Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Last Day of the Year

Not blogging tonight because I'm hanging out with my family, and don't have access to my regular history and favorites and whatnot.

(Hopefully will have a Star Wars post on Friday.)

-Signing off.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blah Blah Ninja Turtles

Not ashamed to say that I've seen episodes of every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, including the weird live-action one that crossed over with Power Rangers.

(If you go into it with an open mind and keep in mind it had a really low budget and cornball writing, which is fine because Ninja Turtles has always been silly and will always be silly, it's better than people give it credit for. Not great, mind you, but it is what it is and it's not terrible. Bad yes, awful no.)

I mention this because last night my sister and I finally watched the most recent movie, and actually watched some episodes of said live-action series to palate-cleanse afterwards (we'd had one we hadn't watched sitting around because of reasons). It was... less necessary than we'd worried, probably, anyway, although it definitely was the worst Ninja Turtles movie, and that includes the time-travel one where they wore samurai armor for about a third of their screentime.

(The best Ninja Turtles movie is either the original one or Turtles Forever, depending on whether you're asking me for an objective or subjective opinion.* Because the first Ninja Turtles movie is a surprisingly good movie for something that essentially was just helping boost what started as a quirky indie franchise, and Turtles Forever is for nerdy people who are already into the franchise, and handles cross-dimensional antics, metafictionality, and multiversal crises in a way that's more fun than any other such thing I've ever seen.)

I'll admit to being entertained and annoyed by turns; typifying the movie was the fact that Shredder's cutlery was a big silly exosuit that shot blades and retrieved them with magnets, which is both wonderful and incredibly stupid. Also, boy they made the turtles ridiculously durable. (My sister and I joked about one shot and its remarkable similarity to a scene from One Piece where the character Luffy screams "Bullets can't hurt me!")

Surprisingly enough, for a blatantly dumb action flick, my favorite moment was actually an emotional moment during the climax, where everyone thinks they're going to die and Raphael confesses that the reason he was always so hard on them was because he loved them. My sister and I agreed that this was something that is or should be true of more or less every version of Raphael, even if there's never a chance to visit the story beat.

Also, the changes they made to the origin story? What, man, what. My sister actually compared the changes to an origin story for Spider-Man where Uncle Ben is still alive at the end of it.

*My sister would always say the best one is the first one, I think, but she loves the first three movies unabashedly and unequivocally. She also decided to go ahead and take the plunge to buy DVDs of the newest cartoon, which I'd not have seen otherwise (I was a bit more hesitant, and we don't really have any TV, cable or otherwise, by choice).

-Signing off.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#140)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped unidentified H'relac species because of a spectacularly uninformative entry. And because I actually loaded one more article than I meant to, but that's neither here nor there.)

1391. Unidentified green species. Another member race of the Iskalonian school, these guys look like sad dog/fish people.

Rating: 1/5. While I'm not a fan of the character design, it's not as bad as that other species.

1392. Unidentified green-finned species. It's worth noting that these guys are also green-skinned and thus just as worthy of the appellation "unidentified green species." They also have sufficiently fishy features that one could easily believe that they're amphibious.

While there's nothing particularly noteworthy about this species beyond the fact that they're fish people who often (two out of the three known individuals) have amazingly nice hair, I do kind of like the way they're used in the story they're from, where one of them is a wealthy business owner, another is his discontent trophy wife, and the last is the eco-terrorist pretending to be the wife's skeevy personal trainer having an affair with her.

In other words, they're treated as astoundingly humanlike entities with extremely human concerns. Making characters in a story like that aliens for no reason beyond the fact that one can is nice.

Rating: 2/5.

1393. Unidentified Gryphon species. Apparently a Design-an-Alien contestant, this species has armor plated skin and a single central eye. They look kinda neat.

The sole known individual, Brock Lar, left his homeworld of Gryphon because of constant civil warfare that had killed his son. He would leave his world, eventually finding a sort of peace as an adopted citizen of another world, moving his remaining family there and getting work as the first mate of a freighter.

Unfortunately, the world that had adopted him was Alderaan, and his family was killed when the Death Star wiped the planet out.

So Brock Lar decided that he would wipe out the entirety of Moff Tarkin's bloodline, although he's not specifically known to have succeeded at killing any of the man' relatives.

Rating: 3/5. Y'know, that particular little story humanizes the destruction of Alderaan more than probably any single other thing I've read about it (and I've read a pretty fair amount of Star Wars fiction), and it essentially was a bit of fanfic written by a pair of 18-year-olds.

