Category Archives: TV Show Review

Review: Miraculous Ladybug

I live! And I have a new fandom I am gushing over. So I thought I would review the first season with my loves and (of course) my nitpicks.

Miraculous Ladybug (or alternatively, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Chat Noir) is a French cartoon, the story of two teenage superheroes, Marinette and Adrien, also known as Ladybug and Chat Noir, respectively. They fight to protect Paris–yes, that Paris–from the corruption of Hawkmoth and his akuma, using the power of good luck and bad luck (three guesses as to who has which power, and the first two don’t count). Most of the background plots focus on the love square with our heroes…which unknown to them, only involves two people. Because they don’t know who each other is.

Ugh, the love square. It has made this fandom sickeningly sweet and fluffy (like give you cavities sweet), or heartbreaking angst (so much character death, and no one ever tags it properly). And yet, I love it. The two people in question are so oblivious in the show and yet heartsick over it, even if I differ from canon and think Adrien has at least a clue about how Marinette feels about him. She’s just too obvious, and he’s too flirty for it to be coincidence. Regardless of your stance, you just want to shove them in a closet when their powers are fading and get the reveal over with so there can be fluff! Considering how old and cliche this trope is, the writers still have you sucked into this show with it. That’s good writing.

…Not perfect writing, mind you. They have been following the monster-of-the-week formula for the most part, which worked well to establish the world regardless of when you start watching. But we’re running out of side characters to turn into akuma, and the last few episodes introduced some plot hooks that are too interesting to not flesh out. I hope they start easing out of their formulas to follow up on them. Otherwise, it’s going to grow stale very quickly. I can only take so much obliviousness and teen drama before I want story to pay off.

The characters themselves are actually in balance for the majority, which is always a nice change. The various side characters are built well without trying to compete with the main characters, while the two leads are multi-faceted without getting cluttered or overly perfect. The superhero aspect just fuels this, since it allows the hidden selves and subtle traits of the main characters to show themselves. Awkward, overly excitable Marinette becomes confident and focused as Ladybug, but her kindness and cleverness shine through in either form. Cool and slightly aloof Adrien as Chat Noir is showboating and flirty (err, flirtier, yes Adrien, I’ve got all those little winks of yours), but his loyalty and sincerity are undeniable regardless of which one you are dealing with. The traits are there in both forms, but the hero-forms just bring them into focus to let the audience appreciate them better.

The villains need some work, though. We love to hate that one spoiled teenage blonde, hell I’ve got one of my own to write at some point, but Chloe’s antics are getting old, especially since she never really faces consequences for them. And now we’ve had a full season of Hawkmoth terrorizing Paris, but with no real idea about his plan and motivations. I respect needing that first season to get the basics established, but now we need growth, or even just depths that are already there to be revealed to the viewer. (Sorry, I’m harping)

Aesthetically, there is so much about this show that is so pretty. Seriously, so pretty. All the little details in the background are so perfect, and you almost see a new detail every time. The animation is smooth, and while graceful, they aren’t too overly exaggerated. I know the 3-D aspect annoyed fans who were following the creation process, but I can’t find it in me to care. I love all variations of animations equally as long as it is pleasing to the eye, and this style serves the show just fine.

There are some quirks I could do without, though. The two kwami (the transformation creatures that remind me a lot of PreCure) could have used a little refining. Plagg is fine, Tikki just seems really dumpy looking to me sometimes, depending on what they are doing with her. Similarly, let’s compare Chat Noir and Ladybug’s costumes, shall we?

Look at how intricate his is! He is very clearly built to be a tank, the front line fighter. He’s also got the stealth aspect. To put it simply, Chat is meant to be in the thick of things, and his signature attack and weapon reflect this. (Okay, the bell is just silly since as far as I can tell it doesn’t even ring, but it amuses me, so I don’t complain.) Now let’s look at Ladybug. Very streamlined and simple (actually too simple to me, but we’ll get there, trust me), the yo-yo can attach to her costume. She is the mage/cleric/ranged to Chat’s tank. So…why is she in eye-catching, distraction costuming? I understand wanting her to look like a ladybug, but the all-over polka dots is an eyesore. Even ladybugs only have those on their backs, and some care definitely could have been needed. Hopefully there’s a costume edit in her future.

