An Open Question To Plex

Hey there, Plex.

Remember when you guys created Victory Mars or Ryuuseioh? Do you have any recollection of intricacies that ignited the fantasies of the kids everywhere (in Japan)? Because lately, now more than ever, I’m curious as to whether or not you’ve any idea what you’re doing anymore with these Super Sentai mechs. Especially when seeing this latest contraption for Goseiger….

….and realizing that, holy Tezuka, you’ve truly sunk to the bottom of the barrel: You’re actually ripping off of yourselves.

There have been people who believe that Goseiger is just a buffer year for Toei, flying under the radar just enough to make money for next year’s series. That would make sense, given its incredibly bland presentation, but look at Go-Onger‘s utter travesty of mech design, or Shinkenger‘s Samurai Haoh (which ultimately got spammed and took away from my initial excitement in its appearance). This isn’t just a case of bad execution; there’s no challenge anymore. No innovations. Nothing to make them more than lumps of interlocking plastic that you’ll eventually sell off on eBay. The art of Super Sentai mech design has dumbed down.

The sad part isn’t that Plex and Bandai are going to get away with this, nor is it that there’s really nothing I can do about it, save me getting a job within their ranks. It’s the fact that once again, there’s something that used to be creative and awe-inspiring that has been simplified where it didn’t need to be. I know it sounds dramatic, but I do sort of feel bad for the future in that case.

Rather than the inner child who grew up playing with the likes of the Galaxy Mega and Oh-Blocker, it’s the aspiring designer in me that just wants to know, “When the hell is it going to get fun again?”

SCIENCE PATROL: Episode Zero?

Damn you, Hideaki Anno. Thanks to a viewing of Evangelion 2.22 which had all manner of Ultraman references peppered in, I found myself going for my BCI Eclipse box-set of the original series for an impromptu marathon. My Dad, who was one of the two forces that got me into it, joined me; in proper geek family fashion, we were talking trivia throughout. Things like how the second episode was the first one produced, whether or not its Jet VTOL or Beetle, and so on. In our rambling, an interesting point came up:

In the first episode, “Ultra Operation No. 1″, we’re told by the narrator that the Science Patrol’s been around for quite some time, having been based out of Paris, and that their purpose is to protect humanity from any kind of invasion or otherworldly threat. When Bemular shows up, the team doesn’t flinch and immediately goes on the attack like it’s business as usual–Nobody’s in awe that they’re witnessing a monster for the first time, Fuji doesn’t scream her head off, the Self-Defense Force isn’t even called in; They have experience and a reputation. In the world of Ultraman, you sort of take for granted that the team has the means to take on whatever threat they go up against due to training, but when you think about it, they must have been doing this sort of thing before Hayata had his accident. Bemular, the Baltans, they couldn’t have been the first.

The idea is backed by Episode 4, “Five Seconds Before The Explosion” with the appearance of Ragon. The team is able to identify Ragon on sight and speak casually about him like they’ve had experience. Sure, you could pass this off as a passing nod to Ultra Q, but why does no one bat an eye when they see Pigumon a few episodes later? Either the Paris Science Patrol had experience with Ragon or the Japanese branch had their own scuffle with the beast. Heck, maybe that particular experience is how Muramatsu got his Captain pin, by helping them out or something–See what I’m getting at here, folks?

It’d be something worth exploring, that’s for sure. For now, it’s the subject of…well..fanfiction, maybe? At least until somebody figures out the right way to pitch it as a comic to Tsuburaya.

Oh and another thing that came up? Muramatsu must have had something “special” in that pipe of his as he’s got to be the most tolerant captain ever. Think about it.

That’s The Second Album I Ever Bought!

A new year is approaching us, valiant readers, and with it the next decade of the 21st Century. As a friend of mine observed, this past one sort of sucked, what with the politics, economy, and all those other important things that I don’t talk about on this blog. That got me wondering if there was actually was anything worthwhile to come out of the first cours of the 2000’s. I originally was going to post a photo of all the movie ticket stubs I’ve been collecting these past few years. Somebody has the same idea unfortunately, albeit more organized. Lamesauce, as the kids would say.

Forced to retreat into a second plan, I found myself thinking of my music collection; I found one of my old CD cases–you know, those pouches that carried those things people listened to before the iPod–and with it, a bunch of albums and singles I completely forgot about! And there’s some pretty nice stuff in there too, so much that it got me thinking about what the most crucial albums in my life were. Nothing like The Second Album I Ever Bought (even though it’s in the title), rather I’m looking at the game-changers, the music that shaped me and my interests. It’s hard to narrow those things down so I figured I’d do the next best thing and pick the five most memorable ones and go from there. So, here for you now are these life-altering albums.

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YEAH YEAH: Justifying a J9 Love Affair

So Super Robot Taisen NEO is out and naturally, I find myself wishing that I had a modded-I mean, import Wii to play it on. Not because of the possibility of playing as characters from Whirlwind! Iron Leaguer, it’s more of the prospect of being able to control Galactic Cyclone Bryger.

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I’ve been a fan of the J9 Trilogy for quite some time; Bryger, Baxinger, and Sasuraiger rank high on my list of favorite anime robots. However, there is a dark secret with this love of mine–I’ve yet to see all three shows from start to finish. I’ve been slowly watching Bryger, seen very little of Baxinger, and have yet to get my hands on Sasuraiger. How do I get off scot-free then for saying that I’m a fan of the trilogy then?

Let’s see if we can’t figure this out after the jump….

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An Open Rant To Hollywood

Hollywood, can we talk?

Hey there, it’s me. Listen, I’ve put up with a lot of your crap these past few years. Suffice to say, being a loyal customer these past few years, I feel I’m within my right to ask you the following:

Why are you afraid of having an Asian male in a lead role?

King of Fighters is coming out soon. The main character of this film is Kyo Kusanagi, a Japanese-born fighter. I could care less about the film itself–I know it’ll be a gigantic trainwreck that’ll probably make Dead or Alive look like Enter The Dragon. However, you’ve decided to cast Sean Faris in a role meant for an Asian actor….AGAIN.

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I thought you learned your lesson with Dragonball, Hollywood, but I’m guessing you didn’t give a rat’s ass. What gives?

Is it because you’re afraid, Hollywood? Do you subscribe to the belief of the “yellow menace”? Are you so insecure that you think an Asian lead outside of an action film could lead to less work for the “honest, hard working” Pretty Boys? That your innocent girlfriends would fall prey to their Oriental Charms and be stolen away? Because seriously, you’re looking like this guy….at the 3:37 mark.

Bottom line? Get with it Hollywood. I shouldn’t have to count on indie cinema all the time to actually do what you’re too scared to. You’re already the asshole of the group that everybody puts up with because he’ll do something awesome once in awhile. Grow a pair and prove that you’re anything but what you’re presented as.

Ring of Gundam: Tomino’s Final Message?

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As we’re not in Japan, a good portion of Gundam fans in the States wish that they could have been able to attend the Gundam Big Expo this year, as part of this year’s anniversary celebration. Among other things, the expo advertised the premiere of a new CG short directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino entitled Ring of Gundam. As this is the first time Tomino has touched Gundam since the New Translation trilogy, anticipation for this went through the roof. Fans everywhere were dying to see this, people Stateside even moreso as…well…chances are it’d never happen through legal means.

The short was upped online the day afterward for Yahoo.jp, but for Japanese IPs only. As expected, it only took 48 hours for somebody to find a way around this and put it online. On the off-chance that the short will deleted any moment now, I’m not going to bother posting the link. Instead, I want to share with you one rather interesting interpretation of Ring of Gundam.

The short revolves around a young man in a Ring Colony who is desperate to find the Beauty Memory, hoping that it will be the key to finding “Amuro’s Memories”. Standing in his way is what fans believe is a Zanscare Empire-based mecha. His only hope? What looks like the RX-78-3 Gundam.

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After watching it, I didn’t know what to think. My Japanese comprehension is getting there but I was able to catch the major points. Last night, I talked with a friend about it and he brought up an interesting point about a possible underlying message: Tomino is telling us to get a life.

Seriously! In the short, because our hero is so fixated on obtaining Amuro’s Memory, the resulting fight with the enemy mech takes out a good portion of the Ring Colony. The newly retrieved Beauty Memory then reveals that Amuro’s Memory isn’t even necessary for the “new world”. What I think he’s getting at is that by trying to cling so hard to or emulate 0079, we basically screw everything up in the process. [Insert Seed/Seed Destiny Joke Here.] In Tomino’s eyes, too many shows have claimed Gundam as an influence, perhaps maybe he partly blames himself for anime’s current stagnation as a medium. In that case, it makes sense that he’d believe this has gone on far enough. That’s why the message is that of transition–it’s time for us to let go and move on….but this could mean either one of two things: A.) Create more new interpretations of Gundam without retreading on the past or B.) Leave Gundam alone altogether.

The latter would make more sense actually, given that this isn’t the first time he’s called people out before. I mean, where do you go after something like Turn A? Do we really need another Alternate Universe series? Tomino’s trying to say that if we’re going to move on in anime, something else needs to take it’s place. The next big thing needs to happen. Not the next product or batch of fanservice, the next big phenomenon that will inspire kids and fans for years to come like Gundam did. In other words: We as fans, creators, dreamers, we’ve just been called out.

Right now, the message is lost in translation (which hasn’t come about yet) and fans speculation/nitpicking. Even I’ll admit before thinking about it, I was hoping for more of this universe but unless Bandai/Sunrise offers him his own private space colony, this may be the last we see of Tomino touching Gundam for awhile. Lord forbid what will happen to the franchise if/when he passes on. Meanwhile, there are those that call this short pointless and not worth the trouble. If you’re reading between the lines though, I’d say that Ring of Gundam was worth the wait.