Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 43: October... why have you forsaken me?

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Well, I started out strong this month with a few pretty good columns, but these past few weeks have been mighty silent. I won't bore you with all the details, but here's the gist of what I've been up to and why this week's column is going to be brief as well...

1) The main agony of my life has come from the chair of my dissertation committee who, after disappearing off the face of the Earth for the past six weeks, has returned and decided that all the work I'd been doing in the meantime is completely wrong, wrong, wrong... and must be scrapped and started over.

But, hey, that's cool... I'm Mr. Groovy-Pants. I take it all in stride...

2) I'm supposed to present a paper at a conference. The paper was due last Friday. It still isn't finished.

3) I'm applying for jobs and fellowships, most of which are due in early November, and all of which require a whole list of things like an updated CV, which is taking forever to put together, letters of reference, which I have to nag people about, filling out online applications that if they'd just read my goddamn resume it already has all that information... etc.

Honestly, it's a pretty stressful time to be me... and if someone should ask you, "Hey, would you like to be Paul for a little while?" I would advise you to say no. It's not that fun, at the moment.

And, to be honest, the pay sucks...

Anyway, enough of my whining...

Let's talk about comic-books for a moment, shall we?

The above cover was released a couple of months back and I featured it in an earlier column and essentially said that I didn't know what it was, but whatever it was, I wanted it.

Well, now I know...


Written by Amy Wolfram

Art by Karl Kerschl & Serge Lapointe

Cover by Kerschl

Writer Amy Wolfram (Teen Titans animated series) joins rising star artist Karl Kerschl (ALL-FLASH #1, ROBIN) for a colorful reimagining of how the Teen Titans came together! See how these teammates bonded, and overcame the sheer awkwardness of being teenagers in this explosive 6-issue miniseries that guest-stars the Justice League of America! You may think you know Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Aqualad…but you don’t really know the original Teen Titans!On sale January 2 • 1 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

If the interior art looks anything like the cover art, and it surely ought to, then this is going to be sheer loveliness. Hurray!!!

This is one of those Marvel Adventures "all-ages" books. It looks quite nice, no?





Venom is back ...but says he wants to bury the hatchet with Spider-Man. No, not in his head. In fact, in order to show Spidey how much he's reformed, he wants to become the web-spinner's official sidekick. But one night "on patrol" with a homicidal maniac as a partner has Spidey wanting to hang up the web-shooters himself!32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99

That's a neat cover. Oh, Marvel Adventures, you do tempt me...

This next cover is nothing special, but I've gone ahead and included it anyway because it's the first issue of Chuck Dixon's return to Robin. There was a time when Dixon was writing Birds of Prey, Nightwing, and Robin, and they were all pretty darn enjoyable. This was followed by a time during which he was writing Birds of Prey, Nightwing, and Robin, and they were all kind of stale and dull.

I'll give him this, though... neither Nightwing nor Robin were ever as good again. His work defined those two series and the fact that he's now returning, years and years later, to write Robin has me pretty psyched...

And now, the ugliest cover of the month...

Aint that something?

It's got sort of a 90's vibe to it... back when really, really crappy artists were trying to mimic the Rob Liefeld/Todd McFarlane look.

This book is actually a sort of perfect package because every single element of it is unappealing to me. There is no negative that has been overlooked.

First, let's look at the soliciation...


Written by Frank Tieri

Art by Liam Sharp & Rob Hunter

Cover by Sharp

A COUNTDOWN tie-in! Monarch makes an unexpected alliance with the Americommando and the Meta Militia in an effort to strongarm Lord Havok and the Extremists into joining his Multiversal Army. Plus, Dr. Diehard sees all he cares about vanish in an instant, and we learn the secret origin of the Extremist known as Dreamslayer.On sale January 23 • 4 of 6 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Okay, so first of all, it's a Countdown tie-in. Hurray!!! If there's one thing you can never have too many of...

Then, it's written by Frank Tieri, who I think is generally agreed to be one of the absolute worst writers in comics. So, that's pretty cool. He tends to wallow in gratuitous violence, sophomoric humor, and female characters that exist solely to be sexy victims or sexy perpertrators of evil-doings.

Then there's the art...

And the characters? LORD HAVOK AND THE EXTREMISTS!!!


Finally, there's the fact that the solicitation text has been written in such a way as to defy comprehension. Without looking back, try to remember what this issue is about...

Don't peek...

You can't, can you? You can't remember a single thing you read.

