Monday, 30 April 2012

My Opinions On Every Pokémon Ever: 025, Pikachu and 026, Raichu.


025: PIKACHU.
As far as I have been led to believe, it is heinous (not to mention highly illegal) to speak ill of our saviour, ambassador and foreign representative, Pikachu. From that adorable chubby wubby face will come forth a torrent of electric fury to those who would stand against him. Only the Team known as Rocket and the Ketchum known as Ash are strong enough to withstand its devastating effects.

TL;DR: Pikachu is cute as heck.

I think it's interesting to note that originally, Ash (well, Satoshi) was supposed to be given a Rattata as a companion, but the random insignificant monster Pikachu had such insane popularity that it was chosen in Rattata's stead. You've got to be a pretty great to be an Ensemble Dark Horse in an ensemble of one hundred and fifty one!

026: RAICHU.
In favour of its more well known and well loved prevolution, Raichu is very often overlooked. In fact, the most attention I've ever seen it receive is the whole 'I'm not gonna Raichu a love song' joke. It's understandable, considering the fact that Pikachu is the poster child for Pokémon.

But I'm going to go ahead and say it.

Raichu's better.

For starters, let's look at that tail. That is a much cooler shape than Pikachu's. Though the allusion to electricity is even more heavy handed in this case (being an outright classic lightning bolt as opposed to zig zags), I think it's a more aesthetically pleasing shape. Contrast the sharpness of that with its curly wurly ears. Holy kittens with purple argyle handmade mittens I love those curly wurly ears. They're just too fucking precious.

And one simply cannot ignore its chocolate dipped banana paws. They're the stuff of legends. I guess Raichu's colour scheme does not stand out as much as the yellow-and-red Pikachu, but to me, that doesn't matter.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

REVIEW: Hanna Is Not A Boys Name


Click here to start from the beginning.

{...} is a zombie who would like to work with a Paranormal Investigator. According to the card, that's exactly what Hanna Cross is. {...} is surprised to find that Hanna Cross is a boy, because after all, Hanna is not a boys name. Together they acquire a pet hipster vampire, have misadventures and run around being silly (though the silliness is mostly confined to Hanna). It's a wonderful lighthearted comic.

PLOT AND WORLD.
The setting seems to be that of an Urban Fantasy Kitchen Sink. There doesn't seem to be much of a limit on the kinds of weird and wonderful humanoid creatures that can pop up in the series. There are zombies, vampires, selkies, ghosts and werewolves featured, to name a few.

It's all very interesting and a whole lot is still shrouded in mystery. 

CHARACTERS.
Hanna Cross is very cool. Well, not cool in an actual cool way, but he's a great character and the very definition of adorkable. He and {...} (does the fandom just call him Zombie? I don't know) play off each other really well and are a really epic example of platonic bromance.

Though it would've been easy to make {...} a blank lens through which we could see Hanna's shenanigans without it being narrated from Hanna's point of view, that's not what's happened. {...} is every bit as fascinating and compelling a character as Hanna.

Even the characters that we don't know huge amounts about yet seem pretty darn well characterised. 

ART.
There's no debate about this - Stone is a hell of an artist and has a wonderful eye for emotive sequential art. Hanna Is Not A Boys Name is hands down the most visually beautiful webcomic I've ever seen and stands heads and shoulders above almost all of the rest. The only things that come close are the more magical pages of Gunnerkrigg Court and some of the crazy-awesome stuff in Homestuck. HiNaBN is consistently convention-breaking. There's no standard panel layout, everything is arranged according to what fits the current action. And it is always aesthetically brilliant. I challenge you to find one bad page. Just one. You won't be able to.

I like the general colour palette of HiNaBN, too. It's not too super bright, but even the muted colours feel vibrant and vivacious.


UPDATES.
It doesn't. It's heart-wrenching. Stone disappeared off the face of the internet in February. 2011. That being the case, HiNaBN still has a pretty dedicated fanbase. If your fragile heart can bear the fact that you'll be reading an incomplete story that, in all likelihood, will never be finished, then Hanna is so worth the read. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's one of the most wonderful webcomics out there.

Monday, 23 April 2012

My Opinions On Every Pokémon Ever: 021, Spearow to 024, Arbok.



021: SPEAROW.
Spearow is one hoopy frood and I'll bet you anything it knows where its towel is. As an alternative to Pidgey, I like it. It really does just look like the more fearsome version of Pidgey, but that's okay. It's not ripped wholesale from Pidgey's design so I've got no problem with it. I like its black back and red wings, too. They look neato.

