The Hooting (I’m so Sorry) Good Time of Owl House Season One

Despite being someone who watches far more varied types of media I have fallen out of the know when it comes to moder cable animated series. I have cursory knowledge about things like Steven Universe and the like but haven’t taken the time to really watch them. As I have said and must continue to say: there is just so much new television that it’s impossible to keep up. But, in the haze of being vaguely aware of shows one caught my eye. A new Disney show focused on magic: The Owl House!

Following Luz, a quirky nerd (who is not all that nerdy when you know anything about teenagers but that’s not here or there), as she is accidentally whisked away to magical world of the Boiling Isles. Once there she befriends the cernudgeonly witch Eda, her pet The King of Demons, and her talking house hooty. After saving Eda and a group of misfits from jail Luz decides to stay on the Boiling Isles, make friend and learn magic. Of course ailing yourself with the outcasts means she will have to work harder than ever.

The series has major Gravity Falls vibes in kind of the best way. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the creator of Gravity Falls is the voice of one of the characters and that the creator of the series worked on that show. But they have so much in common. A fantasy world that focuses just enough on the gross and strange to feel unique but not off putting. A braggadocious trickster as a main mentor, a desire to twist well worn tropes in a way that feels like they’re telling a story and not just trying to be clever, and finally a deceptively deep art style.

The art and animation in this season is actually far better than in Gravity Falls. Which, for all its greatness, does show its age in places (just like Avatar. I mean that two-part opener is rough to go back to). Owl House goes harder on big set pieces that all look great and move super fluidly. They’re a treat.

But that action is a treat in the actual meaning of the word. The season is not one giant epic. It’s not a Shonen battle series in disguise or even a more serialized mystery like Gravity Falls. Instead, The Owl Houses focuses on self contained episodes and stories that work to build the characters. These episodes don’t come from nowhere. Sometimes a villain will reappear but the story is often focused on a character centered stories. Luz trying to learn magic or her friends healing past pains.

They’re not flashy stories, usually. But, when it times to get epic the team does it right by keeping Luz in perspective. She is never the strongest in the room so when she gets to do something epic it feel momentous. Similarly, the strongest in the room get to show off their great power without it looking like they’re over powered.

With the episodes being more character focused it is kind of a shame that the wider cast doesn’t feel as fleshed out. Luz, Eda, and King are well explored and textured characters. But Luz’s friends Willow (sick Buffy reference), Gus, and Amity all feel a little shallow. Not to say that they don’t get their moments. Gus being hyper-confident is great. Amity being stoic just long enough for Luz to show up and become a bumbling wreck, and Willow being nice but having a backbone (I guess) also works. But that is the most I can really pull. They don’t feel totally distinct or as memorable as they could be.

As neat as this all is the series has become notable for its LGBTQ representation. A push for less-gendered pronouns in romantic quips. Characters dressing outside of what they’re usually coded. Luz literally wearing a gay pride outfit as her school uniform. A gay dance sequence where they tango and beat monster (obviously my favorite moment. I mean it’s not like I put a first dance between two love interest framed as a fight or anything… please read Dieous, it’s good), and some gay relationships in the background. Like Willow having two dads. It is all a net positive to be sure, but I’m also dubious of some it.

None of it is bad to be clear, but when you put characters in “wacky” outfits or push for a message of friendship while also having a romantic relationship not being developed and played for laughs it’s strange. I can only think of the reverse. An example is Eda dressing up in a tuxedo. Is a good image. But then I imagine someone like Spongebob wearing a dress in a similar context and it being framed as a joke. It still pushes the idea of dressing for what you feel fits you, but also playing it as a possible joke feels off. It would be like saying just two guys kissing is funny. Even if you’re supporting the position it is still framing the act as a joke.

The series is primarily a comedy despite me not mentioning much of the jokes. They are funny. Very quip heavy like Gravity Falls. Some surrealist jokes, and general gags. But one punching bag it makes fun of is Harry Potter. It saying how sorting hats make no sense or that Quidditch is a dumb sport for the Golden Sntich. This is all funny, and now in context of JK Rowling totally losing her status to people with any social taste, feels like a call out. The series is saying that you can be different while still being good. You don’t need some white kid with glasses to beat a dark lord, it can be a nerdy Latino girl (or is it Latina? You get my point) with a her diverse friend group, no prophecy, and no conformity. It’s a season that says being who you are and working hard is good enough. Standing up for those society doesn’t like good enough. You don’t have to win that fight, but not standing down is a good start.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Evil Season One: Every Vision is Lemons (a Review)

There is so much television. Outside the big steaming services and premium channels we still have classic networks pumping out shows for your parents or grandparents depending on how old you are. One that’s gotten a lot of attention comes from the NCIS dispensary CBS… Evil staring Mike Colter of Luke Cage fame. And since it is spooky season finally might as well look at what mainstream TV is up to.

Evil doesn’t follow Mike Colter’s character directly but instead Kristen Bouchard, played by Kathy Herbes, a criminal psychologist who comes head to head with Mike Colter’s David Acosta, an assessor for the Catholic Church, when a criminal defendant is said to be possessed. David and Kristen then must team up with their resident skeptic and handyman Ben to find out if the monsters and miracles of the world are the work of everyday life or preternatural. Their work often puts them at odds with Michael Emerson’s Dr. Townsend, a rival psychologist looking to push his hateful agenda on the world, but might also have some supernatural connections of his own.

It’s odd watching a series that feels made to be watched weekly try and be Netflix-lite. A comparison to the Netflix Defenders series is apt since they look so similar. Being they are both set primarily in New York during late fall into early spring (so Mike Colter can wear jackets just small enough to show how jacked he is), with lots of heavy atmosphere.

The season also uses a lot of great physical looking props and effects. It would be so easy to lean on digital and computer work to make some of the monsters seen in the series, but instead they go for real effects and they work. Seeing people in these amazing suits is impressive and surprising.

What sets the series apart, however, is how interesting the premise. A supernatural horror series where the reveal doesn’t always have to be a demonic presence or is more complicated than first appears is really interesting. It allows for so many didfeeent kinds of episodes and storylines to appear. They are able to do pastiches of different horror and supernatural stories all while trying to find real world psychological reasons they might be happening. They run the gamut of effectiveness. Some, like being trapped in the basement by a killer works in its subdued nature and easy to grasp emotions. Others, like the effectiveness of exorcisms on people who need psychological help… that’s a little more complicated and feels easy.

It feels easy in the moment at least. The show has a really interesting approach to pacing. Every episode has both a standalone story they have to solve along with a collection of usually two or three events. A personal drama or unrelated horror story taking place in the background. Usually all three reach some kind of endpoint by the credits. Some are left suitably vague or uneasy on purpose while others come back. The season has a sense of continuity that’s surprises me. The status quo doesn’t reset every case. It keeps some events and builds on them or goes back to old cases and forces the characters to face the mistakes or errors in their decision. It happens once early on when someone sues for the harshness of their exorcism, but when the first case of the series comes back as a side plot in an episode I was shocked and impressed. This goes for reincorporating past cases in new ways that don’t feel forced. Vague symbols, leitmotifs, and ideas coming back around. It’s honestly surprising how climactic the series is despite how stop and start the overall pacing feels.

