Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adventures in Care-a-Lot episode 15

Sorry that I've been slightly AWOL lately.  To make up for it, I'll try to cover the slack over the rest of the week.  Starting with the past couple of AiCaLs.  First up, Desperately Seeking Mr. Beaks/Good Knight Bedtime.  Both of these episodes were pretty awesome, but the first one had awesomeness in spades.

Desperately Seeking Mr. Beaks (see, you already know it's going to be good)
Like all the best episodes, this one starts in Grizzle's lair, with Grizzle describing his latest plan to Mr. Beaks.  Only Mr. Beaks isn't there.  Grizzle goes on a search of his entire lair, but Mr. Beaks is nowhere to be found.  He even tears apart his recently-finished latest creation (for Care-a-lot's destruction, naturally) just to make sure Mr. Beaks isn't trapped inside.  With no place left to look, the answer is obvious: Mr. Beaks has been birdnapped!  And since the only other characters on the show are the Care Bears, it's time for a quick trip to Care-a-lot.
Grizzle stomps around Care Square, terrorizing the bears with vague threats about how they took "him."  When he runs into Oopsy, he spills the whole story about how Mr. Beaks is missing, and Oopsy feels his pain since all the bears, while not being that fond of Grizzle, rather like 
Mr. Beaks.  Grizzle continues to insist that a Care Bear took him, and Oopsy, knowing this isn't true,
 promises to help find Mr. Beaks "if" he's in Care-a-lot at all.  Funshine, Love-a-lot, and Grumpy show up at the tail end of their conversation and are brought up to speed by Oopsy.  Grumpy isn't so sure Mr. Beaks is actually missing, but Oopsy and the others are convinced by how upset Grizzle is, especially when they see him wiping away tears (I. Love. It!).
Realizing that they have a mystery on their hands (and not "the screwiest day Care-a-lot has ever seen," as Grumpy puts it), Funshine and Love-a-lot bond over their love of mystery novels and team up to solve the case!  Love-a-lot takes the lead by getting a description of Mr. Beaks from Grizzle.  We don't actually get to hear it, but you can just tell by the look on Grizzle's face that it was going to be one of glowing adoration.  Meanwhile, Grumpy has a plan that requires Oopsy's help (seriously?).
Later, Funshine and Love-a-lot are dressed for their role as detectives, and head out to interrogate some suspects, including Bedtime, Surprise, Wingnut, and those cubs who may or may not be Hugs and Tugs (this part was amusing enough to make me wish it included a few more suspects).  But all their leads come up empty, leading to a meeting in the library where Funshine and Love-a-lot clash over whether they need to focus on finding more clues or figuring out a motive.  Grizzle, fed up with all this useless investigating, accuses the two bears of covering up the real culprit, and goes off to search on his own.  Funshine concludes that being a detective is hard work.
After the commercial break, Funshine and Love-a-lot convene with Grumpy and Oopsy and fill them in on their fruitless search.  Grumpy informs them that they were too focused on playing detective than actually working, and Funshine owns up to it.  Plus, they really do want to help Grizzle.  Grumpy and Oopsy unveil the fruits of their labor: a perfect replica of Mr. Beaks.  Ah, so that's why Grumpy needed Oopsy's help; apparently Oopsy's seen more of Mr. Beaks than any other Care Bear?  Scratch that, I still don't get it.  Regardless, Grumpy theorizes that the new Mr. Beaks will cheer up Grizzle, and Love-a-lot comments that it's exactly like the real Mr. Beaks in every way.  Except for the talking, as Oopsy points out, and they all have a good laugh at Grizzle's expense.
Grizzle, meanwhile, has given up searching and is just plain pacing when the others find him.  At first he is overjoyed when Grumpy reveals the new Mr. Beaks, and doesn't seem upset at first when Grumpy tells him that it's not the real Mr. Beaks, just a new one he built.  But all too soon Grizzle pooh-poohs the new Mr. Beaks, since the real Mr. Beaks has a gravy stain on his wing, and no other Mr. Beaks will do.  Grumpy is insulted, even more so when Grizzle accuses him of trying to keep him from finding the real Mr. Beaks.  Love-a-lot and Oopsy leap to Grumpy's defense, but Grizzle just growls at them, knocking Oopsy over, and storms off.  Grumpy wonders what to do with the fake Mr. Beaks, and Harmony shows up out of nowhere and offers to take it off his hands, being quite smitten with it.  So is almost everyone else in Care-a-lot, and Grumpy soon has a profitable business making knock-off Mr. Beakses.
With everyone in Care-a-lot sporting their own Mr. Beaks, Grizzle has had enough!  He declares that their plan hasn't fooled him, and snags Grumpy's Mr. Beaks, claiming it to be the true Mr. Beaks.  The others try to persuade him that there isn't any plan or real Mr. Beaks in Care-a-lot, but Grizzle's having none of it, and leaves with "his" Mr. Beaks.  With Grizzle gone, the others comment on how having their own Mr. Beaks allows them to empathize with Grizzle, strange as that may be, and they yet again laugh at Grizzle.
Back in his lair, Grizzle gushes to the fake Mr. Beaks, only to notice the real Mr. Beaks hidden between a crate and a trashbin.  Grizzle exhults at finding the real deal, but now he has two Mr. Beaks to deal with, and it seems they don't get along... and that's it for this episode.

Now, really, this ep is six kinds of awesome.  The first three have to do with Grizzle being adorable ^_^, the fourth is related to Love-a-lot and Funshine's detective style, the fifth is everyone getting their own Mr. Beaks, and the sixth is the perceived (by me, anyway) bond between Oopsy and Grizzle.

