Friday, December 20

An Early Christmas Vacation

Yesterday, I decided NOT to go to my office Christmas party. Well, I guess I thought that it would be best to go as an Invisible God. Anyway, WORK IS OVER! The next time I set foot in my office, it will be in January. HAHAHAHA!!!
Oh well. I spent the night at Megamall with Mike, his friend Marc and Noel Lim (Flim from Flim's Flimsy Films). We had dinner at the Food Court after I handled the stuff needed for tomorrow's C3Con (particularly the 'covers' for the Angel Ace Again Collection Pack) and bought gifts for the family. I still have two young boys and my parents to get essential gifts though. I also donated blood once more at Comic Quest, getting myself the latest copies of PSM (Playstation Magazine), Newtype USA, and the newest Blade of the Immortal issue.
Not bad at all since the DVD that came with PSM has tons of great footage from upcoming PS2 games, including a creepy look at Silent Hill 3. This time around you play a girl who wanders into a nightmare realm full of monsters and twisted demons. The graphics are incredible, yet I don't exactly know what's realtime in-game stuff and what's CG. The facial expressions are incredible, the music once again that melancholy guitar riff, and the monsters as bloody and horrendous as ever. The segment ends with a disturbing scene of your unconscious (or dead?) heroine being dragged off into the darkness by a monster... perhaps the Continue Screen? Wooh.
Other great stuff on the PSM DVD include stuff on GTA: Vice City, Soul Calibur 2 and Devil May Cry 2 movies. Best of all, it's a DVD instead of a demo disc, so you can play it on any DVD player.
The Newtype USA issue comes with a free DVD which features the first episode of Noir, a somewhat dark anime about a pair of female assassins searching for their past. Haven't looked at it, but it should be cool. The US version of this originally Japanese mag has impressed me so far, so I will continue to get issues. Lots of posters, great art and articles makes it a great buy for the anime fan.
That's about it. I have to finish the Angel Ace Collected Packs tonight, and have to firm up my outline for my lecture on 10 Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga for tomorrow's C3Con. As I said, I'm going to wing it, so I hope all goes well. I am just planning to have fun, so it shouldn't be at all bad.

Thursday, December 19

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

It happened quite unexpectedly, and abruptly, and the circumstances and situation in which it happened does not escape my notice. I was just sitting at my workstation, surfing and actually watching some videos of LOTR:TTT (particularly the new 'Gandalf the White' video) at, when my officemate and friend Lyda walked up to me. I was half-expecting her to talk to me about work, so I closed the browser window and turned to face her... and found myself looking at a ticket to the Philippine Gala Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers! Okay, I have to say that I was for a moment flabbergasted and just babbling thank yous at that point. Mind you, few things would make me do that... perhaps a brand-new copy of DOAX for the Xbox, or a check for a million pesos (at least) or... well, actually, a lot of things could make me babble, but I really didn't expect anything like that to happen at that moment. Well, thankfully, our clients were sponsors of the event, so we had tickets. I got one and suddenly early evening (the show was slated to start at 7:30 PM) seemed so far away. And it was 4:00 right then.
Well, I finished surfing and doing whatever had to be done (which was really not too much). In a while I was zipping down the hall, out the elevator and down Ayala Avenue to Glorietta. Once there, I had a quick and early dinner at KFC before making my way to the cinemas.
Of course, there were loads of people there, waiting for the showing with tickets in hand. At the far corner, there were cocktails being served. In the middle of the area was a Philips flatscreen TV which was showing a looped segment of Russell Crowe's Gladiator (the Battle of Carthage). I have to admit, the higher pixels and stuff of the TV really, really changes the look and movement of the picture. I can't describe it... it seemed to make the movements of the images onscreen FULLER. Like I was watching a home video of Gladiator (in a good way). Damn, that was great. If only these darn flatscreen/plasma TVs weren't so expensive... I want one. NOW.
Anyway, to the movie. At 7PM, they began letting in people into the theater. There was free food and drinks to be had at the front; sandwiches, spaghetti, chips and iced tea. I turned them down except for a drink, then made my way to the interior. I met some friends from work and we sat together in the middle area. I have to say, though I was filled with anticipation for the show, the pre-showing events tried my patience. The attendants and hired help/ushers/thugs were pretty obtrusive, and they bothered people in order to accommodate reserved sponsors. There was the predictable radio show giveaways, which we were swearing at to just GET ON WITH THE DAMN SHOW. It didn't help that we had been waiting to the tune of inane radio commercials looped continuously for about an hour and a half.
When the Philippine National Anthem finally played, signalling the start of the show, the wait STILL wasn't over. There were some stupid trailers (including a horrible trailer for Femme Fatale with Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos) and commercials, and another span of dead air. Just when we thought we were in for another wait... finally... the film started.

