nenena: (Soul Eater - Blair kitty)
Some of these links are old, some of them are new. I hope that all of them are interesting for you.

Uktena is a historically accurate (well, with the addition of a few supernatural elements) free PC roleplaying game created by Toye Heape and based on native cultures that lived in Tennessee about six hundred years ago. It needs some funding help to get off the ground. As to why this game is awesome and important, here's what Heape has to say:

When the game is finished I want to make it available as a free digital download. I have plans for future games that I'd like to create and possibly sell, but it's important to me that as many people as possible have access to Uktena. Here's why: When many people hear the words Native American they think of teepees, war bonnets, and other icons associated with the great horse riding, buffalo hunting cultures of the American plains, but you won't be seeing those things in this game. Uktena is about a different Native culture and a different period in American history, neither of which is very well known to most people. I believe Uktena has the potential to help change that by immersing players in that prehistoric world and letting them participate in that civilization while having a fun gaming experience.

[...]In recent years road projects, housing developments, shopping centers, and even libraries and museums, along with illegal looting, have impacted or destroyed major Native American archaeological sites in the Nashville area. It may seem inconceivable that America's heritage could be wiped out like this, but I believe a major reason is because most people aren't aware of it. This was one of my main motivations for creating Uktena. I think a video game can have a powerful impact on the imagination in a way that other media can't, and once the player has "experienced" the history he or she will be more likely to object to what little is left of it being crushed under the treads of a bulldozer. [...] At the same time I want you to know that, like most people, my main objective when playing a game is to have fun, and I'll do my best, with your invaluable assistance, to make Uktena a fun and exciting game.

Recently there's been a lot of discussion on Tumblr and Dreamwidth about fan-funded indie games that are intended to be inclusive of people and cultures not normally represented in your typical mainstream RPGs. Unfortunately a lot of that discussion is fueled by a Certain Project doing nearly everything wrong. Well, here's an example of a game that is really, truly doing it right. And even though the Kickstarter deadline for this project has passed, there are still ways that you might be able to help it get the funding that it needs.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet! A whole lot of dimwitted male movie critics have been trying to gain Feminism Points by critiquing how Black Widow is portrayed in The Avengers. The overwhelming problem with most of these reviews, however, is not that there isn't anything bad to be said about Black Widow's portrayal or Joss Whedon's often strangely limited flavor of feminism - because there most certainly IS an awful lot worthy of critique there - but that movie critics are, for some inexplicable reason, complaining about Black Widow being useless in the film. Uh, what? Fortunately, Ian Grey has an excellent takedown of that argument. Bonus points for actually calling out the offending movie critics by name.

Speaking of Doing It Right: Dan Norton is the amazing character designer for the new Thundercats series and he's posting all of his character and mech design work on Deviantart. Well worth a gander even if you're not into Thundercats. Also, some time ago Norton's gallery hosted a hilarious flamewar during which Norton beautifully smacked down a sexist fanboy who showed up to complain about Pumyra's new design being "too manly" and not having big enough breasts. Sadly, however, those comments seem to have been deleted now.

More potpourri links:

Paul Tobin hilariously describes stupid depictions of gender in fiction.

Swan Tower writes about writing fight scenes.

How to Illustrate Weelchairs. Also useful information for anybody who wants to write about or film characters who use wheelchairs.

Push Girls is a show that documents the lives of four women who use wheelchairs.

This is the best Avengers/Disney mashup. The BEST.


May. 27th, 2012 01:21 pm
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
You know that a show is truly, truly terrible when Liz Lemon makes a completely non-ironic and earnest joke about it being terrible during the season finale of 30 Rock. Ladies and gentlemen, Smash is that show. And yes, it is every bit as terrible as everybody says it is.

But like Liz, I stubbornly stuck with watching the show all the way up to the bitter end, because despite how completely awful it was in so many regards there was also just enough in terms of nuggets of television gold buried beneath all of the poorly-written, melodramatic crap that I couldn't give up on the show completely. I just couldn't.

