Inside the Kremlin Walls, I heard 5 girls calling.

Joshiraku

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What I expected: Comedy that would be completely unfunny with some rare chuckles

What I got: It’s actually getting funnier then I expected.

Joshiraku 1: We’re introduced to the five main characters. Marii, Tetora, Kigurumi, Gankyou and Sadako? Random discussions ensure on dogs and cats

Joshiraku 2: The Girls discuss the lottery followed by visiting Tokyo Tower. Damn, that’s one tall tower.

Joshiraku 3: Marii-a somehow seduces girls. Ki-Rumi teaches us how girls should sit. Afterwards, they ride a train through the city.

Joshiraku 4: Gannie abuses Mariia

Joshiraku 5: Sadako is depressed and the girls try to cheer her up. Mariia throws a fit over crepes.

5 episodes before I write? It’s a luckier number that’s why.

Keeping the premise short, this is about Comedians having a conversation backstage. I’m amazed I persisted with this. For the first two episodes I only understood perhaps 30% of the jokes. If we think of Anime as a business model aimed at Japanese audiences first and sticks a finger to the rest of us who don’t live on a four island archipelago, then this should be the textbook example

It’s been well-explained by Vale how Joshiraku would not be understood by anyone unless you live in Japan. For the first two episodes, I only understood maybe 30% of the jokes and the puns. Thank fuck that I know Chinese and Japanese History otherwise my humour to comprehension bar would be at 10%. This is a show with Japanese puns and references about Japanese history, pop culture, politics, buildings and references to the performing arts.

Out of all the characters, I would like Marii the best but mainly because of the voice acting. Ayane Sakura is a newcomer and she’s doing great as a boyish character. There was one joke spun about how Kigu was just putting up an act of being the archetypical cute idiot. And Sadako brings a nice touch of black comedy with her mild depression. I’d imagine this is how she is how I will be in 10 years’ time so yeah.

But I’m noticing that the show is giving me more chuckles with every episode. Like a nervous amateur doing his first stand up on a Friday Night, the show is getting progressively funnier once it got into a routine. I guess part of the reason could be that there is a lot more mainstream humour. The first episode joked about misplacing a stroke in a character and changing your meaning completely. By the 3rd, we had Tets- Can I call her Tets? Tets is the same nickname for Sydney-based chef Tetsuya and getting rid of the ‘s’ just brings up unwanted images of the Tet Offensive. Getting back on topic, 3rd episode had a comedy routing about Tets’ obscene luck and yuri-spinnable jokes with Mariia and the 5th relied on tried and tested reference-dropping. Maybe the show is being dumbed down a bit? Maybe someone flew a big Clue Missile over to JC Staff? Whatever it is, it’s probably for the better since I wasn’t raised up in Tokyo.

I wondered why I stuck by a show I don’t understand. But I saw potential in this because of that ‘Gibe back joke’. For some people nationalism just ain’t funny. Down at the Beer Hall, ultra-nationalists do hang out there who range from hilariously stupid to the kind you’d like to see piss off for being a dumbass. And for me, land claims are one of those moments where nationalists are hilariously stupid. The hilariously stupid ones, they’re the ones who hurl 5th grade insults at each other on Youtube over historical or imagined torts, pull stunts like swimming for rock awareness, get asspained when a Russian President makes a tweet and niggling, always niggling one another.

But mud-slinging over clay aside, I also stuck by it for the celebrity factor. SZS was the anime that 09ers love and this was his newest work. My second reason which I’ll repeat again is that, I had some knowledge of Japanese history and politics so that helped me. Those rocks? They’re called the Kuriles. The Soviets manage to acquire them from Japan, thanks in small part to the Americans who donated surplus landing ships to the Red Ass Kicker.

And finally I love the anime for that architecture. Staring at neat, slick buildings has been one of my minor interests ever since engineering shows began broadcasting on my TV. Every week, the Girls visit a different part of Tokyo just so Production can practice painting background and reading English tourist maps. It’s lovely just to see huge towers like the Tokyo Tower in Anime or find out about another place I should visit in Tokyo before I die.

So in short, watch Joshiraku but keep wikipedia open.

Other comments: In episode 4, Marii-a makes a huge fuss over all the flavours at the crepe store and criticises the store for taking a mere crepe and doing something whacked out and bizarre. Let’s get this straight. Cooking isn’t about rules. Those recipe books are more of a guideline. It’s not about flavours not working but whether it’s a complement. Just the other day, I made a Milo and grated cheese grilled toast and believe it or not that tasted damn delicious. And hell, if Marii makes such a fuss over just a crepe, I’d love to take someone like her down to Balmain to try out the crazy shit that Zumbo makes like Salted Popcorn Macaron or a 8 Layer Chocolate Cake. Just a cake she would say. And if you ever come down to Sydney, make sure to vis. Zumbo is a sadistic wanker on Master Chef Australia but damn he does deliver his promise of being a Madman Patissiere.

Nailing this first anime review: Nyaruko-san 1-4

Nyaruko-san 1: We’re introduced to our main characters Nyaruko and Mahiro. Nyaruko is the Japanese Lovecraftian deity and she really likes Japanese cartoons. Mahiro is her love interest (at first sight) who she has decided to protect.

Nyaruko-san 2: We visit R’lyeh. Cthuko, the Living Flame is introduced who brings a touch of yuri to the show. And it turns out that the denizens or R’lyeh kidnap boys to act in Yaoi dramas against their will.

Nyaruko-san 3: Shit happens at school. Nyaruko’s brother appears and tries and fails to settle a grudge against his sister.

Nyaruko-san 4: Shouta Hastur is introduced to the audience and she also happens to be Nyaruko’s childhood friend. Mahiro’s mum decides to let the Lovecraftian Gods stay at her house. Isn’t she nice?

 

What I went in expecting: Same humour as the 5 minute skits

What I got: It’s the same humour but it would have been far better if I had never learned about the twisted universe.

 

You know what? I was damn surprised by all the asspain about how the Lovecraftian Gods were raped and I mean that figuratively. Nyarlathotep is a hyper-active girl. Cthugha is the raging lesbian. Hastur is a yellow-haired shouta.

 

I suppose that’s the reaction of every dedicated fan when they hear that their hero/book was put under the OtaKnife and given a Japanese Genderbender Treatment. But this show was nothing new, they were technically broadcasting this as a series of 5 minute anime shorts in the past 3 years and things were awfully quiet back then. Perhaps it was a sign of how unpopular they were? I wasn’t familiar with Lovecraft or Nyarlathotep when I started watching but I came to love the series for the characters and the jokes.

 

So having seen the old series, I knew part and parcel of what I was in for. There would be slapstick (the abusive fork), there would be yuri jokes (Cthuko) and Nyaruko would be energetic to the point of driving you insane. She also liked anime and preferred anime to putting on performances which would drive audience insane and cause them to scream for weeks. I believed that if a 5 minute skit was good, a 24 minute sitcom would be better. The LN seemed like my kind of comedy, I thought I would be better prepared for this. But even I was in for a sucker punch.

 

Within 5 minutes of the first episode, we quickly get details of the world in which Nyarlathotep comes from. Everyone up there from Mr Tentacles to Mr Living Flame is watching anime, playing game and imports (illegally) DVDs from Earth. They consider Earth Entertainment and more Japan’s to be the best. I knew that there was fanwank based on the web series but this took fanwank, strapped it onto a Apollo rocket and launched it to Mars. Cthuko at one point even says that they had game consoles where ever she came from but Earth consoles were considered better. The fanwank would not be for everyone. Coming from 5 minute skits which didn’t have all that much ‘Anime Strong’, I was shocked by just how much fanwank this anime and the LN has.

 

The other detail worth mentioning is that Nyaruko is part of a inter-galactic police organisation and she chases after rogue aliens. There’s some maho shoujo elements mixed in as these Elder Gods politely take their scuffle to some nether dimension where the cloud is always red. Although, I don’t care about the Alien Cop main plot (or is it side plot?). The action scenes aren’t something worth mentioning beyond beam spam. Speaking of beam spam, buy Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion.

 

The comedy boils down to Nyaruko making a move on Mahiro, Mahiro gets annoyed and rejects it, Cthuko makes a move on Nyaruko and Nyaruko gets annoyed. Yeah, I get some chuckles but I feel as though the comedy needs a shake-up soon. The character-based and slapstick stuff is starting to dry. When it comes to getting laughs from yours truly, I believe the second web series was superior. It took the material and gave me laughs from the episode when Cthuko, the Living Flame tries to get a job (and her last resort is a gas station) to the faux-fanservice episode where the characters mocked the audience for expecting tits and the comedy came from the dialogue, not the visuals.

 

Other Comments: It wasn’t too long ago this year that I brought a compendium of Lovecraft’s selected work. Bloody hell, why didn’t I start reading his stuff two years ago? And contact NASA and tell them broadcast ‘Irony by Claris’ to the stars. Maybe the reason aliens have not contacted us is that they don’t have a ear for Mozart?

In dimmest day I watched Dark Knight who fought the evil in daylight

Firstly I would like to offer my condolences to the people of Colorado. Much has been said about the suspect and what happened that night has already been well-publicised. I will close by saying that those poor guys and girls happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and bad things happen to people when they least expect. I can only hope that the town finds the strength to move on from this tragedy.

As you can tell from the title, me and a mate went down to the silver screen today to watch the much anticipated Dark Knight Rises. Just like back then, the popular culture crowd whipped out their spectacles with pen and paper ready to analyse how deep this film is before the Winter break ends. I remember going out for dinner and a couple next to me kept babbling on about it’s great, hidden messages. It’s like the word Nolan is a subliminal word. Upon hearing it causes everyone on the net to write essays. Maybe it is a secret CIA project that actually worked unlike their psychic recruitment project or their Castro Assassination Project #549. Brilliant piece of work that was. Place an explosive in a shiny shell and hope it’s shiny enough that it’ll catch the attention of a certain bearded Cuban dictator.

Now I won’t deny that Nolan does include meaning from his film. My main interest in watching this was whether it could finally be THE threequel done right. But I was a little disdainful about how my quiet dinner was anything but. Despite all the hype, I felt letdown by this film as you will find out in my review. And an actual warning, always assume there maybe spoilers.
Dark Knight Rises picks up after a 8 year timeskip from the last film. We learn that Gotham is a changed place. The city is no longer reknowned from being Crime Central. The crims are safely behind bars because of better police presence and the frequently-mentioned Dent Act. It seems that for the citizens, the good times are rolling and the bad times are over. But we and Commissioner Gordon know that part of this legacy is based on a lie. Harvey Dent is held up as a shining, white beacon when in reality in the last film, he went insane and almost killed Gordon.  8 years ago, Batman agreed to take a hit so that Dent could still be held up as a White Knight and a symbol of hope.

Meanwhile at the mansion, Bruce Wayne has become a shut in. His business is failing because of a bad investment deal and while he’s retired from his vigilante persona, he hasn’t made any public appearances nor taken an active role in his company. But because this is a Superhero Film and not Bruce the Loser, he has to come out of retirement soon. And come out he does when Gotham is threatened by a mysterious, masked man named Bane.  Him and his band of brothers take over the city, blow shit up and for added fun release angry criminals back onto the streets….wait haven’t we heard this before?

 

Oh yeah that’s right. It’s almost the exact same story from Dark Knight the 1st and Dark Knight the 2nd. We are introduced to Batman’s new foe who places the entire city at his mercy and unleashes anarchy. Re-using the plot is not necessarily a bad thing unless it quickly gets boring. Unfortunately it did bore me with it’s 3 hour long dark and deep jerk-off. And with a story like that, I can’t help but compare it to what came before.  Part of the beauty of complete chaos being unleashed relies on the person who unleashed it. The Joker already did a great job. He jeered, he mocked both the Bat and the Cops and finally there was his now infamous, cruel experiment. The city was being trampled and Joker had his hand on the steering wheel. It was great.

 

Compared to the 2nd, Bane was menacing but was too restrained. There were no memorable moments where he makes chide comments followed by another character talking about his back story and then another. Another problem was that a lot of the great chaos took place within the montage. It then transitions to scenes of the main characters shivering in the cold but managing to walk on the streets at night in spite of the ‘revolution and anarchy’. When it came to universe building, it just didn’t convince me enough that this became Hell on Earth. And what’s with the show trials? Irony? They are gangsters with guns in their hands not a government who has to pretend that what they are doing is legal.
I suppose then that I should consider the film on it’s own merits. But I can’t bring myself to praise it too much, it goes without saying that the action scenes were decent but stupid. I’m still trying to get my head over some of the more stupid contrivances like an entire army of cops walking 10 lines abreast into the sewers. Or how they marched like Spartans onto a gang armed with assault rifles.  Maybe I’ll chalk that down to Cillian Murphy’s new Stupidness Drug which he has been polluting the water supply with.

Here’s what I did like; Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. Anne Hathaway does a brilliant job at portraying a dangerous seductress but a keen-witted woman whose allegiance swings from good to bad depending on what serves her best. Sometimes, she’s with the baddies and sometime she’s Batman’s best ally. I guess it helped that I am something of a BatxCat man.

 

In closing, the Dark Knight Rises was decent but I cannot say that this was the one that broke the threequel curse. And neither can I say that it lived up to the hype.

 

Other Comments: Critics have been trying to link the film to the Occupy Movement. Variety suggests that Bane is “far more akin to an Occupy Wall Street type if you’re looking to cast him politically”.  Which seems retarded. While there are studies linking crime with poverty, the Criminal Merchs do not act like anyone from the Occupy X Movement. If they were, remember that infamous cop who sprayed the Occupiers? He would have been and I quote ‘hunted down like a rat’.  The Occupiers hold picket signs not AK-47 and FAMAS.

But on the legal theory spectrum, it’s definitely in the ‘crime as punishment’ side. If Nolan intended to explore the disaffected, we would have explored how money or the lack of money resulted in the growth of the criminal class. But instead the faceless criminals are referred to as ‘important clogs in organised crime’ and implied they had to be in there. Bane’s Reign of Terror merely reinforced that the redshirts deserved to be locked up. The comparisons begin and end with the storming of the stock exchange. By the end of the film and after the plot twist, any comparisons look like a batshit insane conspiracy theory which would be more suitable for serving a FAR-right cause.