retsuko: lady rainicorn and princess bubblegum from the pilot episode of Adventure Time (PB + Rainicorn)
2016-01-13 04:02 pm

Fandom Snowflake: Day 13 (All Your Recs Are Belong To Us)

For day 13 of Fandom Snowflake, we're reccing things! XD

Infinite New Possibilities, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with about a billion spoilers for the entire movie, rated General but with warnings for mentions of past torture. This work is what I go to fanfic for: it's filling in the blanks of what was missing during the movie; it gives us more character development for almost everyone who I care about, and the first chapter contains a lovely, touching scene where Poe gives Rey a tour of the Resistance base, and the two of them talk about what's to come. I haven't read the second two chapters yet, but I'm really impressed with the way the first part went, and I'm glad to recommend it.

Edited to add: The Force Awakens as an adorable manga-esque High school AU. This may just be the most adorable thing I've ever seen. It fits in with emo!Kylo Ren's twitter account nicely, too.

The Please Help Me Cosplay! tumblr is still chugging along, and there's a comprehensive list in the top entry right now that gives a ton of book and website references for everything from homemade foam armor to costume patterns.

American Captain is a diary comic about Steve Rogers' experiences in The Avengers and beyond. It's a rocky story: Steve struggles with PTSD and survivor's guilt; 2010 is alternately amazing and terrifying; and his new teammates are supportive but often confusing. I like how small it feels, and I don't mean small as in insignificant or stupid, but it feels small and right, the way things would if your universe suddenly exploded and reformed itself into something sort of familiar but not really. Such a great fan comic.


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retsuko: (Default)
2016-01-12 04:07 pm

Fandom Snowflake: Day 12 (The Fannish Party, and Welcome To It)

What makes you fannish? And by that we mean, what is it about a tv show/movie/book/band/podcast/etc that takes you from, "Yeah, I like that," to "I need MOAR!!!" Is it a character? A plotline? The pretty? Subtext that’s just screaming to be acknowledged?

This got long, and there's a little bit of "get off my lawn, you kids with your shiny new fandoms!" soggy nostalgia to it, but that's what you get with my fandom! ;D

Read more! )



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retsuko: (spoilers!)
2015-08-26 07:19 pm

Finally! Millennium Snow!

Unbeknowst to me, Bisco Hatori finally got to work on finishing Millennium Snow, a mere ten years after she left it, mid-plot in order to work on Ouran Host Club. I discovered the two translated volumes by accident the other week as I was browsing in my local big book store and eagerly bought them. The ending, although a little rushed, is incredibly satisfying, and the final resolution of the romance between the two lead characters is strong and sweet. So I'm really happy that I tracked these down! Three things stand out about this second half, though:

1) Hatori's author's notes are actually informative instead of self-deprecating to the point of loathing, the way that many shoujo manga artists end up writing. I actually learned quite a lot about her process and her assistants' work; it was also interesting to consider how difficult it would be to start up a story again when your artistic and storytelling skills have strengthened and progressed so much in the intervening time. She acknowledges her own failings honestly (especially the side plot regarding Chiyuki and her foster brother/cousin in Volume 2, which was just terrible) but doesn't belabor the point into "woe is me I suck" territory. All in all, a very nice read in the margins!

2) My mental summary for this series is "Twilight done right." If you're going to have a romance between a human teenager and a vampire teenager with tons of angst issues, you can't just throw in some abstinence porn and hope it works. (It really doesn't.) Instead, both of the characters need to be whole people, and this is where Millennium Snow really succeeds. Chiyuki's motivation is simple at first, since she's a young woman who's faced her own mortality from virtually the beginning of her life (due to a life-threatening heart condition), and she'd prefer some certainty that she live. But as the plot progresses and she gets to know Toya and experience life "on the outside," her motivation evolves and changes from something small and selfish into a wish that both their lives have meaning. Further, she's not just defined by her relationship to Toya or any of the other male characters. She maintains friendships and interests on her own, and her perseverance rings true, given her life experience so far. Toya, on the other hand, starts off a little one-dimensionally: the brooding teenage vampire heartthrob. (Hatori even lampshades this trope in dialogue several times, including the timeless insult, "you're stuck in a sulky pubescent funk!" leveled by the main romantic rival of the story.) But when the reasons for this brooding sulkiness are revealed, they're problems that aren't false at all; they're reasonable and right. He's asking a human woman/young adult to commit to him for at least 1,000 years, and he's thinking ahead to everything that could potentially go wrong in that time. So his reluctance to turn her plays out not as abstinence porn, but as a genuine conflict between the two characters and their desires for the future and each other. When they finally sleep together, Hatori depicts it in the sweetest, most romantic way possible, and it's just lovely.