Of course, it helps that the show is a musical about a musical, which is always a fun concept in and of itself. It also helps that Smash stars some absolutely phenomenonal singers and actors, and that I am willing to sit through forty minutes of insufferable stupidity every week as long as it means that I get to hear Megan Hilty sing, or get to watch Leslie Odom Jr. dance, or get to listen to Jack Davenport sneering through his every line of dialogue, or get to watch Angelica Houston being amazing in her every scene because she's Angelica fucking Houston. Overall the cast of Smash is so talented that it's almost ridiculous. ALL of these actors and actresses deserve a better show than this, and they're all doing an incredible job with the crap dialogue and crap scenarios that they're given to work with. Ultimately it's the acting that saves this show even though the writing is doing its goddamn best to destroy it.

I think this is the first time I can ever honestly say that I enjoyed a show primarily for the actors and not for the characters. But enjoy the show I did, somewhat. Even though MY GOD were parts of it so stupid that I actually felt myself getting angry at the show for being so terrible. So I guess this is the big long post where I try to sort out and write down all of my feelings about Smash, since if I suffered through fifteen episodes of this crap I might was well have some thinky-thoughts about writing and characterization (as in: HOW NOT TO DO) to show for it.

But first, let's start with a few things that Smash did well.

1. Tom and Sam. Christian Borle and Leslie Odom Jr. are absofuckinglutely fantastic actors, they have amazing chemistry together, and their respective story arcs are great. I especially loved the whole drama with Sam's family being disapproving of his career as a dancer rather than disapproving of him being gay - which is realistic, relatable, and definitely stepping outside the usual stereotypes in terms of how Black and/or Christian characters are portrayed with their attitudes toward homosexuality. Smash is also LIGHT YEARS ahead of certain other shows that like to pat themselves on the back for being oh-so-progressive in terms of portraying gay relationships on screen and yet never show the gay couples kissing, touching, or engaging in any sort of sexually-charged banter or flirting whatsoever. Yes, Modern Family and Glee, I am most certainly talking about you two. Smash actually shows its gay couples engaging in physical flirting, sexual banter, kissing, touching, and even in bed together. You know, the same way that it portrays the heterosexual relationships on the show. Smash does much more to normalize the portrayals of gay relationships among its characters in 15 episodes than Modern Family has done in three full seasons. Now, to be fair, neither Tom nor Sam's portrayal is perfect. In fact, Sam spends most of the first half of the season having no characterization whatsoever other than a) liking sports - which he has to mention in his EVERY LINE OF DIALOGUE - and b) being Ivy's gay best friend who exists solely to be Ivy's gay best friend. But once Tom and Sam start dating and Sam starts to, you know, actually be portrayed as a character with complex personality traits, things get a lot better. A LOT better.

2. Eileen. Angelica Houston is an amazing actress, I loved the character's entire story arc, everything about Eileen is awesome, and if I actually can bring myself to watch the next season of Smash it will probably be solely to watch Eileen be fucking awesome in every scene again.

3. Ivy, with an asterisk. We'll get the asterisk behind the cut, but first: Yes, Megan Hilty is every bit as amazing of an actress as she as a singer. Yes, I loved (nearly) everything about Ivy as a character. I ended up rooting for her so much that it was kind of scary. I loved how she was flawed and imperfect, selfish and manipulative yet vulnerable and needy at the same time. I loved how hard she worked and how hard she fought for her dreams. I loved how good the show was at making me feel for Ivy and at making me want Ivy to win, despite the fact that Ivy was much less of a nice person than Karen was. I think that the show truly succeeded in making me feel like Ivy DESERVED that leading role, even if she was a flawed and imperfect person, and for that I can only tip my hat at the writers and say: Well done.

And now let's talk about what the show did horribly, horribly wrong.

Behind this cut are major spoilers for the entire first season. Well, 'spoilers' if you're the type of person who considers 'the Titanic sinks' and 'Romeo and Juliet die' to be spoilers. )
nenena: (Tink - Cheers!)
Whoopi Goldberg announced on The View today that JP is going to propose to Kyle in tomorrow's issue of Astonishing X-Men and that the two will be wed in June's issue.

