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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Where You Been, Man?

Hello, all. You may be wondering where I have been or the last couple of days and why seem to be in low content mode. To be honest, I've just not been that enthusiastic about this whole blogging thin, so I decided to take an impromptu break. Plus, last weekend I went to Wizard World Chicago and decided t stay away from my laptop for the four days I was there.

Now that I'm refreshed and recovered from the convention, I'll begin posing on the reg again. There will be a new Dominus Nostrum Gundam this seek (two if I'm lucky) and I will be talking about some stuff that happened to me at the con. But I'd just like to leave you with this

I met Ted Raimi last weekend and you didn't you sad bastards! Hahahahahahahaha!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Know What I Like: Killer Klowns Edition

Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Is there anything else that needs to be said?
Holy S*#%!
Growing up, I was never that big a fan of horror. My parents rarely allowed me to watch or rent rater R movies (save for the one time my parents couldn't find a babysitter and took me and my sister to Bad Boys). Plus, I'm a child of the 90's, and from what research I've been able to gather, 90's horror sucked in ways I scarcely want to think about. One of the films that I wish I'd seen earlier in my life is Killer Klowns From Outer Space. I have seen the movie recently (through, umm...means) and it is pretty good, all things considered. 

But we're not here to talk about a good movie. We're here to talk about the song Killer Klowns From Outer Space by The Dickies, which is probably one of the best movie theme songs I've ever heard.



The song's main selling point, aside from extolling the horrors of the titular Killer Klowns, is the guitar work. The reworking of Entry of the Gladiators is, in the most scholarly of terms, a really rockin' sound, especially the guitar solo after the second refrain. It's a cheesy, 80's drenched theme song and I really wouldn't have it any other way.





Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dominus Nostrum Gundam: GBF Episode 5 "The Strongest Builder"

Welcome back to Dominus Nostrum Gundam, where all other sci-fi franchises must bow down to the glory of Amuro Ray (Hare Amuro, Hare Amuro. Amuro Amuro, hare hare). Before we begin, I'd like to go on a brief aside and look at the word that gets bandied around all over this series: strength.

It seems rather odd to me that strength is the word the series generally uses to show the quality of either someone's abilities or the quality of a Gunpla. Sure, GBF has this whole "warrior" conceit going on with participants in Gunpla battles, but it seems to me that the words talent or skill would be the far better descriptors for what is actually going on. After all, these people are essentially playing a kickass combination of RPG (character customization wise, anyway) and fighting game. There's really only the bare minimum of physical strength required to either build toys or move controls, so what are they going on about? Is it strength of conviction, perhaps? That small, eternal feeling within one's soul that drives them and pushes them to go harder, run farther or, in the case of this series, obsess over the ways to make and customize model kits of robots?

Yeah, that's probably about it. As friend of this site Voltech44 once pointed out, GBF is, in essence, about the pride people have for a hobby and the passion they put into it. So what happens when two people, both of equal passions for a certain hobby, encounter one another? Well, let's find out...

--RECAP START--

Our episode begins with a truck driver giving a lift to young boy. The drive asks what the hell since the kid's too young to be backpacking across country, but the boy says he has permission. The kid, who’s wearing a pink shirt, overalls and a sun hat, pulls out a model for the NZ-666 Kshatriya and says he wants to show his appreciation or the ride. He then reveals his destination: Tokyo.
Oh, trust me, I've been waiting to recap this episode for a while


After the credits, we go to the Iori Hobby Shop, where Sei's eyes have gone all starry over the new HG Universal Century Gouf that Mr. Ral has made. The blue haired builder starts geeking out over it, and Ral responds with paraphrasing his most well known bit of dialogue.


Reiji, for his part, thinks the Gouf would be perfect for training and asks Ral to fight with him and Sei. Ral declines and explains to Reiji the various reasons outside of fighting with them. Sei joins in, saying that Gunpla is how people can expand the imagination of the Gundam world (i.e. make fanfic iterations of giant robots.) Sei then goes onto compliment Ral's Gouf again, but Ral's humble about it, saying he's heard of some thirteen year old kid in the Kansai region who's an amazing builder. And speak of the devil, the boy has finally made it to Tokyo, said goodbye to the truck driver and actually finished the Kshatriya as a gift for the driver's kids. We also find out why the kid's in Tokyo: to find Sei Iori.

One title card later, we're in Sei's room and he's using his laptop to look up this Kansai whiz kid instead of surfing the web for porn. Good thing too, since Reiji shows up with a plate of...I'm gonna say meat buns. The talk about the tournament and the Build Strike, which is still in bad shape after Kirara/Mihoshi sabotaged it last episode. Reiji excited since their next opponent after this round will most likely be Yuuki, but Sei has his doubts, which is why he's looking up the Kansai kid, for some hints in what he can do to give them an edge. Reiji tells him to believe in himself and his Gunpla, or at least believe in the Reiji that believes in Sei and his Gunpla. (Okay, not really, but I couldn't resist). He then heads on out, asking Sei to fix the Build Strike.