Good Knight Bedtime
Now this is what all the Bedtime fans have been waiting for, A Day in the Life of Bedtime!  Or rather, a Night in the Life.  Although it does start during the day, with Bedtime dreaming that he's a knight in armor, protecting Care-a-lot from a gigantic Grizzle.  Although rather than jousting, he tickles the dream Grizzle until it runs away.  As everyone goes up to congratulate him, his dream ends, and he laments that he doesn't have the same courage when he's awake.  But the sun is going down, so it's time to get cracking on his nightly duties.  Bedtime leaves his (awesome) house to go sneak into everyone else's, although we only see him in Grumpy's and Share's (hm...no, wait, he goes to Oopsy's house, too).  Seems everyone is having bad dreams that not even his belly badge's power (Touch of Good Night) can help stem.  So he decides to check out what's going on in Dreamland.
Finding a convenient bench, Bedtime chants a rhyme while rubbing his belly badge, then falls asleep and his spirit is transported to the land of dreams, which looks an awful lot like Care Square.  In dreamland, he discovers that Grumpy is dreaming about not being able to fix things, Share is dreaming of not being able to share, and Funshine just can't have fun in a dream of not being able to make a play in Belly Badge Ball.  Not sure what to do about it in Dreamland, Bedtime waits for morning and holds a seminar in the library on how to change bad dreams to good.  His reminder that dreams aren't real seems to work, as that night the only sounds are the sounds of sweet slumber.
Meanwhile, up in his lair, Grizzle complains that his Dream Scheme Machine, which should be giving the Care Bears nothing but nightmares, is not working.  Mr. Beaks points out that the machine is set on low, but Grizzle misunderstands and takes it as a compliment ("Of course I'm low!  I'm mean, too.").  Once he gets the hint, he turns the machine all the way to high, and settles back to see what will happen.  Granted, I'm not too sure what Grizzle means to accomplish with this, and it's never really explained.  Perhaps he thinks that tormenting them with bad dreams will make the Care Bears too tired to fight him should he show up to conqure Care-a-lot?  This must be the case, since the next day dawns and only Bedtime is awake (which, as we learned in Emma's Dilemma, is not the natural order of things).  This is not lost on Bedtime, and (after peeking into Grumpy and Share's houses) he heads off to Dreamland to see what's going on.
Once he gets to Dreamland, it's all too clear that everyone is having a nightmare that Grizzle actually took over Care-a-lot (complete with a neon sign of his head), although the dreaming bears assert that Grizzle somehow took over Dreamland using his machine, even though he's nowhere to be seen.  Funshine tells Bedtime that the only thing to do is wake up (since he's the only one who can control his trips between Dreamland and the real world) and defeat Grizzle on his own turf.  Bedtime is not so sure he can do it, but Share plays on his knightly desires (since all their dreams are connected, she obviously knew about his earlier dream, even if she wasn't asleep at the time, I'm guessing), and with a reassuring touch from Funshine and Cheer, Bedtime finds the determination to go and confront Grizzle!  But when he tries to "wake up," he finds he can't, and decides it's due to Grizzle's machine.  So the others lend him their power, and it works, somehow.
Back in the real world, Bedtime is still fired up from his friends' confidence in him, and he goes to prepare, mostly by borrowing stuff from Grumpy's Garage.  He hops in a cloud car and heads off to Grizzle's lair, but once he gets there, he starts getting cold feet.  He tries to turn back, but his utility belt slips and he trips, knocking the teakettle off his head.  At first he sees his own reflection, but then it turns into the core four, with Share quoting her "knight in shining armor" line from earlier.  With his resolve renewed, Bedtime heads into the fray.  He confronts Grizzle in his lair, and asks/demands that he turn off the machine.  Grizzle instead derides Bedtime's choice of headgear, but Bedtime isn't fazed by this at all.  He instead introduces himself as a knight (to Grizzle's skepticism), "the only Care Bear that can control sleep and dreams," (which sounds kinda creepy when he puts it that way), and tries to use his belly badge's power against Grizzle.  But nothing happens.  Grizzle, in true villain fashion, gives away the reason: he built an anti-belly badge shielding device for just such an occasion (and it was actually turned on, too, showing a bit of forethought on Grizzle's part).  Bedtime attempts to fight with a spoon, but Grizzle counters with an umbrella and knocks the spoon to the ground.  Grizzle's attempts at banter only inspire Bedtime, as he just happened to pack a featherduster, and taking a cue from his earlier dream, he proceeds to tickle Grizzle silly (this is the time when Grizzle regrets installing nerve sensors in his mechasuit, but ah well), distracting him long enough for Bedtime to grab his spoon again, lob it at the shielding device, and knock to the lever to "off."
Once again able to use his belly badge, Bedtime attacks Grizzle with Touch of Good Night, sending the defeated bear straight to sleep, despite his protests.  Bedtime turns off the machine and pulls out a wire to keep Grizzle from just turning it on again later, and starts to leave, but being Bedtime, can't help but make sure that Grizzle is snuggled with Mr. Beaks (aww....).  Back in Care-a-lot, Bedtime is heralded as a hero, including getting a hug from Share.  He has just enough time to spout out the lesson before the full force of his extended night hits him.  As he ambles off to the nearest comfortable spot for some sleep, Grumpy suddenly realizes that Bedtime took his teakettle, and glares at Cheer as if she had something to do with that.  She doesn't help things by looking guilty.  And Bedtime falls asleep on the bench, which was closer than his house, I guess.  And...wait a minute!  The episode actually ends without everyone laughing at nothing!  Whoa....

Bedtime was so cute in this episode!  Seriously, I wasn't a fan of him before, but he really shone on his own.  When he isn't all sleepy-eyed, he's adorable!  Now I'm really looking forward to the upcoming Night Shift (hopefully the debut of Sweet Dreams Bear in AiCaL form).  Still, I have to say this: the Care Bears have really boring dreams!  I mean, they all have to share the same dreamscape, but they could still have more interesting nightmares than 'not being able to share.'

