the usagi incidents

20051231

A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Pilot

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Summary: The original unaired pilot for the show - with even more outrageous content than the first aired episode.

Review: Oh god, they really should have aired this episode during its original run on the BBC. But I can understand why they didn't - whole thing with the Police being privatized was pretty hilarious and insulting, and the making fun of Australians was just plain wrong. But I love them anyway, and I nearly wet myself laughing.

Paradise Kiss 12 (end)

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"MIRAI (The Distant Future)"

Summary; All things must come to an end. Miwako/Arashi/Hiro mend their relationship. Caroline and George part ways, both setting them into the future in Japanese adult society.

Review: It was so different from the manga ending, even with all of the sidestories cut out. I don't know how to feel about this adaptation. It seemed like everything was going right up until this episode - and to my memory, George doesn't model with Yukari ONCE. It seemed like they were just throwing things in there to take up time. This may take a few rewatchings, but I really don't know how to feel.

Final Review: B- (for now, this may change)

Brokeback Mountain (novel)



Summary: Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they're working as sheepherder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer. Both men work hard, marry, and have kids because that's what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it.

Review: This is the original story that was used for the new film. I was weeping by the end of it, it was so good. Even though it was originally a short story it was rereleased for the film in novella format, and I couldn't be gladder. It kind of makes me want to read more of Proulx's work, gay cowboys or not involved.

Final Review: A++

Donnie Darko (2001)



(Original Theatrical Version)

Summary: (imdb) During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. He returns home the next morning to find that a jet engine has crashed through his bedroom. As he tries to figure out why he survived and tries to deal with people in his town, like the school bully, his conservative health teacher, and a self-help guru, Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism and worse.

Review: I really should have seen this sooner. Okay, I admit it. I love this movie. I already know that Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor, but he was just fabulous in this. Come to think of it, everyone was. I can watch this movie 3967636 times and never get sick of it. I totally need to see the director's cut now. And James Duval as Frank? That just clinches the deal.

Final Rating: A++

Favourite quotes:
Sean Smith: Beer and pussy. That's all I need.
Ronald Fisher: We gotta find ourselves a Smurfette.
Sean Smith: Smurfette?
Ronald Fisher: Yeah, not some tight-ass Middlesex chick, right? Like this cute little blonde that will get down and dirty with the guys. Like Smurfette does.
Donnie: Smurfette doesn't fuck.
Ronald Fisher: That's bullshit. Smurfette fucks all the other Smurfs. Why do you think Papa Smurf made her? Because all the other Smurfs were getting too horny.
Sean Smith: No, no, no, not Vanity. I heard he was a homosexual.
Ronald Fisher: Okay, then, you know what? She fucks them and Vanity watches. Okay?
Sean Smith: What about Papa Smurf? I mean, he must get in on all the action.
Ronald Fisher: Yeah, what he does, he films the gang-bang, and he beats off to the tape.
Donnie: [shouts] First of all, Papa Smurf didn't create Smurfette. Gargamel did. She was sent in as Gargamel's evil spy with the intention of destroying the Smurf village. But the overwhelming goodness of the Smurf way of life transformed her. And as for the whole gang-bang scenario, well, it just couldn't happen. Smurfs are asexual. They don't even have... reproductive organs under those tiny, white pants. It's just so illogical, about being a Smurf, you know? I mean, what's the point of living... if you don't have a dick?
Sean Smith: [pause] Dammit, Donnie. Why you gotta get all smart on us?

Donnie: I made a new friend today.
Dr. Lilian Thurman: Real or imaginary?
Donnie: Imaginary.

Principal Cole: Donald let me preface this by saying your Iowa test scores are intimidating... So, let's go over this again, what exactly did you say to Ms. Farmer?
Kitty Farmer: [interrupting] I'll tell you what he said - he asked me to forcibly insert the Lifeline exercise card into my anus!

Roberta Sparrow: Every living creature on this earth dies alone.

Donnie: You are such a fuckass.
Elizabeth: Did you just call me a fuckass? You can go suck a fuck.
Donnie: Oh, please, tell me Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a fuck?

Gretchen: My mom had to get a restraining order against my step dad. He has emotional problems.
Donnie: Oh, I have those too. What kind does your step dad have?
Gretchen: He stabbed my mom four times in the chest.
Donnie: Oh.

Donnie: [taking a cigarette] What will happen if you tell mom about this?
Samantha Darko: You'll put Ariel in the garbage disposal.
Donnie: Goddamn right I will.

Dr. Lilian Thurman: The search for God is absurd?
Donnie: It is if everyone dies alone.

