Troy Tang on ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

Singaporean sf writer Troy Tang, who happens to be in my writers’ group, has a new blog, Thoughts with a Touch of Tang. If you’d like to get touched by Tang, I suggest you check it out.

Right now, he’s running a series on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2011’s groundbreaking and mold-busting magical girl series from Gen Urobuchi and Studio Shaft. His essay series is entitled, perspicaciously enough, “When You Wish Upon a Star: Hope and Despair in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” and there are presently two parts. In the first, he sets the series within the context of Urobuchi-sensei’s larger body of work. In the second, he uses Madoka to segue into a philosophical discussion of Søren Kierkegaard and the meaning of despair.

He also for some reason dislikes referring to Madoka by its title and instead gives it several nicknames. My favorite is Pouty Moulding Manchild Mistresses, though I would think that any sensible manchild would select his waifu from somewhere at least slightly less depressing. Mine is Duck from Princess Tutu, but that’s not the kind of thing I’d announce to strangers on the internet.

My own opinion of Madoka, to be honest, is that I’m sick of it. It’s an awesome series, unquestionably. It is easily one of the best magical girl shows ever made, and in some respects it is possibly the very best. But yeesh, it’s been five years, and as a result of Madoka‘s influence, the genre is still stuck in its emo phase. Let’s do something else now.

Art, Featuring ‘Made in Abyss’

Featured Image: Cover art of Made in Abyss Volume 1 by Akihito Tsukushi.

I’m falling in love with the artwork of Akihito Tsukushi, and maybe also with him personally just a little bit. I don’t think I was aware of him or his work until just recently when I stumbled upon it, but I have found at least one place on the internet where he hangs out.

The featured image both here and on this post comes from his four-part comic book series Made in Abyss, which is unfortunately unavailable in English. The artwork is certainly stunning. Information on the series is scanty, but it is apparently about a plucky young girl and a boy robot who explore a giant cave system full of fantastic critters.

I don’t know if the story’s any good, but it sounds promising, and in any case, it’s clear that it would be worth reading simply for the visual feast, akin perhaps to Dinotopia or Neotopia. Who cares what the story is when you can look at that art?

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 9 and 10

Let’s get this trainwreck over with!

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 9, “Notice of New Rules!” and Episode 10, “Super Hot! Back-to-Back Battle Events!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 48 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

Spoilers throughout. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 9 and 10”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 22

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 22: FATED

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For reasons unclear to him, Jake didn’t want to go home.

After he left the arcade, he wandered around Juban. He watched the people bustling in and out of the shops, watering their lawns, pushing their children in baby strollers. At times, a curve in the road would wind around the shoulder of a hill, where he could look down over the rooftops toward the deep city. He saw stretches of rubble. Columns of smoke rose into the sky and spread into anvils as they reached some change in the atmosphere. Helicopters hovered around the tall skyscrapers in the financial district. The howitzers atop the towers pointed upwards, their barrels silent but vigilant. A submarine sat in port in the distant bay, presumably restocking before returning to the endless patrol of the watery western perimeter where the ocean gun turrets squatted atop their massive concrete pylons. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 22”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 7 and 8

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 7, “Up Your Friendship” and Episode 8, “Sudden Event in Session!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

The first of these two episodes is entitled “Up Your Friendship!”

No, up yours, MGRP.

Okay, I gotta admit, my opinion of this thing has flipped once again. It took six whole episodes to get its momentum, but it’s finally picked up. Episode 7 is strong, and episode 8 is basically its second half. It’s good, because these episodes are mostly action, and as I said before, Magical Girl Raising Project works best when there’s fighting going on.

Also, it improves by toning down the ultraviolent gore, having apparently got that out of its system. It finds a balance somewhere between the bloodlessness of episodes 1-5 and the Evil Dead blood geysers of episode 6. It’s bloody, but not stupid-bloody.

Major spoilers from here out, since it’s impossible to discuss otherwise. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episodes 7 and 8”

Jake and the Dynamo Updates Tonight!

Featured image by Tukushi Akihito.

First, I gotta say I’m loving all the art I can find by this Akihito guy, what with his jumbled, intricate wilderness backgrounds and his little chibi characters you just wanna hug.

Second, I just finished editing and uploading the twenty-second chapter of Jake and the Dynamo. New revelations abound, and a major new character appears. It will appear tonight at midnight.

Third, after I step away from the computer for a moment and take a break, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and produce a new review.

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 6

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 6, “Get the Super-Rare Items!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

Screw you, Magical Girl Raising Project. Screw you and the talking animal mascot you rode in on.

The show, it appears, is not doing what I’d hoped, but is doing what I predicted. I now return to the opinion I formed initially in my review of the first episode.  Right now, at what I assume (?) is the midway point (and I’m well aware that I’m four episodes behind), I hate the show and just want to get it over with. I’m going to gird my loins, grit my teeth, and watch the whole thing—but only because it has “magical girl” in the title.

If I wanted a sneering, mean-spirited, blood-soaked, nihilistic magical girl story, I’d go read Magical Girl Apocalypse and at least get a few chuckles out of the deal. Magical Girl Raising Project doesn’t even provide the chuckles.

The last time I watched a magical girl anime this unpleasant, it was called Day Break Illusion, which, like our present offering, is an attempt to follow in the footsteps of Puella Magi Madoka MagicaDay Break Illusion at least has a tight structure: its creators clearly knew what their story needed, and they put the pieces together with workmanlike competence and efficiency. The result is respectable, if not exactly enjoyable.

Magical Girl Raising Project doesn’t even have that going for it. It is utterly undisciplined, and its scenes appear disjointed and random. This episode, which swerves into over-the-top gore, is an emotionless mess.

I’m glad I’m watching Revolutionary Girl Utena at the same time to remind myself that there are other, more intelligent ways to deconstruct or go “meta” with a genre. In fact, when I finish MGRP, I might go re-watch the perfection that is Princess Tutu to get the bitter taste out of my mouth.

Major spoilers after the break.

Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 6”

Jake and the Dynamo to Update Monday

Featured Image by Tsukushi Akito

I was going to aim for a new review tonight, but I’ve come down with a cold and should get to bed. However, I’m on course to have a new chapter of Jake and the Dynamo out this coming week. This one ends with a line I’ve been waiting months to write.

Chapter 22 Drafted

Featured Image by Tsukushi Akihito

I’ve been neglecting the blog, but that’s in large part because I’ve been toiling away at Jake and the Dynamo. I just finished the rough draft of chapter 22.

Chapter 23 is partly written.

Also, I spent most of my writing time this week putting together the novel’s final chapter, which is of novelette length.  It will be a long time before we actually get to that point, but I wanted to write it because it was very clear in my head. At the moment, it’s my favorite part of the book.

Also, the rough is now well over 100,000 words, which makes this a good-sized novel already (even though it has, chronologically, covered one week!). I’m not sure of the length of what’s been published on the blog, because after I write the rough of each chapter, I move it into its own document where I edit extensively and usually expand.

Also, this is unrelated, but notice we have some suh-weeeet Fairy Musketeers fan art for this post.  Sooner or later, I’ll probably geek out about Fairy Musketeers, as it’s one of my all-time favorite magical girl shows, starring the voice of Lyrical Nanoha as a sword-wielding Red Riding Hood.