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Adventures in Care-a-lot, episode 14

And so a new season of AiCaL begins, with two Trueheart-centric episodes.

Trueheart's Big Trip
This ep begins with Tenderheart and Harmony working on painting the library, which would be easier if they could agree on a color.  Unable to see the obvious compromise between pink and blue (purple, I would say, or maybe lavender), they call on Trueheart to give them advice.
  Since they're up on scaffolding, and Trueheart keeps walking as she waves to them, she doesn't notice she's about to take a tumble.  And what a tumble it is, with all kinds of twists and turns you usually see Oopsy take.  (The speculated Hugs and Tugs have another cameo here.)  The whole thing takes 40 seconds and ends with her in the fountain.  Once they find out she's okay, Harmony and Tenderheart start laughing about her stumble almost immediately.  Other bears involved in her trip start recounting the tale as if it's the most hilarious thing to happen in the entire history of Care-a-lot (and who knows, maybe it is), although Trueheart doesn't quite see the joke.
Word quickly spreads, and soon almost everyone is calling her "Stumbles" and laughing at her, driving her to tears (so cute!).  She runs off and takes refuge in the meadow, and Oopsy comes to comfort her, since he's usually the one on the receiving end of a tumble.  
Back in Care Square, the others finally realize that they hurt Trueheart's feelings and go on about it for a bit.  Meanwhile, Trueheart laments that everyone will remember her fall forever.  Oopsy tells her it isn't so, and the episode reveals its true intent: it's a clip show!  Using clips from last season, Oopsy reminds her of all the mishaps he's been through, and how no one remembers them anymore.  Feeling better, Trueheart goes to confront the others and give them a piece of her mind.  She and Oopsy ride into Care Square, and Harmony and Tenderheart immediately come up and apologize.  She still points out that they hurt her feelings, and they all hug and make up.  Aww.
With that resolved, they go back to the original problem of the episode: should the library be painted pink or blue?  Still not going with the obvious compromise, Trueheart comes up with a solution: pink hearts on a blue background.  Although Harmony and Tenderheart like the pattern, both feel that their color should be more prominent, leading to a face-off, and then both of them falling off the scaffolding and into a stumble quite similar to Trueheart's.  As they say, what goes around comes around.  In the fountain, they ask if they will get as good as they gave, but Trueheart, being a forgiving sort, tells them they'll only laugh if they (Tenderheart and Harmony) think it's funny.  And they do, so the episode gets to end with everyone laughing, as always.

Bumbleberry Jammed
It's bumbleberry picking time in Care-a-lot, and all the bears are out in Rainshine Meadows, picking away.  Cheer finds Grumpy and is surprised that he likes bumbleberries, although I'm not entirely sure why.  Grumpy anticipates making bumbleberry jam, although seeing all the other bears gives him doubts that he'll have enough.  He goes in quest of a bush that isn't already picked over, but with everyone else doing the same thing, the pickings are slim.  Just when he thinks he's found one, out pops Surprise, to his dismay.  In his search, he enters a farther part of the meadow and stumbles on the biggest (and oldest, he speculates) bumbleberry bush ever, with the best-tasting berries.  He instantly rushes home to make some bumblebery jam, and the results are stunning.  Unfortunately, the smell of his cooking jam attracts unwanted attention from Cheer.  Grumpy tries to throw her off the trail by telling her he's just washing his socks, and it almost works, until Cheer realizes that no Care Bear wears socks.  Grumpy, meanwhile, realizes that he can't tell anyone about the bush, or they'll all devour his discovery.
The next day, Grumpy sneaks out to the bush to get more berries, but Cheer happens to see him while picking some more berries of her own.  When he doesn't answer her call, she sneaks after him and discovers the bush.  Grumpy tries to convince her it's a normal bush, but one taste is all she needs to see this is far from the truth.  She demands to know why he lied to her, and Grumpy admits that although he knows lying is wrong, he didn't want the others to converge on the bush, depleting it of berries.  Surely Cheer can understand that, right?  Apparently not, as she urges Grumpy to share the berries.  Grumpy again tries to throw her off track by promising to share once they've picked enough for the two of them.  Cheer insists that she can't lie to her friends, but Grumpy tells her to think of it as a secret, not a lie, and Cheer grudgingly accepts it, mostly because Grumpy keeps winking at her.
Cheer heads back to Care-a-lot, and instantly runs into Trueheart.  She tries to hide what she was doing, but you simply cannot lie to Trueheart (this is her special Care Bear ability, after all), and she spills everything.  Realizing that she's compromised her 'secret,' she says she has to tell Grumpy.  Trueheart misinterprets this into meaning that she has to tell Grumpy about the berries, and Cheer doesn't bother to correct her.  As Cheer runs off, Trueheart helps herself to the berries.  Meanwhile, Grumpy is polishing his jars of bumbleberry jam when Cheer bursts in and confesses that she told Trueheart everything.  Grumpy reassures her that he'll take care of Trueheart and sends her on her way.  Despite his reassurances to Cheer, Grumpy knows that Trueheart will tell everyone else about the bush, if she hasn't already.  But he comes up with a sneaky plan...
The next day again, Trueheart and Cheer are out in the meadow, trying to find the bush for more berries.  Cheer reveals the bush's hiding place, only to find the bush has been dug up!  The two of them go to confront the obvious suspect in his home, but Grumpy hedges when accused.  Unfortunately, the bush is visible from the doorway, so Grumpy confesses.  Since there's only a few minutes left in the episode, he makes with the lesson-learned speech: he got carried away with his selfishness (and so did the bush, notes Cheer).  Trueheart lays on the "lies are wrong" and Grumpy is powerless before her, going into an explanation of his actions.  Just as he promises  not to lie or be selfish, the bush's leaves all fall off.  "Uprooting the bush is killing it!" Trueheart interjects (seriously, that's what she says), as Grumpy feels remorse.  
The natural solution to this problem is to take it to Share, which is what they do.  Share tells them that the bush is still savable, and Grumpy gives her a big hug (mostly to make up for all the Grumpy/Cheer stuff in this episode, I say), and promises to do whatever it takes to bring the bush back to full health.  The others promise to help with the bush's treatments, too.  Share tells them that it will be a good long time before the bumbleberries grow back, although the animators have Cheer doing the actual talking.  Share also points out that this means no more jam.  Luckily, Grumpy still has three jars, which he gives to the girls as the episode ends.

