Sailor Moon Fan Film: Dead Moon Circus

My fellow Moonies, rejoice! We are truly in the Neo Golden Age of Sailor Moon. What with the current revival of the anime and anime-themed merchandise worldwide, the re-printing of the manga in English with the direct intent of being more accurate to the original (whether it actually is or not is an argument for another time; the intent was good), and the production of a new series being in the works we are getting more Sailor Moon goodies than we’ve seen since she first took the world by storm.

In the midst of all this official media and merchandise, we are also seeing wild numbers of fan films and fan series being produced! I talked about one already and now it’s time to share another one. I was hoping to wait until the second part of the film was uploaded to talk about it but I’m impatient and want to share it now, so enjoy part one and look forward to the conclusion to come! This film comes from an Australian group of fans and is titled Dead Moon Circus:

Review under the cut:

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Theatre Thursdays: Halloween-y Musicals

I think by now it’s pretty obvious that I love both Halloween and musicals. As such I have a few musicals that I like to watch or listen to around this time of year that I thought I’d share with all of you. Some of them are directly related to Halloween or horror while others just employ some of the themes of the season (and I’ll be honest, some are a bit of a stretch).

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Fanfiction Fridays: Heart of Stone

Once upon a time Queen Beryl was just an ordinary girl in love. The story “Heart of Stone” by SailorAstera explores that time in her life and what led to the birth of the dark queen we know her as today.

In this story Beryl is given the name Morgana which seems familiar to me. I checked her WikiMoon page to see if she was ever given this name and I just couldn’t remember where but it doesn’t mention it so I guess the author assigned her the name out of her own creativity. Perhaps it’s just familiar to me because of that one youma.

The beginning finds Morgana as a young girl of negligible status with a crush on Prince Endymion. With how well the story of Sailor Moon is known I feel like I’d be giving too much away if I describe the middle and end parts of the story so I’ll just leave it at that. We all know she becomes evil and we all know more or less why, but the story offers a few unexpected turns which keep it a worthwhile read and SailorAstera draws the world of the Earth Kingdom during the Silver Millennium very well. The tension and distrust of the Moon people is spot-on.

Thoughts on Crystal Tokyo

I’ve been re-watching the old DiC-dubbed episodes of “Sailor Moon” as well as reading the re-release of the manga and both are at the Crystal Tokyo part of the story, which has gotten me thinking about the concept of 30th century earth as Naoko Takeuchi envisioned.

If you don’t know Sailor Moon shame on you Crystal Tokyo is the future Kingdom ruled by Neo Queen Serenity (Sailor Moon’s future self) and King Endymion (Tuxedo Mask’s future self). The Kingdom rules not only Japan but the entire earth.

Back when I first watched the show something rubbed me wrong about the whole idea of Crystal Tokyo. Even as a kid (I was in fifth grade so I’m guessing I was around eleven years old) something seemed wrong to me; it seemed like going backwards to go from individual democratic societies to a monarchy, living in a crystal palace of all bizarre things, ruling not only an individual country but the entire world. When I got the subtitled DVDs and was watching them during my senior year of college last year, my roommate in particular had very strong opinions opposing Crystal Tokyo and Neo Queen Serenity declaring sovereign reign for herself over all the earth.

The fact that she’s a kind and generous ruler who brings peace (and also magic!) doesn’t really make up for her unilateral ascension to the throne.

But as I listened to DiC’s King of the Earth describe the situation in which she rose to power I think I finally understood and accepted the idea of Crystal Tokyo and Neo Queen Serenity.

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Pepperpots and Trouser Shocks: Cross-Dressing in Geek Culture

Cross-dressing is wrong? Riddikulus!

You’ve seen the movies, you’ve read the books; cross-dressing is a common theme in fiction. It’s in mythology, history, folklore, literature, operas, plays, movies, television, and even music. Most importantly though, it has caught the attention of the alternative and dare I say? nerdy aspects in the pop-culture experience that we call life.

There are a few different kinds of plot points based on cross dressing. A very popular one, especially by those such as Shakespeare is one I like to call: Girls in Caps and Trousers. Women dressing as men have been both a cultural and historical phenomena. Some are trying to find their lost loves, some to fight in a war, and some just want the same privileges and opportunities their brothers get. Since there are many of examples of this particular trope (Japanese anime has hundreds of them) I will stick to only a couple.

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Manga Mondays: The Portrayal of Masculinity and Femininity in Manga and Anime

From an historical viewpoint, just about every culture on the planet has idealized males as dominate figures, while dismissing females as the lesser sex. Japan is certainly no exception to this way of thinking. Though in recent years, while the gap between both genders has slimmed, it is still there, and the Japanese reflect this ideology in their manga and anime. Manga has been around for quite some time, and anime first appeared in the last century to represent manga on the television screen. While manga has an incredibly wide fan base that continues to grow each year, it normally targets either boys or girls. Manga for boys is called shounen, and for girls it’s shoujo.

Both may display similar characteristics regarding gender roles, but they are quite dissimilar in their portrayal, and normally cater to different genres. Shoujo, for instance, tends to center more on romance and finding true love, while shounen, even though it may also have romance, focuses more on action and adventure. This is not to say that shoujo has neither action nor adventure; those are just not the main focus in a typical shoujo.

So what I’m going to talk about today are two different shounen, Kisimoto Masasi’s Naruto and Takahasi Rumiko’s InuYasha. I also hope to explain why they are both shounen and not shoujo. Obviously, Naruto is a shounen, but there are some discrepancies about what category InuYasha falls under. And you’re going to have to brace yourselves, but I’m also going to be discussing gender roles.

Okay, let’s get to it.

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OMGOMGOMG

THERE’S GOING TO BE A NEW SAILOR MOON ANIME IN 2013!!

I woke up early this morning to watch a livestream of a special 20th Anniversary event for Sailor Moon. I don’t speak Japanese so I just watched it for the sake of seeing the voice actors, but I know enough Japanese to understand the phrase “Shin Sera Muun!” Then Miss Dream (one of the fan translators for Sailor Moon media) confirmed on twitter that there is going to be a new anime produced!

I’m so excited!! I can’t even believe this news. They said there would be a big surprise announcement at the end of the event but I never anticipated it being this big!

Miss Dream has also said that Mitsuishi Kotono and Furuya Tohru will be reprising their roles as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask!

GAH!

Keep an eye on http://missdream.org/ for a full translation of the event.

ETA: This seems to be the New opening Theme:

Manga Mondays: Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z probably doesn’t need much explanation as to what it is, since just about everyone’s already heard about it, but for those of you who haven’t, here you go: Dragon Ball Z, written by Toriyama Akira, is actually a sequel series to the much less popular Dragon Ball and focuses on a hero named Goku. The original show centers heavily on Chinese mythology, Son Goku being the name of the monkey god, and a good number of its characters are from mythology, such as Chichi’s dad, the Ox King. On top of all this, the series has a strong emphasis on martial arts and the use of ki to do ridiculously implausible feats, such as flying or being physically strong enough to topple mountains with a head butt.

Head butting seems to be the weapon of choice for everyone in the Son family.

Dragon Ball Z stretches the suspension of disbelief much farther than Dragon Ball in this regard, but despite this, it did remarkably well. It’s over twenty years old and is one of the most successful anime ever. In fact, without the success Dragon Ball Z had in America, there would probably be nowhere near the amount of anime over here that we now have today.

The story itself is relatively simple. Within the manga, the Dragon Balls are seven mystical balls that summon forth a dragon who can grant a person any one wish once a year, including bringing the dead back to life.

I personally never really got into Dragon Ball, only the sequel, and instead watched Saiyuki when it came out some years later; however, both Saiyuki and Dragon Ball are essentially two very different interpretations of the same story. From what I have seen of Dragon Ball, I can say that it definitely has much clearer character arcs than its sequel. I don’t mean that Dragon Ball Z has poorer character development, but it introduced a lot of newer characters and focused on them, leaving everyone else not essential to the plot trailing along in their wake with nothing to do.

This is particularly seen in characters such as Yamcha and Tien. Remember those Dragon Balls I mentioned? Well, here’s the reoccurring plot of the series. Some ridiculously powerful evil dude comes and kills a bunch of people and is then defeated by Goku. Side characters like Yamcha seem to exist solely for the purpose of getting killed before Goku’s victory just to show us how bad the big bad truly is. There’s nothing wrong in killing a minor character to make a point, but there’s so little emotion to it in this anymore. No one cares if Yamcha dies because Goku’s going to wish him back to life just in time to be killed by the next villain.

Other characters, the ones who neither fight nor have an important relationship to the main characters, slowly just leave the series and become all but nonexistent pieces in the background. Tien, who does fight, goes this route, only to show up on occasion as a deus ex machina to keep the bad guy busy for a while.

And in case you haven’t noticed by now, all the characters’ names are purposefully stupid. Yamcha, for instance, is a play on for ‘drinking tea.’ Almost all the characters are named after some kind of food or some random object. We even have characters like the Ginyu Force, who were designed to make fun of things like Sailor Moon and Power Rangers.

There is a limit on the Dragon Balls that I should mention before we go any further. They cannot be used to make the same wish twice. So in theory, someone can die once, be wished back, and then have to remain dead the next time he or she gets killed. This limit doesn’t stick around for very long, and after the characters go off world for the first time and come back, this aforementioned rule sort of vanishes.

