nenena: (Default)
Bob's Burgers is well into its third season now, so I figured it's about time I made a post about how awesome this series is.

Reasons why y'all should watch Bob's Burgers:

1. It's not a typical FOX animated sitcom.

If you're like me and you shunned Bob's Burgers during its first season because it looked too much like (and was marketed as) just another Seth McFarlane-flavored animated sitcom, well then you're as wrong as I was. The tone of the show is much closer to The Simpsons in that most episodes end in affirmative, heartwarming moments. There's also a definite lack of the "ironic" racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic humor that McFarlane shows rely on. Having said that, though, the verbal humor flies fast and furious in most episodes - and H. John Benjamin's deadpan delivery of some of the funniest lines in the show makes them somehow that much funnier.

2. The main cast is perfectly balanced as comic foils for each other, and most of the humor is character-driven.

Bob is the straight man surrounded by over-the-top personalities. He takes burgers very, VERY seriously. His wife Lynne is dramatic, theatrical, and not unlike Suzumiya Haruhi is constantly on a quest to make her life more exciting. Their oldest daughter Tina is an awkward teenager who has no idea how to appropriately express her budding sexuality and the show treats her sympathetically. Middle son Gene is a wannabe comedian who's actually as funny as he is obnoxious. And youngest daughter Louise (voiced brilliantly by Kristen Schaal) is a too damn smart for her age so she channels her bored genius into becoming a manipulative, Machiavellian sociopath. The family is surrounded by a growing cast of characters that are all equally hilarious, although Bob's supervillain landlord voiced by Kevin Kline and the delusional school counselor deserve special mention.

3. Tina.

At first glance Tina seems like just another Meg Griffin-type character: She's a teenage girl, ugly, socially awkward, uncomfortable in her body, and desperate for popularity and a boyfriend. Does the show milk her pubescent awkwardness for humor? Yes. But is she constantly the butt of every joke the way that Meg Griffin is? NO. Like I said before, the show treats Tina sympathetically; we laugh at her as much as we root for her. Most episodes give Tina a happy ending and the show constantly validates her in going out of its way to show us that she DESERVES the things that she wants in life but that it's also OKAY for her to BE HERSELF. One of the best examples of this is in the season 1 episode "Cab, Bob?" in which Bob and Lynne go to extreme lengths to throw Tina a super-special thirteenth birthday party. Despite the fabulous party, Tina is depressed because all that she wants is to share a dance and a kiss with her crush Jimmy Pesto Jr., the son of Bob's archnemesis. Jimmy Pesto Sr. forbids Jimmy Jr. from going to Tina's party just because he hates Bob's family THAT MUCH. Without Jimmy Jr. at the party, Tina falls into a depressed funk and the party spirals into a disaster. Finally, however, we get the happy ending when Bob finds a way to blackmail Jimmy Sr. into letting Jimmy Jr. go to the party; the entire episode builds up to the triumphant moment when finally Tina and Jimmy dance beneath a disco ball and share their first kiss. Okay, so, how many other animated sitcoms (other than The Simpsons) actually have episodes like that in which all of the characters WORK HARD TOWARD, VALIDATE, AND ROOT FOR a teenage girl's fantasies to come true, rather than just using the teenage girl character as the butt of sexist jokes and tearing her down at every opportunity? Not that many, unfortunately. And that is one of the reasons why Bob's Burgers is consistently so fucking great in the way that it treats its female characters.

4. Louise.

The "precocious sociopath" is a tried and true staple sitcom character, and for good reason. Because smart, evil children are funny. And Louise is no exception to the rule, although she IS portrayed in a much more realistic way than many of her sitcom peers. The show is very clear in presenting her as a bully. We laugh at her antics but we're not supposed to want her to succeed, UNLESS it's one of the episodes in which Louise uses her schemes to protect/save her family from outside threats (which are really the best episodes). I hate to say this, but I see a lot of kids who are just like Louise in some of the classes that I teach: Hella smart but fundamentally insecure, and masking their insecurities by using their smarts to bully and manipulate others. Yep. I'm sure you all know people like that in real life, too. But again, the show is just great in the way that it presents Louise's character to the audience. Yes, we're supposed to be feel sympathy for her when we're finally shown how insecure she is or how frustrated she is when her intellect is devalued all the time. But no, we're not supposed to feel sympathy for her all the time, especially not when, you know, she's being a legitimately horrible person. Louise's real saving grace, however, is how loyal she is to her family, even if her loyalty often manifests itself in her extremely unhealthy quest to bully Tina and Gene into becoming better/stronger people. It's impossible not to see echoes of Vriska and Tavros in Louise's relationship with her shy, awkward older sister Tina. Louise is frequently horrible to Tina but in her mind she's just helping Tina become more self-confident. And you know what? This is hilarious to watch. (It's made hilarious because, as I mentioned above, Tina usually ends up having her true personality validated/having a happy ending, unlike poor Tavros.) But I feel it's also worth mentioning that in season 3 Louise finally gets a worthy opponent and a true character foil with the addition of Logan, a spoiled but intelligent bully who can actually match Louise scheme-for-scheme. Louise is great and all, but all quasi-evil protagonists need a good foil to keep their quasi-evilness in check, and it's about time that Louise got such a worthy opponent in her show.

