Bishie - Short for bishounen, a guy so pretty other guys can't resist him either. BL - Japanese term for Boy's Love. Considered Yaoi Lite. DDR - Dance Dance Revolution, a game where you stomp on floor buttons and impress everyone else with your MAD DANCING SKILLZ IRCFiesta - A group of people in the irc channel #comicfiesta who have been online so long we have no idea what clean jokes and sensitive issues mean anymore. Seiyuu - The horribly talented Japanese who voice our favourite anime and game characters. Yaoi - Mangafied gay pr0n. 9000x more appealing than actual anything.
Monday, February 14, 2011
In which we must find something new to bitch about!
Listening to: Calm Envy - the GazettE
It's been two years since I've had a passion to rant about anything.
BOOK DESECRATION HOUR: THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (TPoDG)
Have you heard of a man named Oscar Wilde?
If you haven't, chances are you don't speak English, so that's okay. If you speak English, then you'll be waxing lyrical about how he's so witty and charming and so witty that if you were to look up the word witty in the dictionary, Oscar Wilde's face would be next to the entry. He was gay, but that might give people reason to think being gay will make you witty like Oscar Wilde (note: unproven). Oh, and he was witty. Did you know he was so witty that if you asked anyone to quote their favourite Oscar Wilde witticism a lot of them won't have an answer to give?
At this point you will realise that people just love Oscar Wilde because he was quirky and everyone else says he was very witty and thus it is cool to like Oscar Wilde.
On the other hand if you were to ask anyone which Oscar Wilde work they LIKED...
...So maybe you've heard of "The Picture of Dorian Gray". If you're a little bit artier (and thus wittier) then you will mention "The Importance of Being Earnest" and tsk at everyone who never read the play those damn troglodytes. SOMEONE might mention "The Canterville Ghost" or "Salome" in which case I may or may not want to meet you because you may either be interesting or ridiculously arty and not very fun to talk to.
The point of those rambly paragraphs is just to tell you all I know about Oscar Wilde is:
- He was gay - He wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray - He wrote The Importance of Being Earnest - He was apparently very witty - He is also heavily referenced in the Uncyclopedia
When I was a wee DMling my dad bought The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde and I would chance upon it during a random spring cleaning but never get around to reading it. Then finally it dawned upon me I should probably read something of Oscar Wilde so that I'll know WHY is he so damn WITTY, and that I shall read The Picture of Dorian Gray!
Big, big, big, big mistake.
For those who've never heard of the story, a young man named Dorian Gray gets a very beautiful portrait painted by an artist named Basil Hallward. After a thorough philosophy lesson from Basil's friend Lord Henry 'Harry' Wotton, Dorian Gray wishes the portrait would age instead of him, and I'll quote the book:
"I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me, and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day - mock me horribly!"
The rest of the dialogue can be summed up as:
Dorian: This picture! It's too beautiful! You will end up loving the picture more than me! I'll age and be ugly and you'll leave me for prettier things! Basil, I hate you for making me into such a pretty man! *pout* Basil: That isn't true! You're the bestest friend ever Dorian! I'll slit my wrists if you leave me! *pout* Dorian: Lies! You love your picture more than me! *pout* Basil: FINE I cut my picture to shreds! Nothing will replace you! *pout* Dorian: NOOOOO don't cut the beautiful pictureeeeee! Basil: Hmmmphhhh you finally appreciate my art! *pout* Dorian: If you give the picture to anyone but me I'll dieeee! Basil: Oh Dorian you know the picture was always meant for you!
JESUS CHRIST ON A POGO STICK, STOP YOUR FAFFING AROUND GOD DAMNED VICTORIAN MEN.
The faffing starts right at the beginning when Basil fawns over Dorian right up until he presents the picture. It is thirty pages of victorian gentlemen faffing around and pouting: I can practically SEE the limp wrists in my head. To say it was the biggest reason I couldn't pick up the book for several months after the first three chapters is an understatement - all I remember is the FAFFERY. You know what's the most shocking part? When I found out it was actually only THIRTY PAGES - I swear it ran thrice that length.
Thankfully the plot does pick up - Dorian falls in love, ruins an actress's budding career, justifies it in his own way and then that's when the portrait starts changing to reflect his sins and all that aging stuff. Dorian then dives into hedonism and doing vague stuff that seems to ruin the reputation of anybody who remotely shakes his hand. By vague I also mean Basil asking him:
"Why is your friendship so fatal to young men? There was that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. You were his great friend. There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England, with a tarnished name. You and he were inseparable. What about Adrian Singleton, and his dreadful end? What about Lord Kent's only son, and his career?"
Dorian does explain a little bit, but not much - yaoi fangirls are free to speculate what has he been doing with his new-found immunity to STDs.
Basil is horrified at all this (and probably jealous he didn't get his name dragged through the mud) and stuff and then Basil looks at the portrait he painted and ARGH SO UGLY then Dorian stabs him and then blackmails his chemist friend to blow the body up, proving that maybe Oscar Wilde does know something besides faffery after all.
More years pass and more stuff happens and Dorian's conscience finally snaps and in trying to erase his past he stabs the picture and dies, sorta killing himself and the portrait reverts to its previous prettiness. Other stuff happens in between but you can read wikipedia or the actual book to find out what because I'm not your Cliff's Notes.
TPoDG does teach a few valuable lessons:
- Offhand pouty remarks can sometimes be taken as making a deal with the devil. - Victorian dandies did a LOT of faffing about. - No matter how hard you try, you *really* can't escape the past.
The last one is particularly interesting because TPoDG does this literally - how many of you wanna bet if you had a portrait reflecting all the stupid things you've done you're all going to look 50 years older than your actual age (and 100x uglier to boot)? Dorian had to lock it up in an attic to make sure nobody saw all that ugliness so if anyone wants to object and display a *progressively* ugly self-portrait to all and sundry for 30 years please let me know so I can chronicle it on your social media network of choice.
Also, Oscar Wilde is a misogynist. Don't believe me? Take this quote for instance:
"My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."
"Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious; both are disappointed."
"You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties."
"When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs."
I'm pretty sure there's more but I'm not going to read the whole bloody thing again.
Either way between the lack of any strong female character and the men faffing around, saying Oscar Wilde is a very straight man is like saying I am a paragon of virtue.
So...How is it?
I suppose it would be an entertaining read if you got past the beginning.
The thing about TPoDG is there's a lack of backstory - there's a few pages about Dorian's past and the past of some of the people and some backstory about the room the portrait is kept but it's all hints and it's just enough to say oh this is Dorian Gray and this was his grandfather now let's get on with the homoerotic bits. Some people don't like that, they want to know who were Dorian's parents, who was his grandfather, how did Victorian society view him, how were they looking at Dorian, etc. This isn't that sort of book - this is about a prettyboy who pouted at the wrong time and pays the most damning price for immortality. As long as you don't need to know what happened to Adrian Singleton or the Duke of Perth or whatever in long sordid masturbatory material detail you should be fine.
The faffery still makes me want to throw the book at Oscar Wilde; preferably somewhere that hurts a lot. Sadly, that rules out his ass.
After the book, the next step is to watch the movie.
MOVIE DESECRATION HOUR: DORIAN GRAY (spoilers)
I only found this movie when I was rifling through a colleague's PC and found a folder that had dozens of movies all for the benefit of bored folk during a night shift (assuming there aren't like half a dozen people bleeding through all their orifices, that is), so if I hadn't found it I really wouldn't have known the movie existed because I wasn't a big fan of Prince Caspian. You remember the guy who played Prince Caspian and launched a few dozen fangirl ships? Yeah he's in this movie.
Two Ben Barnes(es?) for the price of one!
So like all good movie adaptations, it starts out fairly true to the book - a young naive man who had a bad grandfather (HA bet you thought it wasn't in the book) meets a Basil Hallward and a Lord Henry shortly afterward, gets a portrait, falls in love, then gets utterly corrupted by Lord Henry about indulging the senses and spiralling into a new low for hedonism.
This is where the book-movie similarities end because the movie starts hammering you with SOFTCORE PR0N.
The only worksafe picture I could get. Really.
There's some jazzy dissonant violins to symbolize Victorian pr0n music, Dorian Gray takes off his shirt, and there's some opium smoke lingering around the gilded room with its golden-ish bedcovers and then there's a threesome with him and an oriental prostitute AND a black prostitute possibly for to make sure the ethnic quota is filled (and ups the kink). Then we're at the theatre and Dorian Gray's breaking up with his fiancee because once you've been in a 3-way interracial, nothing else compares.
Then because the movie made them introduce their names to each other, dead fiancee's brother comes to his house and tries to kill him because she killed herself (differently from the book too) and then gets dragged away by police. Dorian has a bit of a breakdown while managing to daintily hold a cigarette until Lord Henry calms him down and holds back a bromance hug. Wouldn't want Dorian to get the wrong idea now would we?
Then we have softcore pr0n involving mothers and daughters!
Lord Henry & Basil are sad they don't get to see the NSFW-ness. Neither do you.
And some more but this time with blood and drugs! Y'know. For a change.
The only thing this film lacks is rock & roll, pretty much.
