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Found 75 results

  1. The kids are delightful as always, but I'm sorry, I will never accept Liam as a professional judge! The new female judge is okay.
  2. Your Peaky Blinders Topic!
  3. I couldn't see a topic for this and wondered if anyone else is watching it. This show is mind-blowingly, mesmerizingly awful but has somehow managed to become the highest-rated show ever on its home network Sky Atlantic in the UK. It airs in the US on something called Ovation which I've never heard of. Neil Jordan gets a "created by" credit, even though he disowned it before it aired after his "original darker version" was "reworked" by others and by "reworked" I mean "allowed to chew through its restraints and run off screaming into a dark night of complete and utter insanity". It's a British-French co-production and also costs an absolute fortune to make and looks fantastic. Basically (as above) it focuses on Georgina Clios who is supposed to be vital, passionate, caring and intelligent but is actually morose, annoying, devoid of any personality whatsoever and so dim she doesn't notice when a secret room is built in the middle of her house, plus her dead older husband's family of Eurotrash one-percenter cliches. The kids are eldest son Christos (Dimitri Leonidas), a cokehead wastrel playboy who is secretly just desperate for his daddy's approval, middle child Adam (Iwan Rheon), a sensitive soul who pours scorn on his family's wealth and their materialistic lifestyle while longing for the life of a poet (albeit a terrible one who keeps using the family cash to pay for his luxury poet's loft) and emotional basketcase teen daughter Adriana (Roxane Duran) who self-harms and gets into a soft-focus, scandalous-in-1997 threeway relationship with her best friend and the gardener. There's also the first Mrs Clios, Irina (Lena Olin who plays the part with her eyes closed but is still the best thing in the show). Season one's completely unintelligible plot involved art fraud, yachts, the Russian Mafia, money, mansions, terrible writing, more money, murders, atrocious acting and directing, art forgery, approximately 4,500 couture outfits and a highly memorable scene where Georgina expresses rage and frustration by whacking a shampoo bottle off a shelf at a luxury day spa. Season two has just started and encompasses murder, more yachts, an art installation involving an apparent suicide, characters coming back from the dead and a scene where Adriana and her new love interest flirt by smashing vases and knocking over suits of armor. They've also added Juliet Stevenson, Poppy Delevigne and most bizarrely, Will Arnett to the cast. It is highly recommended for anyone who thinks Melrose Place played it too safe. (Although it does take itself incredibly seriously.)
  4. A discussion thread for all episodes of the GBBO companion show "Extra Slice".
  5. Black Jack is a 1993 anime about an unlicensed doctor who takes on strange cases that can't be explained by science. It's based on the works of one Osamu Tezuka, someone you might've known as "the father of anime." It's kinda like House M.D. but with a more ethical doctor who gives a crap about preserving life and set in a neo-noir genre with a lot more supernatural elements. From an anime fan’s standpoint, Osamu Tezuka is a fascinating subject of study. Even though I haven’t read or seen most of his works, his name and what he has done for the anime industry evoke admiration from me in the same way names like Francis Coppola and Stanley Kubrick would fascinate a lover of American cinema. Widely known as the “father of modern anime,” the creator of (supposedly) the second anime ever created titled Astro Boy (though there has been evidence to prove that much earlier anime have existed), and also described as the “Walt Disney of anime.” That last label, however, feels like a misnomer to me because of how much darker Tezuka’s works tend to be. Alabaster, for example, is Tezuka’s most controversial work that features a serial rapist as the protagonist. There’s also Adolf, which features the one and only Nazi leader himself. The reason I said that Tezuka is fascinating is mainly because of such heavy subjects that are present in his works. As an anime fan, I’ve always been more passionate about showing non-anime fans the more mature content in anime than the more mainstream and family-friendly ones, not because of some edgy and pretentious obsession of wanting to be seen as a “grown-up” or even someone with unique tastes, but because I wanted to show the depth of anime and the beauty in its storytelling range. The fact that anime itself is rooted in the works of Tezuka, “the father of modern anime,” says a lot about what it could become as a medium outside the commercial market. Astro