Aggretsuko: My Thoughts

Not going to lie, my relationship with anime over the last few years has been…  Rocky.  In my high school years, anime was this amazing beautiful thing that captivated me and mesmerized me.  here and now, it’s a thing that comes around on Saturday nights, and serves primarily as background noise while I do literally anything but watch it.  Because lately, I can predict what the plot is going to be with a grand total of one, maybe two episodes.

Dumdum McRetard wants to become the very best like no one ever was.  Maybe it’s the king of the pirates, maybe it’s the wizard king, maybe it’s the great hokage.  Whatever you want to call the very best, that’s Dumdum’s goal.  Unfortunately, Dumdum has no grace, no tact, no intelligence, no social skills, no table manners…  In fact, why are we even focusing on this guy?  Badass Van Asskicker, Dumdum’s long time rival and significantly more competent counterpart, is often times the more fascinating characters in these shows.  But wait, there’s a twist!  You see, despite the fact Dumdum McRetard is a hopeless fucking idiot with no chance in hell of making it up so much as one rung of the ladder, it turns out he’s the most powerful fucking person in the entire universe!  And thus, he accomplishes his goals based entirely around dumb luck.

The end.

A Carl Rove production.

Lather, rinse, repeat, dub it into English, and hand it off to Cartoon Network for their dead horse of an anime block.

Call it whatever you want: Naruto, Bleach, Black Clover, Fairy Tail, Seven Deadly Sins, My Hero Academia…  Really, at this point, the list goes on.  I’m so fucking tired of this concept!

Netflix does have a significantly more varied selection of anime…  It was through Netflix I watched shows like Welcome to the NHK, and most of Moribito.  Unfortunately, with Netflix, the one fatal drawback is the show doesn’t always come with an English dub.  Yeah, I’m one of THOSE people: the guy who’d rather not spend a binge session reading subtitles and actually hear English come from my anime.  Call me a weirdo if you must, but if I wanted to READ for a few hours, I’d get a book.

So yeah, I haven’t really been keeping up with anime in the last few years.  I’ve heard some titles, found one or two of those titles on Toonami, saw exactly what I was getting, and went back to bingewatching Baskets or something.

Then, earlier this weekend, a friend of mine introduced me, and another friend to Aggretsuko.

I got to say, this show is actually pretty entertaining.  A lot more entertaining than a furry anime based on cubical drone life deserves to be, that’s for sure.

Meet Retsuko.  She’s a “red panda” (which I just recently discovered is a legit thing), working the cubical life, putting up with horrible bosses, and a life that honestly doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.  But when she isn’t working, she’s going to the local karaoke bar, and screaming her lungs out to death metal!  It’s very Phineas and Ferb in the sense there’s a song of the day, but it’s more akin to Metalocalypse in the sense it’s metal.  I’m fairly certain they rehash the same two or three instrumentals and just put new lyrics to it, ala Nurima Daikon Brothers, but I’m not all the way through the series just yet.

Trust me, this is definitely looking like one of those shows you don’t have to watch all at once if you don’t want to.  if you’re like me, and bingewatching four different things at the moment, that’s a good thing.  Of course if you have nothing going on, and just want to binge the shit out of this show, that’s good too.

The acting, at least on the English dub, is solid.  Although I’m about 85% positive the person performing the death metal is not only a different voice actor from the one providing Retsuko’s voice, but I’m also about 85% positive the death metal singer is a guy.  I could be wrong about that, but as a bit of a connoisseur of the genre, I’m pretty good at picking out female shriekers from male shriekers.  I think I was only wrong once in my entire life, and that was with the band Crisis.

It’s not the kind of show that reinvents the wheel.  In fact, I remember thinking to myself that this was a show that joined the “kids show for adults” fad of the early to mid 2000s about a decade late.  Then again, I don’t expect Japan to be keeping tabs on what’s popular here in The States, so I give this one a pass on that front.

I’m noticing a lot of metal coming from Japan lately.  Between this show, and Baby metal (a Japanese metal band who’s avant gard even by Japanese standards), it’s hard not to notice a trend.  Or maybe metal was always big in Japan, and I’m just now noticing.  I don’t know.  All I can really say is the stuff I’ve seen from Japan lately is a pretty decent change of pace.  The American metal scene right now consists primarily of the djent fad, a few hand-me-downs from Denmark, and Five Finger Death Punch.  If this is the best we can do, maybe it’s time I look into Japan’s metal scene more thoroughly.  And my gateway was a red panda with a cubical job.  Hey, I’ve had dumber origin stories for how I got into scenes and fandoms.  I should tell you my story of how I got into the New Jersey Devils fandom some day.

I’m getting off track.

All and all, Aggretsuko is pretty good.  If nothing else, it’s a very refreshing change of pace for me.

 

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Disjointed: My Thoughts

Can I just say, I hate a lot of 1960s television.  A lot of it isn’t even 1960s television’s fault, either.  A lot of tropes at the time were REALLY to blame: the canned laughter, the hokey jokes, the acting…  I’m way to used to 90s sitcoms I guess.  Home Improvement was always my jam.  Mostly because things got all splody when Tim tried to fix stuff…  But I digress.

Disjointed’s approach to the 60s esque sitcom was a sort of red flag for someone like me, but honestly, I’m glad I took the challenge.

For starters, the tropes may be there, but the language, and some of the subject matter is a LOT more adult.  And I’m not just talking about the fact the show is set at a marijuana despensery, either.  There’s plenty of dick and fart jokes, F-bombs, and what not that you’d THINK would clash with the kind of show they were going for, but in fact, works perfectly.

The thing I always look forward to in each episode of Disjointed is the animated sequences.  Most of which seem to exist in Carter’s head, but a few take place elsewhere.  I Guarantee that about seventy-five percent of the show’s budget went into those.

I’d say Dank and Dabby were my favorite characters in the entire show, but let’s face it, they were designed to be everyone’s favorite.  They’re the Jay and Silent Bob of Disjointed.  Except Jay’s a black guy, and Silent Bob is a chick who’s anything but silent.  In fact, this looks more like Jay and Jay than anything else.  Fortunately, these guys don’t get obnoxious despite all the potential in the world being right there.

Stories do get multiple episodes to develop (IE, Pete’s weird obsession with his latest bunch of marijuana plants), but for the most part, I’ve found this is a show you can walk away from for about a week, come back to, and not feel like you missed anything TOO important.  Say for maybe the last two episodes, which are a legit two-parter for sure.  I appreciate shows like that.

All and all, I recommend Disjointed.  Admittedly, they do have some real groaners in there (Kim Jong Un-believable comes to mind immediately), but what sitcom doesn’t?  As long as they’re few and far between, and the show holds my attention, it’s all good.

Ready Player One: My Thoughts

Virtual world fiction is probably among my least favorite subgenres of scifi-fantasy.  Dot Hack Sign was my first real exposure to the idea (back in the early 2000s when anime was all over the damn place), and I really didn’t care for it.  I just didn’t feel the same sense of urgency to anything going on.  It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but there was no real sense that anything going on in Dot Hack was relevant to anything going on in the real world.  I suppose when you’re in the game, and in the moment, slaying that evil ogre beast is the most god damn important thing ever, but video games tend to be more fun to play than to watch.  Although Game Grumps totally holds my attention.

Other works of virtual world fiction have come along, and…  Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been any better.

Sword Art On-line is probably the best modern example, and its first season was actually kind of interesting.  And it got you invested in the game itself, because if you died in the game, you died in real life.  There was urgency to complete the quest, there was commentary on how MMOs can, and sometimes DO consume your life, it had everything.  It’s just too bad they felt compelled to make a season 2 that completely underminded all the good things about season 1.  Then there was a season 3, and at that point, I was so annoyed with the show, I just flat out gave up.

There are other examples, and really, they all suck.  The idea of a virtual world just didn’t appeal to me for the longest time…  Until I heard about a man by the name of Ernest Cline.

I went in to Ready Player One expecting the worst.

“Virtual world, huh?  I’m skeptical, but I guess I got to listen to SOMETHING while waiting for Second Hand Souls to come out.”

“Oh god, it’s young adult.  I can’t wait to see what sort of heavy handed dystopian pseudo noir written in the present tense awaits me this time.”

“Oh great, 1980s pop culture.  Trying a little hard to cater to Generation Nostalgia, Mr. Cline?”

Really, by all accounts, I should’ve hated this book.  And yet, I enjoyed it.  From start to finish, this book was probably one of the better things I’d read in 2015.

There’s a reason to spend your entire life in a virtual world here, and surprisingly, it’s only PARTLY because by 2045, the entire planet is a fucking dump.  There’s urgency, dying in the virtual world has consequences, the characters…  Are probably the kind of people I’d have related to back when I was eighteen for sure, though replace all the 80s movies with professional wrestling trivia and nu metal.

I’ll try not to give too much away, but I will say this much: I kind of saw the reveal of H’s off-line self coming.  At At the same time, I was joking when I made that guess.  It’s amazing how often my jokes end up coming true.

The bad guys are a bit heavy handed in the sense “we wear suits and ties and work for a fortune500 company; therefore, we are evil!  Mwa-ha-ha-ha!”.  Still, this clearly wasn’t aimed at my demographic.  Maybe.  At the same time, though, Cline really knew how to make an IOI victory feel personal when it happened.  Dude finds the third key, and I actually remembered thinking “Oh shit!  Is the bad guy actually going to win?”  I’ve been reading fiction for ever now, and the only time I’ve ever thought that was when it was a horror novel, or a real depressing southern gothic sort of affair like William Faulkner.

They’re working on a film adaptation of this book at the time this was written.  While I can’t say I’m shocked, I can definitely say I was surprised.  It seemed like there were a lot of movies, music, and old TV shows to buy the rights to in order to use it.  Whatever film studio is making this is probably going to go bankrupt no matter what happens between that, and the excessive CGI that’ll most likely be included.

In a weird way, I’m more surprised somebody hasn’t tried making an actual MMO of the virtual world yet.  Call me crazy, but that just seems like good marketing gone to waste.  Hell, just clone Second Life and slap a bunch of 1980s movie posters everywhere.  You basically have the same thing then.

All and all, the virtual world subgenre is 1-4 for me.  Ready Player One is the 1, and until further notice, it’s pretty much the only good one.