redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 In this last episode of Season 1, Michael and Ralph competed to win their own restaurant. They got to decorate the restaurant to their liking, and several of the contestants from earlier were brought back to serve as their teammates helping them cook their meals. Michael set up his restaurant in a more modern style whereas Ralph fashioned his to look like a 1920's-era New York steakhouse. Although both teams fumbled a little, Michael because he wasn't always assertive enough and Ralph because he sometimes left the hot plate to cook, ultimately both pulled off an immensely successful service. In the end Michael was made the winner, and Gordon Ramsay was so impressed that he gave him the opportunity to train with him in the UK, which he gladly accepted.

Now that Michael and Ralph were the only two players in the game, their personalities suddenly became much more apparent than they were originally. It seemed as if they were specifically chosen as foils to one another, with Ralph as the more hot-headed and Michael as the more calm and soft-spoken. Each had its advantages, but the real turning point for Michael was when he started being more assertive with his teammates, who thus far had not been acting much like a team. Interestingly, Michael at one point broke the fourth wall when he scolded Jessica by telling her she'd been in the game for "months," implying that the game has been going on a lot longer than you can tell just by watching the episode. 

I have to wonder now if I misjudged Michael a little bit. At first I had thought he already had an established career as a chef but this episode he was treated as a sort of young upstart  by both Ralph and Gordon Ramsay. Maybe he was an underdog we were supposed to root for all along, and I just didn't notice. He was also more sympathetic this episode than I remember him being all season, but on the other hand, maybe I just didn't know what I was missing--he seems like an absolute saint compared to some of the guys from later seasons of the show! I also couldn't help but notice a lot of comments on the video noting that the contestants in this season appeared much nicer to one another than the contestants from later seasons, which seems pretty funny.
redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 So this season began with the team members hanging out and drinking some champagne left out for them. Then they had to wake up super early the next morning to bake bread. Jessica was still a bit drunk so she slept for most of it. Then they had to make souffles. Ralph's was declared the best, though Gordon Ramsay found fault with all of them; so he was allowed to pick which of three entrees (beef, chicken, or tuna) he wanted to prepare. He chose beef, with Michael cooking tuna and Jessica chicken.

For the main dining competition, the families of the contestants showed up to Hell's Kitchen (they got to hang out with them a bit at the end of the episode). In general, Ralph's dish was the most popular and Michael's the least; but the families liked Michael's the best. Meanwhile, Jessica seemed to struggle for most of the night and had to have tons of help from her teammates. As a result of all this, she was the one who ended up being eliminated. It's kind of a shame as for a while I'd thought she would win, as she looks like the underdog compared to the two men who don't always take her seriously. But, nothing about her performance these past few episodes has made it seem like she has a handle on running a professional kitchen (which is, after all, the ultimate aim of the show), and even if the producers of the show had wanted to shape her into a winner, they can only do so much. So now I hope Ralph will win, because Michael hasn't been sympathetic at all for at least the past two episodes if not longer.

With all that being said, I've decided to take a detour from the first season and watch some episodes from some of the later seasons, mostly because the last episode of this season is over an hour long (I'll probably watch it over the weekend when I have a bit more time). Already, just from watching short clips of some of the later seasons I've seen things that would make the contestants and situations of the first season, at their most unceremonious, seem downright dignified by comparison!
redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 In this episode, the contestants stopped being two separate teams and each became one team, with the understanding that it was everyone for themselves. The first challenge involved learning to make a flambe dessert. Jimmy won the challenge, much to everyone's surprise, and so he got invited on a helicopter date with Gordon Ramsay (shhh...!). He invited Michael to come along, seemingly to pay him back for not eliminating him earlier when he had the chance. However, Elsie somewhat cynically remarks that Michael only passed over Jimmy for elimination in favor of Chris because he knew Chris was his biggest threat. And I have to wonder a little bit if Jimmy knew this, and that's the real reason why he chose Michael--to protect himself from Michael if he's ever in a position to eliminate him again.

