Friday, March 27, 2009

Thoughts on: Irresponsible Captain Tylor

To sum up this whole review, I will say this: GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!

What? You're still here? You wish to know why I say this? Okay then, I will tell you....

My first encounter with this series was sometime late October. I went up to NAU (Northern Arizona University) in Flagstaff because my friend's anime club was having a Halloween party that night and she said I could come. Later that evening, I went and spent the night in the dorm room where my friend and her friend where staying at. We watched a few different anime series, and one series my friend's friend suggested we try watching a particular series. It was series that both my friend and I had never heard of before, it was Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Although it was only the first episode, I was very amused by it, and decided I would try watching the rest of the series when I got back home. When I got back home, I found a torrent for the whole series. Yet when the torrent finally finished, I did not watch it just yet. Mostly because for the next few months I didn't feel like watching anime. Plus, I didn't want to get deeply involved with watching a series either, and I had a hunch I would get hooked if I tried watching this series again. Then when my spring break was during its final days, I wanted to try watching a series that I could marathon, so I tried this series again. Turns out my hunch was right, I was indeed immediately hooked.

Based on a series of light novels by Hitoshi Yoshioka. In a distant, highly technological future, Tylor, the title character, is a mysterious young man without a real purpose in life, a state of mind that is very hard to determine, and a knack for accidentally getting out of near-death situations with a childishly cavalier attitude. He sometimes does not even seem to realize when he is in danger, which is actually an asset to him on many occasions. Tylor stumbles his way into the space navy, and soon gains command of a destroyer, to the astonishment of his lieutenant, Yamamoto. It turns out, much to Yamamoto's dismay, that this ship is considered the dumping grounds of the military, and contains all the sorts of characters that should probably not even be let near a paintball gun, let alone a spaceship (Yamamoto and Yuriko Star seem to be the only recruits aboard who are both serious and sane). However, thanks to Tylor's eccentric leadership, these misfits eventually become the collective saviors of humanity. (I stole this summery from Wikipedia, and I added a minor edit, hope you don't mind...)

I love Tylor, he's definitely the highlight of the whole series (and one of my new favorite characters). As the title says, this guy is totally irresponsible. He is definitely not your average captain, and its impossible to tell if the guy is an idiot or a genius. While much of the time he acts like he's not right in the head, every now and then he does something that makes you wonder if the guy is more intelligent than he lets on. Personally, I think the guy just happens to view the world from a different perspective from everybody else. A kind of perspective where others would think the guy is a total fool. If you would like to know a modern day anime equivalent to this guy, it would be Luffy from One Piece. They are both not your average captains of their ships, and their personalities are somewhat similar too. Although, I think Tylor's way of thinking a much bigger mystery than Luffy's. As for Tylor, whether he is a genius or not, his luck is absolutely incredible! Without really having to do anything at all, he miraculously escapes death numerous times, not to mention that he became a captain as a result of sheer dumb luck as well.

I was surprised to see the music for this series was done by Kawai Kenji. I liked the soundtrack he put together for the Fate/Stay Night anime and the soundtrack for the live-action Death Note movies wasn't half-bad either. As for the music he put together for Captain Tylor, I didn't find the soundtrack outstanding or anything, but I felt it complemented the series very well. Oddly, I found it a bit more memorable than the opening and ending themes used in the series. Perhaps its because I have only viewed the openings and endings only a few times and skipped the rest? What was an even bigger shocker was the director for this series was Koichi Mashimo. Which happens to be the same guy who bastardized CLAMP's epic, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Just how is it that this guy did such a fantastic job with Captain Tylor, yet totally screw over Tsubasa?!!? Just how is it possible?! *sigh* Nobody's perfect I guess. While i'm at it i'll point out that this guy also directed .hack//SIGN and many of its spin-offs, Noir, as well as a few others.

I find it a shame at how little-known this series is. I know it was made back it 1993, and as a result older series like these are bound to be overlooked in favor of newer ones. But its disappointing knowing how people rave on about series like Naruto, Bleach, Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, etc., while this series gets ignored. Even older series like Evangelion, Slayers, Ranma 1/2, Escaflowne and Magic Knight Rayearth get more attention than this series does. Heck, even Record of Lodoss War seams to get more attention, and many modern-day anime fans don't know that series either. It's quite sad indeed. I really hate to see this series become lost in the sands of time, it deserves to stand along side these other great series. Without a doubt, this is definitely one of the most underrated series I have never seen.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), Irresponsible Captain Tylor at the moment wins my heart with a 10. It will probably drop down to a 9 later, after when my hype for the series goes away, but for now it deserves a 10 because that's how much I enjoyed this series. Its a great Sci-fi series that is absolutely hilarious most of the time, and later the series gets a bit more serious. Overall, its a fantastic, well-crafted series that you can't help but love.

I also found out Rightstuf is going to be rereleasing this series remastered on a discount DVD set this June. Perhaps i'll try saving my pennies, and if I can find it within my price range ($35 or less) perhaps I will grab a copy (and I am tempted to try tracking down the original novels as well...)

One Piece - 300+ manga chapters so far and lovin’ it!

To be honest, at first, I was hesitant on checking out One Piece for the longest time. Knowing that the series had 300+ anime episodes and around 500+ manga chapters was quite intimidating. It didn’t help the fact that the pictures that I saw of it didn’t appeal to me, and lead me to misbelieve that it was just some dumb, goofy overrated series. Like the kind of series that just wouldn’t appeal to my tastes. Then within the past year I was pestered by my friend Natti for the longest time to check this series out (although it was no where near the level that she kept bugging me to check out D.Gray-man). She kept going on about how good it was and kept saying something like “Don’t let the artwork fool you!”, but even after what she said, I was still hesitant on checking it out. Few months later, I had read all the copies that my local library had to offer for InuYasha. While I was standing there trying to figure out what series I should tackle next, I gave in and checked out their copies of One Piece. I did this mostly so I could get my friend to stop bugging me about it, plus, when it comes to a series like this, I’m much more willing to sit down and read its manga counterpart than watch the anime. So what do I think of the series? Well, the fact that I have now completed over 300 chapters in a short time (roughly 3 months) obviously means something, and I’m still going! I read all 19 volumes my library had, and I’m now reading the scans. This has got to be one of the most enjoyable series I have ever read!

I’m having a lot more fun reading this series than I ever did watching/reading InuYasha. One of the reasons why I’m enjoying this is the shear amount of thought and creativity put into this series, its unbelievable! Just how does Eichiro Oda do it?! Here I have been admiring Kubo Title for a while now for the same similar thing. I was impressed at how he came up with an endless amount of characters, a unique look for each one, abilities, weapons, and even a back story for each character in both Bleach and Zombie Powder. Not to mention, I love the fight scenes and how they where executed from both series. Yet Echiro here, good lord, its like Kubo Title’s creativity x5! You never know what this guy is going to think of next. From the enemies our heroes will encounter, to the places they visit, the new friends they meet, even something like what kind of crazy stunt Luffy will try and pull next. What I also find interesting is that many of the islands/groups of people/pirates they meet all seam to have some kind of theme going on. Then there's also the characters, I really like the characters from One Piece (especially Luffy and the rest of his crew). Heck, I even find the bad guys amusing to watch. They all have their own unique character designs and personalities. So its all one fun unpredictable thrill ride. (Ah well, I still like Kubo Title’s style, and it appears we both have the same views when it comes to music. Perhaps I shall comment on this in a future post?)

Overall, I’m enjoying this series A LOT more than I thought I ever would. I even feel tempted to check out the anime, although I’m going to continue the manga first, seeing how I’m already on a roll with that. Maybe i'll comment again later once I reach the 600 chapter mark or start the anime....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thoughts on: Coraline

I have been quite disappointed in Hollywood in recent years. Apparently they believe that nobody is interested in traditionally animated films anymore and many are only producing poorly written CGI comedies that usually make fun of well-known material from other sources. So when I heard that Coraline was made by the same people who made Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, and was going to be using traditional stop-motion animation, I knew I had to see it in theaters while I still can. So if I had to spend $5+ on a movie ticket just to show my love for traditional non-CGI animation, so be it. Plus, I kept hearing the movie was quite good, another reason why I wanted to see it. So when they where finally showing the movie at the local theater in town, I went and saw it on the final day it was playing (and my mom went and saw it with me).

It was quite nice seeing an animated film that wasn't a fully CGI one on the big screen again (last traditionally animated film I saw on the big screen was Atlantis: the Lost Empire by Disney, I think). The animation in Coraline is terrific and really well done! It was really great (creepy) eye-candy. Some parts of the film where done on the computer though, but they blended in so nicely with the animation it was quite difficult to tell the difference at times. I envy the folks who got to see this movie in 3D or at the IMAX screens, I bet it was really something to see. Then again, even though I went to a regular screening, it was still amazing visual-wise.

The story was decent too, much better than many of the animated films these days. It wasn't anything like Madagascar or the later Shrek movies where they where made just for laughs. There was a real plot in Coraline, and it wasn't bad either. I heard Coraline was based off of a British children's novel and It actually won an award a while back. I won't get into describing the plot, knowing how one can easily look that up on a site like Wikipedia. Lets just say it bears a slight similarity to Alice in Wonderland and rehashes the age-old quote "Be careful what you wish for". As well as, you should never trust someone who says that they are your real parents and have buttons for eyes.

Now even though the visuals where great, and the story was good, this is one animated film that I wouldn't recommend letting the really young 'lil kiddies see (under age 6). Its downright creepy at times and its bound to give them nightmares. It should be alright for older kids though, afteral, I grew up during an era where they made animated films like this regularly, and other people my age who saw these films back then turned out fine today.

If you love traditional animation like this as much as I do, please don't download it off the internet and actually view it the legal way by seeing this movie in theaters if you still can. If not, then at least rent the DVD or check it out when it comes to pay-per-view. By doing this it shows Hollywood that there is still interest in films like these. I thought this movie was worth the $5 bucks I spent.

One a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), I give Coraline a good solid 8.

On a final note, I give you Chester the Bum (aka ThatGuyWithTheGlasses) and his review for Coraline....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comical - an excellent alternative to reading comics on your computer

I said it before and I will say it again: I HATE reading manga on a computer. I like the feel of having the actual book in my hand rather than staring a a bright glowing screen. Although, as much as I hate reading manga on a computer, I still do it anyways. Usually I do it when there's a series I really want to read and can’t find it elsewhere, or to continue reading a series that I have started. When I first started reading manga on my computer, I did a very painstaking process of clicking each picture file open one by one. Then half a year ago when I got Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe Bridge came along with it. So I used Bridge for reading manga, and when I went and read something on my Windows laptop, I used Image Viewer. Then after doing a bit of searching around, hoping to find a better alternative, and I have found it. And the answer is a program called Comical....

I’m sure there's an even better program out there, but for Mac users like myself, our options are pretty slim to the kinds of programs we can use. So Comical is like a blessing for Mac users. Adobe Bridge is still a good program to use for reading manga, don’t get me wrong, but it has 2-3 major problems. The first being that to my knowledge, its a program that you have to pay for (although, I lucked out big time and got it free thanks to my cousin). Another big problem is that you can only view one page at a time, so when it comes to 2 page spreads, its quite annoying seeing it broke up as 2 separate images (that's if the person who made the file did not put the images together). Then my biggest gripe was you cannot zoom into a picture. So when i’m reading a series that has small font, I have to put my nose to the screen and squint to try and read it. It doesn’t help the fact that the text isn’t 100% clear either and is somewhat pixelated, making it even more difficult to read. Overall, the program is designed for viewing pictures, not for reading a bunch of comic-like files.

Comical is designed for the comic readers. Although it seams to be designed with left-to-right printed comic books in mind, but it works pretty well for Japanese manga too. The people who made the program also have an option where you can change the format so it could be either read from left-to-right or right-to-left. Its preset at left-to-right, so to read manga, just switch it. To read the files, you just have the file as a .rar, .zip, .cbr-type file, open it and read it that way. With Bridge I had to unzip the file before I could read it, so this makes things nice. What I like most about the program is that you can customize the settings to however you like. You can set it to one page view or 2 page (like a book), rotate pages, and adjust what level you wish to view the file at (have it zoomed in or not). When you have it set to 2 pages, when you click the double arrow, it moves ahead 2 picture files, like you have just turned the page to the next. Then there is even a full screen mode and you can view it that way too. Well, Bridge had a fullscreen view as well, which I kinda liked better, but Comical can do 2 pages at once. Then again, I don’t really use fullscreen mode anyways, I still thought I should point that fun detail out. I really like this program, its perhaps the closest thing I have found so far that resembles reading the actual book. I actually enjoy reading manga on my desktop Mac again. I liked this program so much, I even loaded it onto my Windows laptop, it totally beats Windows Picture Viewer, which I was using before on there. It’s a great lil program overall, highly recommended. (Although, I think this program still works best for comics that are read from left-to-right.) Oh, and the best part is that its free, and nothing can top the awesomeness of something that is free! ;)

Heres the link to the site if you want to check it out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A 85% complete listing of all the cartoons i've ever seen...

A while back during my last obsession resurrection phase about 2 months ago, (which is an event that happens when every once and a while during my life, an old obsession of mine comes back), and the last phase rekindled my love for animation from outside Japan. During that time, I sat down and made a complete listing of every single cartoon and animated film I viewed throughout my entire life (check out my anime list if you want a complete listing of anime i’ve seen). Why did I do this? I was curious mostly, after having a list on for anime, I put together my own personal list just for cartoons (which I'm now reposting here just to help get this blog rollin). I knew I had seen alot of cartoons during my childhood years, I had a very dull childhood afteral. Being an only child, growing up in the middle of nowhere, having very few friends, and with my mom working during the day and my dad worked at night. He was usually asleep in his chair or watching his football or NASCAR. So basically all there was for me to do was either play by myself, play on the computer or watch TV all day. Sure it was lonely sometimes, but I enjoyed being in my own little world much of the time. So I watched every single cartoon that aired on TV back in the early 90’s from (mostly around 1993-1997-ish), didn’t matter watch station it came on, or if I loved it or hated it, I watched it anyways. So whatever show you can name that aired then, old or new, there's a 90% chance I've seen it. Like the old Hanna Barbara cartoons from the 60s-70s that aired on Cartoon Network back then, the classic Nicktoons, the old Disney Afternoon cartoons, even the shows that aired on saturday morning on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and WB. Oddly enough, even I still remember most of them (I seem to have such a keen memory for this sort of thing apparently). So I have always loved animation, its just that in recent years my interests have moved away from cartoons and onto anime. Now let the list began, I have the series categorized by how frequently I watched them back then....

TV series

Was an obsession at some point - Darkwing Duck, Bonkers, 101 Dalmatians the Series, Rocko’s Modern Life, The Angry Beavers, Catdog, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Road Rovers, various Loony Tunes and Tom and Jerry shorts, Care Bears, Underdog, Rainbow Brite, Garfield and Friends, Hong Kong Phooey, 2 Stupid Dogs

Frequently viewed (and liked) - Ducktales, Goof Troop, Quack Pack, Timon and Pumbaa, Marsupilami, House of Mouse/Mickey Mouse Works, The Schnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show, The Wuzzles, Hey Arnold, Kablam!, Wild Thornberries, My Life as a Teenage Robot, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Pinky and the Brain, Tazmania, Freakazoid, Eek the cat, Stickin Around, Gumby, Peanuts TV series, Top Cat, Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, SWAT Kats, Pound Puppies, My Little Pony, Bump in the Night, What a mess, Princess Gwenevere and the jewel riders, Muppet babies

