Archive for July, 2011

Torchwood Miracle Day – an early review because I can’t help myself it’s my biggest fandom and I love John Barrowman!!!!

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Now I know that I usual wait to the end of a show to review it as then I can rant about everything plus spoil it rotten but I just have to give me first impressions of the new torchwood. It will be interesting to see what kind of review I’ll give at the end of the series. So before Miracle Day I listened to the radio plays, first 2 were ok was nice to have some old school stories but god did it make me sad about Ianto. Now I loved Ianto so I was excited at first to have some more episodes even just audio ones with him in it now that I was out of Torchwood books to read. When it came down to it having Ianto back just made me realise how much I missed him and wished he hadn’t died reminding me what the fandom had lost. Now the 3rd radio play, my god did it break my heart. At first it was all yay Jack and Ianto together solving a case until that mega twist of doom!!!!! House of Ghosts was so brilliant for that and heart breaking. What can you say as a Janto fangirl when confronted with the wonderful plot of Jack missing Ianto so much he goes to see his ghost? Ianto as a ghost, the one person in all of Jacks life, with all his loves and loss he wants to see again. That alone spoke volumes to us of how much Ianto meant to Jack.
The whole thing was torturous; they fought beautifully, the combination of Jack’s own selfishness combined with desperation to see Ianto again. Ianto so in love with Jack but appalled by Jacks actions while also coming to terms with what that means and how strongly jack does love him and that they have to be separated again. Even just as voices the pain of finding and losing each other came across through fantastic acting. Jack willing to give up life rather than be without Ianto, his world being empty and just not willing to continue, Ianto convincing him to give up the fight let someone else deal with it so they could have a chance just for it to be a rouse because he doesn’t want Jack to die. How many times can I say heart-breaking but it was and then Janto fangirls around the world rejoiced for Jack told Ianto “I Love You”? There’s no implications, no doubt no room for denial Jack loves Ianto and it’s Ianto he wants to see at the end of it all!!! I like to believe that when Jack does finally die it will be Ianto he meets again in the afterlife and Ianto will be waiting for him probably with a strong cup of coffee in hand.
This finale radio play gave me a lot of closure because I finally got the confession they never gave us in COE and it allowed me to go into Miracle Day knowing that no matter what Jack does his love for Ianto was real and when it’s said and done they will find each other in the afterlife. So I was very happy to accept Jack in Miracle day understanding that he may be depressed and isolated but Ianto gave him a chance to live again and he has a duty not to waist his life but live to protect and be Captain Jack Harkness in all his glory saving the human race and making a difference, his journey isn’t over and if we believe in Doctor Who he has to become the Face of Boe and live a very long life as Earths observer, saviour, protector and make the great sacrifice before he can die.

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So Miracle day, I was rather excited I was so ready for the return of Captain Jack Harkness to my screen and the trailers looked good and the reviews had been good. I have decided to be good and watch it on the BBC rather than get it from the states as I want to make sure it gets the ratings to prove how well it’s doing. So here’s where I stand on TMD and the TW fandom. Its kinda like 2 different series really you could almost say there set in two different realities. TW series 1 and 2 was cheesy, fun and silly, it had its darkness and angst but it wasn’t too harsh in my opinion plus it followed the weekly formula so wasn’t as epic. Now I loved TW that way, I mean all it needed was jack running around and I would love it as John Barrowman can do no wrong. Though I also loved Ianto and it was his and Jacks relationship that interested me the most. I wanted more than the plot and storylines to see the two of them interact and for Ianto to deliver his brilliant one liners. There were brilliant episodes that could carry themselves based on the great writing then there were episodes I liked less for the plot and more for the amount Janto scenes in them.
Now there are two types of shows I like, shows that aren’t the best dramatically but have an awesome slash pairing that blinds me to any of the shows weaknesses and then there are shows so good dramatically that I don’t care that there isn’t a slash paring in them for me to focus on. Good examples of these are Merlin, Hawaii 5.0 and Vampire Diaries for slash though I have to admit I love the first 2, VD even I have given up on. Then there are shows like Fringe, Xfiles and SGU which are just so good I don’t care that nobody is gay. Of course you get shows that fulfil both these criteria like Oz, Glee and Nip/Tuck but series 1 and 2 of TW was for me more about the slash than the plot a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong TW is my top fandom and I would never let anyone say a bad thing about it because it was brilliant and great fun but lacked the intelligence of great sci-fi like Fringe or the gritty harsh reality of Oz and the extreme dramatic tension and killer style of SGU. But then things shifted in COE which I did a review on back when it came out so I won’t go on about it again.

