Mela's 2013 Year in Review Part One: Getting the Griping Done

Ah, 2013.  It was another year of pointless stress but what do you expect for adulthood?  It was the year I got back into anime, the year I finally figured out how the hell Tumblr works, the year I belatedly got hooked on Pokemon.  Everything outside of pop culture was trying extra, extra hard to make this a bad year, but the balance was otherwise such that I managed to stay sane. Like last year, I have decided to break this down into two parts, and since this is the year I made the choice to try & be more positive, I’m going to get any negativity out of the way in this first entry.  So here’s my disappointments & one bafflement for 2013.

(Please note that video games are not on this list.  There weren’t a lot of new games that came out that interested me – so that will be the Disappointment for 2013 for gaming – and the ones that did interest me were on the 3DS, which I just got for Christmas (whoo-hoo!).  So games are benched for this year, and the ones I'll be playing are probably going to be a year old or so when I get around to them.  Oh, well.  Hopefully next year will bring me more to say.  Also, this should go without saying but SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS for stuff I’m reviewing.)

BIGGEST REACTION ROLLER COASTER: Korra Book 2:  Wow, this was a super inconsistent series, especially after the kudos I had for Book 1.  The early episodes were a trainwreck of characters shutting their brains off for the same of plot twists or, even worse, bad jokes.  Then came the origins of the First Avatar and everything started to get better again.  The Book ended in such a way that you can tell that the creators want to break from the shadow of the show’s illustrious predecessor & let it be its own thing, no matter how hard that will be.  So I went from actively being annoyed, to being intrigued, to being entertained & slightly impressed.  I still think they need to polish up the relationships (none of the romances work for me, and the “de facto” nature of Korra’s friendships as well as the distracting plotlines her designated friends – especially Bolin – get saddled with got particularly distracting), but the willingness to alter the universe of the Avatar series so much is such a ballsy move and the same approach to keeping Korra a deeply flawed but still relatable & compelling hero is enough to keep me sufficiently interested in her story.  Unlike Jesu Otaku, I don’t see her as “an unlikable cunt” for her & her series being flawed, and I’m in for the long haul.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, COMICS: DC’s overall tone & approach:  Like I said, this was the year I opted to try & be more positive.  Conversely, this was the year that DC Comics decided that they were going to double-down on the grimness that had infected the New 52 like creative herpes to the point that it seeped into the digital books & the movies.  The Legion deteriorated into a monthly game of “Who’s Gonna Die?” before being hastily cancelled; Harley Quinn went from being a tragic figure to an active psycho who explodes children because VILLAIN; we get an invasion of villainous duplicates & a Villains Month not because that was actually exciting but because it allowed the stories to get extra grimdark; we’re getting a new digital series to basically slash & burn the Batman Beyond continuity; we got a Superman who was taught that it might have been okay to let children drown & doesn’t care he levelled a third of Metropolis with implied high casualties so he could kill Zod.  It feels like the people in charge heard the jokes about 90s Grimdark trends, decided that they could make them work, and ramped up the repulsiveness to 11, then threw fits whenever people pointed out that they didn’t want a super-cynical Billy Batson or a Superman okay with killing.  It’s all very depressing to read, and since this was the year of Shifting to Positive, I didn’t need it anymore.  But even reading the newsfeeds about their next great new move is just frustrating.  Well, at least DC has Arrow & hasn’t fucked that up yet, and their Flash show looks to be not depressing as well.  Oh, speaking of comics-to-TV stuff...

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TV SHOWS: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:  I really wanted to like this; I like Clark Gregg as Coulson, I’ve always liked Ming Na & appreciate that she was cast as the “tank” of the team, and I want to see comics-to-TV stuff do well.  But this had too many flaws & was too consistently boring to be worthwhile.  The series almost seems to be embarrassed that it is at all related to superheroes, especially the super-popular movies; super-powered characters are sparse, usually cast as baddies, and executed badly.  But that’s the most common complaint.  My main complaint is in your two de facto leads, Skye & Ward.  Let’s start with him, since his problem is a lot easier to phrase – the man playing Ward cannot act to save his life.  Anything that requires him to do something beyond hold a gun with a steely stare is terrible.  And Skye?  She’s everything in a modern “spunky” character that drives me nuts – she’s self-centered, she’s a Soapbox Sadie, she has as-the-plot-demands talents, she has no real skills but is still on the team because... reasons.  Even my mother saw the recent ads and hoped it meant that they would kill her off because she is so badly written that even the woman who voluntarily kept watching Terra Nova hated her.  If it was the Coulson, May, & FitzSimmons show, I might like it, but they put too much of a spotlight on characters I find dull at best if not actively irritating.  No thanks.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, MOVIES: Rebellion Story not being shown anywhere near me:  Yes, my biggest disappointment is a movie I want to see but am not being given the option of seeing in a theater.  I skipped the first two Madoka movies when they came to Philadelphia, since they were just reworkings of the TV show, but I was super-psyched for Rebellion Story to get here.  And guess what?  No Philly-area airings.  The closest ones are either waaaay down south in DC or in the middle of NYC.  I have heard different, highly varied reactions to Rebellion Story, but it upsets me that I can’t go to the 16:9 & form my own opinion.  And Aniplex’s home availability is prohibitively expensive (the only way I got Madoka DVDs was to buy them used at half price & that was still $75 for three discs, so you can imagine how they’ll gauge for the movies), so I’m extra disappointed that I will probably never see this legally.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, ANIME: Doki Doki Precure:  Ladies & gentlemen, the worst Precure series ever.  I have been harsh to Suite & Smile in the past, but as part of Shifting to Positive, I revisited these two & have more to say with the next entry.  Needless to say, for all my initial griping, I came to appreciate these two because of their characters.  Doki Doki has decided to give viewers a more plot-heavy season after the slice-of-life tone of Smile got pushback, but there is a problem with that – the plot isn’t that interesting & seems to have been shaped on the fly.  About the only thing that felt planned was the fake-out with Regina.  Speaking of Regina, her friendship with the rather dull Mana felt so rushed & forced just for angst (and the fake-out), along with the de facto nature of Mana’s friendships with Rikka & Alice (who at least get their own moments), that the characters feel like outlines more than any other Precure series.  And then there’s Cure Ace/Aguri.  You know how Chris Sims has said that Lucy Lane is the worst character in all of fiction for being sold as a likable person despite all evidence to the contrary?  That is what Aguri is for me; no ten-year-old should be as much of a killjoy & nag as her, nor should everyone older than her just roll over & take her crap like they do (the Cures you can argue make sense, but there is NO excuse for Mana’s classmates taking her grief).  And when she does act like a ten-year-old kid, it feels like it’s out of left field.  And then there’s the villains – Regina & the Jikochu Trio are okay, but Levi & Gula were just wasted for no reason other than to kill time & be living power-ups.  Ugh.  At least Alice is basically Batman as a magical girl, though, so I’ll give them that much.  But between an uninteresting plot, squandered potential, and my own personal Lucy Lane in Cure Ace, Doki Doki is just awful.  I really hope Happiness Charge is a shift up on the quality ladder (the outfits already are), as you can’t get much lower than this.

Come back tomorrow for the good stuff from the past year that I want to recommend, as well as a pretty big mea culpa for some previous reviews.


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