Let's give it another whirl...

A COUNTDOWN tie-in! Monarch makes an unexpected alliance with the Americommando and the Meta Militia in an effort to strongarm Lord Havok and the Extremists into joining his Multiversal Army. Plus, Dr. Diehard sees all he cares about vanish in an instant, and we learn the secret origin of the Extremist known as Dreamslayer.

Wow. That oughtta really be... something.

I totally didn't see that plot twist about Monarch and Americommando making an alliance with the Meta Militia against Lord Havok and the Extremists and the.. the Multiversal Army... thing.. that is going to... uh, and then Dr. Diehard. Yeah, that's the ticket! Dr. Diehard!!!

Wait a minute.

Dr. Diehard?

Doctor... Diehard?


Dr. Diehard.

Dr. Diehard!!!

"Oh, hey, look, it's Dr. Diehard!"

"Hey, Dr. Diehard, how's it going?"

"That Dr. Diehard... he sure can cook a jambalaya!"

"Dr. Diehard... I'd like to marry your daughter."


I'd say that someone who calls himself Dr. Diehard... who asks that others refer to him as Dr. Diehard... I would say that such a person just might be over-compensating a wee little bit.

Although, I suppose he is one of Lord Havok's Extremists so... y'know... he needs to have a sort of extreme name and all. But still...

Dr. Diehard?


Well, it's time for me to go work on my stuff... I hope you all are well, though, and I'll try to be a better blogger in November...

Though I promise nothing. NOTHING!!!

- Dr. Paul Diehard

[But you can just call me Hard.]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 42: Strange News

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Normally I use this space to review comics and such and so forth, but there's been so much comic-book related news lately that I thought I'd devote this column to reprinting some of the week's biggest stories.


Frank "Goddam" Miller to. Issue Challenge. To. Osama bin Laden. And. All Iraqi Insurgents.

"I will dress up in a Spartan toga, grease my body up with oil, and single-handedly pummel them all to death. With. My. Bare. Fists."

Frank Miller surprised and delighted fans by releasing a personal challenge to Osama bin Laden last Friday on YouTube.

"American Flag draping down," the message began. "Heavy with the blood of innocents. Give me a Red."

"You killed our boys. Our children. Our soul." The message continued. "But I will. Beat. You. With. My. Bare. Hands. And then I will. Dine. In. Hell."

Comic-book writer and illustrator Frank Miller had made news earlier in the year by announcing that his next Batman graphic novel will pit the Caped Crusader against al-Qaeda international terrorist Osama bin Laden. Titled Holy Terror, Batman!, the project is scheduled for release by DC Comics sometime this year. In it, Miller said, “Batman kicks al-Qaeda’s ass.”

In his latest foray into political commentary, however, Frank Miller has promised to take on all of al-Qaeda himself, while dressed in a Roman toga.

According to reliable sources, Osama bin Laden has not yet responded.

Dan Didio Announces Upcoming Plans for Archie Comics

"Fans of Jughead and Veronica should brace themselves for some dark days ahead..."

Fans of Archie Comics were surprised last week to learn that Dan Didio has been brought in as the new editor-in-chief for Archie.

"Archie is an American institution," said Didio. "And I respect that. But sales have been slipping over the past several years. And the Powers That Be decided what was needed was a major shake-up. And that's where I came in."

Didio refused to reveal all of the upcoming surprises, but did provide these spoilers:

"I wouldn't dream of killing off Jughead. He's too important to the Archie Universe. But he might find it difficult to stuff his face with hamburgers after his arms have been torn from his body by Moose."

A picture of Jughead with cybernetic arms and steel, razor-sharp claws was posted on Didio.com for a few hours but then hastily pulled.

"Let's just say that readers are going to see a side of Jughead that they've never seen before," chortled Didio.

Other upcoming events include a major crossover that will directly involve all of the Archie titles and several characters that haven't been seen in a very long time.

"If you think about it," said Didio, "Archie and his pals should be in their 90s by now. But they're not. They're still teens in high school. How is that possible? Well, let's just say that after our first major crossover, Archie-Ocaplypse, readers will learn the horrible truth."

Archie-Ocalypse will apparently run through the second half of 2008, all of 2009, and then will finish in 2010, leading directly into the next major cross-over "Archie-cide."

"I don't want to give too much away about Archie-cide, but suffice it to say that we're going to be introducing a new character, Holocaust Survivor, and he's got a bone to pick with Archie and his friends."