This dinner challenge was the first time they were cooking without the help of the sous-chefs, so it was pretty hard going. Elsie was relegated to the dining room, preparing salads and flambe desserts for the diners. She struggled a bit at first but eventually got the hang of it. Meanwhile, both Jessica and Jimmy got into fights with Gordon Ramsay because he was dissatisfied with their performance. As such, when Gordon Ramsay called upon Ralph to pick people for elimination he picked Jimmy and Jessica, with Jimmy being the one who got eliminated. I wasn't terribly surprised, but his departure was genuinely heartwarming, with a reflection on how much he's grown as a chef, and how Gordon Ramsay really is proud of him for getting that far.

Interestingly, Elsie displays some signs of flagging, and has begun to question whether this is something she really wants. She even asked Ralph to put her up for elimination at one point! I guess, realistically, she doesn't have much of a chance of winning either, seeing as she already has a job and kids to worry about.

I also can't help but wonder if the show is trying to ship some of the contestants a little bit. I'm sure it's all pretend, but it's pretty funny to see Michael and Jimmy going on a helicopter date together, complete with champagne (for example). Jessica also has a conversation with Michael while the contestants are waiting for Ralph to select people for elimination, in which Michael seems to question what Jessica's relationship with Ralph actually is (she insists he's just a mentor, of course). I wonder just how much of that is deliberate, but I can see it adding another layer of drama if it's ever played up at any point.

Speaking of Michael, it's implied (but never outright stated) that he hid some steaks Jessica was supposed to cook, which slowed her up and caused her to get in trouble with Gordon Ramsay. They really do seem to be setting him up as a villain, don't they? Between the group psychology of the game and the fact that audience members don't like players who turn on or sabotage their teammates, I wouldn't be surprised if Michael ends up eliminated the second he drops the ball (if indeed he does).
redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
My recap )

So, so far the players left in the game are as follows:

Meet the players! )
redwoodalchan: Artwork lifted from Pokemon wiki; character belongs to Pokemon (pic#4865891)
 Why, you might ask? I was inspired by this video about the Hunger Games, which explains all about how similar the Hunger Games is to reality shows we watch today. I have no particular interest in or experience with reality TV beyond "The Amazing Race," which I watched for a number of years in middle and high school (and probably isn't the best show to prove my point anyway, since the way it's structured seems like it would make things more difficult to stage and manipulate). "Hell's Kitchen" is perfect because it combines a topic I'm interested in with the sort of reality-TV atmosphere that the video above is referring to.

So far I've watched the first episode of the first season. First all the contestants had to cook a meal for Gordon Ramsay, some of which he appreciated more than others. The contestants took the opportunity to say a little bit about who they were and where they came from. Then they were split up into two teams, Red and Blue, and had to serve a restaurant full of people. I think the people who cooked the worst dishes initially were sent out to serve the guests.

Ultimately the Red Team lost the competition, and so Elsie, the best of the worst on that team, had to pick two people to potentially eliminate. The one who ended up being eliminated was a lady named Carolanne (or something), who could actually cook but had no experience in a professional kitchen. I suppose Gordon Ramsay thought it wouldn't be believable if she won the game. The other person considered for elimination, Dewberry, was depicted as having a nice conversation with Elsie ahead of time, and he claims that if he's ever in a position to choose someone for elimination he might pay Elsie back for trying to throw him out. I rather suspect that some part of that was staged, or at least manipulated to make it look like a bigger thing than it was. Elsie, for her part, is someone who was depicted as fairly sympathetic early on (she's apparently a mother of a fairly large blended family) but might become less so in light of her having to eliminate someone. There are some people who are fairly resoundingly unsympathetic, though (on both teams), and I'll be interested to see how long they last.