The strong characters help. Kristen is more than a Scully-type. She isn’t close minded and is there just to be negative, but instead seeks to find truth. David is clearly tortured but means well and has a strong conviction. Ben, the best character, plays great as a skeptic and audience standin moreso than Kristen when it comes to the religious issues. Finally, Michael Emerson’s Leland is wonderful. Suitably punchable, while being intimidating in his own right. A great representative of what a internet troll would be like in real life. That makes his goal of radicalizing others into being incels all the more fascinating. He works as a great villain.

I make a lot about this series running on CBS. I mean NCIS lives there and that is as safe as you can get. Most CBS programming seems that way (as someone who doesn’t watch cable I can only go off the times I visit family and am forced to watched TV commercials). So it continues to shock just how progressive the series is most of the time. Focus on social issues, morally questionable endings, and a minority cast. Ben is Muslim, David black, Kristen a functionally single mom who is religiously lapsed, is refreshing. It doesn’t even criticize the use of drugs recreationally and supports no traditional marriages. Unfortunately not all is great. This is technically a religious series so even as it does poke jabs at religion and the Catholic Church it still has them be overall good-if questionable-people. But where it really gets problematic is making a women’s clinic the villains.

This will get into spoilers and talk of the story, but it’s revealed that the evil being down is to corrupt fetuses while getting in vitro fertilization. The reveal works great in practice and also thematically, but can be read as women’s clinics literally being run by the Devil. That is one of those impossible (for me) debates. I understand the artist merit in the show, but it is not without context in the wider world. I drive by a Planned Parenthood regularly and always see people protesting outside. People believe it is already evil (yes I know fertility clinics are not the same, but I can see people reading it that way. I also assume there are dozens of videos about how planned parenthood was started by satanists or something), so a show supporting that can be problematic. Also it takes about the Rwandan genocide which I know nothing about.

Outside of that one reveal and some support of a very corrupt religious body it is a good show. The setup and scares are unique. Has great cinematography and production values, strong characters, but some weak plotting in places. It’s a good horror watch. I mean they have an episode about a haunted Christmas song that gets stuck in your head. That’s so cool.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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The Idhun Chronicles: The Most Anime of Anime that Ever Animed (a Review)

Netflix has had an incredibly diverse track record when it comes to the anime they either distributed and/or produced. They have really ranged the gamut. From incredible shows like Beastars and Devilman Cry Baby to the uneven B the Beginning, to the congealed mess of traits that made up the energetic Cannonbuster and parody Neo Yokio. However, none seem to compare to the barest or bare bones, the recently released Idhun Chronicles.

The series, a Spanish production based on a trilogy of Spanish novels called The Idhún’s Memories, follows Jack. When he comes home one night to find his parents dead and himself about to be killed by the intruders he’s saved by a seperate factions of magic users and taken to a space between worlds. There, Jack finds out about a world of magic called Idhun, and a group of assassins sent from that world to earth in order to kill all magical refugees. Jack takes up arms to protect himself and avenge his parents.

The series is rough, clearly done on a tight budget, and poorly written. If I was someone who cared more about concise speaking than anything I could end it there. No additional words could describe the mind numbing process of watching the poorly animated and stiff looking production. The art direction and characters design for the whole series is barebones at best, and inconsistent at worst. For example, when one shot will have a piece of jewelry in one location but cut and it’ll be in a different location on the person and it does that constantly, that’s a minor problem when compared to what the show does.

All storytelling regardless of story, medium, and theme is all about a give and take. Anime, and anime inspired series like this one, are a prime example. They leverage consistent art and often limited animation for bigger payoffs in more key scenes. This series seems to have all the limitations with none of the payoffs or rewards. The animation and art doesn’t suck in some scenes but get good during fights. It is just always of low quality. Same with the dreary and lifeless voice casting.

I always watch in English if I have the option. Similar to the animation trade offs, in aware that I am getting the convenience of understanding at the cost of the translation not being accurate and the acting being lesser from time to time. However, based on posts by the author of the original book series and one of the head writers, the voice acting was a problem in the original cast as well. The only good proof is that the series has Johnny Young Bosch and Erika Halacher in key roles and they both are muted, boring, and stiff. Which seems impossible when they, JYB specifically, have more expressive lines and deliveries with less dialogue in Persona 5 than this series. It’s almost impressive they could tune them down to nothing.

It should be impressive, but they also don’t have anything to work with in terms of characters. Jack is the only character with a personality. Saying that being impulsive is a personality is woefully overstating him as a character. He wants revenge and to generically help, but that is it. Everyone is more flat than that 2D world they live in. This goes for the villains as well. The team might think that they are just posturing and menacing. Villains of few words and mostly actions. Instead they have no personality. They just appear, kill whoever and then disappear with I’ll defined magic.

Shocking, I know, the magic system and mythical world is at once over explained and needlessly complicated while also not being explained well enough, coming off as vague instead of anything concrete. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the incredibly fairy tale world the characters come from, but other than a bad case of the Dark Lords and magical oppression there isn’t anything unique. Something, after doing base reading on Wikipedia shows it’s an adaptational issue over a source material one. The world of Idhun seems kind of neat and has interesting lore that is dropped on us instead of being the story we are watching (a problem lots of fantasy stories have).

This is to say nothing of the story we are watching. It is bargain basement portal fantasy. That’s not bad alone, but it’s executed with all the skills of person finding out about portal fantasy for the first time. Every episode is a slog. The show has no energy, and the dialogue boarders on being a parody. Two characters jump from a high wall and one says that it felt like they are flying… I mean, have they never been on a trampoline before? So awkward, and not even purposefully so. Completely by accident. That makes it almost endearing if that wasn’t the high point of that episode. Because, overall, it’s a lifeless story.

To give one positive, I enjoy that this ostensible kids show does have a lot of blood and death used incredibly casually. Cuts and stabs produce blood and that was surprisingly mature.

This is a series who I don’t know the audience for it that couldn’t watch a better version of this story on the same platform. Its not told well enough to be a good starting point, not creative enough to be for veterans, not epic enough for those wanting a big fantasy story, and not well drawn and animated well enough for starving anime fan in need of new content. It’s cheap, not well told, and dull. All the worst things a show can be.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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It’s Official: The Good Place is One of my Favorite Shows Ever

Since season one I saw the Good Place as something special. A series with an almost perfect concept to let wacky hijinx, fun characters, heartfelt scenes, and strong thought provoking ideas come up and play out naturally. All of this taken to the next logical extreme with the now famous season one twist. A twist so obvious but well constructed that it changes the game in a fresh way. However it also caused the very first feeling of FOGO (see that post for more details). Every season and season finale kept pushing that feeling of FOGO.

In retrospect, season one feels too safe. In other words it keeps up the facade of the bad things happening in paradise for too long to be effective. Playing off the audience’s knowledge of sitcom formula and structure to hide it is genius, even using Friends as the example to build off of is strong association, but considering how the other seasons go it lasts too long.

Season two is broken into really three sections… actually I’ll say every season after the first is. The first section (or last in season four’s case) is setting up the new status quo. Michael constantly failing and joining the Cockroaches starts season two and Michael making sure the gang gets back together in the real world in season three set up what happens later. Following that, each season has its own focus but has a similar end goal. They try to find the truth and become better only to realize they must travel somewhere else and outsmart the Bad Place in order to do it. Season two takes them to The Judge and Season three takes them to accounting. In both they find out the problem they’re seeking to solve is beyond the problem in front of them, but is instead, systemic.

Season four is different. Season four has the same three sections but broken up so that the ending is more of an epilogue and final statement about people instead of setting up a new status quo. This ends up being a double edged sword. On one hand it makes for a really strong ending. On the other is makes the first half of the season kind of uneven. To be fair they set up a hard scenario. It’s like season seven Buffy. The experiment must take place to see if people can get better, but we also can’t cut away from our original group and their growth as people either. In the end I think they pick the better option of focusing on Eleanor and the Soul Squad, but it does lead me to having questions of how much better did the four participants get in the experiment. For even as it is a weaker season overall it is still good because the show is more than its plot.

A show is made up of characters and there have been few so well drawn, written, and realized as Elanor Shellstrop, Chidi Anagonye, Michael, Janet, Jason Mendoza, and Tahani Al-Jamil. These six characters are easily some of the best TV has to offer. Part of it comes from how most sitcom characters have to be well defined in order for the comedy to happen. The comedic duo or trio is an archetype for a reason. This show goes beyond that, though, by having to constantly restart the characters, right them from different perspectives in their own lives and growths and still make them sound like them. Having to balance writing a character who learns about the afterlife, grows, goes back to the land of the living, must grow again, get her memories from past lives she forgot back, and then still keep working to be fully enlightened is no easy task for any writer. Yet, this show has to do it for a minimum of six people. Add onto that how everyone around them reacts to the changes and keep those consistent to the characters while being funny. It’s masterful work all by itself.

It goes further than good character writing. The team knows those characters so well that even in death they still find really honest ways for them to grow and change. By the end the team knows what each one of them wants to get out of life and when they’re satisfied. It just feels like the team really studied and thought about what those six would want while being honest with who they were.

Being honest about who the characters are is great, but the fact it is always so funny makes it better. A show like this could be, and is, very thoughtful about the concepts of being a good person, but it’s also a very good comedy. The use of the afterlife is a perfect setting for letting every kind of joke run wild. Subtle banter paired with sights gags, more developed skits, and absurdism allows for any number of jokes. All of which they succeed at hitting. The show’s setting is on a cosmic scale and they do everything they can with that. Of course with such a broad swathe of comedy not every joke lands. The Judge and Derek specifically feel like good ideas that don’t fully work. They still follow those characters wants and needs to comedic effect, but the performances never help fully sell them. But every show has weaknesses, comedy most of all.

The show also does way more than their budget seems to allow. I more respect the attempt than anything else, but the use of CGI in places does look really tacky when compared to the amazing sets they do build. The sets and how, even with the spotty CG, the show constantly looks amazing astounds me. The subtle muting and contract of the afterlife with the real world always works. Even the changes that come when the real world is changed by the new afterlife it all works and is well thought out.

But, aside from the comedy, great acting and characters, and great sets and presentation the reason I love the show is because it’s honest about what it wants and goes to the best, most logical places in that search. The show is about the quest to be a good person. It says that a journey like that is incredibly hard, but not impossible. It says that flawed systems that used to work need to be updated and changed to reflect the new world and needs we have. The show says that the world is hard and complicated. We face impossible solutions we can never hope to fully grasp. We are not all given a fair hand in life but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the possibility to grow. We do. Other might just need more time and practice.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

Ratchet is a Horny Show (a Review)

Ryan Murphy is one of those creators that everyone seems to know, and is hyper-successful despite his mostly hit and miss nature. I assume all this based on reputation, looking over everything he has done I haven’t actually seen any of his series (I saw Nip/Tuck when I was too young, and I can’t say much more without utterly embracing myself and giving far too much TMI). He seems to be incredibly versatile which allows him to tackle multiple genres. Makes it surprising Netflix hasn’t gone to him early for a series (he also did that Hollywood show that came out this year). Odder still that they give him is a “slow-burn” prequel series about one character in a well known movie/book from decades ago.

Following the titular Nurse Mildred Ratchet, the story finds her years before whatever she’s doing in One Flew Over the Cucuoos Nest, inserting herself into a progressive mental health facility when she finds her brother sentenced their for evaluation after having killed four priests. Once inside she seeks to manipulate, undermine, and play everyone in order to save her brother, Edmund Tolleson, from the electric chair. All the while politicians, rich debutants, and private eyes all seek their own goals from within and outside the facility.

We will get to the title of this post later. For, even as that isn’t an obvious description of the show, it is obvious the amount of production and style the series has. It oozes that 1940s aesthetic its living in. It also goes further than just set design, but to have scenes and shots reminiscent of the crime stories that it’s pulling from for inspiration. This gives it a unique and incredibly colorful style that does often stumble accidentally into either absolute cartoonishness or flat melodrama.

The stumble into melodrama and cartoonish logic pervades every other aspect of that series in ways that are impossible to tell if they were done purposefully or not. A great example is the acting. Most of the acting is solid enough. Heck it is even moving from time to time. Other moments, even whole scenes, feel to be from a totally different show. Even some characters, like a drunken motel owner, the revenge filled countess with a limbless son, said limbless son, or Vincent D’Onofrio as the mayor of California don’t seem to line up with what so much of the show is trying to do. They feel far too exaggerated for the often grounded feel the show is going for. It is totally uneven.

That uneven feel goes into the story and pacing. On one hand the closer to episodic story that drives a large narrative feels refreshing. Every episode is able to feel both distinct while telling a story. It’s the execution that’s lacking. That lacking coming from an abrupt change in story halfway through that shakes up the planned status quo, but the writers then seem to be unsure of where to go. Ratchet’s plan goes out the window (or front door), but then seems to change in a way that I am not sure the season realizes. This goes for many characters. The head doctor at the hospital, head nurse, aid to the governor, and more all seem to change motivation and ideas without that being conveyed well. It leads to arguments where I am unsure whose side I’m supposed to be on or what the point is. This also leads to characters writing off others intentions with ease for no real well described reason. This works better for some than other. The dutchess and son, work for create comedic comeuppance, but for the head doctor… it’s complicated.

Most of the series takes place and centers around a cutting edge psychiatric facility. This gives the writers time to show how old times cures were obviously ineffective. Like boiling lesbians (I’m sure there is a joke in there), or ice-pick lobotomies. It seems to be setting up that the doctor is incompetent and a blatant fraud, and to an extent the show is kind of right. The issue is how they also paint him as an altruistic, but flawed figure. On one hand noble, but other is greatly, greatly misinformed. An apt comparison to the handling of mental illness. I am not a mental health expert or played one on TV but even I can see the harm this show does. Though not all or even most patients are shown to be monsters, the two main antagonists end up being psychiatric people who need help. The series plays into that idea of damaged people being crazy and violent. It makes the end of the season really off putting.

That isn’t the only thing that makes it off putting. I am not familiar with the story this is a prequel to, I would even say most people watching this won’t be, that makes the seasons ending all the stranger. It ends with Mildred Ratchet on a mission. Maybe that mission is the One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest. I don’t know, but the way the show ends it doesn’t feel like it. Instead it makes her a vigilante going after a criminal hunting her. A move to clearly get more seasons than tell a story.

That story… Yeah, we’re finally circling back to that title. I am a sex positive person (my autocorrect completed that to police person which is weird and I hope doesn’t say anything about me). Sex is a good thing to explore and not keep in the bedroom (just be mindful of others). This is why I love Sex Education as a show so much. But when I say this show is horny… it’s horny. So much of the plotting would work if the world was populated by 20 somethings playing teenagers because they all seem to focus around sex. Who is having it, who isn’t, and who is having it with who are all the driving factors for the first half or more of the season. It is honestly shocking just how sexual it is. That might be why the show is so lopsided, all the story blood is rushing to the wrong muscles. I almost respect it for this if it wasn’t also trying to have a commentary on how psychiatric patients and criminal justice system is treated.

Much of this shows debate is on if it is good or not. I am not one to get into said debate because I honestly don’t care. I think it is too cartoonishly weird to be called simply bad. That might not be what someone wants in a show that’s marketed as a deep psychological thriller, and I don’t want that either to be clear; but for the one half noir story, one half heightened cartoonish drug trip, and (looking up average penis length) sized high school sex story it is kind of everything someone could want. Maybe. Possibly. It’s just so weird.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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That Moment When you Wait for Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan to Show Up (a Review of Cobra Kai Season 1&2)

Karate Kid is one of those nearly perfect 80s movies. A movie so precise in its focus and execution that the fact it didn’t always exist seems odd. Even after follow two more movies of varying quality and a host of spin-offs and reboots the original persistent as a classic. Cobra Kai, originally a YouTube Original (cause that’s the best way to get a TV show out there) seeks to ask the question of what would those characters be like as grown up adults now that they moved past the pressures forced upon them.

One of the jokes and ideas from How I Met Your Mother that will always stay with me is how Billy Zabka was always the original Karate Kid and this show seeks to answer what would a series be like if that were true. Not to make him a literal Karate Kid, but to make him the secondary protagonist he always could have been.

That’s not to say there isn’t a new Karate Kid. In fact there are pointedly two who would be two more protagonists to round out the ensemble. These two newbies are Miguel, a new teneant who moves into the same apartment as Johnny Lawrence and gets him to train him and restart the dojo. On the other side is Robby, Johnny’s son he’s never spent time with. When John is forced back into his life or tries to renter it, Robby decides to work for Daniel at his fancy auto shop and start learning karate from him in the same way Daniel learned from Mr. Miyagi.

The first season is best explained as a remake or reboot (even as it is a continuation) of the first film but with more steps and drama injected into the proceedings. Normally that would feel utterly tedious and banking on nostalgia, and it kind of is, but it is done with the goal to humanize characters new and old and focused on a goal. That goal being to fix some of the problems with the original film, along with add more depth. The best example being how even as the main character wins he doesn’t, in fact, get the girl or come out on top. Instead it seeks to examine some of the toxic nature the show sought to try and break down. The original movie did this as well but wants to make it perfectly clear on its goal.

The second season is far more complicated. It’s hard to tell if it is better or worse for it. The first season was a tight story with Miguel being a default protagonist. Most of the show follows his journey. But going into season two Daniel has a dojo with his daughter and Johnny’s son. Kreese, the stable genius, is back, and the drama just continually escalates while trying to balance all the characters and plot points they want to get. On balance it is more successful than not, and digs in deeper at the toxic culture. Why toxic culture can spread, and how it ultimately doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t miss too. Too much of the drama is built around people not listening or not saying something. For the teenagers it works better and by the final episode is clearly the point of the season. For the adult characters it’s much harder to believe, but does make up for it by showing how it is clearly the old guys trying to relive their glory days and endluging in boneheaded drama than the writing for the show. The season does end on many strong gut punches that make you want more and to see the characters grow.

That has been the most surprising part of the show, the characters. Daniel and Johnny were never amazing characters. Arch-types at best. This digs into them and makes them balance out. Their rivalry reminds me of something Chris Sabat said in a DBZ behind the scenes interview. In that he says how fans want Goku and Vegeta to get along but are often so wrapped up in their own drama that it’s difficult. That same dynamic is at play, and the writers know it by showing they can be friends. Unfortunately they are both too strong willed and dismissive to see the good the other one has. Kreese, being the only other returning character, at least back for more than one episode, plays a good contrast. He never changed and is shown to be the worse for it.

As great as it is to have the original characters portrayed well it is the new cast that makes it amazing. Everyone has a certain flare, personality, energy, or well delivered arc with great dialogue, to help pull through some of the worse drama. They all feel pretty well drawn and have good stances that show the best and worst in everyone. It is easy to both have a favorite while also copping to how dumb they can be, which is often the point when it comes to kids. They can act dumb and it be just a blip they learn from. By the end, though, you want them to be better and see the error of their ways.

Something that did improve and make the show just stellar is the action. The original films were fine. Good for the time but bad in the ways the original trilogy in Star Wars is bad. They did the best with what they had and is impressive to appreciate, but are outclassed by what can be done now. Usually that is for CGI and effects, but I mean cinematography and choreography. All the fights are so well planned, feel built up to, and look great. This is best shown in the utter awesome final fight in the last episode. Everything keeps building with characters getting payoffs left and right, and the action is crazy if a little too Hollywood for a show that was better than that… until the end anyway. By the time that fight rolls around it feels like the whole team is showing off and they earned it. Then they end with a gut punch that just gets you and makes you feel devastated.

The reason it is so devestating is how it contrasts with the comedy. The show can be uproariously funny at times. Some jokes like Johnny being a guy trapped in 80s, or just how done Daniel’s wife is with all the silly Karate drama, and the nerdy kid Demitrie. It has such a good sense of comedy and how to balance that with the rest of drama and themes they want to tackle.

It’s almost like the show was able to find its own sense of balance. No one is a real hero or villain. The show is not just one kind of story or another. It doesn’t just wallow in the nostalgia of the past, but doesn’t try to move past it and deal with only the new character.

I am gushing about the show because it is an amazing show. Maybe one of my all time favorites (for now… see FOGO for more details), which is odd cause I don’t care about the Karate Kid. I don’t think it’s bad by any means, but it felt so standard and of its time that it never hit me in the right way. I respected it but didn’t care. I care now. I want to see these characters grow, change, and find balance even if Jaden Smith doesn’t show up at some point (I think that might be in an alternate universe since they name check Jackie Chan and it would be weird for him to show up after being mentioned).

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Avatar: the Impossible Followup – A look at The Legend of Korra Seaon 4

We have come to the end of this journey. A look at a series that I have more to say on an upcoming editorial, but seasonally has reached its end. I don’t have a whole lot of preamble. After season three ended I didn’t keep track of season four cause I wanted to wait and watch it when it was over, and I heard no one talk about it except for one specific element I’ll get to (it’s Korrasami, duh), but other than that it seemed to have been forgotten.

Forgotten just like the shows pacing. Instead of only a few months or weeks, the series jumps three years – about the length of the shows run – into the future to see how the world changed since Zaheer’s attack on the Earth Kingdom, and crippling of Korra. In that time the Earth Kingdom has been brought back together under Kuvira, a minor character we only caught a glimpse of near the end of season three helping care for the wounded men after their failed attempt to stop Zaheer’s Red Lotus and save the airbenders. In the meantime she worked to restore order with the help of Varrick, one of Su’s kids we did not see last season, and Bolin. Meanwhile the Air Nation is doing their best to keep the peace with their limited numbers, a new Earth King is about to be crowned, and Korra has gone missing. Everything goes wrong when Kuvira takes total control and Korra is shown to be majorly off her game. She must work to restore balance to herself before Kuvira can force balance onto the Earth Kingdom.