1394. Unidentified Hijarna species. They built a fortress, apparently as a last line of defense against an invasion of their world.

Then they died.


Rating: 1/5.

1395. Unidentified Hitaka species. They're blue-skinned and very human-looking.

Rating: 1/5.

1396. Unidentified hive-mind insectoid species. Apparently, "individuals" of this species are hive-minds made from a certain number of beings; losing members of the hive-mind is bad for the mind's memory.

I should think so.

Rating: 3/5.

1397. Unidentified Horn Station species. The known individual of the species basically looks like Killer Croc from the Batman comics/cartoons.

Rating: 1/5. It's not a bad look, but it's also not much of an alien.

1398. Unidentified humanoid species (Jedi twins). This species' known members were Jedi and also twins.

Their design was based on unused concept art for a Sith lord, story-wise possibly one in a role that would eventually be taken by Count Dooku.

If one looks at their design, this becomes very funny, at least to me.

Rating: 2/5. Eh, their hair-things are kinda silly.

1399. Unidentified humanoid species (pressure suits). They are believed to live in pressure suits. They are not, however, known to live in pressure suits, so the article name seems presumptuous. (The thing that probably caused people to presume they're wearing pressure suits could be scarves just as easily as air hoses.)

Looking at them, they look kind of like they're really just sharing fashion tastes (and glowing eyes, though they look like they may have four eyes) with Jawas, and that's the main thing you can actually say about them.

Rating: 2/5, because I like how they look even if they're borrowing someone else's look.

1400. Unidentified Hurikane species. So this species is composed of what we would identify as mineral material.

In his youth, Mace Windu was sent to try to obtain some kind of special crystals from them for the sake of building a special lightsaber with them. They were hostile and chased him around until one fell into a crevasse or some such thing.

Mace went back to heal him with the Force, and as a reward for his kindness, the being gave him some crystals... which had come from his own body.

...That's kind of like going, "Oh, you fixed my broken leg! Here, have my kidney!"

They look sorta interesting, anyway.

Rating: 2/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Day Like Any Other

...I don't really do holidays anymore.

I mean, I show up to hang out with my family-I joke about being a jerk, but I really do try not to be-but that's the extent of it.

Anyway, not much in the mood to blog, but I'm hoping to have a Star Wars post up at some point on Friday.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Watch Where You Aim That Thing

So how realistic is Dai-Guard?*

It actually acknowledges that waving a drill around wouldn't work very well as a combat weapon.

*If this post seems random, I don't care. I don't believe in timely blogging or following patterns.

...Anyway, I'm super bad at blogging consistently.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Not Physics Weirdness, But Brain Weirdness

This is an interesting little thing.

There's actually a tourist attraction (currently closed, as it was part of the same complex as Prehistoric Forest) that is almost certainly a partly artificial (possibly initially accidentally) exploitation of the same effect called Mystery Hill, which, as I've mentioned in the past, is hecka disorienting; my kid brother took an unpleasant fall in the place once when he was little that nearly ruined the trip*.

...Honestly, I think that the long-distance camera shot they use before they reveal the horizon over the water is probably misleading; it'd likely be easier to tell if one was there oneself (I kind of could tell that it must have been a subtle "reversed" gradation from my experience with Mystery Hill).

*My sister was crazy-prepared enough that she had a decent first aid kit in her purse, which helped get the kid calm enough; there's something soothing about having a bandage properly applied, at least among my family. Not that the Mystery Hill section was a big loss; it's just a few minutes spent in a degree of physical discomfort brought on by the sensation that you ought to be falling over. There's also a lame perspective trick that I've never once seen work because the tour group is supposed to have at least two people of the same height, and everyone in my family is of very different heights, so I've never been in a tour group where there's been decent matching. (My mother is of very average height; my sister is on the short side; when my kid brother went with us, he was still tiny because the place closed years ago; and while my dad's nearly as tall as me, that's only a nearly-and he didn't go often anyway** I stand around six foot four. Suffice it to say I've never been in a tour group with someone my own height.