And here is where the show goes completely insane. We're at cafe, where a young woman is enjoying some coffee. A waiter comes up to here and proceeds to deliver her a Gunpla (a Victory Gundam to be more specific). She's understandably confused and the waiter points to the man sitting at another table, where Ricardo Fellini is there to lay on the charm.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing a scene where a grown ass man is hitting on a grown ass woman with a toy.

But that's not the most insane part. No, that belongs to the fact that this almost works!

Yes, this young woman is actually flattered by this damn thing, saying that she could never accept such a beautiful specimen of model kits. A familiar voice says "Then I'll take it!" and as sure as the sun sets in the west, our imperious ginger has shown up to derail Fellini's PUA antics. Fellini's pissed, since he spent three days building the thing to pick up chicks. Reiji ask to battle Fellini so he can prepare to fight Yuuki, but our Gunpla Casanova asks if this really is the proper time... only to find the young lady had left, most likely miffed that she was nearly roped in by some dude plastic pick-up tool. Fellini freaks right the hell out, but Reiji, undaunted, drags him away.

After a scene with Sei repairing the Build Strike and worrying about facing Yuuki and a scene where the Kansai Kid gets lost and hungry in Tokyo, we meet up with our blue builder and China walking home from school. China notices that Sei is worried about something, so she invites Sei over to her family's restaurant for some sherbet. Sei tries to decline, but Chin simply says it's a thank you for teaching her to build Gunpla. They head over to said restaurant, and guess who they meet?

Gundam Build Fighters: where all goods and services can be bartered with Gunpla


Yep, it's the Kansai Kid trying to pull the same damn toy bartering deal he did with the truck driver. Papa Kousaka ain't havin' any of that, though, so it's incredibly fortunate that Sei comes in and geeks out over the Extreme Gundam he managed to build. We then see the three kids heading down the street, where our mystery guest voices his envy on Sei having such a cute girlfriend, causing China to blush and Sei to simply start asking where this kid's from. Our sunhat wearing oddball simply responds to this by saying he's trying to go to Iori Models, which perks up Sei's ears and leads to the kid realizing Sei is in fact the guy he's looking for.

He wants to be the very best, like no one...wait, i already used that reference in another recap, didn't I? Damn it!


The Kansai Kid the proceeds to declare Sei his lifelong rival. He also introduces himself as Mao Yasaka, winner of Japan's 5th Block Gunpla Tournament and he has one dream: to become Chairman of the Communist Party of China the world's best Gunpla builder. This display of over the top energy causing Sei and China to quickly walk away and say they have o go mind their respective family stores. Mao, understanding, simply does his entire intro again, only a little faster. This makes Sei wonder if he simply just attracts weird people. And I will leave the answer to that to our Senior Obviousness Correspondent, China Kousaka.


After a quick look at Reiji and Fellini in Gunpla battle at the Zeon bar and a commercial break, we're at Iori Models with Sei, China, Mao and Rinko. Mao's glancing at the Gunpla display, which is quite impressive since his eyes are closed all the time. Mao asks Sei-Han (Mao's way of addressing Sei for the rest of the series) if he built all of them. Sei replies yes and this prompts a flashback where we see Mao has trained under a master Gunpla builder at the Shingyo school, and yes there is a school for mastering Gunpla building in this universe. Do you see why I keep saying Gundam is a religion in the anime's world?

Anyway, we see in the flashback that Mao's master basically told him to go out and see the world, since he felt he was getting to complacent with his skills. That's why he's come all the way from Kyoto, though I'm kind of wondering how Mao's being allowed to do this on a school day.* That's why he came to Iori Models too, since his master told him Sei was as good a builder as he. But Mao's a little less than impressed, citing the Gunpla on display as simply well built models lacking imagination. Mao asks to see Sei's real work in a "show me yours I'll show you mine" type of deal and on his pride as a builder, Sei agrees.

*Oh what am I saying? The next episode’s gonna show us that Gunpla exceeds any other social responsibilities

This scene has be approved by Wes Bentley 
Then the show becomes an old west duel, with a grocery bag standing in for tumbleweed and both Sei and Mao having little leather Gunpla holsters and belts. (They've been in the show prior to this, but I've never really found it important to mention them until now.) With China and Rinko looking on, the boys whip out their prized Gunpla: Sei with the Build Strike (which he's fully repaired) and Mao giving showing off his Gundam X based the Gundam X Maoh. 

