Anime Review: Kuroko No Basuke

Okay guys, I’m going to be reeeeal honest right now. I haven’t finished this yet. You know why? Because I remembered I don’t like sport-themed shows.

But in all seriousness, I feel like I really tried with this one. I watched 14 episodes, trying so hard to stick with it. Some of the characters I was interested in, but there was one main problem in this for me.

It was about basketball.

Sounds petty, I know. And I know I was really taking a risk by watching something that I had suspicions I wouldn’t like. But hey, I ended up liking Madoka Magica, so I wanted to try broadening my horizons even more.

It didn’t work out well. I had to break up with those pretty basketball boys.

I think my biggest problem with the show is it had something like Naruto/DragonBallZ syndrome – you know, when you come back three episodes later and it’s still the same battle? This show had that, but with a basketball game [okay slightly exaggerated  but you get the idea]. I couldn’t get past the dramatics of each individual move, strategy, basket, miss. It was like watching a bad soap opera to me. I’ve actually looked into how other people responded to this show, and they seem to like the cliffhangers of each game.

So maybe this genre just isn’t for me. Here is one note I wrote around episode 8 [yes I really do take notes when I watch anime, because I have a terrible memory]:

lol this show is so dramatic
its fucking basketball

I feel bad about this, I really do. This show gained a lot of popularity, and I’m wondering if it’s something else, something that isn’t in the show itself. Is the popularity fueled by the all male cast and the endless possibilities of slashing?

Tumblr would definitely suggest YES.

But for me even that wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t connect enough with any of the characters, I didn’t really see any bromance, and what was with the guy with the kitty face? Can I just say it? He really bothered me.

Seriously, why does he have a cat face. I don't know why this bothers me.

So I think in the end, I will have to table this one aside in my Crunchyroll queue for now and move on to other things. Maybe one day I will finish it, and there is a season 2, but who knows.

For now I think I will just appreciate all the fanart that comes out of this fandom though, and leave it at that.

If you like sports animes though, the word on the street is that this is one of the best ones to have come out recently, so I would still suggest checking it out!

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Review: Pitch Perfect

As far as I can tell, Pitch Perfect is an a capella movie version of Glee if Glee had a better sense of humor about itself and less of an after school special complex. I like that it’s a capella, which gives it another degree of difficulty and makes it about more than covering songs. And unlike most episodes of Glee, there wasn’t a single song I felt the urge to fast forward through.

The movie opens with Beca, who just wants to be a DJ. But her dad is a college professor and she gets FREE college, so he wants to her to give it at least a year before running off to Los Angeles to make it in the world of DJing. When she’s overheard singing in the shower, she’s recruited to the Barden Bellas, the university’s all-lady singing group whose leader, Aubrey, wants to keep their routines old fashioned. Oh, and they’re not supposed to hook up with guys from the male counterpart group, the Trebblemakers, which means of course Beca has a thing with one of them.

It’s a good story about an ensemble of ladies coming together and being awesome to win. It’s mostly predictable. I mean, like every other movie about the Underdog Team working hard to overcome whatever holds them back, it’s pretty obvious from the get-go that they will see Beca’s talent at remixing songs, bring the Bellas into the 21st Century, and win the day.

So it’s the journey that matters, and Pitch Perfect’s is enjoyable. It’s funny and the characters aren’t all cardboard stereotypes. The romance is sweet, and not made of instra-love. It’s nothing special or exceptional but it’s not bad and the music is pretty darn catchy. I have no desire to rewatch the movie but I’d be happy to load the soundtrack onto my iPod. The actors all bring it and the writing is mostly great for what it is.

The movie also manages to incorporate a pretty diverse cast without shoving in your face how diverse they are. Sadly, the one character they miss the mark with is Fat Amy. (Rebel Wilson is gorgeous and talented as hell though.) I do like that there’s a large lady character who is unapologetic about her body and calls herself “sexy.” But like Lauren on Glee, Fat Amy suffers from the same stereotyped writing that makes some of the things she says feel at odds with her character. She’s given the jokes about loving food and hating exercise that are apparently required in Hollywood for any character above a size six. It’s not that no fat person has never said “Man, I hate cardio!” or “I love candy!” but it’s sad to see it as the confident Fat Girl’s refrain. But I digress.

Overall, it’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you do enjoy Glee-like things and college movies and the soundtrack is made of win.