I've said it before, but I'm always glad to say it again: Grumpy is so cute when he has to learn a lesson ^_^  And the fact that Trueheart plays a major part in both episodes puts both of these pretty high in my book.

Best Student Council

Best Student Council is a series I keep in my Blockbuster queue, although I don't put it at any kind of priority.  It's not an amazing series, but it is fun.  Every now and then I ask myself why I watch it (usually when the episodes focus too much on the "mystery" of the president and her family), but then something like this happens, and I remember:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Madarame - Genshiken OAV episode 2

I finally got around to watching volume two of Kujibiki Unbalance, and more specifically to this post, the second episode of the Genshiken OVA.  I'd read all the manga, but I didn't remember this specific story, so I'll have to go back and see if it was there.  I mean, I kinda sorta remember parts, but not the way it played out here.  It's a Madarame-centric episode, if that helps any.  
I totally understand how he felt in the boutique, though.  That's how I get when I go to Hot Topic (^_^b...)
So, yeah, during this whole episode I kept getting this feeling, and I think there's no denying it now.  Disheartened nerdly glasses guys are my moe.  Of course, that phrase means little to you if you don't know what moe means.  Unfortunately, moe is one of the hardest anime-fandom-related concepts to describe, so this is only my interpretation.  The generally idea of moe is a feeling of wanting to protect a character, and it usually applies to young girl characters (the kanji for moe means "to bud," so there's the idea of freshness, purity), but it has been used in all kinds of situations.  To me, moe is that feeling I get that can only be described as "awwww..." with any kind of inflection.
Now, I knew that glasses were a turn-on for me (ask my husband; it was his being too lazy to wear contacts that played a major part in getting us together), but the disheartened part and definitely the nerd part are only moe to me.  I got the same feeling when I saw the president of the newspaper club in the same volume of Kujibiki Unbalance, and back further, I definitely felt it for the main character of Train Man (the version released by Viz).

I mean, look at that!  How can you not feel all moe for him?
While watching the episode again to take screenshots, I decided to listen to the audio commentary on a whim (I don't usually listen to series audio commentaries, although I do like to listen to them for movies), and the seiyuu for Sakaki mentioned that during the voiceover sessions, she was starting to fall for Madarame (the character, not the seiyuu).  Seriously, I am not suprised.  And then Madarame's seiyuu mentioned that Madarame is very popular with the female seiyuus ^_~

Monday, September 15, 2008

Analyzing Pierre

This is something I've wanted to do for a while, ever since I rediscovered Really Rosie on Youtube a couple of years ago. The conceit of Really Rosie is that Rosie is auditioning her friends for a part in her "movie," but it's really an excuse to animate the Nutshell books by Maurice Sendak, set to music by Carol King. The special is from the seventies, and the animation isn't the greatest, but you can really tell that the animators were having fun.  One section in particular holds a particular interest to me, the bit about the book called Pierre.  This sequence has a lot of little things I like, which I've put in bold.

There once was a boy named Pierre
Who only would say "I don't care"
Read his story, my friend,
For you'll find at the end
That a suitable moral lies there.
The prologue isn't too interesting, as it's just Rosie gesticulating toward the window where Pierre prepares, although she is rather melodramatic. By the end of this section, the apartment building has melted away, revealing Pierre in his pajamas. With hardly any effort, he launches himself in the air and neatly cartwheels into his bed.

One day, his mother said, 
When Pierre climbed out of bed, 
"Good morning, darling boy, 
You are my only joy." 
Pierre said, "I don't care."
Pierre's mother enters and stares at him lovingly, causing Pierre to burrow into his bed, but as the song dictates, he has to get up. He merely stands on his bed, stretching and yawning, and scratches his head. His mother doesn't do much until this point, when she pats him on the head to go with her "darling boy" line. Pierre flinches and then jumps up onto his pillow for height, so his mother can't do that again, presumably, but jumps off the bed soon enough and gives his mother a dirty look before shaking his head at her and walking to the kitchen, backwards. By the time he gets there, he's wearing his normal clothes minus shoes for some reason.

"What would you like to eat?" 
"I don't care." 
"Some lovely cream of wheat?" 
"I don't care." 
"Don't sit backwards in your chair." 
"I don't care." 
"Don't pour syrup on your hair." 
"I don't care."
As his mother enters with a bowl of cream of wheat, Pierre waits for her with his elbows on the table and a cross look on his face, although he quickly leans back in his chair and crosses his arms. One suspects he doesn't care because he knows that it doesn't make a difference: he's getting cream of wheat whether he wants it or not. He turns around in his chair and shrugs at his mother, who turns her eyes toward heaven with a "why me?" expression. When Pierre pulls a pitcher of syrup from nowhere, she can only feebly point at what he's doing as he pours it on his head, his expression unchanging.

