7.30.2010

Bubbly for the baby

Another new little guy has joined my circle of friends, since yesterday Jonathan & Anne-Marie brought Baby Isaac in the world! The timing worked out perfectly for my pal Matt and I to head to the hospital right after work, so we got to meet him just an hour or so after his birth. I was surprised to see him opening his eyes so much, since this is only the third time I've made a baby hospital visit (and Emiliano and Sicilia kept their eyes clamped shut). It was Matt's first time to see a baby this young, and it was fun watching him get so excited (I felt like an old pro). Anne-Marie was doing wonderfully and definitely has a new mother glow, and Jonathan did a great job at his first important fatherly task: passing out cigars! The three of us old men had a great time enjoying our smokes outside, along with an excellent bottle of champagne, which didn't last long! Isaac is going to be a cool kid with parents that will make his friends jealous, that's for sure! I'm looking forward to watching him grow up, and I'm glad I met him on "day one"!

View photos: Baby Isaac

7.28.2010

Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro / Season One: 5 of 5

Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro - The Complete First SeasonBelieve it or not, I'm still enjoying my Christmas DVDs from last year, since the latest Walt Disney Treasures releases were quite extensive six-DVD sets! I've always thought Disney's classic Zorro television series from 1957 was great (when I could catch it on the Disney Channel before they changed their programming format), but I never had the opportunity to see every single episode until watching this set. Now I'm even more impressed with this show, which Walt made sure was shot like a feature film with no expense spared, using authentic detailed costumes, immaculate sets, and even beautiful matte paintings to simulate old California under Spanish rule. Guy Williams (also famous for Lost in Space) was an absolutely amazing actor, playing the part of Diego/Zorro with wit and flair (and also doing the best Spanish accent of the cast). The story is really quite interesting, and I kept thinking to myself how much Zorro is like Batman, since he's kind of a rich goof-off by day, he's assisted by his butler, and he even has a kind of Batcave (secret rooms and caverns of his hacienda)! The first season includes several villains who stick around for several episodes before they are defeated so the next one can take over, mostly corrupt government officers and even a diabolical dictator known as the Eagle who wants to take over all of California! The Eagle has a huge network of bad guys at his disposal, who send secret messages via eagle feathers with coded notches cut into them, which was a brilliant plot device. The show has a good dose of humor via the lovable Sergeant Garcia, the mute but smart butler Bernado, and the inclusion of a few songs sprinkled throughout. The actions are really impressive, with exciting and realist fencing (seriously fast and energetic) as well as horseback chases on Zorro's black steed Tornado. The entire DVD set, which also includes a nice documentary and a few episodes of Walt Disney Presents with bonus Zorro stories, is nearly 19 hours of entertainment (which explains why it took me so long to watch)! I can definitely say I'm an official Zorro fan now, and I'm looking forward to getting started on the second season (after a break, of course)!

