Saturday, March 15

Campy Classics

Dun... Dun... Dun-Duuuuuuunnnn.... Remember that classic score?

Last night I went to Megamall's Astrovision to look at what's new in DVD and video. Ironically, I took home a couple of old flicks, which date back to when I was a little kid. David Lynch's Dune was the first film adaptation of author Frank Herbert's novels about a universe full of warring families, or 'Houses' (I think this term pretty much introduced the House title for me) and the ubiquitous spice melange that everyone's fighting over. I remember watching featurettes and movie-in-the-making clips on Dune... of how it was actor Kyle Machlachlan's first film, of the special effects and stuff (mainly about the fat, diseased Baron Harkonnen's ability to float) and the epic story. I also remember watching the flick in the theater.
Dune was a big change from 'cleaner' sci-fi like Star Wars; battles and fights were bloody, brutal and gritty, and there are many grotesque scenes as well as action and drama. I remember many things clearly in Dune: The weird, full-body suit uniforms of the elite Sardaukar Terror Troops (which sound just as cool today as it did years ago...), the cool Atreides personal force fields, the sight of Atreides troops lying dead in piles (ala Krull... default good guy armies are SOOOO weak), Patrick Stewart as an Atreides officer, the Emperor and his generals playing videogames to defend their ship/fortress against the Fremen (pretty ridiculous, I think) and more. Dune is also the first time I saw 'thought bubbles' in a movie. Oh, and as a last detail, the Dune movie is preferred my friend Vinnie over the recent TV mini-series since it contains the 'correct' way of pronouncing the word 'Harkonnen'. Heh.
From what I can recall, Dune wasn't really that big of a success; people just didn't get it, simply because there was far too much book to fit into a movie. Well, Lord of the Rings did it... Oh well. Anyway, despite this, I like Dune, so I got it for my collection. It's a pretty bare package though; no extras whatsoever... only a Play Movie and Scene Selection are available.

Isn't it about time for another Sheena remake? With Milla Jovovich. Gyyaaa...

The other DVD I took home was Sheena. Yep, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. I love jungle girl movies, and Sheena was probably the best of them (which is really not saying much). It's classic camp, and while the acting and plot are pretty thin, sexy actress Tanya Roberts gives the role her all and shows of her dazzling beauty. I think it's probably the last time we'll see a real authentic jungle girl portrayal, down to the really, really skimpy bikini and loin-cloth outfit (though the film used a brown skin outfit instead of the original comics' leopard/tiger skin bikini) and the ability to control animals. The film also adheres to the original comic character being barefoot (though in some sequences we can see Miss Roberts wearing some transparent sandals...), which is something 'modern' jungle films/TV series don't do anymore (Tarzan and Sheena in the recent TV series wear designer fur boots). I have to admit, I'm a big Tanya Roberts fan, and this movie just shows her off so well. Now if only I can find an original Beastmaster DVD... Heh.

Anyway, Mike and I ate at Marina after closing down the store. I had Kilawing Tanigue while he had clams and sizzling Tanigue. We were tired and it was a hard week, so we went home early. Should be an interesting day today. Have Greenhills to visit later, and hopefully a nice night with the gang tonight.

Friday, March 14

Looking Back At Philippine Comics

Paolo Manalo, a professor on creative writing at the University of the Philippines and the literary editor for The Philippine Free Press, does a long, interesting and exhaustive article on the local comic book industry. Read the article here.

Thursday, March 13

Laugh, Damn you!!!

Yesterday I attended a recording session for a radio commercial I wrote. It went pretty smoothly, since the talents were good and the provided music fit perfectly. However, there was a slight bump in the road since we had a part which required a little kid to laugh. Try as our young talent did, it seemed simply beyond him to act a sincere, natural-sounding giggle.
Me: "Think of something funny!"
Kid: "Don't know anything funny."
Me: "What a sad child."
We tried tickling him and telling him to try and stifle it so it would seem natural. All we got was a stiff 'Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha." that reminded me of Haley Joe Osment from A.I. I tried doing a stand-up comedian routine.
"Laugh, or I'll take off my shirt." I said.
Laughter all around. Except from the kid. Argh.
Anyway, after a while we decided to just use a laugh already recorded by my producer for another thing. It melded perfectly, so all was good. Apparently, little girls are easier to use for things like this. Oh well.
Anyway, despite some overtime, I was able to make it to Comic Quest for the weekly bloodletting. I got the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine and Thundercats Return #1. Later, me, Gig and Mike had a nice dinner at The Strip near Pearl Plaza. While Gig had her bacon burger from Hotshots, I had Mongolian Barbecue rice and some Chicken Poppers. Mike had mini-pizzas. We stayed there for a while in the open-air parking lot/foodcenter, talking about stuff from PC RPGs to Hinirang. After a while we called it a night, and headed home.
Lots to do. Gotta catch up. Gotta catch up.