3) It's nice to have a character in a story like this one who asks all the right questions. A new character, Kaede, is introduced in the two final volumes who functions as the group's impromptu Watcher and starts to amass as much knowledge as possible about vampires, werewolves, and other magical creatures. There's a very amusing panel at the beginning of Volume 4 where Kaede asks a long string of questions about what it's like to be a vampire or werewolf and the main characters have no answers to any of them; Kaede observes their confused conversation and thinks, "They're surprisingly ignorant..." So, like any responsible scholar, she starts to go through all the books and primary sources at hand and get some answers. If Hatori wanted to do a story about Kaede's future as a ghost hunter of some sort, I'd be there, 101%.

So I definitely recommend this series, both from an artistic standpoint (it's a great exercise in seeing someone's style evolve over time) and from a storytelling perspective. I'm very glad she didn't leave the characters dangling like that. Now I want fanfic more than ever.
retsuko: lady rainicorn and princess bubblegum from the pilot episode of Adventure Time (PB + Rainicorn)
2015-07-30 09:03 am

ST:TNG Rewatch: "Arsenal of Freedom" & "Symbiosis"

This pair of episodes was uneven. The first episode has some really great writing and some nice touches in both the character development and plot departments. But the second episode is the most obvious allegory this side of a Highlights political cartoon, and the Prime Directive ruins everything, so...

Anyway, without any further ado, The Arsenal of Freedom )

Unfortunately, the writing isn't so good in Symbiosis. )

Signs it's THE FUTURE: METERS, people. The metric system has won out! Also, thrilling space combat! And maybe we've conquered drug addiction...? Sort of?

Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE: Rich people are still douchebags to the poors. :(

Most random thing from my notes: UGH SO MUCH ALLEGORY DAMMIT PICARD ~~~~
retsuko: finn & jake's fist bump of awesome (fist bump!)
2015-07-13 10:12 am

Comic Con 2015: Wrap-Up!

OMG OMG OMG. It was just one day, but it was AMAZING. It was really funny how going for one day only changed my approach to the experience; in the past, when we've had four-day passes, I was far more organized and planner-ly than I was this year. Instead, on Friday, I was so dazzled by the Exhibit Hall floor that I threw all my careful plans out the window and just rolled with the punches. This lead to trouble only once (which I'll talk more about below) but, generally, it was a good strategy. I didn't end up at any super-spoilery/specific panels, but I saw a ton of stuff, spent money fairly freely (although I didn't go overboard, except for one obligatory splurge), and had a great time with my friends, which is the whole point.

This day was also notable in that it was the smoothest and quickest check-in I've ever had when I came to the registration desk. It did help that I arrived a little later than I normally would have, around about 9:30 when the Convention Center was already open, but even so, I got through so quickly that I almost doubted what convention I was actually attending! All told, I only waited about five minutes from the time I got into the center until I had my badge in my hands (at which point, I had to resist the temptation to break into a jig and a song because it was REAL and ACTUALLY HAPPENING.) I should say that before I got into the center, I was in a scrum of people getting off the trolley, during which time I had a lovely discussion with a woman dressed up as Cruella DeVil about the difficulties of cosplay in a hot costume/intense wig. The fundamentalists were there, too, as usual. I saw a SDPD officer having a very difficult but respectful discussion with one of them about where he (the protestor) was allowed to stand in relation to the convention attendees, and I wanted to high-five the officer for being so infinitely patient, but I held back.

Once I had my badge and had squared away the free gigantic bag (I got the Lucifer one, somewhat to my disappointment--Teen Titans Go! or Supergirl were also in evidence and I would have preferred one of those, but oh well, whatever), I headed downstairs and started looking at EVERYTHING. It's a little hard to describe the rush that comes from stepping in the Exhibit Hall for the first time; there is so much to see, and there are so many people, and 99% of them are happy, and there are costumes everywhere, and there is a low hum of enthusiastic chatter, and it's just magic. Further fannish babblery ensues! )

There was only one bad thing that happened all day, and it had to do with (you've guessed it) zombies. Dammit, people. )

If you want to see my photos, I've put them all up on my Twitter feed (@ChaoticSensible). I saw some amazing cosplay this year, and I tried to get a few shots of the scene around the Con itself (although these are often tough without being on a ladder, because it's almost impossible to convey the scale of the experience.)