Mao Yasaka, winner of the Gunpla Battle 5th Block qualifiers and second runner up in the Kyoto Gundam Cosplay Competition

The two boys look at each other's Gunpla in complete shock; taken aback by each other's craftsmanship. Reality then begins to warp and twist, leaving us in space with Sei and Mao piloting their respective Gunpla, dressed as the main characters of their Gunpla's series. They start attacking each other, each boy sizing up the other's work. Sadly, this is all in the boys' heads, since we cut back to China and Rinko looking at them and speculating on them fighting in their imaginations. Personally, I guessing Gundam obsession gives people a psychic link in this universe. The fight goes on and Sei discovers that the Gundam X Maoh can compress plavsky particles and release them as well, a neat trick to push the Build Strike far enough away for Mao to pull out his trump card: the hyper satellite cannon, basically the X's satellite cannon tuned up to eleven.

You're in space, dude. The moon is always out. 

The hyper satellite canon charges up and fires, leaving Sei in the same state of petrified terror he was in during the opening dream sequence of episode one. The beam heads out a good parsec before dissipating, but surprise, surprise, the Build Strike's not out yet. That's because Sei switched himself out for Reiji as the pilot of the Build Strike (though Reiji's not actually there with them). Just as that imaginary fight is about to start, Ral shows up to stop the match. Something like this shouldn't just be fought in the imagination, so Ral suggests they save this for the Gunpla World Tournament. Mao agrees, desiring to fight Reiji in person instead of imagination. The two builder’s part ways at sunset, now friends instead of people who barely knew the other existed.

This encounter has invigorated our little nerdlinger, though, with Sei The next day, we're in the next round of the Gunpla Tournament qualifiers, and we see our dynamic duo fighting a cross between a Gundam and a turtle. It's a brief fight, with the Build Strike winning with their new and improved beam cannon. With these new improvements, Sei and Reiji are confident that they can face off against any opponent, even Yuuki!!!

...then we come back from the closing credits and find that Yuuki didn't show up for his qualifier match against Sazaki, meaning the Gyan loving bastard wins by forfeit. Oh well. 
That, dear boy, will be answered next episode


--RECAP ENDED--

Well that was refreshing, wasn't it? After to basically good episodes we get one that's almost great. This is because unlike episode 4's intro of Kirara, Mao is an interesting character in his own right. He's even more of complete nerd than Sei is when you get right down to it, but he's so unselfconscious about it he becomes incredibly endearing. In that respect, he's essentially Sei if Sei weren't so shy. He's also quite funny, what with the over the top intro and him genuinely believing that he can barter with Gunpla for anything. He's one of my favorites, so I'm glad we'll be seeing more of him soon.

This is also where the show starts to go off the rails, and I mean that in the best way possible. It won't (usually) go into outright insanity like other anime, but it will basically be its own flavor of mad throughout the rest of its run. This is best exemplified by that damn toy flirting scene. I mean seriously, where else are you going to find a grown ass man use a model of a giant robot as a pick up tactic. Only in Gundam Build Fighters, my friends. 

My only real problem with this episode, and with the rest of the series, is that China essentially is just a spectator and cheerleader for Sei. I'm not offended by this, since it's been clearly shown she's only interested in it to get closer to Sei, but I really wish the creative staff found more to do with her. Thankfully there's episode nine coming down the line, but I do wish she would have been allowed to do more.


That's all I've got for now so see ya next recap. With Yuuki seemingly out of the picture, Reiji starts wondering why the hell he's still playing with toys and must find "A Reason to Battle". Will he find it? (Spoiler: yes)


Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Know What I Like: I Can't Believe It's Not Coldplay

As anyone whose followed this series of ramblings trying to be music analysis, modern music and I have an understanding: I stay away from it and it can go one supporting the Swifts and Lil Waynes and Cyruses it wants too. I've also never actively tried to follow the indie scenes of any genre since my music tastes usually don't send me down those avenues. This slightly changed a few month ago when the brakes in my car (a 2004 Suzuki Verona) broke, necessitating me using my mother's car to go to work. This meant I also was able to listen to the XM radio that came with the car, specifically channel 36, "Alt Nation". Which I find the one silver lining in this expensive headache since I was able to hear Mind Over Matter by Young the Giant.


Now, I've never even heard of Young the Giant before hearing this song. I figured it was just a Coldplay song I'd never heard of. Then I listened closer and realized that the singer sounder nothing like Chris Martin. Listening further, I couldn't get the Coldplay comparison out of my head. Everything from the lyrics to the style of instrumentation just gave off the same vibe that the firm of Martin, Buckland, Champion and Berryman give off.

For some evidence, I'd like the jury to observe exhibit A, the first four line of the song:

Mind Over Matter
Does it matter to any of us?
Don't change the subject
I'm heavy on your love

And the refrain

And if the world don't break
I'll be shaking it
Cause I'm a young man after all...
And when the seasons change 
Will you stand by me?
Cause I'm a young man built to fall

And tell me that those lyrics don't sound like something Martin and crew would write?

