This month’s media consumption was definitively characterized by my schedule. For the first two and a half weeks of December, my friends and I were constantly recording videos for our Gamecube Chats series; and as a result, a huge amount of the media I consumed this month was Gamecube games. A lot of them I didn’t get to play in-depth, so they’ll be falling in at the bottom section of this post.
Besides Gamecube games, there will also be an assload of Disney movies, because of Brandon and I running our Disneycast series. There are a decent number of comic books too, thanks to our continued cultural exchange, though not nearly as much as there would’ve been if not for Gamecube Chats. All of this leaves the post feeling like a big advertisement for the rest of my shit.
Brandon introduced me to this show towards the end of the month, and I marathoned the first season on Netflix immediately. This is the most exciting comedy I’ve seen since Gravity Falls (which I’ve also really gotta catch up on). Both shows have solidified Kristen Schaal as one of my favorite voice actresses, and Bob’s Burgers also has another of my favorites, Jon Benjamin, as the title character.
What I love about this show is that its core five-member family work so well together. In other cartoons of this sort, the characters tend to break off into combos most of the time and don’t hold up as well as a unit. While Bob’s Burgers splits up the kids and adults sometimes, it more impressively features all of them together, in scenes that work because Bob plays the only real straight-man in the group, and is a lazy one at that, largely letting the chaos that his family creates go unchecked, and often causing it himself.
Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2
This is the video game that I’ve likely spent the most time playing in my life, and the same is probably true of my brother Victor. Neither we, nor our youngest brother, nor any of the friends we’ve played with over the years have actually played PSO online—we’ve obsessively played offline multiplayer since I was 13, though.
PSO hasn’t aged well in a mechanical sense, but it remains as addicting and fun as it’s ever been. It’s a grind-fest with shallow mechanics, which is why doing the single-player missions is utterly fucking boring, but as a game to play with friends, it’s a blast. It has the angle of being both co-operative and competitive when it comes to getting items and money, and the consequences of being competitive are definitively felt when you’re always playing with the same group of people. It forms a narrative adventure between the four of us, like a game of D&D might do.
We made six episodes worth of Gamecube Chats for this game out of many hours of footage, and kept playing even when the cameras were off. The only reason we’ve stopped is because our friend came back from basic training and kind of threw a wrench into Gamecube Chats on the whole.
I enjoyed Bambi a lot, even though I think the parts where the movie tries to get dramatic are a pointless waste of time. Otherwise, it’s a fun movie, more brilliant as a technical achievement than an emotional one, but whatever. Little April Showers is the best part. Brandon and I also discussed this movie at length in Disneycast episode 2.
Chew (volume 1)
Brandon started collecting Chew this month and immediately had me read it along with him, and both of us loved it. I’m a big fan of eating-related superpowers, and an equally big fan of cannibalism, so I was sold right from the get-go. The comic also has a fun breakneck-dark-comedy style, and more than enough intrigue to leave me wanting to continue. The play of the love interest’s powers against those of the main character is brilliant.
It’s hard to decide what was my favorite Disney movie this month, but so far Dumbo is a top contender. This is less to say that Dumbo is amazing, and more to say that none of the Disney movies have reached me in a big way yet, but that’s not to say that I didn’t greatly enjoy this film. Dumbo is a ton of fun, and in many ways it instructs me on the flaws of Bambi. Had it shared that movie’s budget, it would be a true classic. Of course, you can listen to Brandon and I discuss this movie at length in episode 2 of Disneycast.
My feelings about this movie are unsorted. It’s an awesome movie for a lot of obvious reasons which you can hear about in MovieBob’s review, but the whole thing felt weirdly off to me. I’ve characterized it as just being too god damned long for what it is, but I don’t know if that’s a real issue, or if it can’t be fixed by rewatching. I think I was a little lukewarm to Inglourious Basterds the first time in this way, and that one is now probably my favorite Tarantino flick, so there’s more chewing to be done here. I’d like to talk about this movie in a podcast, if I can get Brandon to do one with me.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Brandon and I discussed this movie at some length in episode 8 of Digibro Never Shuts Up. It was a fun show, providing a fantasy adventure that, while not as engaging as The Lord of the Rings, at least matches its level of quality, which is something that I’m always happy to see in a movie.
I listened to a lot of MGMT early this month, starting from the song and video Kids. The video is awesome so go ahead and watch that.