**I suspect Mom actually mostly liked these trips because the place was around when she was a kid-and my uncle on her side, who is incidentally a now-retired Berkeley physicist, seems to have had much the same association-while Dad's family never seems to have had the least interest in such silly pursuits as the rest of us. This might have as much to do with the fact that, while he's in the same age range as the Baby Boomers, Dad's not actually from the same generation as they are because his parents were an older generation, and his upbringing actually reflected that.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Although "Metal Kaiser" Is Kind of a Generic Name

Filed under "darnit censorship":

Metal Kaiser is a Japanese-produced, Chinese-language tokusatsu series that Tsuburaya Productions, creators of Ultraman, were trying to use to break into the Chinese market.

But because Chinese television apparently has wildly fluctuating censorship against violence (that is, changes happen extremely rapidly and can be harsh), the show was banned before it ever came out, and apparently the ban hurt Tsuburaya's finances rather badly.

Now, I've watched some fair amount of one of China's homegrown tokusatsu series, Armor Heroes, and I can say it's cheesy and hilarious; this already has some bits in it that I also find funny just in this trailer. I don't know how well a story that's apparently essentially "Ultraman powered by ancient Chinese mythology" would work when written for the same audience.

But Ultraman in general (or rather, the formula it follows, especially in the particular context of how it's followed in Ultraman) is one of my ten or so favorite things in all the world, so I can't imagine I wouldn't actually like it.

Especially since the Metal Kaiser costume is one of the most beautiful tokusatsu protagonist costumes ever created.

(Use of the "China is hilarious too" and "Japan is hilarious" tags is primarily for the sake of inter-post continuity.)

-Signing off.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blah Blah Star Trek Blah Blah Movie

Found myself musing a bit on some things in Star Trek after randomly watching this clip the other day:

1. I know that ST:TMP is generally far inferior to Star Trek IV, regardless of similarities in their overarching plots, or rather, in the Big Dumb Objects that get their plots started. But I've always thought that "V'ger" is far more interesting* and even far more sensical than the "Whale Probe" on basically every level. Why, exactly, would some people who used to talk to the whales send a thing that would destroy the whales' home if it wasn't stopped?** You'd better hope that the thing's receivers never malfunctioned. Also, why did the thing need to be larger than Phobos, exactly? (Picture courtesy of Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions, which is an excellent website.)

2. Boy, do I dislike the Klingon appearance retcon.*** It's not that I object to the use of enhanced makeup, but the appearance retcon brought so much bizarre and terrible baggage with it. Suddenly, the Klingons weren't metaphorically linked to Cold War tensions anymore, they were space savages, and shortly became the dumbest guys in space (look how dumb their tactics for investigating the BDO are here-"One of our ships will fire a few torpedoes, and then we'll sit and watch for a few minutes!"). Nearly gone are the clever political wranglers of the original series,**** replaced by the kind of guys that they would have been using as dupes.

And I can't help but look at the Klingon guys in that clip and think "oh gosh that looks disturbingly like some kind of racial caricature."

3. Star Trek weaponry doesn't make any sense. Yes, this is an independent point.

4. Admittedly, I like the Klingon cruiser design, and it's kind of neat seeing a higher-detail version of it than the one from the original series. (Actually, I'd say that Klingon ships in general are among the few Star Trek ship designs I don't violently object to if I start thinking about ship design seriously. The Enterprise is way too darned fragile to exist. The Defiant-class ships from Deep Space Nine are actually what all the Federation ships should more or less look like.)

*The idea that an alien civilization rebuilt a Voyager probe (whoops, spoilers!), turning it into something far more advanced than the civilization descended from the civilization that created the Voyager probes, allowing it to actually return, and be so powerful that it somewhat unintentionally threatens the civilization (descended from the civilization) of its birth? That's frankly amazing. Cartoonish, perhaps, but when has Star Trek not been? Also, it looks a heck of a lot cooler.

**Beyond the obvious "Star Trek civilizations are incredibly dumb" answer. I'm sorry if you're a Star Trek fan, it's just kind of true that the Star Trek setting is crammed with monumentally stupid ideas (exploding consoles, for instance). I'm often entertained by Star Trek, but I frequently feel obligated to knock it off the pedestal a lot of people put it on, because not many people who don't hate it do so.

***Gosh, I'm a curmudgeon about Star Trek. This movie is nearly half a decade older than me!

****They do, of course, make a brief comeback during the sixth movie, which has a couple of my favorite Star Trek moments in it, but of course by the time of TNG they're gone forever and ever. ...I should mention that I've never watched much of the Star Trek series other than the original series and the cartoon, so it's possible I'm wrong, but I have my doubts.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Context-Free Awesomeness

Prepare to have your mind blown. (Note: Clip is from God Mazinger, which had a lot of chicks running around in tiny bikinis for no good reason and also violence... though this clip has less of those things than the other few I've seen.)