Spearow also has the honour of having one of the coolest shiny colour schemes, too. The yellow and black theme looks pretty downright badass. Downright sugoi, even. I like its little hooked beak, too. It's obviously designed to rend flesh from the bones of its prey in the most adorably efficient way known to modern man.


022: FEAROW.
Unfortunately, I just don't like Fearow as much as Spearow. That's not to say that I dislike Fearow - not at all - but I just don't believe it's a good evolution for Spearow. I don't think their designs work together.

Something I do like about Fearow, though, is how weirdly long its beak and neck are. They certainly do help it to look a little more fearsome, as its name suggests that it should. It reminds me a little of an angry, weaponised flamingo. Said flamingo probably dyed its sensible pink hair that wild, crazy shade of brown in a show of rebellion against some kind of system it hated. Ask any ornithologist, they'll be happy to verify my claims. 

 023: EKANS.
You've got to be cool to hang out with Team Rocket. They are the smoothest of the smooth at any given time. 

Purple and yellow is a cool colour scheme. I don't mean cool as in cool versus warm colours, but cool as in super slick and fly like those hip young kids and their internets. That breed of cool.

I guess you can tell when I don't have much to say by the amount of bullshit I spout. Ekans is a rattlesnake. A big one. That's enough analysis of it. Just be happy I didn't write this entire part of the post in sdrawkcab speak.  

024: ARBOK.
You can say more about Arbok than you can about Ekans, I believe. That pattern on its hood is pretty neat! Fake eyespots are a cool thing to have, though I'm not sure how ultra-effective they'd be on a creature's chest! There are also apparently six different kinds of design an Arbok can have, which I like.

Arbok looks a good deal more intelligent than Ekans. I guess it might be the eyes. Arbok's are less snake-like than Ekans. You'd think that wouldn't be a good thing for a snake Pokémon, but I think it works, seeing as Pokémon are at least semi-sentient. Ekans looks more like just a fancy animal than an actual Pokémon, but its evolution looks Pokémonnish enough for my tastes. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

My Journeys On Tumblr

Click here to read the previous Scribbly post!

---

This is how my day often goes.





Then, for one reason or another (spoilers: the reason is food) I am pulled away from the computer.



And then I shrug and keep scrolling forever.
 

reblog if u cried

---

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

REVIEW: Battleship

In the mid 2000's, a message is beamed out daily from a satellite in Oahu, Hawaii, to a possibly inhabitable Goldilocks planet (which, by the way, is a legitimate concept) named Planet G. In the year 2012, at the commencement of naval war games, aliens answer the signal by beginning their invasion. It's up to a few hundred brave sailors  - and a few civilians and retired soldiers on land - to save the human race from extinction.

PLOT AND WORLD.
Dear me, I really did struggle to write that description up there. It's the very essence of an excuse plot - of course it is, it's based off of the boardgame Battleship - but it's not done well. Sometimes excuse plots are great (see: most Pokémon things. Fight me) but this movie was horridly thrown together and the plot and pacing were laughably weak. It's hard to laugh when you've spent money on movie tickets, though.

Despite that, the problem was not lack of ideas, but more a lack of follow through on the many ideas presented. Warning, spoilers ahoy. There was an interesting concept introduced relatively early in the piece (and I say relatively, meaning soon after the actual plot had begun, which took far too long to happen, but more on that later) that indicated that, for one reason or another, the invading aliens wanted to destroy machinery but intended to leave life forms alone. Or at least, leave them unharmed. This was introduced in a fairly clever way. Naturally, I assumed that when they took the time to introduce the concept through the scene with the boy on the baseball field, they would take that concept somewhere further and elaborate later.

This did not happen. There was no explanation as to why the aliens didn't want life forms dead. Sure, the audience could've extrapolated for themselves (I was personally going for the obvious theory of using Earth life as livestock), but that doesn't make up for the fact that it lazily left open. In the end, it came off as a contrived plot device to make the technologically superior aliens kill less humans. Again, had a motive been explained, it could've been a good idea, but just tacking on something like 'by the way if you're not in machinery you're safe' in order to let the protagonists get into stickier situations and come out alive is lazy and cheap.

The pacing of the plot also felt quite choppy, but at the same time, too drawn out. Of course, that second part might be hugely influenced by the fact that I loathed this film. I readily admit that. The set up took far too long for a movie that didn't have a huge amount to set up. Even once the alien ships appeared and started wrecking havoc, it still lumbered along and took a long while to get into gear. Action movies should not lumber.