7.27.2010

Netflix One-Liners 7.27

New York, I Love You: I was completely surprised by this wonderful collection of short stories (the plots change so often that it was impossible to get bored) set in New York City, played by tons of well-known actors and accented by beautiful cinematography and music.
Justice League / Crisis on Two Earths: I really enjoyed this awesome DC Universe animated film (which was terrific to see available on Watch Instantly), featuring a parallel universe with alternate evil versions of the classic heroes, including a calculatingly cold Batman that reminded me of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen!
For All Mankind: I've always enjoyed NASA footage of the Apollo missions, and For All Mankind simply lets these incredible images speak for themselves by combining the entire history of the program into an un-narrated, music-filled visual masterpiece.
Frankenstein: This modern, big-budget version of the classic horror story makes a huge effort to stick to the original novel (including all the disgusting gore), which unfortunately packs the plot so tightly that watching the whole thing is exhausting, even with Kenneth Branagh and Robert De Niro in the main roles!
Mothra vs Godzilla: I can't believe I streamed this on Netflix, since the English dub is unbelievably bad (they even call Mothra "the Thing" for most of the movie) and I actually have the Japanese version on DVD, but I guess sometimes my laziness gets the best of me (and I still enjoyed the kaiju action anyway).
Gankutsuou / The Count of Monte Christo: The rest of my Netflix streaming selections are all series that I'm enjoying as time allows, beginning with this amazing anime retelling of the literary revenge classic, illustrated with incredible computer textures and stunning animated effects (the English dub isn't bad, either).
Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t / Season 4: I gained a new respect for Penn & Teller after seeing their show in Vegas, so I thought I would check out their Showtime cable series where they take on controversial topics (such as gays in the Boy Scouts or the profession of prostitution) with their intelligent humor (sprinkled with an incredible amount of F-bombs!).
Ren & Stimpy / Season 1: Yes, I already own this series on DVD, but it's so nice to just click my remote and instantly watch Ren going crazy in Space Madness, or Stimpy searching for his long lost fart (I'll still be watching this show when I'm 70).
Archer / Season 1: My pal Chris introduced me to this animated spy genre spoof, and even though I don't really like the animation style, I'm a big fan of the voice acting of H. Jon Benjamin, who plays the main character with hilarious skill.
Drawn Together / Season 1: Of course, I've already seen all of these episodes when they were originally aired on Comedy Central, but it's really fun to watch them again and enjoy the awesomely offensive humor of these animated character stereotypes living in a Big Brother style home (and I just have to say, "I got a mayonnaise mama on my lickin' hole" could be one of the best lyrics ever written).

7.26.2010

Morning Musume Concert Tour 2010 Spring / Pika Pika : 5 of 5

Morning Musume's latest live concert DVD is one of their best ever, and by the time it was over I was ready to start watching it again right away! This concert has so much to love, starting with the incredible energy of the performances (which were easy to enjoy thanks a slightly louder than usual vocal mix). As always, Ai-chan was spectacular, actually "experiencing" the lyrics as she sang (and even crying a bit during Shouganai Yume Oibito), and she definitely knows how to work her skirt! Eri really surprised me with her extra-strong voice this time, and Lin Lin had some nice chances to shine and show off her great style and cheerfulness. Of course, Sayumi was super-cute (and sometimes super-sexy) with some not-often-seen hairstyles, and it was awesome to hear her sing a few new lines now that Koharu is out of the picture. I had really been looking forward to seeing Ookii Hitomi (the 6th generation song from 10 MY ME), and although the choreography seemed a little phoned-in (I wish they had done more than fist pumps during the interlude!), I still enjoyed this fantastic number featuring Sayumi, Reina and Eri! But the most incredible highlight was the medley of Morning Musume hits, which included lots of great songs that haven't been performed in a while strung together with stunning energy that had me cheering along. I loved the beautiful blue kimono-esque outfits for this segment, which brings me to the topic of costumes! Every outfit in this concert was stylish and awesome, including fashions ranging from hip-hop street clothes to sparkly short dresses that were such a welcome change from the typical neon feathers (even the bunny ears from the opening number were cute without being ridiculous)! The stage design was pretty simple, but the use of cool CG animation on the video screen (when not showing close-ups of the girls) really added some visual flair. The final song of the encore was Namidacchi, and everyone went so crazy that I thought they would collapse from all the sweating! That's what made this concert so special - seeing Morning Musume giving it everything they have, truly enjoying themselves and honestly appreciative of their adoring fans. There's no doubt that I'll be watching Pika Pika many more times in the future!

7.25.2010

Diet reset

Once I hit my target weight last year, I decided on a "danger weight" that would let me know if I was starting to get out of control. Since then I've allowed myself to cheat semi-regularly with what I eat, but the good news is that I've become really skilled at maintaining, since I can always balance out a cheat day with an extra healthy day. The bad news is when I go on vacation, I tend to let myself go, which is OK, except for the fact that when vacation is over, I just go back to maintaining. This means that over the past year, each vacation has made my weight slowly creep up, and I recently hit my "danger weight". I don't think anyone but me can notice the extra pounds, but I see them on the scale, so it's time to do something about it. It's no mystery what I need to do - I just have to cut out the cheats for an extended period of time (good bye, ice cream)! The rest of my diet remains pretty healthy, and I don't seem to have a problem keeping up with my walking exercise. Of course, it can be tough not to cheat, since I'm definitely an emotional eater, but this "diet reset" has officially started (a couple days ago), and I'm on my way back to my 2009 weight (and now that I've announced it here, there's no turning back)!