This doesn't mean I believe this is a bad song  by any stretch. This series is called I Know What I Like after all, and for all I've said I do like this song. It's similar to another band's style, yes, but it also feels more alive than most Coldplay songs I've heard in a while. Just because something sounds like another, more popular thing doesn't mean it's without merit to me, and I find Mind Over Matter to be worthwhile.

P.S. To any radio stations that somehow come across this in some bizarre accident of web surfing, cn we please get this song on radio? Come on, you probably play the mainstream guys like 100 times per day; can't we spare a few minutes for some unknowns?

Also, yes, I know how hypocritical this makes me look after my knock against indie music in my AC/DC entry. All I can say is currently Young The Giant is the small exception to my rule of indie ambivalence.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Dominus Nostrum Gundam: GBF Episode 4 "Gunpla Idol Kirara"

Welcome back, my friends. Today we're going into the realm of pop music and foolish misunderstandings, so let's not waste any time. Put your hands together and make some noise for episode four of Gundam Build Fighters, "Gunpla Idol Kirara"!

-- RECAP START--

We start of in medias res, with the Build Strike fighting a red Marasai piloted by two dudes without names. The Fight lasts a good forty five seconds before the Build Strike wins with one beam rifle shot. Then we cut to a dark room with a guy in a lab coat looking at slides of the fight. A second guy, who's off-screen right now, talking up the stats of the Build Strike. They're both impressed, especially with Sei's skill at Gunpla building, noting that he'd probably reinforced the Build Strike's shield with thin plastic board. This is quite impressive, given that the Build Strike is on the 1/144 scale.

So our lab coat sporting duo (the other guy was shown to be wearing one as well) exiting the dark room and walking down a hallway. Heading towards their destination, the taller guy in glasses starts delivering cryptic lines about how their victory is assured and that the fight has already begun. He opens the door, we see a bright light....

....and we cut to concert already in progress, with some pink-haired lady in an atrocious costume singing some pop song about Gunpla.

The new face of J-Pop


After the theme song, we cut to a harbor where Fellini is congratulating Reiji on making it through round two of the tournament. Reiji's rather prideful, saying that with Sei's Gunpla and his skills, they can totally beat whatever comes at them, but Ricardo stops him, saying that Reiji better check himself before he wrecks himself and to keep an eye open for anyone who can trip him up. The heir to the throne of Arian asks if Ricky talking about himself, and the Casanova of the model building world just tells Reiji to win and he'll see him at the world tournament. Reiji smiles at this, noting it as one more reason he doesn't want to lose.

We cut to the hobby shop, and Rinko is calling out Sei to show a customer to a specific Gunpla. The customer is a young lady who is in no way just the singer from the opening of the episode in disguise, I swear. She's looking for a GM variant. She starts straight up geeking out about the GM variants from Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, making Sei geek out as well.

See, she has purple hair.Totally different character
As the mutual geek out is going on at Iroi Hobby Shop, China is walking towards the shop. She has a flashback where Sei invited her to build the model she bought (which to my eyes looks like some two-for-one deal of the RX-78-2 Gundam and a Zaku II) and starts running towards the store...where she finds Sei talking to the customer, their voices blocked by the glass door.

Yes,folks, we're experiencing one of the young romance tropes: one character reading what is basically innocent conversation as flirtation and getting pissed. While this won't go down any obvious routes or derail the episode itself, it will be present until the end of the episode. Also, throughout this episode, China's glasses are going to exhibit deadlights whenever she's in close proximity to Sei and the customer (who's named Mihoshi) or thinking about Sei and the customer. Don't know why that is, but it's kinda creepy.


Anyway, Reiji finally enters the plot, encountering China at the doors before she runs off. He sees Sei and Ms. I'm Not Kirara and later asks Sei if the woman who's at least 5 years his senior is his girlfriend. Sei denies this, saying that she was just someone he talked about Gundam with, and with Sei's general obliviousness towards romance this early in the series, I believe him.

China prepares to turn into a giant spider


We cut to school the next day, where China and Sei are attending class together. China barely talks to Sei when he says hi to her. Seconds later China is walking home from school, flashing back to Sei telling her during lunch that Not-Kirara-in-disguise was just a customer. This causes her deadlights to disappear for a bit, but they come back when Ms. Purple shows up out of nowhere again. Yuuki's getting a lift home in his limo when he sees China deadlighting it up. He sees Sei and she of the large pink hat as well and says she looks familiar. Hmm, I wonder what that could mean...

On scene later we see Sei and Mihosi  down on a bench in what looks like a public playground where our purple mystery girl flirts with Sei. He says it's nothing like that, and Sei wonders how the hell a college age girl knew what school he, a thirteen year old boy, was attending without him telling her. She just says it was "woman's intuition" just to throw off the fact that this is heading down Creepy Stalker Ave. A call for an adult or cops averted, she gives Sei a bottle of green tea she and asks if she can see Sei's Gunpla. He shows her the Build Strike and goes onto talk about how the backpack it has features an neat gimmick when he suddenly feels  powerful case of diarrhea coming on. He heads off and Mihoshi gives this little cat like smile as he runs off.