Full disclosure: I saw this movie in November and forgot to talk about it in my last media journal. So far, Skyfall is probably still my favorite movie of 2012, because it’s such a tight, thrilling pulp movie. It’s at least as memorable as The Hobbit and Django, though none of them quite clenches a +++ position for me.
My favorite thing about Skyfall is its cutthroat, no-nonsense directing style. Things happen very quickly and violently, with long stretches of almost no dialog. The action set pieces are spectacular, with an unforgettable last showdown that tops Django’s final mansion shootout, though comparing them is unfair.
The Three Caballeros
I’m tempted to rate this as my favorite Disney movie of the month, but I know it’s probably not going to be all that memorable in the long run. After an okay first twenty minutes, this movie explodes into a forty-five minute acid trip, made awesome by the presence of my favorite Disney character, Jose Carioca. I never get tired of that guy, and Donald has a strangely excellent chemistry with him. This was the only one of Disney’s package films that I really liked and could see watching again.
Blood the Last Vampire Night of the Beasts
I first read this in 2005 and found it equal parts boring and confusing, and it soured me towards Mamoru Oshii up until I saw The Sky Crawlers and Twilight Q. Those made me into a fan, but I still didn’t get around to re-reading the book until after I had Brandon Tolentino read it at random. He didn’t know what the hell to make of it, so I read it myself.
The book is disjointed as fuck, and a lot of it reeks of padding, though I still can’t say that it was intentionally padded. It kinda just feels like Oshii went ballistic and wrote in everything that popped into his head, with no concern for the reader. The weird narration style ends up feeling like an encyclopedia, with as little concern for the concept of “show don’t tell” as you can imagine. The best part of the book takes place in two ridiculously-long conversations that may as well be author soliloquy. I still can’t decide if this novel is or isn’t awful, but it’s interesting enough that I did enjoy it.
An inoffensive movie, but with too many dragging scenes and not quite enough character. Cinderella and the Prince are almost interesting, but they are intruded on by forty minutes or so of uninteresting mice characters. Also discussed at length in Dineycast episode 2.
This movie was all about two segments for me: the Greek mythology segment, and the duke of Hell segment. The color palettes, character designs, and motions of those scenes are unforgettable. The rest of the movie is the opposite. See Disneycast 1 for more discussion (though honestly not much more).
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
Of the two nostalgia-laden grind-fest multiplayer games that my friends and I indulged in for Gamecube Chats, Gauntlet is the face-palmier one. If PSO “hasn’t aged well,” Gauntlet already stinks of rigor mortis, but in all fairness it’s still some degree of fun. Ugly, terrible, badly made fun.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Plowed my way through this game right at the end of the month, and now I’m working on a review video for it which will be the launching point for my long-awaited games analysis channel! Muramasa is a fun and gorgeous game whose simple but elegant battle system is easy to get lost in. Unfortunately the same is true of its poorly designed levels.
Runaways (volume 1)
Brandon Tolentino pretty excitedly bought me the first volume of Runaways because he was too lazy to search his house for it. It’s a fun and breezy read, but the writing style bothers me with its constant pop culture references and cheeky teen characters, and calling the art “simplistic” is my way of being nice. It’s kinda ugly, kinda corny, but at least it’s fun, and some of what I’ve been spoiled for sounds pretty batshit, so I’ll continue.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Talked about at length in episode one of Disneycast, I enjoyed Snow White more than I expected to, and for the last reason I expected to. Snow White herself and her conflict with the excellent villainous stepmother were the highlight of the movie, with the dwarves and their excessive antics using up my patience in the middle part. I highly disagree that it’s the greatest animated feature of all time, as some lists would have you believe, but it’s still a pleasant experience.
Soul Calibur 2
Probably my favorite Soul Calibur game and, by extension, my favorite 3D fighting game. That it sits this low on the list just goes to show for how much I don’t care for the 3D fighting genre. I had some fun with this though, playing it on Gamecube Chats.
Super Smash Bros Melee
I realize that I gave Brawl a ++ in September, and that may have been a mistake. For whatever reason, I don’t have as much affection for Melee as I used to, even though I still do like it more than Brawl. I feel I’ve been burned out on Melee for years and it’s not getting a second wind. I guess I like “real” fighting games too much. I think my enjoyment of this franchise also hinges on how much Nintendo I’ve actually played lately, since I’d been more psyched about Brawl before as a direct result of playing all the Metroid games.