Let's have a homoerotic moment for good measure too!
And finally Basil sees ugly portrait and some murder happens but again it's still not quite like the book because there's no blackmail and explosions.Then Dorian goes for a trip while Lord Henry goes and has a daughter.
Then suddenly it's around WW1 and Dorian comes back not a day older when he left while Lord Henry gets a fuller greyer beard with an older fuller daughter named Emily. No prizes for guessing his daughter and Dorian Gray start hooking up, and it is only by remembering she's romancing Prince Caspian do we get to forget the creepiness of the entire relationship - she IS technically dating someone as old as her father, you know.
Also in between his old dead fiancee's brother (remember him?) comes back and tries to kill him but at first thinks he's mistaken until Dorian drops his engraved cigarette box and the guy picks it up. Having obviously memorized the whole London registry and Dorian being the ONLY man in London named Dorian, he starts chasing Dorian through the London Underground in creepy stalker shadow mode and he's about to win until he's run down by a train and Dorian's safe because he was on the other tracks.
Dorian starts loving again and develops a conscience, and so does Lord Henry because now he realizes he's made a horrible monster and so sets out not only to expose Dorian but to make things right. By make things right I mean go up to Dorian's attic alone and find the picture and get into a scuffle and chuck an oil lamp which sets the place on fire makes it look like HELL which is fitting because Dorian's a sinner and his portrait is SO UGLY it stares at you from behind the painting like some predator-vision and Emily wants to rescue him but Dorian locks the door and pushes her away so her dad can take her to safety because Dorian really loved her and he wants to redeem himself, see, and stabs the painting before everything explodes in a high-octane (literally) gas explosion.
Explosions wanted to play a bigger part than it had in Oscar Wilde's novel.
Lord Henry and his daughter are safe but she won't talk to her father and Lord Henry has a nice burn scar; no matter, because the portrait is still safe and sound despite being in contact with gas flames for quite some time though the frame is singed...I don't know, shouldn't the heat or the explosion wreck SOME of the canvas?
Then again this movie stopped making sense once the softcore pr0n started, so it's too late to nitpick and all you can do is console yourself that at least you could look at naked Ben Barnes.
Extrapolation will then have you conclude Dorian Gray's soul went to Narnia where Aslan forgave his sins and reincarnated him into Prince Caspian because the timeline just about fits if you follow the movie.
But that's a story for another day.
So...how is it?
There's changing the contents of the book for time or continuity, and then there's chucking the book entirely for gothic sake.
It's nice to see that they threw out all the faffing about the book had (do YOU want to see Ben Barnes and Ben Chaplin faffing? DO YOU?) but replacing a perfectly sensible plot point just to include softcore pr0n is another; are you telling me Sibyl's actress can't act badly enough so you had to make Dorian just another commitment-phobe? Everybody had to be redeemed because Dorian dying lonely and unrecognizably ugly just wouldn't sit well with the girls?
What is UP with the SOFTCORE PR0N.
Once was okay, thrice was a bit too much. By the time Dorian Gray's swishing his hair to an African beat, I wonder if the UK Lottery people started weeping because someone just wasted lottery money on cheesing up the movie at every angle possible. Even CG external shots of London looked flat and I'm not even an animation student. But hey, if all you want is Ben Barnes then here's your 2-hour Singles Awareness Day party pick.
If Oscar Wilde was alive he'd make a better movie AND keep the homoerotic scenes, but with 90% more faffing.
...It's hard to say which is the lesser of two evils.
Listening to: The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
You know what time is it? It's time for the most anticipated movie EVEEEEEEER!
MOVIE DESECRATION HOUR: WATCHMEN (possbile spoilers)
"The most celebrated graphic novel of ALL TIME-"
-I never even HEARD of Watchmen until the trailer came out. Whether this says more about 1) the small number of loud geeks who worship Alan Moore or 2) just how significant this book is in the big picture of life OR 3) just how knowledgable I am about the world and 80's pop culture is up for debate.
Watchmen is meant to be a twist on the superhero comic genre. It's about the jab on authoritarianism and humanity and the corruption of power and the implications about alternate history in light of superheroism. [Wikipedia] has a more comprehensive theme study than I can ever do; Any more and we might as well make it required reading in schools.
So the story takes the wotif situation of "What if anyone could be a superhero", and sets it in a time when most of the demographic wasn't old enough to appreciate the cold war or Nixon. The logic here is if you're willing to squeeze yourself into latex and lycra, wear your underpants inside out and proclaim you're doing all this to defeat evil, an army of therapists can't do jack to save you. Who cares? You're living our your childhood dream of being BATMAN! Except you can't be Batman because you'd be dealing with so many copyright lawsuits you won't have time to fight crime, so you'll have to settle with dressing up as an owl and calling yourself NIGHT OWL instead.
The problem with masked vigilantes is always that you run the risk of causing more damage than the bad guys, and nobody appreciates you for it. So in a move that inspires Marvel 20 years later, the government passes the Keane Act which forces all these "superheroes" into retirement. However, you can't keep a good superhero down, which brings us to the movie.
Someone murders The Comedian, who really is a violent assholic jerk in a costume but too significant in the story to be written out in the first 15 minutes so you see him in flashbacks for about half the movie and how he affects the lives of our main charas. Because the title of "WatchMEN" and not "WatchMAN", we need to have a few main characters:
1) Rorschach, a guy with a very nifty sock on his head (it changes designs! It's UNCOSPLAYABLE! unless you make your sock mask change design too). The antihero's antihero, it's always comforting to know there's a guy out there who believes the best justice is a violent one. 2) Night Owl II, who devoid of creativity said sod it and took the first guy's title and made it...more gadgety. Makes up for his post-retirement flab. 3) Silk Spectre II, who took over because her mum made her. If this was set in the 21st century she wouldn't need to put on the suit - she'd be on Myspace and Youtube and emoing when she's not camwhoring. Since this is the 80s and there's no internet yet she settles with doing these things in real life. 4) Dr Manhattan, who is BLUE DABADEE DABADA and is an actual superhuman. He got into a physics-related accident and then is a fully constructed...quantum physics...thing...I don't know, Gan can explain better than I ever will. More famous for his nudist tendencies than his ability to screw physics over. 5) Ozymandias, who is rich and handsome and awesome and a bastard. Also has a folder of BOYS in his 80s computer. DON'T LOOK AT ME, I DIDN'T WRITE THE MOVIE.
So after The Comedian dies, Rorschach's investigation finds that his murder could be the start of a conspiracy that'll leave them all dead. He tries to round up his old WatchMEN buddies into solving the case like real superheroes but since these people are Youtubeless LJ-less internet-less therapist-less neurotics, it's not going to be an easy job.
Zack Snyder made the utterly MANLY 300 and did such a great job that they figured at least he won't screw up the Watchmen storyline. Zack Snyder loves MANLY men doing MANLY things so much he wants to keep the moment for all eternity for all MANkind. When Zack Snyder wants to keep a moment in posterity, he cannot freeze it because then half the awesomeness is gone and then you'd just be watching a slide show about 300 half-naked men spearing things. No, you need it to be in S L O W M O T I O N! Savour the moment! Revel in each painstakingly-acted frame! Let your testosterone pierce the heavens!! Zack Snyder loves his pr0ny slow-mo , yes.
Rorshach running to dive out a window! Laurie & Dan walking across a street! Angry protesters in a crowd demanding the Watchmen be disbanded! Three quarters of the opening scene! The creation of Dr Manhattan! ALL of the Vietnam War! In this world, the entire Vietnam War was in slow motion because Dr Manhattan probably made the world run in slow motion while blowing people up. He too must share Zack Snyder's love for pornographic slow-mo. I'd ask why not make the entire movie in slow-motion, except that it'll stretch the movie to four hours (2.5 hours? Really?) and the audience will be forced to stare at everything longer.
Like Dr Manhattan's great blue penis.
The newfound joys(?) of censorship
Censorship has always been the great authoritarian evil pervading society. The thought that someone should dictate what we can or cannot see or even how to think is something that should be eradicated, and rightly so. You don't have to look very far to see how censorship takes away freedom of speech and expression and becomes a big hinderance in our lives.
Watchmen not only has Dr Manhattan in full frontal nudity each time he faces the camera (see nudist tendencies), it also has a sex scene that lasts for 90 seconds with the sort of cringing music your parents probably used to conceive you. In Malaysia, no one will see this because Malaysian censors have finally discovered how to block our view of unnatural male genitalia (it's BLUE. Are YOUR balls blue? If yes, why haven't they fallen off yet?) as well as cut sex scenes while still preserving SOME flow in the movie. Anyone remember those massive cuts that had people staring at each other in a bedroom and suddenly the main chara's in a gunfight? Yeah.
Of course this was not the way the movie was meant to be seen - it was scripted and put in there for a reason, and we've no right to change that. The problem only starts when message boards discuss nothing but the prominence of Dr Manhattan's dick when it's barely shown either way or how embarassing the sex was because it probably hit a little too close to home for them (fact: you won't look hot having sex because you don't have a movie star body).
So others say, "well they're just immature, sex is a part of life. Get used to it."