Boy, the android kid who started it all, was merely the tip of the iceberg, and even then, the seemingly innocent anime contains themes of anti-war humanism stemming from Tezuka’s life experience growing up in WWII. Even as a kid, I don’t think I ever bought into the idea that animation is just dumb comedy to distract children with. Ever since I watched Toy Story 2 and the many compelling Pixar productions that came after, I’ve held a strong belief that animation could always have something more to say about life. Tezuka’s works are the representation of that depth, including the 1993 adaptation of his manga, Black Jack. I think that when reviewing any piece of Tezuka’s works, it’s essential to consider his bibliography and his historical contributions as well because not only is it that many of Black Jack’s themes share a connection with his other works, but they also feel like an extension to what he had to say about war and peace. Astro Boy has a closer relation to the A-bomb and WWII sentiments; Black Jack, on the other hand, has more to do with Tezuka’s medical background and his deep belief in the preservation of life. Based on the ’70s Japanese comic book of the same name by Tezuka, Black Jack tells the tale of Kurō Hazama, an unlicensed doctor who will go to any extralegal measures to save a life while charging a fair sum relative to the patient’s financial status (even giving a $1 IOU once to several war refugees). To say that Hazama is an unconventional hero is probably something of an understatement. In spite of his apparent altruism for his patients, he can be contrarily cynical as well, even coldly telling someone that he’s free to hang himself away from his presence. Furthermore, much like the protagonist of Alabaster, his face is scarred, with half of it seeming to have been grafted with someone else’s skin, a characteristic more often associated with villains or tragic figures in western cultures like Quasimodo. Such an ambivalence in Hazama’s character design feels very much in the vein of neo-noir fiction, a genre of which its style the ’90s Black Jack adaptation very much emulates (as opposed to its brighter and more colorful TV series in the 2000s). Moreover, as with neo-noir fiction, the anime also features a number of femme fatales who display some level of intimacy towards Hazama (though not necessarily having that affection reciprocated). There are other neo-noir elements as well, such as its nihilistic setting and generally bleak atmosphere where the hard-boiled Hazama serves as one of the few beacons of hope. One such example of its grimness is its frequent exploration of warfare and its ensuing violence as part of the storyline. There have been at least three episodes dealing with the effects of war causing affliction on innocent victims, whether it’s chemical warfare experimentations or good ol’ civil war power struggles that neglect the well-being of the citizens. Hazama’s outspoken resentment towards such pointless conflict caused by selfish politicians very much reflects Tezuka’s body of work. There are other elements that distinguishes the ’93 Black Jack adaptation as well such as the many use of freeze frames that look like they were drawn with pastel chalk, a trademark style of director Osamu Dezaki (who started his manga and anime career working under Tezuka and would go on to direct and write Ashita no Joe). Aside from making a climactic scene look more dramatic, it also saves budget for the animation, something that the much cheaper 2004 TV adaptation later on didn’t require. The ’93 Black Jack, however, would probably need such budget cuts because of its higher quality music and animation details. The backgrounds are more detailed and richly colored, and it has four different unique opening and closing theme songs over 10 episodes, each a two to three minute rock ballad that reflect the show’s melancholic loneliness. Such freedom of expression and high level of effort and passion are likely attributed to the fact that the ’93 series is an OVA (Original Video Animation), which is a form of direct-to-video series released on VHS tapes. Unlike the American direct-to-video movies, the OVAs tend to have higher production value and allowed creators to freely incorporate mature content that they couldn’t get away with in a TV production (such as the ’04 Black Jack TV series). With the advent of cable TV, however, the OVAs were slowly dying out in the ‘90s. One such mature content in the ’93 series is also the graphic imagery of body innards. More than just a doctor, Hazama is a surgeon, and very often, the audience would witness the rather unsettling details that accompany such medical drama. However, it’s not done in a exploitative or sensationalized way. Being the creation of Tezuka who had attended medical school and earned