Overall, the series is great so far. It’s silly and goofy, heartwarming and cute. The concept feels fresh, even though they really could have gone wrong and over-used. Do I have problems with some parts? Oh yes. Could it go horribly backwards in later seasons? You better believe it (just look at the travesty that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has turned into for proof of that). But for now, enjoy the first season, and if you want any recommendations for between-season reading, here are three of my favorites:

Meeting with Master Fu
Little Princess
Stupid Kitty


Review: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Happy Halloween! And with that, a special post just for the holidays. (Or at least, one of my favorite ones and the kick start to the fall/winter festivities.)

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (which has a much fancier Japanese title that I will not insult anybody by trying to write myself) is a Japanese anime that is a combination of murder mystery, horror, slice of life comedy, and romance. It follows a high school paranormal club with the president being a ghost herself! Yuko Kanoe has no memories of her life or how she died, and she has haunted the school for years, leading to many ghost stories to develop. But then Teiichi Niiya sees her (and her remains) and the two team up to try and discover Yuko’s past. But there is a kernel of truth to all the old stories, and there is more to Yuko’s memory loss than they could ever have guessed…

Despite the wildly different genres this story travels between, it actually balances them really well. I never felt mood-whip-lash as I went from horror to something romantic to something mysterious, etc. It all flowed very well together. I thought the fan service was a little too strong with Yuko, but then, I’m not big on fan service in the best of moods, so… The romance was cute and dramatic and full of squee (all good points). But the end game is weird for me. I like my romances to end with a solid base for the future, so I can easily imagine where it is going to go next. But… Half of this couple is a ghost. A teenage ghost at that. What are they going to do as he grows older? What if he ever wants kids? It just sits weird for me. Don’t get me wrong, I bawled like a baby there at the end, but… I sorta wish he’d ended up with the great-niece instead.

The characters weren’t simple constructs, not easy to show in such a short medium. The main three (or who I saw as the main three) had several different dimensions to them. Yuko’s past and her way of dealing with it was heart-wrenching in its self-destruction. Teiichi had to struggle with how far he was willing to go for his feelings or if it was better to just go with the flow. Kirie has to struggle not only with who she thinks Yuko is, but also with who she is and how that affects her life. The rest of the characters were pretty flat, but that only let the focus stay on the main three and bring their issues to the light. And it was awesome.

The story was this quirky mix of everyday little mysteries and some of them stacking together with the longer running series, only in sneaky unexpected ways. The villain was actually something internal, which is also something that really vibes well with me. In something short like this, you don’t have time to play with both internal conflict and external conflicts seriously. You can dabble with one, but it has to resolve itself within the episode because through the series, it will get tangled and possibly get forgotten. They did the right thing and focused on the internal conflict within the group and within the main title character. Sometimes I still wanted to throw a shoe at the TV as it dealt with the day-to-day stuff, but I put up with it because it made the ending all the more bittersweet.

The horror aspects were not as bad as I was afraid they were going to be. This was not Hansel and Gretel all over again. No nightmares (actually, Agents of SHIELD has given more nightmares after season 1), and it actually handled the scary elements well and in ways that made sense. I thought the school was horribly contrived as was the illness from the memories, but it wasn’t something that completely broke my suspension of disbelief. It was just a bit of a push, even for a ghost story. The entire setting was that way, really. It was such a push to make it work, to keep it isolated like they wanted it. I don’t entirely see the purpose of it, unless things in Japan are really quite that different. Really, I think the fanservice though is going to remain the worst part of the whole series.

Overall, I think the series was well done and well written. I mean, even the introduction and closing sequences were well thought out with what happened in the story that particular episode (which was really creepy a couple times). It was a perfect way of doing a short series. It had a resolved ending, it focused on what it wanted to bring out, and it didn’t waste time with everything else. I wish other animes would learn from it. (Like Magical Warfare. Dear GOD, do not get me started on the last few episodes of this first season…)

Blood-C Review

Bleh. I’m full of fail on the blogging front. Let me do another dump of posts to get caught up. First, the last in my Blood series reviews.

Blood-C is CLAMP’s (one of the more popular anime/manga group of artists) take on Saya’s story. This time, Saya is a shrine maiden on a small island somewhere in Japan, with an equally small town surrounding the shring. She is charged by her father to use the sacred sword to slay the monsters plaguing the town–referred to as the Elder Bairns once translated–just as her mother once did. But Saya must keep it a secret, even when things take a turn for the worse and what Saya thinks she knows is brought under questioning.

Animation and design-wise…it’s a CLAMP project, that much is obvious. They got into this lanky, awkward way of drawing characters, and it’s worse in moving color than it is in black-and-white manga. Thankfully, it isn’t as utterly bizarre in this show as it was in xxxHolic, but it still lends a weird edge to the animation. The school uniform choice is…well, it’s dumb, and the characters even lampshade the design towards the end, calling it cosplay. I also think the “dog” didn’t really look like a dog, making it stick out way too much instead of being moderately inconspicuous.