Except that's not how humanity works.
The story of Watchmen pounds in the theme that left to their own devices, man is inherently evil. The Comedian's joke is always that there is no external enemy, man is his own enemy (or...so I think...) and always is. No amount of lycra is going to make the world a better place because there is no God and the only way there will be peace in the world is if an external nonhuman threat came and killed half of us off. In this context, it makes sense to keep distracting us with blue balls every half hour or so. They KNOW you're going to be fixated about the damn thing, they KNOW you're going to argue its relevance on the internet, and they KNOW their point about humans being born idiots will be proven, with or without societal conditioning.
One could debate that if Dr Manhattan was a naked woman everyone wouldn't mind, but then we'd just come back to the same debate with added angry feminists for good measure.
So was censorship right? I wouldn't know, I was distracted by other things.
Other things I wanted to point out but had no transition point. Till now.
If Zack Snyder put ALL the slow-mo scenes to normal speed, the movie would only be 90 minutes long and we'd all have time to see the rest of the backstory without forking several hundred dollars for the Super Extended Shiny Director's Cut Complete with Gerard Butler Edition (now with 200% more blue balls!). I beg of you, please please please leave the Longass Movie Genre to Peter Jackson. No movie however awesome the source material should give me a sore neck watching it.
But he didn't, and figured amplifying the sound effects would make up for it. Assuming nothing else awesome-sounding debuts this year, this movie should win an Oscar for sound mixing, if nothing else. The sound of crunching bones and disintegrated bodies is always a good awards contender, and there's a LOT of bodily harm in this movie. Gangsters get beaten up! Vietnamese get beaten up! Superheroes get beaten up! SWAT teams get beaten up! A glass castle gets beaten up! This is one movie where having a good sound system (and a strong stomach) counts.
Despite a heterosexual sex scene, one cannot run away from homoeroticism - especially if you watch with CFers. Innocent dialogue between Night Owl II and Rorschach become yaoi fodder. HEY you never know what they were doing they were still partners right?? 8D
Obligatory nonexistent yaoi fodder pic.
Movie!Ozymandias is the best comic-movie change ever, excessive hairspray and inconsistent accent (even the german accent is inconsistent!) be damned. The only time that hairspray hair gets loose is during a yaoi-charged scene (for you SM fetishists out there), and it was so hot. Until Mintos said he physically reminded her of Elder, and then I wept. Why must you ruin everything! T__T
I had no picture of his VELVET CAPE, so...
Comparing Jackie Earle Haley's pics and his Rorschach, still can't make connection. Is that real face? Makeup? No idea, that good. Also goes in book for doing Christian Bale "Batman smokes 10 packs before fighting crime" voice without being corny, cringing, or inconsistent. Also learned how to pronounce Rorschach's name. Milestone must be noted. Not sure if readers catch reference.
More tsundere than House. Srs.
So...how was it?
Never ever watch a movie with 25 CF folk.
Not only do they forget they are in a public area, they also think it's a damn great idea to scream in anguish during the entire Dragonball Evolution trailer. Or squeal in excitement during every homoerotically-charged scene. Or laugh inappropriately. Or clap inappropriately. I highly suspect they cut the credits short to chase us out. Someone's movie night was totally ruined, and it was all our fault! We're jackasses! >8(
You can't take the movie seriously at all. When 24 people aren't, how can you?
My colleague saw Watchmen the same night - the next day he babbled incoherently about Dr Manhattan and Mars and some explosion and WAIT WHAT AAAAAAA before proceeding to throw his head into the wall. Simply put, he never read the comic and thus never got any of the plot points. He mentioned he liked how neurotic the world was without internet, but that was the last sensible thing he said.
This seems to happen with non-readers.
Watchmen is a movie for fans. You never read the comic? Time to spend some money! The movie doesn't have the luxury to explain all the backstory and side comic and old superheroes and the Keane Act save for the opening credits (which should be a reason to hand out 3D glasses), and if you didn't get that, sucks to be you.
For that, it's hard to recommend Watchmen - one on hand it's a different superhero movie (SO glad they kept the original ending but NOT happy they altered one of Rorschach's actions), but on the other it's a chore to sit through 2.5 - 3 hours of a movie you know nothing about unless you read up. Imagine watching LOTR and it's only ONE movie long because they assumed you read Fellowship of The Ring. And half of Two Towers. At *least*. That's the sort of movie Watchmen is. Some say it's smart, I just call it aware of its target audience. It knows who it's fanservicing, and goes all out for them. Everyone else can go stuff it. Or fixate on the blue balls, whichever.
So if you don't mind expending effort to be part of that target audience, give it a go. Blue balls notwithstanding, it should be seen at least once.
Seeing as it's pretty much over 2 months since, I'm going to look at my diary and sum it up in point form.
- Since I had no costume and I REALLY wanted to cosplay but was too lazy to make my own stuff I had the idea of making a videolog of the event. One particular sequence would have me mocking cosplay while cosplaying a clearly inaccurate Kogami Akira (Lucky Star) and everyone pointing out the hypocrisy. Due to communication error I never made the video, but the idea of cosplaying Kogami Akira stuck. - Deru approached me to borrow a skirt for a cosplay SHE had, and so we struck an exchange. The plan would've been flawless if my waist was 15 inches like hers, though. Not only did I NOT use her skirt, I spent a night picking her alterations so that the uniform would look MUCH looser on me. Dedication to cosplay? YOU BET IT IS. - The night of Day 1 I was STILL thinking whether to cosplay since I didn't have a skirt close to Akira's actual one until my mum pointed out that I DID have a similar skirt... - Everyone's reactions? Priceless.
I can has moe?
- Since Deru and I look similar at a glance, a lot of people saw me and just wondered if Deru was wearing platform shoes or something. Apparently it doesn't take much for me to be in character - either she is scathingly sarcastic and misanthropic (like I usually am) or disturbingly cute and perky (like I usually am in small doses). Bounce up to people, flap my overlong sleeves around and go, "Oha-Lucky! X3" at all and sundry. So facial features + iconic cosplay + radiant cute perkiness = totally Deru.
Except I'm not Deru! 8DDD
- Cikgu addressed me as Deru, Gan said, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND", Dai kept examining me up and down (attempting to reconcile the imagery took quite a lot apparently), and Evilmatter crapped bricks. I don't have one favourite expression because looking at everyone going OMGWTF was so fun. How people can not live for extreme reactions is beyond me. - The weirdest part was when I got swamped for photos. Keeping in mind that I seldom get photo requests for ACTUAL cosplay I've done, this felt weird. But good. I r attenshun ho, but we all know that. - Cosplayers joining the competition got goodie bags that had makeup in them. Unfortunately I took too long to consider joining and never got a bag. Aw. - In between cosplaying and singing, Alfred and his partner (I forgot) had crowd games. One of them was "use Alfred's skirt for GREAT MODELLING JUSTICE" and Sring got pulled on stage. She draped the skirt over her shoulder and catwalked like a mofo. There is no photographic evidence of this un-Sring-ness because everyone was too shocked to do anything. I know *I* forgot I had a camera. D: - When you're wearing a short skirt and stockings...it gets cold. REALLY STONKING COLD. I don't know how do you moe cosplayers walk around sleeveless and tube tops and short skirts/shorts all day. You're complaining why am I not dead from heatstroke? I'll take toasty warm instead of constantly rubbing my legs together for heat, thanks. - Of course Zend's RE Nemesis got into the finals, but not Cikgu's Doc Ock, and the winner was Skye's Sheryl Nome (I REALLY hope this is the end of the Macross F mania) for her fantastic ability to turn tricks. Or perform a trick. Or twist a trick into a song. It was SO in character everyone else could go to hell. Yes all 200 of you. - Strangely despite the impressive cosplayin', only ONE cosplay really impressed me...
The lack of any despairing cosplayers has left me in despair!
You know how we all have one iconic cosplay in our lives? This is Elder's. - Rika sang more songs. Everytime Rika sings a song, an angel gets their wings. - Deru sang. Because Deru rarely sings, when she does Domo-kun stops eating kittens until the song ends. - I almost couldn't recognize Zymz as Krauser. *Almost*. - *Someone* thought it was a good idea to wear a traditional maiden costume without a bra. You know how some gi have their sides exposed? You know how it creates horrible saggy sideboob that nobody wanted to point out? I would've taken a picture and put it all over the internet if I could, if only as a lesson in decency (like NOT EVERYBODY WANTS TO SEE YOUR UGLY BOOBS). - Hung around for WAY too long while everyone had their dinner. Finally tagged along with committee to Pizza Hut while nursing a splitting headache (God please stop this aging malady thank you) and heading home.
So...how was it?
This is the most enjoyable CF I've had since 2004.
This may be completely acceptable seeing as the venue is bigger and the cosplay is better (but the doujin not really), but when I look back, the venue and the cosplay had little to do with it. In fact HP ruined it so bad when I stayed back to see staff take down the set I was thinking "YAY NO MORE STUPID SHREK AD".
My hypothesis? The company I kept (or the lack of it).