Donnie: [in a letter] Dear Roberta Sparrow, I have reached the end of your book and... there are so many things that I need to ask you. Sometimes I'm afraid of what you might tell me. Sometimes I'm afraid that you'll tell me that this is not a work of fiction. I can only hope that the answers will come to me in my sleep. I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.



Related:
Donnie Darko (Japanese novelization version)

The Brothers Grimm (2005)



Summary: (amazon) Folklore collectors and con artists, Jake and Will Grimm, travel from village to village pretending to protect townsfolk from enchanted creatures and performing exorcisms. They are put to the test, however, when they encounter a real magical curse in a haunted forest with real magical beings, requiring genuine courage.

Review: Yet another movie with a seemingly good presence - but wow, this one also sucked a big fat one. :( WHAT IS WITH THIS, YOU GUYS IN HOLLYWOOD? Quit making seemingly promsing films that suck. It was just bad. Cliched, bad acting, the whole works. :(

Final Review: F

20051229

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)



Summary: (imdb) In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history.

Review: Oh god, this was just as bad as I was fearing it to be. The cast was all wrong, they cut out some of the most important parts of the novel. One word: trainwreck. I can see now why everyone got all pissed off about it - I'm pissed off too. Ugh. I think I'm going to go gouge out my eyes now.

Final Review: F

Best of 2005: Music

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Best Album (English - Mainstream):
NINE INCH NAILS - WITH TEETH
KITAAA! Yes, after another five year hiatus, Trent Reznor is back. I loved this album SO much, though the Fragile still ranks up there as number one. One thing that's great about Reznor is that he isn't afraid to experiment, and there's lots of that on this album. The lyrics are more varied, as are the instruments. Pick this one up for sure.
RUNNER-UP:
Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
I'm sad to say, for the most part, I liked the leaked version better than the final retail version - but at least this album got released. The fact that Sony actually listened to the fans and got this amazing album off the shelf should say something. My personal preferences about versions aside, Fiona Apple never ceases to amaze me with the material she comes up with. Here's hoping she tours Japan soon!


Best Album (English - Indies):
RILO KILEY - MORE ADVENTUROUS
This wasn't released in Japan til this year, so it counts as a 2005 release. :p Anyway, these guys have become one of my new favourite bands, and I can't believe I wasted so much time NOT listening to them. This isn't my favourite album from them (The Execution of All Things is), but it's still a very very good album. Go try them out - you won't be disappointed!
RUNNER-UP:
Orgy - Punk Statik Paranoia
I've loved Orgy since I was a wee lass of 14, and they're finally out with a new album after nearly a four year absence. They quit Reprise and instead moved to Jay Gordon's own D1 records, officially making this an indies release. This album is quite telling of the four years they spent on hiatus - the lyrics say it all. And even with all of the troubles the band and with the record companies, Orgy is back, better, and stronger than ever.

Best Movie Soundtrack (English):
MYSTERIOUS SKIN
It's a blend of early 80's folk, punk, and classical. The entire Mysterious Skin project has made it onto my best of 05 list already, and the OST for this is no exception. It's especially haunting after you've seen the movie and you know where all the music pieces go - I can't even listen to it anymore alone because it scares me a bit. Excellent stuff.
RUNNER-UP:
None. Even with the Geisha/Sayuri OST, Narnia, and Harry Potter, I wasn't impressed.

Best Solo Artist (English):
FIONA APPLE
Like you didn't see this coming. It was horrible the way Sony treated her, but she kept her dignity by not bashing them to hell and back and just waited patiently instead. Oh. And of course, her music's great too. :p
RUNNER-UP:
None.

Best Band (English)
RILO KILEY tied with NINE INCH NAILS
Just too hard to choose between them. :(

Best PV (English)
RILO KILEY - PORTIONS FOR FOXES
I still don't know what to make of this video, but it was really awesome to watch. Great scenery and atmosphere, but equally blended in with the band actively participating in it.

Best Song (English)
Nine Inch Nails: The Hand That Feeds
TIED WITH
Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes
Guh. Both rock so hard, I wet myself with glee.
RUNNER-UP:
None.





Best Album (Japanese - Mainstream):
M-FLO - Dope Space Nine
Yeah, I know. I can't believe it either. After all of my ranting and railing about how LISA should have left the group, they go and assemble some really fucking talented artists and make a great album. I loved it.
TIED WITH
Nakashima Mika - MUSIC
and
Rie Fu - Rie Fu
These, I think, are the three best mainstream albums of the year. Each track on each album is unique, and has a fresh sound. 2005 was a VERY good year for Japanese music, IMO.
RUNNER-UP:
Zwei - Z
As much as I wanted to make this best album of the year, pretty much all of their singles released this year were on the album with only four new songs to accompany it. Regardless, it's still a fabulous album, but I kind of wanted more new material than what was given after the singles on the CD.