I think we're gonna try to go all four days next year, providing that we can get the tickets. Bad stuff aside, I had a wonderful time, and I'd love to put together a costume of some sort together. As usual, the frustrating/difficult parts were far outweighed by the good times and I really can't wait to go again.
retsuko: (cool yuuko)
2015-05-19 02:30 pm

ST:TNG Rewatch: "Coming of Age" & "Heart of Glory"

Let's get right to it:

Coming of Age: Internal Affairs vs. Everyone. Also, Wesley Crusher. )

Heart of Glory: Brothers... lost among infidels. )

Signs it's THE FUTURE: Aliens! With weird customs! They are different than we! THE FUTURE!

Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE: Standardized testing still sucks, apparently. Also, Star Fleet: Law and Order is still working as a television program I would watch.
retsuko: martha jones from 'doctor who', in black and white (martha)
2015-02-13 04:22 pm

ST: TNG ReWatch, "Lonely Among Us" & "Justice"

This is a crazy pair of episodes: one that was really pretty good, and one that was... well, uhm, I'll take it to the comments.

Lonely Among Us: Are You Aware Everyone is Behaving Strangely? )

Justice: WHUUUUTTTTTT. )

Signs that it's the FUTURE:
* Uhm... energy being? The idea of colonizing another planet is pretty standard sci-fi, so there's that, but, generally, both of these episodes would have worked out in non-sci-fi contexts pretty well.

Signs that it's NOT the FUTURE:
* Dude, why doesn't the Enterprise have a firewall? This is the third time where the computers have just shorted out and/or been vulnerable to alien attack. If the ship is so sophisticated, surely the engineers planned for the computers to be invulnerable, at least in most of the ways that it counts!

* Also, the lighting in these episodes is STILL SO WEIRD. Everyone in Engineering apparently works in total darkness OR with the help of one florescent lightbulb.

Unintentionally Funniest Lines:
* A possessed Crusher, on what had happened to Worf: "A temporary... mental aberration." (I love this excuse, and will use it from now on, as much as possible.)

* Picard, on uncertainties: "Why has everything become a 'something' or 'whatever'?"
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
2015-01-31 12:49 pm

ST: TNG ReWatch, "The Last Outpost" & "Where No One Has Gone Before"

Before I begin, a brief side note: last time I posted, [profile] foreverinasmile and I were talking and she graciously listed her 5 favorite episodes, and then asked me the same question. I suddenly realized that aside from "The Inner Light" (which is one of my top 5 science fiction stories EVER, which is why I know the name), I had almost completely forgotten the actual episode titles, but rather, the arresting plots and images that came out of some of my favorites. So, without any further ado, the things I'm looking forward to:

1) Holodeck episodes: Data as Sherlock Holmes and Geordi as Doctor Watson; Picard as a film noir detective.

2) Character development episodes/scenes: Crusher teaching Data to dance for Chief O'Brian's wedding; Data's daughter; poker games; Worf attempting to be a parent to Alexander; Spot, and Data's efforts to learn music; and that one where Picard and Crusher almost but not quite confront their UST because of some crazy alien hostage situation.

3) Crazy images: Cellular peptide cake (with mint frosting!), which is probably the most bonkers episode that stands out in my memory; that one where everyone de-evolves for some reason; Worf delivering Keiko's baby in a turbolift shaft; the Borg (all of the stuff involving the Borg); and the Cardassians (who I will hard pressed not to type up as Kardasians.)

Things I'm not looking forward to include: Barclay and the holodeck (*cringe*); the Cardassians (ugh, just thinking about that torture scene); that one where it turns out Starfleet Command has been infiltrated by mind control aliens and the plot line is never brought up again; that one where everyone is addicted to a stupid game except Wesley and some girl he has a crush on; and more Ferengi nonsense.

Speaking of Ferengi nonsense, let's get to the rewatch stuff, because the Ferengi figure prominently in the first episode! The Last Outpost: Your alien images continue to shock us. )

So, as a palate cleanser, Where No One Has Gone Before: I'm not the Doctor! )

Signs it's THE FUTURE:
* Even though everyone references it, except for the Captain's Log, it appears that no one has to do any paperwork! Hooray!
* Engineering has barstools. Seriously. Hooray?

Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE:
* Aside from ragging on the awful sweater crocheted abomination that Wesley wears in the second episode, I've got nothing. Other than sickbay's bizarre lighting, these episodes manage to stay firmly in future tech territory.
retsuko: (Default)
2015-01-14 08:55 am

Snowflake Challenge: Day 14

In your own space, post recs for at least three fanworks that you did not create.

With the demise/retiring of the marvelous rec com Crack_van, over on LJ, I've been doing a little less fanfic reading than I'd like. But I have favorites that I revisit, including, first and foremost, the wonderfully hilarious In Which John is a BAMFy MoFo, OMG!, a Sherlock parody that I save for days when I'm sad and need cheering up. I don't want to spoil what makes it so funny, but suffice it to say, it's nice to see Inspector Lestrade having the upper hand, just for once, and it's awesome to read about John being a total BAMF, and completely annoying Sherlock just by doing that.

