Black Lagoon

I’m going to use today’s post to talk a little bit about anime.  And plus, it gives me the chance to use more graphics, which I think is kind of lacking in a lot of my blog posts.  So, enjoy the images, because Google Image Search rules all.

Way back in the mid-nineties, during my first marriage, I caught this crazy anime called Cowboy Bebop.  I loved it to death.  I think since then, I’ve watched that series of episodes at least ten times and it never seems to get old for me.  Of course, can’t dispute the fan service or the action, and it’s actually a pretty good story.  So good, in fact, that most of my friends who wouldn’t admit to liking anime or plain just don’t like it, they like Cowboy Bebop.  To me, the mark of a good piece of entertainment, animated or live-action, is whether is has broad appeal.  And this does.

Faye Valentine's pretty hot with that gun in her hand, and I fell pretty hard for her the first time I saw Bebop...

I started out telling you about Cowboy Bebop to talk about another show that I kind of fell for pretty hard.  That’s Black Lagoon. Much in the same way that Bebop grabs you, Black Lagoon fucking latches onto you like a facehugger from Alien and rams its goodness down your throat.  I watched the first episode for research purposes and after seeing it, I was eager for me.  Now, since you asked me, “What research?  For what?”  It was for a radio show where I offered my opinion on anime on a semi-weekly basis.  More like bi-weekly.  But anyway, it was fun and awesome and it’s over, now, so I’m pretty much going to put my opinions on anime right here, okay?  I knew you’d understand.

Black Lagoon features a quarter of characters that work together as a band of fortune hunters.  I use that term because it seems like they get hired to do all sorts of shit, including kidnapping and espionage, as well as cargo running and, oh… piracy!  All of this takes place on the high seas, too.  Bebop was science-fiction and obviously took place in space, but Black Lagoon brings it all home in a contemporary setting and does it well.  The story centers around these four, but the manner in which you’re introduced to them is from the perspective of the newest member, Rock.  He’s a Japanese businessman doing a job for his conglomerate in the South China Sea, except that he doesn’t know how much in the shit he is when Dutch, Revy, and Benny show up to steal the disk he’s carrying to its destination.

They hijack his ship, beat the shit out of him, then kidnap his ass.  All the while, he’s in need of a change of underwear, because Revy keeps wanting to kill him and wear his skin or something like that.  She’s pretty badass.  All the while, I’m pretty sure Rock doesn’t know whether to be absolutely terrified of her or to be turned on by the fact that she’s stacked, wearing cutoffs and is carrying two of the biggest guns this side of Dirty Harry.  All I can say is that she’s a crazy chick, but I think she’s perfect for that crew.  Also, she’s more likely to end you than kiss you, but later on in the series, there’s more to Revy than meets the eye.

... but I will put money down on Revy kicking Faye's ass in a New York Minute.

Anyway, Rock ends up on their little PT boat, with Dutch at the helm.  And needless to say he is kind of losing it at this point.  Revy puts him in a headlock at one point, with one of her two Cutlasses (pistols) pointed at his head, begging Dutch to let her kill him.  Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it turns out Rock’s own company is basically cutting him loose… forever.  That PT boat they’re on?  Yeah, they hired another merc group to blow it out of the water.  Wonderful.  That’s what I call company loyalty, but then again, in this day and age, that’s pretty hard to come by.

The other group pretty much destroys the bar the four of them were hanging out in, much to the dismay of the bar owner, who’s not only so used to it that the inside of the bar is reinforced for just such an occasion, but he’s putting all the damages on their tab.  But the beauty of this whole exchange of gunfire is when Dutch lets Revy off the leash… and holy shit, does she go off!

I want to talk a little bit about a movie I once saw called “Equilibrium.”  It was written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, who would later give us “Ultraviolet,” which was essentially a 90-minute advertisement for Milla Jovovich’s physical trainer.  In “Equilibrium,” there was this kind of martial art involving the use of a gun, where the guy would kind of stand in the center of a large number of assailants and use both of his guns in a fashion to give him the optimal angle for killing every single one of them.  It was pretty much the only part of the movie that I considered intriguing, and the rest of it was like a bad rip-off of Orwell’s 1984.

I’m discussing that to say that the scene in that bar reminded me very strongly of that gun martial art, because Revy just kind of gets this sick gleam in her eye, whips out her guns and just owns the whole fucking battalion of guys coming after her to kill her.  I submit to you the following YouTube video as proof of awesome:

Once they make it out of there, they pretty much have to flee on their boat and evade a fucking helicopter!  I won’t give away the ending, but the way they come up with the plan is very reminiscent of another quartet of soliders of fortune from my childhood.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Black Lagoon is available from FUNimation on DVD.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the box set.

