Friday, May 30, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#122)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)

1211. Viraanntesses. Goodness, that's a lot of repeated letters. They're crustaceans and have ten legs.

A Viraanntesse Jedi was one of several who sided with the Yam'rii/Huk during their invasion of the Kaleesh homeworld for some reason.

That seems like a pretty jerky decision (not only were the Yam'rii invaders, but the Kaleesh were rather poorly armed), and said Jedi would pay for it, because while General Grievous forgot a lot of things due to the injuries he sustained in that conflict, he never forgot the Jedi who had turned against his people, and later would kill him and take his lightsaber.

Rating: 2/5. They get a point for having about the correct number of limbs for crustaceans.

1212. Viska. Viska are pterosaur-like vampires.

Obviously not supernatural vampires; they just can't digest anything but blood. (They also never feed on offworlders, whose blood makes them ill, or each other, although they have spear-point probosces intended for blood-feeding that they may use in personal combat for stabbing enemies.) They keep large herds of grazing animals to draw blood from.

They actually walk on their wings' elbows and use their legs as arms, which looks incredibly awkward but kind of neat.

They use warfare to determine leadership, and will execute entire families for trying to use indirect methods such as assassination. (If one is trying to advance within one's own family through indirect methods, of course, it only will get oneself executed, of course; it's only when interfering with other families that whole families get executed.) They are often called "the great bloodsucking fiends of Rordak," with the implication that they're general vampires joining with the fact that they have little regard for the sanctity of life, which I assume is a nasty slur.

As their homeworld of Rordak apparently suffers significant geological instability, they traditionally avoided the ground as much as possible; they had already advanced to atomic technology by the time they came into contact with the Old Republic despite this, and when they gained access to the galactic technology base, they built themselves flying cities. Despite having been part of galactic society for a while, the Viska don't condone their own leaving Rordak, and apparently they send out bounty hunters to catch any Visk who leaves.

Apparently, the Empire used Rordak as a prison planet.

Rating: 4/5. They're pretty interesting.

1213. Vodrans. The Vodrans are one of three species who signed the Treaty of Vontor, which involved said races (the others being the Klatooinians and Nikto) permanently becoming slaves of the Hutts.

It may have been a mutual defense thing, as this was in the 25,000-years-before-the-movies time period of Xim the Despot, who was, as I've mentioned, a pretty spectacular jerk.

Then again, it's possible that Xim didn't do anything nasty to the Vodrans particularly...

Shool (apparently the prosecutor): "The citizenry also charges you Xim, Son of Xer, with the unjustified decimation of countless peoples and worlds, including Vodran, Jurzuu, and Ko Vari."

Xim: "Of Vodran I have no recollection."

"Yeah, devastated those guys, devastated those guys, good times... wait, Vodran? Nope, never heard of it." Xim, don't ever change.

Anyway, the Vodrans are actually the most loyal of all the Treaty of Vontor species, being the only one of the three races never to rebel against the Hutts. They apparently did have some sort of insurrection against the Empire, but never the Hutts. Only small numbers of Vodrans are independent-minded, and it's rare to see them be anything other than slaves and thugs for the Hutts. At least one independent-minded Vodran has also been described as having a mental illness... so there's a pretty big pile of unfortunate implications right there.

They're otherwise relatively generic egg-laying reptilian humanoids.

Interestingly, the dianogas, known to those who have watched the movies as the trash compactor monster that attacked Luke, are natives of the Vodran homeworld.

Rating: 3/5. They've got an interesting place in history and look neat, but their role as eternal Hutt slaves is, well, awful.

1214. Vollick. Vollick are ugly thuggish-looking guys from Rattatak, also the homeworld of the Rattataki. The Rattataki are super-warlike, and so are the Vollick, so they fight with each other a lot. Apparently some Vollick or another is often mistaken for a Rattataki, because even though they're different they don't look nearly different enough.

Rating: 1/5.

1215. Vors. The Vors of Vortex (heh) are rather pterosaur-like creatures who speak a language called Vortexlex (heh heh heh). They apparently can only fly because their planet is super-windy, and their super-pure environment means they're highly vulnerable to the atmospheres of more polluted planets. (...Meh.)

They had a centuries-old building called the Cathedral of Winds, which is part of a ceremony of some sort that they use to celebrate the passing of seasons. The Cathedral is actually a gigantic musical instrument that is played through a combination of the planet's intense natural winds and the Vors themselves using their bodies to block passages as if it were some kind of huge flute, which is a kind of neat idea. The Vors consider this music sufficiently sacred that they don't permit it to be recorded (meaning one can only hear it in person); in the Star Wars galaxy, it doesn't seem likely that this would be enforceable, although admittedly their first appearance was written in 1994, and authors wouldn't necessarily have considered the possibility of the modern telecommunications paradigm twenty years ago.

The Cathedral was destroyed as a result of sabotage intended as character assassination against Admiral Gial "It's a trap!" Ackbar, which caused a starfighter Ackbar was piloting to crash into the building. A new Cathedral would later be built using aspects, at least, of an armor so tough that it could withstand a weaker version of the Death Star's superlaser, so, um, yay science?

The Vors would suffer at great length and in high detail as a result of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion; the Vor temperament being rather hardy, stolid, and unemotional, they endured becoming refugees fairly well, frequently volunteering for, frankly, crap work that nobody else wanted to do, including jobs that were outright suicidal.

Comically, a Vor senator supported an individual seeking to become Chief of State of the New Republic who happened to be named Fyor Rodan.

I have mentioned they look like pterosaurs, right? Well, they arguably actually look more like more recent Rodan costumes.

Rating: 4/5. Eh, I dunno. They're pretty entertaining.

