Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anime Review: The Sacred Blacksmith

Today we’ll be looking at The Sacred Blacksmith an anime I haven’t seen or really heard much of beforehand, as usual. I saw some ads around the internet for the cartoon for a while now but what made me decide to finally check it out was that, judging from the cover art, it was a fantasy series and that’s a genre I’d like to write more about. I’m a fan of sword and sorcery type storytelling (Sometimes, anyway) so it has that going for it.  The show, broadcasting in 2009, was based on a series of light novels by Isao Miura. Now if you recall cartoons based on light novels have been hit or miss on this blog; Black Blood Brothers was a great show but Kaze no Stigma was not my most liked anime (IT SUCKS!) but both had a common major problem: being based on unfinished novels makes for non-endings that tend to be unsatisfying.  So we’re only one paragraph in and we’re already in trouble.

Licensed for North America by FUNimation Entertainment it was just released on DVD this past January (2011, for those of you in the far future).   It was originally created by the animation studio Manglobe.  Now I’m not terribly familiar with their work but they did do Samurai Champloo which is one of the more critically acclaimed shows of the last decade (I haven’t seen the whole show, but what I did see was certainly above average stuff. A future blog perhaps?).  With that show on its resume it’s not hard to give this sow the benefit of the doubt.  And again I must add it has swords and sorcery!  How can it possibly go wrong?

Find out how after the jump.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

5 Unpopular Opinions About Star Wars

[Starting today, due to circumstances beyond my control, I will no longer be able to use Times New Roman 12-point font. I’m really depressed about this]

So I’ve been doing this blog for this long and I haven’t talked too much about Star Wars yet? We better rectify this.

Meh
 I like Star Wars. I loved it when I was a child, but as I grew older I’ve sort of lost of lot of my fondness for it.

Oh wait I’m sorry; it wasn’t getting older that changed anything. What I meant to just type was “After the second trilogy of suck I lost a lot of my fondness for it. If you asked me where I stand on the Star Wars/Star Trek debate I’d go Star Trek all the way.

I am a fan of the franchise for the most part though and I do have opinions of various aspects of it. Not all of them are typical.

Click below for unbelievably nerdy ranting.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nerd Rage #6b: Review of Spider-Man - One More Day (100th Blog)

This is a little late than I wanted but nevertheless we’ve reached the 100th blog of Beta is Dead.  I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually reach that many blogs but thankfully things have remained fun for me.  In any case I wanted to do something big for this occasion, thus Spider-Man: One More Day.  What better way to celebrate the current longevity of my blog than to review one of the most controversial comic book storylines this past decade?

If you haven’t done so already make sure you check out the Nerd Rage #6a from earlier this week where I went into detail about the back-story of the comic.  In 2007 Marvel Comics decided to run a storyline in the pages of their three current ongoing Spider-Man titles Amazing Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.  Based on where the comic are now I assume that there were three main goals attached to this storyline: 1) Undo or otherwise downplay all the various and controversial changes to Spider-Man’s nature over the past few years (Including his organic web-shooters and several extra powers he gained).  2) Set up the comics for a new direction and new status quo (i.e. Brand New Day, which also saw the cancellation of the two extra Spider-Man titles while Amazing started running three times a month rather than just monthly). 3) To finally, FINALLY rid the world of that annoying Spider-Marriage that has plagued readers for two decades thus raising the quality of the stories for current and future readers.  How would it do that?  HELL IF I KNOW IT’S MAGIC OR SOMETHING!!!!!!

One More Day was written by J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5 and a familiar face if you’re a regular visitor of this blog, and boy oh boy is that man not a stranger to controversial Spider-Man storylines having written Amazing for the last few years (See: “The Other”, “Sins Past”).  However this comic is the baby of artist and then-Editor-in-chief Joe “We Don’t Have to Explain It” Quesada, a vocal opponent of the marriage who has seemingly made an enemy out of many fans due to some choice words before, during and after One More Day was running.

Anyway its important to remember that this article is not about whether ending the marriage was a good move or not, nor is it about whether the marriage needed to end in the first place.  This article is a review of the comic itself to determine if it was any good not, which is the most important part anyway.  That sad I want to point out that Mary Jane Watson is one of the better female characters in superhero comics and certainly one of my personal favorites but she’s constantly a victim of bad characterization from writers who don’t “get her” and often used as a scapegoat for their own limitations (It’s easier to say “Mary Jane is a bad character” than to admit you can’t properly write women).  Her exile from the comic books, and eventual demotion, means Spider-Man has lost his most important supporting character and hasn’t really offered a decent replacement.   We’re all slightly worse off now.

Anyway enough of that crap.  Its reviewing time!  Click below for the full review.

[WARNING: There’s pretty much nothing but spoilers after the jump.  So if you haven’t read One More Day and would like to you’ll pretty much have everything ruined for you if you click below.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nerd Rage #6a: Road to One More Day

It's Finally Time...

Look, we all knew this was coming sooner or later.  All those snide remarks about Spider-Man and his (lack of) marriage for the past year; I was going to talk about Spider-Man: One More Day eventually and since it’s such a hot topic even today I figured why not do so when the blog reaches 100 posts.  Of course this isn’t anything new as practically everyone with internet access has voiced an opinion about the comic since it hit stands in 2007 but even so if I went on a rant about Cassandra Cain and no one screamed at me one would think I’d be okay here.  We’ll see.  So later this week (Hopefully) I’ll be posting a review of the graphic novel that collects the infamous four issue storyline.  I can’t claim I won’t be biased , of course, but I’ll at least try to give the book a fair shake .
But there’s a problem.  Superhero comic books are tricky in that non-fans who may be interested in checking them out are often confused by the content due to the fact that there’s decades’ worth of continuity to them.  So what’s common knowledge for me and my buddies won’t necessarily be common knowledge for, let’s say, an anime fan who usually just comes to the blog for anime reviews.  So before we can talk about One More Day we need to talk about what led to it and why it happened.  And, because I know that the review is going to be long as hell, I decided to “pre-blog” here so that you won’t have to read a giant novel worth of text next time.  We’re swimming in pretty nerdy waters, folks, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to avoid the site for the next week.
More after the jump, if you dare.