7.24.2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice : 3 of 5

I mainly wanted to see this movie because it's inspired by Mickey Mouse's famous scene in Disney's Fantasia, and even though it was fairly predictable, I still really enjoyed this pure action entertainment! Action is definitely the key word here, since The Sorcerer's Apprentice features tons of tons of magic battles (much more explosive and sudden than Harry Potter-esque wizarding) overflowing with CGI effects (nothing mind blowing, but certainly of good quality). Of course, there are a few moments of plot (just long enough to throw in some sappy pop tunes), but basically the fighting begins about five minutes into the story and almost never stops! Underneath all the action, the story is actually pretty interesting with a history of sorcerers beginning all the way back in King Arthur's era with Merlin and his followers (including Nicolas Cage as Balthazar), and eventually leading to our hero, young geeky Dave (who is actually a little too geeky to be believable, but endearing nonetheless). I liked how the story weaved in the notion of science (specifically physics and electricity) as being an essential ingredient to magic, which gave all the magical elements a nice updated twist. My pal Melinda and I were totally waiting for the Fantasia homage to Mickey's mishap with the living mops, and as soon as Dave mentioned that he needed to clean up, I started humming the classic Dukas music! It was actually a pretty good moment, and we even stayed until after the credits for a brief bonus scene that included Mickey's iconic sorcerer's hat! I can see why this movie isn't really the blockbuster that Disney may have hoped it would be, but I still love to see a cool fantasy action film every now and then just to escape from life and enjoy myself for a couple hours, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice did the trick!

7.23.2010

Despicable Me : 3 of 5

It's always nice to see an animated feature do so well at the box office, and Despicable Me certainly deserves praise. It's tough to say what has made this film so successful, since there's a lot to like about it, but nothing that really stands out to make Despicable Me a landmark movie. Maybe that's why it's a good film, because it doesn't try too hard, but rather takes a fairly typical plot (bad guy softens up by taking care of cute kids) and puts it in a crazy world where villains are overflowing with funky gadgetry and steal whatever they want without resistance. Steve Carell does a fine job as the voice of Gru, making him funny without crossing too far into Boris Badinoff territory, and his delivery really sells the character development that occurs when Gru's heart melts for the three orphan girls. The animation design is pretty cool, although Gru's lack of forehead kind of bothered me (where does he keep his brain?), and I enjoyed noticing little details like cloth textures and cool sets especially the stark differences between Gru and Vector's lairs. Gru's "minions" (kind of like Oompa Loompas in a way) are pretty bizarre with their pill-shaped, yellow bodies. Some have two eyes, some only one, and they don't really serve much purpose, other than giving Gru someone to make speeches to, as well as inspiration for the marketing machine!. I decided to take my usual anti-3D stance and see this movie in 2D, and I definitely don't feel like I missed a thing (other than the obvious 3D jokes made by the minions during the closing credits). While Despicable Me won't ever be called a classic, I had a wonderful time enjoying this nice, original story, with fairly impressive animation for a relatively new studio.

