Monday, November 30, 2015

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

*Slight Spoilers*

Fullmetal Feels

This anime is perfection! It has heart-stopping drama, political intrigue that will satisfy any conspiracy theorist, tear-jerking displays of brotherly love and side-splitting humor generously threaded through each episode.

One of the amazing things about this anime is how it handles its large cast of characters. Character developments for an ensemble cast can be difficult. This anime manages not only to pull it off, but makes you feel for each and every character. None of the characters were neglected, and it was hard to choose just one favorite because they were all so good!

At the core of the show are the two Elric brothers: Edward, the Fullmetal Alchemist and Alphonse. The Elrics are on a quest to retrieve their original bodies that they lost after performing an ill-fated human transmutation to bring their mother back to life. As human transmutations are considered taboo amongst alchemists, the major theme of ethics in science emerges early on. In an early episode, crossing the ethical boundaries in alchemy is portrayed in the most gut-wrenching way possible, forcing our protagonists to face the product of alchemy that has gone too far.

One of the most captivating aspects of the anime is the struggle that various characters go through to maintain their humanity, either as alchemists, soldiers and even leaders. Despite all the awesome fight scenes and terrifyingly powerful villains, this anime is ultimately about family, redemption and overcoming long-held hatred.

On the more technical side, I absolutely loved the soundtrack composed by Akira Senju. The music was emotional, tense and action-packed in all the right places. Below is one of my favorite tracks.

I watched the dubbed version and loved the voice acting. Vic Mignogna was great as Ed, our vertically challenged hero who has a tendency to fly off the handle. Maxey Whitehead's soft, childish voice provided a great contrast for Al, our lovable armored giant. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see that J. Michael Tatum voiced Scar. The anime I have seen so far, Tatum usually voices rather sophisticated and articulate characters, so it was nice to hear him do Scar's gruff voice. Todd Haberkorn as Ling Yao was also great, in both the humorous scenes as well as the emotional ones.

Anyway, I can continue gushing about this show, but I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. I'm actually planning on watching the original Fullmetal Alchemist because I've heard though Brotherhood has a better story line, the original spends more time on character development. It'll be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of the two.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


*Slight Spoilers*

In which I delve further into the Anime World

Okay, so I've binge watched several anime series over the last couple of weeks, and yeah I might be a little obsessed with the most recent anime I've watched. But it's just so awesome! I loved the premise, the dystopian world, and the characters. Let's move on.

So Psycho-Pass is set in a futuristic Japan where it is now possible to measure someone's criminal capabilities, even if they have yet to commit a crime. Society is virtually run by The Sibyl System, a system that calculates citizens' Psycho-Pass and Crime Coefficient. People are considered latent criminals based on how their high Crime Coefficient is. Psycho-Pass is quite dark and disturbing, and the atmosphere of the show reflects that. The show starts out like a procedural crime drama and evolves into pure awesomeness. Psycho-Pass follows the adventures of MWPSB's Division One. 

Division One comprises of two Inspectors that are in charge of four Enforcers. The hierarchy and dynamic between the Inspectors and Enforcers is especially interesting as the Enforcers are latent criminals tasked with doing the dirty work that comes with being a detective. The Enforcers take care of anything that could cause the Inspectors' Psycho-Pass to become clouded or raise their Crime Coefficient. I loved how there was such a precarious balance between being a detective and becoming a latent criminal. In most crime shows, you see that the detective has to think like the criminal to catch them; in Psycho-Pass that method is avoided like the plague lest the Inspectors become exactly what they are hunting down. 

The series focuses on mainly the rookie Inspector Akane Tsunemori and Inspector-turned-Enforcer Shinya Kogami. Though I loved all the characters, my favorite had to be Inspector Nobuchika Ginoza. He was an angry character who felt he'd been betrayed and left behind by both his father and his former partner who both became latent criminals. I wanted the series to explore more of Ginoza's background, especially with his father. 

Though this series is engaging from the first episode, it really grabbed me by the shirt and demanded my attention in Saint's Supper, episode 11.  I could NOT stop watching from that point on.

 If I disliked anything, it would be the couple of instances the anime had to supply info-dumps when a character made huge leaps to get to a certain conclusion. Overlooking that, Psycho-Pass is a perfect mixture of cyberpunk and crime drama with a good sprinkling of philosophical musings. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Introduction to the Anime World

So...I've been neglecting this blog for a while, but the good news is I watch anime now. My bro first got me hooked to Attack on Titan when it first came out and I loved it, but I thought that was going to be the extent of my anime experience.

