Showing posts from 2012

The Inevitable Year in Review, Part Two

The first five hit the internet yesterday to... the usual level of interest, so here's the second half of my 2012 retrospective.  I'll be honest with you - this one skews a bit more negative.

Worst Trend, Animation:  The Disappearance of Action Shows from Cartoon Network.  This one is kind of self-explanatory; CN had a reputation as a place for high quality action shows, and they've decided to let it slide, even actively hastening the removal of the genre they used to champion.  I would argue that its two most successful originals, Adventure Time and Regular Show, manage to be "stealth" action shows, but they're also known for their humor.  Out of all the DC Nation shorts to take to series, they choose the fine-in-short-bursts Tiny Titans instead of the series that fans actually demanded (but that's due to CN's well-known sexism as much as anything).  Toonami's return is entirely dependent on internet word of mouth to promote it (Steve Blum being t…

The Inevitable Year in Review, Part One

Y'know, as bad as it sounds, part of me was a bit bummed the Mayans got it wrong. Saying this wasn't a great year is like saying Sandy was a light drizzle. But bygones - we've got an end of year list to do! And I have actual Best Ofs to do, too!

Best TV Show:The Legend of Korra. Holy shit, what a perfect show. This is the kind of work O can only dream of making. You had a heroine who wasn't drawn to look like a fashion doll, you had a conflict that addressed heavy themes, and you had use of taboo subjects on one of the last networks that I ever expected to even broach them. Couple it with an endearing cast, an already rich mythology, and sumptuous animation, and you have a perfect show. Anyone bitching about the ending (and sadly, they're out there) missed its entire point and really be better sticking to something simpler, like Ninjago. I'm curious where they'll take things next season, as this seemed to be a perfect compact package; and if they mess…

An end-of-year update

Hello, everyone.  I'm just putting a quick note to discuss soem of the semi-regular stuff that's being cycled in & out of Detritus before I get to an end-of-year summary.  First, though, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Hanukkah, Happy New Years, and Happy Anything Else I Missed.  Here's hoping 2013 isn't too painful.

Anyway, I'd like to update everyone on a column being bumped and another being started.  I won't give up on them permanently, but I've decided to put the Omnicommentaries on the shelf for a while.  I find myself tending too much towards the negative; reading these with adult eyes is making me see stuff that flew right over my younger self's head but now drives me bonkers.  I don't want to be mean, but I feel like some of the elements in those early Legionnaires issues (Saturn Girl & Live Wire's Lifetime-tastic romance, a "beach" issue with a gruesome mood-killing plot hole, Chris Gardner's…

Ink & Paint: Let's Hope It's Heart-Pounding

Another year, another Precure new series announcement.  It's the tenth anniversary or season, too (not sure which).  After the Hibiki-ness of Suite and the meandering dullness of Smile, it's hard to be optimistic.  It really is.  I detailed why earlier, so I won't repeat myself.  But you need to go into a new season with at least a semblence of a clean slate, so let's review the new Doki Doki! Precure official announcement poster.

First things first, I LOVE the card suit theme.  I thought using it as a sort of secondary theme in Fresh felt a bit wasted, and I like how they're playing around with some of the European & Tarot suits, too (for instance, Cure Sword is the spade & Cure Rosetta is the club, both parallels from those traditions).  So I'm looking forward to what they'll do with that.

Second, I like the throwback to the original Futari wa Precure series by having the mascots/transformation items be cell phone animal things.  The last few tran…

CASB: On Nonstarting Upstarts

Non-starter villains fascinate me.  Lately, they seem to be epidemic in comics, but I chalk that up to the current wave of nostalgia for the pre-collapse 90s.  That was when you got some real prize specimens of the non-starter species.  In the very first X-Men comic I read, I got a whole team of 'em.

Remember the Upstarts?  The gaggle of new villains that largely existed to slaughter whole supporting teams so the Gamesmaster could reward them with... something or other?  Yeah, they mostly sucked.  But like most things I encounter, they didn't have to.  In fact, the initial plans that were trickled out before the "reveal" of their purpose actually showed they had a decent foundation.

Y'see, the original plan was that Selene, one of my favorite creepy X-baddies, would have been the ringleader instead of the super-vague Gamesmaster.  The Upstart kids indicated a few times that they were expecting immortality as their prize, while Selene gloated to herself at one poi…

Game Time/CASB: After-Battle Report

I bowed out of NaNoWriMo this year.There’s two reasons – one is the usual “there is no such thing as downtime” problem that my household has had to deal with for the past year (and, sadly, the foreseeable future).The second is a bit odd, and I don’t know if I can put it into words.Basically, I find myself writing not so much novel narratives as I do video game narratives.There’s an intangible element that begs to be put into 16-bit RPG form, and it just doesn’t carry over to the standard prose of a novel in a satisfying manner.I’ve tried, but the stories I want to tell need audience participation and run on that unique video game logic.