So Marvel is going to have their first official on-panel gay marriage. :D

HEY MARVEL COMICS YOU KNOW WHAT? Since you're going all-out to ride this wave of gay marriage publicity and you've got this awesome Avengers fanbase just dying to throw money at you right now... You know what you should do?

You should make a Young Avengers cartoon. That's what you should do. And I know that I just said the same thing yesterday, but come on! Young Avengers features one of the best portrayals of gay teen relationship in either Marvel or DC canon. It would be an enormous and important step in the right direction if Wiccan and Hulkling could star in a mainstream cartoon series.

Having a gay marriage in the official Marvel comics canon is an awesome and amazing thing, no doubt about it. Here's hoping that someday (possibly soon?) Marvel is ready to take the next step and include a gay relationship in one of their cartoon shows.

No but seriously you guys Young Avengers is such perfect, perfect material for a cartoon adaptation. Absolutely perfect.
nenena: (Default)
I really wish that Marvel would take advantage of their Avengers-related momentum right now to produce a Young Avengers cartoon.

Think about it: It would be a perfect way to keep milking the franchise while everyone is waiting impatiently for the next film. The most successful superhero cartoon shows are almost always* the ones that focus on a team of teenagers, i.e. X-Men: Evolution, Teen Titans, and Young Justice, to name a few. And the Young Avengers comics have all of the elements that attract the devoted fanbases of those other teen superhero shows have, namely: Misunderstood/ostracized teenagers, lots of action, lots of angst, family drama, romantic drama, team bonding, team rivalries, unlikely friendships, the us-against-the-world-that-fears-and-hates-us formula that makes the X-Men perpetual favorites, and the young-upstarts-proving-themselves-to-older-mentors formula that fandom squees over in Young Justice.

To be fair, I've seen this idea bandied around before, and the most common response is usually along the lines of "but the Young Avengers characters have origins that are too convoluted and too deeply embedded in Marvel canon for a mainstream kids' show!" To which I can only say, really?! The Young Avengers characters have origins more convoluted than most of the cast of Young Justice?! Really?!

And also it's not like any of those convoluted origins can't be easily simplified or changed altogether for the sake of a TV adaptation, anyway. Come on people. IMHO, the only Young Avengers character whose backstory really shouldn't be messed with is Patriot, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I think that Patriot's origin story is incredibly powerful and incredibly important in the Marvel canon. But aside from Patriot, well, I wouldn't really weep if any of the other characters had changed or simplified backstories. Depending on how the origin stories are changed, some of them might even end up better off for it.

But anywhoo I just think it would be really cool if someday we got a Young Avengers cartoon. The characters are already popular with the comic-reading fandom, the recent success of Young Justice has shown that there's a huge fandom out there hungry for teen superhero shows, and with The Avengers kicking ass at the box office right now it just seems like perfect timing.

*Asterisk: The 90's-era Batman and X-Men cartoons are the biggest exceptions to this rule. But even in the case of the X-Men show I'd say it was still mostly about a group of angsty outcasts who certainly acted like teenagers a lot of the time, even if they were supposed to be older.
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.
nenena: (Default)
The F-Word is the best fucking food show ever. Period, end of story. And those of us over here in North America are finally getting the entire first season streaming on Hulu. I literally screamed a little bit when I saw it show up on my Hulu queue today. (And then immediately regretted screaming a little bit because OW HORRIBLE INJURY ARRRRGH.)

But seriously this is the best fucking food show in the world because it has EVERYTHING. Including: )

Anywhoo, this show is just so perfect in every way. Love it love it love it. It's a conscientious cooking show that addresses a lot of serious business issues, ranging from sexism in the culinary profession to how class privilege affects food access, while at the same time being full of fun and fabulous cooking segments, truly useful tips and techniques for home cooks, and Gordon Ramsay being Gordon Ramsay. It's the perfect cooking show. I can't wait to watch the rest of it as soon as it's available to me.
nenena: (Default)
I know that I'm three weeks behind the times in finally knowing about this, but OH MY GOD: Hasbro actually ran a wedding notice in the New York Times to promote the My Little Pony season finale. Holy shit. That is fucking awesome. It's also awesome to see an Entertainment Weekly reporter write that "the hour-long [series finale] special is ambitious, absorbing, and thoroughly entertaining, even to those who stopped playing with My Little Ponies back in the mid-’80s. (Or, you know, never played with them at all.)" Quoted for GREAT TRUTH.