It’s Bigger on the Inside

Yesterday’s prompt was about Guilty Pleasures, and I missed that one, so I’m going to take care of that with tonight’s post.

When I think of what I consider to be a guilty pleasure is something that I like but I’m embarrassed to admit.  The problem with that is that I’m unabashed at proclaiming my fandoms.

Karen Gillan
Have some Karen Gillan.

If I did have a guilty pleasure, I think it might be my inability to pass on anything related to Doctor Who.  Most everyone knows about my Trek fandom, but what they might not understand is that I was less vocal about having watched most of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor when I was a kid growing up on PBS stations here in the Bay Area.  Tom Baker was MY Doctor.  And you never forget the first Doctor you watch on the screen.  For a six year old, watching this guy bandy about the screen with a robotic dog was pretty much the beginning of a childhood memory that’s lasted to this day in the form of the Ninth and Tenth, to the current Eleventh Doctor.  Also, for the record, I think that I watch Doctor Who more for Amy than I do the Doctor, though I still love the Doctor… but damn, dude.  Have you seen Amy (Karen Gillan)?  I haven’t had a crush on a companion this hard since Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler (Ninth and Tenth Doctors) and of course, Elizabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith (Third and Fourth Doctors).  I need to locate a really good picture of her so I can just show you how awesome she is.  Hang on a sec, Google Images has not failed me.  Let’s pop that in there, and there.  This post has now surpassed awesome for that picture, alone.  I could stop writing right now (but I’m not going to).

Badge of Fandom

One of the things that I’m grateful for with my recent resurgence of  my Who fandom is the fact that I can actually share one of my fandoms with my wife.  Which is something I haven’t really been able to do.  She doesn’t like Star Trek or Babylon 5, The West Wing or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and our tastes in anime make it nigh possible to find any but a handful of series that she and I will both enjoy.  Our television watching had dwindled a lot lately, and I think the last time we’d watched anything together was due to the World Series and before that, the National League Championship Series.  But we’d really failed to connect lately with something non-sports, so it was really nice to be able to share that with her.  When you find a bit of a rift between you and your partner on some of your deeper passions in life, it’s great to find those few things and really hang onto them as much as possible.  Though, I doubt she’s has passionate as I am… and she’s more into Matt Smith and David Tennant than Karen Gillan (of course).

Of course, Doctor Who isn’t something I’m ashamed to admit that I love it.  I think it’s just been kind of a well-kept secret due to the fact that I had largely ignored the recent revival from the BBC.  I had caught the pilot episode with Christopher Eccelston and Billie Piper when the SciFi Channel (not Syfy) premiered it a couple of years ago.  Problem was that I kind of watched it and felt like it didn’t really capture me as much as Tom Baker had.  If anything, I kind of felt like Ninth Doctor was a bit too Hell’s Angels for me to really like him and so I walked away and never really went back until one day when I was at work this year.  I was on instant messenger talking about old Who, and he was raving about Tenth Doctor.  He sent me a YouTube link that I will gladly share with you in a moment, but when I saw it, I was more than intrigued.  I wanted more.  So I found out that on Netflix, they had all four series of Doctor Who, plus the specials.

I devoured the first series and I was actually sad to see the Ninth Doctor go, but after I saw the Christmas special with the Tenth, I was immediately taken with Tennant’s portrayal of my favorite Time Lord.  Plus, I was happy that Rose was sticking around for another series, at least.  She was a strong character, and I happen to like strong female characters.  When she left the show, though, it was a pretty devastating way to go.  Even my wife thought it was sad.  I will admit to shedding some tears, because I thought it was sad and a little too final for such a great character.  But it was far more dramatic than some of the other companions’ departures.  The Doctor literally dumped Sarah Jane in the middle of nowhere, and Leela just left.  And then even with the Seventh Doctor, Mel just up and decided to go with Glitz and she shoved Ace into the fray (Ace was my last favorite companion before Rose).  Anyway, I will digress…

Before I go, I want to leave you with a final video that kind of defines the series for me.  It’s a compilation of all the themes and the Doctors, though it’s kind of aged and doesn’t include the Eleventh.  Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you more tomorrow!

Update and Upgrade

For those of you keeping score, we’re running 2.5, now.