Also, I counted no fewer than three contestants from New Jersey. Represent! XD
redwoodalchan: Character and screencap are from "Shiki" (pic#5113210)
Right here.

Funnily enough, the first post reads like it could have been written by me. Pretty much everything I have ever said or felt about this character is accounted for.

This is the bit that most got me:

His family treats him like a second class citizen, he has very few friends (unless I am forgetting someone, only Toru... and even Toru called Natsuno his best friend even though he was new in the town and Masao and him were friends for years...that must have hurt)

Hooooly fuck yes! It's so obvious to me that this is the main reason Masao doesn't like Natsuno. There may be other factors in play (certainly neither of their behavior helps matters) but that's probably the biggest driving factor--Masao is most likely terrified that Toru will abandon him in favor of someone more interesting or popular. And ultimately that's exactly what happens.

Losing a friend is always painful, but its very different to lose a friend when you have +1000 friends than losing a friend when you can count your friends on one hand...

And that's almost certainly how Masao sees it too. Whether or not this reflects the objective reality, or lines up with how Toru sees it, is a different matter, but it's beside the point.

I will say that the poster seems to be very anime-focused. They go on about how innocent Masao is and how he never actually wants to hurt anyone...all of which is arguably true in the anime, but in the manga he's a lot more openly villainous. They also posit that his family has always treated him as the unfavorite, whereas the manga makes it clear that he used to be something of a favorite before his nephew came along. They're not wrong for zeroing in on the anime, since Masao isn't a completely consistent character between the anime and manga; but it's still a bit weird, especially since this is a website primarily for manga fans.

I also find it interesting that the people who attempted to argue with this poster all seemed to say something to the effect of "Well why didn't he try to fit in better?" or "Well why didn't he just TELL Toru about his inferiority complexes?" or "He still deserved what he got for not trying to grow and improve!" (as if most of "Shiki's" cast improves in any really major way, rather than just getting worse). Did it never occur to these people that maybe he can't? The series makes it pretty clear that when he says something obnoxious, he tends not to know why the other characters find it obnoxious in the first place. I'm surprised nobody suggested he might have some sort of disability, because that's been my theory for a long time (I'm disabled, and he reminds me of myself from a time when I was a stupid kid who didn't know any better).

But still, it's good to see that something new has been written about him since I last went looking. It feels as though every time he appears on Tumblr in a non-bashing context is from when I first ventured into the fandom (that is, three some years ago)!
redwoodalchan: (pic#7810517)
Have they forgotten that my Harry Potter Abridged series isn't meant to be a serious discussion of the books? Like, I tried to make a joke about Voldemort emulating Hitler in the first chapter of DH and they just had to turn it into a thing about how the Nazis bombed the orphanage he grew up in. Yes, that's a theory that's out there, and it does make sense; but a) it's fanon, not canon and b) it's not half as funny as mocking Rowling's utter inability to write her villains as convincing Nazis! What's it to them whether it finds its way into my parody or not?

And I'll admit I've been known to incorporate bits of fanon I like into my Abridged series, but the focus, first and foremost, is on making fun of the stupid crap that's in the books, not on rewriting the series to account for every theory the DTCLers have ever entertained. If I really think a fan theory is important and want to talk about it, I'll write an essay on it!

Also, I wish they'd stop fighting each other about what this or that Slytherin or Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw is really like, when the essential problem is that we have no way of knowing what Slytherins and Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws are really like or really think or feel about anything because we never get anyone but the Gryffindors' side of the story. To be fair, that's not limited to DTCL, but it's still stupid and I wish people would stop (this might make a good rant in its own right, thinking on it...).
redwoodalchan: (pic#6681426)
Look, I'm glad that you're so happy and content in your atheistic ways, but for fuck's sake, if I specifically create a forum post asking RELIGIOUS Iron Maiden fans what they think of Iron Maiden's music, that's not your cue to come in and announce yourselves as proudly atheistic (duh)! Last I checked, you can't be both religious and atheistic--the moment you become one, you stop being the other. Go somewhere else where I'm not trying to draw specifically RELIGIOUS fans out of the woodwork!