Best Single (Japanese - Mainstream):
TOKYO JIHEN - SHURABA
This is perhaps their best single to date. I guess shuffling around the band members was for the best after all. New sound, new look, but same old Ringohime behind the curtain pulling the strings.
RUNNER-UP
Amano Tsukiko - Koe
This single has become one of my favourites from her, ever. She's got such an amazing, powerful voice and the lyrics made me cry.

Best PV (Japanese - Mainstream):
Zwei - Fake Face
Seriously their best PV to date. Loved the imagery. Just awesome stuff.
RUNNER-UP:
Tokyo Jihen - Shuraba
Like you had to ask. :p
HONOURABLE MENTION:
Utada Hikaru - PASSION
The singing backwards got on my nerves after awhile, but damn if the video itself wasn't fabulous. I want a dress like that!

Best Solo Artist (Japanese - Mainstream):
RIE FU
This girl is just amazing. She manages to put singles out pretty frequently, and all never sound the same.
RUNNER-UP:
None

Best Band (Japanese):
Zwei TIED WITH Tokyo Jihen
I just couldn't pick ok

Best Indies-to-Mainstream Breakout Artist (Japanese):
AMADORI
She's just released her first mainstream album, "CALLING!!", and it's already pretty popular in some circles. She made the transition from indies to major so seamlessly that it honestly shocked me. Her style hasn't changed, either. Still same ethereal lyrics with punchy rock sound.
RUNNER-UP:
None.

Best Album (Japanese - Indies):
Tsuchiya Anna - Taste My Beat
TIED WITH
Spangle Call Lilli Line - For Installation
and
Head Phones President - Vacancy
All are really really good albums that I can listen to for hours on end through each track and never get sick of them.
RUNNER-UP:
Salyu - Landmark
Salyu's album was pretty awesome, too, though there needed to be more decision time on what was going on the album and what wasn't. Not all of it blended together seamlessly, and that was a bit of a problem. That's what makes it a runner up. :/
MO'SOME TONEBENDER - ROCKIN' LUUUULA
Ringohime's contribution on this album just made it all the more fabulous. MO'SOME are totally underappriciated, but it's good to see that they're finally getting some attention for this album.

Best Band (Japanese - Indies):
HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT
Goddamn right. Anza is just a fucking amazing vocalist, and when you see her live, you really wonder if she's real or just a dream. I..have no words.
RUNNER-UP:
MO'SOME TONEBENDER
They've been around for awhile, but I never really noticed how great they were until this year. They need more exposure and more appriciation, really.

Best Solo Artist (Japanese - Indies):
Tsuchiya Anna
TIED WITH
Salyu
Both can make me gasp, dance, laugh, and cry within one sitting and listening of each album. I think that qualifies them well enough.
RUNNER-UP:
NONE.

Best Song (Japanese - Indies):
Suneohair - Waltz
Yeah, we all know it as "that Hachikuro song". But it really is a great song. Whenever I'm down, I listen to it and feel better, slightly.
RUNNER-UP:
None.

Best New Artist (Japanese - Indies):
Angela Aki
She's Japan's Fiona Apple. That's the only way to describe her, really. She's got such talent - I hope 2006 brings more of that talent out into the market. It's desperately needed.
RUNNER-UP:
None.

Best New Band (Japanese - Indies):
NAKANOMORI BAND
Ayako's got skillz, and the rest of the band does too. At first I didn't like them, but then they grew on me. I can't wait for their first album, which is dropping later in January.
RUNNER-UP:
None.

Best Single (Japanese - Indies):
Nakanomori Band - WHATEVER.
This song makes little to no sense, which is probably why I love it so much. That and the catchy riffs and ENGRISH used. OH YEAH.
TIED WITH:
Angela Aki - Home
I cried through the entire song. I am such a loser. :(

Best PV (Japanese - Indies):
Rumi feat. Ono - Gokuraku Toshi
I really loved the use of camera angles and Tokyo scenery here. And Rumi's flow didn't hurt either.

Best Soundtrack (Japanese):
Linda, Linda, Linda
TIED WITH
LOVELESS
James Iha working on Linda, Linda, Linda was the best thing to happen to that movie project. And of course, Loveless' music was perfect - Ethereal and soft and dreamy. Loved it.