That cross-over will tie directly into a new weekly Archie series that will tie into all of the other Archie comics plus will also tie into all DC comics and several upcoming issues of Loony Tunes.

"I've promised not to reveal too much about this new weekly series, because it's not actually going to come out until 2012, but readers should prepare themselves for some continuity-driven story-telling. Old continuity gaffs will be addressed and resolved, while others will be created."

Didio also revealed that, in addition to tying into all of the Archie comics, all of the DC comics, and several issues of Loony Tunes, Archie Publishing is currently in talks with several weekly news magazines, including Newsweek and the Economist, to tie into actual world events as they occur in real time.

"This is a very exciting time for Archie," Didio announced. "Nothing like this has ever been done before. Obviously, there will be many challenges in tying into real world current events as they happen, but I think readers are going to be delighted with the results! In particular, I'm hoping that the US is involved in some kind of war around 2013 because we have a really great idea that's being tossed around about Archie and his pals being recruited and winding up in some war-torn country. Maybe in the Middle East, I'm hoping. Or North Korea."

Marvel Announces New, Weekly Series to be Written by Heinberg with Art by Rob Liefeld

"We've already got the first six pages finished and the script is half-finished for page 7 of first issue. And one of three variant covers that we'll be providing for the first issue is in rough-sketch form. And let me tell you, it looks great!"

No additional information was available.


Well, that's all the news that's fit to print, as the kids like to say. I hope you're all having a lovely October and dressing warmly and being nice to each other and flossing regularly.

Until next week...
- Paul

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 41: December 2007- Oodles and Oodles of Good Comics!!!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

This week we're going to take a look at all the goodies I'm pre-ordering for December. I'll tell you what... it's a lot of stuff.

A whole big heaping lot.

So, stop your yappin' and let's get started...


So far, this series has completely and totally satisfied me. Well, 98% completely and totally. Occasionally I wish the artist was just a teeny-tiny better, but it's a quibble. Most of the time, everyone looks like who they're supposed to look like.

The writing is fine stuff indeed! In fact, although it may be somewhat blasphemous to admit this, I'm enjoying the Brian K. Vaughan arc even more than the Joss Whedon issues that preceded it.

Sorry, Joss, but that's just the way it is...


Limited series by Bill Willingham, which would normally be a not-so-good thing in my book... I love his work on Fables but have disliked pretty much everything else that I've read of his. But I like the set-up for this... all of DC's super-villains have been stranded on some prison planet kind of place and they start scheming and making-and-breaking alliances to escape.

If I were on a prison planet with all of DC's super-villains, here's what I'd do...

1) Try to get on Lex Luthor's good side mighty fast. If there's going to be a successful escape, he's clearly gonna be the one to pull it off.

2) Avoid the Joker. Avoid shaking his hand. Avoid putting my face anywhere near that flower he's got in his lapel.

3) Hide behind a really, really big rock.

I suppose that's why no one's written a limited series about me being stuck on a planet with DC's super-villians.


Why-oh-why would I even consider buying this? Because it ties into Salvation Run and guest-stars the Justice League, that's why. None of which means it's going to be any good, but I feel strangely optimistic that, even though it won't be great, it'll at least be entertaining.

Here's the soliciation text:

Batman’s dual loyalties are tested as the Outsiders and the Justice League clash over SALVATION RUN — but the Outsiders’ underground work has already brought an architect of the Run over to their side!

See? That doesn't sound too bad, does it?


Another strange pick for me... I've never read a single issue of this or the limited series that preceded it. As an interesting (?) side-note, hwoever, I do own the entire, original Freedom Fighters series from the 1970s. It's complete crap, of course, but as a kid I totally loved it.

Nowadays I honestly can't remember much from that series. I think their main nemesis was a guy named the Silver Ghost or something like that. Which is kind of a stupid name, I guess. Particularly since I don't recall him actually being a ghost. I suppose it sounded better than Silver Guy, though. Or Silver-licious. "Silver Ghost" at least sounds like you've got something going on. Although people are bound to be disappointed when they find out that you're, y'know, not really a ghost...

As best I can recall, the Freedom Fighters were from another Earth (this was in the pre-Crisis days) where the Nazis had won World War II. They first appeared in an old Justice League of America story in which the JLA went to their Earth (Earth X? Maybe...) and helped them to defeat the Nazis.

Of course, coming from a world where the Nazis won World War II isn't such an interesting story-hook after the Justice League of America has come over and defeated the Nazis for you.