Casually viewed - Talespin, Gummi Bears, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Little Mermaid TV series, Aladdin TV series, Pepper Ann, Recess, Rugrats, Oh yeah! Cartoons, Farily Odd Parents, Little Bear, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Maisy, Histeria!, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bobby’s World, Space Goofs, Casper the TV series (new one), Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest (both original and part of remakes), The Smurfs, Richie Rich, Snorks, The Flintstones, Flintstone Kids, Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel show, Birdman, Fantastic Four, Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Joise and the Pussy Cats, Hair Bear Bunch, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McDraw, Scooby Doo, A pup named Scooby Doo, Space Ghost, Godzillia the series (70s one), The Addams Family (newer one), What-a-cartoon show, Johnny Bravo, Oh Canada, Rocky and Bulwinkle, Droopy, Woody Woodpecker show (the one that was on TV during early 90’s in the morn.), George of the Jungle (original version), Magic School Bus, Happily Ever After, Hello Kitty the series (the one that aired on Toon Disney), Adventures of Sonic the hedgehog, Mr. Bean the animated series, Dennis the Menace the series, Inspector Gadget, Captian Planet, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Beetlejuice the TV series, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Father of the Pride

Only saw a few episodes - Hercules TV series, The Emperor’s New School, Life with Louie, Wizard of Oz the series

Hated/didn’t care for, but watched it anyways when nothing else was on - Mighty Ducks, Gargoyles, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, PB&J Otter, Doug, Ren and Stimpy, AHH! Real Monsters, Spongebob Squarepants, Adventures of Tin Tin, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Jabberjaw, Cow and Chicken

Animated Movies

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, 101 Dalmatians, 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London Adventure, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000, The Aristocats, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Cinderella 3, Sleeping Beauty, Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Little Mermaid, Little Mermaid 2, Aladdin, Aladdin: Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of thieves, Lion King, Lion King 2, Lady and the Tramp, Lady and the Tramp 2, The Rescuers, The Rescuers: Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Three Caballeros, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The Sword in the Stone
Pochahantas, Pochahantas 2: Journey to a new world, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Tarzan, Home on the Range, Brother Bear, Recess: the movie, Chicken Litte, Atlantis the lost emprie, Dinosaur, The Great Mouse Dectective, Ducktales: the Movie, Emperor’s New Groove, Oliver and Company, A Goofy Movie, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Meet the Robinsons, A Bug’s Life, Monster’s Inc, Finding Nemo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ice Age, Ice Age 2, Robots, Flushed Away, Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek 3, Madagascar, Happy Feet, Shark Tale, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Joseph: King of Dreams, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Antz, Swan Princess, Secret of Nimth, Rock-a-doodle, Anastasia, Troll in Central Park, Furngully, Land Before Time 1-7, An American Tail, An American Tail 2, Pebble and the Penguin, Felix the Cat: the movie, Tom and Jerry the movie, Rugrats the Movie, Rugrats in Paris, Hey Arnold the Movie, Wild Thornberries the movie, Jimmy Neutron the Movie, Gay Purr-ee, Powerpuff Girls: the movie, Race for your life Carlie Brown, Balto, Garfield gets Real

....this list is only 85% complete too, this is all that I remember (with the help of Wikipedia of course). Theres still lots of movies I remember seeing, just can’t remember the name of them. Then again, i'm surprised I manage to remember this much in the first place! Also maybe one of these days someone will make a My Cartoon List site (like My Anime List)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Da blog begins...

After much thought I decided to start a blog. I wanted to do a commentary video series on a variety of animated media (or just simply anime and manga), but I didn't feel like having to put up with my piece of **** video camera. (Note to Mac users: NEVER buy Aiptek products!) It also doesn't help the fact that lately in recent months I can't get myself to sit down long enough to edit a video (it also doesn't help the fact that I have a very bad habit of jumping around to different projects, and usually never complete what I start). So for now I'll post my comments here whenever the mood strikes.

At the same time, I'm also working on a website . There you will find detailed comparisons of anime and its manga counterpart, as well as a bunch of other things. So check it out!