Doku Hime 2



Summary: The boy who would be king. The boy's brother, who would also be king. The armies of the king out to get one small but dangerous Princess - Belladonna. The King's sorceror, and his own horrific tale of poisoning others - but intentionally instead of Belladonna's natural poison. The boys protect Belladonna against a host of angels, armies, demons, and of course, the sorceror himself, who only wants to use her for experiments because of what she is..

Review: Hot damn, I love this series. This is definitely ranking up there now with Happy Family as my favourite Mitsukazu series of all time. I love this work. She should just drop Shigeshoshi and concentrate everything on finishing Doku Hime instead. ;_; The parts with the sorceror were funny and horrific - especially when we're given a peek at how he poisons people (candy and apples) - a clear wave to some of the oldest fairy tales around the world. I can't wait for the next volume to come out.

ARIA 13 (final)

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"SONO MASSHIRO NA ASA WO... (ON THAT PURE WHITE MORNING...)"

Summary: It's New Year's Eve in Neo-Venetzia and everyone's coming out to the big party held downtown! A lot of past cast members return, including Ai, from Manhome to share in this once-in-a-24-month event. Akari and the crew reflect on her first year on Aqua, and wonder what's to be in the year to come...

Review: Great ending! Loved it. Very fitting - and it's nice how they timed it to coincide with New Year's this year. And according to Matthew - it looks like a second season is in the works, possibly due out in spring. This is a happy happy thought. :)

Into the Blue (2005)



Summary: (amazon) Jared (Paul Walker, The Fast and the Furious) dreams of finding sunken treasure and making millions, but his girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four, Sin City) is content with their poor but idyllic life in the Bahamas. Still, when they find artifacts from a 19th century pirate ship, she gets caught up in the excitement--until they also find a crashed plane full of smuggled cocaine. Naturally, someone's going to want that cocaine back...

Review: Honestly, not the best movie, but if it's got half-naked Jessica Alba swimming around, I'm not complaining in the slightest. Still, the story itself was kind of really cliched in all sorts. I'm glad I didn't see it in theatres. :/ Still kind of fun to watch for the cheese factor.

Final Review: C

20051228

Nodame Cantabile 3



Summary: Student prodigy Shinichi Chiaki just can’t shake Nodame, no matter how hard he tries. Now he is forced to tutor her and Mine all night. So much for music being comforting! Then Shinichi gets a golden opportunity: the chance to temporarily fill in for Maestro Stresemann as conductor for the S orchestra. But after an unfortunate mishap, the maestro defects to the A orchestra and challenges Shinichi to a public-performance duel. With only weeks to prepare, can members of the inexperienced S orchestra pull themselves together to rival the confidence of the A orchestra? It’s going to take a lot of hard work–and inspiration from a certain free-spirited girl with a crush. The battle Shinichi can’t afford to lose has begun!

Review: Okay, I'm starting to lose interest now because it's getting just a little repetitive. As much as I love Nodame's antics, Chiaki himself is just getting boring even with the "character development" going on here. It just got more and more repetitive as the volume went on. Kind of like bashing one's head against the wall. Dammit, Nodame, you showed such progress, too! Welcome to my dropped pile. :/

Vampire Knight 1



Summary: (storminheaven) Yuuki's earliest memory is of a stormy winter's night when she was attacked by a vampire...then saved by another. Ten years later, she has grown up a guardian of the vampire race, protecting her savior, Kaname, from discovery as he leads a group of reformed vampires at an elite boarding academy. But at her side is a boy called Zero, who burns with hatred for the creatures who destroyed everything that he ever cared for, and is determined never to trust them. Have the vampires truly renounced their murderous ways, or is there a darker truth behind their actions? Is Kaname's infatuation with Yuuki the beginning of a forbidden romance? Or is it something in her lost memories that draws him to her? Because in this world of secrets, nothing is as it seems, and nobody is who they say they are. And the price of misplaced faith may well be worse than death.

Review: Oh man, I have to read more of this. This is probably one of Hino's best works - way better than Maruchen Prince (and I never thought I'd say that). Too bad there are only two volumes out for now. :( Pity. But it's still running, so it'll get time to catch up.

2 3

The Gun Seller



Summary: Thomas Lang, formerly of the Scots Guard and currently a freelance bodyguard/man for hire, is offered an assassination job. He indignantly refuses, attempts to warn the victim, and is soon embroiled in undercover work for the British government, CIA operatives, arms dealers, and terrorists.

Review: Only Hugh Laurie can make me laugh so hard. It's funny - it's like he's actually sitting there, telling you the story of Lang and his misadventures with the CIA and the UK government. This is a wonderful, wonderful read. If you want something to cheer you up - light, sarcastic, and at times totally tasteless entertainment - this is the way to go. Perfect post-holidays reading.