Anyway, for some reason the Freedom Fighters decided that they were bored with their world ("Geez... all the Nazis have been defeated. There's nothing to do...") and so decided to travel over to Earth 1 and hang out there for a while.

Since that isn't much of a hook for a series ("They're from another world that's just like this one but now they're here for no particular reason!!!"), they were quickly turned into one of those teams-on-the-run-from-the-law, accused of a crime they didn't commit, yadda-yadda-yadda. They bickered a lot, in what was clearly supposed to be a Marvel-ish approach to superheroes. And there was a two-issue team-up with Wonder Woman that just knocked my socks off when I was a kid. I think the cliff-hanger involved Wonder Woman being killed and, young and naive as I was, I thought they'd really killed her off.

As it turned out, however, I'm pretty sure it turned out that Wonder Woman was not, in fact, dead.

Clearly, this was in the pre-Dan Didio days...

Anyway, I've had no real interest in the current version of the team, but the solication text has piqued my interest...

The Doll Man War begins! Plus, Red Bee’s daring escape from a government lab. And if that’s not enough...the return of Neon the Unknown!

Call me crazy, but something about that made me flash to early Grant Morrison stories... I mean, the Doll Man War begins??? How cool is that??? Plus the return of Neon the Unknown???

Dude, I'm totally there.




Continuing the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline. This is gonna rock...


Finally gave Blue Beetle a try and, hey, what do you know...? It's actually pretty good!

Who knew?


LOVING this series!!! Mark Waid + George Perez = Comic-Book Bliss.

And I extra-especially love this cover... it's Silver Age - astic!!!

The Book of Destiny’s been opened, but look who’s come spilling out…the Metal Men! The Blackhawks! The Newsboy Legion! And the new Atom and Hawkman team!

Yummy goodness!!!

FLASH #235

Speaking of Mark Waid's return to greatness...

I'm really enjoying this series... I like where Mark Waid has gone with the storyline, establishing Wally West as a dad of two super-powered kids. Very fun. And I very much like the art by Acuna.

Good super-hero-y fun, without all the usual DC angst and continuity-incest...




It's the conclusion of the Sinestro Corps War storyline...

Hm. If the Doll Man War and the Sinestro Corps War got in a fight, I wonder who would win...?


I just read the September issue of this, which was the first issue of the Kingdom Come storyline... or maybe it was the prelude? I dunno...

Anyway, it mostly consists of the JSA hanging out in a fire-station, making pancakes and goofing around.

Possibly the best comic of the month. [Except maybe for Marvel Adventures: The Avengers, guest-starring Hawkeye!!!]

Geoff Johns does a great job with the writing, but the real star of this particular issue is artist Dale Eaglesham.


He has really hit his peak with this issue... the amount of background work and the detail on all the different characters... this is some first-class stuff.

I really wish they would take the artist from Justice League of America, Joe Benitez, and grab him by the scruff of his neck and stick his face in front of this comic-book and say, "See??? This is what we hired you to do!!! This!!!"

Dale Eaglesham, I salute you!!!


But not really...

I was so totally bummed out by the lame art on the latest JLA that I hereby refuse to buy any more issues drawn by Joe Benitez. My apologies to Dwayne McDuffie, but Benitez's art is crap and I'm not going to spend money to look at it.


Jim Shooter's first issue in some 30-odd years!!! This may end up sucking.. it's very possible. But, I can't resist. When I was a wee little lad, Jim Shooter was writing the Legion. Hell, even before I was a wee little lad, he was writing the Legion. It's almost like if Stan Lee returned to writing Spider-Man. Sure, it probably wouldn't be nearly as good as anticipated, but still... how could you not pick it up to find out???


Gail Simone...

She's good. But can even she save this title...? It remains to be seen.


It's only 74 cents through my subscription service, mailordercomics.com, so I figure I'll give it a try even though I really do not like the writer, Brian Wood, one tiny bit...

Incidentally, this is a new Vertigo title... I've been planning a column about Vertigo and my theory about why it's doing so badly, sales-wise, and what they need to do to save that imprint.

Maybe next week...?



Also only 74 cents. And the art is by Phil Noto. I can't remember where I've seen his stuff before, but I do remember really liking it...




I am only getting this because it's another 74 cent comic from mailordercomics. I am, however, extremely dubious...

The promo art looks dreadful and writer Jeph Loeb is not to be trusted...




Written by Dan Slott.

Art by Steve McNiven.

That's all I really need to know.