I just got back from SakuraCon in Seattle this weekend and experienced snow for the first time since my trip to Philly in 2005. It was a metric fuckton of fun, including conversations that bordered on the absurd as whole portions of dialogue from Aqua Teen Hunger Force seemed to be the order of the weekend. We went up with Teri and Kailee, sharing a hotel room that had these tiny-ass double beds and a toilet that reminded one of the Disneyland Hotel in 2000 for Anime Expo (it will suck the soul right out of your body).

Fun was had by all, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

By the way, I know you all want to sponsor me for the AIDS Walk this year. I’m going to start walking now to build up the ability to do five miles a day, if I can. So please do me a favor and put down $25 at the link above. Thanks!

2007: We Hardly Knew Ye

Things I’ll remember from 2007:

– The New England Patriots choking hard in the AFC Championship and Tom Brady walking off the field, refusing to congratulate the Colts like a man. Of course, that’s ancient history now that they’re 16-0… but I’m still pulling for another choke in the playoffs.

– Punch an’ Pie starting in February. Though, I had no idea where that webcomic was going in the beginning, it’s actually starting to go somewhere, now.

– Getting fired from Shopping.com and then getting hired by Yahoo in the span of two weeks.

– Starting a crap fantasy league, and then having most everyone ignore it. That sucked.

– Turning 31.

– Taking Julia to her first AX ever in July, but the lead up of force feeding her anime was awesome, too. It’s too bad she’s not going in 2008. For that matter, my going is still up in the air.

– Restarting Dorama Night. Now, if only people would actually show up…

– The Year of the Facebook: Getting hooked on it and amassing a friends list to match my LJ one. Hey, wait a minute…

– Todd packing up and leaving for Sacramento.

– Another losing season for the guys in orange and black. But hey… my Tribe seemed to be showing signs of life.

– Starting the Repository.

– Quitting Yahoo and joining the team at Teneros, all in the span of 28 hours.

– Taking a piano class at San Jose City.

– Starting up a new tabletop RPG group with friends.

– The Awful Toshiba Debacle.

– Extricating myself from Livejournal, once and for all, and moving myself to a better, free, and ad-free WordPress blog.

– Having an awesome time at Ani-Magic, and hoping they’ll bring it back for 2008. Because if they do, I’m so there.

– Autobots Assemble!

– Winning NaNoWriMo for the third year in a row.

– Experiencing the on-call rotation for the first time.

– Building the USS Excelsior.

– Doing Holidailies again, and actually sticking with it for 33 posts!

– Spending New Year’s Eve in Anaheim with my wife, and having a lot of fun.

So there’s 2007, by the bullet points. I’ll start talking about 2008 soon.

Anaheim New Year’s, Day One

We made it down here in less time than I thought. We took 101 all the way down, because I realized that we do take 5 and the reason behind that notion is that it’s usually for Anime Expo… and we always go down the same day as pre-registration. Well, you have to leave early in order to make it there in time to get your badges. Otherwise, you’re waiting along with the other late schlebs on the first day of the convention, and instead of actually enjoying the convention, you’re sitting in the sun, baking. This is not the case, here. We’re here for a vacation, not a convention, so there’s no need to rush.

It was nice, taking our time in the car. We stopped once for food, twice to stretch our legs, and no times for gas. Yeah, we made it down on one tank of gas and no one was more surprised than Julia. I, on the other hand, was pretty sure we were going to be fine. Anyway, we got in before 3:30pm (better than the 4:30pm we originally thought). The GPS crapped out before the second rest stop, and it was pretty pissed that we didn’t take 5 down. Finally, I think it gave up, because Julia said that it said, “Continue,” it a rather indignant tone. I was quick to point out that I didn’t think it had the ability to feel indignant about anything, but when I thought about it, I thought maybe she was right. It ran dry of battery a little more than half-way through the trip, so it didn’t have to worry about it, but we sure could’ve used it to tell us about LA traffic.

Before I go, I want to share some pics we’ve taken already!

Room 12335 Horizon Room 12335 HotelsThese two shots are the views from our room. We specifically asked for a Disney view, and we got it. The weird thing is that while here, I feel like I need an Anime Expo and the gang with me. I love this Hilton, but it feels empty without 7 people in the room. The other weird thing is sleeping on a California King-sized bed instead of our smaller full-size at home. It’s huge! We’re looking forward to the fireworks show at 9:25pm tonight. They even provide like a little wicker couch that you can turn around and face the window so we can snuggle up and enjoy the show.

More later!