"You are acting like a clown." 
"I don't care." 
"And we have to go to town." 
"I don't care."
"Don't you want to come, my dear?" 
"I don't care." 
"Would you rather stay right here?" 
"I don't care." 
So his mother left him there.
Pierre slides off the chair and solemnly picks up the bowl and places it on top of his head, then grabs the tablecloth and whips it off the table and around himself in one deft movement. He then reaches offscreen and grabs a broom which he brandishes like a spear. His mother implores him with vague handmotions, but Pierre tips the bowlhat forward and taps his foot impatiently. He then flips the broom over and uses the handle to spin the bowl, no longer on his head. His mother, defeated, turns to leave, but watches dejectedly as Pierre throws the broom back offscreen and whips the tablecloth off himself again, but leaves before he brandishes it like a bullfighter and then flings it offscreen in the opposite direction as the broom. Once again he takes to the air, landing acrobatically upside down on a folding chair. And the whole time he just has this nonplussed expression on his face. There's nothing special about what he's doing, apparently.

His father said, 
"Get off your head 
Or I will march you up to bed." 
And Pierre said, 
"I don't care."
Unlike his mother, Pierre's father is very expressive. Seeing his son on the chair, he first starts to bend over, to look at him eye-to-eye, then thinks better of it and straightens up. He minces around a little, clasping his hands under his chin, then points to punctuate his lecture, first at Pierre and then at himself (which I never noticed until I started writing this post), then back at Pierre, and then up, as in upstairs. During all this, Pierre does some footwork, leans his butt back in the chair (which is at the head of the chair, you may recall), and then does a little shimmy. All while standing on his head on a folding chair. His father is taken aback by his son's nonchalance, and even appears worried, clasping his hands some more. Pierre does more wriggling in the chair, but I can't really describe it all.

"I would think that you could see," 
"I don't care." 
"Your head is where your feet should be." 
"I don't care." 
"If you keep standing upside down," 
"I don't care." 
"We'll never ever get to town." 
"I don't care." 
"If only you would say 'I care,'" 
"I don't care." 
"I'd let you fold the folding chair." 
"I don't care." 
While his father implores his son just as his mother did, Pierre manages to maintain his balance even without holding onto the chair. For the "head is where your feet should be" line, his father indicates Pierre's feet, and Pierre defiantly sticks his feet out at his father and waves them in his face. His father then does a weird sort of indication of "upside down" while Pierre turns himself around on the chair without his hands and still doesn't fall off. This boy has powers, yet he doesn't seem to realize it. His father clasps his hands together again and moves in a rather melodramatic fashion, and Pierre grabs his feet. Seeing this, his father crouches down and turns his head to look at his son. Pierre straightens up, but his jacket starts to fall, so he pulls it straight.

So his parents left him there. 
They didn't take him anywhere.
Pierre's mother enters and his father straightens up while Pierre continues to wriggle in the chair. With backward glances askance, the parents leave, and Pierre directs his feet and scowl in their direction. But then he gets jumpy, and jumps straight up and off the chair, turning a cartwheel and smiling for the first time in this whole sequence. After the cartwheel, he walks backwards, a smug expression on his face.

Now as the night began to fall, 
A hungry lion paid a call. 
It looked Pierre right in the eye 
And asked him if he'd like to die. 
And Pierre said, 
"I don't care."
After walking backwards, Pierre yawns and stretches to indicate that night has arrived, and the lion enters the frame, unseen. It leaps out and makes itself known to Pierre, who looks at it, and then looks at us with a look that just says, "Are you kidding me?" Then he and the lion engage in a staredown while walking before they stop so the lion can try and intimidate Pierre with his fangs. Rather than being frightened, Pierre simply holds his nose to avoid the lion's (apparently) bad breath. Then he glares at the lion and strikes a melodramatic pose (it runs in the family, I see) before executing a simple pirouette and falling back on the lion, forcing it to sit. The lion glares at Pierre, then looks out at us, looking for answers. What's with this kid?

"I can eat you, don't you see?" 
"I don't care." 
"Then you will be inside of me." 
"I don't care." 
"And you'll never have to bother," 
"I don't care." 
"With a mother and a father." 
"I don't care." 
"Is that all you have to say?" 
"I don't care." 
"Then I'll eat you if I may." 
"I don't care." 
So the lion ate Pierre.
The lion tries to emphasize his deadliness by licking his chops, but Pierre just yawns and strikes another dramatic pose. The lion roars and Pierre appears to consider its offer, but then starts performing a bit of gymnastics. The lion watches with one eye shut, then opens both eyes as Pierre moves onto pirouetting again, ending with a dramatic flair. When the lion says the part about never having to bother with his parents, Pierre does consider this and smiles(!) before quickly going into more gymnastics. The lion doesn't do too much here but Pierre is in constant motion, stopping only to offer the lion an open-handed shrug, as if to say, "Hey, doesn't matter to me whether you eat me or not." Then he pulls the lion's mouth open himself and takes a (dramatic) flying leap in. The lion closes its mouth and apparently swallows, as its belly suddenly grows and it picks its teeth.

Arriving home at six o'clock 
His parents had a dreadful shock! 
They found the lion sick in bed 
And cried, "Pierre is surely dead!" 
They pulled the lion by the hair; 
They hit him with the folding chair. 
His mother asked, "Where is Pierre?" 
And the lion answered, 
"I don't care." 
His father said, "Pierre's in there."
A very quick fade to black, and Pierre's parents are suddenly strolling back in the house. A clock appears out of nowhere and Pierre's father notes it briefly. They stop, gaping at something offscreen, and then give a simultaneous gasp. They look at each other in horror and rush to the next screen, where the lion is tucked in Pierre's bed. It makes a horrible face and clutches at its stomach. Pierre's mother weeps into her husband's coat, then turns and starts pulling the lion's goatee. He doesn't seem to care, although when Pierre's father whips out the folding chair and starts brandishing it, he attempts to shield himself, especially when Pierre's mother starts in with her purse. Inexplicably, they stop, and Pierre's father puts the chair away behind the bed. Pierre's mother ever so melodramatically (I told you it ran in the family) implores the lion while Pierre's father glares at it, but it just makes the same horrible face as before and the parents gape at it. They stare at each other in horror and then Pierre's father bends down to listen to the lion's stomach directly. He straightens up and, horrified, points repeatedly at the lion's midsection. Pierre's mother begins to howl quite dramatically while Pierre's father rushes from one side of the bed to the other and the lion either nods or does something related to being sick. I'm not quite sure.

