Monthly Archives: February 2012

Is Bleach going to be Bleached?

Bleach may be getting a live action movie courtesy of Warner Bros. Clearly, Warner Bros. is looking for the next Harry Potter franchise. The various superhero movies may or may not fill the void. The question, of course, is whether or not Bleach can fill that void. Given the lack of success of manga and anime live action adaptations, I am not sure. Indeed, I am extremely pessimistic about Bleach’s chances.

Can Bleach even be adapted for live action? I am not so skeptical as some. The key is adapting the manga rather than the anime. No filler. Do not make the movies into filler like the animated feature length films. I can see the first three to five volumes being a first movie then adapting each arc as a single movie. Gran Fisher would, I think, make for an excellent first antagonist for that movie.

The question is whether or not the screenwriter(s) think they can do a better job of it than Kubo. Obviously, the lessons that should have been learned from the failure of Dragon Ball and other manga live actions will be taken to heart. Do not assume that you, the screenwriter, are better than the mangaka.How many millions of volumes of Bleach have been sold?

Another problem is the threat of Americanization. The protagonist is Ichigo Kurosaki, a Japanese teenager living in Tokyo. Do not move the action to the United States, do not make Ichigo American. Or white. There is a stupid assumption that film goers will not watch movies that do not star white people. I think the controversy over The Last Airbender and the panning of Dragon Ball should give the casting department pause. Do not sacrifice the setting to appease your own biases. Although given what has been rumored about Akira, I am not holding out much hope.

Can manga be adapted to live action? I do not know. All of the evidence thus far argues against it. But perhaps if Bleach is done well and is a success, maybe the common assumption will be overturned. But from what I am reading, I am not holding my breath.


Pat Yourself on the Back

Well, the Oscars was a waste of three hours that I’ll never get back. Okay, I actually did do other things while the awards acted as background noise. Which is rather where the Academy Awards are, nowadays.

Besides a few marquee awards, I don’t really know who won what. And I really don’t care. Let’s be honest, it is highly doubtful that many people will remember any of the movies mentioned tonight in ten or fifty years.

I’m not much of a movie fan. The last movie I actually went to a theater to see  was Rent (and that was because it was free). Before that, the last movie was Independence Day. In the comfort of my own home, I do watch what I think is a decent amount of film. But, I’m not as passionate about film as I am about books or other things.

In a way, the Oscars is like the Superbowl. If everyone is watching, do you watch it, too? The Oscars is more than an awards show. It is an event, the endpoint of a longish season where various bodies hand out awards for perceived achievements in film. Which is bigger, the Oscars or the Super Bowl?

Perhaps my ambivalence towards the film industry colors my opinions about adaptations. Which leads me into tomorrow’s discussion of a possible live action Bleach movie produced by Americans…

Late Review, X-Men: First Class

I just recently got the chance to watch X-Men: First Class (2011, dir. Matthew Vaughn). On the whole, the movie is one of the better comic book movies I’ve seen, but there are serious flaws present that have plagued the X-Men film franchise from the beginning.

I like the visuals of the film. The spirit of the early 60s is excellently captured. The  film is rather gorgeous visually.

The acting is a mixed bag. The main thrust of the film is the relationship between Magneto and Professor Xavier. From their first encounter to their budding friendship and their reluctant break, the film excellently captures that arc. And Michael Fassbender and James MacAvoy do phenomenal jobs as Magneto and Xavier.

My only issue with the Magneto-Xavier relationship is that more exploration needs to be done beyond a montage.

The problem with this film, as with most of the X-Men films, is the lack of characterization of the vast majority of the characters. Besides Shaw, Frost, Mystique, and Beast, none of the other characters have much in the way of characterization save for some montage and party scene.

Like I said earlier, this is an endemic problem of the franchise. X-Men has a lot of characters, but film is not the medium to introduce all of them.