This is a strange season. Not strictly in terms of content, but there is some of that we’ll get to, but instead in terms of energy and passion. Last season felt like the series they always wanted to make. This season feels like they have to deal with consequences, but don’t have the passion to do that. Like the team got all their ideas out and now have to follow through, stuck in the rut they made.

This might stem from their idea for a villain this season. In order to make sure they get all the elements down they made the final villain an earth bender who seeks to unite the Earth Kingdom under her rule in a not to subtle nod to classic fascist and totalitarian imagery. Unfortunately for the team it is going backward and copying some of what the Fire Nation was in the previous series, a bland evil-faceless empire and its not as good because it is not nearly as developed. It starts in a strong place. When a state is overrun by bandits and Kuvira shows up offering help in exchange for control of the town that all works. It shows why people might flock to her, but doesn’t show the aftermath of that choice. They talk of re-education camps and forced labor but only the remnants of that are shown.

The real problem might be Kuvira herself. She is plenty terrifying as a villain. Menacing and clearly capable, even if they have to weaken Korra for most of the season to make this plot work, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. But the failure is in showing how she grew so powerful or what led to being a full dictator. The finale tries to give her some sympathy of being scared and pushing a nationalistic idealology to feel safe. As true as that may be not enough of it is in the show. It doesn’t tap into how clearly ruthless she is either. She nearly annihilated her fiancée in order to keep her power. I’m shocked there was never a point she said she would kill Korra and scour the Earth Empire in search of the next Avatar in order to control them. But that might have been to far, and they wanted her sympathetic.

If Kuvira was all control then Prince Wu, rightful Earth Kingdom heir, is her opposite the season is paralleling. To be totally contrary, Wu is a cowardly wimp who would rather have fun than rule. Focused fully on womanizing and partying over the crown, or rather only wants the crown for that. However it is seen over the season that he clearly does have a way with the public. He can make people follow him through sheer charism and exuberant energy. He also would never give up his people just for a chance at freedom. That makes it all the stranger when he steps down to allow a democracy to come in. Which, despite how poorly monarchies were used in the history of the show, could clearly not be an issue if the right leader is in charge. The best example being the Fire Lord, Zuko’s daughter whose name we get but I forgot. She is still in charge and they don’t seem to have any issues (actually it’s odd how the series was so focused on every place but the Fire Nation. I’m aware they did a whole show about it, but it would be interesting to see how life has changed since the Hundred Year War-and I’m saving that for the editorial).

For returning characters, Toph finally makes her appearance and she is about as perfect a return as you can get. She is wise and helpful without being around purely for fan service or exposition. She plays well with the theme of unity and forgiveness, and still sounds like herself in the writing even if no one else has been. Also it is fun to watch her call out people who would think Katara should have joined and helped in the Civil War… as a fighter. She defiantly should have been someone advisor at least but that’s not here or there.

When it comes to the main cast it is a mixed bag. Mako, poor Mako, gets nothing to do this season. He’s bodyguard to Prince Wu, and just sort of around. In fact, I bet if he was cut from the season it would have made no difference. Except for how he plays into the relationship with Asami and Bolin. Asami, similarly doesn’t get a lot to do, but is more important overall than Mako in terms of plot and theme. When it comes to plot she is around to make amends with her father, who has been in prison since his working with Amon, and working with Verick to help build defenses for Republic City when Kuvira plans to invade. In both instances she must work with men who have betrayed her in order to prove her strength of will. For Verick it makes sense. He’s always been a complete cheeseball looking for a thrill, but her father. While I see the logic in giving him a chance to prove he is better than the revenge that overtook him, it being introduced so late into the series and season feels off. A build where he learns to respect benders like Korra and why his daughter turned to them over him would help build his case. He does get to die a noble enough death whether he deserved it or not. Asami, sweet Asami, is also part of a romance I will get to later.

Following her is Bolin, my hunky marshmallow. After his journey last season he started working with Kuvira to bring peace and help people. All of that is in character for him. He’s a stand up guy who wants a nice life and do the right thing, while being dim enough not to ask follow up questions. This changes when he finds out the truth of what she is doing, and how crazy she can get and teams up with Verick to escape and help save Republic City. He too is shown to be a very empathetic leader, and is an interesting parallel to Prince Wu in those terms. Well meaning, but not that bright people who honestly want to help are shown to be the best leaders. Well them and the Avatar.

Korra’s arc feels like the only one truly thought out, and gave the writers an out by making her underpowered for most of the fights she gets into. Following last season, Korra was physically crippled by the mercury-like poison coursing through her body. Turns out it was more than just physical. She was haunted by the events that led her to that moment, and the trauma of near death. On top of that her friends of New Team Avatar all were able to move up and do great things in their life. They saw it as just keeping her informed, but to her it made her feel like she was just standing still as everyone passed her by, making her feel useless and unnecessary. That is strong groundwork laid in one of this series better episodes, Korra Alone. It is also handled well after that. She trains with Toph who gets her to help see she needs help and was literally holding onto the past by still holding pieces of the metal in her body. Then, forcing Korra to remove it on her own and teach her how to see using sprite vines is all wonderful growth that tracks. Where it fails in her needing to see Zaheer, the person who traumatized her and almost killed her. Though I have never been nearly killed by someone, I can imagine forcing to confront them is a painful experience, let alone going to them for help. I do not follow message boards (God I’m old… Discord Servers or Subredits), but I gather there was some backlash to that decision. The team played it well by not redeeming him but rather had it be a tenuous alliance at best, but it still felt rather tone deaf to force Korra to go to her abuser, make her relive the moment the abuser tried to kill her, and give that same person the speech that she had to go through that. And for what?

One of Korra’s best moments is near the end of the season when she is able to reason with Kuvira after her plan goes breast-plate up. She realizes that Kuvira was just a scared girl using her power, just like Korra was. Only she grew from that. She then relays that to Tenzin near the finale when she says that nearly dying and going through that trauma made her more compassionate to even the most haneous of people. That all works in the abstracts. However I would posit it was not, in fact, the poison, and crippling trauma that drove this. It was her finally going out, seeing the world, and working to become her own woman with no baggage. This came with consequences she had to deal with. That would make her using those skills to finally talk Kuvira down all more impactful. Unfortunately the team did not see it that way… or the character but with it being one of the final exchanges it’s impossible to know and doesn’t matter. But her saying she had to go through that that trauma in order to be as compassionate doesn’t track anyway. It was shown last season that she was able to empathize with the new airbenders, except the basement dweller (so maybe they had a point), so it doesn’t seem like she needed that lesson.

Maybe part of the reason it feels off is how they use the time to advance her and Asami’s relationship, which again, is coming.

Another piece that feels off and contributes to this whole wonky tone is the lack of action this season. Sure there are fights and chases and a city siege, but it feels all so tame. This has always been, or wanted to be, a more talkie show. It wants to have big ideas, themes, and characters. It has a less then stellar track record at achieving that, but that was always its goal. The previous seasons had this too, but when it was action time it was always strong, dynamic, and punchy. This season it feels all so drab. The best example is the final fight with Kuvira. In theory it should be great. A giant mech attacks the city and they must stop it as a group. It builds the theme of teamwork to stop a common goal, and is totally original. The issue is that the mech is a lunky CG, and the plans they come up with don’t match the epic scale. It all feels too easy, even if having one direct force works better than branching ones like Avatar’s finale had. It just all feels so subdued, which is fine. Trying to constantly top yourself each season can lead to problems. But the ending doesn’t feel as satisfying because of it.