They rushed the lion into town. 
The doctor shook him up and down, 
And when the lion gave a roar 
Pierre fell out upon the floor.
Pierre's parents pick up either side of the bed and rush offscreen as it rapidly turns black. When the lights come back up, we see a tiny doctor standing on a table, shaking the lion. He stops and watches, and Pierre opens the lion's mouth and peeks out. The doctor looks at us with the same look both Pierre and the lion gave us earlier, then shakes the lion one more time, unceremoniously dropping Pierre on the floor. He then drops the lion, and the table rolls offscreen, leaving Pierre and the lion looking at each other, both unsure of what just happened there.

He rubbed his eyes and scratched his head 
And laughed because he wasn't dead. 
His mother cried and held him tight. 
His father asked, "Are you all right?" 
Pierre said, "I am feeling fine. 
Please take me home, it's half past nine."
Pierre does all that the lyrics describe while the lion goggles at him, trying to figure out how this should be, then finally gives up and lies down. Pierre nods at the audience when the narrator mentions he isn't dead. His mother enters the scene and lifts him up off the floor with her hug, and doesn't let him down until his father comes onscreen.  Back on the ground, Pierre first stands with his hands behind his back, for a moment, proudly, then piourettes again, ending with a yawn as he indicates the clock on the wall, which the lion also looks at.  

The lion said, "If you would care
To ride on me, I'll take you there."
Then everybody looked at Pierre
Who shouted, "Yes, indeed, I care!"
While Pierre continues to yawn, the lion waves a paw at him, and indicates its back.  Pierre gives the lion a bow, then straightens up when he realizes everyone offscreen is looking at him.  He has a moment of hesitataion before striking poses and doing more twirling.  He ends up down on one knee with a huge smile on his face.  

The lion took them home to rest
And stayed on as a weekend guest.
The moral of Pierre is:

Pierre climbs on the lion's head with its help, and his father helps his mother onto the lion's back, but while he is climbing on himself, the lion starts moving, and Pierre strikes a kind of "whee" pose for a very brief moment.  Once everyone is offscreen, Pierre peeks back, broom in hand, and then runs back onscreen, turning a somersault with the broom and landing on the letters C A R E ! which bump into each other in their haste to get in the picture.  Pierre leaps from letter to letter, striking poses and using the broom to fancily knock each letter down and offscreen until he gets to the exclamation point.  He uses that one to vault offscreen again, and the scene goes to black.

While Really Rosie has not been released to DVD as of yet, the individual Nutshell Book sequences have come out on the DVD of Where the Wild Things Are as a special feature.  However, there are two things wrong with the DVD version of Pierre. First, whoever put this together decided to hide its roots as part of Really Rosie, so they show animation from the middle over the prologue, instead of Rosie narrating while Pierre prepares behind his apartment window as in the original. Second, the audio is the recording version. In the original, Pierre's voice actor voices his lines, but here, Carol King does them along with the narration. Not a huge deal, but it really bugs me. Especially in the lines "If only you would say 'I care'/"I don't care!" since Pierre's VA put extra emphasis on that one, but Carol King does not.  In the end, though, it's better to have something than nothing, I guess.
Would you believe I actually started this post in April and just didn't get around to finishing it until now?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Capturing Makes me Feel Alive

So yesterday new episodes of Sushi Pack and AiCaL came out.  As you know from reading my blog, these two shows are my bread and butter.  However, I despaired because I knew that while I could watch them, I could not capture them (or When Will Ben be Zen/Wharf City on the Half Shell).  
You see, back in July I got a new laptop, but unfortunately, my USB TV tuner stick (a Pinnacle, you may recall) didn't work with it.  Oh, it could read digital TV signals just fine (or as fine as it ever did), but it wouldn't capture analog input.  And since I captured through my VCR, that was a big problem for me.  So I spent some time doing research, and finally decided to get an AverMedia DVD EZmaker USB Gold capture device, since that was (as far as I could tell) the best capture device that works with Vista.  Meanwhile, however, the main TV decided to implode one fateful Saturday, and my father took the opportunity to upgrade to HDTV.  Which meant that the actual TV was in flux for a while as things got set up and kinks got ironed out.  But finally I had my device and the TV was set, and I got ready to capture.  Only to come up with nothing.
At first, I wasn't sure what was going on, I could only feel crushing despair at having my hopes dashed.  But then I decided to try using the new device in my old laptop (which I still have, but it only actually works for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time), and see if the problem was Vista or not.  But still, I got nothing.  So then I tried using my Pinnacle to see if maybe the problem was the VCR, and when nothing came up, I knew that the solution was near.  Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about setting VCRs or TVs, so I called on my father, and he was able to come up with a solution.  It had something to do with the line in not being the right thing, which is odd, because with the old TV, I always used the line-in and it was just fine, so I don't really know what was different.  But I was able to capture, and now I'm working on editing, and it feels great.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Maple Story

I don't know why, but I was thinking about Maple Story today. I haven't played in a long time, but I still look back fondly (mostly) on the time I spent there. I started in January 2005, after one of my friends on livejournal mentioned it, and since it was free, I signed up. I created a character that was a mage, and I had a good time. I remember doing a lot of the reading for my classes while I waited for my HP and MP to go up. I teamed up with other users on quests, and tried so hard to get a potlid shield (which I did get after fighting a ton of mushrooms).
One thing that puzzled me was the utter dislike other players had for my character.  Oh, not everyone, of course, but really, I got it from both sides.  Characters that weren't mages would yell at me for killing enemies with magic, whether I did that or not, and characters that were mages would yell at me because I put more points into my Magic Bolt than my Magic Claw.  That was what really got me.  I mean, what did it matter to them how I chose to distribute my stats?  I didn't tell anyone else how to play, so why should they?