Kemu and I thought about how we spent both days in the company of several cliques - Tuna and I parted ways when the hall opened and we barely spent time with each other while I went and mingled and spoke to anyone I knew. That's what CF should be about: It's not just about selling doujin and showing off your epic costume and demanding a Caramelldansen at the end of the day, it's also about making new friends who share the same interest or catching up with old friends you made through CF and this is the only chance you get to see some of them. At one point everyone made it a point to go to CF because the overseas students came back for their hols and CF would coincide so it was the best time to see everyone at once. The people who have the least fun are those who stick to their group and sit in a corner and chat until they have nothing left to do and then leave and blog about what a bore CF was because they didn't do what they were supposed to do. CF is meant to be an exploring ground - see new doujin! Chat with doujinka! Chat with cosplayers! Chat with whoever wants to chat because if *I* can get into a random chat with a guy with a victorian clothes fetish and Kemu can just chat up every Vocaloid cosplayer for pics, *anyone* can! You've broadened your experience this far, why stop now?
Taken as-is, CF is quite boring: here's a hall with constant orange light that kills all your photos with a gallery that didn't have working lights (see pictures that don't glow in the dark...in the dark!), here's a leaky stage with 2 blathering loons, over there is the HP BOOTH OF DOOM, and here's the doujin which if you're not interested in doujin I don't know why you came to CF. If you're not an art student you're going to be *bored* on day 1. That's why CF is "for the fans". It's for you to meet up the wackos you've been chatting to online and actually get some fresh air. It's for you to dress up in silly clothes and think fanservicing the ParaPara machine downstairs with a bunch of cosplayers is newsworthy. It's for you to reunite with friends who've been in Australia for so long you divetackle them at first sight. It's for you to get off your arse and MEET your friends instead of saying "we oughta go out sometime" and never really do until CF where you plan your meeting time down to what colour fingernails you have.Case in point? Sizer didn't attend CF and everyone noticed (but had no money to sponsor her trip down).
I can only hope as the magic of anime and manga and all things geeky dies, the magic of meeting and making new friends never does.
And that is why this CF was so much win. May there be many many more.
Listening to: Saigo no Jikan Ryokou Theme - Tomohito Nishiura
So anyway sometime in December, there was a Comic Fiesta.
Comic Fiesta 2008 20-21 Dec, Sunway Convention Center
I was SO scared it was going to be the ticketing line of hell that was 2007, I went at 8.30 and parked 3 minutes from the main entrance. Last year when the ticketing lines opened at 9, there was quite a line spanning 5 shoplots.
This year at 9 AM not only was I the FIRST in line, there wasn't anyone behind me in line for a LONG time.
But hey, goodie bag! :D A goodie bag that apparently NOBODY got, but...goodie bag! For the benefit of the poor 1000+ folk (gross overestimation I assure you) who somehow failed to get a complete goodie bag/get a goodie bag, full stop, it had:
- Game Time magazine with half the mag dedicated to CF's event booklet - Tiny piece of paper with event schedule - Animasia Artbook - HP Ad - Habbo Poster (comes with certain bags only, but it's not that great - I plastered mine somewhere in the con area and never looked back)
I'm sure there were more to it, but that's the main things I recall.
In any case, the line to enter the hall was longer because everyone had bought their tickets from the external sellers which saved queuing time at the ticket booth.
The hall was HUGE. And COLD. And the boundary between doujinland and sponsorland and stageland was separated by Hewlett-Packard and their advert-spamming booth. A booth which only had two ads, BOTH [HORRIBLE] [MONSTROSITIES] OF REPETITION. You think they're OK? Of course they're OK, now try listening to NOTHING but that for 2 days, 10 hours in a row! Still OK yet? How about HP's grammatically outstanding slogan, "Animation has come to LIVE" (live where?)? Have your senses died out from the barrage of fail yet? I know mine did!
First day for me is always doujin day - that means unless your group cosplay is phenomenal or you have something phenomenal lined up, I'm going to ditch that for wasting money on printed matter.
(By the way, I heard the group cosplay was phenomenal but this time everyone made dramatic recorded skits and had the misfortune to be paired with a bad sound system. Just wasn't their day, I guess. =| )
So there were 60 groups, impressive.
So roughly 40 of these 60 groups were selling non-doujin merchandise...impressive.
It would seem an irony that the ones who were really hawking doujin were those artists who didn't draw anime or were the ones so against the manga movement during the early days of CF but now they're the ones most likely keeping the idea alive; there's the 30-day artist blog, and Sarah Joan Mokhtar (the one who painted the walls at Marmalade Bangsar), and I'm not sure if Yongumi counts anymore because they work mainstream and they've evolved their art into a mix of appealing manga and typical Malaysian style (like Mars & Uranus), and the idea of specialty fandom doujin has finally caught on (Hitman Reborn pairing fanbooks, anybody?), but in an already small pool of doujin, that just means one less doujin for ME to buy.
Thankfully that small pool of doujin had enough good quality to go around for everyone else's smorgasboard of badges and bookmarks and prints (pretty but wholesomely impractical - what am I gonna do, stick them in my locker? On the Axsym? Really now), so it was good. Plus most of the doujinka I met were warm and friendly (SJM gave me TWO prints for recognizing the Bangsar walls!), so it's allll gooooood.
The only bad side was that a some people now think it's acceptable to put their half-baked sketches into an artbook and sell it for RM20 a pop. A note: Unless you are Nomura Tetsuya selling off a concept art book for charity, you shouldn't even be thinking of selling them, let alone compiling into anything that's over RM5. A doujin group once sold an artbook for RM40 thereabouts in 2006, and then released another artbook 2 years later after plugging the first book just about everywhere they could. Not that the artbook was shoddily made, mind - the pages were glossy, the colours printed well, but the layout collapsed towards the end (repeated artwork, I'm looking at you) and in the end I still view it as the biggest pity purchase I ever made. They finally came out with something new and what is this, ANOTHER artbook? This is a group that to my knowledge hasn't come up with anything apart from bits of fan merchandise and a collective of nice DA galleries, and I would TOTALLY want to spring RM35 for another artbook...because?
There was a big discussion between Max and me about doujin shopping and comparing what was worth buying and what wasn't, but I've told you the gist of it, so there. I then dumped my VERY HEAVY doujin load into my car (the perks of having your own transport!) and returned to the event.
Everyone's a better cosplayer now! This may or may not be caused by everyone being Asian, but when everyone gushes about the standard, it's always a good thing.
Since my plans for CF were basically shafted and cancelled and left me with some soul searching about why I liked cosplaying, I decided to not recycle old cosplay and pursued a new goal to capture every single cosplayer on camera (which I almost did, mind). Surprisingly quite a few people recognized me, and the conversation would end up:
them: Ah, you're DM right?! :D me: Ah, nice to see you again! :D them: Why aren't you cosplaying?? :D me: :D.....
I have NO idea what this implies, but I do see the irony because when I DO cosplay, NOBODY ever notices. My mum always tells me that people DO notice what I do but they never acknowledge it, and this has become my pet neurosis because if they're not telling me, they're probably telling it to someone else, and it may or may not be GOOD THINGS.
A conversation between me and Himawari made me think a little more about cosplay motivations:
H: Ah, you don't have any charas you like at the moment? me: That would seem to be the case, yeah. H: *pat* I hope you find someone to cosplay soon yah! me: Ah, thanks!
It does sound like a logical thing to do, find a chara you like and cosplay them, but for me who hasn't had a fave character since PROFESSOR LAYTON OMG FANGIRL SQUEE coff anyway it also makes sense to not have anything I urgently want to cosplay in such short notice nor do I have any intention or rushing out a costume just because I want to. So yes I think not donning a costume every event is rather shocking, but I'll get used to it soon enough, and since I'm leaving my Elaborate Costume of Doom Phase™ (did I ever have one?), there won't be much to cosplay soon anyway.
Ahh, the death of a hobby; how bright its dying light flickers.
The End of Day (EoD)
Suddenly I bumped into MARILYN (OMG) and Guoy (also OMG) and had a brief chat about how the future has treated us before a Dark Knight Joker cosplayer came (OMGWTF!) and suddenly Marilyn & Guoy disappeared and then the bunch of us just loitered on the floor waiting for the clean-up to end before deciding on A&W for dinner to see Deru open her present. It took Tuna and me a DAMN long time to wrap the silly hexagonal biscuit box (curse you Hello Panda!) and Deru took 5 minutes undoing the cellophane, but the reaction? Priceless.
Had a massive headache from lack of sleep (growing old is baaaad) and so went home and conked, the end.
And that was day 1. Now wait another month for Day 2's report!
(Considering I've been working 8 days/week since I returned from Singapore and will likely be doing so until CF, I better put this up now)
Having learned our lesson on Saturday, the AHO-dan decided an entire trip spent in a room with a life-sized Gundam and several hundred DSLR-toting otaku wasn't the sane thing to do especially when you'd forked out hundreds to stay in a foreign country.
So we went to Vivocity instead! 8D
The gang who stayed at The Hive had bak kut teh next door for breakfast. One thing to note is Singaporean bak kut teh uses clear pepper pork broth, quite unlike the dark herbal tea of Malaysian bak kut teh; that was the biggest culture shock we had. Also, Singaporeans don't understand when you ask for "warm water" - you have to say it's *plain* water.