To really throw a curve ball, this season has a clip show, something the rest of the show could avoid. It could be argued Avatar had a clip show episode in the Fire Island play, but that was a creative retelling of the series. This is a bland recap with additional banter thrown on top for comedic effect. It slows the seasons overall good pacing to a screeching halt to not advance much story other than small character moments. These moments don’t feel important enough to be substantial or important enough to build an episode around and filled in with show clips.

All of this has really been staving off the inevitable conversation about Korrasami. Korrasami, the romantic pairing of Korra and Asami the show leaves us with, is underwhelming. I fully support them as a couple, and actually want to read the comics about them to see if they get development because, as it stands now, it doesn’t work. It’s arguable how much the team tried to get them together or were allowed with getting away with by Nickelodeon, but the source goes deeper than that. Korra and Asami have no chemistry. I don’t want to blame anyone, but it feels like it’s Asami’s problem because she is such a nothing character. She is in the first season to be a strict romantic rival and provide support for New Team Avatar, but once that concludes she seems to just be around with no point. The show failed her. She’s a women in STE(A)M after all. She should be the one coming up with plans and strategy. She’s both a nerd and an empath. There is just so much potential never touched by the writers. I don’t know how much was planned based from the start of the season to the final scene, but if they wanted her and Korra to get together then more of the arc should have been around that instead of… or maybe both, around her rekindling some feelings for her father and caring for Korra in a new light.

There are some subtle attempts to pair them in our mind. The fact Korra can really only write to Asami after her crippling. The use unreasonable arguments to help build that Korra and Asami act as couple similar Korra and Mako, and the fact, and this is from the creators, they mirrored the shots of the wedding scene with them to show a romantic interest. Also this:

As frustrating as it is that they got such little growth as a couple it bothers me more that Nickelodeon tries to push Korra as LGBT (and all the wonderful letters after) representation even as they did not let them go into a full relationship, and removed Korra from their channel, but then want to act like they had representations all along. That truly maddens me. It would be like saying Spongebob is asexual… oh wait no!

As the series draws to a close Korra and Tenzin remark on how much Korra changed the world. It should feel epic. Governments are changing, the spirits and humans are flowing, there is no evil spirits. All massive stuff, yet, it feels so small. It doesn’t feel like anything changes from the first episode despite so much happening. Compared to Avatar, which felt suitably epic all the way to the end. It’s the same feeling some people get after watch The Last Jedi. So much happened yet it feels like filler. I think the reason is because as much as stuff happened there was no journey. There was never a clear endpoint. I don’t get why Korra ended with season four and not with whatever is going on in the comics. It reached and end, but hardly a conclusion.

Though this is the end of The Legend of Korra but that’s not the end of Avatar: The Impossible Followup (but this is defiantly a break from it. I need to watch some other stuff). If you study the credits as I do, then eagle-eyes viewers know many members: Lauren Montgomery, Joaquim Dos Santos, Joshua Hamilton, Tim Hedrick and more go on to create Voltron: The Legendary Defender. Meanwhile Aaron Ehaz, the story editor and lead writer for Avatar along with other co-writers have gone on to make Dragon Prince. Both series try and fail to live up to the path Avatar made, because, truly, it is impossible to follow up.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Avatar: The Impossible Followup – A look at The Legend of Korra Season 3

As alluded to at the end of my season 2 look, Korra was removed from Nickelodeon and put onto the web for streaming. Though I cannot remember an exact day or episode, I do recall that it was at the start of this season. This is strange and doesn’t truly effect the series other than maybe one scene they probably couldn’t have aired.

It’s removal from the network is a bothersome topic for much later, either my look at season four or an my post watch editorial, but it is not the most interesting thing about this season. Instead this season decides to shake everything up, and feels like a full embrace of what the team wanted to do, but had to work to achieve.

Getting ahead of myself again, this season takes place only a few weeks after Korra bear Unalaq and opened the portals to balance the spirit and human worlds. This decision has come with a lot of push back by Republic City and it’s citizens as they want a normal life back, and Korra tries and fails to help. Everything comes to a head when new Airbenders start appearing all over the world. Korra, exiled from Republic City due to her disposition of causing more probalmes then she solves, goes with Tenzin and the rest of Team Avatar to help rebuild the Air Nation. This will be harder than first thought as a dangerous criminal, Zaheer, also awakened to his Airbending and plans to use it to free his band of criminals called the Red Lotus and write the world in their image. That includes kill the Avatar.

This season feels like what Korra, the show and character to an extent, was what the show wanted to be all long. All while using the previous season as a building block to tell a story they really wanted to tell. There is very little padding or unclear narrative. An example would be how much time is spent with Bolin or Jinora setting up their arcs when most of the time was not necessary and used more to extend the story. Same with the excised boring relationship drama. There is some lip-service paid to it, but it is mostly dropped, except for comedy. Whether that part, the lack of mentioning past relationships at all, makes sense can be argued, but it’s exclusion doesn’t make the show worse. In fact it is by far the most cohesive season. It’s themes are explored in multiple ways and the villains feel like proper foils even if they have less of a point than Amon or Unalaq.

Zaheer is only an interesting villain insofar as he contrasts Korra in every possible way. A naturally spiritual person who seemed to be able to adapt to his Airbending powers quickly and sees him seek total disorder as a way to unlock humanities true balance. He’s a complete foil the Korra and much closer to a “Dark Avatar” than Unalaq was. In fact, Zaheer’s whole Red Lotus team feels like they are supposed to be analogous to the past team. They have a skilled water bender, an earth bender who uses a new type of bending, and a fire bender with a close relationship to the air bender. Sure, Aang and Zuko were in no way romantic (except in all my fan fics. God, it sucks using these as both jokes and extenuating points to express free thought cause now no one knows if I’m joking), but did have a deep friendship and respect that defined them. They also have names the show wants to ram into our heads, but I forgot.

Zaheer’s anarchistic beliefs work only on a thematic level. I won’t go over how it’s okay to have a character, especially a villain, have the wrong idea and no “point,” but I guess I just did. His idea of letting nature run its course and being loyal to only one’s self is blatantly wrong. The fact it’s a group who holds that belief is proof enough, but he stands in opposition to Korra’s challenge of trying to find a balance in the disorder of a post-convergence world. Though that is not really solved, the importance of leaders, leadership, and what constitutes a good leader are all thrown into question through in-text/character examples. The Earth Queen, Su (who we’ll get to later), Tenzin and Jinora, and even bit characters like an airship captain are all examples of the importance of leadership and where they can go astray. That’s also part of the whole setup with Korra’s argument with the President of Republic City. His gut reaction to look good for his people helped spur all of this on. It’s clear what happened in that scenario was wrong, but was caused more by societal pressures on the government than the government existing.