7.20.2010

Annie / Zilker Summer Musical : 4 of 5

Although I've only seen a handful of the annual productions at the Zilker Hillside Theater, I couldn't wait to go to this year's production of Annie, since my pal Kirk German plays the comical villain Rooster! Due to Kirk's kindness (and the fact that we were with Anne-Marie who is full-term pregnant), my friends and I got to experience the show from reserved seats directly in front of the stage, which made this a completely wonderful (and ant-free) evening unlike any other Zilker night I've had before! Since it had been ages since I'd seen Annie (either on film or stage), I got to enjoy the show from a newcomer's point of view, and everything seemed fresh and funny. Everyone was cast so well (with many actors playing an amazing number of multiple roles), including Annie herself, who made up for a few weak melody lines with her absolutely perfect charm and attitude, not to mention the cute "Annie look" that's so essential for the character. Of course, my biased opinion says that the villains Miss Hannigan and her brother Rooster stole the show with their hilarious number Easy Street, performed with delicious full-force comic abandon, which had me laughing so loud that I missed half the lines of the song! The plot was much simpler than I remember (probably because I'm thinking of the movie version), but I thought the inclusion of President Roosevelt as a character really put the optimistic spin of the story over the top (in a good way). The sets and costumes were far beyond the quality you would expect for an outdoor, free theater production, and the orchestra did a fine job (although I know it's difficult to keep instruments in tune in the sweltering heat). There were a few microphone problems (which were easily ignored from my deluxe close-up seat), but the cast and technical crew worked through these as quickly as possible. Although I was lucky to have a pampered viewing experience, plus the joy of being with good friends watching our talented pals doing what they love, Annie definitely stands on its own as a wonderful production that I highly recommend for the rest of its run!

7.16.2010

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence / Music Video Anthology : 3 of 5

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence - Music Video Anthology (Regular Edition)This unique DVD (which I only discovered thanks to a recommendation from Netflix) contains a series of visual experiences that combine the powerful soundtrack of Ghost in the Shell 2 with images from the film. Each video features a full piece of music (some with vocal, some without) set to a series of slow camera movements over the incredible digital backgrounds from the movie, with almost no characters in the frame. In fact, some of these clips seem to be renderings taken before the cel animation was layered on top, but it's fascinating to watch these incredibly detailed CG sets and marvel at them once again (of course, the unbelievable city parade and convenience store scenes are included). The music itself is haunting and wonderful, and I especially appreciated the smoky jazz songs (with English vocals) that worked so well against the beautiful images of city streets. Subtitles are available for the Japanese lyrics (which are also readable via the DVD menus), but I actually left them off since they were visually distracting - it's better to just let these sounds and images wash over you! This anthology reveals nothing about the plot of the movie, but it's definitely interesting for a Ghost in the Shell fan to enjoy elements of the film in an entirely new way. Unfortunately, the running time is barely over 30 minutes, although a couple of bonus videos are included (I liked the one with Batou's Basset Hound) to round out the disc. It's tough to say if this DVD would appeal to someone unfamiliar with the movie, but it was definitely enjoyable for me!

7.15.2010

The Twilight Saga / Eclipse : 2 of 5

Whenever I visit Oklahoma City, my parents and I always see a movie in the Warren Theater balcony (with a huge dinner and chocolate shake!), so we really don't care what we see. This time the balcony feature was the latest Twilight movie, so we had to go even though none of us had seen the previous two films (or read any books). I was able to do some studying on Wikipedia, and my pal Melinda let me in on some detailed story points that really helped us understand what was going on. Even though I'm giving this movie a low rating, that doesn't mean we didn't have fun watching it, and I can see how some fans (mostly girls) would eat this stuff up! Although I was expecting it to be romantic, I was surprised by how sappy it actually was - I can't believe how many times people have "intense" conversations with their faces two inches apart. I also couldn't help laughing at the werewolf pack of dudes always running around shirtless, which was hilariously silly! Edward was actually a pretty interesting character, though - I know nothing about him, but his humble nature during the proposal scene was very sincere. Bella, on the other hand, was incredibly boring, and all through the movie I kept wondering why any vampire or werewolf would be fighting over such a dull girl! My favorite parts of the movie were the two backstories for some of the other vampires, since it was cool finding out one of them was from the Civil War, for example. The big battle between the vampires and werewolves was cool (I liked how vampires crack and shatter when hit), but it seemed so small in scale. They kept talking about the "army" of newborn vampires, which seemed like about twenty people when they finally fight! After seeing Eclipse, none of us had a huge urge to become fans and watch the other two movies (especially since we heard this is the best one!), but it was nice to get a taste of the saga and see what everyone else is so crazy about!