And here my review begins. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers takes up after the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, ends. Actually, nope... that's not right. It starts a bit before the end of FOTR; specifically during Gandalf's sacrifice. We see him falling deep into the bowels of Middle Earth with the fiery Balrog... and then... BOOM! Frodo awakens. It was a dream. Or was it?
TTT dispenses with any prologue or explanation of past events. We are thrust into the meat of the LOTR trilogy, and the makers of this film expect anyone watching it to have seen Fellowship. Which describes me just fine, so that's great. The once-united Fellowship has now been broken into three groups: The warriors Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are off searching for the kidnapped Merry and Pippin, while Frodo the ringbearer and Sam continue their trek into Mordor. The movie tries very hard to evenly share the film with the three paths, though markedly the story of Aragorn and the impending genocidal invasion of the human kingdom of Rohan by Saruman is at the center of the movie. There are some sudden changes of scene, which are not always perfect, but do the job well. Some scenes, such as flashbacks of the Arwen-Aragorn romance, may slacken the pace a bit, but it's never Episode II-horrible. Heh.

Anyway, being the middle movie of the epic trilogy, TTT is where the plot gets thicker, the mood gets darker and the battles get a lot bloodier. Aragorn and his comrades reunite with an old friend (three guesses who this is) and soon find themselves taking a direct hand in the war between Rohan and the forces of Isengard (Saruman's Uruk-Hai). Merry and Pippin are able to slip away from their captors and fall in with a sentient, moving tree, or Ent, named Treebeard. And finally, Frodo and Sam meet the creature known as Gollum, former ringbearer and corrupted hobbit-being. From here, the stakes get higher as the forces of evil start attacking from two fronts, seeking the extermination of man. The hold of the ring gets stronger over Frodo, little by little corrupting him against all he believes in.
As with the first movie, TTT spans almost three hours, and that's just enough to contain the door-to-door action. This middle parter has more action and less explanation than Fellowship, and scabs more political atmosphere as new characters join the cast; King Theoden of Rohan and his scions, Eowyn and Eomer. A new villain is the slimy Grima Wormtongue, Theoden's poisonous advisor and spy for Saruman. Much of the film concerns Aragorn's entry into Rohan and their struggle to get the land's defenses up to par as Saruman's hordes are brought into play. The various skirmishes, chases, subplots and other events eventually lead up to the Battle of Helm's Deep, easily the most impressive battle scene I have ever seen put to cinematic life. Several hundred men, many of them old men and young boys, against 10,000 (count 'em) Uruk-Hai. DAMN. When this battle draws nearer, you can feel the tension. You can see what's at stake. And you will have your breath taken away by the scale of this truly powerful finale.

I have to say that TTT is exhausting, yet rewarding in the fullest sense. LOTR fans rejoice, this film is yet another feather in director Peter Jackson's hat. The spectacle, the drama, the action, the special effects... they all deliver.

If there is anything negative to be said, here it is. It is not perfect, and I honestly prefer Fellowship.