CHARACTERS.
To be perfectly fucking blunt, I didn't even feel like this movie had characters. There were moving pictures on the screen that certainly looked a hell of a lot like people and they did some stuff, but they weren't real people. I'll clarify now though, I don't believe this was a fault of the actors. I'll get to that in the acting section (but the long story short of that is that I really have no problems with the acting in the movie).

The attempts at characterisation - when they were present at all - felt hamfisted and halfassed. For example, take the whole beginning sequence. That was probably supposed to establish Hopper as that 'lovable fuckwad' archetype that's been floating around pretty often these days. Sure, it did a good job of that, but none of that personality showed through in the rest of the movie. Characterisation wasn't even secondary to the plot, it was virtually nonexistant. 


Sure, there were a few characters with key traits. The retired soldier with the missing legs was resilient and admirable. Who woulda thunk it? The Hollywood nerd was Hollywood awkward. It didn't make up for anything, though. I didn't really sympathise with anyone. I didn't care about the characters or what happened to them. It wasn't just me being a sullen fart either, my sister agrees. So you know it's true. Yep.


ACTING.
You know, the acting wasn't half bad. There wasn't room to shine in the script, though, so there was nothing stellar that I could see. Honestly, I can't really think of anything to say beyond that.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS.
The way they used the buoys to reflect an actual game of Battleship was really clever. I'll give them that little victory. The special effects and makeup used to create the aliens and their ships and so on was pretty cool, too. I can't complain about how the movie looked. Everything was aesthetically pleasing. Overall, though, Battleship sucked.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

REBOOT: My Opinions On Every Pokémon Ever. VOLUME TWO: 010, Caterpie to 020, Raticate.




010: CATERPIE.
Caterpie is the cutest bug you're ever going to see, don't even try to refute me on this. Caterpie is objectively (there's that word again!) adorable. Look at it! It looks like it's reaching up for a hug. And how could you deny those big sad eyes a hug? Apparently those feet reaching up for said hugs have suction cups on them, enabling it to climb easier. And hug more firmly, as I assume Pokémon's creators intended to imply.

Less adorable is the fact that the red antennae you see there emit a strong, pungent scent. I can't begrudge Caterpie that - after all, it has to fend off predators somehow - but you might want to keep it in mind if you've got a big date immediately after hugging your Caterpie.

011: METAPOD.
It's hard not to make a joke about the most infamous move Metapod can learn, but I firmly believe we can raise our defence against moves like that.

Past that, my favourite thing about Metapod is the weird facial duality thing it's got going on. If you see the left side as its front, it has a sad, forlorn expression with eyes that the hope has been knocked out of, probably by some bitch of a pidgey. If, on the other hand, you choose to look at the right side as its front, it's angry. Maybe it desires vengeance for the hope that the pidgey pecked from its backleftside sad face.

That's pretty much the extent of what I have to say. It's a cocoon. Can't really add to that! I'll go ahead and say that I believe its simplicity works in its favour, though. Like a lot of the Gen Wunners, its design that was taken almost wholesale from something found in nature was still a novelty idea and I don't feel I should count it against them.

012: BUTTERFREE.
Yessss, this is a good Pokémon. Can't knock its colour scheme, even if it would fit better as a Venonat evolution. Like quite a few others on the wild world of the internet, I'm convinced that Butterfree was originally Venomoth and vice versa. Look at that face.

That said, I don't really care about the mistake. It doesn't negatively affect my opinion. And seeing as this whole thing is a huge platform for me to write out my self-indulgent opinions at length, that's what's going to matter here.

I'd like to comment first on Butterfree's anime voice. It's cool. This is going to sound stupid, but I've always found it kind of cute that it seems to be saying 'be free~'. Plus, I can imitate it pretty well, so that's a bonus in my books, haha.

It's also quite cute. Those little tiny hands can't not be adorable. And that adorable face. Guys, I can't. Butterfree is too cute.
013: WEEDLE.
I kept trying to type 'Weedle is not as cute as Caterpie' but I couldn't. The more I look at it, the cuter it is. What is this insectoid witchcraft? It's actually adorable. You know what else? It has the same colour scheme as Neapolitan ice cream. That's not something I want to argue against.