But boredom and procrastination (believe it or not this is usually how I find my obsessions) led me to wander the internet when I happened upon: Ouran High School Host Club!

 It took me a couple of episodes to get used to the humor, but after that I finished the whole series in three days. Not a good idea... THERE'S NO SECOND SEASON!!!! GAHHH, HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ME!!!! The show was just so funny and cute and refreshing. I've been vigilantly looking for shows similar to Ouran when I should be...doing something else (studying for the LSAT). I have yet to find anything similar, most of the anime suggested has annoying main characters that fawn over the love interest(s)...not what I'm looking for. I realize Ouran basically parodies shojo anime, so unfortunately it's difficult to find something like it. But I really would love a second season... *cue puppy dog eyes*

Not to despair though, I'm currently watching Black Butler which is pretty good in a completely different way. It's dark, mysterious and eerie.

 Anyway, back to watching that...oh ahem I mean back to studying. *wink, wink* Hopefully I'll have time to review these anime more in depth later.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

BBC's Robin Hood


Who Doesn't Love a Good Robin Hood Story?

So this semester I'm taking a Robin Hood in Culture literature course and I am loving it! (Actually I am now done with the course, but I just got around to doing this post.) Before the class I had come across BBC's Robin Hood, but at the time I was way too immersed in Merlin to watch anything else. Oh and also the beginning was pretty off-putting too; in the first 20 minutes Robin Hood is shown to be a player (which he really isn't as you soon find out if you keep watching). So anyway, once my class started I went back and watched the whole series in a couple of weeks. Since I watched the whole series at once I'm going to stuff all my thoughts about it in one post! Let's begin!

Let's start with the characters!

Robin Hood: So Robin Hood has just come back from the Holy Land, after fighting five years alongside King Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades. He's a reluctant outlaw, he only goes against the law for morality's sake. He's your standard Robin Hood, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor, getting the girl, and showing off some mad skills with his bow and arrow.

Little John: Little John, in this adaptation has his own gang of outlaws who claim Sherwood Forest as their own. In true Robin Hood fashion, Robin Hood and Little John start out as nemesis and gradually become friends. 

Much the Miller's Son: In this adaptation, Much takes the place that Little John usually occupies in the legend and that is of the right hand man. Fiercely loyal and not much of a fighter Much is pretty awesome in his own way.

Allan A Dale: Instead of the love-struck minstrel portrayed in the 17th century ballads, Allan a Dale in the TV show is a manipulative, unscrupulous thief that is very reminiscent of the amoral Robin Hood of the past. Allan a Dale is seriously one of my favorite characters in this show; he just provides so many of the best one-liners! I actually wrote one of my research papers on him and got an A! :)

Will Scarlet: Will Scarlet is one of the four men (as is Allan a Dale) that Robin Hood has to initially save from a unjust hanging ordered by the Sheriff of Nottingham. The scene is an adapted version from the "Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires" ballad. Will Scarlet is like the all around nice guy that you like just because. He also has a pretty good bromance with Allan a Dale which doesn't even get marred by the fact that they are both pining after the same girl. Which brings me to my next character...

Djaq (The Saracen): Djaq (pronounced Jack) is the Saracen who was brought over as a slave from the Holy Land. She quickly falls in with the Merry Men, proving she's just as kick-ass as them, if not more. Speaking of kick-ass women...

Maid Marian (aka The Night Watchmen): Okay I need to stop it with the segues. That was the last one I promise! Maid Marian's alter ego is the freaking caped crusader by night! While Robin Hood was away fighting in the Crusades, Marian donned a mask and cape and became the Night Watchmen. She steals from the rich and gives to the poor under the cover of night, and she's not giving up her vigilantism just because Robin Hood, her ex-fiance has returned. 

The Sheriff of Nottingham: One of the weirdest and snake-like villains ever. In the first episode the Sheriff of Nottingham is seen taking a bird out its cage and then crushing it in his fist until it dies. Yep, there is something wrong there, psychologically. He also serves as a twisted, manipulative father figure to the other main villain, the dark and brooding Guy of Gisborne...

Guy of Gisborne: Yeah I said no more segues, but oh well. Okay so I saved the best for last! Every time Guy of Gisborne came on my screen, I'd be like "Ahhh why are you so bad? And why do I still feel bad for you!" Gisborne does some pretty horrendous things, but it's not his fault, he had a horrible childhood and his eyes are so pretty. Yeah no, Gisborne's a pretty awful/evil/jerkish dude that much is set in stone. I mean he burns people's homes, kills people and tried to assassinate King Richard all because the Sheriff of Nottingham tells him to do so. I guess what makes him interesting are his moments of confusion and self-doubt, the rare moments where he thinks about doing the right thing for his guessed it Maid Marian! I also wrote a paper about Gisborne being Robin Hood's doppelganger. That was a lot of fun proving!