7.14.2010

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 3 / Double Trouble : 3 of 5

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 3: Double TroubleThanks again to PaperBack Swap, I've been able to just keep enjoying this series, one volume after another! This third collection introduces Doctor Octopus, whose re-imagined character is pretty close to his classic incarnation, with the exception of being tied-in with Justin Hammer (Tony Stark's technical nemesis from Iron Man), which was a great touch (Hammer is also connected with other super-villain genetic experiments behind Electro and Sandman). Kraven the Hunter also makes an appearance, but this time he's a reality TV star with a nice comic twist. I was interested in seeing what the Ultimate series would do with Gwen Stacy, and they decided to make her a bad-ass knife-wielding chick, which is a little over the top, but I guess it makes sense to reinvent her character as an opposite extreme. I'm slowly getting used the fact that Mary Jane knows Peter is Spider-Man so early in the game, and I guess it's fun that she helps him out with costume sewing and other things. The writing in this series is quote solid and fun to read, and the artwork remains pretty spectacular (although sometimes the manga-ish large eyes look strange on the mostly realistic character designs). This volume ends with Aunt May totally grounding Peter's butt (he's a lot younger in this universe, after all), so I'm looking forward to Volume 4 to see how Spider-Man can stay active in this sticky situation!

7.13.2010

Super-busy fun in OKC

Last week I made my annual summer trip to visit Mom & Dad in Oklahoma City, and as usual we packed the days full of fun activities! The highlight was going to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to see the Sketch to Screen exhibit, which featured tons of authentic movie clothing, everything from Charlie Chaplin's hat to Christopher Reeve's actual Superman costume! We also enjoyed looking at the museum's permanent collection, especially the huge gallery devoted to the etherial blown-glass art of Dale Chihuly (who we knew from his amazing Bellagio lobby ceiling in Las Vegas). We saw two movies together at the fabulous Warren Theater (still the best projection system I've ever experienced), including Toy Story 3 (I loved seeing my parents' reactions!). Of course, we went to Riverwind Casino twice, and we found a new slot machine called Cash Spin that was so much fun that we played it for three hours straight! When I wasn't stuffing my face with Mom's amazing cooking (or with mexican food), I did lots of tech support for Dad, including hooking up his new MacBook to the HDTV so we could enjoy streaming video from various sites, which was awesome to experience together!

Since Dad has collected nearly 2,000 iOS apps, I had some time-consuming trouble working with his iPod, but I realized that most of my frustration was self-imposed. It's no secret that I have a perfectionist streak (a family-famous home movie comes to mind of me getting upset because I couldn't balance an inflatable Santa perfectly on my rocking horse), and my desire to organize everything "just so" blinded me to the fact that these cool devices are supposed to be fun! I learned a good life lesson about relaxing, giving priority to enjoyable family time, and not imposing my perfectionism on everything. Sometimes you just need to drink Scotch and eat Cheetos and think about your wonderful life!

View photos: OKC Museum of Art

7.07.2010

Three Small Things 7.7.10

One really cool side effect to making nearly all of my purchases at Amazon is that I can use their new search feature to find items in my entire purchase history (which is pretty extensive, let me tell you). This comes in handy all the time! For example, if I want to search for tips on my digital camera, but I can't really remember the exact model I have (and I don't want to go get it or dig out the manual), I can just search my orders for "camera" (since I know I bought it from Amazon) and there it is! I can do the same thing when I can't remember what kind of printer ink to buy, since it's always available in my searchable order history. It's also fun to go back in time and see what I bought people for Christmas, what brands of things I prefer (like blank DVDs), or even different kinds of underwear I've tried out (I'm not kidding when I say I buy everything from Amazon!).

Recently I've been craving sandwiches, but even though I love bread, I end up eating too much of it and getting too full if I have it in the house. The other day I decided to just wrap my deli turkey in some giant romaine lettuce leaves that I had, and it was light and delicious! I'm definitely going to buy more lettuce just to use for snacking this way.