Pencils & Cover by CHRIS ELIOPOULOS

(ribbit) Time for a team-up, Spidey! (ribbit) Let’s see…Iron Man’s busy (ribbit), Captain America’s a little under the weather (ribbit), the FF are doing their own (ribbit) thing…who’s not busy this month? (ribbit) FROG THOR!!!!!!!!And while you’re (ribbit) trying to figure out how a frog holds a (ribbit) hammer, you can read the classic (ribbit) archive material and Spider-Man J!

104 pages…best (ribbit) deal in comics!104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99





I just read a really excellent interview with the writer of this one-shot, Tom Beland.


Also from newsarama.com we have this interview with one of the several writers contributing stories to the above, Matt Yocum. It starts off kind of normal and dull but then you find out what this guy does for a living and, well, it's interesting...

I was planning to pick this up anyway, but reading that interview made me extra-especially want to get it...






Ambushed by the villainess Jolt, his armor ruined, Tony Stark finds himself trapped in an isolated village run by folks who have chosen to live a peaceful, agrarian 19th century existence...without any technology. With Jolt hot on his trail, what's a tech-dependent hero to do? That's right: hole up in the blacksmith shed and hammer out an all-new suit of STEAM-POWERED ARMOR! Aw, yeah.

Nice cover, eh?

This is one of those Marvel Adventures titles, which means it's "all-ages." Normally, that would be a turn-off, but Jeff Parker's Avengers stories for Marvel Adventures have been so frickin' good that I'm now willing to try out some of the others. Also, the writer of this issue, Fred Van Lente, is the same guy who's writing M.O.D.O.K.s 11, which I'm enjoying tremendously.

So, I'm willing to give it a try...

And, hey, a steam-powered Iron Man armor??? That sounds neat...


This one is not written by Jeff Parker, alas, but it's by Ty Templeton, who's usually pretty reliable, and the story sounds interesting... but darn it, I hope Parker returns to this series soon!!!





When a stranger appears in front of Iron Man, visiting Captain America’s symbolic grave at Arlington, he is told of two diverse ways CIVIL WAR could’ve concluded. The first: What If CAPTAIN AMERICA led all the heroes against the Registration Act? The second: What if IRON MAN lost the Civil War? Join writers Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Daredevil), Kevin Grevioux (New Warriors, the movie-Underworld) and Christos Gage (Civil War: Casualties of War, World War Hulk: X-Men, TV’s Law & Order: SVU) in a giant-size issue that answers the questions Iron Man never wanted to ask!With interior art by superstar cover painter Marko Djurdjevic, artist Gustavo (Marvel Age Spider-Man, Green Lantern, TMNT and The Amory Wars) and newcomer Harvey Tolibao (Iron Man Annual, Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic), this issue will fulfill your Civil War withdrawal!56 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Sure, this might suck. I mean, yes, it's a What If...? story. They tend to not be so good.

On the other hand, I really-really-really enjoyed the Civil War limited series, so I'm kind of interested to see where they go with this. And, even more importantly, those are some mighty good writers they've got working on this. So, I'm thinking this might just be worth picking up...


The final Whedon issue, I think...

This storyline has actually been pretty underwhelming, but I feel like I've invested this much in it, might as well see it through to the bitter end...





This is the second issue of "Angel: Season 6" and if you haven't read Brian Lynch's Spike: Shadow Puppets then it's entirely possible that, upon seeing that someone other than Joss Whedon is doing the writing, you might say to yourself, "Self, I don't think this will be very good at all. And who is this Brian Lynch fellow anyway? And what does he want?"

I'll tell you what, though...

This is gonna be good.


Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

'Nuff said.


And then there are the comics that I get from my local store, which include Godland, Nova, Metal Men, New Avengers, Booster Gold, and some other things that I'm not able to remember at the moment because I'm old and my brain is getting crusty.

So, as you can see, there are a plethora of reasons to go on living, at least through December of 2007.

Well, I've blathered on long enough for one day... I hope that you walk away from this "coming attractions extravaganza" just a little bit wiser and, perhaps, a little bit more jazzed about the upcoming December.

I'll see y'all next week and, hey... let's be careful out there!

- Hill Street Paul

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 40: Mo' Better Anime Madness!!!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

A while back I did a column about some anime series that I'd started watching: Azumanga Daioh, Gunslinger Girls, and Texhnolyze (it's pronounced just like it's spelled...)