1216. Vordum. Humans apparently think they smell bad. Wow, that makes me feel like a jerk.

Rating: 1/5. It also makes me wish I could somehow know what they smell like, because there's a lot of smells I don't mind or even outright like that most people can't stand.

1217. Vorzydiaks. Vorzydiaks look pretty much like green-skinned humans.

Apparently, they start working one day a week at the age of ten, and take on additional work days with each increasing year of age, becoming full workers at seventeen. ...Counting on my figurative fingers, apparently the Vorzydiak week is at least eight days long?

At the age of seventy, Vorzydiaks are compelled to retire, apparently because they're now useless (...nice), and more or less immediately waste away from the lack of purpose (...nice).

A youth movement/group of gangs on the Vorzydiak homeworlds known as the "Freelies" (hah) would cause lots of trouble in the name of trying to enact societal change; they weren't actually all Vorzydiaks and were pretty terrible (sabotaging things and stealing droids and whatnot), and no word on whether they made any progress.

Rating: 1/5. Sometimes when something is amusingly bad, I give it a point, but this one can't escape a minimal rating.

1218. Voss. The Voss homeworld of Voss is also inhabited by the Gormak, who hate their guts. Now, the Gormak seem to hate basically everybody, but I kind of wonder if their hatred of the Voss is at least slightly justified, because the Voss are a teeny tiny group who are much more powerful than the Gormak and live on top of a hill like a bunch of fair-folk jerks.

On the other hand, the Voss protected the Gormak from being invaded at least twice using their superior technology and their Force sensitive mystics' powers, which allowed them to predict assaults and prepare for them well ahead of time. Implicitly, the Voss are somehow an offshoot of the Gormak, but as the Voss look like humans with crazy multicolored skin patterns and the Gormak are some kind of spiky-faced reptilomonsters, that strikes me as a bit unlikely.

Anyway, the Voss were powerful enough in the relevant era (about thirty-six hundred years before the films) that the galactic powers of the day, the Sith Empire and the Old Republic, felt the need to court them diplomatically once the Sith Empire's invasion of Voss was repelled by the Voss. This presumably made the Gormak super-mad.

Rating: 3/5. Okay, I really like the character designs, and there's a lot of amusement to be had from their relationship with the Gormak; on the other hand, they kind of come across as super-special elf people or something (what with being militarily powerful enough to be a threat to a huge interstellar organization), and it's a teense annoying.

1219. Vrakolian. Apparently, Vrakolians have extremely thick skin, thick enough that they can throw something they call spin-blades (which are basically buzzsaw frisbees discuses) at each other and consider this a "harmless" sport.


Anyway, since their spin-blades can be thrown in such a way that one can hit a target behind cover, other species would adapt them for use as weapons.

Rating: 3/5. That is one of the best alien sports I've ever heard of.

1220. Vratix, or Thyferrans. The Vratix are the inventors and primary producers of bacta, the miracle treatment that is basically the Star Wars cure-all.

This is rather central to the Vratix culture; while they never hesitated to share bacta with outsiders, the megacorporations that sprung up to exploit it basically took over their homeworld of Thyferra. The Vratix guerrilla organization called the Ashern ("black claw") would drive the cartels off late in the reign of the Old Republic by revealing that one of these organizations had sabotaged the supply to drive up prices, causing the Republic government to intervene.

That period, known as Alazhixazha (alazhi being a component of bacta) or the Thriving Period, was short-lived, though, because the Empire rose less than two decades later and reinstated two of the companies, including the one that had been revealed as a saboteur, eliminating the rest. It wouldn't be until years after the Emperor's death that the Vratix would regain control of Thyferra; in the meantime, among the efforts some Vratix made to ruin the megacorps was sabotaging a batch of bacta, which had a pretty severe effect-everyone who used it ended up with a severe allergy to bacta. Bacta being a bit of a crutch for galactic medical science, a bacta allergy is a very nasty thing to have, and people who have one have a much harder time medically. (Indeed, one of my favorite secondary Star Wars characters, Ton Phanan from the Wraith Squadron books, was notable as someone with a bacta allergy; he'd accumulated a large number of cyborg bits over the years, and [AHEM SPOILERS] the ensuing accumulative injuries he sustained were probably related to his eventual death [AHEM SPOILERS OVER].) After the Vratix managed to join the New Republic, they would take control of their homeworld, and Vratix concerns were able to freely compete with other companies in the bacta market.

While the Vratix are generally considered a peaceful lot, the Ashern were pretty awesome scary; they apparently sharpened their claws and painted their carapaces black. ...Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: The Vratix are basically praying mantis people.

A Vratix named Yopaxtul won first place in a multispecies 100-meter dash for hexaped lifeforms; presumably, this means they can be pretty danged fast.

Vratix are hermaphroditic. Being "insect people," they also proved vulnerable to Killik subversion, and halted bacta production at the Killiks' behest, causing the Galactic Federation (the New Republic's successor that I kind of forget isn't called the New Republic most of the time) some trouble.

Rating: 5/5. The Vratix are interesting as heck.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yet Another Godzilla Clip

Who needs to spend a frickton of money on fancy anti-meteor strike technology? Just point Godzilla at it.

A couple of things that stick out in my mind as hilarious/awesome about this clip: Godzilla setting up to brace with his tail (and inexplicably causing a bunch of tiny explosions), and when Monster X ducks his tail swipe only to get a facefull of atomic breath weapon.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Think Gamera Wins

I was kind of hoping to see the Godzilla movie's release be accompanied by some cheapish releases of older Godzilla movies. Seems like using a low-cost back catalog to make some money is a good way to exploit the hype, doesn't it?

And what do I find?