With Amon and Unalaq they were both wrong on many fronts of their ideals. Though we do find out Unalaq was a member of the Red Lotus and wanted her even as far back as childhood, which was why she was held in a protective area most of her life (that makes sense, but then Tonraq and Tenzin should have said they did it cause terrorists were trying to abuduct her and not just sulk about being restrictive, but I digress). In both cases they were wrong. I cannot decide if Zaheer’s ideals are just wrong, if they’re presented wrong, or if their is a piece missing. A whole part of Zaheer is the will to remove all earthly possessions in order to fly. He achieves this once his girlfriend dies, so it would seem clear that he would want everyone to be free of earthly possessions like him. He wants them to have total freedom, which is kind of the same thing, but this also values individuality which makes him having a group a thematic problem, but not a story one because he also adds friends into his individualist ideals (I wonder if that includes the Steven Blum guard. I only mention him cause Amon comes back in a hallucinogenic sequence and then cut to a guard who uses a similar voice to speak. So weird).

The villains are not all that makes up this season. In addition some new characters are introduced. One is Su, Lin’s sister and Toph’s second daughter. She is the leader of a Metal-Bending city that is cool looking, but are also sealed at night which seems weird. Almost fascistic, but I’m getting ahead of myself. She and Lin have a tense history of when Su was a much freer spirit, a lost child trying to find herself and the stress it caused Lin and Toph. It is interesting she is a half-sister. I like the idea that Toph did not marry her first love. Feels subtly mature, and I can imagine she isn’t the easiest person to live with. Along with her comes her family who are all quirky in specific ways. The only standout is Opal who is in love with Bolin, and is a new air bender.

That takes us to the air benders. Which, even though they are all different people, like Kai and Otaku, function as a group. The idea of balancing the world spiritually also corrected the imbalance of benders is great and makes sense. Korra also working to recruit and train some of the members pays off her training in season one. However it also gives Jinora a chance to become a master by taking over training and leading the group when Tenzin goes down during the end of the season. It does go further, though. Above, I said Kai functions with the group, but that’s also not true. He’s also part of that theme of being part of something and having guidance from a leader is important as he goes from street rat to hero, helping save the air benders at the end. Outside of him the rest are just a group that has to learn and grow into their newly given powers and accept the responsibility with it.

This season shows the return of Zuko. Though it’s harder to see him as him because Zuko only gets one scene to really be himself, and is relegated to sounding board and exposition. His learning of Iroh’s existence in the spirit world is good, but doesn’t get a chance to linger long enough

Outside of Jinora and Lin, no one on Team Avatar changes too much. Mako is just kind of awkward, which gives him some character. That and being a studious cop (ACAB, sorry bud), but that’s really it. Asami continues to be more of an emotional sounding board and rock for the group, but is relegated to the background, except when they remember she can fight. Korra is still the headstrong, direct person she has always been. She has learned to be more empathic, which helps when she sacrifices herself to save the Air Nation. I’m not sure if that’s her being headstrong and direct again. She knew something bad was bound to happen if Zaheer took her, but leaving her totally drained as a result is incredibly interesting. Despite restoring to messing with the Avatar State, again, leaving her crippled is much more complicated than just killing her. It gives her places to grow.

The exception to all of that is Bolin. What Bolin goes through is my only video essay idea, that being how to properly setup a twist. Bolin, in this season has been struggling with learning metal bending. He tries and fails constantly only to figure out he can lava-bend. Considering he’s been fitting an opponent who can do it, it doesn’t come out of nowhere, and he makes a big sacrifice. After stopping lava he says how he just learned, meaning he was ready to die in order to help save Mako and Tenzin. That’s big stuff, and a great, built-up reveal.

The lava-bending is evidence of how this season really plays with, and expands, the fights in the series. This season has, by far, the best and most intricate fight scenes by far. That comes from the new bending and revising bending like octopus arms, and combustion-bending, but also figuring out ways to make air bending far more acrobatic. This leads to so many fights wher everyone has to move, counter, and react quickly. No combat scenario stays the same for too long. The balance constantly shifts. The standout is when Tenzin fights Zaheer with Kya and Bumi holding their own again the other Red Lotus members. The constant shifts in power and viceral hits matched with relatively low stakes (yes it’s for the Air Nation, but it’s not on a big scale) makes the ending so hard. The same can be said when Korra fights Zaheer with her dad when she is chained up. That has the team playing with more inventive moves and strategies that keep the fight constantly engaging. It’s all good stuff.

This is the only season to setup for the next. It’s not clear that’s what’s being done, but it sets up the next threat. This is also the first season to have the villain not die at the end. That, along the Air Nation being a group of worldly peace keepers, and Korra being crippled leaves it in a far more complicated place than before. Unfortunately it still didn’t solve the inciting incident of spirit/human cohabitation means and what can be done. It’s just left to sit there, making it feel all less interesting and giving the story less places to go.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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The THIRD best thing Disney+ Can Do (A look at Heroman)

Since the release of Disney+ they have done a total of two good things, both of which I covered. The first is making the forgotten X-Men Evolution available in full for all. The second is releasing a version of Hamilton for everyone… with the service. But there is a third thing they can do: dub and release Heroman.

Oh, you don’t know what Heroman is? Well strap in!

Heroman, an anime series created by Bones studio, of FMA, Soul Eater, and My Hero Academiafame and along with other great series, associated with Stan Lee’s Pow Entertianment is everything that combination sounds like it would be.

The series is a mix between a classic Marvel ongoing drama and boy and his dog (if the dog is a giant robot) story. When a school teacher sends a radio signal into space it gets the attention of an insectoid race of conquerors who found their next watering hole. When they arrive they create a storm that awakens best-boy and resident protagonist, Joey Jones’s newest animatronic figure into a Hulk-sized hero. With his new hero he teams up with teacher, Mr Denton, friend Psy, a love-interest Lina to help save he world once the aliens, called Skruggs, land. Of course everything gets more complicated when tech-billionaires, high school jocks, and government bureaucracies get in the way of saving the world.

The series feels like an early progenitor of what future series like My Hero Academia would become. It’s an exceedingly earnest series through and through, and that’s where the fun comes from, but feel superhero inspired all the same. However, instead of being an X-Men a-like, it’s closer to an Iron Man, Hulk, or Spider-Man series.

The series feels closer in pacing and structure to those above series (also, does it bug, no pun intended, that Spider-Man is hyphenated while Iron Man is not), and a closer comic pacing in general. Each episode focuses on overcoming a specific challenge, a related character arc attached to that challenge, and a longer story running throughout all of that. It’s 26 episode run is also reminiscent of conics in that way, since most runs on books only last around 20 issues anyway.

It’s pacing is not the only comic book element about it. The flowing nature of the series, as it weaves through different arc types, villains, and structures is all very comic book. Starting with a weighty and dramatic alien invasion, to a mad scientist story that focuses on character drama, to smaller one offs like an island infected by monster vines, or a kidnapping plot by the remnants of the aliens, to its final conclusion with everything coming to a head, and tease that being a hero is never over. It all screams comic book.

Just because it screams comic book doesn’t make it good. The characters are what bring the whole story to life, and how those characters are both archetypes and subversions of said archetypes weaved into one. Joey is the prime example of this. He is the all too earnest and eager kid thrust with great power. Instead of a Peter Parker arc where he learns to use his power for good, he already knows it needs to be used for good, but doesn’t know what that means. Thankfully evil aliens show up to make that an easy solution, but following that he remains steadfast in his conviction to help people even if messes with his personal life from time to time.