Those three were my introduction to the semi-wonderful world of anime and, since that time, I've embarked upon a journey the likes of which have not been seen since Benji went searching for that old, red sock that was stuck in the dryer.

Today, I am an older and wiser anime-viewer... slightly less naive, perhaps... and, yes, I'll admit, a tad bit jaded. It turns out that I was very fortunate with my first three picks... sadly, that luck abandoned me, and so I, much like a seagull whose wings have been clipped, have plummeted into the cold, murky waters of bad, bad anime.

Fortunately, like a Japanese tourist anxious to fulfill global stereotypes I have duly recorded my viewing experiences, that others might benefit from my experiences and perhaps avoid my mistakes...

What follows is a list of every anime series I've watched thus far, from best to worst. 10 means super-outstanding and 1 means "Dear God please kill me now!!!"

Or, in comic-book lingo, 10 = Alan Moore and 1 = Dan Didio's weekly column in which he yammers like a yammering yamster about how great it is that he's killing off C-list characters and re-jiggering DC continuity yet again, like a re-jiggering jigger-er from the planet Jig-ton.

Please note: The fact that I've listed and graded the following series does not in anyway indicate that I've watched the entire series. Some of these things have over a bazillion episodes. I'm only human, and sometimes barely that, so in many cases I've only watched one disk's worth of episodes (which usually translates into 4 episodes).

And now, without further ado, the list...

Azumanga Daioh - 10
Gunslinger Girls - 9.5

I don't want to say much about these first two because I've already reviewed them. Suffice it to say that Azumanga Daioh is super-dooper funny and cute and nifty and I like it a lot.

Gunslinger Girls is melancholy, like a beached whale that writes one final letter, in which it details its entire life's journey, only to then take the lit cigarette from its blubbery whale-mouth and use it to set fire to the letter that it spent the past several hours writing.

Neither of the series are flawless, but they're both pretty damn good. I've purchased both series and have no regrets.

Kino’s Journey - 9

This one's about a guy and his talking motor-cycle who visit strange countries. It's sort of like a series of Zen Buddhist parables. Very surreal and wonderful. Each episode is its own, distinct thing.

Satisfying like hot tea.

Haibane Renmei - 9

Haibane Renmei is also very slow and surreal. In fact, it's actually quite similar to Kino's Journey in terms of tone. It's about this village where some people, after death, are reborn with wings. They may be angels, but it's hard to say for sure. No one knows why they are reborn in this particular place or what kinds of lives they lived previously. They aren't allowed to use money, but work small part-time jobs around town to help earn their keep. One, for example, works in the clock-tower. Another helps out in a bakery.

It is strange, strange, strange. But lovely.

[And no, it's not about Christianity... or if it is, it's subtle enough to slip under my radar... this is not a "Here are the answers" thing. It's a "Here are some questions" kind of thing, which is much my preference.]

Last Exile - 8.5
Crest of the Stars - 8.5

These two are both outer-space-y sci-fi stories. Last Exile is more along the lines of a Star Wars-esque kind of adventure. Two orphans, working as couriers, get sucked into a huge adventure that ends up having all sorts of major consequences for interplanetary wars and stuff.

Very fun series and some of the art is phenomenal. VERY worth your time.

Note: The series is incredibly expensive. Seriously. It's something like 90 dollars for the 6 dvd set. I have no idea why.

There is a crappy import version, apparently, which is "only" about 40 dollars, but I've heard only awful things about it. So, this is a good one to rent...

Crest of the Stars is a bit more with the talky-talk than Last Exile. But also very good. I can't say much more than that because I still haven't gotten a strong feel for the series. Very interesting, but not what you'd call action-packed. More of a contemplative kind of sci-fi.

Dai-Guard - 8.5

This is a "mecha" series, which means that it's about a big robot-y thing that is used to fight giant monsters.

NOT my genre, at all.

But this one is actually very funny. The robot-y thing is owned by a corporation and there's always all kinds of paper-work involved whenever they want to use it. So, a giant monster will be crushing the city and then we'll cut to the boardroom and they're discussing how much it costs to use the robot-y thing and insurance premiums and so on.

Good stuff. Very fun.
So, here is an official cut-off line. Everything above this line is well worth your time. I recommend that you rent it and share it with your loved ones.

Everything below this line is not really recommended. The top ones are okay-but-not-great. That quickly slides into oh-my-god-this-sucks.