I played for a little over a year, but when they released the new version and I had to start over, I lost interest. I didn't really have the time, either, so it was probably for the best.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Japan wants Sushi Pack figures!

I was searching blogs on Google, and ran into this post from a Japanese blog about American toys.  Posted just under a week ago, the title is "New American Hero Characters Appear!"  The gist is, the blogger discovered the existance of Sushi Pack, and linked to one of my videos (the first part of Deep Sea Diver Dude).  Here's the translation, in case you're curious.  I changed the format a little, so it won't be all stretched out.

"This time I'll introduce you to "new" TV characters that appeared sometime last year.  But these characters aren't very popular, so far I haven't seen any merchandise (lol).
By the way, these characters are...heroes!  As in, American superheroes!   
Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, Batman..., etc. etc., cool with bursting muscles! There are lots of this image, but this group of heroes is uniquely modeled, and somehow!
somehow! <--stretched out like natto
represents Japan
What am I supposed to feel about sushi resembling heroes? (sweatdrop)  And they're called 
Is this for real?!  It's a situation, but it's true.
That said, today I'll introduce you to a Sushi Pack video. (And then there's my video)
Did you catch the Sushi Pack member's names??  "Tako, Maguro, Wasabi, Ikura" like that.  Simple names (bitter smile)
Superhero Tako!  Sounds crazy-strong!  (I think that means anger)
Isn't there already a Takoyakiman in Japan??? Are we supposed to get the same feeling as that?!
Because ikura is popular in Japan, it's a little surprising character to be made a sushi hero. (I'm kind of fuzzy on this line.) 
By the way, Tako's cousin's name is "Hideki," but where did this "Hideki" come from???  The voice is a girl... (Which is what I said.)
After this, will it be popular??? Perhaps they might become illusion characters???!!! (the kanji can mean either illusion, phantom, dream, or vision)."  The last line just asks you to visit the blogger's store.

So the blogger doesn't seem all that impressed with Sushi Pack.  I should comment to let him/her know that there is merchandise out.  Speaking of comments, there are two comments as of today.  One basically says the poster has seen it, but if figures come out... (mufufu).  The other asks where the blogger saw the show, on TV or Cable, and tells the blogger to let him/her know if they find any figures.  Heh.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Light and Dark in manga

Something I've noticed, mostly in shoujo manga, is a predominance of light vs. dark in love triangles.  I mean, typically, the romantic set-up of a shoujo manga will go something like this: the main character girl will have a crush on the one boy who is nice if a little out of her league, and he almost always has light-colored hair.  And then there's the other boy who pisses her off, and vice versa, but he starts to warm up to her, and her to him, and this boy almost always has dark-colored hair.  I've seen this in Kitchen Princess, Boys Over Flowers, Peach Girl, Shugo Chara!, and to a certain degree in Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime.  And I know that there are more that I either haven't read or just aren't coming to mind.
What bugs me about this set-up, though, is that in every example I've seen, the dark-haired boy gets the girl!  Not that this is a bad thing, but when it happens over and over again, and is done poorly, it starts to piss me off.  I'd say Boys Over Flowers and Peach Girl are good versions of this, but I could be biased as I read those before I noticed the trend.  Kitchen Princess is where I started noticing this, and Shugo Chara is where it started to bother me, mostly because I do not like Amuto in the least, and unfortunately for me, the forces of shoujo seems to say it will be so.  (Granted, I'm only following the US release, and I'm about twenty episodes behind the anime.)  As they say, knowing the tropes is not a good thing in some cases.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Princess by any other name - Part 1

Hey, remember when I promised a three-part series last month? Well, this is the first part, and it is spoilerific. If you don't want to be spoiled about an upcoming (well, in about four DVDs or so) episode of Strawberry Shortcake, better come back later. The other parts probably won't be as spoiler-filled, but this one is definitely the big one.

(Spoilers ahead!)