In case you're not patient enough to watch the whole thing, the really awesome bit starts at around four minutes.

In all seriousness, though: This features a giant sword-wielding statue/robot (piloted by a kid) fighting a possessed, firebreathing plesiosaur (which may also be a robot-I'm not clear on this, not having watched this particular obscure and untranslated series beyond a couple of clips) which is wearing a collar with a flail attached to it so that it can use said flail.

That's the very best kind of ridiculous.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Just That Stupid

Quick! What was your first reaction to the new lightsaber design from the Episode VII trailer?

If it was "that's stupid," you're on the same wavelength as at least half the people I've shown the trailer.*

Unless the crosspiece is supposed to be some kind of "training saber," that is, a lightsaber blade that doesn't actually cut, I can't imagine it being too safe to handle; for that matter, I can't imagine it being very effective for blocking, either, when somebody can potentially cut the emitters. Did the people who designed it know what crosspieces are for?**

I'm nowhere near as positive about this movie as I was when I'd heard the Toy Story III writer was supposed to be doing the script, because it's got a lot in common with "NuTrek" and every time I hear something new about that I think it sounds even more awful...

...but at least a writer who worked on the original trilogy worked on it too, so...

Also I like the new stormtrooper helmets.

*I showed it to my sister and it was nearly her first reaction to the whole trailer. My mother was more excited and positive about the movie as a whole,*** but the lightsaber was her primary nitpick. It didn't really stick in my craw quite so much, but it's definitely my least favorite alternate lightsaber design.

**They're for blocking sword blades and occasionally helping one's grip.

***A big part of the reason why I'm such a huge nerd is because my mother's always been a big nerd herself; particularly, she's a big fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars. There was a conversation my sister and I had with her at some point where she realized that we'd seen very few episodes of Star Trek and none of the movies besides a chunk of The Wrath of Khan (which had aired as a Saturday afternoon matinee at some point), and her reaction was to take a summer to rent all the movies that had already come out, up to First Contact, which wasn't even part of her Star Trek (that being the original series), because she felt our education had been lacking. She's a wonderful human being.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Everything Must Be Giant Robots

Okay, I'd seen the product this is advertising (the link is to an English-language review of the piece in question, which has helpful information on the subject), and I knew it was based on a real building made for the 1970 Japanese Expo (I've seen the relevant Gamera movie, after all).

I did not see this advertisement (...until I'd read the above review-I'd seen a previous review on a Japanese site).

Japan, I love you.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#139)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

1381. Unidentified diminutive species. These guys are basically angry-looking koalas.

There's something familiar-sounding about that...

Oh, yeah, in Schlock Mercenary one of the most racist and fascist alien species in the galaxy is basically a bunch of koala people. That probably explains why I find these guys kind of familiar.

...Not that I'm accusing these guys of being evil in any way; I'm sure they just kind of look angry.

Rating: 2/5. Because angry koala people are amusing.

1382. Unidentified Dreffon IV species. These people are native to Dreffon IV, and love to eat a fruit apparently also native to Dreffon IV, the plasmaberry. (Which... sounds a bit weird, since plasma generally refers to either a component of blood or the stuff of which stars are composed.)

...All of them? Every single one of them? Even the ones who have severe allergic reactions to plasmaberries?

Because it's not unlikely that there'd be some with allergic reactions to the things, and even something that's widely seen as good can't be loved by everyone (I can't actually stand blueberries, f'r instance, and on the subject of allergies my sister has a fairly nasty allergy to strawberries even though strawberry is one of her favorite flavors).

Rating: 1/5.

1383. Unidentified Eeyyon species. They apparently have pale skin and (SURPRISE) come from the planet Eeyyon, which I have trouble not reading as "Eeyore."

Rating: 1/5.

1384. Unidentified eight-valved species. Okay, this species is ultimately from Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas, which is a non-canonical book that I've largely ignored here, not insignificantly because its content rarely feels like it "fits." Never mind that there's all sorts of things as variable as crazy space gods and Force demons and slug crime lords and carnivorous meat products in the Star Wars galaxy, for some reason these things still mostly feel "off."

But the reason this species is listed is because its existence is inferred from a piece of music.