Wednesday, March 12

MAD's Guide to making an anime out of ANYTHING

There's an anime about fishing, cooking, ping-pong, reading and who knows what else. The Japanese can make a feature about anything... and now YOU can too! Learn how at Mad about Anime.

Tuesday, March 11

Spirited Away at the Office

I brought the new US version DVD of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away to the office today, to share it with some friends. The english dub is quite excellent, with the voices for the leads Chihiro and Haku coming off perfectly. FYI, Chihiro's english voice is actress Daveigh Chase, who played the evil Samara in the US version of The Ring. Haku is played by actor Jason Marsden, who appeared in White Squall. I must say director John Lasseter did a great job in handling the english release. Too bad Disney didn't follow up with a better marketing job. Instead they poured everything into the mediocre but visually stunning Treasure Planet. Oh well.
At least I in my own little way I am helping get this film out. More people just need to be Spirited Away...

Monday, March 10

JUON (The Grudge):The Next Ringu?

I discovered a new Japanese horror film entitled JUON (The Grudge) while surfing, and some are seeing it as yet another big, scary hit from the land of the Rising Sun. In the same way that Ringu became a box office hit in the US and here in Manila, JUON may follow suit. The Japanese just do horror so differently; blood and gore aren't what's plastered into the films. It's all about atmosphere, music, a pervading feeling of dread and the audacity to strike at us in situations which we would usually feel safe in. Unnatural things, supernatural things. Things that zip by in the corner of your eye. That's how the Japanese are scaring the pantaloons out of everyone else in the world. JUON is all about a curse; a haunted house filled with evil and hate. And it's all about creepy spirits that appear when you least expect it... and even if you do expect them, it will still scare you. SHEESH. I showed some officemates the JUON trailer and the girls were screaming like banshees. I wonder when, if ever, this flick will make it here?
Sporting the same writer as Ringu, JUON just may be the next big horror hit. Will Japanese horror movies sweep over the world like anime did? Who knows.

Anyway, if you want a creepy peek at the scary movie JUON, click here to visit the official website that's loaded with trailers, images and other stuff. (You WILL have to navigate through some kanji though. Just explore.)
Just don't be surprised if you see something peeking back...
MAD about Anime now online!

I've just made a new blog, entitled Mad about Anime. There I will be sharing my thoughts about anime stuff, from my favorite series, OAVs and movies to wants, wishes and rants about the whole otaku thing as it comes to me. I will still mention stuff here, but the new blog will contain more in-depth articles and hardcore anime fan stuff that I would not want to inflict on any non-otakus. Heh-heh.
Anyway, I've already added Mad about Anime to the Blogroll, but you can also pay a visit to my spankin' new blog here.

Sunday, March 9

Open the Gate!!!

The original Gatekeepers series was a fun, light and bubbly sci-fi action-comedy series about superkids battling aliens.

Gatekeepers is one of my most favorite anime series. Made by Gonzo Animation (Vandread, Blue Submarine No.6, Hellsing), it mixes cute characters, slick CG effects, elementary school-innocent romance and excellent alien-fighting action to make one of the most loveable anime I have watched yet.
It’s all about the adventures of Shun, a poor Japanese student, his rich girl school princess-love interest Ruriko and their gang of friends/classmates/comrades in the Gatekeepers. These young people have the power to open gates to other dimensions (hence the title) for the particular purpose of tapping into the power/properties of that dimension for their use. These gates are very diverse, from Shun’s Cyclone Gate that gives him wind powers, to teammate Reiko’s Gate of Dazzling, which emits hypnotic effects. Supporting the gatekeepers is the world-spanning, ultra-secret and omni-present AEGIS organization, a paramilitary force whose Far Eastern Branch headquarters is located, conveniently enough, underneath a high school.
If AEGIS is secretive, that’s only proper since the enemy they face, the generically-named Invaders, are more insidious than any existing terrorist cell. Living INSIDE human souls, Invaders are created from humans who are bleak, violent and evil… the scum of the earth… and they can be ANYONE.
Despite the sinister premise, the original Gatekeepers was generally light and fun, with bright colors, young characters with BIG, googly eyes and lots of comedic moments. It was also a cool mecha-scifi action show, and the character designs were excellent.
Gatekeepers is a 25 episode TV series, available on DVD and VCDs at anime shops. It also is often shown on AXN.

The darker, more melancholy Gatekeepers 21 OAV takes up the story 30 years after the original.