As I mentioned before, I watched the not-coming-out-over-here-anytime-soon episode of Strawberry Shortcake, A Princess Named Rap, a little while ago. This episode is a retelling of Rapunzel, and by retelling, I mean the only thing that it has in common with the fairy tale is the titular character living in a tall tower and having extremely long hair. Overall it was a decent episode, but that doesn't mean there weren't a few things that rankled me.
First off, Strawberry is the narrator and a character. Seriously, there are more than enough characters in this series, they really could have had someone else do either duty. Although now that I think about it, if not narrated by Strawberry, it probably would have been the dreaded Honey Pie Pony, so never mind what I just said. Although, if Ginger Snap narrated, this whole thing would have gone up fifteen points on my personal scale of awesomeness. (I am a firm believer that anything has the potential to be awesome.) Anyway, moving right along, the lesson of the story itself bugs me, not because it's a bad lesson, although it is a bit cliche. It's more the execution of the lesson.
The story begins with Strawberry narrating about how Rapunzel in this version is already a princess (played by Rainbow Sherbet), and how she "did things her own way" even as a toddler. This plays out with her deciding to call herself Rap (even though no one else does), and terrorizing the palace staff by jumping from treetop to treetop and just generally being a wild child. Again Strawberry narrates, telling us that Rapunzel's parents wanted her to be a good ruler, but since she's the most unprincesslike princess in the history of their kingdom, they hired Professor Grapes (Sour Grapes in her first non-villain role), known for being odd, but the best tutor in the land, to iron out their daughter's kinks. Just so I can stop writing "Strawberry narrates" every other sentence, I'm going to get this out of the way: this episode does way too much "showing, not telling." Most of the time, assume something is narrated rather than outright shown, especially when it comes to her parents (who are only shown from the neck down, but the Queen is obviously also Sour Grapes. The king, however, is not the Pie Man). Rapunzel meets Professor Grapes for the first time after executing a perfect back flip, and courtesies, even though she's wearing a t-shirt.
Professor Grapes leads Rapunzel away to a tower in the woods to live while she studies (and Strawberry tells us that her parents hated to send her away, but it was for her own good). Rap looks forward to reading all the books in the tower, but Professor Grapes begins with The Rearing of Royalty, a handy guide to raising perfectly proper princes and princesses (as Strawberry herself says, princess training is srs bsns). Every morning, Professor Grapes calls to Rapunzel, "Are you ready to learn?" and Rap always replies "Please, call me Rap." (This happens at least four times during the 22 minute show). Using TRoR, Professor Grapes has Rapunzel dressing in a hoop skirt and growing her hair so long it becomes climbable, yet the princess continues to be a nonconformist, doing her jumping jacks upside down (how is that even possible?!) and playing hoedown music on her violin instead of a concerto.
A brief interlude to let me note that I quite prefer Rapunzel's piled-on-top braid to her usual hairstyle. Very cute. Back in the story, Triple Ripple shows up for no real reason that I could tell, other than perhaps to offer a solution to how she didn't go crazy stuck up in the tower with no one but Professor Grapes for a companion. Also, this improves her science test scores. While Professor Grapes disapproves of the bird's disruptive behavior during class, she approves of Rapunzel's innate curiousity, although it manifests itself in a definitely unprincesslike manner. Like drawing lizards. Or the morning she jerry-rigged her braid into a harness and climbed up on the roof, prompting Strawberry to narrate Professor Grapes giving her a lecture on the differences between things that are unprincesslike and just plain dangerous.
Once Professor Grapes leaves, Rapunzel sings a preteen rock anthem about "The Real Me" which is actually very catchy (I've spent more than one shift with it stuck in my head), where she laments the fact that princesses can't get physical ("A princess needs to have command/Not do a perfect handstand," she sings). She confides in Triple Ripple that she worries she'll never be a perfect princess, then decides to put everything she's got into her lessons to make her parents and Professor Grapes happy, and be the best ruler EVAH! While working on her multiplication tables, she beats out a rhythm, somehow attracting the attention of the traveling Squire Huck and Maid Strawberry. They strike up a conversation with the princess and ask to come up. Rap would love them to come up, but her homework prevents it, so Strawberry promises to help her with it, and whammo, they become fast friends (as Strawberry tells us). They even call her Rap. Strawberry latches onto the violin and plays a jig, and starts to teach Rap how to do it, too. For days, Strawberry and Huck come over and help Rapunzel with her studies, bringing in frogs and extra books to study (don't tell me she read all the ones in the tower already!), practicing violin together, and climbing all over the ceiling. But this starts to take its toll, as Rapunzel falls asleep reading and oversleeps one morning, and her overall "less than royal" behavior starts showing up in her lessons again. So Professor Grapes spies on Rapunzel after she leaves for the day and catches Strawberry and Huck with the princess.
Rap hopes for understanding, but Professor Grapes whisks her away from the tower and they walk all the way to the ocean, much to Rap's delight. But her joy is shortlived, as Professor Grapes rows her out to a tower on an island. As the professor rows away, Rap wonders how she'll learn to be a great ruler on a deserted island. Probably the same way you would have in the tower in the woods, my dear. She sees her professor is riding the tides, not getting anywhere, so she chops off her braid with nary a thought, and uses it to climb out of the tower and then hold together a raft she built from driftwood. Professor Grapes, meanwhile, has no idea that she in any danger and just focuses on how Rapunzel could have turned out so poorly, in spite of her attention to The Rearing of Royalty (which she just happens to have in the boat with her). Rapunzel shows up on her raft, driven by a sail made out of her skirt (she still had her pants with her, apparently), and rescues her teacher (for some reason they go on her raft instead of the rowboat). Rapunzel shows off her prowess with her raft and navigates by the stars, proving to her professor that she is a strong princess and capable of ruling.
By morning, they make it back to Royal Bay, and Tangerina Torta and Banana Candy get a very short cameo. The King and Queen arrive to greet them (how they knew what was going on is not explained, nor why they are "berry berry proud," as Strawberry puts it), and Strawberry and Huck are there, too. Rap remembers to get TRoR out of the raft, but Professor Grapes thanks her not for saving the book, but for "being you," and sings a song about how she's pulled a 180, and won't try to change Rapunzel anymore. She even goes so far as to say the only place for TRoR now is in a museum. She also tries to resign as Rapunzel's teacher, but as the princess points out (via Strawberry's narration), she was a good teacher when she wasn't focusing on the princessy stuff. So Professor Grapes gets promoted to Head Teacher, Rapunzel get to learn in the castle instead of a tower, and even got Professor Grapes to call her Rap. Plus she got to teach everyone else how to be wild (by hangliding?), and that's where the video ends.
Like I said before, it's an all right episode, and the songs are actually pretty good, which is never a guaranteed thing with this series, but the execution just kills it for me. For one thing, there's too much story being crammed in here, hence the need for all the narration. That, and the way the aesop is played out just rubs me the wrong way, seriously. I mean, Rapunzel is meant to be a nonconformist, an unprincesslike tomboy (which was already done way better on Fushiboshi no Futago Hime, but then, they had 52 episodes to show it), but she mostly comes off as being a disruptive child running wild. It's no wonder that her parents didn't object to having her sent away. I'll go more into detail about this is part two, but it's a delicate balance you grapple when you try to put this kind of moral into your story, and I don't think the writers handled it very well here. But really, I think that with a little more time to tell the story, it could have been pretty good instead of just all right.