A little while later we see China find our purple girl with the Build Strike at the playground. Sei comes back and it takes her five seconds to realize that she'sin the presence of one of the official couples of the show, so she gives her apologies to China and hands over the Build Strike back to Sei before leaving. China's deadlights are back on and she runs from Sei, confusing the blue haired nerd something fierce. We also see Mr. Ral for the first time in this episode, looking at the scene before him and saying "I see. So this is youth."

One break for commercials later, were at the tournament qualifiers again. Well, we're outside the tournament qualifiers, since China is looking sullenly at the stadium, still pondering the purple clad girl. We see Ral again, and he escorts her into the building so the they (and the audience) can see some toys killing each other. And there's a match already in progress, with Yuuki fighting (and winning) against a guy with a Justice Gundam and some sort of beam boomerang. As the P.A. system announces Yuuki's win, there's another battle shown on a holographic screen of what looks like Getter-3 from Getter Robo getting destroyed in one shot. Yuuki walks past Sei and Reiji and warns them to be careful with their next opponent.

And their next opponent comes out and it's... KIRARA! Better still, she comes out singing the same refrain of the song from her intro, confusing our heroes. Kirara makes her introductions and we see the two guys with her are the same dudes in lab coats from earlier in the episode. All ominous, but no time to consider that now; it's time to d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-duel!

1st Battle: Kirara Vs. Sei Iori and Reiji. Field 5: City 

The Build Strike immediately engages Kirara, who Sei notes is piloting a Gerbera Tetra (colored pink, of course). They exchange blows for a bit... until the Build Strike's left leg just pops off. This surprises our heroes, but they hop out of the way of the Tetra's gun and go to exchange fire... only for the right arm of the Build Strike to fall off as well.

Sei's worst nightmares come true
This is when everything falls into place. You see, in a twist I'm sure no one saw coming, Mihoshi was really Kirara this whole time! She was all buddy-buddy with so she could sabotage the Build Strike and win this round, hoping that the media exposure will make her famous enough to become a top idol. And she confesses all this to Sei and What I'm assuming is the attendees. This should get the match done and Kirara disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct in any other universe, but s we'll learn, Gunpla Battle has no real rules to it.

Anyhow, the Build Strike is up crap creek without a paddle. Sei flatly tells Reiji to go for the twelfth slot in the controls, and to the surprise of everyone, the backpack transforms and becomes a jet. Reiji gives a monologue about how he appreciates Kirara's boldness but states that he and Sei have their own goals to accomplish. And with two shots from above, the Gerbera Tetra goes down.

Battle Ended. Winner: Sei Iori and Reiji

Everyone's happy save for Sei, who's slightly forlorn about not being able to talk to Mihoshi about Gunpla anymore. He perks up at the thought of teaching her about Gunpla, but the sight of Kirara crying like a baby and having fit that cheating did not win the day (and all the time she put in watching hours of anime and building Gunpla were for nothing). China is relieved that Sei really wasn't romantically interested in Mihoshi and goes up to congratulate Sei and Reiji. She also asks for help building the Gunpla she purchased at the end of episode three and Sei agrees, asking if she wants to go to the store right now. This causes China to blush and we end on a still frame of Kirara walking away, most likely to either reference another Gundam series or to save on animation money.

We can't, we still have a post credits sequence to get through


After the credits, we see Yuuki in a hallway of the area, saying he has to keep on his game to match our duo, when a blonde guy called Allan comes in. He's here to inform Yuuki that the master (and The Master or the MAstEr) has fallen ill and he's here to offer Yuuki the now vacant position of meijin.

--RECAP ENDED--
We've reached a stretch of episodes that either exist to introduce new characters of set up the status quo for the Gunpla Tournament Finals. (Oh spoiler alert: Sei and Reiji make to the finals...though you probably could've guessed that from this being a tournament based anime.) As such, this episode exists for two purposes: move forward with the Sei/China romance subplot and introduce Kirara.  Such, let's focus on the latter for the bit and as an intro, Kirara comes off as simply a one off villain with an idol  gimmick. She isn't terribly interesting as a character `and since I know jack about the idol industry in japan any form of sneering parody is kind of lost on me. Though, if Wikipedia is correct, idols are supposed be role models, so guess it is making Kirara what R.J. MacReady would identify as a cheatin' bitch is the main conceit. It doesn't really matter since by the time she shows up again, she'll essentially be a new character, lees an antagonist and more a mascot for the Gunpla Battle Tournament (I guess the media exposure from landing that gig really softened her attitude).

