In the spirit of being just a little behind the times I've spent the last few days getting through series one of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I never watched the series as a child due to a life threatening allergy to anything remotely girly or pink and as such stayed away from this reboot of the franchise. But then something happened, a good friend of mine told me it was amazing. A male friend. A male 19 year old friend. This confused me enough to investigate the first couple of episodes. And my God, was I hooked.
A lot of criticism, deservedly so can be passed to the original. There was no conflict, any songs were terrible, there was no real characterisation. As mentioned I hated anything that was girly, and there wasn't much that was more girly then 'My Little Pony', so I never saw the original series. For a better idea of it, you may want to check out the nostalgia Chick's review. The Nostalgia Chick - My Little Pony
Friendship is Magic fixes a lot of these problems, not fully though. The conflict started off really promisingly in the first two episodes, there is a lot of build up to the release of Nightmare Moon, and our main character Twilight Sparkle is forced to find a way to defeat her. The ending is a little sweet but this is a kids show so I'm prepared to let that slide, but the villain is made good in the second episode and then no one else replaces her. There is an individual conflict in each episode that genuinely relates to some sort of Sunday school message about racism or being a good sport; but I really feel it's lacking for not having a real villain. The idea that girls don't dig conflict is one I don't get, I don't think that you will loose your audience of little princess just because there is a bit of magic flung at an enemy.
The songs... oh the songs. What can I say about the music. A friend of mine who refuses to let me show him the episodes can't get one of the songs I showed him out of his head to my immense amusement. A real effort has been made to make them enjoyable and catchy, a few fans have in fact remixed several of the songs into techno beats. Bellow is an example of one of the bests.
Aside from the theme song this is the first musical number we get, and my lord what a good way to link into the characterisation. This is where we see the main difference between the old and new. The characterisation is unmistakable and there is no possible way of confusing say Fluttershy for Rainbow dash or Pinky Pie. Pinky Pie is incidentally the character singing, and to quote my friend Adrian's favorite line from the show, 'Pinky Pie you so random'. I don't really know how to describe her, I think most of the images in the video clip speak for itself so I will not focus on the other characters.
Rainbow Dash is a fast tomboyish, and rather proud, but never seriously, sports fiend. Fluttershy is the opposite the animal lover and soft spoken shy one in the group... you may have noticed that the names reflect the personalities slightly, and by slightly I mean simply restating it in condensed form. From this we look at AppleJack, a country hard working girl with a strong accent. A friend of mine watched the episode on racism and made the point that the most racist pony seemed to be Applejack the 'redneck pony', whilst I did giggle at this I don't think it holds up too much weight. As for the plot to work they needed one of the ponies with a younger sibling, and the only one at that time with an established younger sibling was Applejack. Latter on however we would be introduced to the little sis of Rarity, a prim and proper designer. Finally we have our main character, the only one whose name doesn't seem to represent her character at all Twilight Sparkle. Our main character and a serious and studious book worm. There is even a large variety of side characters with personalities on which I won't go in to.
As the characterisation is so strong it should come as no surpise that I had viewed the writing as the real difference between this show and the original My Little Pony. There have been a number of writers who worked on the first season and all seem very talented, but the cohesion of the whole show had made me believe there was a single writer, so I instead checked out the wikepedia entry and found the driving force behind it appears to have been the animator Lauren Faust. Who had previously worked on Fosters Home for imaginary Friends and Powerpuff Girls. Both shows that have had popularity with demographics older than their intended audience as such it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that this has been more popular with 19-24 year old males than the 9-12 female demographic it was aimed at. With things such as references to Benny Hill. Yet, as with many things that develop unexpected success, it really lies in controversy.
Originally coming under fire for negative undertones of racism... because in the first episode the bad pony is black and the white one good (I really don't think this person watched more then five minutes of it) fourchan's creator saw the controversy and started to investigate. This led to the flooding of meme's of the ponies on fourchan which then continued to spread through the adult audiences. Proving yet again that if you hate something and find it offensive, the best thing you can do is to ignore it rather than publicly crucify it.
The reason there has been so few blog posts of late is a dear friend of mine got me hooked onto an anime, thank you L.J., I'd always avoided high school anime's like the plague because I always found the female characters insipid and the male characters dull at best and at worst ass-holes.
The first Manga I ever read was Fushgi-Yugi, and the only reason I could enjoy that was there was a host of likable side characters who almost ended up getting more focus time than the two main characters, an insipid girl and an ass-hole guy. Ouran High School Host manages to avoid these issues by not only having a strong support network of likable characters but our two mains feature an independent girl, and I do mean genuinely independent not the kind of 'grrr I'm in pain so I'm not going to let anybody close and be a total bitch until the last episode because all I really needed was a hug and a boyfriend' kind of independent. And the main guy in fun and only really has a chance with the girl once he attempts to change his personality for her. That said there is no real conclusion for the romance as the anime ended up getting ahead of the manga and didn't yet know the ending so it is left open for real possibilities. I am sure I am just one of many who really would like to see and second season.