Weedle would probably have a much easier time of defending itself than Caterpie. It has ruddy great big horns on either end, though I don't suppose that kind of protrusion is called a horn when it's attached to a tail. The concept of butt-unicorns is probably not something you want to think too hard about. The point is (dohoho, point) that I guess Weedle is more likely to survive than Caterpie. A live, unspoiled Weedle is a lot better than a Caterpie that's dead. Note: I did try to describe that in some humourous way, but I just ended up distressing myself. Let's step away from talk of injured cute things.

014: KAKUNA.
The first thing I notice about Kakuna is that this image of it is really thin and not doing a great job of being a placeholder. It makes the formatting for this section look a little less fancy than the rest of it. Sorry Kakuna, but those are points against you right off the bat.

Those points off it for screwing with my formatting don't affect it much, though. It's a serious-faced golden cocoon with a bowtie. I don't know exactly how many points that is but I'm pretty sure it's a lot (don't even try to tell me that's a bowtie. No one has succeeded yet).

I'd also like to mention the way Metapod and Kakuna evolve in the anime. It's pretty rad. Their backs split open and their evolved form comes out, like a cocoon in real life (though a lot more elegant, obviously. Nature ain't that smooth). The variation from the standard 'glow then holy shit more power' is nice.

015: BEEDRILL.
What a badass. Even in this here standard mugshot that you see, Beedrill looks badass. Even its name doesn't fuck around - it's a bee and it drills. Wanna fight about it? The answer is no.

It's also a meter tall. People (myself unashamedly included) freak out at those flies that are the size of a hand. Scale those up a few times and add drills and a fabulous, sassy fighting pose and you're getting close to this bro.

Did I mention that the drills are, according to various incarnations of the Pokédex, both poisonous and venomous?

Badass.

016: PIDGEY.
I like Pidgey. Nothing too complicated about it, so I'll keep this section relatively short (relatively being the operative term, here. We both know that brevity isn't my forté). It's a little brown pigeon and it's as simple as that.

Its little frowny eyebrow things are cute. I'm sure there's a more legit name for them than that, but I'm not aware of it so for now, that sticks. Its eye markings are nice, too. It probably wouldn't work so well without them - that dark patch against the lighter shades of brown/cream helps to draw attention to that area and it just adds some much needed contrast.

Yeah.

 017: PIDGEOTTO.
I love Pidgeotto's tail. I really do. I wish my hair looked like Pidgeotto's tail. In my opinion, the darkish pinkish reddish colour they've added in the form of the tail and the luscious, long mane of hair complements the already established brown and cream colour scheme pretty nicely.

It's claimed in one Pokédex entry that Pidgeotto's eyesight is so good that it will always be able to accurately monitor and track the movements of its prey, no matter how high it ascends. That is an absolutely ridiculous level of awesome to handle. One must wonder, then, if there is a practical limit to how high up Pidgeotto can get. What if, theoretically, I sent one to space, for one reason or another? It's not as if I have sent a Pidgeottot to space, but I'd like to know the answer. Soon, if possible. Please.

018: PIDGEOT.
Honestly, Pidgeot doesn't impress me all that much, having evolved from Pidgeotto. I like its luxurious mane of hair even more than I like Pidgeotto's, but I miss the alternating colours on the tail. I'm also not a huge fan of the way the ends of its tailfeathers have been smoothed out - the zig-zagging edges of Pidgeotto's tail just look cooler.

However, there's no avoiding the fact that it apparently flies at Mach 2 speed. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's really fucking fast. I can appreciate any life form that breaks science that quickly.

019: RATTATA.
Fucking. Yes. Ratta is a tiny purple rate without the fancypants special snowflake magical powers that a lot of its Pokémon cohorts are treated to, but it's still got the guts to be that angry and that confrontational all of the god damn time. Just look at that picture. That is a rat that is not afraid in the slightest to fuck up all your shit with great prejudice.

Rattata is brave enough to make bold fashion choices, too. Just look at those whiskers. Only the bravest would take such a risk with their look. And you know what? It totally pays off. Rattata is in the top percentage of sassiness.

020: RATICATE.

Friday, 13 April 2012

I Hate CD Cases With Two Disks Inside Them A Lot



---

People are supposed to only have one thing they hate most in life. I have many things I hate most in life because I'm a whimsical flighty little ball of anger. The relatively benign yet undeniably and unendingly irritating thing I've decided to focus on and hate more than every other thing today is the way they make two-disc CD jewel-cases.

When I see this...


My face does this.