I find the fricking turtle.

Specifically, an eleven-movie DVD set, containing the entirety of Gamera's Showa and Heisei series movies, which has a whole lot of stupid stuff that I'll enjoy anyway and some things that I hear are genuinely awesome, specifically Heisei Gamera.

For about ten bucks.

Your move, Godzilla.

Aside: I cannot even tell you how much I love when Godzilla pratfalls. This is the second time I've seen a clip of Godzilla just straight up tripping like a big old klutz (the other place I've seen it is in Godzilla Versus Mothra, wherein he trips on some old castle-y building), and every time, it fills me with joy that Godzilla is immune to everything that humanity can throw at him except that which unexpectedly trips him (and mostly just gets him riled up).

-Signing off.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#121)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)

1201. Vernols. The Vernols are frog-faced mammalians whose homeworld was devastated by various natural disasters. Most Vernols now live on the homeworld of the Balinaka, who are basically stupid-looking skinny polar bears. The Vernols find them intimidating, but the Balinaka are very accepting of them.

They're supposedly known for taking advantage of the fact that others regard them as cheerful and harmless to scam people, and for adapting their foraging instincts for the purpose of detective work.

Rating: 3/5. Mostly because they're mammalian frogs.

1202. Verpine. Verpine are tall, gangly insectoids. While they have sharp senses, telepathy-like radio transmission capabilities, and flexible carahide (somewhere between skin and an exoskeleton) that protects them from weaponry extremely well, they are industrious and friendly insect people, which at this point are gratifyingly feeling much more like the Star Wars galaxy's norm than killer hiveminded monsters. In fact, thanks to their microscopic vision, they are known as some of the galaxy's greatest technicians and maintenance workers, since they can spot microfractures and other forms of damage on spacecraft more easily than most species, and they are generally seen as specialized shipwrights, perhaps the very best such.

While the majority of Verpine are well-behaved and the society apparently uses their long-range radio communications abilities to maintain consensus democracies in their colonies, if their antennae, which are necessary to radio communication, are damaged, they apparently become prone to insane or criminal behavior. For whatever reason, Verpine don't talk about this to outsiders, and also just seem to let their "crazies" be, which strikes me as a crazy stupid irresponsible thing to do when you potentially have access to the medical technology of the Star Wars galaxy and have to occasionally worry that someone might start murdering your people and selling the bodies to Kubaz to eat if you upset them (this happened at least once when a crazy Verpine broke treaty with some Barabels [see earlier Balinaka link]). Also, consensus democracy? Really? That's just asking for trouble.

The Verpine traditionally were divided into sterile, "unintelligent" worker drones and intelligent hermaphroditic individuals, the drones making up 95% of the traditional society. Upon Verpine entry into galactic society, maintenance of a technologically advanced infrastructure and such required that the majority of Verpine be intelligent, so they adjusted the ratios of developmental enzymes they applied to their eggs to ensure all hatched Verpine would be intelligent, and met their drudge work needs by cloning drones instead. ...Another slightly disturbing element, I see.

Anyway, while Verpine are hermaphroditic, some are said to identify as male or female, and thus it is suggested that they may have multiple genders even though they have only one reproductively active sex. This is probably because of different authors not paying attention to each other, but it's a detail I like-the idea that they identify based on preferences or possibly societal roles even though there's absolutely no differences between them.

The Verpine "homeworld" is an asteroid belt called the Roche asteroids, which is rather cute (and maybe disturbing), all things considered. The name "Roche" is also used as an abbreviation for a droid manufacturing company run by the Verpine, whose proper name is Roche Hive Mechanical Apparatus Design and Construction Activity for Those Who Need the Hive's Machines (RHMADCATWNHM for the dyslexic short). Verpine are also known for making personal railgun-type firearms and various other quality weapons.

Notable Verpine include Beyghor Sahdett, who has an awesome name and was a Jedi of the Old Republic who escaped Order 66, leading to this rather metal image. Unfortunately, later Sahdett would be captured, tortured, and offered a chance by the Emperor to turn to the dark side by killing fellow Jedi prisoners; he didn't accept at first, but when Palpatine casually cut down three of the other four, Sahdett unhesitatingly killed the last and became one of Palpatine's apprentices. Like a lot of Palpatine's other apprentices, he would ultimately be killed by Darth Vader.

The Verpine would prove fiercely independent from oppressive groups and strong allies of the New Republic, having close ties to the New Republic military and providing it with many technicians, standing against the "bad New Republic" (read: ham-handed analogue to the Bush administration) with help from the Mandalorians, and later providing battle droids and other weaponry to those who resisted the later Sith Empire built by Darth Krayt even in the face of some of their population centers being wiped out, though they had a lapse when the Killik hives subverted them.

Anyway, I love these guys.

Rating: 5/5. The Verpine are one of my all-time favorite aliens from basically anything; while there are others that I like comparably, the Verpine have the advantage of having been presented to me before a lot of those, and for that they'll always have a special place for me.

1203. Vestaari. The Vestaari share a homeworld with the Icarii. We don't know squat about them elsewise; in fact, I had to dig a little to find that much out, because their own article only mentions the homeworld.

Rating: 1/5.

1204. Veubgri. The Veubgri (singular Veubg) come from Gbu, which is a hilarious way to (literally) invert the usual relationship between a species' name and their homeworld's name.

They are presumably pretty strong, at least in their six legs, because Gbu's gravity is apparently such that humans can't survive on it. (This is relevant because this meant that delegations to Gbu generally met on Gbu's moon.) They have some form of tentacles or tendrils they use as manipulators. It's a bit ambiguous as to how they're built, but I recall my impression being that they're tall and probably physically powerful, because the lone known individual of the species, Grake, was beaning a bunch of probably big burly men with a spatula (she was an angry cook and a slave), and the men in question, despite being Force sensitive and significantly outnumbering her, apparently didn't think they could take her without their lightsabers.

