I'm busy trying to work out if I am hypocritical. More specifically I went with a group of people to see Dead or Alive. I'd like to specifically state I didn't organise it, that would be anarch_kitty who has actually played at least one of the source games... and presumably wanted to see the mockery that would result when it was adapted for the big screen. I've never played them myself, but I knew they somehow managed to combine buxom babes, brutal combat and a nice game of volleyball. So in essence I didn't actually care about the source, I just expected a mindless movie with lots of female fight scenes. And I got exactly what I expected, it's really dumb, especially the "secret plot" to make the ultimate sunglasses of doom. However it was also sort of enjoyable because I expected it to be much worse than it actually was, I didn't really care about the material and it all moved reasonably fast without taking itself too seriously. The real question is why was it only snakes on a plane that triggered revulsion. Context? Expectations? ... or perhaps I'm more easily amused by odd looking women pretending to be martial artists than snakes biting people. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that SOAP was being hyped outside of its own value.
On the music front I've run into something fantastically good, "Lemon Jelly" are an awfully entertaining band. Clever, varied but eminently listenable songs that sink happily into your subconscious. Although I must admit a slight preference for their first two albums over their more recent work.
I've also run into something pretty dire. I liked DJ Shadow's music a lot. Notice the tense, his latest CD "The Outsider" is quite a change. The music is much much cruder, and most of the tracks are dominated by rappers droning on and on about whatever the hell it is that keeps rappers entertained. I guess if you wanted a rap album you might be happy, but musically it's an empty wasteland. Blah, I hate being disappointed by an artist I thought I could trust.
Just got back from Dinner and a movie. The dinner was surprisingly good, the Herdsman Lake Tavern looks like one of those immense barns of a place that rely on cheap food and no competition. In practice though the food was fast and not bad at all, although they do seem to have a tendency to want to deep fry everything. Of course the dinner was made much more pleasant with good company.... oh yeah, and beer.
Not much could save the movie though... the audience was silent and focused on the movie. I think they were waiting for Samuel L. Jackson to say his one memorable line. Meanwhile the movie was entirely focused on snakes biting people. There was a plot, or at least some sort of thin layer to tie the gaps together, but basically if the idea of watching people getting bitten to death by snakes doesn't amuse you then you've got no real reason to see this trash. It's certainly not much of a horror or suspense flick since everything is set up so obviously that you know what is going to happen way in advance. And the characterisation, blah, even outside of those existing only to be snake-food they were almost entirely superfluous, with virtually nothing they did actually meaning anything or making any difference. It may want to be a cult movie, but it just isn't smart enough to be anything more than a passing fad.
I swear the problem is that the American movie industry has a "quota" of movies they have to produce that's actually higher than the stories they have to tell... which is why even the shallowest joke, seemingly the product of an extended and boozy lunch, gets extended into a motion picture. I guess the same thing happens in anime, but I still believe that manga (and the bizarre people who occupy that culture) give them a much richer field to tap.
Tried a new recipe which has been pronounced edible and practical!
First I took two lamb chump chops (though beef would probably work as well or better, and chicken if you spice it a little) and cut the meat from the bone and fat... this really reduces the amount! so three chops might have worked better. This gets marinated in Teriyaki sauce and lemon juice while you mess with the other ingredients. At the end it gets pan fried and a couple of pine nuts thrown in when its cooked. This is going to be the taste and protein boost.
The vegetable load is spring onions, bean sprouts and bok-choy. The bok choy was chopped into strips and blanched (stalk first, then leaves). I didn't blanch the bean sprouts but AK suggested it probably would have worked well to reduce their "metalic" taste". The bulk of the meal is rice vermicelli, which is just too damn easy to prepare. I used 100g, but 150g would probably have been better. These all get mixed together in a bowl so the vegetables are mixed in with the noodles. This is an excellent opportunity to burn your hands on blanched bok-choy.
To finish put the cooked lamb on top then drizzle a sauce of vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and soy (used raw soy sauce here, because we still had some) over the top.
Finally, and most vital, let your adorable partner wash up while you finish up the glass of rather nice plum wine you were drinking during the meal. (We work on the one cooks, one washes principal... though AK raises many an eyebrow at my profligacy at causing kitchen chaos).
A friend at work, discovering I was into anime, offered me a title from his personal collection. The rather mysterious "Heat Guy J". Not mysterious because it's rare or exotic, it had a well funded commercial release, but interesting because it seems to have bypassed all the anime fan's I know. Some knew the title, but not much more.
And I can sort of see why. It has very decent production values showing a substantial investment in it. The backgrounds are almost excessively bright and crisp, obviously computer assisted and having a wonderful time of it. Although they do tend to over-use some of the scenery. The setting is some massive metropolis of the near future. And we are following two characters who are special police tasked with finding crimes before they happen. One is young, cynical and cool, while the other is a towering muscleman in a long black coat (his partner being in white). The large guy is J, the legendary heat guy, and the only legal "machine" (ie. android) in the city. He's super-powered, quite taken with doing huge leaps to get around, but he's not super bright. His "wit" is the endless repetition of rather silly aphorisms which make him sound like a 2$ positive thinking book. He also spends a remarkable amount of time getting his butt kicked, he's a bit of a tactical dunce for all his power.