There has got to be a less armpit curlingly frustrating way to deliver bonus content. Don't get me wrong, it's not the extra discs in and of themselves that annoy me. They're in the clear. It's the packaging, which is guaranteed to lead to swearing every fucking time. Allow me to demonstrate.






And oftentimes, the flippy thing that contains the booby-trapped shuriken weaponry that is somehow passed off and sold at major retail chains as CDs comes with said poorly disguised weaponry. Is there a single person on this planet who can successfully get both CDs out of the case without one of them falling over and happening to make you let out a string of cusses colourful enough to make the most hardened 4channer blush? That person sure as shit isn't me, as sad as it is. I always end up with the CDs all over the floordrobe or desk (whichever I happen to be furthest from at the time of the case's opening [whether I choose to open it or otherwise]). And I don't want the CDs on the floor. That is not a sensical thing to want. But it seems they have willful, rebellious minds of their own.


It's not that I don't want those invaluable extra tracks on "Sugoi: THE OST". I just don't want them landing everywhere.

---

Click here to read the next Scribbly post!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

REVIEW: Gunnerkrigg Court



Click here to start from the beginning.

Gunnerkrigg Court centers around an unusual young lady named Antimony Carver. We join her at the start of the comic when she transfers into Gunnerkrigg Court, a boarding school in the UK that is a lot more than it seems at first glance. As the story rolls on, it evolves into a complex world of fantasy politics, a tug of war between magic and science and adorable robots. Plus, it's got some of the best characterisation I've ever seen.

PLOT AND WORLD.
Though we've all seen magical boarding schools in the United Kingdom before, Gunnerkrigg is quite unique. Through Antimony's eyes, the reader is given a wonderful view into the world that Tom Siddell has created. I like the way that there's so much of the titular Court that remains a mystery, both to the character and to the readers. There's a sense of vastness about it. For a manmade place, a lot of it seems so undiscovered.

A lot of the storyline is more about discovering what's going on between lots of different characters and groups, as opposed to an actiony type of 'go out and get stuff done' kind of deal. It meanders around in quite a few different directions, revealing new facets of the Gunnerkrigg universe with every step. And it meanders in a very well done, skilful way. It never feels like it's dragging or moving too slowly. Every single page is entertaining in some way, whether it's fascinating or laugh-out-loud funny.

CHARACTERS.
As I previously mentioned in the summary up there, Gunnerkrigg is full of wonderful characters. Time is taken for each character, even minor ones, to show a little part of themselves. Antimony is one of my favourite characters from anywhere. She's not the standard blank-slate protagonist for the audience to pretend to be, yet we still manage to get an excellent look at the world through her, as I talked about in the Plot and World section. Annie is inquisitive, but not in an annoying 'please explain this so the audience can hear it' way. She's clever, and genuinely clever, at that, as opposed to the 'this character scored highly on a test and other characters copy their answers' kind of thing you can sometimes see in fiction. She's resourceful and insightful and calmly snarky and you can probably tell I adore her.

Her best friend, Kat, is just as excellent. Again, she's cleverclever. I appreciate it a lot when the characters we're told are smart actually have the smarts to back the claims up. Kat is lively and bubbly and caring. I don't want this section to turn into a summary of character traits, so I'll try to cut this list short. The characters really pop off the page and they feel like real people, moreso than a lot of characters I've watched and read about in recent times. What's more, it's very hard to pick out absolute favourites apart from Annie, which is a good sign. There's no choosing between characters like Eglamore, Reynardine, Kat, Shadow, Coyote, Robot... let's just say there's no real choosing between anyone.

You really feel for and sympathise with the characters. It's hard not to get attached to them.

ART.

I've actually always liked Gunnerkrigg's art. Towards the beginning it was very heavily stylised - maybe even overly so - but the way every aspect of the drawing has been thought through and put together in order to create interesting ideas has always been commendable. The wonderful writing is consistently backed up with interesting art and expert manipulation of details.

Though I've seen some people complain about the art in the very beginning (which, as I have stated, I actually like), it improves out of sight very quickly. It's actually pretty jaw-dropping how quickly the art improves.

Take special note of the art in any panels where Coyote or different planes are involved. Those pages are so good, words can't do them justice. The colour and composition of those sections are outstanding.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS.
As if I hadn't already said it enough, Gunnerkrigg is a piece of brilliance. It's a real gem! If you haven't read it, you are actively doing yourself a disservice by not reading it right this second.

UPDATES.

Gunnerkrigg Court updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
---

Check back next week for another review! If you have any suggestions, let me know.