himself a license, the anime has been said to be quite accurate in its portrayal of the medical procedures, which is why I feel that its graphic scenes of surgery were necessary to showcase the details of Hazama’s work. There’s hardly any gratuitous blood or gore, however, only the necessary details to show which body parts Hazama is cutting open. While often somber in tone, the anime also contains comedic moments thanks to a few recurring comic reliefs, including police lieutenant Takasugi, a criminal investigator who pesters Hazama about his lack of medical license while remaining protective of him, and Pinoko, a seemingly small child who’s actually eighteen years old in age. Pinoko is undoubtedly the more controversial of the two characters due to her often questionable remarks about marrying Hazama. This is probably the only problematic aspect of the show because it’s written for audiences who have read the manga and supposedly knew about Pinoko’s tragic history, something that’s not explained in this anime whatsoever. In 2011, however, two new episodes for the series are written using unused storyboards left behind by the late Dezaki, one of which does revisit the memories of Pinoko and her creation. While these two episodes are technically considered a part of this OVA, they are sometimes referred to as an entirely new series titled Black Jack Final. Nevertheless, western viewers without such background knowledge of the story would be reasonably confused by such a portrayal. But for what it’s worth, Pinoko’s maturity only extended to her speech rather than any controversial actions. Her quirkiness as an adult stuck in a child’s body can be quite adorable, however, and her immaturity (despite her actual age) often ensues in hilarity that lightens the heavy mood of the series. Pinoko’s nature isn’t the only fantastical element of the series either. Like Dr. Gregory House in House M.D., Hazama too is often involved in strange cases beyond the explanation of science. However, the anime contains far more supernatural elements that are beyond just abnormal illnesses, ranging from a talking tumor on one’s stomach to telepathic trees born out of a person’s body. There’s even an entire episode where Hazama is transported to what looks like feudal Japan with warring samurai. However, the series is still very much a grounded medical drama that doesn’t lean too much towards the unbelievable. It’s interesting to note that, in spite of being a man of science, Hazama is agnostic towards the paranormal, being willing to believe that there are things in this world that science hasn’t been able to explain yet. Beyond its fascinating animation of realistic surgeries, Black Jack is an anime I’m glad to have encountered, not only because it’s created by one of the most revolutionary storytellers of Japan, but also due to its unique storyline about a hardened doctor’s preservation of life. Something that’s been said by famed animator, Hayao Miyazaki regarding Tezuka is that he loathes the pessimism present in Tezuka’s stories, pessimism that lacks any subtlety in its criticism of humanity’s ugliness. Watching something like Black Jack, however, not to mention knowing that the ’04 adaptation contains many cheerful elements present in the original manga, I find such a statement hard to believe. While Tezuka’s stories don’t shy away from the horrors of war, something that’s inevitable due to his own life experiences living through WWII, you could tell from an anime like Black Jack that he’s more of a humanist than a misanthrope. Hazama is fiercely protective of human life, even willing to heal soldiers who have threatened to kill him. If any of Tezuka’s works might have come off as pessimistic to anyone, one should definitely check out Black Jack as it feels like the antithesis of optimism to that notion. But more than anything else, it’s just a really great medical drama. I’m not one to usually enjoy such a genre of television specifically because I have no idea what half of the things that are being said, but more often than not, series like House M.D. and Black Jack have something more to offer, whether it’s the sarcastic charm of Hugh Laurie or Tezuka’s earnest examination on the value of a human life to an unlicensed doctor. Final Rating: 8.5/10