Final review: A+

Mysterious Skin



Summary: (amazon) Brian Lackey and Neil McCormick are so different by nature that they might never have met except for a shared incident at age eight. One summer afternoon, a storm forces the cancellation of a Little League game, and Brian catches a ride home with his coach and Neil. Ten years later, Brian still can't remember that afternoon, although he suspects that it was a turning point in his life. His search for answers eventually leads to Neil, who helps re-create the afternoon of seduction and sexual abuse that Brian has blocked from his mind.

Review: Now that I've read the original and can rewatch the film, I'm happy to report that Araki adapted nearly every single word perfectly from paper to screen. I was amazed - reading the book and then rewatching the film. Perfect, everything. I was crying at the end of it, since it was just so perfect. "He wasn't an angel. We weren't angels." This is Heim's first novel, and it was so grabbing and amazing. You can bet this will be on my reread shelf for years to come.

Final Review: A+

Jigoku Shoujo 13

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"RENGOKU SHOUJO (PURGATORY GIRL)"

Summary: More about Ai's past comes out as Hajime investigates one of Tsugumi's visions - leading him to a book called "RENGOKU SHOUJO", and the subsequent tale of the author's life after meeting Ai in the 1930's.

Review: Holy shit - so Ai can be traced back possibly to the Kamakura (roughly around 1300 - 1500's) era? I guess since the birth of time man has wanted to kill his bretheren, and Ai's needed to do so. Very interesting stuff though, about how you'd answer a letter in the paper. I really loved this episode for its groundwork of what lies ahead. Awesome episode. One of the best.

20051225

Best of 2005: Movies

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Best Movie (English):
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
From the full audio rip I managed to get my hands on and a great deal of the film itself, this definitely wins for best of the year. It's perfect. As the original short story was built upon, it can't really fit into the adaptation catagory as much. They took Proulx's basic material and built upon it so well and so perfectly, it's breathtaking. Definitely best of the year.
RUNNER-UP:
Maria, Full of Grace
Technically 2004, but wasn't distributed in the US until 2005. Technically a Colombian-US production, this film blew all of my previous preconceptions about the drug trade out of the water. It was very sad, but an excellent film. It's graphic, it's ugly, but it's the truth. We need more films like this out there.


Best Adaptation (English):
Chronicles of Narnia: Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
I mean, it's pretty much taken straight from the novel, and it's perfect. I finally got around to reading the novel for this last night and I was absolutely shocked at how faithful it was.
RUNNER-UP:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Because it's been established that they've cut a lot from the series while transfering it to film, I'm really happy with what they did include. They included nearly all of the best parts of the novel and that's good enough for me.

Best Indie Production (English):
MYSTERIOUS SKIN
Another production technically in the 2004 pile, it wasn't distributed in the US until 2005 due to rating concerns and finding someone who would buy the film for distro. As I haven't yet read the novel I can't comment upon its adaptation, it's still a fucking amazing movie when you let it stand alone. Gregg Araki is one of my favourite directors ever, and this film was a really nice change of pace for him even though his style did not change one bit. I cried at the end, I admit it.
RUNNER-UP:
None. It was a real drought for US indie productions this year. :/

Best Gay Movie (English):
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, MYSTERIOUS SKIN TIE.
RUNNER-UP:
None. Sadly. :/

Best Silly Fun Movie (English):
D.E.B.S.
Another one of those 2004 but distro'd in 2005 titles, even though it's a wonderful gay movie, it's not the best for 2005. But it's still the best silly-fun-wow I like not having to think about movie for 2005. It was funny and sweet, and I loved it to death. Props to the entire cast that were non-gay for doing gay scenes.
RUNNER-UP:
Fantastic Four
Jessica Alba in a skin-tight suit for most of the film, a guy on fire, and everything getting blown up. Hello, 14 year old boy wet dream!

Best Discovery (English):
Dead Poets Society
I can't believe it took me that long to see that film. Simply amazing. No words.
TIE:
Donnie Darko
I should have seen this one ages ago. >__<



Best Movie (Japanese):
NANA
I would have put this under "best adaptation", but the fact that it was completely cut in half with the original storyline, that just automatically cut it for me. Good news though - a sequel is underway and is due to start production in early 2006. Otherwise, if you see it on its own and not read the original manga, it definitely wins for best Japanese film of the year. It's just that good.