The subject of last month's Manga Moveable Feast was the Viz Signature line. I'd definitely recommend checking out some of those titles for anybody reading this interested in moving beyond your typical tweenybopper manga fare. (Not that I don't love and eat up typical tweenybopper manga fare with a spoon, but it's good to have some expanded horizons.) Or just scroll to the bottom of this post for a roundup of links to general overviews of the line and introductions to multiple titles and artists at once.

Meanwhile, in case you missed its extremely limited theatrical release outside of China earlier this year, Dante Lam's 逆戰 (a.k.a. The Viral Factor) is going to be released on Region 1 DVD next month. Not that this particularly matters when there's been a region-free official BluRay disc with multiple language tracks and subtitles available on the market for a while already now, but... At least a Region 1 DVD release means accessibility on Netflix and possibily iTunes, so hooray! (Seriously though, the advent of BluRay has so delightfully antiquated this entire concept of region-locked DVDs that a part of me even wonders why distribution companies even bother any more.) Oh, and David Brothers has an excellent review of the film here in which he nails what exactly it is about the movie that makes it so engrossingly watchable despite being objectively kind of terrible on a lot of levels.

Ryan Estrada teaches you how to read Korean writing in 15 minutes. I absolutely adore Hangul - it's one of the most beautiful and perfect writing systems in the world, ranking right up there with Devanagari and Arabic as one of the most ingenious and perfect writing systems ever developed IMHO - and this cute comic is a really great introduction to it. The comments on the post are worth reading, too.

Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life is the best thing on the internet. The best thing.

And, for people reading this who are interested in legal ways to access digital manga in Japanese! Kinokuniya has an app for that. Behind the cut: Nitty-gritty details re: how to download and use the app for readers outside of Japan. ) But, there's one more caveat: The selection in the app store is about three to four weeks behind the selection on the BookWebPlus mothership, which means that sometimes new books will be listed on BWP nearly a month before you can hope to buy them through the app. (This is the case for Soul Eater right now: the manga is available on the BWP website but not yet on the app.) However, there are a few exceptions: the newest volumes of Fairy Tail are listed on the app on the very same day that they're published in Japan (!!!!) and quite a few other popular manga titles are getting same-day app releases, too. In terms of selection of manga and light novels, I cannot stress enough how gloriously huge and diversified the app selection already is: Old stuff, new stuff, shounen, shoujo, josei, seinen, megapopular series, indie publishers, IT'S ALL HERE. In terms of digital offerings that I've been hoping and praying for Japanese publishers to SOMEDAY provide for us, this is it: It's finally happening. Kinokuniya, YOU ARE MAKING THIS HAPPEN and it is beautiful.

I still can't believe how far behind Japanese publishers are in terms of digital offerings when compared to North American manga publishers, but that is a rant for another day. Anyway, the Kinokuniya app is a HUGE step in the right direction here.
nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)
My Little Pony and Wakfu have already done a lot to convince me that Flash animation can not only be, you know, actually good, but downright beautiful if done well. And then this freakin' episode came along and just blew all of my assumptions about the limitations of Flash animation right out of the goddamn water.

The animation! The luscious background art! The background ponies! The costumes! The character designs! The facial expressions! The cinematography in the musical numbers, the fight scenes, even the scene where Twilight is sitting at that cafe table and venting to all her friends!

Just freakin' everything about this episode was perfect. The new characters were great. Shining Armor was such an adorkable dudebro and Cadence was so courageous and awesome. The villains were straight-up nightmare fuel of the type that I haven't seen since some of the more phantasmagoric episodes of the original MLP series. And oh my god not just the epic songs but even the background music was fantastic. (asdfghjkl;asdfghjkl; that music that plays when Shining Armor and Cadence cast their spell!!!!) Everything was fantastic, right down to the sounds effects that the Changeling Queen's wings made when she flapped them and that her hooves made when she walked.