So we went to Vivocity, pulled Kemu away from any shop that had shoes/accessories/sales/all 3, had ice cream at Ben & Jerry's (I can see why they wouldn't bring it to Malaysia - it's not much different from Baskin Robbins), before finally adjourning to Suntec around 12, because even though I had nothing to look forward to there, I'll be DAMNED if I let my SGD8 slip away like that!
By the time we reached Suntec the cosplay competition had already started, so we missed 2 skits.
Skit #3: It's ULTRAMAN! And a MONSTER trampling CITIES!! Corny TV-like sound effects ensue (I am not sure if the contestants recorded it using their voices though). The Ultraman costume was actually well done, so it did feel like one of those Ultraman public appearances.
Skit #4: A Hatsune Miku and Kaito appear. Kaito then breaks out the hojillion & 1 Vocaloid merchandise that all the dealers' booths are selling (SHAMELESS PLUG AHOY). Kaito angsts after being told he sings "old man songs" and Hatsune Miku fills the hearts of Vocaloid fans with warmth and digital singing.
Skit #5: Featuring Code Geass' Rolo (who didn't quite look like Rolo) and his Vincent (which fell apart before it got on stage, but we loved it anyway). Some dialogue, that's it.
Skit #6: Roxas & Axel rape an intriguing and dramatic KH2 scene by inserting every goddamn Disney song into it. The only part of note is when in a fit of Michael Bolton-itis (the song was Go The Distance), the Roxas cosser forgets she's holding the microphone, and when she tries to make an epic arm-sweeping gesture, completely cuts her voice off for a line, effectively censoring herself. XD
Skit #7: Thai Trinity Blood cosplayers cossing as Abel and Esther sing a load of songs while embracing each other. The announcer announced their skit as "Presenting Abel & Nightroad!", which made everyone initially wonder if it was supposed to be some epic Cain vs Abel fight or what. This was later chalked up to announcer ineptitude.
Skit #8: Because we were so far away, we couldn't figure out whether these 2 Hitman Reborn cossers were Malaysian. If they were they not only deserve an award for their ballsiness, but also how they actually threw each other onto the ground loud enough for the audience to cringe.
Skit #9: The announcer said this was "A reenactment from Final Fantasy!" and a FF7AC Tifa cosser came out, so we were HOPING it was her epic fight scene, but NO some punk kid came out and sang MORE Disney songs and harassing poor Tifa. This final skit also had the sad distinction of being the ONLY skit where everyone started walking away the minute the kid lip-synched "I Just Can't Wait To Be King", and to do what? To photograph cosplayers that's what!
The thing about Singaporean cosplays is that it can be *really* good. There's a reason why people gush about how Singaporean cosplay is 9000 times better than Malaysian cossers - might be because the majority of Singaporean cossers are female, thin, and heavily made up with fantastic costumes, but anyway.
However, the laws of yin and yang state that for every fantastic cosplayer, there will be a crappily craptasticular cosplayer, one who sees no need for makeup, the correct wig, or even a costume for that matter. This is the advantage of Malaysian cosplay - due to overall overwhelming mediocrity, there is no OMG AWESOME or OMG AWFUL cosplayer that breaks all barriers of cosplay to become a single name to signify all that is about cosplay. AFA didn't have any of these, but this was likely because cosplayers got free entry, so if there was no quality control everyone would be a cosplayer. That pimply geek with a camera double the size of his head? He's cosplaying a hikokomori! Go right in sir!
When I was walking around, I overheard some girls talking about the popularity of Vampire Knight (VK) cosplayers. Since the anime debuted, the public perception is that in order to cosplay ANYTHING Vampire Knight, all you do is get the costume (which is nifty, but not my thing), style your hair/ get a wig, and tada, beautiful vampire student! Twilight gets ONE beautiful vampire student, Vampire Knight has an entire student BODY of beautiful vampire students. STEPHENIE MEYER EAT YOUR HEART OUT.
Or so you think.
In reality, the girls were complaining about how the point of VK was that the vampire students were *beautiful*. They didn't glow in the sunlight, but they made up for it with overwhelming moonlight radiance in their finely-sculpted porcelain faces and heads and bodies and everything but the hair which is soft and dandruff-free and overloaded with Pantene but pointier teeth and nothing wussy like vegan vampires. VK COSPLAYERS on the other hand think it's perfectly okay to to be 10kg overweight, wear the white vampire student uniform, make no attempt to cover your acne-ridden face with makeup, spray your hair green, wear your spectacles, and TADA you're beautiful!
"Geek Vampire Knight" as they put it, while directly pointing at a lounging group of VK cossers...I'm not putting up the picture; but I have it and you know where to find it.
Of course, the rule of cosplay is that for maximum photographer crowding, it is always advisable to cosplay hot anime du jour characters.
Like MACROSS FRONTIER!
He-llo Mack Ross Eff!
Several blogs pointed out 3 Rankas, 3 Sheryls (with different costumes) and...I don't know. I don't watch Macross F. That should put me right up there with the heretics and blasphemers for talking about Macross F without watching a single episode, but I haven't touched ANY anime since Zetsubou Sensei 2 (not even Code Geass R2, yes), so it's fair.
It also helped that the seiyuu who sings Sheryl Nome's songs came to hold a concert at AFA, so there was plenty of incentive for people to come as anything Macross F. Would MAY'N notice the Ranka horde? Would she call all the Macross F cossers up on stage to dance with her? I don't know, I didn't stay for the concert, and there are many others who blogged about it.
Masako, Mintos, Kazeki, and Sizer had a great idea to cosplay as every single Macross idol in the series. They looked fantastic except they had NO LYNN MINMAY.
They are hot; my photography is not.
Maybe I'm being elitist, maybe I'm nitpicky, maybe I'm just being an ass, but it feels like such a humongous waste to have such a good but incomplete group because the main inspiration for these characters...was absent. The bigger problem is that nobody would care - Minmay is *so* 80s, make way for Sheryl Nome! Galactic Fairy, songbird of the universe, and all that. The significance of Macross F celebrating the 25th anniversary of Macross is partially lost because a new generation of otaku might choose to look only at the new Macross F and nothing else - Sort of like how an entire generation grew up on Gundam W/Gundam SEED, and think it's the be-all end-all of Gundam.
I didn't have much time to mull on that because I had to go back to my cousin's house by 7, took the wrong bus, and found that Cosfest's location is one bus trip from my cousin's apartment. W00t!
Now watch as Cosfest leaves Pasir Ris starting next year.
So...How was it?
If I was a hard core MANLY mecha fan, I would have died a happy person.
If I was a hard core merchandise fan with enough money to buy Iceland, I would have had trouble reentering Malaysia (except for the Immigration ladies chatting and not manning the Xray machine would've let me through but ANYWAY), but happy nonetheless.
If I was in the animation industry, I would have been happily enlightened.
If I was a May'N fan, I would have blogged about [the] [same] [damn] [controversy] about May'N and what happens when she holds a marker pen and runs it across a piece of paper, but still happy I got to listen to her live.
However, I am NONE of those, so while happy, I am not shaking in delightful ecstatic glee. AFA merely reinforced itself as an event that panders to the largest anime demographic, and succeeded. They could have called it MECHAFEST or MACROSSFEST or OTAKUFEST or FIGUREFEST and it would be much better description. Unless they start trying to give the otaku who don't watch mecha more options, I think I'll sit out next year's event.
Translated, it means it's going to be ground-breakingly mind-bogglingly awesome.Start saving.
December 22nd & 23rd Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2008, Suntec Convention Hall, Singapore
As a famous pirate once said, "Welcome...to Singapore."
So there I was in Singapore!
The OTHER queue
SINGA-is it me or the con attendees appear to be horribly skewed towards "overweight, spectacled, sweaty, PSP-playing, MALE" demographic?
The organizers clearly know who they're pandering to; How else can anyone explain the gigantic Gundam model at the entrance?
The Gundam That I Did Not See Till Much Later.
Or the lines and lines and throngs of people grabbing figurines and KKnM merchandise and gundam model kits like there was absolutely nothing wrong with the world economy nuh uh nothing at all sir moving along now?
Or that they brought a gundam designer, a Macross idol (May'n the new Mari Iijima?), and a famous singer of super robot anime as guests?
I SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING THERE.
But you don't want a review, you want my lovely experience. You want to know how I stood at the pre-register line explaining to random people that this isn't the ticket line nor is this the line where you sign up THEN shift to the other longer line to get your tickets, only to realise I could've given my code to Ezel (who was in front) and I wouldn't have had to wait for half an hour! Yes, you want that.
Anyway, I didn't even NOTICE the giant gundam at the entrance until Lacry asked if I'd seen it, and I went, "...what giant gundam?"
Said giant gundam was behind me being worshipped by throngs of mechaholics.
Upon meeting up with Max, Ezel, and KM, we decided to take a look around. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to the crass merchandising empire. Maybe there would be...I dunno, something to get us excited.
So we saw dolls!
Look, Edward Scissorhands!