Mario Party 7
Mario Party is hell. I’ve got a long-standing hatred of board games, and it extends into the virtual realm as well. I hate that the game is based on luck, I hate that the game state is in a constant state of change, and I hate that in a game where the only good part is minigames, half of the minigames suck. Makes for great videos, though.
I couldn’t get into Pinocchio. The movie seemed to be pushing a moral message that was completely lost in translation, and Pinocchio himself never comes together as a character. The movie is paced horribly and mostly bored me when it wasn’t confusing me. And of course we talked about it in the first episode of Disneycast.
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (multiplayer)
FUCK THIS GAME. I didn’t play the single player yet, but the multiplayer was one of the worst gaming experiences I’ve ever had. We filmed a few four-player matches for use in Gamecube Chats, but I ended up throwing it out because it was just us screaming the whole time, clipping the audio constantly. The broken-ass controls, retarded scoring system, and altogether mind-numbing quality of this game were enough to make it the first thing to get below a ~ in six months of media journal posts.
Others I Tried:
These are mostly things which I played/watched anywhere from ten minutes to several hours of and couldn’t get into them. I probably won’t pick any of them back up.
Daria (6 eps): I was enjoying this at first, but as soon as it hit a weaker episode, I lost interest. Daria and Jane are great characters with phenomenal voice performances, but everyone else in shallow and obnoxious. And yes, I realize *that’s the point,* but I don’t find it fun to watch.
Fun and Fancy Free: What’s shocking about this movie is that both of the small movies inside of it were supposed to be full features. Would finishing them have made them less terrible? In fairness, I really enjoyed the narrator schtick in Mickey and the Beanstalk, but the color palette was shit and I couldn’t finish it. The worst Disney package film.
Hush: I don’t know what it is about Batman. I love the atmosphere and all, but the nature of the stories is just so god damned expositional that it drives me nuts. Hush is a beautiful book, but it just doesn’t grip me. I gave up a bit less than a third of the way through.
Make Mine Music: It’s supposed to be like Fantasia with pop music, but of course it doesn’t have nearly as much ambition or technicality behind it, and just falls flat.
Melody Time: Not as bad as Make Mine Music, but not good either. Only notable for featuring Jose Carioca in a scene that clearly intended to continue on the train of thought of The Three Caballeros.
Saludos Amigos: The first of many terrible Disney package films. Only notable for featuring the song Brasil (which I love) and introducing Jose Carioca (whom I love).
Not Yet Qualified: These are all the media that I’ve consumed to some degree and am not yet done with. They might fall into any of the lists above on my next journal post. Any media from last month’s post which aren’t in any above category still apply to this list.
Scott Pilgrim the Game (only played 2 hours because friend got drunk)
Bomberman Generation (only played multiplayer, curious about single)
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (our first game was mostly us realizing the game was way more complex than we were ready for)
Timesplitters 2 (barely played. So far, hasn’t aged well)
F-Zero GX (GOTTA GO FAST)
Jam (Yahtzee’s new book. My copy has been lost or stolen.)
FUCK WAY TOO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT
I’ve been a big fan of Kristen Schaal since WordGirl (I know, PBS stuff, I’m a loser) and that Muppets film. Gravity Falls has been “not happening” for some months now—so this is your big chance to catch up. I don’t know when it’s continuing, but I’m hoping it really steps up its game: liked the last one, not so much the one before that. I agree with your view on how well the family unit covers everything, personality-wise; it’s hard to conceive of them as separate duos or groupings. Even now, though, Bob’s Burgers seems a little…too real for me. It wasn’t fantasy bullying or creepiness from the antagonists, or irresponsibility from Bob himself…but the real thing, which makes me oddly uncomfortable.
It’s because I played PSO alone that the experience never stuck; thanks for setting that straight in a short explanation.
Bambi’s sentimental; if you can get past that, it’s a blast, as you said—in its technical aspects.
I’ll get into Chew once it’s far enough along; that’s what I did with Runaways, anyway.
Django Unchained pissed me off, possibly for the reasons you’ve written about. It seemed way more distracted than stuff like Inglourious Basterds. And I didn’t feel I could really get into it the way I did with Kill Bill. I’ve come to suspect that it’s because the viewer is better clued into what to take seriously, or what parts to enjoy in what ways. Django feels muddled because you’re trying to go after the seriousness of why people do what they do—but the Tarantino-isms actually get in the way. Emotionally, what made me pissed off at Tarantino himself (which has never happened before) was his smugness. His smugness felt less bad in other films. In this one, it almost felt like he reduced the underlying issues to absurdity. But absurdity isn’t enough, because we’re caught up in hatred and need to take responsibility, fight to understand and to love.