In the realm of fanvids (one of the fanworks that I wish I could create, but haven't had the chance to try yet), there are a bunch of vids that I love and keep revisiting.

Blow, by kuwdora is a great introduction to what makes the cancelled show Sanctuary so awesome and fun: cool characters, monsters of the week, period clothing, and kick-ass, punchy action. This video also went a long way to converting me to Ke$ha fandom, or at least, not total indifference. Kuwdora is a great editor and one of those vidders who makes me green with envy.

Then, there are other fanworks that I keep revisiting because they're this mix of awesomely funny and socially relevant. Serrico's 'Pornstar Dancing' is a great example of this sort of work. The lyrics of the original are just gross, but the images that serrico uses completely subvert them, to perfect, hilarious effect. (Serrico's notes for this video are: "Being a thoughtful, sensitive, and nuanced examination of gendered expressions and characterisations of desire. (Also known as: Let's Objectify Men.)") This is fairly NSFW, both for lyrics and image. Wait until you get home from work to point and laugh.
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
2015-01-03 03:42 pm

Snowflake Challenge: Day 3

Day 3: In your own space, talk about your creative process - from what inspires you to what motivates you to how you manage to break through blocks. Does your process change depending on the type of creating you're doing?

For fanfic! )

I should add here that my trick for beating block in both fanfic and original work is two-fold:

1) Ignore all voices coming from mental radio station KFKD (thank you, Anne Lamott) with a constant mantra of, "It's just a rough draft, mistakes don't matter, it's just a rough draft, you can always go back, it's just a rough draft, writing is a recursive process..." (Or some shorter part of that.)

2) ALWAYS quit while I still have something to say, even if it's just the last sentence of a character's speech, or a more cliffhanger-y, pivotal moment. Even if it's just the sentence, keeping it in mind for a while often leads to other thoughts, like, If Character A actually says this, then B will have no choice but to do that... UNLESS... or, Character C doesn't know about A&B yet, what would she/he say if she/he saw this scene take place?

More questions are always better than fewer!

For my original works, it's more complicated. )

For crafting stuff... )
retsuko: (Default)
2015-01-01 01:50 pm

Snowflake Challenge: Day 1


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Day 1: In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator.

My AO3 account looks a little anemic these days, and I'm a little sad I can't blog about something I did for Fandom_Stocking this year, since reveals haven't gone up yet. But, anyway, here are three of my fanworks I'm most pleased with as of right now:

1) Theory and Practice, a XXXHolic story featuring Watanuki, Doumeki, and an OC. This work was for a (now sadly defunct) LJ community, for a prompt that asked for Doumeki caring for Watanuki, showing his feelings through actions. I enjoyed writing this work for two reasons: I got to research first aid methodology, a field which I'd never really investigated other than the two-step process of 1) find band-aid and then 2) use band-aid. This research lead me to the second reason I enjoyed writing the fic, which was sorting out Doumeki's character more. I was actually really reluctant to write him at first; he's so stoic in the manga, and I didn't want to assume too much about him and write him very OOC. But the more I thought about the way he cared for Watanuki, the more his actions made sense, and I grew more confident writing those and giving him minimal dialogue. Creating the side characters, including the OC, was a lot of fun, too, because I got to play with the idea of that manga teases that Doumeki has a lot of admirers (irritating Watanuki to no end, of course) and that this carries over into real life, where it's a bunch of sweet old ladies worried about him because he's so thin. Finally, I'm a sucker for hurt/comfort and this story has it spades, so yay for that! This is probably my favorite piece of fanfic; I was really proud to get the feedback on it that everyone was IC, and that the recip was delighted with it. :)

2) Star Candy, an Adventure Time coffeeshop AU. (The alternate title that I strongly considered was, Perfecting the Twinkle Matrix, which I still love, although it's a mouthful.) This is a femmeslash story between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, although the slash is more in the subtext and ending than in the story itself. I know that some readers have a visceral hatred of coffeeshop AUs, and I thought I did for a long time, too, but than I saw this prompt and found the idea oddly charming; Marceline as slightly harried owner/proprietor was fun to think about, and putting the Adventure Time characters into a less fantastical setting still worked because AT is a show that is strong in a variety of settings, with low or high magic. This was another gift for an exchange, and I'm happy that so many people enjoyed it besides the recip.

