Archive | May, 2012

First Thoughts: Manga Entertain X-Box 360 App

Posted on 29 May 2012 by VinnieAve

So a few days ago X-box 360 added an app (that I found out about my advertisement) to their line-up of entertainment programs. Usually I ignore these since they require signing up for another service. It promised me anime. I was hoping that it would be Crunchyroll but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was from Manga Entertainment and free. While this company has been actively recently releasing big films like Redline (if you haven’t seen it yet, go and watch). I took a brief look at the app.

The first thing that I notice is that there isn’t a large selection just yet. However, the bulk of the material is strong and classic. What I used to test this out was Star Blazers: Season 2. This isn’t a good test of video quality but it does suggest what this program will be focusing on. This is a much more heavily focusing on what older fans watched a while ago. If you want to watch Robotech, here it is, Star Blazers, you have 3 seasons. If you want so bad its good, you’ve got M.D. Geist. The newest show on there is Gurren Lagann. So even the newest stuff is now a good few years old.

There is one big issue I have with this app. Now, I mentioned this is a free app, which is good and as usual with any free app, it is actually ad supported. I don’t mind ad-supported streaming services. However, this has to be done properly. This means putting the commericals at times when breaks would normally be placed. This is not quite the case. For Star Blazers at least, there are 3 30 second comericals placed at the exact same time in each episode, this doesn’t quite work well since that time could be (and at least once was) in the middle of a word. While I am glad programming like this is easily available, this can make watching difficult. If there was a better way to watch I would say go with that way but since for some of this, this is the easiest way (or for Star Blazers, the only reasonable way). Given that it is free, and there are things that might not be available other ways to watch some of this material, I suggest that anime fans take a look at this app.

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Foundation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1

Posted on 28 May 2012 by VinnieAve

This episode we talk about Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1

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Be a Better Geek: Farscape Season 1 E1-3

Posted on 24 May 2012 by DM

It came as something of a shock that we would be doing Farscape for this segment of Be a Better Geek. Frankly I hadn’t considered it. At all. It was a given in my mind that a geek of Vincenzo’s calibre had seen the show that redefined space operas for me. Obviously he has not and so we take you down the rabbits hole that is the Farscape Universe. Like many series, Farscape has a weak first season. That said, it is well worth watching. I bid you to settle in and discover, along with John Crichton, the wonders of the universe.

 

Premiere

I love this episode because with little background it dumps you into an unknown world moving at a dizzying pace..the viewer, much like John, is left to try and pick up the pieces of what’s going on. The effects are fantastic for a lower budget show and the cast is superb…except for Captain Aha…..ahem Crais.

Exodus From Genesis

Here we find John still on the biomechanoid Moya with little idea of how things work in the universe and feeling like the rest of the crew finds him to be an idiot at best. Queue a John takes charge episode (actually most of them are like that when it comes down to it). Character development is rampant in this episode as we find out more about D’Argo’s biases and Peacekeeper ways. This is the first episode where you see that glimmer of understanding that what you are actually watching is a space rpg with a new party.

Back and Back and Back to the Future

Three cheers for scifi tropes! After an accident John begins seeing the future and must navigate these visions in order to save everything. Netflix does us no good service by placing this episode in the third slot as opposed to the fifth where it should be. In an episode where you can play with killing characters and causing all sorts of emotional mischief we just don’t have enough attachment yet. I think this episode could have waited even a bit past five to the point where we have a bit deeper of a connection to the crew of Moya. Oh and the Aeryn vs Matala combat scene has got to be the worst thing on record. What is that martial art called? Get as much of your body exposed as possible fu?

Premier

This is the beginning of yet another Sci-fi series. I think that the worst part of this being a better geek think is sitting though a first episode every few weeks. This one has a fun premise. Earth scientist John Crichton is testing a personally space shuttle is the near past of earth. Clearly not the present day since that is mighty past-tech. He is hurled into another part of the universe where Moya (a living ship) is part of a prisoner escape. Among this group of escapees is a warrior, an anarchist/priest, a betrayed royal, and some sort of space turtle. Due to an accidental collision when being flung out of a worm-hole our main character becomes the sworn enemy of the villain.
This show seems pretty generic for now. What makes it stand out is its visual style and use of one of my favorite things in the world, practical effects. I haven’t ever watched this show before but it is super-recognizable due to its use of Muppets for a few of the characters and the make-up. This allows a more striking visual than most sci-fi shows out there.  Sadly, there is also a lot of cg in this show which do not age nearly as well as the puppets and make-up.

Exodus from Genesis

This wasn’t that strong. There was a bit of a cool idea. There was a good use of the time, if not it might have gone a little fast, trying to get a lot done in the time. So we have an invasion of space cockroaches that need a certain environment that is not good for some members of the crew. It wasn’t particularly strong but it wasn’t particularly bad. I’m enjoying some stuff but not really loving it. We had some use of the characters bodies. Given that this is the Netflix order, this might not have been the best second episode. It seems like we already know the characters a little better and it might have been better a little later in the season after getting some more character interaction.