Now,Let's talk about the romance subplot. I'd like to go on record once more that the relationship between Sei and China works because it generally avoids the antics and  bullcrap that most romance stories (especially those involving teenagers). So I was slightly annoyed that they decided to go for the misunderstanding subplot that they did fr this episode. It didn't really add much towards characterization since we already know China has a thing for Sei and that Sei's oblivious to China's affections. But I must confess I'm impressed by the way they handled both Sei and China. Even though she was heading down the most cliche path for most of the episode, she never really broke character, still being her shy self and not going into cartoony levels of overreaction. And for Sei's part, I genuinely believe he was just excited to talk about Gunpla with someone and his obliviousness seems natural instead of cruel or contrived.

Other than that, I don't have much else to say on this episode. It's a good episode but mostly functions as one off filler. I'm just glad the series is short enough to avoid all out filler arcs. That's all for now and tune in next time, when we are introduced to the giant ball of weird energy that is Mao and we find out who is The Strongest Builder.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Know What I Like: The Old Welsh Witch

Is anyone else reminded of Phantasm by this album cover

First, a little backstory.

I work at a place up in Delafield, Wisconsin which I will refer to as The Store with the Orange Smocks. At said store (as with any retail outlet) has a P.A. system that pumps out announcements and calls from associates and managers, commercials for the store's deals and, above all else, whatever canned music the company has decided is appropriate for the area. For Delafield, it's mostly a rotation of The Best (and Also-Rans) of the 1970s, Now That's What I Call Being A Few Years Behind the Times, Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Shopping Spree and the recent addition  Modern Country Music Fridays (i.e. "the day Jordan tunes out the music"). As you also can expect from a major retailer, repetition of songs (at least once a day) is to be expected. My personal favorites of the rotation is B(AR)70s with SHAWCSS in close second. It through this system of that I first heard the song Rhiannon.


No I'd encountered Fleetwood Mac before hearing Rhiannon, Go Your Own Way, Little Lies, Tusk and Landslide are all pretty good songs to me, but none of them actually piqued my interest in the band proper. But Stevie Nicks' ode to figure of Welsh myth is what actually got me even slightly interested in the band. Even then, I didn't actively hunt down their albums until last weekend, when I was in a Target looking to speed ten dollars worth of gift cards. I bought both the Fleetwood Mac's self titled 1975 album and Purple Rain for ten bucks and some change.  

The song grabbed me immediately thanks to opening riff by Lindsey Buckingham and John McVie. From there we head into the song proper, where Stevie Nicks' lyrics give off  an air of something that's both haunting and alluring. You get the feeling that the song should be soundtracking a quiet driving scene in a horror movie.  It gives you the vibe of coming cold weather, falling leaves and long nights; cold and dark nights where you're sure you heard someone call out your name in the wind. "Jordan, come with me......

Sorry, got off track there for a bit.  The song, above all else, is atmospheric in a way that you don't usually get out of music, either in 1975 or 2015. The lyrics sell the hell out of its October feeling with the witchcraft allusions like:

Takes to the sky like a bird in flight and
Who will be her lover?

And

All your life you've never seen 
A woman taken by the wind

Which gives off the image of Rhiannon being a phantom in the night, to be glimpsed for probably only a second and gone in the blink of an eye. It's ff somewhere else, haunting some other fool walking in the late night. And yet you swear you hear her voice...

Okay, I just have a desire to write a ghost story bouncing in me. My apologies. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dominus Nostrum Gundam: GBF Episode 3 "Full Package"

Author's Note: This recap is late due to the inconvenience of sloth, the easiest deadly sin to commit. The author would like to apologize for this and hopes you enjoy the recap regardless. 

Hey Hey! Hope you’re ready for some powerhouse excitement and laughs, because we've got a real classic for ya! Yes sir, we got all the fixings: wall to wall action! Romance! Drama! People flying around on unicorns while firing Gatling guns made of candy canes that shoot fire breathing kittens at people! You gotta see this!


Okay, so it's not a real classic, but it is still a solid episode of the show. So strap yourselves in and brace yourselves, because Gundam Build Fighters is about to deliver the Full Package.

-- RECAP START--

We start off with a battle already in progress, as Ral seems to be training Reiji on the finer points of getting plastic playthings to beat the hell out of each other. Reiji using the Build Strike, of course, and Ral is utilizing a MS-07 Gouf, true to his character. He goes into a speech that feels like it's leading into an epic beat down, but Reiji just slices through the antiquated Gouf with ease, ending the bout at thirty seven seconds. Ral admits he's impressed but tells Reiji that it wasn't his own strength that won the battle, but Sei's craftsmanship but Reiji just brushes it off that it was Ral's Gouf was simply outdated.