Best Indie Production (Japanese):
KANARIA (CANARY)
I hadn't gotten around to reviewing this one yet, but I have seen it. It's a very interesting take on the world post-1995 Aum Shinrikyou Sarin Attacks and how cults have affected Japanese religious and secular life. This film was absolutely marvelous in the way it handled these sensitive issues, and I would personally love to meet the director to pick his brain. I'll have a full-length review coming soon, I promise.

Best Adaptation (Japanese):
None for this year. :(

Best Gay Movie (Japanese):
Again, none for this year. Stupid Japan!

Best Silly Fun Movie (Japanese):
STACY
Even though it was made long ago in Japan (2001?) it was only distro'd in the states this year due to gore and rating concerns. It was an awful awful horror film about Schoolgirl Zombies that Eat Each Other and Everyone Else but I loved it. This is the stuff I live for: horrible B movies that really should have made it into the mainstream.
RUNNER-UP:
None. ;/

Best Discovery (Japanese):
BLUE
Made in 2003 but not to come to light until 2005, this story is a very laid-back approach to girl love in high school. A lot of reviewers either hated it or didn't even bother reviewing it, but I happened to like it. The pace was very slow, very relaxing, and it seemed more realistic than some of the other films out there by Japan about this subject. Full review coming soon.


And finally...

Best Gay Film (OTHER):
HU DIE (BUTTERFLY)
Made in Hong Kong in late 2004 and debuting in 2005, this film haunted me for days after I watched it. I cried, I laughed, I remembered my own experiences. Yeah I know, we have two other gay catagories, but this one deserved one on its own.

Ito Yuna - MTV Advance Warning Special/Bioclens CM premiere

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Well, to prove that Ito Yuna (REIRA from NANA) isn't just a one-trick pony, MTV has put out the ADVANCE WARNING special on the making of her new single, "Pureyes", coincidentally the new themesong to the contact commercial from Bioclens.

How do to feel about this? I'm SO happy Yuna's being given another shot at singing. I mean, I love "JOURNEY" and "ENDLESS STORY" but she needs new songs. She wrote this one herself, and talked about it. Gushed, more like. But it gave me this sweet feeling in the pit of my belly - she's so passionate about her work, and you can fairly feel it radiating off of her.

I can't wait for "Pureyes" to come out. For real.

20051224

Mai-Otome 12

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"KAMEN BUTOKAI?! (MASQUERADE BALL?!)"

Summary: Mashiro's gone stratgically missing at the worst possible time - the yearly Castle Masquerade Ball! Arika is chosen to take her place instead for the sake of the latest visiting prince - Tokiha Takumi. But something about this prince isn't right, and Shizuru's the only one who figures it out...

Review: Wow, this episode got confusing. But hey - Mai is FINALLY introduced into the Otome world! That's pretty awesome. It makes me really excited for the next episode, as it seems like another one of those cornerstone important type episodes. Too bad that won't be until two weeks from now. :<

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe



Summary: (imdb) During the German air raids of WWII, the four Pevensie children -- Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy -- are sent out of London to take shelter at the country home of eccentric Prof. Digory Kirke, who happens to be the owner of a curious wardrobe. Peering into this wardrobe one day, Lucy finds herself in the snowy land of Narnia, which is mired in never-ending winter thanks to the magic of the evil White Witch, who has proclaimed that it will be always winter but never Christmas in the mystical land. Eventually the other Pevensies find themselves in Narnia, and the four children learn that they alone are the key to breaking the Witch's eternal winter. But while three of them trudge through the snow with some helpful Beavers to join forces with Aslan, the mighty Lion, the fourth takes a more treacherous path and falls in league with the Witch...

Review: Oh wow. I never really read the books as a child, but this as a movie was absolutely gorgeous. Just everything about it. I think I need to see it again, and again, and again. I'm absolutely speechless at how good that was. I think I need to go read the books now. o_o; New fandom. Awesome. I can't WAIT until the roadshow here in March. I'm totally going - MARCH 4, 2006!!

Final Review: A+

ARIA 12

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"SONO YAWARAKA NA NEGAI WA... (THAT GENTLE WISH IS..)"

Summary: Aqua is now in the deep of winter, and starting to see light on the other side of the tunnel. While going to sightsee Aqua's oldest bridge, Akari meets a girl from Manhome, and become friends. Together they go with her students to the bridge to watch the return of the water to the canals of Neo-Venezia.

Review: One more ep to go. Not working again! Naughty Aria Company. But I guess if no one's coming in for business, you have to take a break, eh? Still, a nice peaceful episode. You get the feeling that spring is coming soon at the end of it.