Why? Because Fellowship still remains the definitive quest movie; the romance is there... the introduction of characters, the forming of the fellowship, the great establishing scenes of the beloved heroes and their wonderful worlds. The mystique of dungeon crawling, of a small party heading into uncharted territory... Fellowship is THE fantasy heroic quest movie. Truth be told, it has the greater setpieces: The prologue battle with Sauron, Moria and the Watcher in the Water, the coming of the Balrog; that incredible flight down to the bridge... If only Fellowship could stand alone. But that is not so, and this IS a trilogy.
The Two Towers is more spartan; Edoras and Rohan are wooden and plain compared to Lothlorien, Rivendell or even the Shire. Other places and sights are either mundane or intentionally forbidding (Mordor). We see little character development (everyone stays true to their characters, to their credit), and little of the intimacy of Fellowship. Characters who we loved to see onscreen in Fellowship get far less screentime here; Gandalf and Saruman in particular. The elves Arwen, Elrond and Galadriel are reduced almost to cameos.
But that's to be expected, since TTT has the burden of being the 'dark' chapter. It is all about battles and wars and less about wonder and magic. On the upside, the character of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) shines in this one, as does Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) for providing solid comic relief. Legolas fans will be swooning in contentment as there are tons of lingering views of Orlando Bloom's visage. Despite a somewhat reduced role, Elijah Wood once more shows a remarkable performance as Frodo, this time delving into darker, more tortured depths as his character is slowly corrupted by the ring's evil. All in all, the cast are wonderful and play their parts to the hilt.
As for the film's CG creatures, there are tons of eye candy to enjoy; Massive oliphaunts, orcs on wargs (twisted wolves), Nazgul on new steeds and of course... Gollum. He'll make you laugh and cry and just gape. As CG creatures go... he's damn convincing. Those huge anime eyes... those wet lips... that leathery, smooth skin... DAMN. He may sound like Donald Duck and is cookier than a box of Chips Ahoy, but you won't be able to take your eyes off him. Jar Jar and Dobby be damned. Gollum/Smeagol will kick their arses in a second. Kudos to the special effects team (WETA) and actor Andy Serkis, after whose performance Gollum is derived.
But of course the movie's biggest pay-off is The Battle of Helm's Deep; a CG creature in itself. From the building up of the defenses to the unexpected arrival of some allies, to the bloody, brutal fighting to the heartbreaking sacrifices made in defense of mankind... it is hypnotic. DO NOT GO FOR THE LARGE SOFTDRINKS. You have been warned.

There. I came in with high expectations, and went away with ALL these expectations covered. Yes, it felt long. Yes, it is more battle and noise and spectacle. Yes, it does not have the soul or intimacy of Fellowship of the Ring. That said, I want to watch it AGAIN. The Two Towers is every bit the fantasy epic we expected it to be, and once again we will be transported to Middle Earth. Watch it in a theater when you can and revel in the sheer size and majesty of it all.

And now... another year till Return of the King... DAAAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNN!!!!!

Wednesday, December 18

Office Santa

I spent most of my time at the office giving away little trinkets and comic books as Christmas gifts to the people I worked with; creatives, studio artists and account people. Got a couple of gifts back too, which is really nice. Work seems to be mostly over, though an account or two promises to be ready to pounce on me on the crack of the first day of work in 2003, which I hope will at least be on January 6. Some people actually believe that there will be WORK on the 2nd of January? DAMN! The echo of the firecrackers hasn't even died yet and you're getting up for work?? NEVER!!! Heh.
Anyway, tomorrow's our office Christmas Party, and I am contemplating not going. If I DO decide to go, I have to scrounge up whatever stuff I can wear to come as a 'god'. I am thinking of going either as the 'God of Gambling' (dress up fancily, then bring dice), or the 'God of Cookery' (borrow a chef's outfit from Dean and carry a wok). Hmm. Whatever. Maybe I'll just be the Sleeping God and just stay at home and hibernate. Or at least get ready for the Con. Yeah, right. Hahaha.
Currying for Flavor

Tonight me, Carl, Gig and Mike had dinner at Japanese restaurant Rai Rai Ken. We would have eaten at the Food Court, but we had a lady present so we opted for a nice cozy place to hole up instead of the open rowdiness of the mall's main eating area. I ordered a katsu curry rice bowl and miso soup, then some iced tea. I have to say... this was the BEST meal I've had all week. DELICIOUS. I wanted to lick the remaining curry sauce from the bowl. Ironically, I gave a pretty crass comment about how my dish looked very un-Japanese when I got it (presentation-wise, it looked... Nnnh). But the crispy breaded pork was perfect, the sauce was spicy and savoury and melded well with the soft rice, and the soup complemented it all perfectly. Ahhh. A bit pricey, but worth it. The only problem was... the smell of curry stays with you the whole night. Had to take a shower immediately after getting home.
The good thing was, I was able to buy gifts for all three of my nieces. All bags, all from EGG (Exciting Gifts and Goodies), which they giftwrapped for free (in nice, bag-like wrappings). I also got three issues of Zaturnnah to give as Christmas gifts at the office, as well as a bunch of anime knick-knacks. Finally, for myself (I couldn't resist) I got a Tenchi Muyo Anime Art book at Comic Quest.