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Now back then I had no intentions of re-joining the fandom but I couldn’t help myself!!! You see COE was a turning point making a new show out of the ashes of the old. Miracle Day has all the epic qualities of COE with the one on-going and intense plot line. With this new style of an epic plot comes far more dramatic tension and the writing has become another level. From the first ep we have a new Torchwood a show where the intelligence of the plot, dramatics and harsh reality become such a driving force that I’m hooked. I’m so intrigued and invested that I don’t miss the slash. TW has become a show like Fringe where my interest isn’t just focused on gay storylines and moments of slashability but truly interested in what’s gonna happen to these characters. Now being TW and having read spoilers and JB interviews I also know that we will still be getting the gay and I am very much looking forward to a bit of naked Jack and sexy times. Though I do wish Ianto had lived to this point but I have my knowledge of that no matter how much sex and boyfriends Jack has in life its Ianto he will return to and is waiting to see after his death. After all it’s not fair to ask Captain Jack Harkness, immortal 51st century omisexual time traveller to stay celibate for the next 6million years.

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As for all the other concerns I had about the show from ep one it doesn’t feel too American and it never can with brilliant lines from Kai Owen, how much love do I have for Rhys and “Captain Jack Bollocks”. Also Gwen has matured so much and with her love for Rhys and their child she is no longer the character I felt was a threat to my Janto pairing but honestly a strong women who is very close to Jack and they make a strong team. I loved Gwen in the first episode, baby ear muff shooting down helicopters was just awesome and I very much hope we see more of the kick arse side of Gwen. Yes I know a lot more of the show will be in America but you can take Gwen out of Wales but you can’t take the Welsh out of Gwen. Jack has always been timeless and impossible to place so he will just always be Jack wherever he is so I don’t fear for him apart from the not being immortal anymore. It’s a very interesting place to go dramatically and I hope they use it well but I will miss the ha ha I’m not dead even though you blew me up moments. I think a lot of the faith I have in this series comes from the fact it was co-produced with Starz and they gave me Spartacus: Blood and Sand which is one of the best shows on TV.
So I know they won’t dumb down the actions, violence or sex they now have the freedom to do. As for the other characters so far Rex seems interesting so concerned with his own goals and advancements he doesn’t mind who gets hurt because of his ambition. He’s going to be a disliked character at first but I think he has a journey to go on so not going to paint him as a bad guy yet just a guy whose priorities need work and is going to make some bad decisions even though he thinks he is doing the right thing. Ester is our other main character who is just the American answer to Gwen series 1, she’s the character that comes in and introduces the American audience to TW. She seems nice and because she is clearly in love with Rex she’s not a threat as a potential Jack love interest but she will also probably grow and have a similar journey to early Gwen. The other character I’m intrigued by is Bill Pullmans paedophile murderer, a brave and bold choice for a character who looks like he has some major weight in the overall plot. I do love a villain that is charming and ruthless and you don’t know exactly where you stand with him so I’m very interested to see his journey as I’m sure nothing in this series is going to be black and white.

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That’s its so far the series has dramatic weight, tension, epicness, global appeal as well as that home grown feeling, interesting characters, great action and one liners and I for one can’t wait to see where this series is going to go.

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Arad Senki Slap Up Party – a harmless and fun anime that isn’t Slayers but wishes it was!!!

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Arad Senki isn’t the most inspirational anime out there but for a bit of light hearted fun it’s worth a watch. It follows many anime that is RPG based and has a group of adventurers thrown together in a fantasy world that set off on a quest and have to battle an ancient evil at the end. We’ve seen the formula many a time in anime’s such as Ragnarok, Lodoss War and Star Ocean to name a few. And it’s a formula that always entertains because you know what you’re expecting therefore can’t really be disappointed. With Arad Senki there is defiantly more a focus on comedy than the more gritty tales like Lodoss War and Crystannia so it makes it just a very amusing and fun romp, imagine more Bakuretsu hunters where characters end up in stupid situations for a vast majority of the show before any real threat develops.

It’s not until the last part of the series that we really get a real sense of danger and a darker plot line that leads to our finale battle with the villain of the piece. While Arad Senki doesn’t have the heart or perfect balance of comedy, action, magic and dark villainy of the greats like Slayers it’s still has good points in the fact that its light fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s an interesting idea. The idea of a disease spreading demon possession through the inhabitants was interesting; the idea that part of your body is possessed by demon blood making you a stronger warrior but also the risk of turning fully into a demon was a good angle. In fact it’s a shame they didn’t explore this angle more but the series wanted to stay a little more light and fluffy than fully going with the demonic versus your humanity angle and therefore played it down a lot.

The series itself is based on a Korean game called Dungeon Fighter (which explains why so much of the cast and crew for this anime are Korean) that was renamed Arad Senki in Japan. The series based on an original web comic and has a very basic plot of Swordsman Baron travels the world of Arad to find a way to heal his demonic left arm. Accompanying him is Roxy, the ghost of a woman who unwillingly unleashed the evil that also caused Barons transformation. On their travel they get to know other fighters who accompany them and soon they call their group the “Party”.
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The frustrating thing about this series for me is I like the darkness and a harsher storyline that really brings out the angst in the protagonists and this series just isn’t like that. I found I could skip scenes and not really pay attention because it just wouldn’t get dark enough for me. I don’t like too much comedy in anime unless it really is the surreal crazy of a series like Kemeko DX or a more situational comedy like Maria Holic. I love Slayers but they have a better balance of amusing situations and bizarre characters Arad is a bit of a poor copy really. Arad does rely a lot more on prate falls and slap stick, which I should have guessed from the “Slap up Party” part of the title.

There was one really good character that I really liked, Carpenshisu (many different places spell his name differently including various subbing groups) he looked cool and was the genius gunman of the series from another outer world of Arad. Unfortunately he was also the character that lost his entire cool in front of women and was reduced to an embarrassing failure of a Casanova and he was always falling over, rolling down hills and getting squashed, beat up and overlooked. He would do something amazing and cool and he really was awesome with his guns but they just kept ruining this cool façade and turning him into a pathetic idiot. That was very annoying to watch because I kept hoping they would make him less stupid and also expand on his storyline, he originally came to Arad from an outer world and when they returned to this amazing place he explained its history but not his own. We never found out why he left or what he left behind making him rather bland when he could have been so much more.
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The other characters were not as well fleshed out, our main demon knight Baron was very laid back and didn’t seem to mind having a demon arm and it didn’t really cause him much trouble or lend him any really awesome powers, plus it never explained why only he could see Roxy’s ghost (who lived in his sword) and why none of the characters noticed him talking to the invisible friend. The girl fighter Ryunmei was cool but we never really got to see her have a proper brutal fight where she could go all out, the bad magician girl Ixia was just that, cute and mouthy but rather pants and then there was the warrior priest Jeda that may have been bisexual but we never really got to know his story he just turned up healed people, glowed, flexed muscles and then skipped off again. The villains were more interesting but then they always were with the usual handsome, talented and conflicted bishonen knight Irbek. He had some good angst and trying to do good but in the wrong way, clearly being manipulated while feeling guilty until he realised his mistakes and joined the good guys against the real enemy. He was one of the many clichés I feel were going on, I mean the angst bishie trying to protect his little sister from a demon virus is always going to go all self sacraficy and atone for his mistakes plus get the girl in the form of the trouble misunderstood daughter of a corrupted king, along with cherished side kick with blind loyalty because bishie knight is the only person not to overlook him and to understand that he is worth more than his appearance dictates.

In all the more I think about it the more clichéd I realise this series is, it doesn’t really hold any real emotional weight, the characters aren’t really that developed, the comedy is too slap stick for my liking and fights uninspiring and un-dramatic. The last few episodes at least pick up the pace and give us a creepy and evil villain bent on destroying the world but they don’t use all the characters well and some get left by the wayside in the final battle. In the end it’s a bit anti climatic and just goes back to the beginning as if nothing that traumatic happened and everyone is together, happy and on their little adventures again.

I liked the character designs for a bit but after a while they were just a mash up of costumes and character types I’d seen many a time and normally destroyed by all the stupid faces they pulled. I can’t say anything inspiring about the music apart from every now and again when something dramatic of scary was happening some of the scoring sounded like a tune I liked from the Casshern film. I can’t remember the opening themes they did nothing for me and the only song I really remember was the first ending theme because I like the old school computer game graphics they had on, little pixel people like in Final Fantasy 1 and 2 wandering around dungeons. The animation style was crisp and clear but nothing amazing, pretty run of the mill which I don’t mind unless there is nothing else to inspire me so by the fact that I was being uninspired by most of it means there wasn’t much I did like about the look and sound of the series.
Really if you just want a simple no brain watch of a series with a little plot to keep you entertained than this is good background viewing. If slap stick is your thing or you like RPG anime’s and just enjoying watching some adventurers travel about than it’s worth a little look but there is much better stuff out there like Bakuretsu Hunters (for comedy) and Crystannia (for excellent fantasy adventure fair). But alas sometimes the brain wants a simple show so it’s good to have some on back up.

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