This version of Saya is the most bipolar yet. She sings little songs, loves her father like he hung the stars, and is completely oblivious to the feelings of one of her classmates for her. But she is also a fearless fighter, a warrior that the Elder Bairns seem to hate, and, in the end, humanity’s reluctant defender. That’s right, CLAMP’s Saya links back to the first Saya from Blood: the Last Vampire, though it takes the entire series to get there, and a movie besides to really see the link. The movie also hints at Blood +‘s Saya with a flashback to a castle garden, but it was such a mild link, along with Saya’s senseless red eyes (seriously, they serve no purpose other than to look cool), that I’m not certain how much of it was intentional and how much of it was them just taking guessing stabs at key traits from previous work in the franchise.

As for the other cast members, well, they are as deep as a puddle. The father-figure and, at least up until the last couple of episodes, everyone else were as flat as could be. But once everything hit the fan, the side characters became much more real to me and far more interesting. I wish we had gotten more hints of them throughout the rest of the series, or even a couple more episodes to flesh them out a little better. The villain surprised me, and gave me Solomon flashbacks, especially in the manga version (which I’m only not reviewing because all my volumes are a six hour drive and three hours of searching my old room away). The cast with the movie was almost the exact same way, only even more rushed. We just weren’t given enough time or material to get an emotional connection to these characters, so instead of being this awesome, “Oh snap!” moment when things turn, we’re left going, “Eh.” Especially in the movie, since they went and had to introduce an almost brand new cast.

The plot took its sweet time building up, and once it did, it happened too much at once. It was trying to copy the rich plot of Blood +, but it was about a third of the length (not counting the movie). It was also trying to do the mystery aspect with Saya’s history, the love triangle plot trap, the link to the larger CLAMP universe with Watanuki and the wish shop…Though if you really think about that last one, it could explain the strange reason why Saya can’t kill humans. But that’s just my pet theory.

World-building wise, I felt like it took a left turn somewhere and I wasn’t with them. The Elder Bairns were not like anything that we saw in the first Blood movie, and they sure weren’t the Chiroptereans of Blood +. And beyond Saya’s special blood, there weren’t any real vampire hints, at least for most of the series. There was no clear reason why Saya and the Elder Bairns existed and why they were linked, or even how the father-figure came to exist in the first place and how he is either the same or different from Saya.

For the series as a whole, I think there were some interesting updates to the story, and the ties to CLAMP’s overarching world definitely offered some answers, admittedly very specifically for this version of Saya. But it was rushed, trying to do too much at the end, and a lot of practical information wasn’t given to us, or at least it wasn’t given in a way that made sense. I like that some of the flaws were lampshaded, but there were too many for me to let them all go. If they’d used a couple more episodes to explain the ending instead of what seemed like two or three episodes of filler, I think it would have been a lot more solid story. But that’s my aesthetic.

Overall, the Blood series offers very different takes on the same character. I’d gladly invest in another part of the franchise if they came out with another. (Seriously, I want a short series about the twins at the end of Blood +. I honesty thought that’s where Blood-C was going.) Each time it’s a little different, a little more of the mystery of Saya being revealed, and a twist I didn’t see coming (thank you, Watanuki). Sometimes they disappoint me, but I always leave with at least a little big of satisfaction.

Blood + (anime) Review

Part 2 of my little series here, this time with the anime that got me interested in the franchise to begin with. I think Blood + will always be my favorite anime, so it’s nice to review it and share some of why I love it so much.

Much like Blood: The Last Vampire, the series follows Saya on her hunt for monsters. But there were some definite changes for the anime series. For one, Saya begins the first season as a normal high school girl and part of an adopted family. A monster attacks her school one night, trapping Saya. But a mysterious man known as Haji forces her to drink his blood, hypnotizing Saya. She uses a sword laced with her own blood to crystalize the monster. At first, Saya is horrified by what she’s done, and refuses to fight, despite the near-orders from a man named David on behalf of Red Shield. But when her father is injured and almost turned into one of the monsters, she takes the first steps on her journey. It takes four seasons for the truth to come to light about Saya’s past and her relation to the enemy Red Shield is sworn to fight. In the process, we are given a huge cast of colorful characters, each adding another piece to the past and to the present. The ending of the anime is full of sorrow and grief, but with an edge of hope for the future.