Ah. Tomorrow is the last day of work for 2002... hopefully. Then it's all Christmas parties and readying for the holidays. I wish I could say it was all fun and games, but with several parties and the C3Con this weekend, rest is not something I will get, I think. And finishing Suikoden III will have to wait a little while longer... Arrrgh.
C3Con Tickets Now Available

Tickets for the First Philippine Comic Book and Animé Convention 2002 aka the C3Con are now available at Comic Quest. They will also be available soon at Comic Alley and Anima Anime. Prices: P150 per single day ticket/ P250 for a two day pass. You can also buy your collectible card tickets at the event proper. C3con: Dec. 21 and 22, Megatrade Hall Megamall Bldg. B.
The C3Con will feature tons of anime and manga merchandise on display, sale and for trade, lectures and appearances of your favorite local comic and manga artists/creators, contests, musical performances and more. Culture Crash has pulled out all the stops to make this first C3Con a pretty spiffy event... Hopefully we'll do good enough to see another con next year.

Tuesday, December 17

Angel Ace Again! Collection 'Cover' Art

Get the Angel Ace Again Collected Pack and you get this nice artwork.

With potentially thousands of anime and manga otaku headed for Megamall and the First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention this weekend, I'm hoping several won't have read Angel Ace Again, or have friends who haven't. That's why I'll be putting out on offer the 4 Again! issues in a bag, along with a nice 'cover' artwork that I will have printed on photopaper. This will be the closest I guess I will get to a 'compilation' of issues. I'll be preparing 20 sets, though I can probably supply double that and more if need be. Any ones I don't sell will go back to be sold at Comic Quest.
Prepping for the Convention

It still hasn't really sunk into my mind that in about four days I'm going to have to stand before hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of anime otaku in The First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention at the Megatrade Hall, Megamall. I'm going to try and talk about what I know about making your own manga comic, and not make a fool of myself doing it. Aside from myself, Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, Trip To Tagaytay, After Eden) will also be speaking, as well as speakers from the comic group Ground Zero, Lyndon Gregorio (Beerkada) and perhaps even Pol Medina Jr. of Pugad Baboy.
I haven't actually even started on the materials I will need to visualize my points; I am thinking of just buying a large sketchpad and drawing in it with markers. Well, why do that now when I can just cram it all on the night before the show? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Anyway, I actually started preparations last night. I put together 20 copies each of Angel Ace Again! issues one to four, and will try to have them packed in plastic with a special new artwork. This special four-issue package will be sold at the Con at a discounted price of 300 pesos. Who knows, maybe we can sell a few. Or more.
Sigh. Still finishing up work at the office. Tomorrow's the last working day, so I hope everything is finished by then. Then it's all downhill. Hope, hope.
The Super-duper, Extra-special, Out-of-this-world, Headspinning (with matching Cartwheels) Adventures of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah

Carl Vergara deconstructs Darna in his irreverent new opus

My friend and comic book creator Carlo Vergara (One Night in Purgatory, Isaw Atbp) has just released his latest comic book creation; Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. For english-only readers, the translation of this long title is pretty much encapsulated in the title of this post (at least, I think, in spirit. Heh).
It's all about a beautician named Ada, whom fate chooses to be the bearer of a mysterious stone, which when swallowed endows it's user with super powers. If this reminds you of various superhero myths, especially the Philippines' own classic Darna, it's on purpose. Carl's twist on the theme however, is unique. For Ada is a homosexual, and the owner of his own beauty parlor. When, at the suggestion of his assistant Diddy, he swallows the stone and shouts the name 'Zsa Zsa' (the name is engraved on the stone), Ada turns into a voluptious, superhumanly strong woman!
But it seems that with great power comes great responsibility since as Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah emerges, so do various threats to the land. Giant frogs, zombie hordes and a group of alien Amazons are only the first challenges to meet out hero (heroine?). But with Diddy and her object of affection Dodong at her side, Zsa Zsa goes into every fight fists and boobs flying! Oh. Did I say boobs? Heh.
This book is HILARIOUS. I have to say that Carl has outdone himself this time, and the tone and mood of Zsa Zsa is a refreshing change from the more serious, heavy drama of his past works. Comedy in comics is hard... but he pulls it off excellently with great dialogue that is sometimes tempered by biting honesty. Also captured is the classic campiness of the old Darna movies, but this time with a loving touch of sarcasm and parody.
It doesn't hurt as well that the art is gorgeous, with lots of great action, over-the-top facial expressions and even manga-esque SD, and more of Carl's trademark 'muscular' art. Suffice to say, both male and female readers get fan service in this one.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is now available at Comic Quest branches, at P120 for 65 pages (black and white). It's been rated for mature readers ever due to some strong language and mature themes. Get yourself a copy now and more for a friend in time for Christmas, folks!
Cheese Pops and Blue Fizz