There's just so much amazing attention to detail paid to every single frame of animation in this episode, it blows me away. And the music was so good. I am so completely in love with the key changes in "This Day Aria" I could listen to it all day long. And the episode managed to balance its tone pretty evenly between the epic fantasy elements and the comedy elements. Which, to be honest, this new version of MLP always does consistently well - thank goodness it never makes the mistake that the original series did of taking itself too seriously, because then of course it would immediately become completely ridiculous - but I was especially happy that the big Twilight and Company vs. Changeling Swarm Kung-Fu Blowout turned badass funny very quickly. Because if it hadn't been hilarious it would have been hard to take any of it seriously at all, as paradoxical as that may seem.

HERE HAVE SOME SONGS BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME (ALSO SPOILERS but i kind of doubt that anybody reading this actually cares):

ETA: Rolling Stone covers My Little Pony music. I love how the reporter actually asks Daniel Ingram if he's using big words in the songs in order to pander to an older male demographic, and Ingram responds "No, I never forget about the original demographic of our show, which is six-year-old girls. Just because it's for kids... I don't think that influences me in terms of how sophisticated I want to make the music."

Oh Daniel Ingram I heart you so much for that response. So freakin' much. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love this show for never talking down to its audience, and I love the creators for refusing to buy into the idea that something for little girls can't be sophisticated and multilayered and intelligent, and I really wish that a certain segment of the Brony fandom would get on board with that idea and stop trying to claim that anything intelligent or complex about the show is automatically evidence of pandering to them because obviously big words and smart jokes are always intended for an adult male audience (*eyeroll*).

Meme time!

Apr. 1st, 2012 03:09 pm
nenena: (Default)
Fandom Tennis Match Meme:

Okay, here's how this is going to work. You comment with a fandom question. I answer it and then ask you a question that has some thematic relevance to the question you asked me.

[personal profile] redbrunja asked me: Cut for question and answer. )

Ask me questions!
nenena: (Default)
Adorable space aliens learn about human love and eco-friendliness!

Probably a difficult concept to pull off without being barf-worthy in the first place, but it could have, in theory, at least been somewhat cute and whimsical. Instead, however, we're getting this:

Okay, flist, honest question time: Has Toyota ever had a clever or interesting advertising campaign? Ever?

I'm asking this question because in all honesty I absolutely cannot recall a single Toyota commercial that has ever struck me as entertaining, amusing, interesting, or even non-annoying save for this one. But maybe I'm just overlooking something.

(I have a lot of feelings about commercials, apparently.)
nenena: (Tink - Cheers!)
Hasbro edited that horrible, horrible scene from "The Last Roundup" and just made it a thousand percent better:

Of course the internet has been exploding today with bronies pissing themselves with rage over the fact that Hasbro "killed" Derpy. And sending death threats to Yamino and other fans who spoke out against the original version, etc.

Jesus pony-collecting Christ, the grossness of this fandom sometimes. If this had been the original scene in the first place you know the bronies would have been creaming themselves over how much they loved it. Does changing the voice and removing one mention of her fandom nickname from the scene really "ruin" it in any way?! The new voice is way cuter and who the fuck cares if your (arguably quite offensive) fandom nickname is mentioned in the show or not. This edit is probably the best possible way that Hasbro could have fixed the problem - it barely changes anything about the scene at all, but still makes it way more adorable and way less ableist, so hooray because EVERYBODY WINS - yet the bronies are really determined to throw an internet temper tantrum over this, aren't they.

Oh well. Hasbro is great, this show is pretty great, but the fandom has gotten horrible over the past year, news at eleven.
nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)

Ice-T's reaction shot is the best part of the video.

Other things:

1. Vera Brosgol's dialogue-less, 35-page comic "What, were you raised by wolves?" is brutal and beautiful and will rip your heart out. Hat-tip to [personal profile] slakemoths for the link.

2. Holy shit these background moments in this week's MLP episode. I completely missed both the Twist drama and the fact that the elderly pony that Sweetie Bell sang about was at a funeral.