We saw konapun, which was the Japanese way of taking masak-masak a step further and making inedibly real food!
CAUTION: Not my lunch.
We saw storyboards and character designs! It was probably the highlight of the entire event...except for the part where we saw Vanness Wu & Click Five & Simple Plan involved in an animation project. It's going to be cyberpunkish and GRITTY, I just know it!
(like every anime out there who wants to appeal to a wide demographic, yes)
We saw the 40th Anniversary Shounen Jump display area! It was a 2m posterboard with 6 illustrations of DBZ, Bleach, etc. That was IT. The exhibition was so meagre it crushed Ezel's entire faith in humanity. Look at what you people have done! >(
We saw models. Lots of them.
For Lab <3
Squeenix had a display case, ecchi female figurines had a display case, nendoroids had a display case, samurai gundams on horses had a display case...moving on. Well, how about some merchandise at KKnM? Sure, if you don't mind waiting in line with the other hojillion people queuing up to the entrance...
Due to the press conference and VIP appearances, there was a small buffet spread with finger food. Ezel went and took some despite being neither a reporter nor a VIP, but the man had his undying faith in humanity trampled upon! Surely he must be given compensation!
Ganked an eggtart. Nice!
Looked at the anime previews. For some reason they kept looping a PV for Gundam Sangoku-den. If you've no idea what it is, it's basically Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, but with the characters as SD Gundams. So in the PV you have SD Gundam Zhuge Liang and SD Gundam Idunnowho confronting each other on a dark stormy night over a cup of chinese tea, and those H00GE SD eyes trembling at each other, along with the following engrish text:
"In the GUNDAM, the SANKO soul, which is privy to the awakening of-"
I'm sorry, my brain has actively blocked the rest of the text. It was quite a *bit* of text.
So I thought hey here's a ton of gashapon machines, OOOO here's the new EVA line, let's try it out!
For the record, Singapore uses MONEY for their gashapon machines. You know why the Malaysian government phased out the RM1 coins? It weighs you down and takes your soul with you. Your hands will reek of old metal as you grubbily cling to your precious coins, putting your soul into them in the hopes that you get any of the figurines, just NOT the one you don't want.
So I went to the machine, put in the coins, and twisted the lever with all my SOUL...
...That didn't sound right.
So long story short, I broke the gashapon machine, and the staff told me to pick one randomly, but it was EVA, and it had KAWORU, and that is always the hardest for me to get, so with a sidelong glance and a sweep of the hand, I scanned for a trace of grey hair...
...and won. :D
After that the AHO-dan (Max, Ezel, KM, Kemu, Ken who is Masako's friend, and I) adjourned to the Singapore Bookfest 1 floor above, hung around, then went for lunch and never returned to AFA for Saturday.
So now, we leave you with Iluna's doppelganger doodling at the graffiti wall!
Listening to: The Dark Knight OST - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Half of this review was drafted during one of my ER calls at work. That's how LONG this is going to be.
MOVIE DESECRATION HOUR: THE DARK KNIGHT
(as minimally spoilered as possible)
In the beginning there was a disaster of a Batman movie named [Batman & Robin], and the world lost hope and lamented that the Dark Knight was dead (now that he finally had nipples and was thus a normal human being) and then some guy named Christopher Nolan said HE was gonna be a superhero and bring Batman back to his origins and it was going to be serious and dark and AWESOME because he gave Batman a tank that I know *I* wished I owned. And thus the world was given [Batman Begins] and saw it was truly awesome for it had Liam Neeson and Christian Bale who actually pulled off a young good-looking angsty Batman except for that growling voice that made Batman sound like he smoked 10 packs of cigarettes before putting on his suit and terrorizing the bad people of Gotham and it was all very, very good. Except for the close-up action scenes, because when you're sitting 5th row from the screen all you see are dark smudges and the feeling of being nauseous enough to forego the awesomeness for a sick bag.
And so the world and the fans were happy and Nolan said LET THERE BE FORESHADOWING and produced a tiny joker card at the end of Batman Begins and everyone went SQUEE and it was good. And so Nolan said LET THERE BE A SECOND MOVIE WITH THE JOKER IN IT and it was good but the people had every right to be scared but it was good nonetheless.
And so Nolan announced that Heath Ledger was to play the Joker and the world trembled in fear thinking that no way was some gay incoherent drawling cowboy could possibly be as awesome as Jack Nicholson, who with a big grin and an axe could convince the world that if babies were born with psycho smiles, you had to pity Jack Nicholson's mum. And so the world rightly curled under their beds with old Batman comics, convinced that the alleged homosexuality in Batman was going to come right out and attack them FROM BEHIND, but that's another story.
Obligatory HE'S BEHIND YOU!!! picture.
But then the news of Heath Ledger's unfortunate death came forth and the world stood in shock wondering what would become of this allegedly AWESOME movie until they were assured that the movie was already in post-production and we would get to see whether a gay incoherent drawling cowboy could make an awesome movie even awesomer.
And then the trailer came and there was so much AWESOME in it that everyone knew they would be able to sleep knowing that the Joker would attack them in the night but not necessarily from behind, and it was all good. In fact it was SO AWESOME they didn't even need to put BATMAN in the name of the movie, and so they waited until July.
And then July came and my birthday came and went and [aliens descended and turned the world into glass] the day before The Dark Knight came out and so everybody died and nobody got to see the movie, not even Master Chief. And so that was not good.
The Fear of Bad Story
While The Dark Knight (TDK) doesn't start off with snow and 80 pages of people philosophizing about fear and its many aspects, it also has no intention of giving you any backstory either. So you don't know who's the drug dealer with the sack on his head? Why's Batman holding a gun? Why does it look like Mr Marlboro Bat and Mr Sackhead know each other? Didn't I just see Morgan Freeman in Wanted? Is he going to make Batman bend bullets against Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and Heath Ledger, automatically making TDK the BEST MOVIE EVAR?? Too bad who asked you not to watch Batman Begins; now you'll have to sit through 80 pages of fear like EVERYONE ELSE! BWA HA HA!
From there it shows Bruce Wayne living his double life as billionaire playboy and as some guy in a very inconvenient suit that can't turn its neck and his swanky life in a sucky world of crime and corruption. Every time the police try to corner the mafia, they're one step ahead until Gotham's new district attorney Harvey Dent shows he's afraid of nobody and starts cleaning up along with Jim Gordon (who's not broad-shouldered or a commissioner yet).Granted when he's got Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Rachel Dawes (who got plastic surgery along the way and became an entirely different actress) as his girlfriend, you'll start thinking love will take you everywhere and you don't need to spend years training as a ninja with Liam Neeson to think you're invincible.
The mob's money laundering gets chased by the police so first they resort to a Chinese accountant (who breaks stereotype by being EVIL and absconding to Hong Kong with their money) but that doesn't work when Batman flies to HK (which only reminds people that at night, EVERY CITY LOOKS THE DAMN SAME) and retrieves said accountant.
Then the Joker pops in and everyone says hey what's the worst that can happen?
I suppose the one merit that I can give this movie is that it has twists, not just "oh he's not really dead because he's alive in the trailer and we haven't reached that scene in the movie yet". Each time I think oh it's going to end up this way it doesn't and when I think oh something different's going to happen here, it doesn't. Then Harvey becomes Two-Face (OMG SPOILER like you didn't see it coming) and then the movie gets...predictable.
A lot of the movie's action hinges on how the Joker thinks (if only because he's really the only one causing all the action). This shouldn't be a problem because once you get the idea that bad things can happen to good people, you've got all the twists sorted out. For the 2nd half of the twists you can't get, you just think like the good guys and think about faith and happiness and the innate goodness of man and there you go. Anyone who's played any stealth or shooter (FPS or team) game can figure out the last twist and there you go. It's only shockingly unpredictable if all you've been watching are happy-end hollywood movies or you think Batman is like Superman or you're a sodding optimist, in which case you need to be shot for ignoring Batman Begins.
My dad complained about how everyone's analyzing the movie and its parallels to terrorism and OMG THE AMERICAN DILEMMA and we should all just take the movie at entertainment value. Considering the movie was written by two British chaps and the cast is primarily non-American, it's safe to say that what happens in the movie is not a uniquely American situation. First you've got the Joker with his impromptu grainy videos of kidnapping people and making them read messages or interrogating them in front of the camera and then Harvey Dent makes a speech about whether we should bow to the terrorist demands or support the vigilante who's making the city a better place through collateral damage. The lose-lose situation is something that happens all over the world – either way you've got someone who disrupts your normal life and prevents you from sleeping soundly.
Sure GothamCity's lucky they've got BATMAN, but if Batman's like those peacekeeping armies who burst into your house and shoot everyone because a terrorist *happened* to be using your bathroom, the point's lost. So then Bruce Wayne mopes whether anybody needs Batman because if he's doing more harm than good despite his intentions, maybe it's better if everyone just had ONE thing to bitch about than two.
Obligatory moody Batman picture.
Then Harvey Dent gets HIS revelation and becomes more vigilante than Batman but we can't have that because he's the paragon of virtue and lawlessness! His actions are hypocritical! Lawful good guys don't become chaotic good guys just because they get a makeover! Good thing he's taken care of quickly because that would just mean less screen time for the Joker.