5. "The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene."

This episode is so great that it deserves special mention here. So the plot starts out with standard sitcom fare: Gene has a secret admirer at school. The secret admirer turns out to be Courtney, the most obnoxious girl in the entire school: loud, awkward, and absolutely torturous to be around for more than a few moments. Courtney literally corners Gene and asks him to go out with her, and Gene is too cowardly to refuse her. Bam. So they start dating, and Gene hates every minute of it. So you'd think, at this point, that the rest of the episode is going to be standard ha-ha-look-at-this-horrible-overbearing-girl-torturing-this-poor-put-upon-nice-boy fare, right? WRONG. Gene's family is horrified to find out that he's dating Courtney despite not really liking her, so what do they do? They put the responsibility on HIM to break up the relationship, they blame HIM for stringing Courtney along, and they tell HIM that Courtney deserves better than a guy who doesn't really like her and that he'd better break up with her soon goddamit. WHO'DVE THUNK, RIGHT? I mean, our television and movies are FULL of examples of female characters being blamed and castigated for "stringing along" those nice well-meaning guys that they're just not really that into. But how often do you see the opposite, a male character being (rightfully) blamed for stringing along a girl despite not really liking her? And the show is very clear that Gene is the one who's really doing something "wrong" in the relationship despite also being clear that Courtney is a completely, totally obnoxious girlfriend. Courtney's only crime is being herself, whereas Gene's crime is lying to Courtney about his feelings. The show is very clear as to which crime is worse. And things take a decided turn for the horrible when Gene meets Courtney's father, who is a really awesome cool guy, and Gene decides that he wants to keep the relationship with Courtney going so that he can hang out with her dad. WHOA. Again, Gene's family is horrified to hear this and they VERY clearly call him out on his behavior. And, as predicted, things finally reach a climax when Courtney annoys Gene so much that he completely snaps and dumps her in the most humiliating way possible... at her own birthday party. Which causes Courtney to have a literal heart attack. "Um, do you think I ruined her birthday?" Gene asks as Courtney is loaded onto an ambulance. YES, GENE. YES YOU DID. But in the final few moments of the episode we get a) Courntey exacting a hilarious revenge upon Gene and b) Gene laughing sheepishly and agreeing that he deserved that (BECAUSE HE DID). Everyone reconciles, Gene learns his lesson, happy endings all around. And again: WHOA. How many other sitcoms with a storyline about one of the main male characters agreeing to date an obnoxious female character actually blame the male character for stringing along his girlfriend when he clearly doesn't like her? How many sitcom storylines about the "obnoxious girlfriend" let the girlfriend GET REVENGE on her crappy boyfriend and VALIDATE HER AS DESERVING SAID REVENGE while the male character actually hangs his head, laughs at himself, and agrees that he deserves it?!

Oh Bob's Burgers, your unabashed feminism makes me so happy. And it is definitely no surprise that the most female-positive episodes of the show are all written by women. The show actually draws from a diverse pool of constantly-changing episode writers and directors, and that diversity of creative voices is clearly paying off in terms of just how goddamn great all of the episodes are.

Recommended episodes

Season 1: "Sexy Dance Fighting" (a great Tina episode), "Bed and Breakfast," "Burger Wars"
Season 2: "Beefsquatch," "Bob Day Afternoon," "The Belchies" (easily the best Louise episode to date)
Season 3: "The Deepening," "Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks," "The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene," "Broadcast Wagstaff School News" (a fantastic Tina/Louise episode and featuring some of the most erudite poop jokes ever put on television)

In short, you all should watch this show because IT'S REALLY GREAT.
nenena: (Default)

Sailor Avengers by nna. (Click through for full size!)


Hat-tip to [personal profile] shanejayell for that one. Now we just need somebody to make an Avengers/Pretty Cure mashup and my life will be complete. Er, not like I've actually put any thought or planning or detail into an Avengers/Pretty Cure mashup fic that will never be written or anything.

Other Links of Interest:

David Brothers on why DRM is beneficial to exactly nobody.

Al Jean (producer of The Simpsons) and fifty other animation producers protest Community's eligibility in the Emmy animation categories. I'm sorry, I love Community, I really do, but it does not belong in any of the Emmy animation categories. It just. does. not. And Al Jean is absolutely correct to point out that if Community can be considered in the animated Emmy categories, then why can't shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, South Park, and other animated sitcoms be considered in any of the Emmy comedy categories? Because animation ghetto, that's why.

David Brothers (yes, again!) on why Anno Moyoco's Sakuran reveals how sexism in the past still influences how we regard "willful" women today. (Do not read the comments.) Sexist expectations of how women should behave is a common theme in Anno's work - just look at Sugar Sugar Rune, which used magical girls to deconstruct those sexist tropes in really interesting ways - but Sakuran is a decidedly more adult take on the same themes for a decidedly more adult audience.