Grake retreated back into the kitchens and apparently went unpunished thanks to massive sassiness, and she would later be freed.

Incidentally, her owner was the supreme butthole Lord Hethrir, AKA the guy responsible for the near-extinction of the Firrerreos, who were his own race.

Rating: 3/5. ...Gbu is super-fun to type and read. Gbu. Gbu Gbu Gbu. Apparently, I'm actually a small child.

1205. Vicon. Vicon are short and have long, potentially twitchy noses.

Rating: 1/5.

1206. Viidaav. The Viidaav of Viidaav look pretty cartoony.

They were involved in a battle for their homeworld during the Clone Wars; Count Dooku was going to throw them under the bus by detonating some nasty explosives that would probably have resulted in some pretty major damage in order to take care of the Republic forces, but an unnamed Viidaav soldier managed to stop him at the cost of his own life, stopping the countdown even though he probably knew that the clone trooper he'd been in a standoff with would probably (and did) kill him.

Rating: 2/5. I've occasionally talked about giving points based on awesome unnamed characters. This is a case of that, even if this guy wasn't quite as awesome as the random mayor who kept a nuclear grenade in his pocket.

1207. Vilosorians. Apparently, Vilosorians metamorphose with the passage of their seasons. During the winter, they're calm and docile, but in the warm months they're ferocious predators. A couple of Rebel agents were able to help them break from Imperial control by delaying the Empire's reinforcements from arriving until said warm months, and implicitly the end result was a rout for the Empire.

One of said agents was a droid nicknamed Toozy; while the Rebels gave the other agent credit, she gave her medal to Toozy instead.

Rating: 3/5. That's a neat little story.

1208. Vindalians. Vindalians are supposedly human-looking, but with "vulpine" (i.e. foxlike) facial features of some sort. Female Vindalians are bigger than male Vindalians, and apparently "bigger" females are considered more desirable.

There's probably a joke involving the phrase "foxy lady" in there somewhere; I leave it to you to figure out what it is.

Rating: 2/5.

1209. Vindar. The Vindar are the ambiguously canonical (well, that phrase isn't very relevant anymore) race that oppressed the "Squidges."

While they seem to be nasty bastards (pardon the language), they look kinda neat.

Rating: 3/5. Just because they look kinda neat; there's not really much else to judge them by.

1210. Vippits. Vippits are supposedly cephalopods, although their description indicates they have quite a few gastropod features. (Both groups are mollusks, of course, but there's a pretty substantial difference between them. Mixing the two up is kind of like confusing fish with birds of prey, only technically any given fish and birds of prey are actually probably technically more closely related than gastropods are to cephalopods. But I digress.)

They apparently don't process information well until they've had time to sleep on it; supposedly this integrates sensory information from "both sides" of their brains.

All this is irrelevant, however, because there was a Vippit barrister who was a friend of Obi-Wan Kenobi's named Doolb Snoil.

That's right: Obi-Wan had a lawyer friend who was a snail named Snoil.

You. Are. Welcome.

Rating: 3/5, mostly for the existence of Doolb Snoil.

-Signing off.

The (Less) Massive Invid's Guide Index Post (#3)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)

This isn't going to get done very fast, but I'll have the links up soon eventually.

As an aside, I only just noticed something pretty relevant to this series: Apparently, essentially all Expanded Universe material is no longer canon so that the new movies don't have to worry about contradicting it.

Ha ha ha ha no screw you even if he's not technically canonical Grand Admiral Thrawn is still the best Star Wars villain (and the Zahn and Allston novels are better than all the movies and other stuff put together) thank you very much. (This has been the entirety of the energy I'm willing to invest in this subject.)

I'd rather thought something like this might be coming down the road, actually. It's certainly not going to keep me from doing this or regarding them as "real."

Anyway, proper post resumes shortly.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Don't Like This But Watch It Anyway

This has a lot of things wrong with it.

It'd have been better without a narrator. The girl's animation model is terrible. It's kind of a shaggy dog story. It also has brought out the ugly YouTube commenters.

Why do I bring it up at all?

I like the "beast's" design.

Hah, I managed to screenshot the exact preview picture that the video defaulted to, apparently.

I guess you didn't really need to watch it, unless you want to see his right side or a shot of him from the front or something.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Probable Spoilers For Something I Haven't Seen

I think it's kind of hilarious how the trailers for this movie that appear to be US market trailers work really hard to obfuscate the fact that Godzilla is probably the (anti)hero* of the film. (I haven't watched it yet; I'd like to watch it in theaters, but my sister's job isn't particularly easy to work around at the best of times and now is not the best of times and also the nearest theater is a forty-five minute trip and look theatergoing is a pain in the patootie if you don't live in a big city okay?)

Guys, what do you think the main draw of Godzilla movies is? It's not just Godzilla wrecking stuff; that's fun but it gets boring fast. We (and by "we" I mostly mean me, although the daikaiju fandom in general largely agrees with me) want fights.

And (anti)hero Godzilla is generally far more entertaining than villain Godzilla.**

*Well, I don't know for sure, of course, but when a toyline has a monster that doesn't even get to have a real name alongside its star monster, what the heck is anybody supposed to think? I presume this is why sites reporting on toys aggressively tagged spoilers.

**Discounting the first movie, which I sadly haven't seen the unedited version of, and the time Godzilla was actually a psycho rageghost thing.

-Signing off.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#120)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)

(Just discovered that I've been titling the past few of these incorrectly. It's not a big deal, just annoying; and it's all fixed now.

