Manga You Might Have Missed

…and other amazing alliterations.

No Power Rangers this week, for the simple reason that my back acting up delayed Sunday’s post to Monday, which gave me a shorter timeline to pop out today’s post, and the Power Rangers Retrospectives take longer to do than other posts. Instead, I’m going to review and recommend two of my favorite obscure manga series: Double Arts and Qualia the Purple. Both of these are short-running series which can be consumed fairly quickly.

There will naturally be some spoilers within, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

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Fandom, We Need To Talk

We_need_to_talk_Steven_Connie_Listening

Well, it’s happened again. Steven Universe writer/storyboarder Lauren Zuke has been hounded off of social media by supposed fans upset that their preferred ship isn’t the one being teased at the moment. This isn’t the first time a creative force has been forced to flee Twitter after being hit with absurd and uncalled-for harassment – just last month it was Leslie Jones. It’s not even the first time the Steven Universe fandom has done this sort of thing (discussions of suicide within, and then discussed again below), which is absurd given that Steven Universe is about as friendly and inclusive a show as it possible to make without going full saccharine.

I’m not interested in getting into the substance of the complaints made against these people, or any number of others who have endured the same sort of treatment, both because it’s not particularly relevant to their critics’ shitty behavior, and because it serves as a distraction from the main topic: whether it stems from right-wing reactionism or left-wing kookery, too many people within fandom think that they’re within their rights to act like complete shitbirds to other people, and it seems to be getting worse.

A lot of ink has been spilled over this problem, generally identifying the problem as some new attitude of entitlement and usually involving a lot of veiled fist-shaking about those danged millennials being on the lawn. I don’t think that’s correct, because there is absolutely nothing new about the kinds of behaviors which lead to these incidents. What is new, however, is the platform it’s carried on. Tumblr and Twitter alike are terrible platforms for fandom activity, and as a result of fandom largely moving onto them, these kind of behaviors are amplified until they become the dominant form of fandom activity. Hashtag fandom is great for throwing bombs and starting witch hunts; it’s not so great for actually having a conversation.

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On Fight Scenes: Three Things That Make For a Good Fight Scene (and Aren’t Choreography)

I love a good fight scene. Not every story needs to be a slugfest, but I do love a really good session of slugging.

When we talk about fight scenes, we tend to speak in terms of choreography and editing; how the characters move and how those movements are shown to the audience. And those are important, don’t get me wrong! But I want to talk about three other factors that go into a really great fight scene. And I’m going to do it using what I think it one of the best fight scenes ever put to film, the trailer fight from Kill Bill:

God, I love that fight. Unfortunately, this version cuts off before the final confrontation but the only other version of it I could find on YouTube was absurdly low quality, so here we are I guess.

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Power Rangers Retrospective Part Two: TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMFRIENDS

When we last left off, our heroes had come together as a team of color-coded superheroes with giant robots, and overcame a monster with a flipping incredible design. This week, they learn about the value of teamwork! And working with your friends! And teamwork oh my god can we talk about something else PLEASE.

None of the monsters are as cool as Bones, though. Sad.

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[Review] There Are Stranger Things In Heaven And Earth…

some really incredible poster art depicting all of the main characters

There are some shows that need time to breathe; where it’s not clear until you’ve given it a few episodes to sink in whether or not it’s good. Netflix’s new hit series Stranger Things is not one of those shows. From the very first minute of the first episode, it was clear that I was in for something truly special, and for its entire run of eight hour-long episodes, creators the Duffer Brothers never failed to meet the expectations they had set for themselves. Stranger Things is spooky, touching, well-directed, well-written, and endlessly nostalgic for the eighties. If you want to go in entirely unspoiled, you can stop reading right there, and walk away knowing that it has my highest recommendation, and you should go watch the first episode immediately. If you want to know a bit more, click that read more link. I won’t be spoiling anything major, but there’ll be some minor ones.

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Power Rangers Retrospective Part One: Overbearing and Overemotional

When I was a kid, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were all the rage. Five teenagers with attitude, who put on colored uniforms and fought evil with karate and giant robots? And the robots were dinobots? And they all come together to make an even bigger robot? It was like crack for 90s kids. We couldn’t get enough. I knew all of the rangers’ names and respective colors, their weapons, what their robots were…which is kind of funny, because I only actually remember ever watching one episode of the show (although wiki diving tells me I must have seen at least two, since what I remember combines this guy’s appearance with this guy’s powers ). I saw it over March break when I was home alone, and I remember the monster scared me so badly that after the episode was over, I ran up out of my basement rec room and didn’t go back down for the rest of the day. That I was still so into it despite never actually watching it kind of says something about the power of branded merchandise, I suppose.

For those who were too old, too young, or living under a rock in the early 90s, Power Rangers was a kid’s action show by Saban Entertainment, made by splicing together dubbed-over footage from Japanese Tokusatsu series Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger with new footage of English-speaking actors. The premise: When human astronauts unwittingly release the evil space witch Rita Repulsa from her prison on the moon, her ancient foe Zordon selects five teenagers with attitude to take up the fight against her. When Rita sends down monsters to attack the Earth, these five heroes transform into the Power Rangers to defeat them.

When I decided randomly to start watching the show on Netflix, I did so with an open mind. Sure, the premise is goofy, and I expected the special effects to be terrible, but even if the overall product was lame in general, there might be something interesting there. After all, a lot of shows I loved as a kid (like Space Cases and the 90s X-Men animated series) hold up surprisingly well on re-watch. Maybe this would be one of those.

I have never in my life been so happy to be wrong. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, at least in the first few episodes, is terrible and I kind of love it for it. It’s not simply bad; its disregard for basic storytelling, continuity, and common sense is so baffling that it borders on accidental Dadaism. I’ll give it one thing, though: it’s never boring. Good or bad, it’s a wild ride through sheer insanity.

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On Creepypasta

If you’re like me, you probably enjoy a good spooky story. I’m a huge baby where scary stuff is concerned, but I sure do love getting my pants scared off. From the novels of Stephen King to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, it’s fun to be creeped out. And apparently the internet agrees with me, because over the past decade creepypasta, short horror stories written and shared online, have become incredibly popular. There are whole wikis and websites dedicated to collecting and recording them. The /r/nosleep subreddit gets dozens of new posts a day, most of them new original stories. In terms of sheer quantity, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of horror writing.

Unfortunately, most creepypasta aren’t very scary. In fact, most are pretty shit.

While Sturgeon’s Law suggests that 99% of anything is always going to be crap, what’s striking about creepypasta is that so many of them are bad in the same way. They start out promisingly, offering up some good creepy imagery and generating some effective atmosphere. But somehow, by the end, that atmosphere has evaporated entirely, and what’s left behind feels stagnant and dull. Even some of the better examples of the genre suffer from this problem.

So, what mistake are these bad creepypasta all committing? I think I’ve figured it out: their authors have failed to recognize that they are writing a fantastic story, and in the absence of the fantastic, the story itself just isn’t that interesting.

If you’re not familiar with ‘the fantastic’ as in the genre of literature, and only know ‘fantastic’ as in ‘really good’, that sentence probably didn’t make a lot of sense. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

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