Review: Claudia’s Story: An Interview with the Vampire grahic novel adaptation

I grew up on Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I read the first book when the movie came out in 1994 and the rest of the series, to a point, and I’ve reread them a lot since. I’d always loved vampires in various forms, but something about Interview with the Vampire brought out the richness and realism of what being such a creature who used to be human might be like. I’m also a sucker for a good story framing and having a quirky reporter taping the interview was awesome. To this day, the first four books in that series remain some of my favorites.

Claudia’s Story, an adaption by Ashley Marie Witter, is Interview from her perspective, which is dark and disturbing. It tells how she was turned, how she grew from a true child vampire into a woman trapped into a child’s body for all eternity, and how she puts up with Louis (doting but self-hating) and Lestat (Monsieur Can Do No Wrong). I’m a huge fan of swapped POVs and unreliable narrator, which is part of the reason I love The Vampire Chronicles. One book is Louis’ take and the next book is Lestat going “Pfft yeah right, here’s how I saw it.”

So to give us an entirely new perspective is a great idea for a fresh way to retell the story. We get bits and pieces of Claudia’s diary in the third book, Queen of the Damned (which bares little resemblance to its movie incarnation), when Jesse, a supernatural investigator, recovers the journal. It’s always something I wanted more of, and here we are.

It is impossibly creepy to see it drawn out on the page. Claudia is small, maybe five in the novel, and in the graphic novel there are scenes where that alone is enough to make my skin crawl.

Louis' expressions of frustration, angst, and sadness are as perfect as Lestat's grin.

(Child monsters are always the worst, aren’t they?) Witter doesn’t shy away from the gritty darkness of a child who is not a child, nor does she avoid the uncomfortable conversations that arise because of it. It is Claudia’s story, after all, and Witter tells in all of its twisted, strange entirety. It’s devastatingly heart-breaking and completely disturbing at the same time.

The art work is breathtakingly gorgeous, too. Even if Louis looks constantly depressed (accurate). And finally, finally, we get a depiction of Armand that doesn’t make him look like a middle-aged man with a bear hide on his head. (I’ll concede Antonio Banderas played the hell out of that part in the movie but the costuming.. yikes.)

It works as a stand-alone story, but I suspect its best audience will largely be fans of the book and/or the film. Although if you like pretty and haunting vampire comics, this is definitely one to add to your collection.

 

(Also I forgot how much of a jerk Lestat is in Interview. Seriously, like, I know he’s the quintessential teenager pretty much always, but if he did like three things differently, everything could have been puppies and roses and sparkl–err… Well.. Maybe it’s better that he didn’t.)

Recap: Top Chef Seattle 10:5: Pike Place Problems

I meant to start recapping this season from the get-go because I am a huge Top Chef fan and I live in Seattle, but the first episode took place in Vegas and then they brought in the TWIST and I got depressed. The Twist was that after determining which cheftestants would make it to Seattle, and the show brought back three cheftestants from some of the earlier seasons (CJ, Season 3; Josie, Season 2; and Stefan, Season 5.)

I hate this. I was so irrationally angry when it happened that I actually paused the episode and ranted to my poor roommate. Here’s why: It’s not fair to anyone. It’s not fair to the returning cheftestants, who have a history with the judges and will be judged based on previous performance. It’s not fair to the judges to ask them to try and forget those preconceived notions. And it’s not fair to the new cheftestants who are finally getting their chance. Want to bring back people from previous seasons? Do another round of All-Stars or a Top Chef: SECOND CHANCE. Anhow. I got over it. So I’m here. FOR THE FOOD, Bravo, not the drama. Let’s begin.

Episode 5: Pike Place Market

We open with the cheftestans discussing their previous challenge. Tyler observes that being on top on day means nothing, since you can still get eliminated the next day. Glad we’ve cleared that up.

It’s Stefan’s 40th birthday, and apparently during his season, every chef who had a birthday during filming got eliminated on that day. He calls it the Birthday Curse and he’s worried.

The chefs arrive at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. You know, the fishing throwing place that you always see clips of on Food Network. It’s actually a lot more than a few fish stands, including lots of produce stands, flower stands, crafts, restaurants, and a whole bunch of local stores (including an awesome comic book store that is not shown). Today’s guest judge is local chef Daisley Gordon, who owns two restaurants in Pike Place, Marché and Café Champagne.