Of course, that means I ought to start work on the third index post now, and I'm nowhere near ready or in the mood to finish the last two, much less start a new one. Meh.

Also, I excluded the Vagh Rodiek from this entry because they're mutated Rodians that seem to have lost their intelligence and also seem not to breed true, if they can even breed at all; this rather disqualifies them from being a sapient species twice over.)

1191. Vahla. Vahla are basically human, except they're more flexible, all Force sensitive, and prone to joining a specific dark side cult.

What did I say last time, guys?

Rating: 1/5.

1192. Varlians. The Varlians are the cut-content ancestors of the Hutts.

Specifically, in a set of novels that would have tied Star Wars together with THX-1138 (no, seriously), the Varlians were rulers of an old empire that dominated the galaxy; this ended, however, when members of the species spontaneously (and bizarrely) stopped metamorphosing to their adult stage, becoming permanently immature and greedy. I.e., Hutts.

Rating: 2/5. While I think this is a dumb origin for the Hutts, I like that "Varl" crept into the lexicon as the name of the original Hutt homeworld, and I think it's an interesting bit of trivia.

1193. Varvvans. Varvvans are apparently large, and can extend their eyeballs from their sockets. They're supposedly fearless, which is funny, because popping one's eyeballs is a sign of surprise/fear in cartoons.

Rating: 2/5. They have me a bit curious, but there's nothing to go on.

1194. Vashans. Vashans are bug people who have four legs that they walk on and a pair of arms. They have basically buggy proportions, with stick-thin limbs and kind of beetley bodies. They're described as being "known to be powerful and tireless workers."

They also have odd (to the sensibilities of others) eating habits and like to store non-food items in a special part of their digestive tracts; while people like the idea of employing them for their skill/endurance/"power" as workers, they're also put off by the fact that they eat things and puke them back up all the time.

They are supposedly deeply religious, and have priests that 1) are probably named after the priests of a specific real-world religion, which is unfortunate, and 2) it seems they can't keep the spelling of said name straight. They have a ceremony that involves them puking.

Rating: 3/5. I took off a point for the weird religion thing having issues, but these guys are awesome.

1195. Veeza. According to a Hutt play, Xim the Despot killed all of them.

Rating: 2/5. That rascally Xim.

1196. Veknoids, or Velkoids. Veknoids/Velkoids (one presumes there were some pretty poor real-world editing jobs at some point) are charmingly ugly individuals with tusks and spiky tails. As with many aliens introduced in Episode I, one was a podracer and another was a Jedi.

Rating: 3/5. They're charming-looking.

1197. Velabri. Near-humans (-1) with pure white eyes (not according to the illustration-that's a -1) and silver spiky hair (they all have the same haircut-there's a -1), and they're also warlike, and have a strict honor code and despise crime.

I wouldn't have rated them higher than a 2, so I think that's a -1/5, which I'm not going to treat as a legitimate score.

Rating: 1/5.

1198. Velmoc. Velmoc are cool ugly insectoid dudes. They have a warrior culture or something, and coexist with a human culture on their homeworld; some of these humans hate them and others apparently think they're keen.

One, oddly named Jedidiah (Jedidiah? Get it? ...Some writer needs a swat), was a guy who'd wanted to be a Jedi, but then took a bad blow to the head and wandered around remembering basically nothing but that fact ever after.

Rating: 3/5. This is on the weight of their appearance; they might have gotten more if they'd been colored better.

1199. Vendarans. Near-humans (-1) who live on a planet with predatory slug-things called skeegs, which apparently provide good material for making natural perfume or something.

There are apparently legends of giant sea-going skeegs that were hunted for meat and poison creation.

Their homeworld was apparently far from the Yuuzhan Vong invasion route.

Rating: 2/5. They got a point by osmosis from being associated with the skeegs, which look awesome and would make great video game enemy designs.

1200. Ventooinans. Ugh, more particularly weird Marvel Star Wars.

Near humans (-2) who trade some sort of spice with the galaxy at large, but even their leaders don't seem to know diddly about blasters (-1 for stupidity).

Their leaders used to have a magic rock they passed down called the shadeshine. The shadeshine would kill you a year after you first touched it, but as long as one holds it, it grants various rather nonsensical powers. The leaders would use it for a year, then have themselves put in suspended animation just before they ought to die, maybe in hopes of there being a cure someday, or maybe because this story made no sense.

Thankfully, Han Solo ended all that nonsense by throwing the shadeshine into the business end of the Millennium Falcon's engines.

Rating: 1/5. The shadeshine sounds slightly interesting, but its powers are, frankly, completely ungrokkable.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Also, That Pirate Is Basically Drawn In Filmation House Style

From Savior of the Earth, best of the worst Korean anime that went into the bizarre, hilarious, and terrible Space Thunder Kids:

What's shocking this cheap imitation of a Pac-Man so badly? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that in this movie, which I hear is a blatant ripoff of Tron (I've never seen Tron, so I'll take people's word for it), people are being kidnapped into a computer world, where they're being gradually executed by being dropped into hostile "games of death." And so that splatter there was apparently a human being.

Kinda hardcore for something that was apparently created in Korea to fill a quota and then dubbed into English to fill dead air.

Although the best part is probably the fact that this is the movie that provided Space Thunder Kids with the character "Sheila" (known in this movie as "Ann"), the swimsuit pirate who apparently wants to be Captain Harlock and whose sister is some kind of robot doll... thing.*

...Did Tron feature any pirates?

*Actual dialogue from both Savior of the Earth and Space Thunder Kids, paraphrased from memory because I don't feel like bringing up the exact line-the sound quality on these things is goshawful-"Remember, Sandy, I'm only doing this because you're my sister." Sandy is the little robot doll thing in both versions.