And now let's talk about the Joker.
Why so serious la.
Obligatory hot Joker picture.
We know Heath Ledger is awesome as the Joker. He makes you squirm, he makes you pay attention, he's a snappy (cross)dresser, the movie's boring when he's not around, and he didn't say, "I wish I knew how to quit you" which would've been better than quoting Jerry Maguire. The last part was just *disappointing*.
The fact we know nothing about his Joker makes it even more awesome. The police run DNA scans, clothing traces, fingerprints, dental records – nothing. Chances are his retinal scan would turn up negative too. Makeup hid his face so well I couldn't recognize him. The one time he takes off his makeup the whole scene's in chaos so all you get are fleeting images. That's all you need – any longer and we'd be able to identify him. The Joker doesn't *want* to be identified as anything else but that cackling clownface. Once the audience sees the Joker as-is, the mystique's lost. He's just another caucasian shmoe who's got a ton of stage paint. His anonymity is how real world enemies are – you can't label them, they could be anybody. Sex predator? Your relative. Terrorist? The nice gardener who trims your hedges every weekend. White-collar embezzler? Waddaya know, it's that hot girl you met at the bar yesterday! By not looking like anything you recognize, he has taken ALL your fears, your mistrust in the human race, and put it into one concentrated mass of terror. Why fear your neighbours when you can fear the clown that doesn't even LOOK like a real clown – just the clown who released the lions, set fire to the big top, sexually harasses little kids, and murdered the ringmaster after they got fired for not being funny enough.
But he's more than just makeup, he's an actual clown. Clowns pull tricks they know get a reaction. Clowns spray each other with water and throw pies and fall down because they know everyone'll laugh. It's like gag reflex. The Joker knows what strings to pull, what buttons to push. The Joker doesn't make people laugh, but he makes them cower, he pisses everyone off left and right, and he makes people jump up and react. That's some great button-pushing right there, and he does it well because next to him, humans are really predictable.
That's why he's got no backstory – that'd be predictable. Harvey Dent is predictable because he's got the backstory to justify his evilness (which is why HE lasts 30 minutes). The Joker doesn't, even though he tells several stories about his scar (which I couldn't see anyway). Maybe all the stories are true, maybe none. At first I thought they were giving him justification, and then that went to pot. These days we LIKE our villains to have backstories to give them sympathy, make them human. Sephiroth's madness was more terrifying when he had actual grounds. By that logic Joker's lack of backstory should have reviewers saying they couldn't empathize with Joker and how he sucks and they should give him some flashbacks, BUT this IS the Joker that doesn't work on logic anyway, so it all makes sense.
The best part is that Joker does what he does best with so much passion (which may or may not be trying to sleep with Batman) it's hard not to enjoy watching him. You're not supposed to enjoy him! He looks like he's got Tourette's with all that tongue-twitching! He's a criminal, he Bses every other minute, shoots friends in the back, a flaming hypocrite (either everything's part of the no-plan plan or you don't have a plan, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!), and his jokes are lame (Pencil trick is FANTASTIC lame, but lame nonetheless)! If you LIKE him, you're a degenerate dammit!
…But we do. We adore him. We write glowing reviews about how he will be THE Joker for years and years to come. We have become a mini army of Harley Quinns just stopping short of going BATMAN GO DIE and demanding a Joker spinoff.
When we watch Alfred the butler, we're watching Michael Caine as Alfred. We're not watching Lucius Fox, we're watching Morgan Freeman as Lucius. When we see Batman/Bruce Wayne, we're seeing Christian Bale look better when he's NOT being Batman. Even when Gary Oldman channels Gordon, it's still me wondering how this guy can be Sirius Black. However, when we see the Joker, it's not Heath Ledger as the Joker; it's the Joker as the Joker. That's what good acting does – it makes you forget the actor and focus on their character and you think "Oh man that is one HELLUVA Joker I can't wait for part 3" until the credits roll and it says "In Memory of Heath Ledger and Conway Wickliffe" and you remember OH CRAP HE'S DEAD YOU'LL NEVER SEE HIM AS THE JOKER AGAIN EVER and then you weep.
That's why Heath Ledger deserves an Oscar for this – not because he died for your entertainment, but because he's just that good.
So…how was it?
Obligatory EEEEE BATPOD ACTION X3X3X3 picture.
Christian Bale makes a good Bruce Wayne, but a lousy Batman – his lower face does not make for good aesthetics, and that 10-pack-a-day voice ANNOYS me! I don't know how Lab thinks it's manly, because I just think of strepsils and how much work I have at the microbio lab the next day!
When the credits rolled, I was…sitting there. Deep in thought, fingers steepled, staring at the credits like there were subliminal messages for me to read. Maybe it was the splitting migraine and neck pain, but I wasn't blown away. Not like Incredible Hulk or Prince Caspian or Iron Man or Wanted where there was an adrenaline rush and I was telling everyone I knew it was a damn good movie. I went home, went to work, and even when I told people it was a good movie, I felt empty. I felt like I was lying for the sake of hype because I didn't get the blown away feel. There was a big black abyss of empty in my heart after watching the best movie of the year, this couldn't be right.
As the day went on, more bits about the movie came back to me – the pencil trick, the conversations, the ending. I started analyzing the movie and recalling all the earlier reviews I'd read, and then it hit me.
I want to see the movie again.
I NEED to see the movie again.
I want to watch the scenes again, the details, the plot, the music cues, everything. I want this movie to stick in my head for a while. I want to soak up the details and make sense of the sonar readings (and the sly explanation of why comic Batman just has big white eyeholes for eyes), and see the charas again.
TDK works because while there is a superhero, it's not always about the superhero doing things. While he's doing things, other people are doing things, and an understated Batman works because he's an integral (but not major) part of the crime drama stuffed in there. His equipment's plausible (Mini Arc Reactor made in a Taliban cave, I'm looking at you), the themes about human nature and corruption and terrorism are more universal and relatable (Sekrit WW2 projects involving supersoldiers, I'm looking at you), and you don't need to have read all the graphic novels to enjoy it (though it'd help).
Batman Begins was the movie needed to revive the franchise; The Dark Knight is the movie the series deserves.
The other day I did a meme where I had to list out at least 3 of the biggest things going on in my life.
I got stuck at #2.
As I continue working, I've noticed the steady decline of every other interest in my life. Suddenly the PS2 takes too long to start up, the DS is in my bag which is in the box which is in the cupboard which is in the storeroom which is downstairs which totally takes 300 seconds to grab, anime takes too long to get to the point, books have finer print and footnotes that take up half a page (I'm look at you Lord of The Rings), and everything on TV is a second season of something that used to be more exciting.
Life is starting to take on a duller shade of nothing, and I don't know where it came from. I figure it's probably from working too much, but then I see dozens of people who wedge and grunt and squeeze and MAKE time for their families/hobbies despite working 14 hours a day; I don't even have an excuse since I get 2 days off each time I go on-call. I've made catnapping a full-time hobby, shafting every other activity I used to pursue into the drain.
In the beginning of June I attended the LOTR Symphony. It was entertaining, the choir gave me chills, I was disappointed they couldn't get a boy soprano and I've a movement-by-movement review of the most expensive 2 hours of my life yet, and I can't muster five words for an opening paragraph. Treatise on the absurdity of Utena and the presence of the Akio Car, symbol of adulthood and the power that comes with it? The Utena Gallery came back online with the screenshots I couldn't get earlier (because the website was being revamped) and the screenshots I *manually* took are still sitting in the folder. I've a Nanowrimo left over that I actually got an idea to finish, and I haven't touched it because while the big text box is there, it's the word placement that's giving me problems.
Colleagues say "ooh you save a lot I'll bet you've got tons of cash" but I don't tell themI stretch RM400 in 2, 3 months no problem because I don't have anything I *want* or *need* to get. As the internet got bigger, everything got freer - anime? Download. Movies? Download. Games? Download. Manga? Download. Gay pr0n? Download! Figurines? They're all either of sexy girls or ugly men or giant robots, none of which I have any interest in. The only money I fork out is to pay for the internet bill that gives me all this free stuff; It's like one day I started making money and lost all interest in indulging myself with it.
Of course it's a good thing - what with the prices of everything going up, a little more money goes a long way. Still, I don't think it's something that you need to give up on living altogether. Keep in mind this isn't about surviving - this is about the things that make surviving a little more bearable.
I joined my workplace's [Toastmasters club] because 1) The lady who recommended the club wouldn't stop pestering me about it. Scarier than a church fanatic, I kid you not. 2) It's not like I have anything better to do on Monday nights anyway. 3) Maybe, just maybe, I could revive some lost spark.
Now while this is all good (and I'm expanding my social circle in a sense), I still hold back; I'm not comfortable with people and being around people, and going up to speak is nerve-wracking no matter who or what you're speaking to. They're nice people, and I'm still getting used to the atmosphere, but I'm still trying to figure out where this "holding back" came from.
If psychiatrists were to sit down and chat about me, they could blame my parents for fostering this dearth of passion - I go SQUEE, dad shoots it down in flames. Pretty souvenir from Europe? Dad looks underneath and points out the "MADE IN CHINA" engraving. Heart skipping a beat from a a limited edition figurine? Dad waxes on about how it's really just moulded plastic people are being paid more than me to make. The feeling of heart-pounded breathtaking excitement after an episode of Code Geass? Everyone talking about the same damn thing all the damn time turned me off from the second season. Mum just sits down and watches Korean dramas, and I don't think using those dramas to project her dream son-in-law really counts as burning passion. As much as it would be easy to say yes my parents are screwed up and they screwed me over big time so it's totally their fault, it's really not fair to blame them because I'm currently losing all will to live as I type.
Anand suggests getting a boyfriend will definitely LIGHT MAH FAIYAH, but guys don't tend to like depressing girls. Those who DO aren't the most intellectually (or physically) stimulating of the lot. So obviously to get someone to light a fire you need to have an ember to stoke, and that's what I don't have; So it comes back to the first paragraph about how I have no passion because I feel it's all dying out. Is it from my job? Is it from sitting my arse in front of the computer the minute I get back from work? Is it because no matter what I do nobody's going to appreciate it but me anyway so it's a lost cause? I wish I had an answer and a solution, but that's how life rolls - we can't always get what we want because otherwise we wouldn't need to hope Barack Obama will solve a lot of the current world's problems.
However, we might get what we *need*, but I warn you - I'm still looking for mine.
Last Comic Fiesta was in December, it rolled into January, and we all said "wow we can't wait for the next CF!" and January rolled into February, March, and then I lost my job and got a new one, and June rolled into July, August, September, and before we knew it December had come and none of us had completed our cosplay/doujin projects.
And then we wake up and it's Comic Fiesta all over again.
COMIC FIESTA 2007 15-16TH DECEMBER, TIMES SQUARE
Kemu picked me and Sizer up at about 9. The traffic seemed slow as we headed into the city, but thankfully there were no riots, rallies, police blocks, or rampaging cosplayers that warranted a security lockdown. Parked in the hotel parking lot, left our bags at the hotel storage, then went across to Times Square because Ezel was calling for help.
I found out why.
To say things were hectic was a bit of an understatement. Sure ticketing was OK, but the doujinshi line...not so much. There was confusion over how many people could enter and how many free tickets one got per booth rented. Ezel was covering everything himself, and helpers not associated with doujin booths were dragged in, making everyone confused and handing misinformation like free tissues. I asked him what I could do to help, and he first shoved me a sheaf of papers and go do my job without reminding me what I needed to do (one year is a looong time for me), then when I asked for more instructions he said he'll do it himself. Naoko was no better - apparently she snapped at everyone and once I asked her for tickets and she was busy talking at the counter in plain sight.
At least after that was out of the way, I could finally, FINALLY sit back and enjoy the event go out and get into costume.
Why I torture myself so, I do not know.
Later I met Riko Kojima (who was a Cecille cosplayer, woohoo!), and went for a brief photoshoot with Kemu and Lac. Bunch of guys hung around and heckled us, but that's normal because it's Times Square and it's a cesspool of fashion disasters and retards, sometimes both.
For the first time in CF history, I left halfway to retire to the hotel and take a nap. Figures the more exciting stuff happens when I'm not around - it's the main reason I never leave the hall.
From left to right: Yukina (Ayame from Furuba), Ganners (Gendou from Eva), Kitsune (Kyon from SuzuHaru), Ren (Lelouch from Code Geass), Deru (Akira from Lucky Star)
Later at 7 Tuna, Kemu, and I had dinner with Lacry and Kid at a Korean restaurant in Low Yat - small and friendly with good company, that's how life should be. Then met up with Hisa and chatted some more and then went to bed at 1 with the most creative bed arrangement ever (aka how to accomodate 3 people on a single bed without everyone ending up in a tangled mass of limbs).
I woke up at 6 AM due to two reasons:
- I've never slept soundly on a bed that's not mine. - Heal snores like a mack truck on steroids when he's exhausted. Imagine him doing that for 6 hours straight. How does he not get inflamed tonsils? Why did I not smother him and solve my problems? I don't know.
So I figure better get prepared before the bathroom-hogging starts. It's nice to be the first one up. Always.
Heal DID wake up soon after (more because he was committee), so we took the hotel's free breakfast and had a leisurely chat and all. Food wasn't too bad, plus they had tomato omelettes! Or something. But it was good! Ask Heal!
Since Kemu and Tuna and Kid didn't need to go at ungodly hours, I went ahead at 10 and there was already a line into the hall.
View of CF's hall from the lift of Melia Hotel opposite Times Square
Before I forget, Kid brought in 500 copies of her doujin. It was wheeled in on Saturday on a cart, and you could hear the RUMBLERUMBLERUMBLE of artbooks at least two meters away. Juufan pressed some money into May's hand and said "OK get in line for 3 copies NOWNOWNOW", and I overheard someone carrying a bag of artbooks going "OK I got them AND I got change!" and their friend went W00t, so you can imagine the sort of popularity Kid's art gets.
So I went around in my Pop'n Music costume and a grand total of 6 people recognized me. I think it was less than that, but when you accept the fact that your cosplay is not going to be recognized unless they're Pop'n diehards, you stop caring and try to enjoy the event instead. Look ma, I can SEE the con for once, woohoo!
Chibineko came as Dejiko from Digi Charat, and we instantly became retarded:
Angel came as Puchiko, and her tail was shaped like a loaf of bread sticking out from her skirt. We became even MORE retarded:
Us: EEEEEEEEEEEEEE TAIL *petpetpetpetpetpetpetpet* Angel: Eek! Protect me, my boyfriend! *dives into his arms with her tail sticking out* Us: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *petpetpetpetpetpetpet* Angel's bf: Shoo. *half-heartedly swats our hands away*
Oh yeah, Firn's friend came as a HAWT Balthier.
See? HAWT. You don't think so? Go to hell!
The perils of EXTREME designer board games
This year's cosplay chess had a twist - littered throughout the board were little symbols - land on one and the contestant would have to draw a card where they'd have to do something to stay in the game. Theoretically it sounded good - the problem came up when:
1) None of the chess moves were orchestrated, so someone only got the symbol ONCE. 2) None of the chess moves were orchestrated, so HAWT BALTHIER did nothing but sit down a lot. At least he sat down IN CHARACTER, so that just made him HAWT anyway. X3
The game dragged on too long, and it got tedious when nothing really significant was happening. The biggest highlight had to be Hellboy vs [Kon-pachi] (A Kenpachi cosser with a Kon head, 2nd awesomest thing at the event) and the crowd demanding Death to kill off the remaining chess pieces.
Endgame had the weirdest showdown - the two Kings were set to fight each other, but when your Kings were Seth Nightlord and Queen Esther Blanchett from Trinity Blood.....there was talking....and talking....and the possible conversion of a vampire to Christianity....and that was it.
Went to McD's for a snack with Kemu, Michy, Evil, and Zend (as Hellboy), which got some Middle-East kids staring at Zend for the longest time. The look of awe is always a fascinating look on other people.
So Zend got first since his Hellboy costume was SO AWESOME and HAWT Balthier missed out on Judges' Choice because one Judge didn't agree (shoot the Judges Balthier! SHOOT THEM!), and then there was a big dance session and then the event was over. Had a big group memorial for Rylands after the hall was cleared off, then had dinner at Marrybrown before returning and bumming and procrastinating for over a MONTH before putting up the event report.
So...How was it?
I wonder if the magic's gone.
In 2006, the gamut of emotions I felt is still vivid - the anxiety of whether my costume will look OK and I won't look like an idiot, the anticipation of new doujin to throw my money at, the thrill of being silly with friends and overall soaking up the otaku atmosphere.
This year I scanned all the doujin booths and only kept to budget because nothing caught my attention except for some well-done expensive stuff. Everyone performing a [Hare Hare Yukai dance] every other hour got old REALLY fast (save for Kitsu's performance which actually didn't have moe girls thank god) and there was MUCH less to do than in 2004, even. If it wasn't for HAWT Balthier and AWESOME Judge Bergan, I would've said the event wasn't all that and a pack of beans.
The forum's full of genki people who had their jollies and complaints about the REALLY weird stalker dude in a Vincent cape but still loved the event, and I'm wondering if I'm getting old or I'm being cranky just because the bigger CF gets the less personal it's going to be (obviously) and there'll come a time when I won't even go for CF because it'll be the same old doujinka and same old popular cosplay du jour and the same old everything.
I don't want it to happen, I really don't. .__.
However, it seems to be getting there. Slowly, surely; like a cancer, it'll come and take me away and there'll be nothing I can do about it.
I don't know whether to be happy or sad about it, so until then I'll just enjoy what little of it I can.
I'm back, and I feel like reviewing some stuff (believe me, I've got stuff to review - Code Geass and FF12, for starters...)!
For now, I shall attempt to get back into the swing of things by showing you a co-review of Brave Story I did with [The Great Swifty]. The guy sees more movies in a month than I do in a year, so it was pretty hard to find something we'd both seen to review. It's not detailed, but it's a start to getting back into the reviewing groove.