I finally got the chance to try a couple of things I have been eyeing for some time now; cheese-flavoured microwave popcorn and Pepsi Blue cola. The latter I've been wanting to try solely for my desire to find out just what the color blue tastes like (I kind of imagined it to be similar to chlorine and swimming pool water). Well, I popped the corn and got a glass full of ice for the cola. Mike advised me to virtually freeze the Blue cola and drink it as it's near frozen. Of course, I didn't have patience for that.
The popcorn was on the salty side; the cheese taste was recognizable, but unfortunately wasn't as zesty as the cheese popcorn you could get at the cinemas, or the ones that came with cheese flavor bags. Maybe I didn't mix it well enough. Oh well. As for the blue cola, it tastes very bland; it didn't even have the aroma of say, Dr. Pepper. Very forgettable, but it was a cola. Well, the blue color is kinda cool. And it was pretty nice to see blue fizz. Not as great as purple fizz, but what can you do?

Monday, December 16

Car Sick

Today I spent most of my time in a car. We had to present some storyboards for a TV commercial to client, and they were all the way across the world from Makati at Aurora Boulevard. The traffic was predictably heavy, so our vehicle was crawling most of the way. When we finally arrived at the client's office/factory, our entire presentation (which went quite well) took only an hour or so. After the meeting, we piled back in the car for the trek back to the office. We left the office at two. We got to client at three. Finished at four. Arrived at the office by five. Three hours, but it felt like double that. Yawn. Oh well. This is the last working week of the year 2002, so it should be just a sprint before we break the tape to our vacations. Not doing too bad. Not bad at all.
Waiting for The Two Towers (Some Spoilers)

I HATE waiting. I really do. So much that I often wish I had a cryogenic chamber to jump into so I can 'fast forward' to stuff I want without having to... wait. The second part of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, The Two Towers, will be showing in the US a few days from now. But we poor Manilenos have to wait till early January. DAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMNNNNN!!!
Anyway, reviews are beginning to filter in at sites like Aint It Cool News, and so far they are all uniformly raving about TTT. Remarks are generally that the action has been kicked up a notch, Helm's Deep finale kicks butt, and Gollum is one twistedly realistic dude who could make actor Andy Serkis (the actor who 'plays' the corrupted hobbit) a contender for Best Supporting Actor. I've seen the new 30-second trailer showing on US television, which features more of the film's CG creatures- Wargs, Ents, Nazgul on Fell Beasts, and tantalizing glimpses of HUGE battle scenes. My GOSH. Can't wait till January. It will be hell resisting bootlegs till then.

Sunday, December 15

Araw Awards

I got to see the Araw Awards on TV, which celebrated the years' best in Philippine advertising. Lots of ads, and I saw quite a few familiar faces. I really have to admit that I have little interest in the pomp and pageantry of these gigs. It doesn't help that I just got to my present agency so I don't have many entries in.
My takeaway from the awards show... WEIRD. Lots of really bad use of talents (including a very embarrassing segment/spoof by the actors from the hit McDonald's commercial 'Lolo') through horrible spiels and writing, and direction. And what the hell is Ronald McDonald doing as a presentor? THE HELL? He's a MASCOT for God's sake!!! Well, it could have been worse... Jollibee can't even talk. Maybe he would have had an interpreter...
And one more thing... haha... can't get out of my mind the sight of Monobloc chairs being used in such a prestigious event. Well, maybe it just shows how ad people can be frugal. In some ways. Heh. Monobloc. Sheesh.
Hard Work. Hard Life.