While it's only obvious in Savior of the Earth, by the way, Sandy is history's greatest monster.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Armor Heroes Once More*

NOTE: If you care about that sort of thing, this post contains what are probably spoilers for the Chinese tokusatsu series Armor Heroes. (Further note: Spoilers probably aren't that big a deal, because the story is ridiculous.)

It doesn't really matter if you are one of the four biggest, baddest monsters around...

...if you mess with a kid who can turn into someone called the Emperor Hero, you're just asking for it. (Even if the choreography is a bit slow.)

Even if you're the most magnificent and awe-inspiring of these monsters, it won't save you. I am, of course, talking about that...



This guy. Whatever he is.

*...I'm a terribly huge nerd. That title's an Ultraman reference out of nowhere and apropos of nothing.

-Signing off.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#119)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)

(This article skips "Utapaun" by virtue of this being a generic term for the Utai and Pau'ans together.)

1181. Umbarans, or Shadow People. The Umbarans are more or less human in appearance, albeit with funky skin coloration. Their homeworld, Umbara, is really dark, so they have extremely sensitive eyes that can see into the ultraviolet range (which I suspect is silly because if their world is dark, the surface of their planet will probably have less UV, not more) and are easily blinded by bright light. Also, they supposedly are naturally equipped with enhanced powers of interpersonal manipulation, implicitly involving some degree of Force sensitivity, and seem prone to being involved with the Sith.

Hilariously, it mentions in the "biology and appearance" section that they are known to often have a darker sense of humor than humans. Pretty sure that's more cultural than biological, guys.

Anyway, their society has about a hundred caste ranks and only the top ten can leave Umbara, hence their supposed rarity offworld. It's possible to change castes and advance in society by being good at screwing with the people ranked above you; you only get in trouble for such activities if you fail at them, in which case you're imprisoned and your whole family is dropped a caste.

As mentioned, the Umbarans seem prone to being involved with the Sith, particularly Palpatine; a fallen Umbaran Jedi apparently started the roughly thousand year long New Sith Wars, which immediately preceded the thousand year peace that led up to the movie era. Umbaran senators in the Old Republic apparently were highly influential because of their manipulative skills.

Also, apparently the soldiers of the Umbaran Militia that protects their homeworld dope themselves up with gas in their helmets. I find this amusing for some reason.

Rating: 1/5. Y'know what? I'm tired of automatic Darksiders, I'm tired of near-humans, and I'm tired of people whose hat is being better at [insert thing here] than everybody. Thus, I'm taking it out on the Umbarans' rating. If they hadn't been a confluence of those three things, they might have gotten as much as a 3/5.

1182. Underwater dwellers. The underwater dwellers of the Ewok cartoon are fairly generic fish people, other than the fact that most of them are Ewok-sized and one of them (as far as is known) is human-sized.

Well, generic other than the fact that they apparently exclusively eat "food pearls" which can only be grown using the light generated by a magic red pearl or a magic blue pearl.

What the crap.

Rating: 3/5. Mostly for the amusement value of their unsustainable cartoon fantasy economy. (There was only one red pearl which was then replaced with a single blue pearl.)

1183. Unets. They're insectoids who speak a language called Une, which makes me smile.

They were conquered by the Separatists at some point.

Rating: 2/5 because their language being called "Une" still makes me smile.

1184. Uogo. The Uogo are "humanoids" who regard themselves as the "Suffering Ones."

Considering that their planet was dominated for a long time by pirates, then purged of pirates by the Empire in such a way that it devastated the planet's population, then messed up by the Yuuzhan Vong because it was an easy target, I doubt it's being very melodramatic of them.

Rating: 2/5. I was amazed that I had the restraint necessary to avoid calling them emo.

1185. Uroths. The Uroths are bipedal cephalopods; this description begs an illustration.

Anyway, during the movie era, the Uroths were pretty primitive, and when a probe droid landed on their planet, they concluded from its deadliness that it was a manifestation of their god of death and that the end of the world was coming.

They didn't think this was a problem, because their religion promotes the idea of an afterlife; in fact, many of them pursued the probe in hopes of letting it kill them, and they eventually captured it. Assuming the events of the RPG campaign they were created for are canonical, this droid was eventually retrieved by a mercenary team hired by the droid's owner. There's no particular indications what kind of theological implications this opened up.

A hundred years or so later, their homeworld was part of the wider galactic society; presumably, they found this event a bit embarrassing if anybody brought it up.

Rating: 3/5. I really wish there was a picture.

1186. Utai. The Utai are much shorter, both in stature and lifespan, than their neighbors, the Pau'ans, and in fact have been nicknamed "shorts" in the overall Utapaun society. (Note that we don't actually know their lifespans; as Pau'ans can live to seven hundred, Utai could have two hundred year lifespans and still be short-lived by comparison.)

The Utai are basically ugly-cute pink beings, and as they make up the bulk of Utapau's population, they also do the bulk of the grunt labor while the Pau'ans run the place. They don't seem to have any problems with this arrangement, and as far as anybody can tell the Pau'ans make sure they're taken care of; in fact, while the Pau'ans implicitly sort of conquered the Utai, they also helped their technology leapfrog.

Considering that the Pau'ans are huge scary guys, this is kind of neat, even if aspects of it are kind of uncomfortable to modern sensibilities.

Rating: 3/5. This is because of the associations with the Pau'ans.

1187. Uteens. They resemble eels and are associated with the New Republic.

Rating: 1/5.

1188. Uukaablians. The illustration of an Uukaablian inexorably reminds me of a frog, even though it doesn't really look like one at all.