Gatekeepers 21 is a 6-part OAV series and direct sequel to the original series. Taking place about 30 years AFTER the end of the previous series, this MUCH darker story reveals that the world hasn’t become the perfect place Shun and company fought for in the original series.
Unlike years before, G21’s AEGIS is no longer a large, powerful organization. Powers of the original gatekeepers can now only be accessed by opening Imitation Gates, which are created through cellphone technology. Very few real gatekeepers exist. As expected, everything seems right for an Invader resurgence… and of course, that’s just what happens. Led by the mysterious and frighteningly powerful Ghost Girl , the Invader menace is more terrifying and possessive than ever before.
Against this threat are Ayane Isuzu, a gatekeeper’s daughter who shuns her parent’s power; the timid Miyu, who has the Gate of Leaping (!); and the tomboyish Satoka, with the Gate of Fragmentation and lots of BIG-ass swords.
Taking up arms as well are Yukino Hojo, the ageless but child-like Gatekeeper of Ice, and Reiji Kageyama… formerly the Gatekeeper of Darkness (and Big Bad from the TV series!) and now commander of the AEGIS network. Perhaps the only ones left from the first series, Yukino and Reiji prepare to fight what just may be their final battle. Will mankind vanish into oblivion, or will the Gatekeepers prevail?
With awesome animation, great character designs, a gripping story full of drama and action, Gatekeepers 21 is a truly masterful OAV release and a must-see for fans of the original series. The worst that can be said of it though is that it asks as many questions as it answers and leaves us wanting MORE. To fully appreciate it, watch the original TV series and enter anime bliss.
Gatekeeepers 21 is a 6-part OAV series available in most well-stocked anime shops on DVD and VCDs.
Fast Trip

I went to Greenhills to get some stuff, and I came away with DVDs of Maid in Manhattan (for mom), I-Spy and the US english-dubbed version of Spirited Away. Unfortunately, the gaming front was bad since I still came home with defective discs. Well, you can't win them all. On the flipside though, I got the whole Gatekeepers 21 OAV series on VCD, along with some episodes of the new series Getbackers and Earth Girl Arjuna.
Gatekeepers 21 is the sequel OAV to the popular anime TV series Gatekeepers. It's all about young girls with the power to tap into the energy of other dimensions (opening gates), and the insidious alien menace they must protect the earth from. Getbackers is about some super-powered repo-men, and Earth Girl Arjuna is an anime version of Captain Planet. Heh.
I was able to do some art and stuff, and that should carry over into the night. Tomorrow's the start of another work week. Oh well. Here's to accomplishing more and better.
Saturday Fun Machine

Yesterday I had my usual foray to Greenhills for games and anime. Disappointingly the titles on top of my want list were still absent, though one store interestingly announced that they would be soon having the live-action You're Under Arrest! series in stock soon. YUA is all about two beautiful lady cops in Japan, and I've actually seen pics of the cast- let's just say that anime heroines Miyuki Kobayakawa and Natsumi Tsujimoto were very well cast. Heh. Gotta get this.
On the gaming front, I took home several choice new games; Simple 2000 Ultimate vol. 6 Love Upper (a cute anime-style all-girl boxing game), Shin Sengoku Musou 3 (Dynasty Warriors- kill everyone around you in Ancient China) and best of all, the new PS2 RPG Xenosaga. Xenosaga is a prequel to one of my most beloved of RPGs- Xenogears The story seems be equal to a high quality anime series, the graphics are incredible and the cinemas LOOOOONG. Should be a good watch as much as it is a game.
After closing down CQ, the gang went out and this time we had a change of atmosphere by going to Katipunan Avenue. We settled for dinner at Countryside restaurant, a less-than five-star place (Dean had a running joke about chickens wandering in the place) that had nonetheless some GREAT barbecue. While we were generally satisfied with our meals, we were somewhat disappointed that there were no soups available (including the chicken sotanghon soup Mike and I craved).
For after-dinner cooldown, we headed off to one of the few places along Katipunan (this place is so dead) that looked good. The Barn is a restaurant/coffee place apparently owned by action star Ronnie Ricketts. The man himself was there, and Jason commented that he'd actually make a good casting choice for the lead role in a movie adaptation of Gerry Alanguilan's Wasted. BTW, Wasted has been re-released by Pulp and is now available once again at CQ and other stores wherever Pulp is sold. Want a good, solid and depressing read about a guy who solves everything with a gun? Get Wasted!
Anyway, we called it a night after an hour or so of drawing and doodling on the paper table covers with crayons, discussing various wardrobe choices and disguises for barefoot Hinirang heroine Immacolata and other funny topics. Heh.

Today I have to go back to Greenhills for a while to get a few things, hopefully a DVD of So Close (the Su Qi/Karen Mok action film) and a replacement for a defective disc. Then it's back home for some pages and artwork to be done. Ah. Weekends are too short. There should be a law to remedy this. There just has to be.