I bring this up because I recently revisited a planned project, and while I can’t really justify it as I had it planned, it did resonate with this problem.It also is a cautionary tale of what happens when you try to take a video game narrative and apply it to another medium.
I speak, of course, of Joe Mad’s infamous series Battle Chasers.
First off, I wan…

Overthinking Everything: Pass the Towel

A few recent events have gotten me to thinking: When does a network know it's time to throw in the towel on a failed show?  How do they decide to keep pushing something audiences aren't watching versus taking it off the air?

First, there's the whole DC Nation debacle.  For those that don't know, the DC Nation block was abruptly dropped last weekend from Cartoon Network's schedule - so abruptly that CN's own Facebook page was telling people to look for new episodes that day.  They quickly responded to the upset fans by letting everyone know that the block is off the air until January, no reasons given.  A few have been bandied around (retooling, rights issues, etc.), but I noticed that they've replaced its main run on Saturdays with the How to Train Your Dragon show, which they've also been hyping for more prime time runs as well.  I haven't heard ANY feedback, good or bad, on this show; when I caught some of it, it struck me as well animated but agg…

Ink & Paint: Refreshing Pretty Cure

I'm home sick, which is when my mind goes to strange places.  Recently, I've been thinking about Precure again.

I like the Precure franchise.  It's a magical girl series where there's still some kinetic physical action, it emphasizes familial love & friendship over romantic love for a change, and while it has a basic formula, it is still broad enough to allow for a LOT of variety.  Until fairly recently, it also did a good job focusing on the girls' lives as normal people and not just as superheroes, and it could keep a sense of stakes even during the lighter-hearted filler episodes without slipping into grimdark territory.

The last two seasons, however, have left me cold.  Suite could've been much better than it was; the side characters were more interesting than the main pair, and the main conflict playing out how it did should've been epic.  But by focusing on the annoying Hibiki (easily the worst character in the franchise's history), basically …

Terrible TV Time #2: They Were the Winx

I think I've said it before, but here it is again - if you're a fan of the magical girl genre and live in North America, you are largely screwed.  The good stuff rarely ever comes here, when it does it's either online only or hyper-overpriced if you like to watch TV shows on an actual TV (*coughMadokacough*), or only experienced via illegal, malware laden avenues.  And what you usually get is... not that good.  The leading example of this problem is the Italian-made genre entry, Winx Club.

I've watched this show every season it's come out.  I like it, like so many other series, for the potential to be much better than it actually is that its owners are more than happy to leave unfulfilled.  4Kids brought it over, and while it was okay, it was never a stand-out.  People tried to blame their notorious editing practices on the plot-hole-tastic nature of the final season they aired (the third one).  But then Nick picked it up after a few years in limbo, retranslated it…

Ink & Paint List-O-Rama: Top Five Underrated Cartoon Series

The latest Top Five podcast from Major Spoilers covered cartoons you think don't get the love they deserve.  This is, obviously, a topic near & dear to my nerdy little heart, so here's my list.  I'm basing this on size of fandom, staying power, & availability as well as my own love.

5.) Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force GO!  A loving tribute to 70s/80s sentai anime, this is the only series on this list that I haven't seen in full.  But what I saw was so impressive that I resent I can't legally see more or own it in a nice set.  It's got giant robots, it's got cute monkeys, it's got a boy hero with an awesome scarf who falls in love with an android girl, it's got freaky-ass set pieces, it's got an art style that seems to have inspired others in its wake... how could this fail?  Maybe, even though it made the full 65-episode run, it was just too unique to succeed.
- Following: Small but loyal.  I've never met anyone, but hell, someone…

CASB: Your Requisite New 52 One-Year Anniversary Retrospective

Because I've been thinking about a few things and hey, there's been a few of these already, so what's one more?

Let's start with a traditional list of pros and cons, shall we?