3) When Ahiru Met Haruhi, a crossover between The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and Princess Tutu, at the request of (I think) [personal profile] lemon_badgeress. This is one of my oldest works. I had asked my friends for crossover prompts, and Lemon asked for this jokingly, and I thought, ha ha, I'm gonna do it! It's one of the silliest, fluffiest things I've ever written, and I wish it would get a little more love. However, both of those fandoms are pretty quiet these days, and this short fic is pretty neglected.
retsuko: antique books (books)
2014-12-02 07:54 am

What Happened, Sleepy Hollow?

I used to be so excited for the Monday night block of shows. But Gotham has been... somewhat uneven (another entry for another time) and Sleepy Hollow has become even uneven-er. This used to be a show that I would unreservedly recommend to all and sundry because it was so much fun. Somewhere along the line this season, though, that fun just drained away, and last night's mid-season finale clinched it for me.

Specifically, a lot of spoilers: )

And even more specifically, solving a problem like Katrina: )

I do love this show. I love Abbie Mills, and the Mills sisters working together (and the episode with them last week was the strongest all season long). I love Crane vs. 2014. I loved Abbie's speech in last night's episode about how she wasn't going to let Moloch take away any more people--that's the core of part of the reason I love the show right there: it's a story about a strong woman, who is surrounded by other strong women (because in the scene in the church before Henry showed up was Abbie, Jenny, and Katrina vowing to shop evil, with Crane chiming in, a rarity for a mainstream network show.) Most of the men on the show (when a romantic subplot isn't ruining everything) are compelling characters in their own right, and I want to know their stories, too, but the most interesting thing about the story remains Abbie, and her facing down evil with a platonic partner. I want the show to go back to that, and stop shoe-horning in people I don't care about, and subplots that go nowhere. I'd like it to be funny again, too. Basically, I want to go back to that feeling of recommending it to all and sundry, not the way I feel right now which is, "It's OK, but..."
retsuko: lady rainicorn and princess bubblegum from the pilot episode of Adventure Time (PB + Rainicorn)
2014-11-12 07:24 am

Happy Things: Big Hero 6

Yesterday, Yebisu and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Big Hero 6, which is one of the rare movies that I didn't want to end because it was so beautiful and so entertaining, and because the ending of the film provided a springboard for so, so many stories that would be equally as fun and interesting as the movie itself. This isn't to say this was a perfect or flawless film, but it's pretty damned good in almost every respect, and that is saying quite a lot.

There are quite a few plot summaries that are easily available on the web, and I don't want to add to what's been already said in that respect. Some of the plot aspects that I found especially interesting, though, had to do with the depiction of science and scientific process. Science, although it provides our heroes with their gadgets and weapons, isn't a solution to all problems, or something that's so simple and quick that it looks like magic. Instead, science is something all of the characters think over carefully, and get their hands dirty for. In one pivotal (and very touching) sequence, we see that one of the characters went through so many proto-types for a project that he forgot which number he was on, and what time of day it was. Being smart and willing to approach problems through trial and error is never, ever shown as a liability for any of the characters, and the story is richer for it. No one gets a free pass to becoming a hero/heroine.

The design aspect of this film, from the robots to the city of San Fransokyo, is excellent. It's hard to say where to begin with this: the Golden Gate bridge has been re-imagined in the most wonderful way, and a lot of classic SF buildings have, too. (I crossed my fingers that City Lights would appear, but it didn't, to my slight disappointment.) Everything in the city, from the signs to the trolleys, was just beautiful, and if the whole movie had just been a tour through the city, I probably would have been good with just that. (Note to my subconscious: If you want to add this city to your map of dream!San Francisco, please, please, please go ahead.) But there was more than that--all of the objects and homes and buildings around our characters felt right. Hiro's home, in particular, has that "lived in" patina of family photos/fannish posters/random pictures on the wall and discarded projects and games strewn around the floor of his bedroom that make it feel like a real space, not just a CGI, story-necessitated one.

The overall plot is the only place where things start to get shaky: for anyone who's seen a film before (or read the works of Joseph Campbell), certain aspects are visible miles away. This is a mostly a pretty kid-friendly film, although death and revenge are two of the major plot elements, so perhaps think carefully before taking younger kids. But if your kid is up for it, you won't be disappointed. Stay until after the credits have rolled to catch a scene that is just... well, it's hilarious, and I was so happy because it validated a theory that I'd formed halfway through the story. :D
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
2014-10-25 02:50 pm

Constantine Reportage

Full disclosure: I am not a super-fan of this character, but I like him well enough that I stayed up late last night to watch the pilot of the show. (I regretted this somewhat this morning.) And I'm pretty OK with the decision to watch the thing, because there was enough Done Right to balance out the Wrong/Annoying/WTF. In many ways, this episode felt really like a pilot and not a presentative episode of what the show's going to be like as a whole: lots of exposition crammed in (and I mean crammed into every second of almost each shot, for good or ill), characters not really standing out (other than Constantine himself), and a whole lot of "look, look, this is cool and shiny! People will like it! Buy it!" I fervently hope that this frenetic, sales-focus approach will dissipate over the next few episodes and just let the stories breathe, because there is a lot that the writers can do here with a lot of talent.