Ergo Proxy - 7.5

Sci-fi series about some thingie that was made in a lab but escaped and is now killing people. There's one honest cop who wants to find out what's going on, but she's blocked at every turn by the conspiratorial government powers-that-be who are somehow responsible for this killing thing.

This is an okay series. The art is very good and it moves at a good pace. But there's nothing terribly original here and after a while it starts to feel like every sci-fi movie you've ever seen before.

And it takes itself so damn seriously. Everyone's very morose and serious. I wanted them to ask them to please lighten up...

Witch Hunter Robin - 7

A sort of Ghost Busters-ish set-up chases and incarcerates witches. Their newest member is a witch herself but she uses her power to help capture other witches, and that makes everyone pretty uncomfortable.

I've heard that this series gets much better about halfway through as we learn more about those hunting the witches and there's all sorts of conspiracy stuff going on, but I'm still at the early part which is pretty dull. So, I'll give this one another chance soon, but thus far I can't really recommend it.

Chobits - 6.5

Horny teenage guy finds cute robot girl that has no brain but is very obedient.

Comedy hijinks ensue.

I'd heard a lot about this one and was hoping that it would be fun but really it just bored me to death. I'm assuming that the robot girl eventually develops a personality beyond following him around and making him uncomfortable by walking around nude and stuff, but I just couldn't take it anymore.

Fullmetal Alchemist - 6.5

A lot of people really, really like this series.


Two brothers tried to use alchemy to save their dead mother but it backfired and now one of them is missing some limbs and the other is sort of a body-less spirit that inhabits a suit of armor. They go from town to town, having adventures and trying to find a way to cure their conditions and maybe save their mom.

So many people like this series so much, that I feel like I must have missed something.

That said, I can't recommend it because I found it... dull.

Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise - 6.5

All the other anime I've reviewed are series, but Wings of Honneamise is a movie. Visually, it's outstanding.

Story-wise, it's a little bit slow. Kind of interesting in a "oh, that's interesting.. but now my mind is drifting to something else.. I wonder how much longer this movie is... oh, dear, there's still another hour to go... la-la-la... I'm watching an interesting movie... la-la-la... I wonder if it's almost over...?" kind of way.

Texhnolyze - 6.5

This is the third of the three anime series that I reviewed before. I gave it a pretty high recommendation at the time because of the very interesting graphics and such and so forth, but this thing is really, really slow... and the more I watched, the more I felt like the interesting graphics weren't nearly interesting enough to make up for the slooooooow storyline.

Petite Princess Yucie - 6.5
This would be a great series for girls age 9-12. Seriously.

I am not such a girl, however, and so it didn't do much for me.

Highly recommended... but for someone else.

Escaflowne TV Series - 6

Ditto. This is a fantasy series about a girl who falls through a portal or something like that and ends up in a magic realm of fantasy-ish things. Dragons and stuff. You know. And she has some special powers or ancestry or something that I can't remember. One of those "you are destined to save the world even though you thought that you were just a normal girl" kinds of things.

I hate those things.

That said, if you like that genre, this is probably pretty good.

Paranoia Agent - 6

Sort of a horror/mystery story.

I respect the skill with which it's done, but I really hated it. I couldn't say why, exactly, but I found it almost physically excruciating to sit through this. It made my brain angry and unhappy.

Interestingly, many weeks later I went to see a new anime movie in the theater, called Paprika. Anyway, it was sort of very interesting and the sort of thing that I should totally dig, but I hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it. But, again, I couldn't tell you why. It just somehow really disturbed me, but for no clear reason.

So, a few days after I saw Paprika, I suddenly thought "I wonder if they're both by the same guy?" and, sure enough, they are.

So, I don't know what it is with this guy and his work, but I loathe everything he does. I respect the right of the rest of the world's population to really enjoy it because it's clever and stuff, but it just hits me the wrong way. To me, it is the food poisoning of anime.

It is the cactus in the eye.

Kurogane Comm - 6

A girl lives on a planet where everyone else is dead. She has three robot friends who hang out with her.

This wasn't bad, but it wasn't terribly good either. Maybe interesting for young kids...?

Fruits Basket - 6

Very famous, popular anime. A girl lives with a family of people who, when hugged, turn into animals from the zodiac.

I like the premise because it's completely insane, but the actual show was a bit dull for me. Again, I think this is probably intended for much younger audiences, though.

Video Girl Ai - 5.5

Very much like Chobits, discussed above. Apparently this is a sort of anime genre. Horny, awkward, spastic guy finds super-cute, super-obedient girl with super-powers but also with a flawed brain which makes her very sweet but also very naive and in need of protecting.