No love,
Me

I'd complain but the problem is threads in the fan club get derailed all the time, so I'll be the one who looks mean-spirited if I do.But if atheists hijack my thread and start waving "Starblind" around like a victory flag as proof that look, Iron Maiden were pro-atheist all along, I think I might throw a fit.

(I'm sorry if I sound overly harsh on atheists. It's not that I think there's anything inherently bad about atheism, really. What I don't like is atheists who try to change my or anyone else's mind about their beliefs, or hold themselves up as inherently more enlightened than religious people. To me they're no better than fanatical evangelical Christians)

redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 So there's a YouTuber called Film Theory who did a video on how Christian Grey treats Ana the same way cult leaders treat their victims. It's quite interesting.

Warning: Abuse, rape, etc. (obviously) )
redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 So now that there’s a story on Das Sporking that’s got people talking about Iron Maiden, I figured it’d be helpful if I made something explaining them to those still not in the know. I recently spent a stint in England studying abroad, and while I arrived in the UK a casual fan of Maiden, I returned to the States an absolutely adoring fan.

See what I have to say... )

And…that’s about it for my own experience of Maiden. Rock on! \m/

redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
Read more... )

Iron Maiden, everyone!!

redwoodalchan: Artwork lifted from Pokemon wiki; character belongs to Pokemon (pic#4865891)
 As any metalhead will tell you, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is about as good as a metal song gets. But what is it about this song, really, that makes it so special? Obviously that’s a matter of opinion. Some people like its complex melodies, some people like its philosophical lyrics, some people like its immersiveness, and so forth. To me, though, it goes beyond that. Plenty of Iron Maiden songs, and just metal songs in general, have gorgeous, complex melodies and philosophical lyrics. Yet, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” still stands as one of heavy metal’s crowned jewels. It’s different from your average metal song, and is a big aspect of what sets Iron Maiden apart from most other metal bands.

My two cents... )

So…yeah. That’s my long-winded explanation as to why “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is so special.

redwoodalchan: Character and screencap are from "Baccano!" (pic#5236477)
 So just last week, I finally realized, definitively, just how much I hate dead baby comedy. It just hit me. I don't know if it was all the soul searching I'd been doing, or the time I'd spent in sporking circles, or watching internet reviews; but finally I found myself confronted with it. I'd seen plenty of examples of dead baby comedy before, and I remember finding them uncomfortable; but I'd mostly just assumed that I was overreacting, or lacked a sense of humor, or something of that nature. But just this past week, I came across some of it courtesy of a few friends, and was finally forced to acknowledge just how very, very much I hate dead baby comedy.

Contains discussion of extreme violence and disturbing concepts (not depicted) )
redwoodalchan: (pic#7810517)
 So far I've composed a document that contains every chapter up thru 18. Ordinarily I'd read through it once, then go back, close-read, and compose the spork (or, as I've been doing more regularly, close-read and spork as I go). Since I'm only sporking two chapters, though, I may have to reevaluate.

I've already read the two chapters I'm supposed to spork, just to get a feel for what's in them. I've since gone back and begun reading from the beginning, and I'll read up to my assigned chapters. Once that's done, I think I'll go back and close-read two chapters at a time, until I once again get back to my assigned chapters, at which point I'll compose the sporking itself. I don't see any reason to read any more, though, unless I decide I love it so much I simply must spork another chapter.