  6. Inuyashiki is a 2017 anime about an old man that receives superpowers in the form of his new robot body. It deals with issues of ageism in Japan as well as existentialism. It's currently available on Amazon Prime. Inuyashiki: Last Hero Review Whenever people think of anime, there's an ingrained impression even today that it's full of giant robots, ninjas, pirates or other crazy and fantastical elements that are, in an oversimplified manner, "cartoonish." Even nowadays, there's a communication barrier between those who got into anime and those who didn't. There are certainly many reasons for it, and I won't patronize anyone by assuming that I understand such reasons, but more often than not, anime has impressed me on just how broad a range it has in its thematic variety. Aside from the most common mainstream anime like "One Piece" and "Naruto", there have also been poignant anime about the neutrality of nature and its cyclical life and death like "Mushishi", anime that portray mental illness in a lighthearted fashion like "Welcome to Irabu's Office", or even anime about the innocence of crossdressing like "Wandering Son". Furthermore, each anime I mentioned has a very distinct artstyle of its own, so the reasoning of "I don't like anime artstyle" never really convinced me either. Then there's "Inuyashiki", an anime that's the equivalent of Pixar's "Up" but far more tragic and socially relevant in its tackling of ageism issues in Japan, an anime about a superhero old man. Based on the manga "Inuyashiki" by Hiroya Oku (creator of the popular sci-fi manga, "Gantz"), the 11 episode seinen anime (anime targeted at adult males) tells the tale of Inuyashiki Ichiro, an old man dying of stomach cancer. He has lost connection with his family and even the world at large, and he feels left behind without any meaningful purpose in life. That is until an accident caused by extraterrestrials that changed his life (and body) forever, along with another teenage kid named Shishigami Hiro. Their body is replaced with a robotic one, and both of them take a different approach to their newfound life and body; Hiro chooses to kill while Ichiro chooses to save lives. Beyond its ageism issues on the surface, Inuyashiki is also about the human capacity for both good and evil, and how people can sometimes take for granted the life and the time that they are given. There's a very clear duality to both Ichiro and Hiro with both of their viewpoints on life practically mirroring each other. While Ichiro is forgotten by the world at large, including his own wife and children, Hiro still has friends and a family that cares very much about him, not to mention a female classmate who has a crush on him. While Ichiro remains compassionate towards a society that's cold and indifferent towards the elderly like him, Hiro feels that it's logical for someone to only care about his own loved ones and friends while remaining apathetic towards the lives of others. What's similar between them, however, is that they have both lost touch with society long before they became machines; their attempts to heal and kill people are ways that they could feel alive again in their own nihilistic existence. I haven't read any other work of Hiroya's except his most famous work, Gantz, but it was easy to tell from both Gantz and Inuyashiki that his works are very critical of the Japanese society, or perhaps even humans as a whole and how we are becoming more cold and indifferent towards one another in the digital age. While Gantz deals with this more explicitly by exposing people's hypocrisy and prejudice, Inuyashiki seems like an antithesis to Gantz, showing the humanity that still exists within what seems to be a cruel and uncaring society on the surface. It's almost as if Hiroya was calling out on misanthropic readers who have misinterpreted his works as advocating violence for violence's sake. In fact, other than a yakuza gang that committed heinous acts of violence and assault, most characters in Inuyashiki aren't portrayed as the kind of inhumane monster that Hiro definitely is. No matter how callous or selfish people act in Inuyashiki, Hiro's senseless violence feels far more sadistic every time. There's an especially disturbing scene in episode 2 where Hiro gradually kills off members of a family while soaking up their emotions and trauma simply to feel alive again. Unlike most violent scenes in mature anime, this particular one feels harder to watch because it's more focused on the emotional pain of the family members that Hiro feeds off of like some junkie, not to mention how the entire murder is slowly drawn out as Hiro forces the father to talk about his feelings in the moment and how he feels about the death of his wife. Needless to say, Hiro is established as a complete monster from the very start, and yet he too is later shown to have people he cares about and protects, whether it's his mother, his childhood bestfriend, Naoyuki Ando, or the girl who has a crush on him, Shion Watanabe, and her grandmother. There's still love buried somewhere beneath this monster, and it's only after his loss of these few connections to the world that he goes off the deep end and goes on a rampage against the entire humanity. In contrast, Ichiro uses his newfound powers for the betterment of humanity by going around hospitals