Obviously, I’m leaving details out of that summary, but that’s because a) it would take way too long to summarize four season (fifty episodes) neatly and b) I don’t want to spoil anything. Animation wise, it’s spectacular for its time and it still holds up today, at least in my opinion. Saya’s skirt length in the first half annoys me a little, but it gets better, so I let it go. When it comes to the historical character designs, they did very well with the costumes being authentic. Lewis’s design is a little racist, but I’ve seen much worse in anime, and all things considered, I let it go. It really doesn’t hit you how bad it is until you look at it in hindsight. The only thing that sort of irks me is there is a bit of generic work for the background or arc specific characters. I wish they had been given a little more effort.

The huge cast of characters and the sheer level of back story might be why I love this series so much. To begin with, for once we don’t have this airheaded whiny baby for a protagonist! Oh happy day! (You have no idea how happy this makes me, seriously.) Admittedly, Saya doesn’t want to fight, and often struggles with being expected to, but I found it didn’t really bother me as much, especially as more and more of her back story came to light. Considering her relation to the enemy, without the hatred she rightfully has for them, she wouldn’t want to fight them. Once her memories are back, it makes a lot more sense, as does her final wish that she managed to get Haji to agree to. And when she comes to terms with what she is, after what it costs her, you can see that she is trying so hard to be tough when all she wants to do is fall apart. Even in the end, that tough part falls aside as her kind nature comes through towards her greatest enemy. It takes the combined efforts of both Kai and Haji to get her to change her mind about what she deserves.

Which gets us to our male leads. For the first two seasons, it’s pretty much Haji and Kai, Saya’s older adopted brother. I could never get behind Kai/Saya, just because they were raised as siblings, plus he was just annoying to me. Very much the usual anime protagonist, thankfully this anime proceeded to smack him down and show him exactly how ill-suited he initially was to help his sister. After he was pretty much removed as a romantic interest, I liked him much better. By then, he had matured a good deal, and was taking his sister’s fight a lot more seriously. Haji came into the series with the obvious markers as being the romantic interest. His devotion to Saya can border on the creepy occasionally, but considering their relationship and what has happened to him over the years, I can’t blame him. He had a horrible burden to carry with him over the years, and he did so out of love. The second half introduces a third love interest, Solomon, who is on the enemy’s side. I’ve always felt like Solomon was just in love with Saya because instinct, or what his big brother Amshel convinced him was supposed to be their instinct, told him he was supposed to. And because he was that sort of dreamer type, he went along with it, even if it went much further than Amshel had intended.

The rest of the cast is far too huge for me to go into detail. There’s Red Shield, there’s the historical allies and enemies, there’s the Sif (my favorites), there’s the Cinq Fleches Group… To go into explaining them would not only spoil the series, but take me more words than I want to spend. I will spend a little time on who is described as the primary antagonist, though I really consider her the secondary one: Diva (Amshel is the primary for me, always will be). My god, she is amazing. I think one of her lines in the end of the series describes her best, “Now Saya, that’s not fair. Only you were treated like a human.” She really raises the question if what is wrong with her is nature or nurture, and she inspires pity from the audience rather than straight hatred, a nice change. As for why the Sif are my favorite… They are set up to be this force to be manipulated, and they fight against it, struggling for survival even as they die one by one, just because of how they are created. I can’t help but wish they would get that chance at life.

Plot wise, there is a lot going on in this series. It really can be divided into two halves: before the destruction of the Red Shield’s headquarters, and then a year after (yep, there’s even a time skip). Before, it really focuses on the memories that Saya has forgotten, and trying to find their main enemy, Diva. There is also the Sif’s sideplot, and the actions of the antagonists, who aside from Diva are leading up to something. Then there is what Diva is wanting, which is really ambiguous at that point in the series. The second half is Saya desperately trying to find Diva before she goes to sleep (her big sleep which lasts for thirty years), while the plans of the Cinq Fleches group, the survival of the Sif, and Diva’s wants all come together in a climactic final two episodes. I really didn’t find a lot of plot holes, and what few there were would have slowed the series down too much, so I can understand why there was no follow-through. Even the timeskip made sense to me. The plans we saw being put in place in the first half need time to ferment, and at least two of the protagonists needed time to grow and deal with their grief. I wish the ending had pushed on the hope aspect (as I’m covertly referring to it) a little more, but that’s a personal opinion, and there’s fanfiction for that.