Anyway, the Uukaablians, aside from having a wonderful name, were once warlike and divisive, until they wrecked their own homeworld. They then dedicated themselves to medicine and medical technology and also tend to learn the art of conversation, making them a positive and friendly bunch.

Rating: 3/5, mostly because I kind of like how they look and their name is wonderful.

1189. Vaathkree. Vaathkree are born as amorphous nonsapient creatures called stonesingers. As they grow, they incorporate minerals, i.e. rocks and metals, into their bodies, becoming more rigid over time; at the age of nine, they're still flexible, but becoming more rigid, and have attained sufficient sapience that the adult Vaathkree start educating them. By the time a Vaathkree becomes an adult, its body hardens and becomes covered in mineral-based armor, and it must choose a form; because of contact with other species, they're usually roughly humanoid, and thus rather vaguely resemble the Thing from Marvel comics. Their lifespan ranges from three hundred to three hundred and fifty years.

The Vaathkree follow a religion known as the Deal, which centers around barter and trade. As a result, they're generally adept at trade. They also created an art form known as "flatsculp," which is apparently a form of two-dimensional sculpture, as its name rather suggests.

Rating: 5/5. Fantastic. I think my favorite part is that they're roughly human-shaped entirely by choice, and that opens up the possibility that they might not be if they don't want to be.

1190. Vagaari. Ah, the Vagaari. These assholes (excuse my language).

Compared to the galaxy at large, the Vagaari are primitive, but as inhabitants of the Unknown Regions, they saw little opposition when they decided to become the biggest jerks in space.

In all seriousness, these guys make the Yuuzhan Vong look like rank amateurs in the "we're jerks for the hell of it" business, in fact being the only guys in the whole galaxy who were happy with the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, making an alliance with the invaders to get access to their biotech and thus benefiting from both their invasion and the chaos caused by their defeat. Even before their alliance with the Yuuzhan Vong, contact with other species had granted them use of heavily engineered creatures, including the hilariously named wolvkils. (Also, they would use any technology they could get their hands on regardless of its origins. I like this because I like pragmatic villains, even if I also like groups like the Ssi-ruuk for the opposite reason.)

They wandered the galaxy as a race of pirates, enslaving and wantonly slaughtering other species; usually more primitive and poorly armed ones, but regardless the body count they racked up was likely impressive. They were severely devastated by an attack by Thrawn when he still was part of the Chiss Ascendancy; for complicated reasons, decades later this would result in the Vagaari getting mixed up with Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade while investigating the doomed project known as Outbound Flight.

When I call the Vagaari jerks, it's because they're truly amazing. An apparently common tactic they use is to put their slaves into transparisteel (super-tough glass equivalent) bubbles on the outside of their spaceships and leave them there, so that when their enemies show up to engage their ships in combat, they'll be forced to shoot through gaggles of innocents to hit the ships themselves. They're also sneaky enough and shameless enough to pass themselves off as members of species they've slaughtered, such as the Geroons.

They seem to like the "sh" sound being at the end of their names, which makes me look at those names and imagine them being spoken with a lisp.

Rating: 4/5. Rock on, you stupid jerks. I hope you all die in entertaining ways.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Some Indie Giant Robot Thing

So I was watching this animated short, which feels odd to call that because if you added a modern volume of commercials and an intro segment it'd probably fill half an hour.

Obviously, bits of this are pretty slow, and most of that I don't mind (although I'd be lying if I didn't say I skipped over some bits). The fight was good but not great (way too much sitting there with the monster pushing its claws in further and the sound effects for the stomps and the hits were way too small-sounding), and I loved that the hangar had a progression of increasingly larger and more advanced robots in it. It was nice to see the newspaper clippings; it kind of reminded me of The Incredibles.

But I don't think we needed to see quite as much of the monster's origins as we got.

One of my favorite robot anime is Dai-Guard (which I actually only properly finished last month, as a result of having trouble finding the final volume). One of the many reasons I love it is because it gets past the question of "where do monsters come from?" really quickly: According to nonsensical science, earthquakes make monsters* emerge from another dimension**.

There we go. There's your origin for every monster. (Not necessarily literally, of course, but when you come up with something that simple and elegant, you certainly don't need to muck around with other ideas.)

It's like the Marvel mutant origin for superpowers-you're just born with powers, now let's get on with the story.

As far as I'm concerned, the earliest we needed to see the monster was when it woke up and started rampaging, possibly even later than that.

*Of course, according to the scientists in the series, you can barely consider the Heterodynes*** alive, and calling them monsters is arguably misleading.

**One of the really elegant things about the use of earthquakes as a trigger, of course, is that we can predict earthquakes, so the show has a good excuse for why the robot is always in the right place to fight the monsters, but we can't predict earthquakes perfectly, so sometimes one will happen unexpectedly; there was even one episode where multiple quakes failed to have monster results, and that was the actual source of conflict for the episode.

***No relation to the family from Girl Genius.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Not Quite Enough To Get Me To Watch...

...Although if the show actually used this to explain why the character mysteriously disappeared (or whatever happened to him, I haven't been watching for a host of reasons*), I'd almost find it worth trying.

There is a question I have to ask: Why is the guy at the front desk doing the actual cleaning? Is that how actual largish drycleaning establishments work?

Okay, two questions: Are Ranger suits really dryclean-only? The things are supposed to be nigh-indestructible, right?

*Reasons including a distinct lack of cable and a distinct lack of thinking that they're doing a remotely good job. Anybody who tells me that there's something wrong with Power Rangers RPM is forever my enemy. (I'm only sorta joking.)