Okay so I basically just gave character rundowns, but I think the show is worth watching if you're a avid Robin Hood fan. You will like the show even if you have never heard of Robin Hood (Where have you been?) or the Merry Men. There's a lot on interesting similarities as well as deviations from the legend, but that's the fun part as the Robin Hood legend is so fluid and ever-changing with the times.

Keep the spirit of Robin Hood alive!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why it took me so long to watch Teen Wolf...

* Spoilers up to the Season 3 Finale*

My hesitance to watch the show was primarily because of its name: Teen Wolf. I couldn't justify watching anything with the word teen, despite my little cousin's insistence that it was really good and not teenybopper-ish at all. Even though the show seemed to be right up my alley (werewolves!!!) I was adamant not to get ensnared by a high school drama. So I steered clear of Teen Wolf, which was kinda hard because Sterek (I'll get to this later) is all over the internet. It's true, boredom can make a person do many things, and it just so happens that I got sick this Thanksgiving break. No school + being sick = many, many hours of watching TV, but unfortunately...all my shows were on a mini hiatus = ME: NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The lure of the werewolves got to be too much and I gave in...

So I guess that's how I started watching Teen Wolf, and you know what, it ain't half bad. Actually I quite like it :) Goodness, I sound as if I've been brainwashed, which I guess is possible since I've watched three seasons in the past five days. I actually feel a little crazed and erratic also...probably due to all the radioactive wavelengths or something. Actually, I have no clue what I'm talking about. I could seriously do a PSA about the dangers of binge-watching TV shows. Dark circles under your eyes? Disoriented? Can't discern reality from fiction? Turn off that TV and call 1-800-NOMORETV (this is not a real number).

Okay, enough about my mental state. The show itself starts out predictably enough: nerdy boy gets bit by a werewolf, nerdy boy likes the new hot girl, nerdy boy makes the team because of his werewolf powers, in this case the lacrosse team (I really do not get the point of lacrosse), nerdy boy is not so nerdy anymore (he is werewolf boy now), werewolf boy goes out with hot new girl, werewolf boy has werewolf-related problems that he has to figure out by the end of the season. Teen Wolf is a nice mixture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the dark humor, the sarcasm, the usage of reoccurring secondary characters, such as the parents, the Coach, etc.) and The Vampire Diaries (the epic, forbidden love, the whole "I can't control my blood lust").

More than the main character Scott, I actually like Stiles, the sarcastic best friend.

I like the whole werewolf mythology the show has laid out. A couple of things are different: silver is useless against werewolves, the real kryptonite is wolfsbane, and a werewolf can turn whenever, no full moon necessary (though the urge to turn is the strongest during the full moon). I'm loving the abundance of bromances on the show; literally every guy is in at least one (This is where Sterek comes in). Lydia and Allison's friendship progresses in the later seasons as well. The only bad part I can think of is that the cast keeps changing, and some of the new additions aren't quite as good as the original cast (I still miss Jackson and I'm gonna miss Isaac because apparently he's not coming back after the third season.) 

The second half of the third season was probably my least favorite story arc. That's probably because the focus was on kitsunes and nogitsunes instead of werewolves. Though it wasn't all bad, it was through season 3b that I realized that Dylan O'Brien (Stiles) is a freaking awesome actor! The Big Bad of the season, the Nogitsune, possesses Stiles and proceeds to do some very evil bad guy stuff. O'Brien totally pulls off the splintered double personality. Evil!Stiles is completely sinister and almost maniacal. It is heartbreaking to see Good!Stiles trying to hold on to himself. I'm kinda disappointed to see Evil!Stiles go, but at the same time I'm glad the kitsune and nogitsune story line is wrapped up. 

Yeah, so this post was all over the place but you get the gist: I like Teen Wolf

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Where's the Sisterly Love?

This is gonna be a rant-ish type of post...

You know what annoys me? That there is no cool female equivalent of the word "bromance". Yeah, I've heard of "galmance", but I really do not like that term. Who calls their female friends gals? (No offense to those who do). But seriously it's like someone did a half-assed synonym search for the word woman and just stuck "-mance" at the end.

I took my dilemma to the internet. Urban Dictionary supplied me with "womance" which I thought was kinda cute. I also saw "sismance" pop up a couple of times. Despite a couple of terms signifying sisterly love are floating around on the internet, there is no unifying word like "bromance". This brings me to my next point...