As bad as I’m making this series out to be, it’s really not that bad. Sure, characters like Yamcha and Puar don’t do much, but they’re not really needed anymore. But as someone who started the series in Dragon Ball Z and not in Dragon Ball, I couldn’t help but wonder why there were so many useless characters that had no purpose outside of dying over and over again.

Both the original and the sequel are two very different stories, and other than the aforementioned Dragon Balls, they don’t really have much to do with each other, which easily explains why Yamcha and a few others have no place in the sequel. Dragon Ball Z could very easily be a standalone series, and in many ways it is. The whole feel of the show changed in DBZ. Everyone got ridiculously stronger, aliens now exist—okay, they existed before, but nowhere near as prominent a plot point—and the characters travel to different planets in the course of only a few days. At a couple points they time travel.

I would quickly run through the story for you guys, but despite how simple all the arcs are and despite how they’re essentially the same thing with different villains over and over again, I don’t feel as though I’d have enough time to mention everything in one post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the first few arcs, since they sort of tie into each other.

Our story begins with Goku discovering he’s from an alien race called the Saiyans, and that he was sent to Earth as a baby to eradicate all life here to prepare the planet for selling. Fortunately, Goku hit his head as a baby and turned into a lovable, food-obsessed moron who doesn’t kill people and instead defends the innocent. Sometime after Goku was sent to Earth, an evil galactic emperor named Frieza destroyed the Saiyan home world. Surviving the destruction is also Goku’s older brother Raditz, a Saiyan elite named Nappa, and the Prince Vegeta. (In some of the movies we learn of a few more Saiyans who survived, but they don’t really fit into canon, so we’ll forgo talking about them.)

Don’t get too attached to Raditz, because even though he’s Goku’s brother, he’s only in about two episodes. A shame, really, since excluding Vegeta and Frieza, he seemed one of the more intelligent bad guys, and being Goku’s brother gave him a different dynamic than all the other evil dudes who have no personality outside being evil. Nappa eventually gets killed off as well. Nappa is also a complete dumbass, so it’s not really a big loss. Vegeta is by far the most interesting character to me. He’s the typical redeemed villain, but as the series is really long and his redemption happens over numerous episodes, it’s very believable. He first teams up with Goku’s eldest son Gohan and his best friend Krillin to fight Frieza’s lackeys out of a need of self-preservation, and he sort of falls in with the good guys from there. Overall, Akira did a very good job writing Vegeta’s character.

Eventually, the events of the story culminate into a showdown between Goku and Frieza. After Frieza’s eventual demise, DBZ just throws villain after villain at us, each with less personality than the last.

The anime particularly got a lot of shit said about it for all the dumbass filler episodes. Not only that, but during all the fight scenes—and I do mean all of them, at least the important ones—the characters had a habit of just standing and staring at their opponent seriously. A couple years ago, Dragon Ball Z Kai came out, which was the exact same show, only without the filler episodes. Or the staring. And the show is so much better for it. I am pretty forgiving of the filler in the original show however. The anime first aired alongside the manga, and the filler was added so the show wouldn’t get ahead of the manga. Yes, this can be annoying in many cases. Think Naruto, where the manga is so far ahead that it wouldn’t be a problem and yet the filler doesn’t end. But at the same time, if the anime skipped ahead, we would probably get some disaster like the first Fullmetal Alchemist, which wasn’t really a bad show, but it seems worse when held up next to what is was supposed to become.

One thing that can be said about both DB and DBZ and the final installment series Dragon Ball GT is that there is a passing of time. Goku starts off as a kid in the first one, and he’s a grandparent by the last one. It’s a series that details his life and the lives of his kids. For those of you who don’t know what the ‘Z’ stands for, I don’t know either. Looking it up, I’m still confused, because what I found was ‘Zetto.’ I think it’s safe to conclude that it probably doesn’t mean anything. As for ‘GT,’ I don’t know that either, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it means something along the lines of ‘Generically Terrible.’ If you haven’t watched GT, don’t. But I would most assuredly recommend both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. For those of you who don’t want to watch all of the series but still want to know what happens, or for those of you who have already seen it and love it, TeamFourStar has abridged episodes.

Web Crush Wednesdays: Amy Mebberson

It’s time for another Web Crush Wednesdays! And week’s Web Crush is… *drum roll* … Amy Mebberson! Yaaaay!

webcrush pic

 

When trying to decide who to crush on today I realized that it had been awhile since we had any artists here, especially one that draws awesome ladies, and Amy Mebberson does just that. Amy is a cartoonist who has done several comics for The Muppets and Monsters Inc. Amy’s drawing ranges from a combination of Disney, comics, and various other nerdoms combined to make something amazing.

Check her out on devianart and tumblr!

I hope you all enjoyed my latest Web Crush!