-Signing off.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#118)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)

1171. Ubese. The Ubese are near-humans, but very few people in-universe are aware of this. This is because they all wear environmental gear off their homeworld (being suited to specific atmospheric conditions not found elsewhere) and their environmental gear is also armor, because the Ubese are violently xenophobic. Supposedly, this makes them good bounty hunters, although I have serious doubts about that (if you're a xenophobe, are you likely to employ intelligence resources in the midst of a society you hate?).

We have some limited familiarity with the Ubese through Return of the Jedi; the disguise that Leia wore to infiltrate Jabba's palace was an Ubese armor/environmental suit. Yes, that language that Leia was using was a "human" language.

Supposedly, the Jedi Order destroyed their homeworld and the Ubese wanted revenge on them for this, but the exact date when this was supposed to have happened is ambiguous.

Rating: 2/5. I sort of like the twist of guys like this appearing really mysterious and alien but actually being essentially human, but on the other hand, they're basically just a slightly mutated human culture.

1172. Ubuugans. The Ubuugans, aside from having half the letters in their names being "u," are vaguely elephantine but also somewhat insect-like beings, with probosci that look superficially like elephant trunks and three eyes.

Their homeworld has native creatures called Ubuugan fleshborers; these tiny insect-like creatures like to swarm and skeletonize human-sized victims. However, Ubuugans being native to the same planet, their skin has properties that repel them, and in fact Ubuugans can and do eat fleshborers; one Ubuugan seemed to regard them as a delicacy.

Rating: 3/5. The fleshborers make the Ubuugans pretty entertaining.

1173. Ug'Ggerans. All we know about the Ug'Ggerans is that 1) that name sure has a lot of "g" in a row, and 2) there was someone who was a member of their species/race.

Rating: 1/5.

1174. Ugnaughts. Ugnaughts are the little piglike guys from Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.

They were brought into space as slaves thousands of years ago. However, the Ugnaughts on Cloud City were free Ugnaughts and lived happier lives than most Ugnaughts until the Empire came; the dude that the Empire put in charge tried to re-enslave them, and their response was to rig Cloud City with bombs and run away.

Later, when the New Republic gained control of the region, Cloud City was cleared of its booby traps and the Ugnaughts returned to it.

Rating: 3/5. ...They have certain problems, being depicted as little squealing pig people, but certain kinds of appeal as well.

1175. Ugors. Ugors are supposedly unicellular creatures who can range from roughly half human-sized to rather larger than human-sized (they have a "ball form" that can range from one to two meters in diameter, and a two-meter-diameter sphere would be pretty darned huge). If they are unicellular, those single cells must be pretty danged weird, because there's a reason cells don't get very big.

Anyway, Ugors are essentially supposed to be giant amoebas, and can grow and control up to thirty pseudopodia, which could fulfill both manipulatory and sensory functions (apparently they could custom-design their sensory organs, giving them virtually unlimited sensory range-eyes made to see colors humans can't, for instance). They normally wander around as blobs, but many of them wear environmental suits that shape them into rather humanoid forms. Supposedly, their brains being noncellular structures, they're actually more efficient than multicellular brains; there's a certain logic to this, of course, though as I say, they must be pretty weird cells. They apparently evolved as apex predators, but can digest basically anything, including most species' trash.

Since they like eating trash, the Ugors ran the biggest, most successful trash collection group in the galaxy during the time of the Galactic Empire, under a group called the Holy Ugor Taxation Collection Agency. At the height of their influence, they obtained a gravity well projector from the wreckage of the first Death Star and were using it to "organize" the trash they had collected from across the galaxy in their home system, though this didn't last very long.

The Ugors had a long-running rivalry with the Squibs, who apparently were their biggest competitors.

Rating: 5/5. These guys are pretty neat, especially since they've got all these characteristics that make them rather scary but they really just want to be trash collectors.

1176. Ukanis. They have round bodies. That's pretty vague. In what sense of "round?" Round like humans are round? Round like circles?

Rating: 1/5.

1177. Ukians. The Ukians are known as agriculturalists. They're a bit hunch-backed and lanky, but apparently stronger than one might assume from that appearance.

They are easily frightened by mysterious things and the unknown; thus, they've been successfully overwhelmed by invaders using unexpected tactics on multiple occasions scaring them into surrender.

Their government is an odd sort of meritocracy; whoever the best farmer is at the end of the ten-year term of the previous ruler is offered the position. (Frankly, that sounds like a formula for disaster, but I suppose it could be made to work.)

Rating: 3/5. This is mostly because they look kind of interesting, and also earned a pity point for their victimization, because basically every story they've been in involved them surrendering to somebody or another.

1178. Ulorin. They're native to a planet in the Centrality, one of the odd little somewhat independent administrations that popped up in the pre-Zahn Expanded Universe. (It was essentially ruled by the villain of the Lando Calrissian Adventures, the secretly-a-Croke Sorcerer of Tund Rokur Gepta.)

Rating: 1/5.

1179. Ultaarian greenbacks. The Ultaarian greenback seen in-story was a hulking pink-skinned and four-armed guy with a horn and tusks who had a green covering of some sort on his back. I find myself wondering a teense if perhaps "Ultaarian greenback" is something like a silverback gorilla, i.e. it's something of an alpha male descriptor/indicator.

One got into a hand-to-hand fight with Han Solo once. Presumably, he didn't do so great despite being huge and having four arms.

Rating: 2/5, because of my extrapolated concept regarding them. If it were actually the canonical explanation, that'd be pretty great and get them another point.

1180. Umaren'k'sa. The Umaren'k'sa were influenced by the Hemes Arbora, apparently as a result of something the living planet Zonama Sekot did.

Rating: 1/5.

-Signing off.