Paradise Kiss 11

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"STAGE"

Summary: The Yazagaku contest is finally here. Yukari walks the stage for the Parakiss crew, and begins the process of freeing herself from everything that binds her.

Review: Breathtaking episode. They really did the manga justice with the scene where Yukari walks the catwalk for the show. Really gorgeous stuff. I'm still swooning over the use of colour and everything. It looks like ANIMATION will be able to finish the manga with justice in the final episode next week - I was worried for a minute there, but they seem to know what they're doing now. Wonderful. I hope they get hired to do the NANA anime, due out in April.

Kimura Kaela - YOU (PV)

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Oh wow, and I thought the PV for "BEAT" was crazy.

Anyway, love the song. I really really hope there's going to be an annoucement for the second album soon. I must admit, I miss the hot pink hair with the black heart shaved into it. :( I really loved that hair on her the most. The brown ringlets are cute and are very KAELA, but at the same time, it's going to take some getting used to.

Kaela, you are the best. :D

20051221

Jigoku Shoujo 12

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"KOBORETA KAKERUTACHI (THE SPILLED FRAGMENTS)"

Summary: A teacher in love with his student. That student emailing a mystery friend for advice, and asking Ai to destroy her lovesick teacher. But when the student finds out that the teacher is this mystery friend, will she still drop him into hell - even if it's at his own request?

Review: Good episode. I loved the twist at the end. This was one of the better episodes of the series imo. Also it looks like Sony threw more money at the Jigoku staff - the use of colour was even more beautiful than usual for this episode. I mean, WOW. o_o;

20051220

Angela Aki - Kokoro no Senshi (Warrior of the Heart) PV

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Wow, I wasn't expecting a new single so soon. Either that or more time has passed than I thought.

Anyway, I really LOVE this song. The video is a bit boring, but that's Angela's style to be stuck to her piano. XD Anyway, this song really shows off her vocal range more so than "HOME" or the "ONE" album. I am now indecently excited for this single. It's got a winter theme, but it's not so obviously overpowering as some of the other ones out there at the moment.

Angela for the win for 2006!

Best of 2005: Anime

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BEST MANGA TO ANIME ADAPTATION:
MUSHISHI
This was a hard one, guys. You have NO idea. But with all of my other considerations (Honey and Clover, Loveless, etc), there was always something not quite absoltely in harmony with the original source. But with Mushishi, as of so far, nothing has been out of place and modifications made have served to actually illuminate parts of the manga that were vague or lost. This show is what adaptors should strive for.

RUNNER-UP:
Honey and Clover
Near perfect adaptation, but with one or two filler episodes.
Loveless
Gay cat boys and girls. See above comment.


BEST CONTINUING ANIME:
Mai-HiME
Started in October 2004 and ended in February of this year (thereabouts), Mai-HiME was one of those shows you either loved or hated and either way couldn't get enough of. Now with a theatrical movie on the way, a second season on air, and merchandise up to your armpits it's become one of the most praised anime in the last five years. And it should be. It has a lot of typical elements but with a twist. That twist continues to keep me interested, even now.

RUNNER-UP:
Gankutsuou
Coming in at a tough second, Japan's take on the Dumas classic. One of the first times that Gonzo has earned respect from me as a studio, too.


BEST NEW ANIME:
TRINITY BLOOD
Even though this might be technically an adaptation from the novels, the anime took an entirely different direction from the original series of books. Again, more respect for Gonzo than I've had for awhile. At first I thought I would hate this series since most vampire-related series I've seen have really sucked and had so many typical elements, but this one just blew them all out of the water. Story, graphics, music, everything. Trinity Blood takes it for 2005.

RUNNER-UP:
Kamichu!
A refreshing, relaxing summer series. Haven't had one of those for awhile. Nice pacing too.


BEST OAV:
Saikano: Another Love Song
A very much needed explaination and backstory to one of Japan's most beloved works. Just seeing things from Shuu's side did NOT help, but now we have two other POVs as well: Misaki and Chise. I cried throughout the ending of the second episode. >>;

RUNNER-UP:
None. :(


BEST NEW STUDIO:
ANIMATION/NOITAMINA
They're the ones behind the adaptations of Paradise Kiss and Hachikuro. They're extremely faithful with their work, and an entirely new studio to have two hit shows in 2005. That's pretty impressive, I should think. I look forward to their 2006 works too!

