Just how much more seems undefined in the English script.)
OK, so I've read Chikyu Misaki v1 now.

I momentarily thought it neat seeing a series with so many female characters playing off each other. But it bothers me that it's using the trope of having several of them fall for the male obake-child. It's not a harem manga, not yet anyway, but the protagonist, her best friend, & one apparent antagonist are all kind of crushing on the squirt after five chapters. Or rather he's imprinted on the protagonist & the other two are crushing on him. And of course the protagonist also has to deal with her new pet/little brother, so it's not just a crush thing; reality impinges. That leaves one female character that's not attached to him nor that impressed so far (but then she has a boyfriend, much to the protagonist's chagrin).

I like it. The lake monster is cute, so far the bespectacled friend is only a little annoying, & I appreciate the sense of a built setting & a story that knows where it's going. I also note that as someone closer in age to the main character's father, I may be rooting for him to get together with his girlfriend more than one is supposed to. (But I may change my mind on that.)

I'm going to continue with this. I hope it doesn't end up putting me off lake monsters.

This is really different from the other Iwahara series I'm reading, King of Thorn. I was looking for comparisons, but they're just very different series.

I mean, technically, King of Thorn has a female protagonist p.o.v. character, but the male characters (Americans no less) have actually done a lot of the work so far, to the point I'm identifying more with them. It's an ensemble, with quite a team. So far we've seen bits with Marco & Tim alone against monsters. At the end of volume two, they're mostly split up.

And maybe therein is a similarity.

In Chikyu Misaki, we get to see bits away from the main core cast, things with other characters that we don't see. Some of this ties back to the weird child; one scene shows him playing with the little brothers of one of the main characters. Some of it is setting up future conflict. And some of it is due to it being a series where a lot is coincidentally going on.

So, lots of characters, & shifting points of view, rather than really focusing on one protagonist.

Both series play with the image of a young woman taking care of a small boy. Obviously Tim is not Neo, but they are both fair-haired I think.

And of course they both have ambiguously amphibious aquatic dragon/dinosaur things.

So there are similarities.

Also, at this point, I think these are both stories that knew where they were going from the beginning. I'm not as sure this is true of King of Thorn, but at this point it feels like it--probably because there's so much visible world-building & backstory in Chikyu Misaki.

But Chikyu Misaki is funny & means to be. A romp, I think. King of Thorn is an action story with deeply detailed violent action scenes. I like both, but they're not the same genre.
I'd read King of Thorn v1 a few years ago. While looking for some interesting manga, I saw a plug for the same artist's Chikyu Misaki. So let's see what there is to see from Yuji Iwahara.

I notice that when I get a copy of Nightschool, I devour it immediately. I put off reading King of Thorn v2 for days. But it's cool.

King of Thorn has a token Japanese girl lead & a bunch of Westerners--Beikokujin. It's sort of a disaster movie scenario, where you're wondering who'll get picked off next.

It's definitely a different feel than, say, Nightschool. Not so packed with characters, & moving in a very different way, lots of panels of detailed physical action. But I like the action in this as opposed to the quick high-magic fights & overpowered characters in the last Nightschool volume. Then again, it was really in Nightschool v3 that we see over the top powers, as that's one with Mr Roi & Daemon showing that they're more powerful than one expected.

I got Chikyu Misaki v1 as well & am also putting off getting through it. I notice there is also a little blond boy in this. And a lake monster! Seriously, second page, full color, there's an image of a lake monster! I love lake monsters! I hope it's good.

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