PROSof the New 52
The Commitment to Genre Diversity: Even when DC ends a title in a given genre, they try to replace it with a title in the same genre that will hopefully find an audience more than the earlier one.  As a fan of All-Star Western, I appreciate this conscious decision not to concentrate solely on the capes & tights.Using Earth-2 As Something Other Than an Acquired Properties Dumping Ground: Seriously, two of the books that I look forward to the most are World's Finest & Earth-2.  This world, rebuilding & reclaiming heroism after being devastated by Darkseid, is compelling and answers questions that many modern readers might have (especially in the treatment of Terry Sloane, who I always thought was a narcissistic creep at his core).  Meanwhile, we see just how good tha…

Terrible TV Time: Stick to Wild Conjecture, H2

(Welcome to a new sub-column, Terrible TV Time.  If you have cable, you know that there is a LOT of crap out there, and like everyone else, I have an opinion on some of it.  Please note that I draw the line at reviewing actively ANYTHING on TLC; my sanity is fragile enough as it is, and their decision to somehow reach so low that the bottom of the barrel is a distant ideal is too much for anyone who is still capable of thought.)

So if you read my year-end review for 2011, you'd know that I was disappointed in the new track that the History Channel has opted to pursue.  Its sister channel H2, formerly known as History International & easily recognized as a back library dumping ground, began to live up to its name by taking on some of the aspects that used to define the mother network.  Modern Marvels, formerly the signature series of History Channel before it decayed, has become H2's signature show; it has expanded on successful specials like How the States Got Their Shapes…

Ink & Paint: Omniverse? Feels More Like Omnifail

As anyone who's ever listened to me whine on the internet knows, I have a sort of abused girlfriend-y relationship with the Ben 10 franchise.  I keep going back, expecting it to live up to its potential, and it keeps slapping me across the face with a fish.  Seriously, it's a good concept (no, I don't care if it's a redux of Dial H for Hero), it's a solid cast, it's had a history of hiring strong creators, and I absolutely LOVE the voice cast.  But I swear it goes out of its way to personally infuriorate me for the fun of it.

Yes, I have some choice complaints about the "preview" that CN showed last night.  I feel absolutely terrible airing them - this might be the last project that the McDuffies got to write together before the Maestro died - but until I air them, they will drive me even more batshit than normal.

Mistake #1: Hiring a designer who does amazing aliens but ridiculously ugly humans.  Seriously, did Grandpa Max catch Brock's Disease? …

Game Time: Final Fantasy IV The Complete Collection (PSP)

We finish out Final Fantasy Month with something that's always a bit tricky for me to write - a glowing review.  Like most people on the internet, I find it both easier and more entertaining to be negative.  But this game is one I would recommend to anyone who isn't a hopeless fratboy gamer, and I'm not sure I can find the words to describe how much I enjoyed it.

I speak of a game for, of all systems, the PSP called Final Fantasy IV The Complete Collection.

If you remember earlier in this month, I stated how much I enjoyed FFIV.  This game includes a version of the original game that combines the different additions from the GBA remake with a new graphics system (fuller, richer pixellated images with some modern effects on spells & summons), a complete collection of the WiiWare series The After Years, and a short Interlude chapter to bridge the two games & foreshadow the new threat.  I won't give a review of the original, and since I'm going to assume famil…

List-O-Rama: Top 5 FFT4HL Jobs Worthy of a Good Game

I'm doing this week's entry a little earlier than normal because I have a very busy weekend ahead of me.  So this one will be shorter than the rest.

After writing up last week's entry and thinking again what a disappointment the game was, I started thinking of the Jobs/Crowns that initially made it seem like an innovative game and not a frustrating mire.  So I picked my top five of Jobs from The 4 Heroes of Light that I would like to see attempted in another, better Final Fantasy game (ideally, as part of a sequel to FFV).

5.) Merchant:  The whole point of the Merchant class is to get more gems; they have a slight boost to their stats, just enough to keep them from being ridiculous, but they really just serve to make your party richer.  Just convert the "gems" acquisition to gil & you're good to go.  This is not as greedy as it sounds, especially if you have any Jobs that use Gil Toss abilities.

4.) Alchemist:  If you're like me & you kind of forget…

Ink and Paint: Not Hearing It, Echo

We interrupt Final Fantasy Month for an absolutely vital Precure rant.

First, I'll be honest - I have seen about 55 minutes of New Stage, and it was in the raw, so I can only guess at the deeper story points from context.  But what I've seen hasn't impressed me.  The biggest complaint I've heard from everyone else is that the older Cures get very little screen time and not a lot of dialogue.  That I expect - the older casts get less & less to do as the All-Star movie series, and with the franchise running for a decade, it'd be hard to justify giving everyone a plot line in a single movie.  I was disappointed that there was no dazzling new form for everyone, nor a group attack, nor that we had to spend more time with my least-favorite season above all the rest (that would be Suite, a.k.a. Hibiki the Loudmouth and Three Other Girls).  But that was not my biggest bother.

No, that would be the face fault that is the introduction of the new movie-only Precure, Cure …