nenena: (Default)
Elementary
So this is officially the best version of Sherlock anything that I've ever seen, ever. Not hyberbole. It's that awesome. And that's not just because it has probably the best Watson of all time, either. I love this Sherlock, I love the complex relationship he has with his Watson, I love the mysteries, and I love everything about this show.

Hannibal
Damn, what can I say about this show that hasn't been said already? The casting is fucking amazing, the horror elements are incredibly disturbing and incredibly well-executed, the characters and their interactions are deliciously complex and complicated, and the atmosphere and cinematography oh my god. I don't care how many times I've seen it every episode, that shot of the swiftly-moving grey clouds on top of EVERY BUILDING that the characters ever step foot in never gets old. What I'm actually torn about, however, is whether this show is treating its viewers like they're smart... or like they're really, really stupid. Honestly, I think the answer is that it does both. On the one hand, it's a show that very deliberately broadcasts the fact that it wants its audience to feel like they're smarter than the average television viewer. Between the subtle acting, the dense visual symbolism, the refusal to neatly tie up subplots or character arcs in single episodes and let them simply percolate in the background until they show up again several episodes later, and the constant references to classical music and food porn (admit it, you've Googled some of those episode titles because you didn't know what they were, I know you have), it's a show that's meant to make you think as you watch it, and it's meant to make you feel clever and sophisticated if you really appreciate all of its layers, its nuances, its refusals to conform to the usual storytelling rules of serial television. BUT, on the other hand... It really is a show that you have to turn off part of your brain to enjoy. Half of this show wants you the viewer to know that it thinks you're smart and you should feel smart for watching it, but the other half of the show is also trying desperately not to reveal the fact that it also thinks that you, the viewer, are very stupid. Stupid enough to believe that Hannibal Lecter can teleport himself from Maryland to Minnesota faster than a speeding airplane (HOW????), stupid enough to believe that a teenage girl can sneak out of a mental hospital in Maryland and dig up a body in Minnesota and then be back in said mental hospital in Maryland in one night (again, HOW?????), and just in general stupid enough to believe that Hannibal Lecter can get away with his crimes for so long despite the fact that the show is set in contemporary times and that we constantly see the FBI applying modern forensic science to the murders. There's a LOT of suspension of disbelief required to really enjoy this show. And that's kind of disappointing considering that the show seems so invested in making you feel like you're a clever, smart, sophisticated television viewer when you watch it.

The Wind in the Keyhole
It's been a long, long time since I sat down with a Stephen King novel that was anywhere near as engrossing as this one. I know that Stephen King loves his high fantasy, but so rarely does he actually pull it off as beautifully as he does in this book. Plus there's actually a lot of interesting gender and sexuality things woven into the subplots of both of the meta-stories, and thankfully these themes are approached with a lot more maturity and sophistication than King usually exhibits, even despite the medieval setting. But really this is my favorite thing that King has written in a while just because it's everything that makes the best of King's writing great: great characters, creepy buildups, epic payoffs, and of course, interwoven stories that echo and mirror each other in very, very intriguing ways. I'd easily rank this one up there with Hearts in Atlantis as my favorite of King's novels, with the happy caveat that Keyhole is actually far better in the way that it handles sexism in its setting than Atlantis is.

Ava's Demon
I started reading this because friends were raving about it, and I love it. The artwork is gorgeous, the characters are intriguing, and the setting is pretty interesting so far, even if not terribly coherent. Yes, some of the writing is amateurish and some of the info-dumps are awkward. But I really do feel like the writing is showing signs of improving already. So this one is definitely a series that I'll be keeping up with.

Gunnerkrigg Court
Just to put things in perspective, this is a comic in which a non-sequitor gag about an octopus jumping off a cliff is presented as a visual metaphor for one of the two main characters finally becoming comfortable with embracing her homosexuality, and it's STILL by far and away the best comic that I'm reading right now, hands-down.

