Archive for June, 2009

Straight from the DVD: The Sky Crawlers

I picked this DVD up in my local video store. Had won multiple awards and came from the Mamoru Oshii stable of films so I gave it a try.

It was not what I was expecting. And that was not a good thing.

Coming from the man that brought Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor to the big screen. It certainly has his style but the story….

It’s not really there.

Gorgeous CGI, realistic air combat sequences (if some of the maneuvers where a bit much for the aircraft involved) and beautiful scenery, but the story….

In a nutshell the story centers around a young pilot who is a “Kildren” who is stuck in adolescence. All of the pilots of the “corporate” squadrons are stunted youths. That much is clear. Everything else, including the locations, and the relationship between the characters is left unclear.

Somehow the “Kildren” never really die, except in combat, although they appear again days later with no memory of who they where (and with a different name).

According some material I found on the net, the war is fought for “entertainment” which would explain why non of the combatants use modern weaponry, although their aircraft seem to be advance propeller driven aircraft.  Yet the reaction of the people around the pilots doesn’t seem to suggest that it is a form of entertainment as the news people take it very seriously, then again considering recent events and modern “infotaiment” is hard to tell what is deemed serious by media moguls.

To me, the real problem is that as a viewer don’t get enough information. Nothing is really explained about the Kildren who I guessed were clones of some kind, maybe. Nor do we see the real impact of this war. We see some blood, maybe a body covered in a tarp, but that is it. A sharper contrast between the attitudes of the people not directly involved with the “war” and the realities of the war itself might have helped.

Add an alternate Earth of sorts (it looks like the English countryside but the few maps point to it being in mainland Europe as do the snippets of news) where the characters speak Japanese on the ground (and read Japanese language newspapers), English in the air and sometimes English with the locals and you end up scratching your head from beginning to end.

The one thing I will say is that the English title is accurate. It crawled from one barely noticeable plot point to the next.

This movie was not for me or for anyone else expecting furious air combat and a gripping story.

This is an animated art house film.

It certainly has the awards to prove it.

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Evagelion 2.0

Evangelion is an apocalyptic mecha action series which centers around the efforts by the paramilitary organization Nerv to fight monstrous beings called Angels, primarily using giant mecha called Evangelions which are piloted by select teenagers, one of whom is the primary protagonist.

Evangelion was a anime series from the late 1990s that deconstructed all manner of anime/manga based tropes from giant robots fighting (and trampling) in Tokyo to teenage mecha pilots saving the day.

How?

Mid way through the first episode the teenage pilot of the titular giant robot goes unconscious in middle of the battle.

The giant robot takes over.

Beats the crap out of its opponent.

And then eats it!

Then it got worse….

By that I mean it got weird….

Which really means it got way better….

And then it had two endings.

Which can only be described with one compound word.

Clusterfuck!

In a artsy sort of way.

Which both rocked and…

Didn’t….

Confused?

You better be.

After all:

Events in the series refer to Judeo-Christian symbols from the book of Genesis and Biblical apocrypha among others.[6] Later episodes shift focus to psychoanalysis of the main characters, who display various emotional problems and mental illnesses;[7][8] the nature of existence and reality are questioned in a way that lets Evangelion be characterized as “postmodern fantasy”.[9] Hideaki Anno, the director of the anime series, suffered from clinical depression prior to creating the series, and the psychological aspects of the show are based on the director’s own experiences with overcoming this illness.

Yeah, and now four new movies  try to reinvigorate the franchise.  The second installment came out today in Japan although we in the rest of the world will probably have to wait until either reaches a Japanese animation dedicated cable/satellite channel or it hits the DVD rack.  Either way Evangelion is back!

Here is the trailer for Evagelion 2.0:

Flash Fiction Friday: Scramble!

Stephen Delacroix pushed the sliding door to the mess hall to one side. The techies hadn’t fix it yet. A paper stuck to the other side read:

Please, do not lock door.

Thank you.

The Management.


Typical Stephen thought. Snatches of conversations buzzed past his ear.

“So I told her that I liked a threesome but not with Mary. I mean I thought she was her sister.”

“Really?