The changes and evolutions don’t stop with him. Lina, the love interest, though a cheerleader is not a typical love interest. She starts outwardly interested in timid Joey and throughout the series grows to have a deeper interest in him because of his good heart and bravery. She is also far feistier than she looks, leading to great moments. Similarly, Psy, Joey’s best friend is a jock who was injured in a football injury, but charges into battle all the same, and acts like a realist. There is also their teacher-friends Prof. Denton and Ms Collins, along with Joey’s sister Holly, and Agent Hughes from the NIA. Each one has a little more under the hood, and are revealed to be far more thoughtful than first expectation seem. All of them led with amazingly striking character designs.

The show isn’t perfect. Though it is still gorgeous, it’s age is showing in some places. Mostly with the use of CG vehicles. The comic pacing is also hindered by the overly-long initial invasion arc, and a reliance on new powers coming too easily. The powers are centered around Joey’s resolve, but they do feel contrived at times. Even those problems don’t hinder the great, earnest time this show brings forth.

It’s a great series. So what? Many shows are great and don’t need to be on Disney+. Same with stuff created by Stan Lee. He did an entire series with DC about reimagining their big characters. Doesn’t mean they need to be on Disney+. So what sets this apart? It was supposed to air on Disney XD!

https://youtu.be/WgEjAeaO5tc

The series was planned to be dubbed and aired on Disney XD, with many different dubbing houses across Asia and America creating pilots to test, but none of them making it further in development than test dubs. It’s unclear why they did not move forward, but it is a shame because it feels so much like a show perfect for Disney.

On top of that, there is precedent for it. On Disney + sits the Avengers anime series. Marvel’s Future Avengers or Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers. Was a sub only anime series done by Toei and released on Disney XD only in Southwest Asia was in a similar boat as Heroman, but was ported over to Disney+. This shows they can get the rights to a work only named after a Marvel series, let alone a series created by the father of the Marvel universe. It screaming out to be taken just like that was and dubbed!

Additionally, the series needs more anime options. I know that might seem odd considering it’s for all Disney properties. But, considering even the most normie streaming services like HBO Max and Amazon Prime also have anime to some degree. That makes it all the stranger Disney, one of the most massive conglomerates doesn’t. It’s also fairly child-friendly which would work out well too. And if a scene is not it can often be edited either in dialogue or physically remove to match. I wouldn’t love that, but it would make some sense.

In th writing of this it was revealed that Marvel got the rights to make an Ultraman comic. Ultraman being one of the longest running tokusatsu series in Japan, is getting a Marvel comic adaption. That’s breaking news. It reminds me of the days when the Transformers and GI Joe were all part of the same universe as well. It’s. Far more interesting direction, especially is Ultraman stays as an Avenger or something. And that, that is what I want for Heroman. The characters, designs, and story transcend the barrier or location and could be something just as fun and exciting for people over here, and give them a true, perfect hero.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

The OTHER Zootopia Anime (A look at BNA)

It’s no secret that anime is a very insular medium. A real oroboros of ideas, themes, and settings. It made the shocking appearance of another show about a city filled with anthopormophic animals odd because of its specificity. That’s not the only oddity to be sure. They have the same Japanese distributer (or producer maybe) in Ultra, and is done by studio Trigger of Promare, Kill la Kill, and Little Witch Academia fame. But, is it good?

BNA, short for Brand New Animal, follows Michiru, a human who woke up as a shape-shifting tanooki Beastman. These beastmen are humanoid beings who can change their shape to look like animals. In order to figure out why she changed, Michiru runs away to Anima-City, a haven for Beastmen. There she runs into a grump wolf named Shiro. With him they will get to the bottom of her sudden change, and what human intrests have wormed their way into the city.

Overall, the series zigs in every way Zootopia and Beastars zags despite having so many similarities and the way it covers so many of the same topics. The primary example of this is the theme of prejudice and learning to live with others and be yourself. All three of these animal themed shows are about this, but unlike Zootopia and Beastars, BNA is far more literal. Instead of using diets as an allegory for prejudice, this show jumps all in on making Beastmen a seperate class with humans also existing. From there it uses that divide to drive the show’s plot and eventual thematic statement.

Despite this change it still holds much in common with both stories. Tonally this is far closer to Zootopia and what a Zootopia TV series would be like. Far more episodes focus on life in the city, the problems the Beastmen face, and ways they cope with life. On top of that, it is far far wackier. This even tackles what a hypothetical religion would be like in a world where beast people exist. This is Trigger after all, so they focus more on having every frame and story be full of energy and excitement. That means it is the least consistent in terms of overall quality, but does pack the biggest punches when they land.

Much of this unevenness comes from the well designed, but not always well written characters. The star is Michiru. Her optimism and push to solve everything while enjoying life is incredibly infectious. She is brought out more when her childhood friend, who also turned Beastman in the same accident, is introduced as a leader in a religious group. Their real friendship is heartwarming and feels genuine. They do feel like friends who try to understand and help the other even if they fight. It takes a while for that to happen, and their disagreements aren’t always greatly delved into. Most of it is built on intent. Intent is also the word Id used of Shiro the wolf. His character, once fully revealed, is interesting. He’s a true protector of the weak and helpless Beastmen with a chip on his shoulder. Unfortunately he’s not compelling outside of that to be interesting. He doesn’t have a great dynamic with Michiru, despite spending so much time with her. The most I can draw is that he reluctantly accepts her help and generally cares, but that’s all.

The rest of the series cast is built out of some genuinely interesting characters. You have the mafia boss because, again, these are all the same story. Instead he’s a Dolphin with an intimidating, but excitable disposition. There is a weasely minx that runs all the black market businesses, a delightful bear-themed baseball team, the mayor, and obvious villain Alan (you can tell he’s bad because he had the same haircut and look as Kray Foresight from Promare).

I realize it was in parentheses so it doesn’t count as part of the piece, just an aside, but Promare is a great comparison to this show even over Kill la Kill and Little Witch. Promare is all about being yourself and stopping those who try to force their ideals on you, all while the villain is secretly the thing he’s fighting. This show goes farther with that. Alan, literally blond hair and blue eyed, talks about being pure blooded and controls the world from the impure. The differences are what set these two stories apart, and makes BNA weaker for it.

Since, in Promare, the Burnish need to burn to survive and are seen as evil for setting fires, the Beastmen are normally fine, just can look like animals. It seems from that alone like the Beastmen are a better example of inequality based on your body. However, the Beastmen can go literally mad and monsterous if put under too much stress. The show finds a cure in kind of the best and worst way, but the point is that they can’t work out these stressful changes any other way. The Burnish, by contrast, have a way harmlessly burn and is shown multiple times in the movie how they could have lived in society. This is unfortunate only because, until that point the ethical arguments were far more interesting and it didn’t have to be that way. It could have been all created as a ploy from the villain to make them seem more monstrous, or that they can control themselves to be better, but it’s neither. It’s a thing with blood because this is just a bad mid-2010s film apparently.

This series, even though it does draw closely to Zootpia and Beastars, is a lot closer to something like X-Men in places. It even has a cure that’s fought for as a right to choose. This was by far the most interesting take even as it was simultaneously the most and least complex of the trio. It is the most fun, though, and that cannot be understated.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!