The setting was possibly the most far-reaching I’d seen in a serious anime like this. It doesn’t stay in Japan like a bad cliche. Instead, it goes from Japan to Vietnam to Russia to France to the US… Very much a global-span, which makes a lot of sense with the plot. Some of the world-building is confusing as it is presented to you, but once you lay it all out after seeing the series, it does make sense. Basically, the world-building on vampires requires a bit of Fridge Logic to make it work. Of course, that’s fine by me, I like that element to a show, where it makes me think about it, as long as it makes sense. Don’t get me started on when it doesn’t. At times, it felt like it was pushing it (my fan theory is that the Sif aren’t created, they were initially real humans, but that only has limited backing. The cloning still feels stupid), but I was able to swallow it while I watching it, and it didn’t kill my love for the story, so I guess it got away with it.

Overall, the show is a bit like a very rich desert. Let’s say one of those giant slices of chocolate cake they serve at Cheddar’s (never eat one alone, seriously. It is meant for sharing. With like, four people). There is a big cast, a complicated story, and an equally complex world, and it takes its sweet time telling it to you so you don’t get overwhelmed. Layer upon layer upon layer. It is one of my favorites, and I definitely recommend it. Just, pace yourself.

W.I.T.C.H. Season 1 Review

Good GOD I could not get WordPress to work this last week. Admittedly, my internet has been going all wonky on me around midnight every night for reasons I don’t understand, but yeesh… I’m hoping to get you all a second post this weekend to make-up for it, and then maybe one next Saturday. By writing these a little more in advance, I’m going to try and be a little more in-depth. I’m also at a point where I need to decide how to do a review, since I’m wanting to try something a little different just this once…

Anyway, on to the review I’m here to write now. I watched the initial premiere of the television show, W.I.T.C.H., and was horribly excited about it. Sadly, due to you know, having a life, I managed to fall behind and it being one of the shows that has a consistent plot, well, I pretty much got lost and never went back to it. Something (I’m failing to remember what) resparked my interest in the show, so I followed some youtube links. I haven’t finished the second season yet, but I thought I would go ahead and review the first, which is really the one before the show Jumped the Shark anyway (more on that when I finish season 2). I’ll be focusing on plot, first the main and then the episodic ones, the characters and their roles, and of course, the overall feeling of the show.

For those who have no idea what this show is, W.I.T.C.H. is an Italian magical girl comic book series that was later made into an animated series very loosely based on the source material (raise your hands if you are surprised about the looseness of adaptation. Those of you who raised your hands: FOR SHAME). Fairly similar to the usual formula: five girls must save the world (the center point being their home town) from the forces of evil as the Guardians of the Veil. (Yes, sarcasm in that sentence is intentional.) Same old same old, right?

Actually, not as much as you would expect. For one thing, their mentor figure isn’t a talking animal, but actually one of the previous Guardians who is also a grandmother to the current. Retirement! Who’d a-thought? Genetic links to powers! Amazing, ain’t it? Or at least an interesting layer… And unlike in previous magical girls where the group is really just strangers brought together by their powers, this time all but one were already friends, a refreshing change. The main plot is a corrupt prince taking over a parallel world, and the resulting conflict spilling over into our world. Later on through the series, it is revealed that he isn’t the rightful heir (for some reason that is never properly explained, unless he just oozed evil even as a kid), and he is in fact looking for his younger sister, the proper ruler. Who is it? Why, one of the Guardian’s best friend, of course! So it’s up to the Guardians (and a rebel leader, but really, he’s the Tuxedo Mask of this group) to rescue the little DID (damsel in distress) and make the kingdom a place of light and peace again.

Despite my mockery, the main plot actually has some value to it. The series sets up the search for the heir fairly well, even if to a slightly older it is a lot more obvious. The little sister’s transition from our world to the world on the other side of the veil takes time and care. It isn’t as simple as “Hey, let’s kidnap the princess!” or even “Let’s brain wash them!” a la Sailor Moon. Our evil prince isn’t romantically involved, and in fact hates his little sister with a passion. He is instead just manipulating his little sister for her power, which is significantly stronger than his as the rightful ruler. On her side of it, she doesn’t fall for every attempt the heroes make to reconnect with her, though I do find her sudden “I LOVE MY BIG BROTHER!” switch over a little much to swallow.