Back and Back and Back to the Future

So I’m a sucker for working with time travel. This episode was enjoyable to me. There are two guests in this week’s episode visiting Moya. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite books, Slaughterhouse 5. I like the time can change. Again, these episodes are not that strong but still enjoyable. There is a difference between good which anyone can enjoy and decent that I can enjoy if its hits some of the right bottoms, this hits some of my buttons. These are probably about the same quality as Buffy but Sci-fi adventure> teen horror/comedy.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Podcast

Posted on 20 May 2012 by VinnieAve

This took way too long to get edited but at least its done. Diego and I talk about Mobile Suit Gundam in some detail. I hope you enjoy.

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Being a Better Geek: Reflections on SpaceX Launch

Posted on 18 May 2012 by VinnieAve

Tomorrow the first unmanned cargo rocket will be leaving earth and going to the ISS. This major event and reading Foundation have made me wonder where we’re going in the year, 10 years, 1000 years. Right now, it seems we’ve abandoned our future like the haughty empire. I would like to think not, I would like to think there are still a few people out there who are trying to keep mankind on track to permanent exploration of both the world beyond our cosmic shore and the world around us, below us and within us. I personally don’t think that we’re being actively guided toward a rebuilding of our human empire.

I would like to leave this short post with the idea that the way to solve our problems is not to hide in the past but to think and innovate and plan.

I leave you with this music video from Symphony of Science. Just remember a still more glorious dawn awaits.

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So Toonami is Coming Back, and What I Hope for This

Posted on 16 May 2012 by VinnieAve

There has been a lot of news that Toonami is coming back. I’m happy at the idea of Toonami coming back but honestly not the shows that I watched coming back. Admittedly, they haven’t quite announced what will be showing but everyone seems to think it will be the shows that got them into anime back in the day. I liked those shows then, I still like some of them now but I don’t want them back on TV as soon as Toonami relaunches. I want to see new shows that don’t have the huge fanbase yet. Toonami is what got people into anime in the early-2000s. Those people now can buy the shows they saw back then. Toonami shouldn’t be a nostalgia block, but the same spirit it was back when I watched it. Show kids cool cartoons from around the world that will make them anime fans. Fandom needs that new blood like a vampire seeks virgins. The longer it goes without the sooner it becomes a filled with cranky old men talking about how great Tobor the Eighth Man was (I still need to watch that).

Don’t put Dragon Ball Z back on but instead put Tiger & Bunny. Don’t put Gundam Wing back on but try a new mecha show. Take some risks Occult Academy was fun (sadly, not getting a dub). Hopefully if Toonami is back that means that there will be less moe shows liscenced and more action/mecha shows coming over to go on TV. Toonami shouldn’t become the old people block (in this case being people around my young age) but should be still for those kids who aren’t getting cool cartoons from Japan, hell maybe they could try-out some French cartoons like TimeJammers or Wak-fu. I look forward to seeing what Toonami brings, hopefully its more people who can be molded into intense superfans, reading manga about Hitler (coming soon from Vertical, Inc.)

Sadly, I doubt this will be what happens given that the official hashtag is Toonamiisbackbitches. This is aimed at the twitter using and facebook living people of my generation. We’ll be entertained and there might be a few new converts but this isn’t what the industry or the fandom needs rights now.

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Being a Better Geek: A Brief Introduction to Foundation and Isaac Asimov

Posted on 12 May 2012 by VinnieAve

So DM has been busy with Free Comic Day, both set-up the event itself and the breakdown. So he didn’t have much time this week to read our next Being a Better Geek project, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. This is one of the great works of Sci-fi literature. Asimove wrote the stories contained in Foundation after reading William Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He wanted to tell a similar tale but how to rebuild. The book begins with Hari Seldon telling the leaders of the Galactic Empire how the Empire will collapse. He develops a plan to make the time between the fall and the emergence of the second empire much shorter. This book chronicles the first 150 years of the 1000 year Seldon Plan.

This book has influenced many of sci-fi authors since him, either those who are building from him or trying to actively not be like him. These include J. Micheal Straczynski (Babylon 5) and Yoshiki Tanaka (Legend of the Galactic Heroes). Beyond this Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has said this book and its idea of psychohistory caused him to go into economics. It almost made me go into history. Below I’ve linked to some articles about Asimov and how he’s one of the greatest writers in history. His books are ones filled with hope for the future and mankind’s ability to weather the storm and come out for the better.