healing terminal patients, saving people from burning buildings and helping the homeless. While it's easy to simply classify Hiro as the villain and Ichiro the hero, that's oversimplifying these characters, as they are two people trying to find significance in a life that has become meaningless for them, in a world that they feel they no longer belong to. More than just about something shallow like good and evil, Hiroya's works have often been about the contrasting subjects of nihilism and existentialism (though not necessarily existential nihilism). Even though Ichiro actively helps people, his actions are not necessarily altruistic. Rather, much like Hiro, Ichiro admits that he does what he does to feel human, to confirm to himself that he's not just a machine after the alien reconstruction, but someone who still retains empathy, kindness and that feeling of catharsis from seeing cancer patients become well again and reunite with their family happy and in peace. Something that caught my attention was Hiro's love of manga and manga characters over people. He shows more interest in fictional characters than real people, something that's been prevalent among Japanese youths who value "virtual girlfriends" rather than going out and actually find a real partner, thereby partially contributing to the country's decline in population and birthrate. There's this pervasive feeling of disconnect between people in the anime where Hiro's mother was doxed by some kid on the Internet, or the reporters who preyed on the her after she's exposed as the mother to a serial killer, or the students who glorify Hiro as some kind of idol, discussing among themselves how sexy he is in spite of all the horrific acts he has done. Both the author Hiroya and the anime Inuyashiki tread this fine line between the apathy and compassion of people, with both Hiro and Ichirou embracing this duality of humanity. Inuyashiki doesn't paint humanity as entirely malicious or entirely loving. Instead, it tells us that there's an innate goodness in all of us, that there's potential for people to care about one another even if they sometimes need a little reminder from their elders. Like many anime worth praising, Inuyashiki's opening and closing theme songs are noteworthy as well for their representation of the show's themes. "My Hero" by Man with a Mission is an intense battle cry signaling the two protagonists' fight for their place in life, with lyrics like "Are you losing your way, or are you lost? Where are you going? Tell me, my hero, where are you going? What do I need to end my war?" Meanwhile, "Ai Wo Oshiete Kureta Kimi E" ("To You, Who Taught Me Love") by Qaijff is a more somber and tranquil song lamenting the appreciation and love one might have wished to give their loved ones while there was still time, while they were still around, featuring lyrics like "Is there a special person in your life? They're closer to you than you think, but you probably don't see me." Both songs convey that burning need for connection people have towards the world and their loved ones, even if they're not always willing to admit. At its core, Inuyashiki is a moving story full of heart and loneliness. There is rarely an episode that doesn't either disturb you with Hiro's violence or make you cry from seeing the people Ichiro has helped and how grateful they are for a new life, just as Ichiro has been given his. It's one of those rare spiritual journeys in anime that reflect on the more profound questions of life rather than simply entertain the viewers. Inuyashiki touches me deeply with its sincerity towards life, and while it could sometimes be heavy-handed in its preaching, it's nonetheless a unique reflection of our place in the world that I wish to see more of in the evergrowing medium of anime. If it's proven anything, it's that there can indeed be an anime out there for everyone, even the despondent elderly who have been neglected and forgotten. Final Rating: 8.9/10
  7. Banana Fish is a 2018 anime crime thriller that deals with gang violence and other uncomfortable subjects like sexual assault and pedophilia. It's currently available on Amazon Prime Video. Banana Fish Review Trigger warning due to mentions of sexual assault, but I won’t be going into explicit details. I’ve been ignoring everyone I’ve been wandering around I’ve been deceived everything At that time Then you appeared in front of me Ignited my pale heart We’ve been looking for each other from now on Save you - Opening lyrics to Banana Fish’s second opening theme, “Freedom” by BLUE ENCOUNT The above lyrics pretty much sums up what Banana Fish is about: a traumatized kid meeting someone that heals his heart with love, thus leading the two of them on a quest to protect each other. Banana Fish is not an easy anime to talk about, not least