Best of 2005: TV

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BEST NEW TV SHOW (ENGLISH):
HOUSE
Hands down, best of 2005. Period. Even though the show technically aired at the end of 2004, the bulk of episodes aired was in 2005. This show, like some of my other seminal favourites (Dark Angel, The X-Files) has made me cry, laugh, howl, and wet my pants - sometimes several times an episode, and sometimes all at once. It's got humour, tasteless jokes, serious business, and a just plain amazing cast and crew that never ceases to surprise me with its talent. OH, and did I mention one of the only female roles (out of three major ones), Cameron, is TOTALLY CAPSLOCK?

RUNNER-UP:
Point Pleasant
This show SHOULD NOT have been cancelled. Then again, Fox takes the hatchet to a LOT of shows that they don't give enough time to. Luckily they were given their 13 scheduled aired episodes and now put entirely to DVD. Then again, when you take into account the content (religious themes), I can understand why the network got antsy and shut it down.
Wonder Showzen
Think of the most offensive things there are currently in US culture. Okay, now think of a kid's show. Wonder Showzen would probably be the bastard child of both. And it needs to get back on network TV and off of seasonal hiatus.


BEST CONTINUING SHOW OF 2005 (ENGLISH):
Smallville
Going strong with season 4 and now season 5, these seasons with their arc storylines are proving to be the best for the show in its five year run so far. My favourite arc so far has been the Lana-as-Isabella arc, but a close second is Lex-Going-Bad-OH NOES arc which is happening this season.

RUNNER-UP:
None. Sadly.


BEST NEW DISCOVERY (ENGLISH):
A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE
Hugh Laurie's work with Stephen Fry before he went on to do HOUSE. Hilarious stuff that I have no idea how it got past the BBC censors. They're kind of equal oppertunity offenders here. Four seasons, 26 episodes of work. Now if only they had it on DVD!

RUNNER-UP:
None.


BEST NEW TV SHOW (JAPANESE):
DENSHA OTOKO
It was a hit all over Japan in book form and movie form, but the story was best told through this short 11-episode TV drama series. The cast was excellent as was the adaptive screenplay episode by episode. It kicked the movie's ass and held consistantly at #1 ALL summer for Japanese television. It's the year of the Akiba.

RUNNER-UP:
Joou no Kyoushitsu
Teacher runs classroom like dungeon. Enough said.
Jouou
Aoi Sora's boobies make their first Japanese network appearance.


BEST CONTINUING SHOW OF 2005 (JAPANESE):
None.
Most Japanese shows are seasonal and last at most 12 episodes. It's really rare for them to have second or third seasons, unless they're taiga (historical period) dramas.


BEST NEW DISCOVERY (JAPANESE):
Vampire Gigolo (BLOODHOUND)
With a loose basis off of Kaori Yuki's manga of the same title, this show was made in 2003 or 2004 and was so awful and hilarious you couldn't look and you couldn't look away. At least I got a run for my money. I couldn't stop laughing the entire show.

RUNNER-UP:
DEKICHATTA KEKKON
One of Hirosue Ryoko's first dramas, and ironically enough, a story of what would eventually happen to her at age 23. Girl and Man have one night stand, girl gets pregnant, and from there both families fight the impending marriage.

Best of 2005

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It's that time of year again, folks! I'll be doing seperate entries dedicated to the best of 2005 via catagory: Music, Novel, Manga, Anime, Movie, and TV, as well as anticipated stuff for 2006. It all should be finished by the end of December. Have fun!

Television
Anime
Movies
Music
Novel
Misc.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie Season 3



Summary: Fry and Laurie branch out into other realms of comedy (making fun of America now instead of just Australia and Canada) and get themselves into trouble along the way.

Review: Heh. Not my favourite season, but still some real gems in there. I think that "MY ASS" was my favourite sketch of the entire season. I could NOT stop laughing.

Favourite sketches:
"MY ASS"
"PATRIOTISM"
"MARMALADE"
"SPAGHETTI"

Tsuchiya Anna - Change Your Life PV

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Let's get the fangirling out of the way first.
OMFGANNAONABIKE:SLDKFJ:SDKFLJ:SDKFj;asdfjk ;asf OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.

Ahem.

This video heralds Anna's entry into the Japanese mainstream market - even though the song is in English. And hey - her English continues to improve! The visuals are what we've come to expect from Anna - lots of decedance, flashy colours, leather, and fetishistic imagery. But the song itself is different from other stuff she's tried before - this is a hard rock girl power ballad (think "STRONGER"), whereas most of her other stuff had more punk/hardcore/Hole influences. I'm not sure what to make of it. It's a good song, but so different from what she's done before - so...yeah. A few more listens and I'm sure I'll be just as addicted as I am to her other stuff. For a first major single debut, I wasn't expecting this.

Single hits shelves on 1/18/06. Support Anna and buy the single!