Friday, April 8, 2011

One Year of Anime Reviews (And Lots of Mental Scars)


 The first anime I ever reviewed one year to the day
So I guess it’s been a year since my first anime review.  I suppose that as far as milestones go this one isn’t the most memorable or exciting (Come back in two entries for a better one) but I figured it’d be weird to not at least acknowledge things.  For those of you who aren’t aware last year I decided to start watching anime again after several years of going out of my way to avoid it.  Basically I had become burnt out on it after a stint as president of my university’s anime club.  However back in the day, when I was a child, I LOVED anime with a fiery passion.  I lived and breathed that shit.  I don’t think I even knew what the word “otaku” was but from age nine to nineteen I one of the biggest ones I knew.  I recall watching various movies and OVAs on the Sci-Fi Channel (Now embarrassingly known as “SyFy”) during their anime blocks, going to cons to track down fansubs of Dragon Ball Z and After War Gundam X, and amassing a large collection of soundtracks.  
When I started the blog it was mostly to write up extra thoughts for my radio show The Saturday Morning Cartoon Show that I was unable to express on the show proper and one episode we happened to watch Gigantor.   After that write-up I ended writing a follow-up for SMCS fans who may not have been that fluent in the style.  All that writing about anime made me nostalgic for the old days so I decided I’d try to recapture my lost love for it.  The best way to do that I figured was to watch a bunch of shows I’ve never seen before and since I had this blog I figured I’d review them here while I was at it.  So one year and thirteen new (To me) shows later I feel I’m still not really any closer to being the kind of fan I used to be, but seeing as I have in fact watched that much anime and have written so much on it I might as well be an otaku.  Wow, I’m an anime nerd with zero of the benefits.  Sometimes I hate this blog.
More on anime and possibly drinking to forget after the jump.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anime Review: Eden of the East


This Friday will be a year to the day from when I posted my first anime review and, assuming nothing goes wrong between now and then, I plan on posting a retrospective on the past year.  Princess Resurrection was supposed to be the last show I reviewed before Friday but as it happens I started watching Eden of the East and finished it in record time (For me anyway).  Since there was still time before the retrospective and I technically watched it before the deadline I set for myself I figured I review and post this now rather than later this month.
Eden of the East is an original anime by the studio Production I.G. released in 2009 and directed by Kenji Kamiyama who also directed Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is one of the more celebrated anime of the last decade.  It was licensed by our friends FUNimation Entertainment and brought over to North America in 2010 making it one of the more recent series I’ve reviewed.  It’s also one of the shortest being only eleven episodes which undoubtedly is partly why I was able to finish it so quickly.  Now I saw some ads around the internet a few months ago advertising the DVD collection but back then I couldn’t really find it at most places.  So when I finally was able to see I jumped at that chance.  Since I’ve obviously haven’t learned my lesson about judging a book by its cover you can probably guess where this is going.
Full review after the jump.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Sucker Punch


Once again I’m here talking about Zack Snyder. Look, I’ve seen all of his films and I think he’s a pretty decent director.  The Dawn of the Dead remake was pretty decent, though as I understand it most zombie film fans consider it to be inferior to the original (I wouldn’t know).  300 was okay as a whole but it looked pretty damn cool.  Watchmen, being based on one of the greatest comic books every written, was pretty good although I didn’t like the ending (And my reasons are apparently different than most comic nerds).  I gave Legend of the Guardians an average review, but it wasn’t a bad film.  Bottom line is that Snyder is a pretty good director capable of producing entertaining films.
Which brings us to Sucker Punch.
I had been looking forward to this film for a while as the promotional images and trailers made it look pretty over the top, which was fine by me.  However things started becoming suspicious within the last few months.  As Snyder was flagged to direct the latest Superman film rumors started spreading around about the horrid nature of Sucker Punch.  Basically according to the grape vine test showings of the film were so unbelievably bad that Warner Bros. was seriously considering pulling the plug on the Superman project.  Now I can’t be sure how true any of this is but it did make me a bit nervous about the quality of the flick.  Well I have just watched it and, as it turns out I had pretty good reasoning for being concerned.
Full review after the jump.
[Warning: This review is FULL of spoilers, so only click below if you don’t care about how the film ends]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Anime Review: Princess Resurrection


It’s been a short while since the last anime review.   Princess Resurrection is a 2007 anime based on the unfinished manga of the same name by Yasunori Mitsunaga.  The show was produced by the studio Madhouse known for such cartoons as Trigun, X, the American film Hulk Vs., Death Note and of course Sexy Commando Gaiden: Suigoiyo!! Masura-san (Never heard of that last one?  That’s because you’re lame).  It was licensed for North America by Sentai Filmworks.   Now Madhouse is one of the best studios in Japan having done many, many successful anime; far too many to list here.  So theoretically the show has odds in this show’s favor.
That said it’s likely that, whatever I end up writing about this cartoon, there is a strong possibility that the anime will be inferior to its manga counterpart.  This show appears to be a lighter and fluffier version of the comic and more than a little filler sprinkled in.  Of course that will happen when you base a show off unfinished material.  Seriously why does this happen so much?  And why are we constantly surprised by the results?  Even so that alone shouldn’t make it terrible right?
No it doesn’t.  Not that alone.  Full review after the jump.