Thursday, February 28, 2013

Madoka Magica: A magical girl anime that will blow your mind

Yes, this is the cover. For real.
Before you start saying "Baron von Chop has lost his mind" (or something else), yes, this is a magical girl anime, and yes, I thought it was brilliant and you should go watch it. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime about young girls who are given a chance to become magical girls. In exchange, they have to fight witches, who represent fear and despair while magical girls represent hope and love. The brilliance of Madoka Magica is that it looks, at first, like any other cute, brightly colored magical girl anime. But as the show progresses, the characters start to learn what it really means to be a magical girl, and I guarantee you that you will not see it coming.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cyber City Oedo 808: bluefish's thoughts

Like my friend Monsieur le Baron, I enjoyed Cyber City Oedo 808 for the flawed gem it is. With only three episodes, it's short enough not to outstay its welcome. I don't have too much to add to his review, but I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the show.

Produced in the early 90's, Cyber City Oedo 808 comes a little after the first cyberpunk books came out. I can't call myself an expert, but it seems to me that cyberpunk in Japan is often about cops and crimefighters: Ghost in the Shell, Bubblegum Crisis, AD Police, and Appleseed. In my mind, cyberpunk should have an anti-authoritarian edge; after all, it's the megacorporations that tell us what to do, what to think, and what to feel. You shouldn't be protecting them and the social order. But my definition is probably too narrow. Like any genre, you take a setting and a series of tropes and you tell your own story with them. The way you shape the fantasy world often expresses even more than how you talk about the real world. Perhaps it says something that in the minds of these storytellers, change is best made from within, by organized groups of right-thinking individuals holding the line. It's an inherent trust that the system isn't flawed, individual corporations and people are. And sometimes you fix them with bullets.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cyber City Oedo 808 - It ain't perfect, but I'll take it

When the teaser trailer to Cyberpunk 2077 came out, I was reminded of how much I love cyberpunk. I hit Wikipedia and started looking through the various examples on the page for Cyberpunk. I looked at the various examples of cyberpunk anime, and one of the titles that caught my eye was Cyber City Oedo 808. It was old enough to be "classic" cyberpunk without being so old that it looked awful. Its UK dub had a heavy metal soundtrack. And perhaps best of all, the whole series was only three 40-minute episodes long.

Before I saw the series, bluefish watched it first. He knows a lot more about cyberpunk than I do, having read just about everything by William Gibson as well as loads of Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, and authors I've never even heard of. As he was watching the first episode, he sent me an IM saying:
OEDO just referenced "ICE: That's intrusion countermeasure electronics"
Said by a guy with a mohawk and shades
That was a good enough endorsement for me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where do your characters keep their gear?

Adventure Needs from Marian Churchland's wonderful blog
If I ran a sword-and-sorcery RPG, and if I had the guts, I would insist that my players write out exactly where each of their items are on their bodies, in their packs, or on their cart/horse/riding bird. Though it may seem like a chore, writing out or sketching everything your character is carrying and how the character is carrying it can make a huge difference in changing the way players think about their characters.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Goblins just wanna have fun

Last week, Evan Dahm drew a picture of a goblin every day on his tumblr, declaring it to be 'Goblin Week.' It got me thinking about goblins, and specifically, why I like those nasty little monsters so much. Goblins are as necessary to a good fantasy setting as dragons, elves, and dwarves. After all, those are the races that made up The Hobbit, besides hobbits and humans. But, while dragons, elves, and dwarves frequently feature on the covers of fantasy games and novels, goblins are treated as set dressing. Usually, they serve as Baby's First Monster: a stepping stone for first-level adventurers to cut their teeth on before moving on to tougher enemies. I think that's a waste of their potential, and a good goblin can make a campaign more memorable.