Between them they tackle one crime after another in this big city with a rotten under-belly... although in reality the main crime they face is the really atrocious writing. It lacks energy, enthusiasm or even logic to a quite alarming degree. Some of the stories we've seen so far, 9 episodes in, have been laugh out loud bad with huge plot holes and weirdly lifeless scenes and dialogue... action too when it comes to that, there's something odd about it (very checked, it always seem to stop short). Also impressive is that their detective work seems to center around asking one old guy meditating in a darkened shop who tells them, seemingly free of charge, all the information they need to know. There's not a great deal of backstory either, or they are being really stingy. What is the history behind this odd city or the characters we follow? no idea. This makes it all feel as if they were too busy playing with the visuals to bother too much about the story logic. Indeed the entire thing feels a lot like a tech demo, an experiment in how to integrate computers into animation, rather than something the creators actually cared about that much. Either that or it's just trying too hard to be cool and is thus afraid to risk experimenting with what they have.
Put simply it's really pretty, but it is also an empty shell yearning to be filled with some energy and life. There's much better stuff out there. Still there are also 17 more episodes (although the anarchic-feline is fading fast) so it could get better... but my hope is not great, they seem too happy to just go through the motions.
The lead characters bike is sort of cool though, I will admit that, but I'd take the one out of FFVII-Advent Children rather.... geeze I must review that, it was such a damn fun film. Exactly the sort of exciting drama and action Heat Guy-J misses.
I'm going to collect some bits and pieces from my cooking experiments.
Fresh Rice Ribbon noodles: These noodles are packed with a bit of oil to help them separate, but since they're kept refrigerated they tend to clump together. Don't freeze them, or it is downright impossible to seperate them. They are actually pre-cooked, so they basically need to be warmed through to allow them to seperate and then just heated to eat. I used boiling water to separate them which meant the outer noodles got over-cooked and sloppy.
Still, some instant daschi, miso paste and a bit of instant tom yum mix (I'm such a wimp, it says to use 2 table-spoons and I use 2 tea-spoons) make a quick and tasty broth to use as a base.
A new review up... finally. Well, it's not even a new review, I had an old review of Noir but it was based on only 6 episodes. I gave it a worthy, because it seemed to have a really cool start rich with promise, but as I watched I realised how shallow and dull much of the content is. It was really quite a struggle finishing the damn thing. But it was a title I'd never share with Anarch-kitty, so it was good to get it done.
Hm, I guess the review won't be going up immediately... the ftp server isn't talking to me. My bad for ignoring it for so long?
Also saw this anime music video which impressed me rather a lot, Tra~la~la. Not only does the total over-the-top dramatics of Utena translate well into this format the cutting is brilliant and the sense of humor is rich.
I also got an e-mail from JDM4RSH giving me a good piece of his mind for dissing Transformers: The Movie. What I really wanted to get across is that you first have to accept the core premise, which is obviously and transparently derived from their toy merchandising, before you can actually appreciate the anime at all. I think quite a few anime fans won't make that leap, being turned off by the very concept of it, so it was worth mentioning. I didn't actually mind the movie (junk planet aside) and I think that was expressed in the closer of the review.
I have some other anime related posts I've ignored for too long. I'll get to those soon, it also gives me more grist so at least my journal isn't as inactive as my page.
From the opening of Texhnohalyze the soundtrack steps easily into the back of your mind and starts happily pounding on the walls. It's damn fine stuff, potently driving but without being boring like so much of the beat driven music is. And some of the individual sounds from which it is constructed, like the sort of "back-scrape" in "Guardian Angel" are complex and delightful in their own way.
And thanks to the fact that a certain feline has an awe inspiring taste in music I got to listen to some more. So nice to make the discovery that the first taste wasn't some sort of fluke. I like, and I want more... but where would one go to find it in perth I wonder?
So says Lady Death, from the astoundingly average animated movie of the same name. A movie that's not even bad enough to laugh at, it's just soo awfully average, showing clearly the near complete lack of sophistication or imagination on the part of those who brought it into being. It's not anime either, since the script is entirely western (Carl Macek gives rise to another obscenity!), the animation is korean and the funding is ADV showing what it thinks of its own customers taste. It's just very lame, boring and highly derivative... I swear the end battle reminded me an awful lot of diablo! I'll probably write a short review, but only to make it clear that this is neither anime nor something worth actually watching.
It's partly because I'm soo busy, lots of thesis re-work I should be doing in addition to something far more enjoyable (a.... a.... girlfriend omgwtf!). The other reason is that I was blessed by the heavens with a girlfriend who enjoys anime... and brings a substantial personal collection into the deal. As a result I have just been struck by shock and awe at the immense number of new titles I have the possibility of reviewing. And unlike the normal random selection I use an intelligent and tasteful mind has already done the initial choosing.
Speaking of random selection, here's a review that's been waiting in the wings unfinished for quite a while now. I liked the initial thrust of it, that dead leaves is more like a universal art-house animation, and thus not particularly anime or interesting. But I realised the review also makes an assumption about context... how much art house animation is there in Japan? is it another sub-culture of its own that I just haven't experienced? after all, only a narrow subset of anime makes it out here (especially commercially!). I'm not sure how I'd actually be able to know the answer to that question, so the review may well be up for some dramatic revisions.