Sadly, the B plots are much more typical magical-girl-woes. Such as Irma’s unwanted suitor, Will’s birthday, things like that. They don’t really offer anything original to the series, though I guess SOMEONE finds them entertaining. I think this idea of having an A plot AND a B plot is highly outdated, especially since I think the main plot line could have been the main focus of the series. It certainly had enough characters of it’s own. I don’t mean that the B plots need to completely go away. In fact, I think if you did that it would be like cutting off an arm. These girls DO have normal lives, and since they can’t tell anyone about their powers (though WHY is never clearly answered), I think we do have to see at least some of that. Just…not every single episode. It dulls the impact, and cuts away from the main story.

Our five main characters are broken down by element: Will, who is “heart” (later revealed to be energy itself but that’s season 2) and leader of the group by the fact the Heart of Kandrakar chose her (for those who can’t tell from THAT happy little description, yep, she’s the new girl to the group); Irma, who controls water and serves as the Snark Master; Taranee, who controls fire (yet is our group scaredy cat…irony anyone?); Cornelia, our Earth Goddess (I’m not kidding, I swear she gets called that at least once) who also is the superficial, shallow one; and Hay Lin, the controller of wind and also the Cloud Cuckoolander. We also have Hay Lin’s grandmother (remember that retired Guardian I mentioned? Yeep); Caleb, that Tuxedo Mask rebel leader I mentioned before, and of course our villains: Prince Phobos, his giant snake monster Cedric, and (Princess) Elyon.

I’ll start with our Band of Five, who if you notice that in the order I listed them in, they spell out the series’ name. The Elemental theme has been done before. Hell, I’ve done it, and I’ll probably do it again. That said, I think they did a few interesting things with it at least. It took a few episodes for Irma, for example, to be able to create water rather than manipulate what was around her, and Cornelia never got that advance…though, she did discover that sometimes there are plants around her that she didn’t know about, and she learned to manipulate dirt, not just plants. Beyond their powers, they were fairly standard tropes to my view. Cornelia surprised me, having hidden depths, and I think Will could have been pushed further as far as being the new girl after the first handful of episodes and her growth as both a leader and a friend to the others. Hay Lin was always amusing, but her and the other two Guardians really didn’t get any more than bad tropes thrown at their personalities.

Remember how I described Hay Lin as a Cloud Cuckoolander? Yeah, it’s genetic. Her grandmother was a hoot to watch when she wasn’t being the mentor…and even sometimes when she was. Best grandmother EVER portrayed. Caleb didn’t get as much development, but I blame a lot of that on them focusing on the B plots rather than the A. As a result, he’s more of Cornelia’s boy toy than a rebel leader. Their attempts to make him “otherworldly” just fell flat a lot of the time, and my understanding is originally he actually LOOKED more like someone from the other dimension, at least in the comics. Yeaaah, change didn’t do him many favors. Prince Phobos originally was your do-nothing tyrant, with Cedric to do his bidding, but he was actually a Chess Master, so I didn’t mind too much. Cedric was mostly the brute force, but he had his creepy moments, so as far as being Head Minion, I think he was a solid character.

Elyon. Ooooh, Elyon. I have issues with this character. She is so quick to change alignments from being friends with Cornelia to being their enemy and being all soft and gooey to her brother. She’s whiny, she’s a desperate attention seeker in some cases, she tries to take a leadership role even though at that point she really had no training in being a monarch of any sort, and then to top it all off… Remember how I said Phobos was using her for her powers? Yeah, she is ridiculously overpowered. I mean Ridiculously, at least in the cartoon, with capital letter intentional. As one single person, she has more power than all five of the Guardians. And that’BEFORE she was even at the peak of her powers! And there’s no rhyme or reason for it. I hate to use this term, but… Canon Sue anyone? (Yeah, yeah, I hate the term Mary Sue and usually throw things at people who use it, but this one REALLY calls for it!)

Which kind of gets me to the feeling of the overall show. It feels…very disjointed. It’s like the first half of the season was written by one person, and the second half by another, because there are serious world-building problems and contradictions between the two. Don’t believe me? Try to figure out Phobos’s age. Supposedly at the creation of the universe, the veil was SOMEHOW created and separated the two dimensions to keep him from stuck in his own world. But then he’s Elyon’s brother, and she’s the same age as the rest of W.I.T.C.H. and was only sent to Earth twelve years ago. Oh, but Hay Lin’s grandmother fought him as a young girl. If your brain isn’t breaking, it should be. It was like there was a lack of information being shared with the audience. HELLO! It’s an Italian comic that didn’t get translated and take off until the series started here. We know nothing, plus you took liberties with it. You must explain!

I don’t think the series is awful, far from it. But I definitely think you can skip certain parts of it and not miss anything. And whatever you do, don’t think too hard about some of the information they are giving you. It’ll spare you a lot of grief.

