A nice and relaxing week, but not a very productive one. Gonna have to up the ante next week…
Rewatched SPT Layzner. Despite being the show where a good portion of my present online identity comes from–it’s where my icon and header are from, and it’s one of the factors that kickstarted me abandoning anger and immaturity and finding wisdom–I haven’t actually sat down and watched the whole thing as it was meant to be watched, up to this point I’d seen all of it while fiddling with its subtitles in Aegissub.
This story was made in the 1980s, so its Cold War setting might seem dated today. In 1996, the USA and the Soviet Union are still at odds, and both have expanded into space, setting up bases on Mars. To help reduce tensions, both superpowers, along with various other countries of the world, send young high school students to Mars as part of a “Cosmic Culture Club,” where they’ll learn about space travel and colonization as well as relying on each other, which should make the next generation more cosmopolitan in outlook. However, the very day they arrive at the American base on Mars, it’s attacked by mysterious giant robots, killing everyone but a handful of soldiers and six members of the CCC. At first, everyone thinks it’s a Soviet attack, but the mechs are far more advanced than anything anyone on Earth has! The terrified survivors finally receive an answer–but many more questions–when one of the robots betrays its comrades and attempts to defend the remnants of the base. Its pilot is revealed to be a human boy named Albatro Null Eiji Asuka, who claims to be the son of an astronaut, Ken Asuka, who disappeared testing an experimental warp drive during the 1950s. He ended up on Grados and married a Gradosian woman, and because of his heritage, Eiji wants to stop the war between Grados and Earth–even piloting his powerful experimental mecha, the Layzner, he staunchly refuses to kill either Earthlings or Gradosians. The series revolves around him first trying to win the trust of the survivors as he takes them back to Earth, and then trying to convince the USA and USSR to put aside the Cold War long enough to stop the encroaching Grados fleet…and then the next half deals with the aftermath of that battle.
Overall, this series, I have to admit, isn’t as good as I thought so many years ago, when I started helping with fansubbing. However, not by much…it’s still an excellent show.
My main problem with it is that the main conceit is kinda overdone. Yeah, it turns out that Gradosians and humans are the same species, because centuries ago a bunch of hyper-advanced aliens went to South America, helped the people there build the ziggurats, and then spirited them away to planet Grados, where they inherited the culture and technology of the aliens, who were slowly dying off. So yep, it’s another instance of ANCIENT AZTEC/MAYAN TECHNOLOGY! Also, the basic theme of the show–a bunch of kids with their teacher trying to survive constant alien assaults in space–is quite similar to Vifam, which came out a year before Layzner. However, these are small critiques, because a well-worn trope is still entertaining if played well. A bigger problem with the series, IMO, is that it’s hard to suspend disbelief–given that a huge plot point, and the reason for his pacifism, is that Eiji is the son of an Earth father and Gradosian mother, how could the Gradosians have failed to figure out that Earthlings and Gradosians were the same species, even if the secrets of the Ancient Gradosian aliens had been kept from the majority of the people?
Still, the strong points of the series are enough to make up for that little gaffe, even though it was cut short! The characterization and pacing are excellent–you really feel the tension and fear as everyone’s trying to survive in the first half of the series, along with the camaderie as they finally learn to trust Eiji, whom they initially blame for bringing an invasion on their heads. None of the characters seem unnecessary and annoying, and all of them seem like fleshed-out human beings, though their family circumstances are generally left a little vague. Also, the depiction of Earth under an oppressive occupying government in the second half of the series is electric, Ryosuke Takahashi (the director who also did VOTOMs) really outdid himself there. And the animation…oh, man, the animation. The TV series has what are without a doubt the absolute best, most cool-looking mecha fights of the 80s. There’s just no comparison, they are INCREDIBLE, both on space and in land. It’s a shame that sort of animation wasn’t used in more series, I hope the animators found a lot more work after that. The animation alone would be enough to make up for all the other problems and keep this series a solid 8/10, even if it’s not a 10/10 without the benefit of my nostalgia. I should note that the TV series is incomplete, episode 38 doesn’t seem to make much sense on its own. However, the third OVA is a longer version of that episode that fills in that gap so it makes much more sense (the series was cut short due to one of the show’s sponsors suffering a scandal and having to back out). Definitely a worthy watch!
I also watched a movie on Friday, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” produced by Guillermo del Toro but directed by the lesser-known André Øvredal. I wanted to like it, but it wasn’t that good…I don’t wanna spoil anything, but while the original scary stories in the book we all remember were just disconnected, stand-alone stories, in this movie there’s an overarching plot involving a vengeful ghost and a historical injustice, and the original monsters from Schwartz’s book, which were drawn by Stephen Gammel, just show up as adversaries (though the movie does refer to the stories they’re from as well, I dont wanna spoil it but you’ll see). Now, the monsters are pretty good, the SFX does a good job of making them as scary as they were in the originals (except for the last one), but I didn’t care much for the new backstory/plot the movie attempts to put in, and the young actors weren’t that great either. Still, I thought the romance between the male and female leads was kinda cute, so this movie wasn’t a total waste. I’d give it a 6/10.
Star’s workin, slow and steady.
Not much this week.
Ugh, not much readin. I was too caught up with relaxing and watching movies, dang. Next week will be better.
Put the finishing touches on this essay I rather like:
So that’s something, at least. Aside from that, here’s my pre-college checklist:
1: Make sure they’ve received my health insurance waiver – They seem to have gotten it and taken the charge of my bill, so this is DONE!
2: Make sure they acknowledge I’ve completed orientation
3: Actually pay my bill–the health insurance waiver thing is annoying, if I can’t get it removed I may have to renege on going back to college, which would be annoying but not the end of the world. We’ll see.
4: Get my student ID card
5: Start studying off the syllabi–the more prepared I am before classes start, the better.
So I only got one of these things knocked off, but I should be able to get the other 4 out of the way next week. Wish me (better) luck!