Personally, I like the plot, but I am not sure if the Hellfire Club is the best choice as villain. Now, the Club comes out of the 60s and the old The Avengers television series. But, the Club itself should be more than just Shaw and his team. The Hellfire Club, done right, should look and feel more like the organization Quantum from James Bond.

Sebastian Shaw is an amalgam of two characters: Sebastian Shaw and Mr. Sinister. In personality and history, he is more like Sinister. Just in this case Sinister is a mutant with Shaw’s powers amplified. Now, I’m not opposed to this mash up. In fact, I rather like it.

The plot is good as it is. I just don’t see setting up World War III as something the Hellfire Club would do. Shaw’s villainy is that he sells out his own people for profit. After all, whose company produced the Sentinels?

At the end of it all, the universe of X-Men: First Class is not the mainstream marvel universe. It is something completely different with alternate takes on the various characters. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

First Class is a good comic book film, definitely in my top ten,taken by itself.


Keeping the movie theme running, I’ve got two other movie posts in the works. One about this year’s Oscars, and the other about a possible Bleach live action film.

Reviews: Naruto vol. 53 and Fullmetal Alchemist 27

Naruto volume 53 by Masashi Kishimoto

This volume shows why Naruto is such a great series. Despite my usual complaints about the series, it is stories like the birth of Naruto that make up for all of it.

After meeting his father during the climatic final battle with Pain, it was only a matter of time before Kushina Uzuamaki made an appearance. And, appropriately enough, it comes when Naruto battles to master the Nine Tails.

The long expected reunion is amazingly done and very heart warming. The bonds between mother and child interesting to watch form, and it is funny how similar Naruto is to his mother. And the ending is so bitter sweet, being only able to spend such a short time one’s parent.

But, there are some issues here as well. For one thing, I still think the defeat of “Dark Naruto” is a little too quick. It should have taken longer and been more in depth. Naruto, I think, really needs to explore the dark side of its protagonist a little more.

Another issue is I do not quite buy the rational for Minato’s actions. Of course, there needs to be an explanation made as to why Naruto is an orphan when he has two loving, but absent parents. That his father died sealing the Nine Tails into him is understandable, but revealing that his mother is the previous jinchuriki of Nine Tails boggles the mind.

Despite some of the issues, this volume is an excellent example of Naruto at its best.

Fullmetal Alchemsit volume 27 by Hiromu Arakawa

All good things come to an end, and Fullmetal Alchemist now joins that company. This series is one of the greatest manga of the past twenty or thirty years. The art may not be spectacular, but the story telling makes up for it by far.

The final battle with Father reaches its inexorable conclusion, and, much like any alchemist who dares human transmutation, he is punished for his hubris. And Ed, of all the alchemists, learns what the right answer is to restore his body without recourse to a philosopher’s stone. The conclusion is excellent.

The ending of the journey is undeniably heart warming. Amestris is freed from Father’s machinations and Ishabal is restored. The world is restored a better, more hopeful place.

In a way, looking at final volumes demands that one looks back over the series as a whole.  As such, it is amazing to see how seamless the narrative turns out to be. Everything just clicks.

Now, this volume, hell Fullmetal Alchemist is highly recommended. If you haven’t started on it yet, get to it!


Don’t Steal from the Library

This really angers me. People stealing from the library. It takes away the possibility of other patrons from checking out the items stolen. What is really annoying is that so often, the stolen items are for kids.

I have a niece. My brother wants to check out children’s movies from the library. Now, there should be a lot of copies of Disney movies. But, that is not the case. Of films that should have as many as six to eight copies, so often all but two will have “item missing” as the check in status. This means, obviously, that the copy has walked out, never to return.

It is not just children’s film and books that are being stolen. I’ve ended up having to ILL Smith’s Return of the Sorcerer and Howard’s Solomon Kane anthology because someone stole them. And don’t get me started on all of the manga that has likely been stolen over the years.

Just don’t steal from the library.  You can always check it out again, later.