because of its mature content about rape, child trafficking, and pedophilia. In spite of its lack of blood and gore that many anime viewers mistakenly associate with “maturity,” Banana Fish can still be an uncomfortable anime to watch because it explores the effects of the trauma the characters endure. Yes, the effect of it, not the trauma itself. Something unique about Banana Fish that separates it from similar anime about rape is that it doesn’t really show the act itself in any exploitative manner. It shows just enough for the audience to know what happened, but it’s more interested in showing the aftermath and the way horrific acts like these would change a person. Based on an ’80s shoujo (young girls) manga of the same name written by Akimi Yoshida, the title of the name comes from the J. D. Salinger novel, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. The usage of this title would make a lot more sense upon its ending, but for the naming of every episode, the anime has also borrowed the titles of other famous literary works by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and Salinger once again, featuring episode titles like “The Catcher in the Rye”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Islands in the Stream”, and “The Beautiful and Damned”. I tried comparing thematic similarities between the books the episodes are referencing and the episodes themselves, but I only found surface similarities that are superficial. I could be wrong though, as these allegories and symbolism could sometimes prove challenging to analyze during the first viewing. The anime is about a young gang leader in New York named Ash Lynx who become involved in a conflict over an eponymous drug, “banana fish.” He meets a young Japanese pole vaulter named Eiji Okumura who has come to America to recuperate from his injury. Over the course of the anime, Ash comes to appreciate Eiji’s innocence from a world of violence like his home, and he would confide in him his past trauma of abuse that turned him into a cold-blooded killing machine. Eiji feels sympathies for Ash and seeks to save his soul from damnation, and Ash in return wants to protect him from the ugly world he’s familiar with. Beyond the gun action and urban warfare, Banana Fish is a tragic but endearing tale of two kindred spirits who find a greater purpose of living than their own trauma. Even in 2018, it’s uncommon for mainstream anime to feature romantic relationships between two men, though “boys’ love” was far more common among ’80s manga. However, Yoshida has stated that Ash is not gay, and there hasn’t been any explicit evidence that Ash and Eiji share a homosexual relationship. There is a kiss in one episode, but its context is technically not a romantic one and is done out of necessity. The anime also features other colorful characters like Shorter Wong, Ash’s closest ally prior to Eiji’s arrival; Sing Soo-Ling, a young 14 year old forced to take up the role of a gang leader in Chinatown; Lee Yut-Lung, the youngest son of the Chinese mafia; Max Lobo, a war veteran and freelance journalist who was in the same platoon as Ash’s elder brother, Griffin Callenreese; Blanca, a Kazakh assassin and former KGB responsible for training Ash into an effective killer; and last but not least, “Papa” Dino Golzine, the American mafia crime lord who bought Ash as a child, grooming him to be his right-hand man. A number of these characters turned out to be quite morally ambiguous, including Golzine, whose viciousness and threats of enslaving Ash belies his twisted love for him as a surrogate father. Yut-Lung is your basic “dark reflection” character for Ash, having endured the trauma of witnessing his mother raped and murdered as a child and growing up seeking vengeance against the perpetrators. In fact, a number of the characterizations in the anime are in relation to Ash, such as Frederick Arthur, a former member of Ash’s gang who’s jealous of Ash’s purity and perseverance in the face of trauma, or Blanca who, even during his employment with Golzine, has a soft spot for his former student and his newfound Japanese friend. There are less significant characters that feel more like a typical boss in a video game one has to defeat, such as Eduardo Foxx who shows up in the last few episodes of the anime without much development or build-up. His existence and the gang war storyline of the anime are some of the things I’ve found to be superficial compared to the more interesting development between Ash and Eiji. In fact, during the second-half of the anime, instead of exploring the dynamics between the two and how they affect each other’s lives, the story becomes more of a tug-of-war with one party kidnapping or attacking another party’s members, becoming something of a generic crime drama that’s so ubiquitous