Steven Universe
YES YES CARTOON NETWORK THIS IS GREAT MORE OF THIS PLEASE PLEASE PLEAAAAAAAASE

Aku no Hana/The Flowers of Evil
I'm sticking with exactly four shows from the spring anime season: Attack on Titan, Hataraki Maou-sama, Precure, and Aku no Hana. Of the four, Aku no Hana is by far and away the best of the lot, even accounting for the difficulty of comparing apples to oranges. It's not just good. It's fucking great. I already wrote out my opinions about the animation style, the sexual politics, and the overall themes of the show on tumblr and I don't feel like repeating myself here, but I will say that the animation gets more and more gorgeous (and the actual message of the series harder and harder to ignore) with every episode.

Soul Eater
So we are now two chapters from the end and DAMN, this month's chapter is fucking finally doing what a big series-finale climatic battle chapter SHOULD be doing. Main character gets a badass powerup, supporting characters get their chance to shine with individual Crowning Moments of Awesome (even Gopher!!!), there's significantly less dumbass screaming about order and chaos than we've had to suffer through in previous chapters (man Ohkubo you actually used to be interesting in your treatment of those themes what happened?!), and wow some of those panels of Maka building up toward her finishing move are just fucking spectacular. My threshold requirements for What Would Make a Great Soul Eater Finale were basically "Maka should be awesome" and "it shouldn't drag on forever to the point where it gets boring," which are admittedly low expectations given how great Soul Eater was at its peak a few years ago, but hey so far the finale is delivering so I'm happy.

So obviously I'm not going to be recapping these chapters anymore - not for lack of interest, but lack of time, especially now that Attack on Titan has exploded all over the internet and I can barely keep up with that one fandom. I WOULD like to say that I really want to take time to recap the final chapter in August, but to be honest that's not terribly likely to happen considering that August 12th will be right smack in the middle of my last few vacation days of the year and I'm already making plans to spend that week visiting friends out-of-state. Plus I think that maybe like five people have actually been reading my recaps for the past few months, and although I appreciate the support, let's be honest, writing a recap post is a LOT of effort for little reward, and frankly I'm having more fun spending free time that I would previously have devoted to recapping Soul Eater to catching up my summer reading pile and to-watch list. So for those of you who enjoyed the recaps, thanks for sticking with me for all these years, and I'm sorry that I don't have time to see it through to the end!

But by far the most important thing here is that the Soul Eater ending is actually REALLY FUCKING AWESOME so far, so here's hoping for two more months of this level of FUCK YEAH from Ohkubo.
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
Due to health problems and not being able to work earlier this month, I've been spending a lot of time catching up with old comics and trying out a few new ones. In particular I've been gorging myself on webcomics lately, and although I usually end up either underwhelmed by or outright disliking most of the webcomics that I try reading, there are a few that I fall head-over-heels in love with. So, here are some thoughts about some things that I'm reading right now, whether I've been reading them for years or have only recently discovered them, all of which I would recommend to the comic-inclined.

Namesake. Just starting reading this last week and have barely been able to put it down step away from the computer screen. A beautifully-drawn and fiercely feminist fantasy story about fulfilling roles in fairy tales and taking charge of your own destiny. And it does more to establish the heroine's complex and believable personality in the first six pages of Chapter 1 than most webcomics manage to do in an entire volume. I'm only pointing this out because that is definitely one of my number-one pet peeves in the entire "normal girl gets sucked into a strange world" genre of web comics: When the author doesn't establish anything about the heroine's personality before having her suddenly end up in the other world. Or even worse, when the author wastes time with page after page of scenes of the heroine doing "normal everyday stuff" in order to establish how normal she is but STILL forgets to let her show any hint of a personality trait. This comic is one of the worst offenders I've seen to date in that particular area. On the opposite end of the spectrum and as an example of Doing It Right, however, we have Namesake and also [personal profile] animeshen's delightful Wendy and Sully in Candlyland, which takes a succinct eight pages to give the reader a solid grasp on Wendy and Sully's personalities and how they interact with each other, and does so in a fun and interesting way.

Unsounded. This comic is about a young monkey-thief who can swashbuckle with her feet and who suffers from Black Star-like delusions of grandeur. If that isn't enough to of a selling point for you, there's also a mysterious and handsome zombie with a tragic past. And a magical mountain-shaped monster that befriends a blind boy and his assistance flame-monster. (Why have an assistance dog when you can have an assistance flame-monster?) Unsounded is immediately engrossing and tons of fun to read, even if it does suffer from some significant flaws - namely that the overcomplicated artwork can sometimes get visually confusing, and the story throws a lot of made-up terminology at the reader without really pausing for some more comprehensible world-building. But those are really my only complaints about this beautiful, beautiful comic.

Gunnerkrigg Court. I've been hearing nothing but good things about this comic since it began in 2005, but I never got around to actually starting to read it until earlier this year. I wish I hadn't waited so long. It is every bit as good as everybody says it is.

The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. Young man calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his family, gets disowned, gets drunk, and wakes up the next morning with a *~quirky and free-spirited~* hottie frying eggs and singing in his kitchen. Oh, and apparently the two of them made a pact last night to drive across the country together. In the hands of a lesser writer this could have been every terrible gay-romance-for-straight-ladies cliche rolled up into a "wacky roadtrip" narrative. But somehow E.K. Weaver manages to infuse the story with actually believable characters, believable dialogue, and plenty of humor and warmth. Highly recommended.

Patchwork and Lace. The new-ish fantasy comic by [personal profile] furikku (who is also the creator of Reliquary). A pair of lady monster-hunters, a fantasmagoric set-up, and an intriguing fantasy world. Need I say more.

Oglaf. You may have heard of this one as "that epic fantasy porn comic that's actually really, really funny." A rare example of comedy porn that actually succeeds at being whip-smart and hilarious, while embracing a freewheeling variety of straight, gay, lesbian, vanilla, and kinky characters.

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella. Superhero parody comics come and go, but this one remains one of my absolute favorites and definitely the funniest.

X-Men canon: Keeping up with Astonishing X-Men, Exiled, Generation Hope, New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, and Wolverine & the X-Men. I dropped X-Factor a while back after sticking with it for far too long. And I just can't get into X-Force no matter how much I love Laura. But with the notable exceptions of a) all of X-Factor, no seriously all of it and b) Forge's epic character derail in Astonishing, I have to say: I LOVE the current X-Men canon, in a way that I haven't really loved the X-books since the early 2000s. I love all of the New Mutants story lines. I love Hope and all of the 5th-generation X-Men. I love Logan's sixty-year character arc finally coming full circle. I love Scott and Emma. I love Rogue so goddamn much. I love Magneto's redemption arc. Everything about the X-Men universe is so much fun to read right now. I think that the overall tone of the X-books has finally settled on a comfortable level of danger/angst/darkness without descending too far into the boring-ass depths of grimdarkness, which is a MUCH needed improvement after the epicly stupid, epicly boring, and pointlessly grimdark mess that was Messiah Complex and all of its aftermath.

Buffy Season 9. Much, much, much better than Season 8 so far. Much better. (Although I will forever and always love the Faith/Giles story arc from the beginning of Season 8. Best and arguably the only solidly good part of that entire series, if you ask me.)

Homestuck. "There's not a lot of style to invisibility. Primarily because nobody gets to see how damn smooth you're being." Homestuck, for all of its overhype and its failures and its flaws, is still just a goddamn delight to read with every update.

And as for DC Comics, well... I am taking a break from DC Comics for a while. Might try to reconnect with the Batfamily sometime later, but I don't know. I loved everything that Grant Morrison built up with the "death" of Bruce Wayne and the birth of Batman Inc, and I'm still bitter about the New 52 just wiping all of those years of character development and storyline setup right out of the DC Universe.

Yup, that's how you know that I'm a mainstream comics fan: Still bitter about an storyline-breaking editorial mandate from over a year ago. Still bitter.

And as for what's upcoming that I'm the most looking forward to: It's the Adventure Time spin-off comic about Princess Bubblegum joining Marceline's band. Hell. Fucking. Yes.