So I watched the first three episodes of the X-Men Anime last night. I’d never seen this program when it originally aired, because I’m pretty sure I don’t get whatever network it airs on (G4, a real shame).
Let me say this is the real thing, not some made-to-look-like-anime but really just American-style animation story. It’s full-bore Japanese madness, but with recognizable X-Men characters. The opening sequence has Jean Grey going all-Phoenix in a scene that reminded me of Akira.
If you don’t like the slower frame rates and slowly-paced storylines of anime, you won’t like this. Everyone from Cyclops to Professor X broods. Many tend to overreact by American standards, such as when Professor Xavier is calming all the frightened little X-Men children, then notices he can’t read the mind of one of the children. He stops down with a mental gasp and begins to zone out from his calming lecture to the children. It’s great.
But before I go too far, let me spell out where I’m coming from anime-wise.
My Anime Scouting Report
My anime bona fides are pretty typical. I love anime, at least the anime I love. Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Samurai 7 are some of the finest things in the world, but I can’t think of anything too exotic I enjoy. Gunslinger Girl introduced me to The Delgados. Full-Metal Alchemist I really enjoyed, except for the ending and the movie–neither of which did much for me. Hellsing was great.
As for the American comics/tv forays into anime, I haven’t liked much of it. The Batman anime was only so-so and could have been so much better. The Witchblade anime I could hardly sit through. (Sara Pezzini was replaced by Masane Amaha, who I seem to recall had a child, and that child cried a lot.) The Supernatural anime was missing something essential and Supernatural is my absolute favorite tv show right now. So that’s where I come from anime-wise, what I’d consider an average fan.
X-Men Anime Random Thoughts
I have to say I like what I’ve seen so far. Here are some random thoughts I had while watching these three episodes. I’m pretty sure the whole season/series is on this one disk, so that’s nice.
- If you ever thought Cyclops was brooding and overwrought before, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Anime-Cyclops is in a league all his own.
- You never see Wolverine trying to go through a metal detector in Marvel Comics. It kind of makes you wonder why he’d even try. You have to ask yourself why he gets angry enough to pop his claws when they give him trouble, especially post-9/11.
- Anime-Wolverine is quite at home in this setting. It’s like he’s got a stipulation in his contract that he gets to pop his claws at least once in every scene. They really play up his and Scott’s dislike, but that only seems to grow over time, anyway.
- At least in her first solo scene, Anime-Storm seemed to have a whimsical quality I don’t remember from the comics. That rakish little trick with her hat had me in stitches. I found it more stylish than I’m used to from Ororo.
- By the way, Anime-Storm looks a lot like Halle Berry. I wonder why?
- This is old news, but The Beast has that new funny animal look I hate so much. I understand it’s character development to have him go through another mutation, but I just wish it was a cooler or more menacing looking mutation. Even in the most serious situations, I look at Hank McCoy and think of Dr. Seuss.
- Especially during the battle with the delivery boy mutant (but to a lesser degree, other times), Anime-Cyclops‘s laser blast appears to be somewhat like the Wave-Motion Gun. I think it’s an improvement.
- Anime-Emma Frost doesn’t quite have the same look as her classic incarnation, but she embodies the three qualities the White Queen should have: pouty, busty, and slightly aristocratic. “Aristocratic” might not be the best term for someone whose costume is underwear, but I mean somewhat regal in bearing, but with a hint of decadence. The term hellfire club originally meant a secret society for persons of high breeding to engage in immoral acts, after all.
- I liked how they introduced Emma, with her connection to Hisako Ichiki, aka Armor. Anime-Armor is really young, wears the requisite Japanese schoolgirl outfit, and has the just-as-requisite bangs. She cries a lot, but that’s not out of place in this production. You get one scene where an X-Men kills another mutant, and both of them are weeping over that fact.