I've also been reading the Divine Comedy in all its gory glory! No big surprise, this author's gotten the title wrong. There's so much of an emphasis on Beatrice in this book yet Beatrice isn't even a character in the Inferno, except insofar as she's the reason Dante goes on his quest in the first place. She plays a bigger role in later sections, but here's the thing: this book's not called The Divine Comedy As Reimagined by Twihards, or even Gabriel's Paradise or something; it's Gabriel's Inferno! Yet it has virtually nothing to do with the Inferno! When I think of the Inferno I think of the vivid descriptions of Hell and sinners and punishments and monsters, yet that never comes up!
redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
 I get Chapters 17 and 18. It looks like they're the chapters where we learn about the heroine's dark, tortured past. Also she and her man are domestic together and this author spends way too much time describing what they wear and eat, and has them come up with eye-bleedingly awful nicknames (Angelfucker?! REALLY?!). And her man sounds like my mom, on days when I'm recovering from some great physical or psychological ordeal. 

In fact, I'm reminded of nothing so much as Cori Falls.
redwoodalchan: Character and screencap are from "Shiki" (pic#5113210)
I know this wasn't intentional, but once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it.

Read my thoughts on the matter )

I'm impressed--Meyer's done a pretty good job of writing a story about a woman tempted by sin. If only we weren't supposed to view her and her little friends as the good guys....
redwoodalchan: (pic#7834867)
So upon further consideration, a large chunk of that rant is her going "Making my favorite characters die is bad bad bad! Oh but I don't have a problem with these OTHER deaths because X Y and Z!" Like that time she talked about how it was okay for Goku to die because it feeds into Japanese spiritual beliefs--something that could be said to apply to Jessie and James as well, were one so inclined. It makes me wonder if that rant might have been more sensible and acceptable if she'd simply spelled out, "Look, my favorite characters are super precious to me, so just don't kill any of them in any stories you send me, plzkthnx," and left it at that. But that would require a level of self-awareness that she didn't seem to possess at the time.

It also makes me really glad that I haven't been a Cori-esque fan for years, if I ever was. If I reacted the way Cori did every time one of my favorite characters died in a show I wouldn't be able to watch at least half of my beloved anime shows. If I tried to watch "Xam'd" with her mentality I'd be throwing a fit every episode from the quarter-way mark on!
redwoodalchan: (pic#6681426)
 It's obvious that whoever wrote those pages is a completely obsessed fan (or most likely fans) who worships the ground they walk on and probably thinks beautiful white chrysanthemums and monkshoods grow from between their toes. Pretty much every other thing that finds its way onto those pages somehow leads back to how totally awesome and special Iron Maiden are, and how they pretty much define CMOA, and how everything they do is amazing and wonderful and perfect--to the point of absurdities like praising a band member for striking a guy with his car because he was running late to a concert as an "Awesome Moment," despite the fact that a moment's logic and reason would tell you that striking someone with a car for any reason is bad, no matter who's doing it!

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I adore Iron Maiden. I think they're a great band and in some respects a very admirable one--but there is a limit to the amount of praise even they are entitled to! I'm just worried about what'll happen if someone tries to mount an honest, reasonable criticism of them or anything they've done on TVTropes. Will Iron Maiden become the next Harry Potter, with people making excuses for EVERYTHING they've ever done wrong, and expecting the worst of anyone who disagrees like they currently do for people who find Snape more sympathetic than Harry and his ilk?

Before anyone asks, yes I've edited those pages. But I haven't been responsible for the more insane bits like the aforementioned car thing.

redwoodalchan: Character and screencap are from "Shiki" (pic#5113210)
 And I can't even watch the far-superior "Shiki" afterwards, because I left it at home! Sigh....

Ahem, I first watched this show when I was a teenager, and I remember liking it but not thinking it lived up to my expectations. As the years have gone by and it's processed further, though, I've become quite angry with it. So I decided to tune in again, to see if it still holds up, and maybe redeem it in my eyes (though frankly, that almost certainly won't happen at this rate).