I went with my dad to have my four pairs of denim jeans cut. I think it's pretty much been more than two years since I got them, but I only NOW thought about cutting them to size. All this time I had been making do with just folding them (Levi's style). I don't know... I just felt I had to. I needed a change. Perhaps it started with me buying a two new pairs of shoes (one pair of classic anyday black leathers and one pair of black rubber shoes) last Friday. I got rid of my old pair of leathers, which had been serving me for the past two years as well, weirdly enough by leaving them on the bus I was riding on. I imagined quite romantically that they'd find their way into the hands of someone who would have them repaired and use them again. Later, Carl told me that more likely, they'd probably be mistaken for a bomb. Well, they weren't, so I wasn't worried. Heh.
Anyway, I had decided to cut the pants; me and my dad drove off to where my parents usually had their tailoring stuff done. Thanks to my dad's wonderful directional sense, we almost missed the hole-in-the-wall tailor shop. The tailor, Mr. Olympio, was an old man who lived in his tailoring shop with at least two of his grown children and their spouses, and at least two kids. We walked in and gave my pants, which turned out, needed not only cutting, but quite a bit of repairs to the pockets, and patching some frayed parts. The whole time I looked about the somewhat untidy, grimy shop. It wasn't the most furnished of places; there were two sewing machines, lots of threat and spools about, a calendar on a wall, a Sto. Nino picture hanging on another, and a cabinet with an old guitar that had only one string left. Atop a cabinet were, seemingly out of place, numerous trophies for bowling and darts.
The old tailor worked on the pants, all the while talking with my dad on various subjects, though mostly on his health (which was apparently failing since the man was pretty thin). I gathered that he had to go to the hospital recently; my dad would later tell my mom that the man had cirhossis; a result of heavy drinking in his earlier years. As Mr. Olympio and my dad talked, my dad would try to insert advice to the man to quit alcohol. Of course, Mr. Olympio agreed. When the job was about finished, one of the tailor's chums came in, apparently inviting him to drink. From what we hears, going cold turkey wasn't a priority. Oh well. It was his life to live.
I had my pants finished after about an hour or so. I paid the man, and my dad gave him a bit of extra for Christmas. As we left, I regretted not giving him even more, but to go back and give him extra worried me that it may seem like pity, which I did not want to project. Man still had his pride.
I reflected on how the old man sewed the reams of cloth in the pants, manipulating it with grimy old fingers and working the manual sewing machine with expertise that has been honed through years of labor. You need to be damn precise to do that kind of thing; yet he gets paid very little relatively to people in business. In contrast, I get paid quite a bit more doing rough concepts and vague thoughts. That's why I guess in the US, menial laborers are paid more. Here, it's pretty different and quite depressing.
Oh well.
He did a good job with my pants. Damn good job.
The Other "Ring" Movie

No-brainer Tip: Don't watch cursed videotapes.

I finally got to watch The Ringu, the Japanese horror hit that's been making the hairs stand up on the backs of many Filipinos' necks for the past weeks. I am glad that I caught it; the only hitch is that I hope I don't get visited by some evil spirit now...
The Ringu revolves around a strange urban legend and myth about a cursed videotape that brings death to whomever views its eerie contents. When a young girl named Tomoko and several of her classmates die after watching the said video, her cousin, a reporter named Reiko, feels compelled to investigate. As she delves into the mystery, she uncovers strangely distorted photos, a quiet cabin in the province, and finally, the sinister video itself. After she watches the images... strange, blurry clips of a woman and some disturbing scenes, she suddenly receives a phone call. "Seven Days." says the voice. Seven days till she dies. In her desperation and growing fear, Reiko calls upon her ex-husband, Ryuji, to help. A professor and psychic, Ryuji himself watches the tape, apparently dooming himself as well. But perhaps they can escape the horror that awaits them if only they can unearth the secret behind the tape...
Okay, this film is freaky. If you're used to Hollywood slashers, gore-fests and CG monster movies, this should be a breath of fresh air. It is alien... the pace is different, the look is very un-cinematic and ordinary (it kinda reminds me of a low budget short film) but that all just contributes to how mundane life is until something supernatural bursts in. After that, the buildup starts piling up as the days count down to the inevitable. The Ringu relies a lot on disturbing (but not really gory) images, some sudden bursts of music and peripheral vision tricks to unnerve and scare. It also has the somewhat funny way of making people just 'pop up' out of nowhere; Reiko is just standing alone, and then some other character is just THERE. I speculate that either they are all descended from ninja so no sound is made when they approach... or it's because of their socks. Hmm.
Anyway, I liked it. I can't say I was scared by it, desensitized as I am, but I was fascinated and creeped out. I found the images freaky and disturbing, and the plot was very intriguing... so that even through the quiet, long pauses I was held in place. It doesn't hurt as well that lead actress Nanako Matsushima is quite easy on the eyes (actually most of the women in the film are; gotta love Japanese women). On the con side, the film does take a bit to build up, but maybe that's intentional so you're lulled into a false sense of security before the GHOST LEAPS UP BESIDE YOU!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Ahem. Watch it if you can. If you dare. I liked it so much, I am now actually considering watching the US remake. Just to see if Hollywood can elicit the same chills... or if they can improve on it.

Hmmm. Cursed videotapes. Good thing I prefer DVDs these days.