Major Crimes Review

(Sorry I derped and forgot to do this last week. I’m going to try and get a second post up in a couple of days to make up for it.)

I’ve been watching The Closer since it first premiered. I missed the first couple of episodes, but was able to jump right into it anyway, the  mark of a good series in my opinion. I loved the main character and how she was able to be feminine but still do her job as a deputy chief. At the same time, she wasn’t a flat character, full of quirks and personality that made her into a real person. The rest of the division was the same way. Throughout the growth of the series, they developed into a real story, the kind of series that could go on for ages without interruption.

I’m not sure why Kyra Sedgewick (the woman playing the main character, Brenda Johnson) decided to leave the show, or what exactly happened. But I was willing to at least give the spin-off, Major Crimes, a chance. Raydor as a character had slightly redeemed herself in the last season (maybe as the first steps towards this spin-off from the very beginning?) to the point I thought I could tolerate her, even if I still hated the slime ball Taylor, no matter how they tried to redeem him. But the first season is over, we’re starting the second, and it’s time my opinion was formed.

The lead in to the new series was very strong. It felt seamless, perhaps because they were airing right after the final episode of The Closer. We even gained a couple of new characters throughout the season, starting with a new detective, Sykes, and more of the rotating Deputy D.A.s that this series was becoming known for, none of them extremely likeable. Raydor and Johnson were completely different, as shown from the beginning. Raydor knows how to play the politics, she knows how to manipulate but in a slightly different way, and unlike Brenda, she cares about convictions, not confessions. Sykes was an odd fit, as she should be, but I thought her character added an interesting change to the dynamics in the squad.

Sadly, everything after that fell really flat to me. Raydor and Rusty tried to duplicate some of the drama that Johnson had in her home life, with their own flavor. But I don’t know if it’s because Sedgewick’s amazing performance in the final season just set an impossible bar, or if they were pushing a character to do something that she just couldn’t do, but Raydor, aside from a few instances where she finally stopped playing political chessmaster and acting like a human being, just felt like watching a robot to me. And the endings lacked the level of satisfaction that The Closer did. Johnson only cared about the truth, and the episode always led to that truth. Instead, Major Crimes focuses on the actual legal system, and what happens behind the scenes.

But more than anything else… The show is lacking in personality. Oh, there are bits of it. Flynn and Provenza haven’t changed, and are definitely memorable, and combined with Sykes they make a dynamic clash. But aside from those few moments, it’s like every other crime show. The quirks and over-saturation of personality isn’t there anymore, to the point I can rarely tell episodes apart anymore, even though I used to always know with a few seconds. It all blends into a moderately boring shade of gray.

I’m not saying it’s a bad show. If there is nothing else on, I’ll watch it. But usually I find myself searching for just about anything else to watch, even reruns of Fast n’ Loud that I’ve seen so many times I can almost quote it word for word.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 2 Finale Review

…Lord that title is long. And yeah, I skipped last week. Massive deadline and plus I had the debut of the episode wrong. ^^;; Oops.

ANYWAY, I’ll start off with the story structure, which was pretty epic, even though it was kind of cliche. However, there is no such thing as an original story, so I’m willing to forgive that. Though I do wonder how many times Twilight can be right. There comes a point where I really want her to wrong. Like way wrong. But I’m also cynical. The only part that felt awkward was when Twilight confronted her brother. It was okay for about half of that scene, but then it just didn’t flow right. I think it could have used a little tinkering.

Which gets me to characters. Shining Armor was SO FLAT. Admittedly, we don’t see much of him, but there comes a point where I was rather annoyed with him. Plus, he gave up WAY too easily for the Captain of the Royal Guard, especially with his beloved AND his kingdom in danger. Ugh. And I shall not be bribed by Luna, people! …Okay, I squeed like a fangirl when she appeared every time, but still! I cannot believe she slept through the whole day that solidly and didn’t notice the changeling invasion. That’s just strange. Chrysalis was pretty amazing, but I had such Nightmare Moon flashbacks… I guess there is only so many ways to do an evil mare. As for my previous complaints about Cadance? Three seconds of flight in a song sequence does not validate wings. Nope.

…The music was pretty epic though. I don’t know who does the music for MLP, but they do an amazing job. As do the voice actors. “This Day Aria” is amazing, not only as a song, but because of the singer. I love the duality of it, which reminds me subtly of Disney’s The Little Mermaid with Vanessa and Ariel (if Ariel could talk at that point in the movie). Britt McKillip really deserves a round of applause for making so even if you don’t have a picture in front of you, you can tell two different people with identical voices are singing. That is so hard to do, and she managed it with phrasing and the subtle way of hitting notes to make Chrysalis just sound like an evil version of Cadance. (And yes, I’m listening to that song on repeat as I write this.)