Every movie or TV show you watch you'll see an abundance of male bonding or in other words "bromancing". Females most of the time just show up to be the love interest (Even when she is the main character: Elena Gilbert, Bella Swan, etc.) If the female character does have another female character around, well most of the time she's just there to either give the main female character a hard time or serve as sounding-off board. So I guess the real problem is that not enough girl bonding or sisterhood is portrayed in popular culture to warrant a real unified term describing such a relationship.

Now don't get me wrong. I absolutely love a good bromance, but I think I would love a good...sismance also. Nope, don't like that word either. Off the top of my head the only sis-love (bleh, moving on) I can only think of are: Katniss and Prim Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Buffy and Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serena and Blair from Gossip Girl, Leslie and Anne from Parks and Recreation, and Abbie and Jenny Mills from Sleepy Hollow. Now that is just sad. Why is the portrayal of female friendships the weakest in TV shows and movies? For example, some of the most boring parts of The Vampire Diaries is when Elena is bonding with Bonnie and Caroline. Do the writers not know how female friends interact? Their conversations are always so sappy and trite. The only real friendship I see in that show is between Stefan and Caroline (well up until this season). It's like writers don't know how to write female characters without the support of male characters.

On the other hand, I can go on and on listing all the "bromantic" relationships I've come across:

Sam and Dean (Supernatural)
Dean and Castiel (Supernatural)
Sam and Castiel (Supernatural)
Prince Arthur and Merlin (Merlin)
Will and Carlton (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Jack and John Locke (Lost)
Jack and Sawyer (Lost)
Hurley and Charlie (Lost)
Jack Sparrow and Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead)
Will Graham and Hannibal (Hannibal) yeah...probably not
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad) okay, like in the beginning, right?
The Salvatores (The Vampire Diaries)
Wesley and Gunn (Angel)
Steve Rodgers and Bucky Barnes (Captain America)
The whole Avengers movie...
Basically every guy in Teen Wolf is in at least one... (EDIT: But to be fair, I do like Lydia and Allison's friendship in the later seasons)
I could go on and on, but I'll end with etc. where are all the compelling female friendships? Maybe my scope is too limited, but I don't think so, 'cuz I really do watch a lot of TV/movies. I guess it's up to us creative people to create more compelling female friendship or sisterly bonds in fiction, and you know come up with a kick-ass term for it. I kinda like sistah-love...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

North & South: A BBC Miniseries


Mr. Darcy, Who?

Oh my goodness! I loved this miniseries so much! I wish it was a full-length show. The only other BBC miniseries I've seen is Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, and while I enjoyed that one a lot, this one was my favorite out of the two. But to be fair, I have a capricious relationship with Pride and Prejudice; I just don't see the big fuss over it. I know a lot people think North & South is very similar to Pride and Prejudice, I did not think so. North & South dealt with so many other themes: moving to a new place, feelings of alienation and isolation, loss and death, the gaping social divide (I know, I know Pride and Prejudice also dealt with differences in social status, but trust me in North & South the difference is a lot starker), etc. 

The setting and tone of the show was a lot darker and grittier than what I was expecting for a period piece set in the Victorian Era, but I liked it. Bring on the grit! The story was set in a cotton mill town where it was the working class versus the "Masters" of the cotton mill. The depiction of poverty was truly grim and heartbreaking. The show maintained a perfect balance between the interpersonal problem: the love/hate story between Margaret and Thornton and the larger societal problem: the social class war between the laborers and the Masters of the cotton mills.

The show opens with Margaret and her family leaving behind their southern home in Helstone to move to Milton in the North. In her search to buy a house, Margaret comes across Mr. Thornton, a cotton-mill owner, beating up an employee for smoking. Margaret is appalled and indignant; Thornton is angry and annoyed, and so begins their love/hate relationship. I just loved the interactions between these two; and the awesome soundtrack just made it even more perfect!

Another thing I liked about this miniseries was that it didn't neglect its side characters. Case in point, I loved Nicholas and Bessy Higgins, a father-daughter duo that worked in the cotton mills. Nicholas was such a dynamic character; I'm so glad that he wasn't made into a one-dimensional bitter, old mill worker. One of my absolute favorite character interactions was between Nicholas and Thornton as they slowly overcame their prejudices of each other and started respecting each other.

There are many reasons to watch this miniseries; the amazing acting, the beautiful soundtrack, the gritty reality of the cotton mills, the lovely romance and the awesome characters. I know that was just a bunch of adjectives, but it really is all that! I leave you with this: