Monday, December 14, 2009

Today is a Good Day!

A'ight, so this blog is nominally supposed to be about geeky things, things outside the mainstream, right? Fuck that, I'm talking about football!

So I was having a good day today. I handed in my paper on time, then went to my club's office (which the members had cleaned spectacularly- I feel a little guilty because I'm the office manager and I didn't do anything, but then I had a paper to write. But now I don't have exams until next weekend. Woohoo!) and played a good game of Civilization. After that, some friends came by and we were playing Scrabble- we ended right when I managed to make the word "Jots", the "s" also forming "quays", and that "s" was on a triple letter score. Almost 80 points. Muahaha.

After that, we played a round of Settlers of Catan, and I managed to pull a good victory out of that, too. It was awesome.

So I'm having a good day, and I go down into a hangout area in the school commons to relax some more. And lo and behold, it's Monday Night Football. And even better- my Niners are on! Now, I've been born and bred on the East Coast, so it's a little odd that I'm a San Francisco 49ers fan, but my dad always rooted for them and I picked it up as a little kid, so I've been a diehard Niners fan my whole life. And they're playing the Arizona Cardinals- if Arizona wins, they win the division and are in the playoffs. The Niners have been having a mediocre season this year, which is a lot better than they've been doing in the past few years, sad to say. So they were the underdogs here.

And you know what happens? Seven motherfucking turnovers, bitch! The Niners handed the Cardinals their asses on a silver platter, 24-9. 7 turnovers! It was amazing!

God, I love football.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What is this I don't even....or This shit is bananas.

OK, so a few days back I talked about how odd it was to get information on Viridian, the author of Team 8? Well, it seems the internet saw my post and said "Hey Rogue 7? I can do better."

A while back, I read this epic fanfiction- Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness. It's a Harry Potter fic, if that wasn't obvious. It's about Neville, Ginny, Luna, and the other people at Hogwarts dealing with the fact that they basically live in a totalitarian, Nazi state. And it's crazy. Absolutely crazy. The writing, I felt, was superb, characterization was great. And the end was heartbreaking, becuase the author basically took everyone and shoved them into a meat grinder. The sequel, much more of an original flavor thing, deals with some Irish mythology and a bit of King Arthur (and as I mentioned before, I suddenly want to look at it again and see how adding Fate/Stay Night would improve it- but then, I think just about anything can be improved by adding either Saber, Rin, or Rider.). But sweet onion chutney, was it dark. This eventually soured me on them a bit when I sat back and took a look at them- they were too dark for my tastes, too dark for the HP universe if you ask me. So I'm not interested in rereading, regardless of how good I found the writing.*

...and then today I'm browsing FandomWank (Fandom Wank is this online repository for people acting crazy on fannish parts of the internet (usually Livejournal), put up for public mockery. I found it through TV Tropes.) and who should pop up but the author of the fic, Thanfiction. Relevant post here. I start reading through what happened, and my jaw starts dropping. Here's what I get out of it.

Thanfiction, who identified himself as a dude originally, is suspected of being a somewhat legendary figure. Apparently, several years back, he/she was known as Victoria Bitter, a female person who apparently conned a large group of Lord of the Rings fans out of a substantial amount of money. And was apparently claiming to be channeling Meriadoc Brandybuck in her dreams. And apparently cosplayed as various characters for money. And was on the whole, rather crazy. Follow links around for the full story, because it's beyond me. And then people start posting about how Thanfiction is planning a con, and probably attempting to pull the same stunt, and posting some of his rather ridiculously overstated claims from various parts of the internet. Like about how he apparently fought on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland and generally revealed himself to have an ego so big it was verging on creating a singularity.

So I'm sitting here absolutely stunned. A while back, I mentioned on a thread over on the Playground that I thought Dumbledore's Army was one of the best things I'd ever read (as I said, my opinion's changed somewhat, but I still feel they were brilliant pieces of writing), and he PMs me to thank me. Nice guy, it seemed, but it was just a little weird to get these messages. And now I find out...well, just look at this shit, man. It's unbelieveable.

I recall the debate that comes up whenever someone mentions Orson Scott Card- the author of Ender's Game. Now, I loved that book and a bunch of the sequels back when I was younger- the "Shadow" series was something of a factor in my decision to pursue an IR degree.** And then we find out that Orson Scott Card is virulently homophobic (I'm personally on board with the theory that he's so far in the closet he can see Narnia). Now, the question is, it it cool to like someone's works despite the fact that their personal views are...somewhat divorced from yours, putting it mildly, or in the case above, if the person is apparently a compulsive liar and genuinely nuts? I honestly don't have much of an answer for that question.

* To be honest, I'm fond of imagining what would happen if...say...Gaara or Nanoha showed up to defend Hogwarts from the Death Eaters. Imagining curbstop crossover scenarios like that is a fun pastime of mine. So I can look at it a bit like that- there's all this setup about how they're all going to die, and then Gaara shows up and crushes everyone with his sand. Yes, I'm odd.

** Looking back on the books (that seems to be a theme this post) with some knowledge of how IR actually works, I can see how completely ridiculous they were, which sort of limited how I viewed them as absolutely brilliant, but meh.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Manga Mayhem!

So I like aliteration. So sue me.

So here's all the manga I read in a 24-hour period today, despite having a big test and a 15-page paper due.

Naruto, Negima, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, MGLN Force, and the Haruhi Suzumiya Yuki-chan manga.

And you know what? All of them were kickass.

But I'm really tired, so I'll probably write tomorrow.

Naruto! Where to start....well, let's get the fact that Gaara's still just as cool as ever out of the way. He's pushed Naruto's buttons in exactly the right way to get him to see the truth about Sasuke. He's the one who's been the true friend, Naruto. So do us all a favor and go kill that motherfucking Uchiha.

Anyways, the main meat of the chapter is Fu and Torune vs. Madara. Fu, as most folks have probably realized by now, is a Yamanaka. Torune, as it turns out, is an Aburame. Complete with microscopic kikai bugs that essentially work as a touch poison! Freakin' sweet! They find out that Madara has an either-or bit with his intangibility- he's either all there or not, so you've got to hit him while he's attacking. Once again, Kage Bunshin is a good tactical opportunity here. However, Madara adopts the expedient option of simply sucking the two of them into another dimension, though Torune does manage to get Madara's arm with his bugs before he cops it. Madara tears his arm off like it's nothing, and I will be willing to bet it grows back rapidly.

Now, Madara brings Sasuke out to take a shot at Danzou, and guess what? His right arm? Is covered in Sharingans that I assume he stole from the corpses of those killed in the massacre. I laughed so damn hard, because it's so ridiculous, and at the same time, so plausible. I don't know how that's going to work in a fight, except that I'd be willing to bet they pop in and out of his eye socket to give him different powers, since it seems that each Sharingan has different ones. This will be an interesting fight, especially since Sasuke's been healed. Who do I want to win? Well, I'm always up for Sasuke getting his ass kicked, but I'm going to throw the little fucker a bone here and say that he can go ahead and take this one. It'll help smooth Kakashi's transition into power back in Konoha, which will be a benefit for our side. I'm breaking out the popcorn, though.

On to Bleach. Son of a bitch, it was actually good this week. Tosen finally reveals some motivation (and is wondefully creepy in doing so- that mask is ridiculous) and it's confirmed- he is, in fact, batshit insane. Blinded by revenge and all that- he joined solely to take revenge on the organization that allowed the chick he was crushing on to be killed (by another shinigami, IIRC), and not to see justice done for the good of all. Komamura gets a great line about how that's basically impossible to reconcile with his worldview, so they're destined to fight. A pity he's going to lose. And Shinji reveals his Shikai against Aizen. A shame he's going to lose as well.