Thank You, Lea Shock

Last night when I played DC Universe Online with one of my three remaining characters, Tennyson Rider, I joined a group led by hero Lea Shock. It was fun mopping the floor with Bane, thank you.

Comic Book Screw Over

Over at George R.R. Martin’s “Not a Blog,” he relates the story of the hardships currently being endured by Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider. Like a lot of comic book creators, he has been screwed over by the comic book industry. Now, if you write for the big two (or non creator owned companies), it stands to be expected that the company owns the copyright to the character.

As I’ve said in previous posts, this situation sucks. It sucks that comic book writers and artists have been screwed out of royalties and other residual payments. Yes, the work is for hire, but the companies should be far kinder than they have been. And the attitudes those companies reveal when creators seek to assert some form of rights over their work is simply atrocious.

This incident, as well as many other events that have been reported over the last few months really make me question whether or not comic books is really worth creating for no matter the format.

Even the creator owned companies have their own problems. So, is being a comic book creator really worth it? Yes, there is the possibility of being able to write or draw one’s favorite character, and the joy and pride that comes with that is a powerful incentive. But, it also comes with the knowledge that control over that work does not belong to you.

Now, what can be done about this? I don’t know. Would a boycott of Marvel or DC be effective? I don’t know. Given the decline of the industry, it may be effective. Clearly, legal remedies in this industry friendly legal environment are unlikely to succeed.  The problem is getting a large enough portion of the fanbase to agree to a boycott. There are other options, as well, but what I’m wondering is how a more permanent and equitable solution can be reached.

Breaking the No Politics Rule

It’s been an informal rule here at the blog that I’ve imposed on myself: no discussion of politics. Personally, I really don’t want to deal with some of the crap that erupts in the comments of those posts. But some events just force my hand into rant mode.

This particular rant was inspired by a segment on last nights Rachel Maddow Show dealing with Virginia’s proposed law that would require invasive ultrasounds before women can get an abortion. I thought the discussion and analysis was spot on, but there was one thing that really troubled me. They did not call the law out for what it is: state sponsored rape.

The type of ultrasound used for the law involves sticking the device into a woman’s genitals. Last time I checked, such an action, without a woman’s consent, is rape. So, is Virginia really going through with a bill that would lead to state sponsored rape? What the hell?

What I don’t get is why Maddow and her guest, or anyone for that matter, not call it out for what it is. Yes, they dance around it, but they never call the spade a spade. If you think about the law in this way, not only is it atrociously unethical but down right state sponsored criminality. I ask myself, how would the debate pan out if the terms used were more stark?

Now, I know my politics are rather strange by American standards. I get that, I get that some things I believe in will never, ever be implemented. Because we have what is supposed to be a system that values compromise and respect, not the dictatorship of special interests or the winner take all zero sum game that our political life has become. Is this law and the various personhood laws truly the will of the majority? Is that why Republicans were swept into office in 2010? I don’t think so. They were elected as a rebuke to Obama and abetted by the apathy of the other side during that election cycle.

In the end, I don’t think Virginia’s law will pass muster with the courts. Hell, it may even be reversed come the next legislature if Virginia voters are angry enough to punish the Republicans.

So, here ends this rant.



The Scarecrow, Really?

I’m currently a premium member of DC Universe Online after purchasing “Fight for the Light” expansion pack. So, with six character spaces, I decided to create a character for each mentor. Everyday, I would work on a different character, starting with Joker and proceeding on til Wonder Woman. The plan hit a snag when I ran up against the Scarecrow on the second day. It is just unbelievable how difficult he is.  And that got me thinking why.

Now, save for Scarecrow, I’ve beaten each mentor driven first level. I would rank the level of difficulty as (from easiest to hardest): Dr. Fate, Felix Faust, Huntress, Grodd, Power Girl, and Scarecrow. So again, why is Scarecrow so surprisingly difficult?