3. The Art of Animation (NSFW) is the best thing on Tumblr, possibly one of the best things on the internet period. The blog is also useful as ammunition for dispelling the myth that Asian artists only create anime/manga-styled works.

4. Well, I dunno why people are coming here instead of watching [community profile] shibusen for Soul Eater news, but since some of y'all seem to have missed this: Not! chapter 11 is now available on the YenPress website. Yes it was released the same day that it was on Japan, yes there is a message from Ohkubo to US readers and a cute bonus drawing of Tsugumi in this month's chapter, and yes this month's chapter is awesome. Also Ohkubo may or may not have changed the spelling of Anya's name again, I dunno but when I get my copy of GanGan tomorrow I'll know for sure. But in the meantime, everyone who wants Soul Eater news should join or at least watch [community profile] shibusen. There's even an RSS feed for all of your syndication needs!

5. Meanwhile, over at MTVGeek, Brigid Alverson interviewed Kurt Hassler about Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not!, and working with Square Enix Japan on making the simultaneous release of Not! happen. It's a interesting read, but for me the best part is when Hassler actually starts describing Not!'s relationship to Soul Eater and it's so beautifully clear that he GETS exactly what's appealing about both series and how they're different and why Ohkubo is a kick-ass artist. He also gets exactly what consumers want, he really gets it:

Hassler said he, and other publishers, know what people want: "They want it quicker, digitally, with no territory restrictions," he said. "We know all this, but knowing it and making it happen are two different things."

There's also some interesting information about why Yen+ isn't available on the iPad yet, even though Yen Press's other books are. In short: Holy app infrastructure technical limitations, Batman, this shit isn't as easy as it looks!
nenena: (Default)
Because I apparently stan hard for cartoon ponies, I guess.

In the wake of last week's My Little Pony episode I've seen a lot of people on LJ, DW, and Tumblr bemoaning how Season 2 has gone downhill, is catering too much to Bronies, sucks compared to Season 1, and how the show just isn't the same without Lauren Faust at the creative helm. There's also been not a few people quitting the show altogether. Now, "The Last Roundup" was an undeniable stinker of an episode - not just for its squeamish depiction of "Derpy Hooves" but for being a boring episode all around - and I absolutely can't fault anybody for having their I am DONE with this show! moment, because hey, sometimes when you're done with a show, you're done with a show.

But I would like to point out that Season 1 had its share of stinker episodes, too. And has the show really changed all THAT much since Season 1? Other than the Derpy scene I can't find any evidence of outright pandering to Bronies - at least not any more so than the previous background pony shoutouts from Season 1 - and heck, the episode "Babycakes" even mocked the overinvested Brony fanbase at one point.

So, in a kinda-sorta defense of the idea that Season 2 actually hasn't been going downhill so far (with "The Last Roundup" acting as an admitted gigantic asterisk to that notion), here are five episodes from Season 2 that I absolutely love:

Episode 3, "Lesson Zero"
Hands-down the funniest episode of the season, possibly of the show overall, and one that presents an unusually complex moral to boot. Yes, Twilight Sparkle was clearly wrong for losing her perspective and blowing the horror of being late with one of her letters all out of proportion. But the real moral of the episode was that, when you have a friend freaking out about something utterly trivial, it's important to listen to them sympathetically and help them with their problem, NOT laugh at them for freaking out about something trivial. That's a pretty complex moral to have in a show for little girls, and it's a beautiful example of how MLP refuses to talk down to its audience. And yeah, in addition to the moral of the story, like I said, this is possibly the goddamn funniest episode of the show so far, from the depiction of Twilight's slow descent into madness to all of the bizarre comic touches like Big Mac running off with Smartypants at the end. Definitely one of the best episodes of the season.

Episode 4, "Lunar Eclipsed"
Even if it weren't for Luna's return to the show and the awesomely hilarious storyline involving her awkward attempts to fit in with Ponyville ponies, this episode would still rank among my favorites if only for the fact that it brilliantly displays how gorgeous and detailed the animation for this show is, on every possible level. The backgrounds! The costumes! The colors! The lighting effects! All of that and: PIPSQUEAK THE PIRATE. Best. Baby. Pony. Ever.