Wikipedia Article

Cracked Article

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Nevada Allows for Cars without Drivers and My Hope for that World

Posted on 08 May 2012 by VinnieAve

So Google has been working on making a driverless car for a long time. I am sure you’ve seen some of the very impressive videos in the past. However, now there is an officially licensed car that is driverless. This is the first step to ending a world of car accidents and unnecessary deaths on the road. The motorist will be a sportsman like the jockey is now. I honestly think there will be a push in the future to a world where driving is a minor skill that few have. That won’t be for a long time but it will happen. It will start off as a luxury but I think very quickly that as more and more people use them that states will realize that robot cars are a safety need, like a seat-belt. I also fear that in the first few years will see resistance with every accident reported, like how every plane crash is. However, I think that people will have to get used to cars that follow the rules of the road, speeding will be out of the program. Or would there be speeding, how would a car understand going with the flow of traffic, I expect that the early models will be limited to the speed limit since those are going to be sharing the road with people but as time goes on it will follow a few simple rules: get to the destination, stay on the roads, get there as fast as possible, and don’t kill the person inside of you or hit anything. The real test will be on the east coast Megalopolis. The sooner that robo cars take over the better off we are. I welcome our overlords in their mighty Googleplex and there robotic minions. I also would like to remind Google to program the 3 Laws in everything you do.

SciAm Article

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The New 52, Wave 2, Week 1

Posted on 06 May 2012 by VinnieAve

So the first part of Wave 2 started this week. I just wanted to give a brief run-down of what’s good and what’s crap

G.I. Combat (with Unknown Solider)

So G.I Combat had a cool cover with dinosaurs, everyone loves dinosaurs but when you open the book you see that the art looks like it came out a PS1 game. The story is a standard soldier story until dinosaurs attack. Unknown Soldier is the second half of the book (so you get two stories in one book). This story didn’t impress me much either. It felt fairly standard amnesia story.

Dial H

This one has something cool going on. We’ve got Nelson is a sick and out of shape, down on his luck guy. His friend gets attacked and but after Nelson goes into a phonebook he transforms into a smoke-Tim Burton-creature that fights off the attackers. He tries to figure out how he was transformed and manages to get transformed into Captain Lachrymose who reminds people of sad events. A little confusing but overall good.

Earth 2

If the Superman Animated series taught me anything is that when there are Parademons, its gonna be a good story. This did not disappoint, although this book felt like a really cool prologue to what looks like it could a slower book (not saying it’s a bad thing). SPOILER: By the end the world is free of heroes. This could make a cool read. If you like Justice League action, this is a must read even if you don’t read the series.

Worlds’ Finest

So I’m not the biggest keeper of lore when it comes to comic books so I didn’t get all I could out of this one but it was enjoyable. Actually, it could be really good. It seems to be setting up to a short series but it is slated as an on-going. There is some mystery about what happened in the intervening five years when our two heroines came through the portal. There is some good action. Overall I’m sure long term DC devotees will like this one and it should be fun for everyone else. Also, it seems as if Power Girl when to the Raquel Welch school of costume destruction.

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Being a Better Geek: Buffy Week 3

Posted on 04 May 2012 by VinnieAve

So another series has come and gone.

Vinnie’s Take

The Puppet Show
This was seemed to be just another crappy episode than something happened. It turns out the dummy isn’t the villain. We get to see more of Giles in danger, which gives me some great pleasure for some reason. I think this might have been the turning point in the show for me.

Nightmares
I know this trope has been done but I think the Nightmares coming to life thing was done well. I did a good job of building the characters a little more. I think it could have been a better tie to the overall plot but that’s just my desire.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight
This was a cool one, this is episode I think that won me over to saying that I would be willing to watch more of this show. I liked the way we brought in characters who haven’t been part of the main cast (although Cordelia) has been in the opening credits.

Prophecy Girl
Okay the wrapping up the Master storyline could have been done better but it still had good feel of closure overall. I can say I am happy with this show in the end.

DM’s Take

The Puppet Show
Hands down in my top 10 episodes of Buffy. I really hope Vincenzo likes this one. Was it predictable? Absolutely. That said the actors hit it spot on and I really enjoyed Sid. This is one of the reasons that I wanted Vincenzo to see the first season.

Nightmares

A solid follow up to “the Puppet Show”, Nightmares gives us a classic trope in sci-fi/fantasy of dream exploration. I thought they handled how they did this well and some of the nightmares, stereotyped as they were, were downright fantastic. Excellent acting on this episode and well written I thought. Only downside: We have begun the slippery slope of saying, “Well it’s the Hellmouth, stuff like that just happens here”.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight
Is having Clea DuVall on your show a trope? I think it has to be. Well she is here, she is crazy and invisible, get used to her. An ok episode that went a little too far into mushy for my taste. And at this point I am ready for that first season synthesizer music to stop fucking playing. I want something else; I don’t care what it is.

Prophecy Girl
A solid season ender in my opinion. It could have been anticlimactic but for the acting. It has some horridly hokey one-liners but I am still majorly happy with it. Finally, Joss gets the award for not dragging stuff out by resolving Buffy-Xander, Xander-Willow, and the Master all by seasons end. Rock on Joss, enjoy your booby prize.

With any luck, though it doesn’t seem like he truly enjoyed the show, I hope that Vincenzo may see why a good chunk of my generation latched onto this show and rode it out to the end. Maybe someday he may even be willing to go into the second or third seasons where the show takes off nicely.

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