Among the Things Done Right: I like Matt Ryan as Constantine--he looks perfect, and even though his accent isn't, strictly speaking, correct, it's good, and his speech has the cadence and tone that I imagined for the character. He's good at weary, but not whiny at all, and he acts like a man who knows the cost of too much and not enough power. His looks, as I said, are almost eerily like the character stepped off the comic book page. Of course, when we see him as a person, I kept thinking, dude cannot tie a tie! Depending on your feelings about the character, this either makes him adorably rumpled or distractedly uncaring, both of which (again) Matt Ryan carries off well. The settings around him were a bit on the generic side (probably to hide the fact that they are NOT London), but the effects for the spirit world overlaying ours were very, very nicely done. I also like the look of the magic that we saw--wards and glyphs all over the place, a lot of dramatic flame, and a nice bit of scare/ick during the cold open involving cockroaches. Another plus was Jasper's hideout, which is basically the most awesome occult library ever, and contains the helmet of Doctor Fate(!)*, as well as a bunch of other, plot-related things. The entire episode could have taken place in this setting, and I would have been fine. Harold Perrineau's appearances were good in the same way, although far more cryptic. Still, though, an entire episode of his character and Constantine sniping at each other, and I'd put up my feet and settle in quite contentedly.

But the flip side of this is that because there was Harold Perrineau's character, and Chas, and one other guy whose name I've forgotten, the token female character got almost totally sidelined, even though she was supposed to be a featured character. (I know the actress isn't a regular on the series, and her character was written out by the end of the episode, in a way that felt like a DM trying to compensate when a pivotal PC suddenly has to leave the table early.) I felt sorry for her, mostly. The dynamic between her and Constantine was very much like the Doctor and a new companion, and I think people's experience of the show depended a lot on their tolerance for that sort of power imbalance. Half of the dialogue was like this:

John: [Cryptic statement about Liv's powers/the occult/adversaries.]
Liv: [Reasonable question or freakout about any of the above.]
John: [Deflection or cryptic warning about adversaries.]
Live: *eyeroll* or *distracted*

Matt Ryan's performance saved this from being condescending nonsense; he never acted as though he knew more than she or thought her inferior. It seemed more like he was juggling too many things in his head to answer properly. The other half of the time, a plot element would come along and interrupt the conversation, stopping any power imbalance talk in its tracks. In the end, I really didn't blame Liv for leaving, although it was mostly because I hadn't even had a chance to invest in her one way or another.

My biggest other quibble with this pilot was the decision to bring Constantine's past mistakes forward so quickly. The adorable-child-in-peril plot device is something that really, really grates on me, because there's only so many times it can be used before it gets old. This episode brought it out... about four times in total: twice in flashback, once in explanation of said flashback, and once in person during the big showdown at the end. I think a far more effective method of introducing this plot element would have come at the very end of an episode that built to it. After a prolonged fight against a much scarier demonic villain, a sidekick character demands to know why Constantine risks life and limb to help people he's never met and/or barely knows, and in a tight close up, he says something like, "Wasn't fast enough before. Never gonna let that happen again." BAM--compelling character shown through his actions, rather than just words, and a tortured soul to boot. I think it's fine for characters to mysterious pasts or refer to stories we never learn the entire truth about. Not everything has to be Chekov's gun. I would have preferred a more straight-up urban fantasy adventure, with implications around the edges instead of front and center.

My only real WTF about the whole thing is that for a show that features demonic villains, angels, and magical powers, there was absolutely no appearance of the word "God." Constantine only invoked a Creator, and when he did other spells, he named symbols ("the power of the Star of David, the power of the Cross.") I'm a bit confused at the absence of any larger divine presence, and while I'd like to think it's because the writers are rejecting the standard either-or, good-evil, God-Devil dichotomy, I suspect the truth is more aligned with fears of alienating religious viewers. I need to go back to the comics now and see what sort of spells Constantine uses there.

But I'm eager to tune in next week, because as I said before, this show has a lot of elements that I do love, and I think with some time, it could really grow into a strong contender for an awesome, fun DC show. Given their track record thus far, I'm willing to give them a lot of leeway to get it right.