Meanwhile, Naruto is coming to an end. I don't think that anybody has yet expressed any reaction to this other than "Finally!" And that includes those of us who are actually fans of the series. It's about time we got a decent climax and conclusion! For the record, I felt the same way when Inu-Yasha finally ended. No matter how much fun your manga is, you just can't keep dragging out the same basic conflict without any meaningful conclusion for years and years and years without people getting tired of it.
nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)
The Simpsons skewers teen lit, the writing process, and the publishing industry:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/302535/the-simpsons-the-book-job#s-p1-so-i0

Beautiful. There are no words for how perfect this entire episode is. Just beautiful.
nenena: (Tsubasa - Please stop)
All right.

Okay.

I have never, ever read an ending to anything - ever - that more clearly screamed of the writers just throwing up their hands and giving up. It's clear that CLAMP doesn't give a flying fuck about this series any more, and they just wanted to end it already, so end it they did. It's really their own damn fault for writing themselves into a corner the moment that they started the whole Oedipal time travel plot twist, though. There was never going to be any way to resolve that without completely fucking over the storyline, so they just... well, didn't. They didn't really resolve anything. They just stopped.

And HOW. )

Edited to add: Epilogue recap is GO. Have any of the plot holes listed above been addressed in the epilogue? The answer is: No, not really. But that's no surprise.
nenena: (Default)
Pirates of the Caribbean III!

I got the widescreen 2-disc AWESOME edition. Only... It really wasn't so awesome. First, there were a bunch of Disney trailers before the main menu that I couldn't fast-forward through. (Also, the Japanese subtitles were turned on during the trailers, and I couldn't turn them off for some reason, even though the audio was also in Japanese.) The main disc menu was prefaced by an obscenely long animation. Also, the main disc menu was almost completely unreadable. To add insult to injury, despite the fact that I got an entire extra disc of bonus material, the theatrical trailers for PoC III were NOT included. I've ranted before about how it pisses me off the way that Disney DVDs almost never include theatrical trailers, because I LOVE trailers, and they're such a standard extra on almost every other studio's release, I don't understand why Disney keeps omitting them.

Does anybody have the Region 1 release? Does it suck as much as the Region 2 version?

Next... Bender's Big Score!!!! Hooray for more Futurama!!!!!

Non-spoilery thoughts about the movie:

1. It was good. In my head I (inevitably) compared it to The Simpsons Movie, and it held up pretty well.
2. Non-spoiler: The plot involves time travel. It got confusing at times.
3. Sorta spoiler: They used the time travel plot device to "fix" the endings of the two most tragic episodes from the TV series ever. (Seriously, "Jurassic Bark" reduced me to a quivering ball of tears so bad that to this day I refuse to watch that episode again. It is the only Futurama episode that I've never seen more than once.) I am so happy with the new continuity that there are no words. Seriously. But hey, I'm the type of person for whom the highlight of Pirates of the Caribbean III was the revelation that the shaggy dog didn't die after all. So the parts of this movie that retconned "Luck of the Fryish" and "Jurassic Bark" made me very, very, very happy.

Also, the Kwanzaabot rap. And Al Gore's multiple guest appearances. Best line: "Finally! I get to save the Earth with deadly lasers instead of deadly slide shows."

TV!

Oct. 30th, 2007 11:54 pm
nenena: (Default)
I was looking back at my anime year in review post, and I realized that most of the shows that I recced (and ALL of the shows that I uber-recced) were from the spring 2007 season. There was almost nothing that really pushed my buttons in a good way from the fall 2006 season. I mean, I enjoyed Hataraki Man, Red Garden, and Kanon (the latter despite the I-knew-it-was-coming-but-still-hated-it ending), and I enjoyed Code Geass for all the wrong reasons, but... The fall season definitely didn't IMHO produce any truly great series like Seirei no Moribito, To Terra, or Romeo x Juliet. Looking back, I definitely felt like the fall 2006 season was a mushy pile of generic harem shows stacked on top of generic harem shows, but the spring 2007 season felt like a breath of fresh air to me. I mean: Juliet, Seto San, Balsa, Swena, Clare, Nadie, Nia, and Yoko were all on TV at the same time, and how awesome was that?! I felt like anime was finally moving beyond the moe moe moe moe moe moe endless trend of generic moe moe moe moe generic shows. Which isn't to say that moe shows stopped altogether - there was plenty of moe in the spring 2007 season - but that we finally got a variety of shows other than just endless episodes of moe moe and more moe.

And now, what does the fall 2007 anime schedule look like?

Yup. We're back to square one. It's almost nothing but generic harem comedies, and endless amounts of moe moe moe moe.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm annoyed that other than Shakugan no Shana (which YES contains moe but at least it has a PLOT and awesome female characters) and You're Under Arrest, there's almost nothing good on TV for me to veg in front of this season. Or at least, nothing "good" for me, as I have very little interest in harem comedies or moe.

On the other hand, American television is currently exploding with awesome (Avatar, The Boondocks, American Dad, South Park, The Simpsons, and Robot Chicken), so that at least makes up for the dearth of good animated television on this side of the Pacific.

Here's hoping that the spring 2008 anime season will bring back the bucketloads of win and awesome that the spring 2007 season provided. Isn't Haruhi Season 2 supposed to air in spring 2008?