It apparently has a green, eight-valved heart, and the lyrics suggest that said heart pumps mercury (though this might be part of an idiomatic metaphor, considering that the song states that "the mercury has gone from this eight-valve heart," which definitely sounds metaphorical to me). Other anatomical features apparently include chloroplasts, multiple mouths, and something on which the entity slides. And the being may also be aquatic, based on the fact that the song mentions that "fluorescent plankton filled our cave."

Incidentally, it was a crying song.

Rating: 4/5. I'm laughing.

1385. Unidentified Firro species. They live on Firro, which was brutally subjugated by the Empire.

Apparently, the medical droid 2-1B used to work on the planet, treating civilians, before the new Imperial governor took possession of him for his own use.

Then a Rebel shot the guy in a "scuffle" and 2-1B decided to join the Rebellion of his own volition, because he'd been upset by how the governor had been treating the natives of Firro.

This... is actually really funny, because the magazine Star Wars Insider used to have a column presented as being written by 2-1B, and he was the crankiest, pettiest robot ever to be associated with the Star Wars universe.

Although that's not really here nor there.

Rating: 1/5.

1386. Unidentified Fortnay species. These now-extinct natives of a world called Fortnay apparently once defeated superior oppressors, according to a document they left behind that someone had managed to translate. This translator was actually seeking a way for the Rebellion to topple the Empire by doing historical and archaeological research.

Which is sorta interesting, but one still shakes one's head.

Rating: 1/5.

1387. Unidentified Gap Nine species. They're apparently "reptiloid," and native to Gap Nine, which is only significant to a group I didn't cover (mentioned here).

Rating: 1/5.

1388. Unidentified Garr'lst species. Apparently, they were wiped out by a mercenary group.

Rating: 1/5. Mostly irrelevant: The mercenary force involved was later themselves severely devastated by a weapon called a Death Spiral, which is apparently a stack of circular gun things.

1389. Unidentified googly-eyed species. "Unidentified googly-eyed species?" Seriously? That's what you're going to call them?

Then one learns that they're an extragalactic species which is powerful enough to pull a Star Trek omnipotent aliens plot on inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy.


I'll point out-based on analysis done by various parties, an Imperial Star Destroyer, which is technically sort of a combination patrol and picket ship role-wise (albeit also built for independent engagements, because the Empire doesn't fool around), is also capable of the same job that another setting's "planet killer" performs.

So we're kind of talking about a high-end group here, because subduing a Star Destroyer as easily as they implicitly did without damaging it would take a lot of work.

Rating: 2/5. Because they're apparently "googly-eyed" and apparently absurdly powerful. That makes me crack a smirk, anyway.

1390. Unidentified Gottlegoob species. Apparently, this species suffered from famine.

Also, for some reason the pronoun "they" was capitalized in their article at one point, which strikes me as a bit funny.

Rating: 1/5. I'm so full of empathy. /sarcasm

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I'm not really a particularly big fan of Dragon Ball Z, but I do have to admit I quite like the dub's theme song.

It's, like, at least half the reason that I used to watch the show when it aired at six in the morning on Saturdays.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What the Heck, '80s?

These cartoons were made in the same decade, technically by the same industry, ostensibly for the same purpose (advertising products). (I'm well aware that this isn't a remotely fair comparison. Like it matters.)

The above show is apparently about an alien who... either appears when you solve a Rubik's Cube, or simply is a Rubik's cube that sprouts a face and legs when solved.

Contrast it with the following show.

Spiral Zone* is about a futuristic military commando team that goes on expeditions into an artificially induced atmosphere that causes people to become mind-controlled zombies under the villains' control. (I've only seen a few episodes and it was a long darned time ago, but my memories of it suggest it was comparable or superior in quality to the '80s GIJoe cartoon.)

The '80s was kind of a weird time for cartoons, yo.

*It's interesting to note that Spiral Zone was a derivation of a toyline from Japan that amazingly had the same name.

However, I've never seen any indication that there was a Spiral Zone anime, and I know that the cartoon wasn't a dub, because I've looked into Japanese Spiral Zone just enough to know that the toyline had its own distinct storyline over there: Instead of the artificial zombie-creating field of the cartoon, the titular Spiral Zone was an alien ecosystem or something that had invaded Earth (probably heavily inspired by Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind's toxic jungle/sea of decay, though without the twist at the end), at least as far as I can tell from the few available snippets.

-Signing off.