Quickfire Challenge! The cheftestants pair off and will compete in teams of two. Chef Gordon has provided them with a pantry and they have to set up kitchenettes using equipment from Sur La Table, which is up the hill in the Market. Josh and his mustache gets stuck with Tesar, whom he’s had some drama with already. This will end well. Each team has to make breakfast on a stick for the Market workers. The winning team gets immunity.

By the time Danyele and Liz get to the pantry, the eggs and dairy are gone, so they decide to do a European breakfast. Bart wants to do a twist on spinach and eggs. There’s total chaos at Sur La Table, where CJ steals a griddle from someone. Ruthless. Brooke has known Stefan for years so she knows how to get along with him. Actually getting along with your fellow chefs is a depressingly huge plus on this show. Seriously, guys, it’s easier if you work together. Bart drops his sandwich press and thinks it might be broken, but it’s okay.

  • Josh & Tesar – Mini breakfast taco with quail eggs and chorizo and an avocado relish. It looks really good. Chef Gordon likes the seasoning. 
  • Eliza & Josie – Ricotta, raspberry, and sausage pancake with a jalapeno syrup. They had me til jalapeno syrup. It doesn’t stay on the stick and Padma points out it looks like a layer cake. Gordon seems underwhelmed. 
  • Micah & Kristen – Bacon and cinnamon waffle with berry jam. 
  • CJ & Tyler – Salmon cream cheese crepe that miraculously stays on the stick. CJ says he really wants the win. Padma is like “DUH.”
  • Bart & Sheldon – Green forest sandwich with eggs, cheese, bacon, pancetta, and spinach. It looks really good. I want one in my face. Gordon calls it clever.
  • Danyele & Lizzie – Summer berries with crispy pancetta. This is easily the least ambitious dish of the day. I get that they missed out on eggs and such but it’s kind of a sad offering. Gordon likes it anyhow.
  • Brooke & Stefan – Pressed Croque Monsieur with fig on challah bread.

Disappointing teams: Danyele & Lizzie, for their scarce berries (no surprise), and Josie & Eliza for their ricotta pancake. Favorites: Sheldon & Bart’s green forest sandwich and Josh & Tesar, for their taco. Winners: Sheldon & Bart. CJ is visibly pissed off. Sorry, dude, your salmon wasn’t as good as the sandwich or mini tacos.

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I Went to Yaoi Con: Main Events!

If you visit us here at CWC often, you have probably seen a trend in the types of things that I talk about when I post here. Mostly men, and mostly about them touching in some way.

Did you know there is a convention dedicated to this wonderful niche interest [you probably could have guessed, there is a con for everything these days]? It’s called Yaoi Con, and up until this year, it had been held up in Northern California. I’ve attended since 2006, with the exception of last year due to work *grumbles*.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, Yaoi is a Japanese term referring to boys’ love, generally geared towards women. Yaoi Con is a glorious place where people come together to celebrate an interest. It’s 18+, since the content is really meant for adults. Even with a guardian you can’t get in unless you are over 18.

So as I previously mentioned, this year was the first time since 2001 that it was being held in Southern California. One other major change that happened was that last year it was bought by Digital Manga, and many regular attendees were nervous about both changes. I myself, try to be an optimist, and was [1] excited that it was just 40 minutes away and [2] not ready to judge until I saw what Digital Manga did differently.

Now, please bear in mind that this is my viewpoint of the convention. If you attended and had terrible experiences, be it with staffers, with panels, with the dealer’s hall, please let Digital Manga know! The only way to make things better is to give feedback!

I’m breaking this up in chunks to try to make everything more digestible. Today kids, we will talk about the main con events!

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Sorry for the Silence (Yes, We’re Alive)

Hey guys!

I know it’s been quiet this month around these parts. There are several reasons for the sudden unplanned hiatus (personal things, including day job issues for me, the holidays, NaNoWrimo, etc.) I just want to apologize for the quiet. We are still alive and we will return soon with some awesome, amazing blog posts.

Thanks so much for your patience.

Locke says sorry.

Clockwork Angel Manga Winner!

Hey guys. Magnus Bane was unable to assist in picking the winner–something about a Halloween party–and so I used a random number generator to determine the winner of the book.

And that winner is Commenter #2 – Maria!

Please send me your mailing address at chickswithcrossbows@gmail.com

YAY!