He reached the counter. An young and overweight attendant bent over a open fridge, exposing more flesh that Stephen cared to see. The attendant glimpsed at the new comer and yelled at him “Kitchen close!”

“At 20:00 hrs?”

At the sound of the voice the clerk spun around, nearly falling on his ass. “Sorry Boss. Didn’t know it was you. We don’t have much left, but I can whip up something for you” the clerk said scratching the back of his head.

“Just give me a ham and cheese, Jonsey.”

“Errm…we don’t have any cheese, Boss, unless you want goat cheese?”

Stephen made a face which Jonsey interpreted as a no. “Toast with butter, then.”

“What kind of butter, Jonsey?”

“Well, let me see.” Jonsey rummaged through another fridge, “Goat too.”

“Never mind, I’ll have just toast and a coffee–” The sound of klaxons interrupted him.

ALERT CONDITION ONE! ALL PILOTS, SCRAMBLE, SCRAMBLE!

Stephen Delacroix ran down the maze of corridors to the fighter launch bays. Techs helped him with his vac-suit and system checks. By the time the systems had synchronize the Typhoon Mk. VI slid into the designated launch tube.  Data streamed into his visor as powerful electromagnets clamped on the fighter’s hull. With a quick thumbs up the ship slid down the tube, crushing Gs pushing Stephen against his seat. He felt another jolt as the fighter blasted out of the station’s artificial gravity well.

“All units, this is Calvary Lead. Target ETA in 5 at 3G. Commence burn on my mark…MARK!” Fighter exhausts glowed white as the ships accelerated toward the target area. A quick look at his instruments showed what looked like a squadron of Aero-Fighters, Vampire Class, attacking an unarmed medium size transport.

Stephen, now Calvary Leader, keyed in his radio, “Bravo 1, do you have any other enemies on sensors?”

“Negative” came the reply.

No carrier in sensor range. Probably hiding on a nearby planetary orbit. But that meant that these pilots had flown a long way to close the distance to their targets. A warning beep in his ear snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Looks like they saw us coming in. Jammers online. Switch decoy dispensers to automatic mode.”

Several enemy fighters broke off from their attacks and launched missiles at Calvary Wing. Well practice maneuvers and several decoy canisters defeated the incoming missiles. Their attackers were not as lucky. The return volley devastated the pirate craft.  The others beat a hasty retreat.

Stephen sharp eyesight detected movement near the freighter moments before it engaged it FTL drive. “All units break reverse course!”

The freighter released several large canister which detonated in sudden, blast of light.  Several electromagnetic pulses hit the incoming craft. The systems on the Typhoons overloaded.  They were sitting ducks until the ships computers re-booted.

When the did….

BRAVO 1 TO CALVARY WING. WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!

Stephen detected three warships on an intercept course with the station. Each ship poured volley after volley of missile fire while receiving devastating punishment in return.

“Calvary Lead to all fighters. Return to base, max burn” Stephen ordered. The Wing made it in time to stop one of the ships. The stations batteries destroyed a second, but the third punched through the defenses and smashed into the outer hull. A second later an explosion obliterated it and the lower half of Bravo 1.

The combined sounds of his breathing and heartbeat filled his helmet. Someone was desperate or callous enough sacrifice several fighters and three missile destroyers to achieve their objective.

Whoever they were….

Stephen keyed in his radio again, “Ground control, this is Calvary Lead, we request permission to land on spaceport.”

After a short pause a female voice responded, “Permission granted Calvary Wing. General Patterson will be waiting for you on the tarmac.”

“Understood.”

As his craft entered orbit Stephen Delacroix reflected on what had just happened.

Over six hundred lives.

This is war.

—–

Well, that is it for this Flash Fiction Friday. Not very imaginative, but good practice none the less.  Here is a short video that served as the inspiration for the narrative above. Its from the Macross: Do You Remember Love? PSOne game.

Enjoy!

—–

First Post: An Introduction and a Movie

Hello folks.

Yeah, I have ANOTHER blog.

Expect a large dose of all things games,gaming, and sci-fi.

I have a bunch of shorts ready for your perusal which I will post this Friday (a continuation of Flash Fiction Fridays).

But right now enjoy this “trailer” I put together for an upcoming RPG campaign our group is gearing up to play: