Living the Good Life, Episode 18 (September 2, 2016): Thank God for coming back home!

Yes yes yes, being home is a lot nicer than being away. Here’s what I’ve been doing to unwind after my trip to South Carolina:


WATCHAN:

OPM 6: I wrote a bit of an essay on this for my Tumblr, which I shall repost here–longest bit of anime writing I’ve done in a while.

“I think the episode demonstrated one of One-Punch Man’s strengths. It can be surprisingly subtle and thoughtful at the same time, which is something rarely (I’m not saying “never,” just “rarely,” or at least, “not often”) seen in your run of the mill shonen. In this episode, it’s fame…or more specifically, how little fame really matters.

The episode starts off with our mighty protagonist, Saitama, desperately trying to find some suitable evildoer to fight so people would recognize him (and so his registration as a low-ranked hero would be secure).  All his attempts meet with failure…until he encounters this ninja dude with a grudge against him from a previous episode. Saitama doesn’t care about the ninja at all, and barely registers his existence, though that doesn’t lessen the ninja’s grudge in the least. But when the dumb shinobi starts causing all sorts of ruckus to catch Saitama’s attention, our hero crushes him with just one punch…without even thinking about it. He pays so little thought to the “fight” that he continues to search for “bad guys” to apprehend…but, of course, as it turns out, the ninja was a wanted criminal, so Saitama’s earned a degree of recognition (and secured his hero standing) for a good deed he was barely even aware of.

It might be a hokey moral–fame and praise will come to those who don’t search for it, or comes to those who do good without thinking of such things (as Saitama did), but within the context of the show it’s so natural. Saitama, despite his incredible, Godlike strength, is so endearingly “spaced out” and airheaded that saving an entire city with one punch that barely even registered in his own mind is entirely in character for him. Thus, the moral value is conveyed without, well, making it obvious that it’s being conveyed.

That, IMO, is some good writing. 8)

(As an aside, the episode’s villain kinda demonstrates this as well. An evil monster has settled near Saitama’s house because he heard it was a chance to get famous [as a monster], and when it turns out nobody will notice him, he just decides to make his fame on his own. That’s when he encounters Saitama coming home from shopping…and is quickly dispatched with one punch from our hero. So just when you start thinking about fame, you lose everything. XD)”

I’ve less to say about OPM 7: I thought the old kung fu master’s voice was OK, but not perfect. Otherwise this ep was great 😀 Also, I think genos really showed his true value at the end, even if he’s not as strong or wise as his master Saitama yet ;o

Berserk 8 – Mediocre again. There were a couple of fights in this ep that should have been awesome–Guts versus the goat-headed Apostle Spawn and his duel with Serpico–but the quality of the 3d models is just soooo bad ;_;

Berserk 9 — This was a little better, but largely because of the last battle scene with “Hai Yo” playing as Guts faces off against Mozgus and the Apostle Spawn. Aside from that…damn, Skull Knight looks shiny rather than skeleton-y, and the blood monsters look nowhere near as intimidating as they did in the manga.

Jojo 21: Damn, we finally get to see the main villain of the story! He’s freaky…

Jojo 22: An impressive fight between the evil Kira and the, well, likable Shigechi! Poor kid…he was just a middle schooler so I felt bad for him ;_;

Macross 21: I didn’t need to hear all about Walkure’s past, but I was happy to finally see what was up with Mikumo, at least.

Macross 22: Looks like things are really heating up–they’ve reached the bad guys’ homeworld and the center of the evil mind-control device system. The last fight was pretty awesome 😀

PLAYAN:

Still just grinding Vindictus :p Not really enjoying it, though…the revamped mass raids (from 24 to 16 people, now) are terrible. The bosses have so much HP that going through them is a chore rather than entertaining. Same issue I have with Ein Lacher (the boss rush mode). Vindictus fights tend to be engaging in short bursts, but much longer and they’re just soporific.

TIMAN:

Starseeker’s lookin’ over the next ep of Dragonar, should be out soon~

READAN:
As usual, I’ll be purposely vague with these to avoid spoilers~

The Elementals by Michael McDowell. Essentially, a pair of Southern families, the McCrays and the Savages, take a trip together to some land owned by the Savages, on which there are supposed to be two houses…but there’s also a third, half-buried by the sand, and in that third house lives a supernatural force that will soon make itself terribly known.

I’ve heard this described as a “Southern Gothic” novel, and while I don’t have too much experience with the genre, I thought the appellation accurate…McDowell does a great job of making the characters seem very Southern without having them come across as hicks and while evoking a subtle sense of dread that grows and grows until the bloody conclusion–which is VERY bloody! I won’t say much for spoilers, except this: If you’re sensitive to eye injury, the ending will be pretty disturbing! But overall, the writing was great, the characters well-drawn, and the supernatural creatures themselves left up to the reader’s imagination, but not so much so that you have no idea at all of what’s going on! Great stuff overall, I say 😀

Greener Pastures
by Michael Wehunt. It’s a collection of horror short stories I found after finishing John Langan’s The Fisherman. I would say it’s a competent collection of “weird” or “cosmic horror” stories, though most of them aren’t Lovecraftian in the same way The Fisherman was (no big cosmic beasties lurking behind our reality, the supernatural in these stories tends to be more about individual ghosts, monsters, or haunted locations rather than an overarching cosmology). My favorite was the first story with the vampires along with the story about the ghost of the jazz musician, but other than that nothing really stood out to me. Still a good purchase though, I was happy with it.

Paint Against the Darkness by Brian James Freeman. This is a pretty short novella, short enough that I’ll spoil it if I say too much about it, so all I’ll say is that I thought it was fairly well written and it did have some good scares, but the ending was just a tad smarmy, IMO. But overall, a decent read.

Mr. White  by John C. Foster. I really wanted to like this, but in the end I thought it was quite poor. The variety of plot points concerning the foreign agent protagonist and his family don’t come together in any coherent way, and those characters themselves are pretty damn unlikable. The supernatural antagonist, “Mr. White,” is pretty…well, underwhelming. His/Its actual nature is never clearly revealed, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, what we do see is so ridiculous it IMO broke suspension of disbelief. As another reviewer said, this evil ghostie shows up when you say his name…and, uh, with a name like Mr. White, one gets the impression he ought to show up a lot. Having an innocuous name makes sense for various other antagonists, like Stephen King’s vampire, Barlowe, but when “Mr. White” is something many people are called, it’s just silly.

This wasn’t all bad–there were some really nice gory scenes, and at times Foster really makes you feel like you’re in an espionage thriller–but the poverty of both the protagonists and antagonist, along with the general silliness of the premise, means I can’t really give this more than 2 stars. Still, I think there was a bit of potential in there…I may read some of Foster’s other work to see if it’s better.

Also read the latest chapter of the Berserk manga. Hoo boy, was not expecting the elf “king” to look like that…:blush:

WRITAN:

Making sum edits to the first chapter of my dissertation–nothin too much for now, just fixing some grammar and formatting stuff before I send in the sparkly clean copy to my dissertation committee. I’ll be done with that tomorrow, hopefully.

 

That does it for this week. Next week, I’ll be all about that relaxation…thinking of heading back down to the shooting range to try out the AR-15, since the week before last I got experience with the small Ruger 10/22.

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