Episode 7, "May the Best Pet Win"
There's something deeply satisfying about watching Rainbow Dash actually learning a lesson, something that happens far too rarely in the series altogether. There's something equally as satisfying about watching the turtle that nobody thought could do anything finally proving himself to have actually been the best pet all along. It's a classic underdog story and I have to admit I am a complete sucker for a good underdog story. Plus this episode had a great musical duet by Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. Tank the Turtle's story is epic and so is this episode.

Episode 10, "Secret of My Excess"
Every single moment of Rarity's final confrontation against Spike was not only hilarious but sweetly touching as well. Rarity is hands-down my favorite pony, and although she's gotten a few great episodes completely focused on her this season, this episode - which is much more about Spike than Rarity - is the episode that actually provides my favorite "Rarity moment" of the season so far.

Episode 12, "Family Appreciation Day"
Loved loved loved everything about this episode. The bond between Granny Smith and Apple Bloom, the Cutie Mark Crusaders starring in a story that wasn't about their Cutie Marks, the bizarre magical apples, the epic story of how as a filly Granny Smith saved her family from starvation and freakin' FOUNDED PONYVILLE while relying on her smarts and courage alone, the fact that the show finally remembered that Twist and Apple Bloom are still friends, and all of the comical moments actually being quite funny. A perfect episode.

...So those are my highly-biased picks for the best episodes of Season 2 so far, episodes which I would also present as evidence that Season 2 isn't actually going downhill and/or significantly changed from the tone and style of Season 1. Of course not every episode in Season 2 has been great, or even good - but then again, not all of the episodes in Season 1 were either. I also can't deny that the pacing of the episodes this season has been pretty bad (two Rainbow Dash episodes back-to-back? Three Rarity episodes bunched together in the first half of the season? Really?!), nor can I deny that I completely understand why "The Last Roundup" was the last straw for a lot of viewers. But as for me, I'm going to keep watching, and keep hoping that the second half of Season 2 will provide a few episodes as great as some of the episodes that we got in the first half of the season.
nenena: (Default)
It's rare that Friendship is Magic actually has a bad episode, but when it does (i.e. Season 1's "Bridle Gossip," "Feeling Pinkie Keen," and "Over a Barrel") they are spectacularly bad. So much so that Lauren Faust actually apologized for "Feeling Pinkie Keen" (although she and Jayson Thiessen are still holding their grounds on "Bridle Gossip" and "Over a Barrel" because oops we really borked the moral of a faith-vs.-science story is probably a lot easier to admit than oops we made an episode that was kind of racist but whatever).

And yesterday we had Season 2's first failtacularly bad episode, "The Last Roundup." How bad was it?

1. "Derpy." Others have already written at length about how uncomfortable and cringe-worthy her first official speaking scene in the show was, and I have nothing more to add in that respect. But I would like to quote [personal profile] the_sun_is_up from the comments of her own post on the matter FOR GREAT TRUTH: "The fandom portrayal of Ditzy-Doo ranges from okay to iffy to gross, but the canon portrayal just went straight over to the 'gross' side of things. When there are 4chan bros who are more sensitive and classy than you, that's how you know you've failed as a writer."

2. This is getting a lot less attention than "Derpy" but it still warrants mentioning in my book: In the episode Pinkie Pie claims to have invented chimicherrychangas, and the fandom seems happy to credit the show for introducing this culinary delight to the universe. Um, NO. Sorry, fandom, but a quick Google search for "cherry chimichanga recipe" yields over 113,000 results.

Has the majority of this fandom actually not heard of cherry chimichangas before?! Are they ALL sheltered neckbeards who never leave the confines of their parents' basements people who have never eaten at Mexican restaurants before?

Also, Equestria Daily managed to spell "chimichanga" wrong. So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that most of these people seem to have never heard of cherry chimichangas before.

The only recipe that My Little Pony CAN claim to have actually invented is the potato chip muffin recipe from Season 1, and even then not entirely. Potato chip muffins have been around since before My Little Pony. The only thing novel that the show introduced to the recipe was adding worms to the batter. And that is not perhaps a culinary contribution for which we should be thanking the show.

I hate being so negative about colorful cartoon ponies, so I will end this post by saying that last-last week's episode, "Family Appreciation Day," completely won my heart and (in my opinion, at least) is one of the best damn episodes of the entire series so far. So here's hoping that next week My Little Pony will be back on its streak of wintacular episodes. Because episodes full of awesome and win are just par for the course for this series anyway.
nenena: (Default)
1. Free official Adventure Time books available for download or online reading at Scribd! "Wit and Wisdom in the Land of Ooo: Great Quotations from Adventure Time" and this enormous collection of episode storyboard books are free to anybody who wants them.

2. It's award season in Japan! So the nominations for the Japan Academy Prize's "Animated Film of the Year" were officially listed yesterday, and to nobody's surprise both the K-ON! movie and From Up On Poppy Hill made the list. Also nominated were a gorgeous Osamu Tezuka adaptation, this year's Detective Conan film, and a CGI film that is, no joke, actually titled "Tofu Boy." Also, The Manga Taisho Awards have also posted this year's nominations. I Am A Hero got nominated for the second time. Not sure how I feel about that.

3. Kate Fitzsimons is hilarious and her tongue-in-cheek comparisons of recent Sherlock Holmes TV, movie, and comic adaptations is a must-read.
nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)
The Simpsons skewers teen lit, the writing process, and the publishing industry:

Beautiful. There are no words for how perfect this entire episode is. Just beautiful.
nenena: (Tsubasa - Please stop)
Shaenon K. Garrity on CLAMP, the roots of moe culture, and why Chobits is really freakin' disturbing.

I remember reading Chobits in high school and being really disturbed by how Hideki's love for Chi was framed as "pure" both despite of and because she was a) an artificially perfect being and b) had a vagina that could never be penetrated. But this essay really lays out exactly what's disturbing about all of that in a way that I didn't have the vocabulary to do back then.

Come to think of it, the whole "putting Chi's reset switch in her vagina as a test of the 'purity' of her future boyfriend" thing is REALLY disturbing on a lot of levels, not the least of which is the way that it frames vaginal penetration as the only type of sex that matters. The whole point of the "test" was that Chi was supposed to end up with a man who would love her despite never being able to have sex with her, and this is incredibly stupid because vaginal penetration isn't the only way to have sex. Except that in Chobits it clearly is. The whole thing is just another way in which the series as a whole embraces an extremely infantile, immature concept of sexuality: Not once do any of the characters ever consider that physical sex could ever be anything other than "penis goes into vagina." Heck, even that one time that Hideki had to stick his fingers inside of Chi to flip her switch was later hand-waved by the text as being not-actual-sex. Because if it ain't a penis in the vagina it just doesn't count, I guess.

I also kind of love Garrity's essay for calling out Deppey on his asinine assertion that men never fantasize about "sexless love." Clearly Deppey has never met any male otaku. Or any of the freakier male My Little Pony fans, either. (You know, the runs who run around the internet posting "FLUTTERSHY IS MY WAIFU" everywhere yet act horribly offended at the very idea that ponies might have sex or that people actually post pony-porn on the internet.) Or any of the male fans that flipped their shit over the Kannagi scandle. Etc, etc.
nenena: (Homestuck - glow baby glow)
The Big Lebowski homage in this week's My Little Pony.

Read or Die homage in this week's Thundercats.

Little Old Lady actually having a role in this month's Soul Eater.

Homestuck reboot being all kinds of delightfully awesome.

Anne (metaphorically) slapping Chris in the face with some long-overdue brutal honesty in Parks and Recreation.

Abhishek Singh's new graphic novel is "just around the corner."

So happy right now about so many things.

ETA: And HOLY SHIT I totally forgot but LES FREAKIN' CREPUSCULE DES DIEUX dropped on Thursday and I won't have my copy for another month. But still. So excited!!! It doesn't even matter that I can't read a whit of French, since I know enough of the Ring Cycle to bumble through anyway. And I heard that there's an English version in the works now, but I already blew my money on the French editions so oh well.