on American television. In its defense, some parts of this gang war are utilized to develop Ash and Eiji’s character, in that Eiji is shown to be Ash’s one weak link in spite of being this overpowered and seemingly invulnerable protagonist. And that’s another thing I’m bothered by: the super-human skills of the characters that sometimes break my suspension of disbelief, particularly Ash and Blanca. While I could buy that some of these people were specially trained armed forces armed with top-notch military tactics, the characters sometimes feel like they’re protected by plot-armor and couldn’t die until the plot allows them to. Having seen my share of military anime like “Black Lagoon” and “Jormungand” (not to mention the many, many American military media), this familiar trend of superpowered soldiers does get a little stale over time, becoming the equivalent of a Dragon Ball character who lives and dies as the plot dictates. But to be fair, characters are written realistically enough that they do still die, and if they do survive, they become overpowered by the suppressing fire of the opposite party who has a lot more guns and bullets. They don’t really utilize the kind of brilliant strategies seen in other anime like “Death Note” or “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” (with other characters often attributing their moments of brilliance to some magical talent they have), but that’s probably expecting too much from an ’80s shoujo manga. A more minor detail that caught my attention is that, unlike the manga, the anime sometimes exclude details that would make viewers aware that a character has been raped, which undercuts Yoshida’s intention of focusing on the effects of such trauma. For example, when a certain female character was attacked, the aftermath of the assault wasn’t animated in a clear way what actually happened until she mentioned it several episodes later (unlike the manga, which actually portrayed her in her undergarment). It’s a more minor flaw because it still feels true to the spirit of the manga in its avoidance from showing such horrific acts in any exploitative manner, even if it overdoes it to the point of excluding the audience from the conversation. The biggest controversy, however, has to be the ending, where a certain bad thing happens to a certain character whom I shall not name. A lot of fans were left confused and even infuriated by such an action, but Yoshida’s defense was, “Because he’s a murderer that deserves to be punished.” (I’m paraphrasing to avoid spoilers) It’s an odd way to write a character that way, as if it’s some sort of propaganda to impart a moral lesson on its readers, but it makes a lot of sense in the context of Japanese culture, which encourages its citizens to put up a positive image, especially towards foreigners (and presumably media that would be accessible to foreigners like Banana Fish). On an unrelated note, it’s also where the myth of Japanese politeness comes from. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t as bothered by how the ending turned out until I found out the context behind its execution. I thought that it made a lot of sense, that the character couldn’t have easily achieved happiness because of what he went through, and his choice appropriately mirrors Salinger’s novel, calling back to the title of the show. It wouldn’t have ended any other way. I knew of that the moment I found out what the novel was about. When it comes down to it, Yoshida wanted to tell a story of heart, something that would appeal to female audiences. She admitted so when asked about writing it for a male demographic, claiming that “boys have such simple tastes as opposed to the complex emotions of a girl.” Ironically, the anime at least would seem to be more appealing to a male demographic with its many action sequences that overshadow the more intimate moments Yoshida speaks of. A story about healing one’s heart from years of sexual trauma can be a powerful and timeless tale, especially when paired with the loving friendship between two men, something that’s exceptionally rare compared to the more naïve ideals of friendship in anime catered towards the younger male demographic (commonly referred to as “shounen anime”). Friendship is more than just about platitudes of courage or loyalty; it can be something far deeper and personal even among children. It can be two people learning to accept each other through the worst imaginable circumstances they have to endure. Banana Fish could’ve been something more. Final Rating: 7.8/10
  8. Trini

    Bulletproof

    Airing in the US on CW, Wednesdays starting August 7.
  9. New Channel 4 post-WW2 Spy Drama written by Bash Doran, starring Emma Appleton with supporting performances from Michael Stuhlbarg and Keeley Hawes. I really enjoyed it.