* If this means that Zatanna gets an appearance later on, I will probably die of SQUEE.
retsuko: martha jones from 'doctor who', in black and white (martha)
2014-10-21 08:26 am

Mid-Season TV Report: Gotham, Huh? & Sleepy Hollow, 90% Yay!

So, the cold open for last night's Gotham featured a character we'd never met before, high on a Plot Device drug, running screaming at the camera. This image pretty much encapsulates the show for me: it's loud, it's not subtle, and if I'm willing suspend a lot of disbelief, it's fun in a "did they really go there?" sort of way. The best scenes involve Jada Pinkett Smith and her mob boss character's machinations, sexual and otherwise. The worst ones... I dunno. There's a lot of violence that's mostly necessitated by the plot, and there are a lot of minor villains who serve as antagonists of the week. The show is exceedingly well cast, but the writing feels kind of flat and predictable: Antagonist is introduced, Gotham City Police react carefully and sensitively like a blunt instrument and beat lots of people up, Jim Gordon does some detecting where no one else will, villains plot, and confrontation, and then foreshadow-y, meta-plot scene and credits roll.

My other big problem with this show (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Arrow, which we're catching up with on Netflix) is that I have yet to see any reason why Gotham or Starling City is worth saving. Gotham, in particular, is a dingy, grimy, just plain awful place that doesn't seem to have any kind or altruistic citizens, just wall-to-wall gangsters, homeless druggies, and criminals, with a few rich people here and there to be offended by the very presence of the lower class. Even the trees in the final moments of last night's episode were dirty--it's a freaking park on a sunny day, and the trees were just patches of dingy green and darkness. Seriously, TV shows, what gives? I don't think it would be a stretch to have an episode centered around someone who's trying to do actual, genuine good in these cities, not as a vigilante, but as a social worker or community advocate (and Councilman Blood on Arrow doesn't count, since we have yet to see him actually doing anything in the very community he's meant to represent.) All cities have their issues with crime and poverty, but I have yet to travel to a city that doesn't have any good people in it, or a nicely landscaped park or museum with adequate lighting somewhere. Further, adding some nice people or places wouldn't diminish the grimdark tone the writers/production people are going for, it would make the dark seem darker by comparison. Come on, shows, surprise me! Make me want to visit Gotham or Starling City!

I'm definitely enjoying this season of Sleepy Hollow more, but last night's episode brought up a few problems: Spoilers, of course. )
retsuko: (spoilers!)
2014-10-03 02:01 pm

COMIC BOOKS ARE THE BEST!

I know I'm a grown woman, and that I should be doing more responsible things at the moment, but there is something just so lovely about sitting down with a pile of comic books and reading them from cover to cover, regardless of time and chores, and the general mundanity that is life.

In comics:

Rat Queens, Issue 8: Violet's origin story gets told in a highly satisfactory fashion, with some very sweet moments between her and her mother, and some sour ones with her family as a whole. I especially like the first two pages, where Violet is getting dressed and it's made abundantly clear that a) the artist knows how armor works, and b) Violet is not your standard comic book lady with an unreal body. In any case, the story unfolds, and it's very, very bittersweet as it's contrasted with the final page of the issue. I love this comic!

Thor, Issue 1: The only disappointment in the whole haul, mainly because the new Thor is only in the whole issue for two pages. I'm eager to see Lady Thor in action, and while the two-page spread of her lifting Mjolnir was beautifully colored and dynamic, it was frustrating as a whole for a comic about her to only feature her for a moment. The art in this is very nice, though, and hopefully when the next issue shows up, new!Thor will have more to do. Also, some frost giants to battle, because there sure were a lot of them in this issue. (And their toenails are grotesque. GROTESQUE.)

One other, minor disappointment: still no word on how original!Thor will keep those abs now that he's not wielding the hammer anymore. Will he have to go to the gym like the rest of us?? Inquiring minds want to know!

Gotham Academy, Issue 1: This is a lot of fun, and it has a lot of promise. My only quibble with it is that it's too short! The first issue is setting up a lot of plot elements: our heroine's angsty past with her mother and other students at the school; conspiracies in and around the school itself; and whatever the monster in the walls is. I wished that there was more time to let the story unspool just a little bit more, instead of "here is this character! that one! look, it's Bruce wayne!" That said, I'm looking forward to the next issue, and hoping that the pacing will pay off in the long run.