X-Men vs U-Men
The U-Men were turned into classic anime villains, too. They seemed to embody moral decay–just a bedraggled, dissolute lot. One of them prattled on about how data collecting was the key to battle. Another sipped wine while he spied on the X-Men with his cameras, commenting to himself, “I will have to pay you a visit one day, Professor X”. Still another calmed the others by claiming their science was all they needed to defeat the X-Men. Their one wiry old leader had the shaggy hair that only a moral degenerate would wear, at least when it’s combined with a pseudo-military outfit.
I loved this one preview for a next episode: “Todd, a leading mad scientist with the U-Men, attacks.”
Todd proved to be one hell of an opponent, too. My favorite line of his was, “Organs! Organs!”
This was followed by Emma Frost trying to get inside of his mind, then (wisely) hesitating to do so. Her reasoning was sound: “He’s completely lost his mind.”
As I said, I like what I’ve seen so far. It’s different. After so many X-Men tv series, that’s not easy to do. I can’t wait to see the anime version of all the X-Men’s opponents, as it appears they’ll show up from the end credits. Stay tuned for further reports on the X-Men Anime.
Yesterday, I mentioned the Walter Football Mock Draft, the Dallas Cowboys is likely to pick Alabama Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron in the first round. Dallas has needed help at safety for years now, so if Mark Barron is all-that, they could do worse. I don’t like drafting safeties that high, though, especially Jerry Jones drafting safeties that high.
Cowboys’ Defensive Back 1st Rounders
The Cowboys haven’t had a whole lot of success with 1st round defensive backs in the last 10 years. The Cowboys drafted Terence Newman in the Top 10. Newman was a good player for years and he was great in interviews (he did impressions), but Terence Newman was only elite for 1-2 years in the prime of his career. He’s been injury prone for years now.
Roy Williams 1st Round Pick
Then there was the Roy Williams safety pick. Though Roy Williams went to Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl, he was a big disappointment at safety. In many ways, I consider Roy Williams’ career was damaged by the new passing rules in 2004. In his first two years (2002-03), Roy Williams showed a lot of promise. He was playing alongside Darren Woodson in his final two years, and Roy Williams could take big chances and be a big hitter. But the rules were better fit for his playing style before 2004.
Woodson retired before the 2004 season, but the rules also changed that year. Defensive backs could no longer touch receivers down the field. After the rules changed, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady each broke the NFL single-season touchdown record. The NFL game changed. Roy Williams was a victim of that change. He was never the same after the new rules came into being.
Mike Jenkins 1st Round Pick
Then there’s Mike Jenkins. Good grief, Mike Jenkins.
Jenkins has had his moments, but he’s also had ignominious moments. He shied away from Brandon Jacbos his rookie season. Then Jenkins shied away from tackling a Packers receiver in the 45-7 loss which cost Wade Phillips his job as head coach. Don’t get me wrong; Wade needed to be fired. But Jerry Jones fired Wade Phillips in the middle of the season because the team quit on him. Mike Jenkins is a football player who’s afraid of contact, and he’s a coach killer. I guarantee he won’t be back when his contract runs out in 2013.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Disasters
So the Cowboys have a pretty bad history with 1st round defensive backs in the past 10 years. So does Jerry go a different direction or try to cover his team’s supposed biggest hole by drafting safety? Frankly, I prefer the idea of drafting another 3-4 OLB to replace Anthony Spencer opposite of Demarcus Ware. The one time the Cowboys Defense has been elite these past 3-4 years was that half-year Spencer was a force. Without him, teams can double-, even triple-team, Demarcus Ware. In the current NFL, the only sure way to stop a passing game is with a pass rush. That’s why the Giants keep winning Superbowls and what was the different in the 2010 and 2011 Green Bay Packers title runs (or lack thereof).
Without a good pass rush, even the best NFL defensive backs are like backyard football players in games with no pass rush: you just run around until the defense gets tired and someone gets open. So getting a replacement for Anthony Spencer is like replacing a one-thousand-five pass rush rule with a one-thousand-three pass rule.
That’s not going to happen, of course. Jerry Jones has offered Anthony Spencer over $8,000,000 to return to the Cowboys next year. Their only chance is if Spencer stupidly refuses that offer, which he’s done so far.