There were a couple of animations blips (“This Day” has some involving Cadance and the mirror), and I can’t say I like the “good” Cadance’s wedding dress. It really isn’t visually appealing to me. The evil suited her better, somewhat. Like if I could take the “good” version’s skirt, minus the giant pink RANDOM bow, and the straight-edged veil, and the front/hair of the first one’s, I’d be happy. And speaking of the veil, way to be subtle there. XD I just feel like there’s a disconnect between the bridal party in the end, which is slightly annoying.  Also, holy bipedal ponies, Batman! They pushed that pretty far in this episode(s).

Overall, it’s a good way to close out the season. (And us Soarin/Dash shippers got to freak out at the end, thanks for that.)

Sticking with Creator’s Intent

So, from the middle of tornado season (it’s been nuts all day and is promised to be the same tomorrow), I’m going to discuss something that has a frivolous source, but I think is a big deal: people going in later and changing a creator’s work.

First things first. I, gentle readers….am a brony.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I watch the latest relaunch of the My Little Pony enterprise, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I blame being sick and images on deviantart for getting me curious enough to watch it, but the first and last two-parter episodes of Season 1 were too epic to ignore, and the opening for Season 2 was just as good. Now we’re approaching the finale for Season 2, and suddenly, my writer’s britches are in a bunch.

Between the two seasons, Lauren Faust, who has worked behind the scenes of such shows as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and The Powerpuff Girls and conceptualized MLP: FiM, left the show in the hands of other staff who came on board. On one hand, I can tell the difference in the stories, but on the other, it wasn’t so drastic a change that I think anyone who wasn’t a writer would have noticed. She did have her hand though in some of the character and story creation for the second season before she left. One of which is the upcoming finale, the first half premiering this weekend. As could be expected, the Hub is making quite a big deal, and several facts have already been released. SOMETHING is going on at a wedding between Twilight’s brother (who knew she had one? This is the season of finding out about families we didn’t know existed for the main characters…) and Princess Cadence/Cadance (her spelling is up in the air officially), a niece of Princess Celestia (and one would assume Princess Luna too, but she is frequently forgotten, poor dear).

When I first read that, my mind went, “Oh, another pseudo-relation like Prince Blueblood of Season 1. Meh, okay, I can go with that. Maybe the two are even related.” The former character was a unicorn stallion, not an alicorn like the two princesses. (Alicorn, btw, is a highly incorrect term for the unicorn/pegasi combos in the fandom. Incorrect because, as unicorn fans know, alicorn is a unicorn’s HORN.) Alicorn in this universe seems linked to goddess, due to how long-lived they are and their strength of magic. The two princesses for example have been around for over 1000 years (Admittedly (spoiler), Luna spent most of that sealed away in the moon) and have the ability to raise and lower the sun and moon, a.k.a. controlling day, night, and life as we know it. It makes sense there are only two of them. But then my curiosity bit me in the butt and I went to the show wiki to look the character up, because sometimes pictures are released early too.

And I see a purple and pink alicorn and I about broke. Especially since I knew Faust had even said how powerful/rare the alicorns were in an interview. This led to a little investigating, which turned up that when Faust was part of the show, Cadence wasn’t an alicorn at all.

And this is where as a writer, I am moderately annoyed on her behalf. As my giant diatribe above notes, there are reasons there are only two alicorns in the series. They serve a purpose, and lord knows Luna is frequently forgotten as it is. So why on earth would they throw in another one? Unless it was because people had a brain break when Prince Blueblood was a unicorn, but that was explained so I have issues with that. I’ve heard speculation that she’s meant to replace the old Celestia toy in Hasbro, since the character was originally pink but became white, but that makes no sense because Faust created her. Writers tend to do things for reasons…or subconsciously for reasons that end up being relevant later (I did that with The Last Guardians trilogy, it’s funny NOW).

…All I have to say is there had better be a PLOT RELEVANT reason why Cadence suddenly had to have wings and a horn both, or else I might mutiny. I’m already half-tempted, just because how Luna became Nightmare Moon hasn’t been explained YET, which is annoying. I mean, before it made sense that her own power corrupted her due to feeling jealous and ignored by her older sister. But Faust broke that bubble, and now I demand a reason.