Archive for May, 2007

Satoshi’s spectacular new spice

May 28, 2007

If anime was completely taken over by director Satoshi Kon I wouldn’t mind a lick. His resume is short but Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and his bizzaro 13-episode Paranoia Agent series proves he’s a visionary powerhouse. Interesting, fun and often maddening, he’s Hayao Miyazaki by way of David Lynch, dabbling in animation with clean, attractive designs while his narratives are dark and cynical, both critical and celebratory of the society and medium he works in. Paranoia Agent, for example, is a harsh indictment of Japanese society, particularly reality-dodging otaku anime fans who prefer to lose themselves in the superflat worlds of cartoons, while reality rots and decays outside.

Found in all his work, the loss of distinction between reality and fantasy is by far Kon’s favorite subject, and it comes to a fever pitch in his latest confection, Paprika.



Performance Review – LOST: Strange Family Robinson

May 27, 2007

I’m trying something new here at Grump Factory. Sometimes, you watch or read or play something partway through and you can’t finish it for whatever reason (the game’s too hard/frustrating, the other books haven’t come out yet, etc.) but you still want to make a grump about it. I’m creating a new section called Performance Reviews where we will take hard-working entertainment properties and give them a critique without having finished it entirely. These shouldn’t be considered the final word on the subject, however, because a lot could change in-between a Performance Review and actually finishing whatever it is. So if you read a Performance Review here, please keep in mind that these are in media res opinions formed without the benefit of the entire experience.

And what better way to kick off this new segment than by taking a look at a series that’s just now reached its halfway mark: ABC’s LOST. Just the mention of the name is probably conjuring all sorts of different reactions. It was ABC’s breakthrough water-cooler drama when it premiered in 2004, riding a wave of media interest and hype usual to shows that broadcast networks have bet their Fall farm on. I remember those almost three years ago when I had almost no idea what LOST was. I’d heard a few rumblings about it, namely because a few Buffy the Vampire Slayer vets had attached themselves to it, along with DC/Warner Bros. writing dynamo Paul Dini. It was an interesting premise backed by a bunch of talent that I had trusted in the past, so I decided on a whim to tune in, rather skeptical of the whole enterprise. After all, aside from various Star Trek franchises (I’d been born into a family of fans) I had only started to watch TV network drama of my own volition with FOX’s 24. Three years later I’m still eagerly watching LOST each week while 24 has fallen completely off my radar.


Kairo: Wait, What?

May 18, 2007


Kairo has come very recommended to me. A conversation about Japanese cinema couldn’t arise without a certain someone telling me “you should see Kairo!” So I’ve kept my eyes peeled and sure enough, it never showed up. I didn’t even see it in stores! When the hell had this movie been released?! It should’ve been riding the wave of apathy interest sparked by its American remake Pulse, starring the wonderful, talented, and totally misguided actress Kristen Bell from TV’s Veronica Mars. I mean, was she THAT eager to fall into Sarah Michelle Gellar’s footsteps? But anyways, imagine my surprise when scouring a used DVD store the clouds parted and Kairo plopped into my lap. I was excited and eager to see what kind of movie it was. You could say I’m still waiting!



May 15, 2007

I was a fool. A fool, I say! I actually expected something from a sequel to a movie I hold in high esteem. I know, I know. I’m a grump. I should know better. I should’ve said, “Bah!”, puffed on my pipe and gone back to reading the New Yorker or whatever. But I didn’t. I looked into my father’s eyes and said with complete sincerity, “Let’s go see 28 Weeks Later!” If I had a time machine and a gun, I would’ve shot myself where I stood.

It’s not even like I had a hugely strong drive to see the movie. Yeah, I’d seen the trailer and was mildly impressed. But, you see, circumstances came together to completely bone me. It was graduation weekend. I didn’t have a computer or even a room of my own. I was sitting around in a motel room with blood stains on the floor with my parents being threatened with Batman Forever on the TV’s cable. I kind of wanted to see Spider-Man 3, but I had a strong notion that it would be playing in IMAX at the theater back home (and guess what? It was). So 28 Weeks Later was the only other option I had. But that doesn’t even completely excuse me. I was fuckin’ excited. Eager, even. Sigh.

I see shitty horror movies x3


Killer7: Punching You In the Brain

May 14, 2007

I’ve played a lot of games in my life, and none of them have been Killer7. Until now.

The Smiths


Evangelion: Absolute Waiting FIELD

May 9, 2007

I first watched Evangelion when I was 14 years old, the same age as its main character, the weak and tormented Shinji Ikari. I wasn’t piloting giant bio-mechs but I was a dinky little high school freshman, alone and frustrated, and I had a hell of a tough time connecting with people; “Hedgehog’s dilemma.” I couldn’t help but parallel my own angst with Shinji’s. Yeah, I know. I’M SUCH A NURDLOL

Add sexual frustration, tension, various betrayals and love triangles up the wazoo and, well, Evangelion and me, we got something in common. Whenever I think of it, whenever it’s mentioned, my chest tightens and I sigh. I’m inextricably linked to it. I imagine a lot of other people are too, seeing how its popularity never once waned since its Japanese debut so long ago. Now, I’m a college senior and, to be frank, I’m still hedgehogging. I actually sorta miss high school, I love to run, but my balls are bluer than a summer sky. At least the tenth volume of the Evangelion manga came out. FINALLY. So all you other Shinjis out there, rise up!


Pretty Fucking Aptly Named (Damn, that wasn’t even funny when this game first came out)

May 7, 2007

Hi. I’m BZ. I contribute. You might be wondering where I fit in on the “good cop/bad cop” nonsense that Mora and Magus have been spreading. If so, you’re a fucking idiot. I’m not a cop. I’m an asshole. Professionally.

Portrait of Ruin is a hideous abortion of a Castlevania game. It suffers from a critical lack of attention to detail: tiles and monsters are recycled unchanged from previous titles, levels and monsters accomplish almost nothing in providing gameplay, and protagonists have their names misspelled in the menu screen. It’s the kind of game that could’ve used another year in development, perhaps with a producer who wasn’t fresh out of ideas. Barring that, it’s the kind of game that could’ve benefited from just a little bit of love: it’s obvious through and through that no one at Konami cared about the product they were creating.

Slash slash slash blargh