Oh, and speaking of his royal nerdiness, Sei's just gotten home from school. He silently walks into the Gunpla Battle room and drags Reiji back to his bedroom. Sei closes the door and, flashing back to Reiji seemingly being beamed back to the mother ship at the end of last episode, simply asks one question of our red headed stranger: WHO THE F*&^% ARE YOU?!



Now's probably as good a time as any to talk about the show's first theme song, One Half ("Nibun no Ichi" in the original Japanese). It's your standard issue modern anime theme, or about a close as you can get. The lyrics all peak of this bond between two people and how that will help them take on the world. It fits perfectly with the theme the show's got going on with Sei and Reiji. The only real downside I find is the rap breakdown with its sudden use of random, in your face English phrases. Otherwise, it's pretty okay. Give it a listen


Cut back from a commercial break and we come to Reiji's back story, and this, my friends, must be seen to be believed. For you see, there is a logical explanation to Reiji's general weirdness and the whole getting energized at sundown thing from episode two: Reiji is in fact a prince for another planet. Yes, really. He is the heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Arian, a land on a planet far away from Earth. While looking through the palace treasury, he discovered a mysterious treasure and ended up on our little blue-green orb. Now, like an alternate universe version of John Carter, he's able to visit Earth and participate in that most noble of pursuits: helping out some nerdy Earth boy win toy fights.

Oh, and did I mention the entire scene was drawn in the style of a child’s crayon sketch?
Scene provided by Kenny Matsuda, age 8

Because it is.
This crayon drawing give's Reiji more realistically colored hair than the show does


Sei, naturally, just thinks Reiji's either mad or lying to him, but Reiji's insistent that all of what he said is true. Sei does indulge Reiji for a bit, asking him to either take him to this place (which Reiji can't do) or show off some superpowers, which Reiji reacts to by saying Sei reads too much manga. Reiji starts to walk out to mind the store, reminding Sei has more important things to focus on: finishing the Build Strike. Sei agrees and then Reiji says he'll be taking some time off starting tomorrow.

Cut to Sei and Rinko eating dinner, discussing Reiji's origins. Sei just thinks it's all weird, but Rinko tell him to not worry, since it's more important that Sei wants to play Gunpla Battle with him. Sei agrees to that point and we head into a montage of Sei working on the Build Strike. We get everything: Sei sketching the Build Strike's upgrades, staying up late to work, sleeping during class, painting Build Strike's beam rifle, ect. It's everything you'd want out of a collection of scenes of a boy building a toy to fight.

Meanwhile, we catch up with Reiji, who's meeting up with Mr. Ral one evening. They're heading to a place which I can only describe as a Zeon Gunpla bar. It looks like a pretty high end place, with a  large-ish Gunpla Battle board (larger than the on in Iori Hobby Shop, smaller than the one in the high school form episode 2). Ral walks Reiji in while talking about the people in the bar being old school Gundam fans, and the sight of everyone (save the bartender) dressed in Zeon soldier cosplay confirms this. Some of the guys notice Ral, start calling him Lieutenant and give him the usual welcome for Zeon fanboys.



Ral introduces the crown prince of Arian to the cosplaying barflies and tells them he's here to fight. They're somewhat incredulous, especially when Reiji admits he's never built a Gunpla in his life, but Ral's insists Reiji's the real deal. And since the bar has a selection of Gunpla to rent, Reiji decides to get the weakest one they have: the RB-79 Ball, aka "The Spherical Coffin".

Behold it's majesty!


Since you don't have your most capable character lose to a bunch of no names cosplayers, Reiji decimates these guys with the damn Ball. From the he learns a few things:

  1. An appreciation for Sei's Gunpla building skills
  2. Zeon's First Cosplay Division isn’t good enough to help him get to Yuuki's level.
The barflies, not to be humiliated by a fourteen year old kid, challenge him to a five on one contest. Ral's against this, but Reiji goes with it head on.  The fight starts, but another Gunpla enters the scene, destroying Reiji's five opponents with only two shots. Said Gunpla, a modified Wing Gundam painted the colors of the Italian flag, belongs to one Ricardo Fellini, and he'll be Reiji's sparring partner for the foreseeable future.  Right now he simply wants to duel Reiji one on one. Reiji, of course agrees. 
 
Sir Not Doing Much In This Episode
One ad break later and we're in our second Sei dream sequence of the series. This time it’s a 2-3 year old Sei running across a field to meet his father Takeshi, who's finished up the RX-78 Gundam he's using for the tournament (the tournament Takeshi got his trophy, not the upcoming one). China wakes him up; telling him the teacher wants to close the room up for the night. She then goes on to ask Sei about his Gunpla and Sei goes into full detail on the completed Build Strike Full Package. China doesn't really understand any o it, but does comment on how strong the thing sounds from Sei's description. Sei goes on to talk about the Gunpla's speed when he realizes he should probably get home, so he apologizes for talking so much and heads out, asking China to not tell the teacher he was building his Gunpla at school. She agrees and Sei thanks her, heading out.