I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with Mom & Dad for my usual summer visit, which of course will be full of fun activities and technical support! This time I'm going to migrate my Dad to a new MacBook, try out hooking up the MacBook to the HDTV, setup the old MacBook for my Mom, and install iOS 4 on Dad's iPod. I totally love messing with all this stuff, and it's even better since I love helping out my parents!

7.06.2010

Rebirth of Mothra / Rebirth of Mothra 2 : 3 of 5

Rebirth of Mothra 1&2I recently bought a few of my favorite Godzilla movies on DVD during a great Amazon sale, so I couldn't resist throwing this double-feature into my order since it was so cheap and I had never seen these films. I'm definitely a Mothra fan, so even though these movies were a bit disappointing, I still enjoyed the awesome kaiju action! The Rebirth of Mothra films were released in the late 1990s, and are definitely geared towards a younger audience in many ways (they often made me feel like I was watching an episode of Power Rangers). The typical "small beauties" from Infant Island now have individual personalities - there are two good sisters, who fly around on a mini-Mothra, and an evil sister, who flies a robotic dragon. The main characters for both of these movies are kids who befriend and help the small sisters, but of course the main attraction is Mothra herself, who saves the Earth by fighting off some pretty cool monsters. Although the characters and plots are kind of childish, the kaiju battles are most definitely not. In fact, the special effects are quite fantastic, with excellent beam animation and tons of explosions and fire, and the violence level is high (sometimes Mothra suffers a bloody wing bite from her foe)! In the first film, she battles Desghidorah (kind of a new version of the classic Ghidorah), who has been released from a mountain due to environmental irresponsibility (yes, these movies are have a clear message), and in the sequel, Mothra battles Degarla, a monster created by an Atlantis-like ancient civilization near Okinawa who feeds off ocean pollution. Both films also feature a Mothra transformation where she actually changes appearance with a new wing design, or even into a radically different "underwater mode"! The tiny girls sing the original Mothra song with a new funky arrangement, as well as some new enjoyable tunes (kind of lullabies to Mothra's egg or cocoon). Overall, these movies are such a mixed bag - I love the special effects and cool kaiju, but the silly tone of these films (which is probably enhanced by the horrendous English dubbing) makes them kind of a chore between battles. At least this DVD was definitely worth the small price I paid, and I don't mind having Rebirth of Mothra in my collection!

7.05.2010

Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner / Paul M. Sammon : 5 of 5

Future Noir: The Making of Blade RunnerMy pal Dae knows I'm a huge Blade Runner fan (especially since I made him take me to the Bradbury Building and the 2nd Street Tunnel, two iconic filming locations in Los Angeles), so he bought me this fantastic book as a birthday gift. Future Noir is a huge volume written before the DVD release of the Final Cut, but its tremendous amount of material is all still relevant and fascinating! The author is a true fan of the film, so his writing style is underscored with pure geek joy that makes this book really fun to read. There are chapters covering the origins of the film from the very first drafts of the script, with a wealth of comments from Ridley Scott, Philip K. Dick, and many others, providing wonderful insight into the craziness of Hollywood movie-making in general. My favorite chapters were The Shoot and The Special Effects, which both feature extremely detailed scene-by-scene breakdowns of the film. Reading these long chapters was just like watching the movie itself, since I could picture everything that was being discussed and dissected! I was really interested to read about the infamous test screenings and the surprise discovery of the legendary workprint version of Blade Runner, which prompted me to watch it on my DVD set (and I soon discovered that the author of Future Noir provided the audio commentary!). The book includes an extensive list of workprint differences, as well as some nice appendices covering goofs, soundtrack information, and a variety of other topics. Future Noir is definitely the essential behind the scenes book that every Blade Runner fan should read, and it kept me fascinated from cover to cover, since the long saga and mystique surrounding the making of the film is almost as incredible as the movie itself!