Looking at the actual plot you have Haruhi, our main character being accepted into the prestigious Ouran Academy because of their amazing brains, and accidentally coming upon the Host Club whilst looking for a quiet place to study. Procedds to then knock over an expensive vase and has to work for the host club to pay it off. The big reveal that comes at the end of the first episode is that Haruhi is in fact a girl. The gender humour is where most of fun comes from, I have seen a few mangas and animes which have played up the gender humour angle, most memorably Ranma 1/2 which features the main character turn into a girl when drenched in cold water and back to a boy in hot water. Ouran Host Club really plays down the mistaken identity angle which is used often in anime and manga. Aside from the first episode where the reveal of Haruhi as a girl, I can only think of 2 instances where hiding her identity as a girl is the main drama.
Ouran Host Club is also the first instance where I've ever been remotely confronted with what's called Yaoi. For those who don't know Yaoi is the mange or anime that focuses around 'boy-boy love', showing over romanticized feminine men in relationships generally for the enjoyment of female readers. Just as a lot of lesbian related material is done for male readers rather than for lesbians themselves. Ouran Host Club however plays this up for laughs and is more a parody of the culture then actually being Yaoi itself.
If you enjoy anime or looking for something that is a pretty light and very tongue in cheek with really likable characters then I would heartily recommend it.
Well, I thought that I've been reviewing so many things I love and praise as good it's time for me to take a quick walk down some of the doggier streets of the entertainment city, keeping my hand closely around my bag and my eyes to the ground. And I decided to start this walk with a movie that is unquestionably, undeniably bad, but also just so enjoyable!
Released in 2003 and proclaimed by the director/producer/writer/actor Tommy Wiseau to be 'the next street car named desire', The Room has reached a level of notoriety as a cult classic to rival that of something like the Evil Dead series. People go and see it with props and catch phrases ready just as they do for Rocky Horror Picture Show. But what is it that makes it so bad, why is this movie so monumentally made of fail and yet enjoyable. Let us take it in three parts, the writing, the cinematography and finally the acting.
The writing needs to be taken in 2 parts, the story and the dialogue. The story can be summarised as girl cheats on boy with his best friend. By no means a revolutionary concept, but it is in the finner more unique details that makes the story really stand out, important contemporary issues that carry important weight such as breast cancer, gang violence and drugs are picked up and then dropped faster than this script would have been by any studio in their right mind. A perfect example of this would be the main girl, Lisa's, mother. One of their incredibly brief conversations goes as such.
Mother: Everything always goes wrong at once, no-one wants to help me, and I'm dying.
Lisa: Your not dying mum.
Mother: I got the results of the test, I definitely have breast cancer.
Lisa: Don't worry mum every things going to be fine, they're curing lots of people every day.
And that's it. It is never mentioned again. But back to the plot, or what we are meant to assume is the plot. It starts with Johhny (Tommy Wiseau) and Lisa (Juliette Danielle) being a happy and prosperous couple. Well at least Johhny is prosperous at his job at the bank doing... something unspecified as compared to Lisa's job which apparently makes far less and in very competitive and has something to do with computers. Then, for no reason Lisa announces that she is unhappy and after her mother tries to draw in her 'rebelious attitud' which just causes her to run into the confused arms of Mark. And I mean confused, no matter how many times they have sex he always seems completely dumbfounded by what is happening. Character development takes a back seat too... well I'm not really sure what it is that Tommy Wiseau has replaced it with. He certainly writes in opportunity for character development, there is an incident where Mark is confronted by another friend about his affair with Lisa and then goes off and shaves his beard. I had originally thought that this was meant to represent him getting his life in order and he was going to start being a good friend but then he just sleeps with Lisa and goes back to being a bit of a confused dick. So, there is no character development at all.
Does the writing improve with the dialogue, short answer no, long answer... noooooooooo. Well, to be fair the dialogue is only bad, not as horrible as the characters or plot. The only reason some lines are so memorable is in their delivery, this brings us right into the acting. It is spectacularly strange to watch, like seeing a children's play but you don't have the excuse of politeness to stop yourself from laughing. The worst of the worst is our star, Tommy Wiseau, who you could spend the entire movie attempting to guess just what accent he has. Hi acting is bland to periods where he tries to emote and just painfully inflicts on the wrong words. But we can thank him for the Internet meme of...
'YOUR TEARING ME PART LISA'
That isn't to say that the other actors are much better. Juliette Danielle's main acting talent seems to lie in her ability to pout, and pout, and pout... and... pout. She is also able to make every one of the sex scenes she is in awkward as she struggles to remove clothing in fluid movements. The other special actor to mention is Phillip Haldiman as Denny. This character... confuses most, and understandably so. He is said to be the 'ward' of Johnny, as Johnny wanted to adopt him and is now paying for his apartment in the same building. Ummm... and the first scene we have with Denny is him wanting to go up to the bed room with the 2 main characters and then follows them up saying 'I just like to watch you guys'. I believe the actor was going for charmingly innocent, but he just comes across as perverted and creepy.
The cinematography of this is, special. Most of the shots are well done if a little boring and pretty standard. Its the endless shots of San Fransisco that causes with stock music over it that gets painful, especially if you set a drinking game to it. The editing is often confusing and I am positive they got the order of certain shots wrong at one point.
All these things considered, you really do need to see this. Three weeks after it came out and was canned as a drama and praised as an accidental comedy Tommy Wiseauamusing but just comes of as tired. This is really Tommy Wiseau's magnus opum.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.