Magical Mondays: Showing, Not Telling in Princess Principal

I’ll admit it, I started watching Princess Principal because it just looked fun. Young women kicking ass as spies in a steampunk fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, set to a jazzy soundtrack and wrapped up in science-magic? Yes, please. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that this show that I picked up solely for its geeky Cool Factor is… actually really damned good, delivering consistently sharp writing, interesting and layered characters, and some wonderfully efficient and intriguing magical worldbuilding that makes fantastic use of that old writing adage “show, don’t tell” that paints a vivid picture of its fantasy world from its very first scene.

Because it did such a good job laying the groundwork and piquing this viewer’s interest, let’s look just at the show’s first episode, and the small but important details the premiere gives us (and how) that let us build a picture of the world… without leaning too heavily on narration, pausing or cutting into the action to explain what’s going on, or having an audience point-of-view character that others teach things to.

Princess Principal floating

I think I’ll tryyyyy defyyying graviityyyy. (via aldi404)

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Lady Mechanika: The Steampunk Heroine I Never Knew I Wanted

Like really, how could I resist?

Like really, how could I resist?

A while ago, I ventured to the local comic store with the sole intent of window shopping. As you can probably guess, window shopping became actual shopping and I returned back to my apartment with a serious dent in my wallet. A long, long time ago (okay, it was probably like, three months ago) if you asked me, I would have said that I simply didn’t have any interest in Western comics—even my interest in manga has waned to the point where there’s only one or two series that I try to keep up with. Yet here I am; buying comics. I blame this blog.

While perusing the various titles, only a handful of which sounded familiar at all, one comic immediately caught my eye. Without a second thought I added it to my purchase pile. Maybe I should have realized something was up when the cashier tried to strike up a conversation with me about how it was great that the specific issue I bought finally came out. Not knowing what he was talking about, I smiled and nodded, and quickly delved into the world behind the gorgeous cover. Upon slight research, I think I may have made a mistake. I had accidentally started the tale of how I read #5 of Lady Mechanika—my first issue, and this arc’s last.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Shoomlah

After last week’s web crush—Rejected Princesses, for those out of the loop—I suddenly had a memory flash by in my mind. Back before I had my own Tumblr (which seems longer ago than it was) I kept tabs on a few people who I swore to follow once I set up an account of my own. Unfortunately, with the passage of times comes the passage of promises forgotten and—what I’m saying is that I didn’t end up following anyone from that set of people. Yet one of them continued to appear on my dash, year after year, and although I haven’t followed her yet, she played a huge role in raising my standards for historical accuracy in drawings.

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The Three Musketeers Review

I’mma say it right out: Logan Lerman is pretty enough that he looks like a girl in that wig.

I only recently sat down and watched the 2011 movie, The Three Musketeers, starring (among others) Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, and Orlando Bloom. I had wanted to see it in theaters, but obviously I missed that boat.

It’s been a while since I’ve read The Three Musketeers, (over a decade, and wow does that make me feel old) so I hit up the Wikipedia page to see how the movie measured up to the original story. Turns out it made some pretty significant plot changes, and those don’t even include the added steampunk airships (or ‘shimps’, as my friends and I called them, combining ship and blimp).

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Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

So over Christmas break me and my family decided to go to the movies, and lo and behold, we all were interested in seeing the same film: Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows.  (This doesn’t happen very often.)

Whee logos!

So I didn’t recall much of the original movie but it wasn’t really necessary for seeing this one.  And now that it’s been three weeks since I saw this one, I don’t remember all the things about this one either. But I remember the things I liked and didn’t like, so here goes:

Things I liked:

  • Badass chicks. Specifically Mary Watson and Simza.  Mary pulls a gun on an attacker at one point and calmly instructs her husband to toss him from their honeymoon car on a moving train, which the attacker has just invaded. Simza is a gypsy girl who helps John and Sherlock catch Moriarty, the bad guy, and takes no shit from the two.
  • The overwhelming steampunkiness of the whole movie. I’m not super into the steampunk scene, but it looked really cool and was a viable excuse for having machine guns and shiny nearly-magic machinery.
  • Sherlock and his pony. (I laughed for literally that entire scene.)

Things I was not so sure about:

  • Holmes and Watson’s bad romance.  I feel like I’m in a unique place as a slasher in that I see all of the incredibly homoerotic scenes they threw in (the two ballroom dance in a room full of dignitaries,Watson pins Holmes down on the floor and Holmes wraps his legs around John’s back while they wrestle…) but feel that they were thrown in there for the squee value of the millions of slashers who shipped H/W after the first movie.  The two didn’t actually have any sexual tension to me; they just seemed like very close platonic friends. So I felt the gayness was a little awkward. And hey-o ballroom dancing boys? Your movie was set around the same time they threw Oscar Wilde in jail for ‘indecency’, aka the ‘mental illness’ of homosexuality. If they were gonna be for realzies gay they would not be flouting it around strangers.
  • The Shymalan-esque tweest to the ending – I know they had to keep Sherlock alive because this is a profitable franchise, but I really wish that some director somewhere would have the guts to kill their hero off.  And the pass-off of Mycroft’s deus ex machina rebreather was done so nonchalantly (and never expllicitly explained) that I was surprised I caught it, and I was paying very close attention.
  • I don’t know enough about actual Romani culture to say whether the Gypsies’ portrayal was tokeny, but It felt tokeny.  I don’t want to call racism where there’s not, but… :/

 

Things I definitely didn’t like:

  • The deductions were very fast-paced and sometimes I was not sure why or how the whole plot fit together.
  • Sherlock is too badass. I know that sounds silly, but they took the random mention that Sherlock boxed in school from the books and ran much further with it than they ought to have been allowed to do.  The burly brains-before-brawn-but-still-brawn Sherlock of Ritchie’s movies doesn’t resonate with my idea of Holmes the way the BBC’s thin, erudite, brains-and-Watson-is-brawn Sherlock does.
  • SPOILER ALERT: They kill off badass Irene Adler in the first half hour of the movie after diminishing her whole character down to ‘My-love-for-Sherlock-is-a-weakness’, and in what I believe was her second scene.
  • I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories in my days, and I know that Moriarty is Sherlock’s perfect match/rival in intelligence, and that it’s fun for writers to set traps of which he is the ultimate mastermind.  But I really wish that they hadn’t jumped to Moriarty immediately for the plot of the second movie. There are so many more stories and villains to choose from, and not even all of them are racist. (Protip: A bunch of them are.)
  • I know that Moriarty is supposed to be a professor and everything, but I didn’t like that Holmes was able to just walk into his office and converse with him.  Holmes is pretty freaking intelligent, and I know he likes the amoral thrill of the game between the two of them, but I sort of wanted him to just walk in there and shoot Moriarty and cover up the evidence and be done with it.
  • I know the whole point of steampunk is to mix the futuristic with the past, but the drastic plastic surgery they did to Simza’s brother’s face made it hard to suspend my disbelief. For one thing, the story is set in 1891.  Penicillin was discovered in 1928.  If the guy didn’t die from the pain of having his entire facial musculature rearranged, I feel like he would have died of infection.  Sorry to be a debbie downer, but thems the breaks.

There are a few reasons you want to see a movie a second time.  Some movies are just so good you want to experience them again.  Some are really good and you want to see them again to pick out all the little things you missed before (a la Inception).  But I left this movie wanting to see it again because I really felt like if I saw it again I’d be able to follow what was going on this time.  I really don’t think movies should need a practice run to understand the plot, so I’m not really keen on recommending this movie to other people.