In graphic novels:

This One Summer, words by Mariko Tamaki, art by Jillian Tamaki: The artwork in this is just gorgeous, and it captures perfectly the "summer at the seaside" that I was lucky enough to experience as a kid. The plot is very subtle but sweetly compelling, a coming-of-age story for the main character, Rose, mostly, but also the story of her friendship, her parents' relationship (which is not relegated to the sidelines, like a lot of YA literature might; I really appreciated the fact that the adults in this story were real people, too, not just paper tigers or imparters of Important Truths about Adulthood), and her awkward crush on the local convenience store guy. There's a sudden twist or two towards that the end that propels the action of the story into overdrive, but that's what summer is often like: a whole lot of leisure, and then the sudden realization that it's all about to be OVER and you need to do something, right away, before you lose the chance. I'd recommend this to a number of my friends, and to anyone who's spent any time at a summer resort as a kid. The sheer nostalgia alone is worth the price of admission.
retsuko: (spoilers!)
2014-09-23 07:40 am

Gotham, OK & Sleepy Hollow, Yay!

No spoilers about Gotham, except to say that I like what I've seen so far, and the casting is perfect for almost every role. It does feel very organic, like this could have happened before other Batman!verse events, although the timelines are off for a few of the major characters. The only quibble I have with it (and I realize it's pretty damn ridiculous) is since almost all the characters are villains/heroes in the making, Yebisu and I started wondering if every character had some significance in the story's future; we forgot that sometimes an ugly mob thug is just an ugly mob thug.

Of more immediate squee-ish interest to me is Sleepy Hollow. Spoilers ahoy! )

Trailer Park:

* Dammit, Annabelle trailers: I do not need another phobia. While I'm sure the actual movie won't be that scary, whoever edited these trailers (there were two) is to be commended for making the whole thing as spooky and awful as possible. Also, who buys a creepy-looking doll like that? What the hell, people?

* Kingsman: I am all for Colin Firth as a suave British secret agent who can kick ass, but this movie appears to have some worrisome strikes against it: 1) February release date--not January dumping ground, but not prestige, either; 2) Lea Michelle appears to be in it, with a British accent (uhm...); and 3) How is this not The Avengers, but without Emma Peel?
retsuko: (spoilers!)
2014-08-24 09:09 pm

Legend of Korra: Season 3 Finale (ZOMG!)

Before I get into the main part of what I want to say, a universal complaint: Attention, cable networks! If you take a beloved show with a devoted fanbase off the air unexpectedly and put the rest of the remaining episodes of the season on your website for viewing, please:

1) Make sure your website is easily navigated and loads properly on all browsers;
2) Load the episodes in a good enough resolution so that the beautiful animation work can, in fact, be seen on all browers and devices; and,
3) Make sure your website can handle the traffic so that the episodes don't crash halfway through and then refuse to reload at the point where they crashed last.

Dammit, Nick. I get that this show doesn't make bank the easy way that Spongebob does, and that it presents a marketing challenge, but you're losing out on a lot of money from older fans (who, historically, have a lot more to spend) and building your reputation as fan-unfriendly network, which hurts in the long run.

Ahem, now that I've gotten that out of my system: on to the spoiler-rific talk about the Legend of Korra Season 3 finale and episodes leading to it. )

Ahem. Yes, that is my dignified squee for the moment. What an amazing show. This season more than makes up for the lackluster plotlines in the previous seasons, and even they aren't that bad. But this season felt real, and the stakes were so GODDAMN HIGH that I had to remind myself to breathe throughout the final 45 minutes of the finale.

... So... Season 4? :D
retsuko: (cool yuuko)
2014-08-03 02:18 pm

Sleepy Hollow Trailer!

OMG OMG OMG: longer teaser trailer is here!

Pros:
*No one appears to be dead (except for those who were already dead, see comments in the Cons section), which is what I thought, so YAY!
*Abby and Crane are back in action together again, and hopefully defeating all evil through shear force of AWESOMENESS. XD
*Jenny appears to have more to do this time around, which is also AWESOME.

Cons:
*Goddamn zombies. Will this be the season that forces me to confront my phobia? Dammit, people, I didn't feel like doing that this fall. >:{
*Katrina appears to be very much damsel-in-distressed. (Oh, see, I have this pretty necklace for you, why don't you love me and sing in my opera house, oops, wrong media.) Hopefully, this plot line is dispatched IMMEDIATELY and then everything goes back to being awesome.

Aw, Sleepy Hollow, I have missed you so much! Can't wait for the opener.
retsuko: (fierce!)
2014-07-12 02:19 pm

In Which I Speculate About Legend of Korra...

This entry will discuss events that happened up to Episode 5, "The Metal Clan." I know that more episodes have been leaked, and if you know any spoilers concerning those, I'd appreciate them being kept under a hat.

In general... )

And specifically about Lin: )

I really like the two episodes a Friday night format, even though we're in the Friday night death slot. It feels more substantial as two episodes, and it gives the plot more time to unfold, rather than suffering from endless recapping.