At the current rate, I think it's a dead ringer for a sporking. I've actually been compiling notes of things to talk about for a sporking of this show, in fact. Since it's an incredibly violent show I figured I'd pitch it to Mervin first to see if she's okay with it (obviously I wouldn't show any pictures of naked people or violent scenes) and if she doesn't give me the green light I'll probably still spork it on my own journal or something. I've got a bone to pick with this series, and truthfully it goes beyond the story's actual quality and content (though they both suffer from obvious flaws). I'm just so sick of people treating it as some sort of high water mark of mature anime, while series that can do the exact same thing it can and be smarter and more mature about it languish in the shadows of obscurity!
 
redwoodalchan: (pic#7810517)
 Why? I mean that. What actual reason do you have for thinking the OVA is better? I'm just dying to know, because I cannot for the life of me engineer any reason that makes sense.

Birdy is awesome in both so that can't be it. Is it Tsutomu? Tsutomu actually strikes me as less of a wimp in "Decode" and more of a normal high school boy. He's certainly no less helpful to Birdy than he is in the OVA. And if you liked the balancing act of the OVA where Tsutomu was the brains and Birdy the brawn, well, "Decode" doesn't do that because it's reductive, and both Birdy and Tsutomu have to feel like people and not just constructs that compliment each other.

As for Tsutomu's high-school friends, they're so much more likable and interesting in "Decode" that there's no comparison. The boys actually have hobbies and personalities that don't revolve around porn, and he's got more friends who are girls, and they too have hobbies and personalities that are actually relevant to the story--it's not like in the OVA where Tsutomu had one female friend who existed basically to be his love interest. His love interest in "Decode," for that matter, is clearly shown to be a nice girl who seems good for him and the things they bond over are actually explained.

Is it the villains? I fail to see how that could be it. Geega and Bacillus are, if anything, actually more interesting and fun in "Decode" than they are in the OVA, and better integrated into the overarching plot. As for Shyamalan, he's easily more threatening than Hikawa ever was--and is more complex to boot. It is true that the OVA gives much more screentime to Christella Revi herself, but even in the original OVA Christella Revi didn't have much of a personality other than being a generic supervillain, so it's not like it's a great loss to have her mostly in the background. And once again, "Decode" if anything expands upon her more and makes her more interesting because she's actually shown to have a history of wanting to use her skills to make things better for her own people, something the OVA version conspicuously lacked. Or are you one of those people who thinks that bad guys who have tragic or sympathetic pasts or motivations are inherently weak and wimpy, and would rather your villain be a two-dimensional cutout than show even a hint of vulnerability or sadness?

It's true that "Decode" has very different art and music than the OVA, but it's not inferior on that score, just different. I know some people get nostalgia kicks from the 90's animation of the OVA, which I can't say for myself because I'm not old enough to remember most 90's anime. Still, nostalgia alone is not a good reason for declaring something objectively better--Pokemon fandom is a testament to that. And as for English dubbing, there is no comparison--"Decode" has the superior dub, all the way.
 
The one criticism I hear of "Decode" that seems actually somewhat well thought out and that I might actually be able to understand is that it's slower-paced than the OVA. This is perfectly true--certainly the OVA was able to tell a story in four episodes the equivalent of which took "Decode" thirteen episodes and change. However, the reason why "Decode" is slower paced is because it actually takes time to introduce and develop the characters and set the scene, and flesh out its themes. The OVA barely bothered to do any worldbuilding or give its aliens any sort of culture or background, and all the characters, human and alien, were painted in broad strokes. As a result, it doesn't have the well-developed alien worlds and histories or the deep, rich, nuanced characterizations that make "Decode" so enjoyable for me.

So is it just personal preference? Then why in the hell would you try to argue that the OVA is objectively better? Why do so many of you hate on "Decode" when "Decode" is the one that gives us an alien world that's actually developed, characters that are actually complex and nuanced, and surprisingly on-point social commentary? I'm really starting to think that you're just like the nostalgia whores from Pokemon, and are bashing "Decode" because you were already a fan of the OVA which it dares to deviate from.

Whatever.

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