That got me wondering if there was a concern that most players would gravitate towards Batman as a preferred mentor compared to the other five. It is telling, though, that Wonder Woman and Circe both have the easiest first level. Could it be possible that there is a push towards directing some players to the other mentors?

That said, I also have to wonder why the Wonder Woman and Circe first stages (and Superman and Luthor first stages to a lesser degree) are so similar while Joker and Batman are markedly less similar.

Another way of looking at the issue, though, is the choice of power. Some powers are far more useful than others. I mean nature powers are good for a non soda cola health boost, but weak on offense, while I happily smashed Faust with a meteorite for most of that battle. Perhaps a better means of dealing with Scarecrow is either smashing him with a meteor or using a summoned sidekick (like with gadgets and sorcery)?

But, that said, it still does not explain why the Scarecrow is the toughest of the six first bosses to beat. Surely, that should go to Power Girl (even if she is swarmed by the Parasite and his clones)?

In the end, I may wait a few days and come back to beat Scarecrow, or I could scrape that character and create a different one who may have an easier time of things. Well, that would make two, as I don’t care for my Luthor mentored created character either.

No Time but Today

Sometimes, if I brood on something for a while, I get a better handle on things. I’ve been thinking a lot about fantasy, history, and reading lately. Obviously, it has been a somewhat regular feature of my blog (that and Bas Lag). So, I’ve been brooding, and I’ve come to an interesting and obvious conclusion. No matter what time a fantasy is set, it is always reflective about the concerns of the present.

We can all accept that most fantasy set on secondary worlds take place in historic periods relative to our own day. Typically, these worlds are highly inspired by the medieval period of Europe. My argument is that while interest in the roles of English queens may provide an intellectual inspiration, more often than not, the work is not really about an alternate version of Queen Isabella or Queen Margaret.

Take King Arthur. He performs different meanings for different times. For the early myths, he represents a national hero, a defender from invasion. For the Pearl Poet, he represents an idealized court. For Malory, he represents another form of the idealized court. For Bradley, his myth represents a religious conflict between nascent Christianity and the Old Faith. The story of Arthur is a reflection of the concerns of the writer’s present colored through the lens of a mythic past.

Howard’s Hyborian Age is another excellent example of writing with the present in mind. There is a strong concern about the decline of civilization, of degeneration, of a loss of vitality. These concerns play into an early twentieth century dealing with the effects of modernism and the Depression.

Even Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire can be seen in this light. I would like to know exactly how much of the series was planed from the start and how much of it developed in the writing. I’ve heard that Martin is a gardener when it comes to his writing, so it would be really interesting to see how the series developed. Part of my curiosity lies in whether or not Martin originally intended to focus most of the attention on the war for the Iron Throne or if it gradually supplanted the epic conflict with the Others as the main focus.

I suspect the fascination with A Song of Ice and Fire has something to do with concerns about our own political issues. That the political problem, instead of being shunted to an impediment, has become the main focus is one I think needs to be addressed.

China Mieville’s Bas Lag novels obviously belong in this discussion due to the highly political nature of the narratives. Each one, in one form or another, are highly suspicious of authority. The novels are also highly challenging to the notions of neoliberalism and globalization. And, I think, in Iron Council, Mieville questions the efficacy of protest, of fighting for change. Is it worth fighting for freedom, for political change if the protesters are getting their heads smashed in?

History, myth, etc. are inspiration in fantasy. But authors are writing with the concerns of the present in mind. Now, some of these concerns may be optimistic or pessimistic. Some writers may be playing intellectual games with their inspiration, but they still write with the present in the background.

The fantasy genre has been changing for some time now. New voices are entering the field bringing in new readers or supplying readers with protagonists little depicted in the past. Ambivalence and ambiguity have places of pride, and the former certainties of the past, of concrete good and absolute evil, are being challenged. In the end, some readers will find that the protagonists seem to resemble them a little more while others will feel at a loss without their sure hero.