  10. Originally these links were in the book thread, but there is so much fantastic information already out about the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale that I thought it would be great to have a place to openly discuss them. The book will be published on Sept 10th, but excepts and synopsis's are already out. This takes place 15 years after the book ends. WOW. Warning, as the tags indicate, this will contain spoilers, possibly to be used in the show, and also, this as yet is an unpublished book, so proceed only if you don't care about that. The Washington Post is the most complete so far. Narrators are mostly Lydia, and June's two daughters. June is infamous, a wanted terrorist, and only makes a brief appearance. "But Aunt Lydia is not the only narrator of “The Testaments.” Interlaced among her journal entries are the testimonies of two young women: one raised in Gilead, the other in Canada. Their mysterious identities fuel much of the story’s suspense — and electrify the novel with an extra dose of melodrama. Together, this trio of voices allows Atwood to include broader details about how other countries respond to the Republic of Gilead. Freed from the intense but narrow constraints of Offred’s point of view in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Testaments” sketches out protest movements abroad, an underground railroad to ferry women north, the internecine conflicts rotting out the center of Gilead, and the Republic’s efforts to manipulate its image on the world stage." NPR has part of a chapter up. "At our school, pink was for spring and summer, plum was for fall and winter, white was for special days: Sundays and celebrations. Arms covered, hair covered, skirts down to the knee before you were five and no more than two inches above the ankle after that, because the urges of men were terrible things and those urges needed to be curbed. The man eyes that were always roaming here and there like the eyes of tigers, those searchlight eyes, needed to be shielded from the alluring and indeed blinding power of us — of our shapely or skinny or fat legs, of our graceful or knobbly or sausage arms, of our peachy or blotchy skins, of our entwining curls of shining hair or our coarse unruly pelts or our straw-like wispy braids, it did not matter. Whatever our shapes and features, we were snares and enticements despite ourselves, we were the innocent and blameless causes that through our very nature could make men drunk with lust, so that they'd stagger and lurch and topple over the verge — The verge of what? we wondered. Was it like a cliff? — and go plunging down in flames, like snowballs made of burning sulphur hurled by the angry hand of God. We were custodians of an invaluable treasure that existed, unseen, inside us; we were precious flowers that had to be kept safely inside glass houses, or else we would be ambushed and our petals would be torn off and our treasure would be stolen and we would be ripped apart and trampled by the ravenous men who might lurk around any corner, out there in the wide sharp-edged sin-ridden world." Vanity Fair has a review. June, aka Offred—played on the TV series by Elisabeth Moss—“makes only the briefest of appearances, speaking a scant three sentences. But she has attained almost mythic status in Gilead, where she’s been declared a terrorist and enemy of the state: The regime has already made at least two assassination attempts on her life.”
  11. Anyone else see these? Seems like kind of a half-hearted spinoff, what with NOT A SINGLE PERSON from the original show (hosts or judges) as part of it. What's common? They bake. Inside the Bake Off Tent. The show uses the same music. The hosts are a double-act, even if not the SAME double act as the main show. The titles are SIMILAR to the original, if not the same. Also, due to a short schedule (3 episodes) the way they present and test the bakers has to be pretty different (groups of four doing a single bake to get into a quarter-final).
  12. Episode Synopsis: Ross is given hope for the Despards' return to Honduras but finds his new nemesis Ralph Hanson has returned to Truro. Morwenna, still struggling with the loss of her son, starts to secretly slip away from the village, leaving Drake to wonder where she goes. Sam and Rosina become close as Rosina starts to lend a hand with the school. Geoffrey Charles and Cecily continue meeting in secret but discovering the nature of Ralph and Cary's business plan leaves them in turmoil.
  13. This is intended as a thread for the broadcast show spoilers. I decided to add book talk spoilers as well, since it's highly unlikely someone would click on a show spoiler thread and object to some relatively minor book spoilers. Mods please switch it around if you wish. Just found a pretty big spoiler in a general article about the show, obviously the reviewer has seen at least one more episode than we have. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/22/a-cunning-adaptation-of-the-handmaids-tale Since it's a first post I'll do the caution thing here, this is a show spoiler, not just from the book, so stop now if you don't want to know. Note, that article also includes book spoilers. - - - Wow, they really are bringing him back. I'm not sure how I feel about that, hopefully he's realized by now that men taking care of women is seriously not the point here and grown up some.
  14. Talk about Season 8 here! Premieres September 10, 2018.
  15. Season 6 premieres September 11, 2017! Episode 1:
  16. Discuss Season 7 here! Episode 1: Airs March 26, 2018.
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