Well, I watched A Game of Thrones with a few friends last night. After our usual Sunday get-together was postponed for Easter last week, we had to do a little catching up and watched episodes 2 & 3 of Season 2. Since I haven’t discussed A Game of Thrones much yet, this is going to be a mini-review of Season 2.
My first thought is Season 2 isn’t quite as good as Season 1 (yet), but it’s got a couple of factors working against it. One, the new is bound to wear off.
Two, King Robert and Ned are no longer around and they’re friendship added a few embers of warmth that isn’t there.
I like the fact that George RR Martin has no sacred cows, but the story of their two characters tied the disparate plotlines together better than anything this year. Season 2 is really like a lot of short stories, not one grand epic story. To say A Game of Thrones is a ensemble cast would need “ensemble cast” to be redefined a little bit.
The Books versus HBO Version
By the way, let me say that I’ve read the first book, but I want to watch Season 2 before I read the books. I find the tv show spoils book reading less than reading the books spoil the television. Besides, I don’t want to be one of those people who say, “The book was much better.”
Of course the book was much better. The book is always better. I’ve noticed over the years that people who walk out of movie theaters claiming the film didn’t stack up to the book are really just engaging in a little name-dropping. They might as well say, “I read the book, you know.”
But on to observations.
Episode Three Starts to Shine
We had no Dany and very little of the cripped Stark child. I hate to say it, but these are my least favorite scenes. While I think Dany is hot and I think her story has a lot of potential, I’m getting tired of seeing her and the Dothraki wandering around the desert. We know it’s desperate, so let’s see how she overcomes it. Anyway, she was hardly seen in Episode 3 and that’s a good thing…for now.
Tyrion was in rare form. The trap he set for the various councillors was top notch. I’m sure things won’t go so smoothly for too long, but I’m tired of hearing how cunning all the king’s men are, so I’m glad to see someone new shake things up. Seeing the scenes with the leader of the city guard and the old man was priceless. Tyrion’s right, too–if you can’t trust the city guard not to betray you, they have to be replaced.
Something Is Hard Not to Notice
There’s no way to sugarcoat this, but George R.R. Martin seems to have a lot of incest in Westeros. I’d have to say it’s a defining characteristic. First, there was Jaime and the Queen. Then there was the implications between Viserys and Daenerys and history of it in House Targaryen. In episode 1 this season, there was the fellow across the wall with all his daughters.
Tonight, we saw Theon and Yara Greyjoy have an “interesting” meeting. Then Margaery Tyrell suggests her husband Renly bring her brother, Loras Tyrell, into the bed if that’s what Renly needs to get his blood up for producing an heir. By my count, that’s five and counting. I might be forgetting one somewhere along the way. Anyway, I hate to point this out, but it’s a pretty big booger hanging out there. I suppose these noble lines have a lot of secrets with blood purity and all–and the amount of depravity/perversity in Westeros would put most imperial Romans to shame–but the subject comes up so much that my watch group is starting to count the times.
Other Notes on Episode 3
Natalie Dormer was super-hot in her portrayal of Margaery Tyrell, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of her. Brienne of Tarth makes a memorable first appearance. It looks like the director used similar techniques that Peter Jackson used in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (for making hobbits seem small) to make Brienne appear huge. One would think she’s over 7-foot tall–a virtual giantess.
Also, has anyone noticed how often people want to show off how much power they have? Every episode, there’s at least one scene of power posturing by someone, where they show they have the power and may/may not use it. A couple of episodes ago, it was Cersei showing off to Littlefinger. Tonight, it was Tyrion showing off his newfound authority with Janos Slynt and Grand Maester Pycelle. Maybe it’s just a Lannister thing.
Review of Season Two
While Season 2 isn’t as good as Season 1 yet, this was by far the best episode of the season. This week actually had a plot, where the first couple of weeks seemed more about setup. By the way, that Stannis and his fire priestess sure are pieces of work.