7.03.2010

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny / Vol 11 & Vol 12 : 5 of 5

Mobile Suit Gundam 11: Seed Destiny (Sub)When I started Gundam SEED Destiny last year, I thought this series could never live up to its predecessor Gundam SEED, but I decided to stick with it even though it was a little disappointing. However, I've been absolutely amazed at the way this show changed for the better in the final quarter of the story arc, and these final two DVDs of the series were just fantastic! While the earlier episodes focused on the somewhat single-minded and ultimately frustrating Shinn, the end of the series shifts focus back to Kira, Athrun, Lacus, and the crew of the Archangel, giving the show a boost of characterization that really shines in emotional moments. Volume 11 finishes off the battle to defeat Logos, involving the use of the Requiem cannon on the moon, with interesting beam curving technology that results in massive destruction for ZAFT. Meer (the fake Lacus Cline girl) meets a cruel fate, and so Volume 12 begins with a touching background episode focusing on her. Spending an episode away from the main storyline so late in the series is a bold move, but it really transitions the story into a new emotional light that carries through until the end! Chairman Durandal reveals his true motives by announcing the Destiny Plan, and so the climactic battle begins to save Orb from the Requiem cannon, as well as the world from Durandal's ideals. The fighting is interspersed with incredible character moments: the two female commanders of the Archangel and the Minerva facing off one last time, Neo fully remembering his past as Mu La Flaga, Rey revealing his cloned origin and fighting Kira, and at last a final confrontation with Durandal. Incredibly, Gundam SEED Destiny manages to make the viewer sympathize with the "bad guys" (or actually, shows that there are no bad guys in war, except war itself), which is why this series is so fascinating. The huge story arc, the awesome mecha and battle action, and the incredible characterization all make me glad that I decided to get into the anime world of Gundam. Now I have to decide which Gundam series to watch next!

7.02.2010

Manga Mentions 7.2

Black Jack, Vol. 6Black Jack Vol 6: Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack is so much fun to read that it makes me wonder why I'm continuing with other manga series that aren't nearly as satisfying! This volume features a longer than usual chapter where a woman doctor falls in love with Black Jack (and meets a tragic end), plus some dramatic plots including saving a criminal only to be executed for his crimes and trying to complete a delicate operation while passing trains keep shaking the building. Cute Pinoko has a few scenes, and Dr. Kiriko also makes another creepy appearance.

Hikaru no Go Vol 18: I've been considering quitting this series (even though I loved it so much in the beginning), but since I'm so close to the end (or so I think) I guess I might as well keep going! Although this volume strays from the main storyline (just what we need, more delays to stretch it out!), these six short stories that explore various supporting characters are actually really good! It was especially fun to see a story with Sai again, and I also loved the backgrounds of Hikaru's classmates, focusing on how they got into the game of Go and its effect on their lives.

Kaze Hikaru Vol 16: Yet another series that I was so into in the beginning but has become really stale, Kaze Hikaru has evolved into a total soap opera with almost zero samurai action. I was about ready to say this would be my final volume, but a nice cliffhanger ending where Saito happens to meet Sei while she's dressed as a girl sucked me into the drama! This volume has two chapters of backstory about Sei's father and a pretty good plot about a marriage proposal for Okita. Unfortunately I like soap opera style manga, so I guess I have to keep reading!

Mahoromatic Vol 3: I've been thankful for PaperBack Swap lately, which has kept me reading this goofy manga that I can finish in one quick sitting, thanks to lots of battle scenes with little dialogue. Ryuga, a bad android from Saint, shows up to fight Mahoro, so she goes on a full-day date with Suguru to spend what could be their last moments together (followed by the lusty teacher Shikijo all the way). Although this series isn't spectacular, reading it really makes me nostalgic for the anime, which I might have to watch again sometime!

Sailor Moon Scout Guide / Sailor Jupiter: I'm amazed that I've been able to snag four out of five of these out of print Sailor Scout Guides, thanks to more PaperBack Swap luck! Of course, this one is just like the other volumes I've read, but I definitely enjoyed seeing hundreds of stills from the classic anime and reading about how everyone reminds Sailor Jupiter of her old boyfriend!