In this one, the obedient, cute girl isn't a robot but instead is a girl on a video-tape who can come out of the video-tape and interact with the viewer. She's supposed to give the sex-crazed, hopelessly clumsy guy advice on how to win the girl, but she falls in love with him (though it's impossible to guess what it is that she loves about him since pretty much all he does is ogle women and freak out a lot) and blah-blah-blah.

Dumb and not funny.

Kurau: Phantom Memory - 5

I can barely remember this one.

In fact, even as I was watching it I could barely remember it.

A girl is in the lab when her father is doing some kind of weird experiment and some kind of energy alien thing ends up possessing her. Then we cut to many years later and she's an assassain or something like that, but she has super-powers because of the alien thing inside her. Then she finds this younger girl who's like her sister or maybe it's some other aspect of her or something like that. I don't know.

Anyway, we then have several stories about the assassain lady going off to do various jobs using her super-powers and leaving her other-half sister-y person alone in the apartment, where she gets attacked by some mysterious group that's observing them.

I don't know.

I think this story really needed a giant, purple gorilla to work. Or something like that.

And it didn't have one.

And so... it didn't work.

The place promised in our early days - 5

This was a movie. I can't remember much more about it than that.

No, wait, it's coming back to me... there are three teens who hang out together. Two guys and a girl. And they share their dreams and whatever. Then we flash to the future and the girl is dying and the guys are working on some experiment thing that, if it works, might somehow save her.

Or something.

I don't know. I found it all kind of boring. They spent way too much time setting up the backstory about these three teens hanging out together. Seriously, it was like an hour of just that. So, by the time they jumped forward to the potentially interesting part, I was already pretty much asleep.

Planetes - 4

I expected to like this because it's about sort of outer-space janitors... they go around cleaning up all the space junk. Blue collar workers in space kind of thing.

Great premise.

The voices were really screechy though and the humor was really, really lame. It tried too hard to be "wacky" and it finally gave me a headache.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust - 4

Vampire movie. Highly regarded because of the graphics.


Same old, same old vampire-y stuff.

Elfen Lied - 3

Okay, I actually hated this one.

Sci-fi kind of series about killing-machine-person-monster-thing escaping from a lab and killing everyone. It's a girl, though. A very naked girl.

She ends up finding some nice people after she escapes but she has complete amnesia, so she doesn't know that she's this experimental killing machine monster thing.

So far, so good.

Then it sort of devolves into a Chobits rip-off for a little while, with the amnesia girl being sort of brain-dead and always doing things like rubbing her breasts against the guy... but, y'see, she's totally innocent and stuff, so then he feels all perv-y because she's super sexy... and then he has to changer her underwear because she doesn't know how, but then his female friend shows up while he's in the middle of doing it and gets really mad because she thinks he... and then he.. and so they...

And then, just when it's gotten really boring and stupid, it gets really nasty too. There's another naked girl killing-machine-monster thing and it's sent after the first one. But this second one has been chained up and tortured for years. And it calls the evil military guy who sends her on missions "Daddy". And so we have this sort of 4-year-old girl in a very breast-y adult woman's body... chained to the wall but covered with blood and cuts and...

So, you get it, right?

This really ought to be at the very bottom of the list but I felt I had to give it a few points because, technically, it's well made.
But, really, it sucks.

Kamichu - 2

A normal girl finds out she's a god.

Nice premise. But the girl is the typical anime girl who is very shy and stutters incessantly and after a while I just got really sick of her.

Y'know, as badly as women are portrayed in Western media, and especially in our comic-books, I've gotta say... we appear to be miles ahead of the Japanese in this regard.

Mobile Gundam 08 - 2

Some kind of war sci-fi thing. I can't remember it, to be honest. I just remember that it wasn't at all memorable.


And that's our list!!!

Man, that really took forever, didn't it? Well, that 's okay... I haven't done much in the way of reviews lately, so this'll help make up for the void in the universe that had been created by my slackness...

In conclusion, you should really go rent Azumanga Daioh, Gunslinger Girls, Haibane Renmei, Kino's Journey, Last Exile, Crest of the Stars, and Dai Guard. They are very worth your time and they will enhance your quality of life immeasurably.

And then you should clean your room. Because it's getting messy. And I've been getting a lot of complaints about it.

So, on that note... I'll see y'all next week!!!

- Paul, anime'd out for a good long while...