China the suddenly has a flashback to her first meeting with Sei in the very same art room. She was working on a painting of some flowers and Sei cam in looking for a chisel. He compliments the drawing and praises the colors, making China blush. She asks if Sei likes art and Sei tells her he just learned the basics of drawing so the he could visualize what was in his head. That vision: the futility of existence as represented by the myth of Sisyphus.


Well, that too.

Cut to the day of the Japan 3rd Block first round qualifiers for the 7th Annual Gunpla Battle World Championship. China's there, giving some inner monologue about how, like Creasy and death, Gunpla is Sei's art. We see to matching finishing up as well. The first is with, and I can't believe he's still around, Sazaki from episode one. And I simply say that since he's basically served his purpose to the story. But the creators will keep bringing him back in minor cameos throughout the series. I don't know; it's just odd to me. Anyway, Sazaki wins with his new Gyan and missile shield.

The other match we see is Yuuki winning against someone and having a feeling a blue balls over the opponent's Gunpla not getting him hot enough to go into his "rage mode" or whatever the hell his split personality. What, you think I'm joking? Here, have a read:


He notices China in the rafters and goes up to talk to here. He rightly guesses that China's here to cheer on Sei, and she asks why people would fight and get stuff they had worked so hard on. Yuuki responds the obvious way: they're doing so to prove that they're individual Gunpla is the very best like no one ever was. Iori then shows up, ready and raring to go but Reiji is nowhere to be found. Sei approaches the board while inner monologues to....the viewers I guess.... that he's sorry for dragging us into this. Why's Sei apologizing? No idea. If it's a reference to another Gundam series please tell me.

Sei goes onto complain about Reiji's faults and how he said he'd battle alongside him and yadda yadda yadda until our imperious redhead shows up for the match. Sei notices Reiji's hands are covered in bandages, but Reiji just tells Sei to trust him despite his weirdness, and the Build Strike Full Package goes into battle with what looks like the result of a transporter accident between a stealth bomber Gunpla

Their battle lasts about half a minute (including cutaways to other character reacting to the match) and Sei and Reiji win with one shot from the Build Strike's beam rifle. Everyone's happy and leaves for the next round next week in episode four. After the credits we get a brief scene between Sei and China at the hobby shop. China's there because her little brother wants to get into Gunpla. While Sei looks for some beginner level Gunpla for the kid (who looks to be about seven) China asks if there are any Gunpla for girls. Sei happily says yes and China gives a soft smile.





--RECAP ENDED--

As you probably guessed from the lack of battle recaps, there's not too much action in this episode. This is because most of "Full Package" is set up for the series' main storyline: The Gunpla Battle World Tournament. It also introduces another major supporting player in Fellini and sets up the Sei/China relationship for the rest of the series. For that, this episode is alright, but nothing to really write home about.

Now, then, let's not waste any time and start talking about China Kousaka. China has to be the dictionary definition of demure. She always seems shy and polite, though admittedly that's when interacting with everybody else on this show, which are all their own flavors of weirdo. She's also, as you've probably guessed from the post-credits scene, is going to become Sei's love interest for the rest of the series.

Now, remember when I said this series zigs where other series zags in terms of stakes? Well, the same is true for the romance subplot with Sei and China. With a few notable exceptions, there aren't that many overreactions to romance or storming away in jealous sadness and rage. They both basically act like normal kids (well, relatively normal in Sei's case) slowly becoming close to each other until they finally decide to actually start dating. Sei is slightly oblivious to China's affections, but it's never to the point of cruelty. And China is the one who actually initiates it in her own, shy way by trying to understand Sei's obsession with Gunpla. She's not a prize to be won or someone Sei lusts over or the nerdy best friend Sei never knew he had a thing for; she's her own person with her own goals in life and only one of those goals happens to be getting into a relationship with the main character. That may be reaching, but that's how I read it.

The relationship between Sei and Reiji also seems to have solidified in how it will go from here on out. They're full time partners now, and s such, each is going to give one hundred and ten percent to achieving their goals (winning the championship for Sei and revenge on Yuuki for Reiji). They're odd couple act will never truly go away but it will be toned down as they become true friends. It's the relationship that will carry most of the series.

Watching this series, I've started to notice some of those techniques almost all anime use to cut costs. You know what I'm talking about: speed lines to give the illusion of movement or overreaction, footage from other episodes used for flashbacks and backgrounds straight up disappearing for brief scenes. This never really becomes intrusive in the show (most of the time, anyway) and re usually there to reserve money for the show's fight scenes. Nothing to deal breaking, but I still think it's something to tell you guys about GBF should you start watching the series.

That's all I got for this episode, so come back next time. We'll encounter idols, see underhanded tactics used and get and oddly non-intrusive misunderstanding subplot when we meet Gunpla Idol Kirara.