Really, my problem with Bleach is that the narrative structure just fell apart so badly. This is shaping up to be it. The grand finale. The battle Royale with Cheese. Once we're done with this, it's over. The manga would seem to be done. And...well, that's a criminal lack of plot for how long it's run. Look at Naruto- since this fight started (JUNE OF LAST YEAR!), here's what's happened- we got the fallout from Jiraya's death, Sasuke's fight with Killer Bee, the runup to Pain's invasion, Pain's invasion, Naruto's epic fight with Pain, the meeting of the 5 Kages, Sasuke's interruption thereof, and several other major events. Bleach? More and more fighting. Too little's happened- I feel like this is what Dragonball was supposedly like, though I never read Toriyama's manga. It's just too sparse plot-wise for me to be invested in it. But this week's chapter was good.

Negima! The gist of this chapter- Kurt Godel, you are an idiot. Negi kicks his ass with a perfect application of Taijuu rai-bunshin no jutsu (Mass lightning clone technique) to overcome the fact that he can't beat Kurt's shinmeiryuu one on one (I'd pay for a good training session with Setsuna afterwards). Unfortunately, Kurt's Hannibal Lecture cause Negi's magic ereba damage to kick in, and he's down. Kurt gets up and starts monologuing, and Chisame brings the house down by hacking through Kurt's VR program with her artifact. Way to go, Chisame! And then Asakura reveals that they've been spying on him and calls out a position to Ku Fei...who reveals that her Monkey King staff can become roughly the size of a skyscraper. It brutally pounds Godel into the dust. He gets back up to try and attack her...and guess who punches him so hard in the face his mother feels it? Takamichi, that's who! He's finally show up! That is a good thing!

FMA. Alright, so Pride forcibly opens the gate for Mustang. He goes through and...loses his eyesight. Oh shit. Of course, he can now transmute without a gate. He's dumped in with Ed, Al, Izumi, Hoho, and Father. Now, Al's soul is currently out on business from his armor, but he meets up with his body before the gate and realizes that if he goes back to his original form, he'd suddenly have 1's in str, dex, and con, and so decides to stay in his armor so he can fight. Which means his soul comes back and suddenly Father's plan can go off. Mei Chan shows up, I think (I don't have the scan in front of me), which is...somehow significant, I think. I guess if Father turns the alchemy off? I dunno. Oh, and Wrath and Scar are fighting. Two nameless warriors, Wrath says. Coool.

Mahou Senki Lyrical Nanoha Force- Magical War Chronical Lyrical Nanoha Force, as it's called, is looking like the setup for a 4th season, along with the more traditionally magical girl fare that is Vivid, focusing as it does on Vivio. This one deals with this dude, Touma, who rescues a girl, Lily, from some facility. Now, Lily seems strikingly similar to how Hayate was in that she's granted Touma this crazy gun-blade device with wreck-your-shit level powers. And now they're on the run from the cops- only in this case, the cops are Signum, Tea, and Fate. In this chapter, Touma reveals some backstory about how he's hunting for some particular people who caused a mining collapse that killed some people close to him...and they show up at the end of the chapter as typical badguys. Signum is awesome. Cool stuff, need more.

The...Something of Nagato Yuki-chan. Well, this is a sort of alternate-reality spinoff of Haruhi that's basically Yuki being moe. Go read it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

...Why am I talking about this?

I should really be editing my paper. But for some reason, I want to talk about Megatokyo. No, I don't know why. Nothing really of importance has happened lately. But it's my goddamn blog, I'll talk about it if I want to!

So. Megatokyo. Half internet legend, half internet punching bag. I'm fairly sure that Megatokyo's one of the earlier webcomics to really gain recognition and fame, so that it's creator* could do the comic as his fulltime job. So it's a big comic in the world of webcomics, but then again, there are quite a lot of those. That's what makes it the legend. It's big, and it's one of the rare big ones to be almost exclusively story-focused. I'll get to the punching bag bit later.

Now then, as to the actual *content* of Megatokyo. It's...very obtuse to explain. Alright, so the plot begins with these two author avatars, Piro and Largo, hopping on a random flight to Tokyo. They get stuck there, and inexplicably land jobs- Largo as a teacher, of all things, Piro working at a game store, something at which he, unlike Largo, is at least marginally competent. They meet two girls, Erika and Kimiko, a former and aspiring voice actress respectively. There's romantic complications, various character drama, and a supernatural bent. No, I can't really describe it, not without going into furious detail and start straight-up summarizing the plot. If you want to know, read the comic yourself.

So, the reason it's an internet punching bag? Well, for one, it's very, very heavily anime-inspired. That automatically means it draws criticism from *some* folks on the internet, but fortunately, most of the places I go to don't really do that.** But the main reason? Well, it's slow. And I mean really slow. When I first started, it was supposed to be a three-day a week comic, and was plagued with a ridiculously erratic schedule. Now? Pretty much completely random. Two a week is very good, one a week is typical, nothing in a week is not rare at all.

Now, I read a lot of slow-updating webcomics. Order of the Stick hasn't updated since...the 29th, about a week and a half ago. And before that, there was a big gap as well. No Need for Bushido updates once every TWO weeks. Goblins is on something like a once a week schedule. So the slow pace doesn't bother me personally. I'm up to date with the plot, so I can follow it when I check in every few days to see if there's an update without missing anything. But to a lot of folks who are used to more regularly updating comics, they find it unbearable. And to compound their distaste there's a difference between how Goblins and OOTS updates and how Megatokyo does it. Megatokyo will post what basically amounts to the page you'll get in a standard manga. OOTS or Goblins will post about double that. Which means that even at the same update speed, you'll be getting half the content in Megatokyo.

And it really shows. The current chapter/day started...Jesus Christ, I think it was my freshman year. July 2008. Summer between freshman and sophomore years, then. That's about a year and a half, almost. And there's still quite a bit happening this chapter. Now, there has certainly been a lot of content in each chapter, but sweet onion chutney, that's a slow pace. It's not particularly new, either. So the plot moves at a pace that is approximately slower than molasses.*** Now, this doesn't bug me, like I mentioned before. Half because it's a webcomic I can check up on whenever I want, half because I appreciate the level of detail Gallagher puts in his drawings. But I can certainly understand why it draws the flack it does. And on a certain level, it slightly offends me that this is supposed to be this man's job and he doesn't have the professionalism to maintain a regular schedule, or push to get more content up. I can accept that he's raising his kid, but this is supposed to be a job, dude.

But you ask me, it's a good read, the characters are solid and interesting (Erika and Miho in particular are very plot-intesive characters, which is something good to read), and I like the art. So I'll keep reading. Fred, I can't really think of anything you'd reasonably do that would lose my readership, but at the same time, more is always better.

Oh, and Dom (I think he does tech work for the website, either way he's friends with Fred) has awesome blog posts that are consistently good to read.

Oh, and my current wallpaper
. I'm normally a Rider man, but damn.

* There was apparently some dramalama that went down a few years in the strip. Here's the skinny. For the first few years, there were 2 guys working on the comic. Rodney Caston (Largo) wrote, Fred Gallagher wrote a bit and drew the thing. Now, there were apparently creative differences over what direction to take the comic- give it something of a plot, or keep it light and unserious. Gallagher was in favor of the plot, and Caston was for the lighthearted stuff. Long story short, as evidenced above, Gallagher won and Caston left. The question in a lot of folks' minds is, how did he win? Gallagher says it was an amicable parting, while Caston claims that Gallagher basically took a "my way or the highway" approach. This all happened long before I read the comic, so hasn't impacted my enjoyment at all, but interesting to know.

** Which reminds me. Do you remember when I put up that business about how "the best fandoms are in places not actually for fans of a particular show"? I'm like that, only a lot more so, in real life with anime. I am a big anime fan, and not particularly shy about it (that's not to say I'm obnoxious about it or anything of the like. I hate those kinds of people- the kind who feel the need to parade it around that they're huge obsessive otaku. You're just making yourself look weirder, dude! It's just when someone asks me what I'm interested in, or what type of TV I like to watch, I'll say anime.). Now, admittedly, I don't watch a great deal, but I am a big fan. So one might be inclined to think that, upon hearing about an "anime interest floor" (My college has a particular section of dorms devoted to groups based around particular concepts- I have several friends on the Film interest floor, a few on the Music interest floor, I think there's theater and others), I'd be on it like the proverbial white on rice, yes? No. Helllllll no. I've never even so much as considered joining an anime club. And it's probably because of similar reasons to what I mentioned in that massive parenthesis above, about how I don't feel the need to flaunt that I'm a fan. I don't feel the need to be in close contact with other people whose sole connection to me is apparently that we both like anime. Nor do I want to be solely defined by being an anime fan, which I feel might be an unfortuante result of choosing to live there. Blah, massively off-topic.

*** What is it with me and these today, anyways? I just realized. The current big Bleach fight in Karakura town started right around the same time. A YEAR AND A HALF AGO! And it's covered approximately the same amount of content because christ, it's only been friggin' fighting. Tite Kubo, do you realize what this means? Fred Gallagher, a man who posts one page of his story a week, has managed to have the same amount, if not more, plot, than you have had writing a manga chapter a week. A manga chapter a week! 18+ pages! That's 17 times as dense! Let's look at Negima in comparison. A year and a half ago, Negi was...fighting Fate for the first time. Since then, we've gotten massive backstory on Ala Alba, Negi's trained up and fought Jack Rakan in a fight that was ten times better than what you've put out....I really need to stop myself from going off on Bleach. TL;DR: Bleach's pace is terrible and the manga sucks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Team 8

So, who here has read "Team 8"? I'm too lazy to link it, but it's the first hit on Google for "Team 8". Anyways, Team 8 is one of the best Naruto fanfictions I've had the pleasure of reading. It takes an alternate universe that puts Naruto on, well, Team 8. Kurenai's team. With Hinata.

Now, it's superbly written and well-plotted. Naruto, Hinata, Kurenai, and Shino are all great characters, well-rounded, believable, and unique. Some of the side characters lose out a bit- in particular I think that the Naruto-Gaara interplay was weakened, as the story, almost by necessity, takes a bit of a different tack and lacks some of the similarities that made the interaction between the two so poignant. There was less emphasis on Naruto's "I GET you" towards Gaara that I loved in the manga proper. As Gaara's shot up the ranks of my favorite characters, I consequently find anything, even something as awesome as this, that draws down on his characterization, to be a bit weak. But it's still an amazing story and well worth your time reading it. Parts of it are much better than Kishimoto's actual work.

Unfortunately, it hasn't updated in a freaking year. Now, most folks who would be reading this have I'm sure experienced it with a favorite fan fiction that died on them. (I have the same hangup on Lelouch of Britannia, which is to Code Geass what this fic is to Naruto, except that Naruto didn't explode into the trainwreck that Code Geass did, so I think LoB is better.) But I have a bit of an interesting perspective on this. See, my DM, Joe (that's vague enough, right? If you read this, Joe, WIZARD IS CREDIT TO TEAM.), beta's for Viridian, the author of Team 8 (a beta's basically an editor, only with less authority.) So I get a bit of perspective on what this guy's doing since they're friends. Which has led to a bit of an interesting view- Joe's been telling me how this guy royally irritated him in a roleplaying game they were in over the summer due to excessive rules-monkeying and the like. It's an interesting perspective, how this guy who's written this absolutely brilliant work is revealed to be...well, I want to say less than perfect, I want to say. I mean, it's completely unreasonable to expect that about a regular celebrity, never mind a freaking fan fiction author, but it's still an interesting perspective to have, considering how fanfiction authors are among the most anonymous of folk. You don't even get the same degree of personality that you get with a forum username, because you're not interacting with that person, you're just reading their work.

I guess what it is is that I'm used to not having much of a face at all on the authors of the work, and in this case the face I get is a negative one. Plus it's interesting to hear gossip about a pseudo-celebrity, even if he is just a fan fiction author.

Oh! Right! Something I forgot. It doesn't help that the forum he has soured me on Naruto for a while. Not the author's fault by any means, but the main Naruto manga thread was nothing but hate-filled bile and contempt for the work and Kishimoto. When I first read the thread I had a fairly negative opinion of the manga and hopped right on the bandwagon. Thus, I continued to have negative reactions. When I stopped hanging around the forum and just reading the manga on my own, my opinion shot up on the manga. I went back in a few months ago to check if the opinions in the thread mimicked my own, and they hadn't in the slightest. I'm much happier enjoying the work than waiting on a guy who updates once a year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Naruto 474, Negima 272.


You know, I don't get people who say that Naruto's plot's gone downhill. There have been moments where things have spiraled out of control, been ridiculous. I'll be the first to point those out. But you get a chapter like this one, it ties everything together so smoothly, so well, sets things up in a way that is eminently logical and good, that I can easily forgive any occasional lapses. Or occasional shoddy endings to fights (Cool as it was, Kisame went down like an absolute chump. His player probably flipped the damn table over when that happened (I've seen lots of folks make reference to various characters as being played by people in Tabletop RPGs, and I like the metaphor). He got screwed over. Though it does seem appropriate, given how damn broken Samehada is.)

I'm off-topic. Naruto is having a total character moment here, and I'm flipping out. It's actually getting through to him! Sasuke's a tool! He's a douchebag! He's Fucking evil! He's not worthy of your support. What he is worthy of is a Rasenshuriken so far up his ass his mother feels it. Because Naruto, even knowing the truth you do, that Itachi was a "good guy", that doesn't change what Sasuke's done. Most of Konoha realized that Sasuke's a tool when he, you know, shoved his hand through your lung. And now Naruto's illusion that he can bring Sasuke back and they can all be one big happy Team 7 family has been shattered- literally, on one of the pages, a picture of the team before the timeskip shatters. He's gotten it, he's finally gotten it! And there's going to be a fight! They're going to fight, and it'll be the climax of the manga! Kishimoto's got it planned out, this is going to make sense! Whee!

Sorry. But I'm not done yet. Because the guy who helped him come to this relevation? Mainly? Gaara. Just when I thought the guy couldn't get any cooler, he goes and does this. He helps Naruto realize something we've all been praying he'll see for years now. With a few solid words, he makes Naruto get it. And now he might just possibly be my favorite character. That's right, he may have just passed Shikamaru. One of my favorite characters ever.

Oh! And we finally see Madara and Danzou in the same place, finally putting to rest that retarded theory (and in all honesty I was kind of scared Kishimoto'd do it) that they were the same person. Villain fight! Whoever loses, we win! Well, I mean, it's obviously going to be Madara, but this might take care of a major problem- Danzou's technically the Hokage. I mean, since Gaara contacted Kakashi, it's not as much of a problem as it could be, but it'll be nice if we don't have to deal with an organized Root.

Naruto's gotten so much better since I first caught up on the manga and I thought it was terrible. God, I love all these characters so much.

And Negima! Just as good! Jack Rakan will not listen to your puny "ability to rewrite reality", he'll still punch you in the face as though he were the hand of god. And apparently Fate manifested that whole "reality-warping" thing from doing something to Asuna. He. Will. Pay.

And Negi just goes and completely destroyes Godel with a few well-placed questions that finally uncover that Godel has an agenda that is very much not good. There's not a great deal to say about this chapter, except that it was awesome. Round 2...FIGHT!