I’ve got to rush to see Skyfall before it vanishes. Start the New Year off with a really enjoyable film. I’ve seen few of those in theaters. Probably none. Wait—kind of liked End of Watch. And Avengers.
Did you like that Muramasa was parodied in the icky Katanagatari (ep 7)?
I wish I could say Runaways is great, but…I’m not really hooked on sarcastic Marvel humor. Beyond the original plotline, it stays sort of interesting, but it sort of occupies the “pockets” of the Marvel continuity. What does this mean for the series itself? Nothing bad, actually, but it makes the “authorial intent” of the story more obvious. Y’know, the attempts at covering all the bases with sexual, racial multicultural whatevers. The artwork fluctuates, but at some points gets really good (it definitely improves) from volume 1. Or was that issue 1? Ugh. My personal favorite would have been a “Secret Invasion” side story, but they turned Nico into a hotpants-and-garters almost-loli. Weird.
Right off the bat, Daria is iffy for its audience these days—I’m talking, “typical, boring audience” here—as a result of its 2 primary factors: (1) structural irony, and (2) Generation X commentary. When I say “structural irony,” I mean to somewhat differentiate from…uh, hipster irony, I guess? I need to rethink my terms. Basically, it’s the sort of irony that takes pleasure in not trying to sound clever or funny in the first place. When it actually is clever, the ordinary audience person has no idea what the fuck is actually being talked about. It’s meant to make everyone uncomfortably curious. It’s the irony that seems intentional and meta (the kind of stuff religious or philosophical figures said in literary history), rather than trying to sound cool. But I’m struggling—and winning—against bias toward hipsters. That may be messing with my head.
Anyway, I could only appreciate it for that reason. Not because it’s great or captures Gen X melancholy—because my cousins are Gen X and a few others I know, and they say it wasn’t that bad. I just like merciless irony that you have to work for, and that you don’t have to access a group narrative in order to understand. “Real” irony, I guess. By the way, did you watch it via the Restoration Project? That’s essential for the mood, since the DVD took a lot of shit out.
Daria is just like… I guess because my high school experience was nothing like that, it has no bite for me. As for how I watched it, uh… shitty streaming site. No idea if it was part of any project.
I hear you, and I feel the same way. The archetypes were too blended by our school days, which is why the tone probably feels off-key for us. I’m not exactly sure, but I think I might also feel at least a little bit like that toward the whole “extreme middle-schooler” phase often portrayed in 2-D. The chuunibyou thing, I guess. Hmm.
Because Daria’s the “quintessential” MTV show, it’s full of music from the time period (a lot of which is, “Oh, yeah, forgot about that” memorable, but has aged poorly). And some extra lines. All of that was taken out in the DVD release (inevitable copyright issues), so that it seems really bland, even blander than usual. The Daria Restoration Project was an attempt to splice everything back in and make the results available for torrenting. I think Seasons 1-4 are done; the final season and the two movies still haven’t been.
I may have been watching restoration then, because I remember suddenly hearing Song 2 by Blur at one point.
The only show I watched in December was Gintama. 71 eps, like it so far !
Have you ever tried more mainstream shows like Buffy, StarTrek or Farscape ? I grew up with these series and loved them.
I’ve never watched any of those shows, though I am curious. I’ve seen an ep or two of Next Generation, and that was pretty okay. I’ve yet to find a live-action, long-running TV show that I’ve gotten into in a big way, though my little brother marathons shows like that constantly.
The Mario Party vids were my favorite of the ones you played. Clearly only Brandon knows what he is doing…at first anyway. After that would be all the sucking ya’ll do in Luigi’s Mansion.
I had a friend who tried to get me into MGMT a bit back. I even bought the album Oracular Spectacular on his advice. I do like Kids but the music just doesn’t do enough beyond that little riff for me. That video on the other hand babies first LSD trip.
I’m glad you enjoy the Luigi’s Mansion one, since I found it a little boring. We really need to get back to making these videos.
I got into Kids because every time I heard it in the 4 Chords Song by Axis of Awesome, I’d get curious about it. I listened to it in the demo version, then the album version, and then I watched both the official video and the famous fan-made one, and by the time I’d heard it that many times, I was hooked.