Saturday, February 28, 2009

Space Pirate Mito Revisited - Final Thoughts

Yeah, I meant to get this written up and posted a couple of weeks ago, but better late than never, I suppose.  After blasting through the series and then not quite blasting through editing all the screencaps I took (more than I meant to, but worth it), the seeds of what I wanted to say here were sown, but I just kept putting it off.  And there are definitely things I want to talk about, so here goes.
I have to admit, I'm very glad that I went back and rewatched Space Pirate Mito.  It turns out I'd forgotten way more than I actually remembered, like Mito getting captured, the whole 'everyone's memory got erased' thing, not to mention I incorrectly remembered Ranban's backstory happening in one episode, not two (or three, depending on how you look at it).  I'd also forgotten how quickly the whole series moves.  I mean, yeah, it's only 13 episodes, so they don't really have time to sit around, but still.

Now, you should know by now that I'm a VA wonk, so trust me when I tell you that both the original Japanese and the English dub have great casts.  For one thing, Mito is voiced by Tomoko Kawakami, best known for her role as Utena.  Aoi is voiced by Souichiro Hoshi, who has had a good number of roles (including Oojirou in Angelic Layer), but is best known to me as Matsutake from Mirumo de Pon! (and thus I was much more amused than I should have been).  There are plenty of recognizable roles for almost everyone in the cast, but I'm not going to list them all here, except to point out that Mutsuki's voice actress was also Martina from Slayers Next, and Masatsuki is voiced by Yumiko Kobayashi, who went on to voice Poemi in Puni Puni Poemi! and Zucchini (a very similar role to Masatsuki) in Magical Play (which, by the way, has character designs by Kiyohiko Azuma, of Azumanga Daioh and Yostuba&! fame).
As for the dub, while not perfect by a long shot, it still manages to be enjoyable.  In particular, Lisa Ortiz does some of her best work as Mail-Suited Ranban, in my opinion, and does a fine interpretation of Mito in and out of the mail suit.  And I enjoyed Michelle Newman as Masatsuki (called Matsuki in the dub), although I'm not quite sure why she started delivering her lines like William Shatner after the first few episodes.  The dub script takes some a lot of liberties with the script, but often for the better.  As I mentioned before, I only really understood what happened in episode eight when the dub explained it, and Ranban's dialogue is much better in the dub.Not to mention the added joke that occurs because Kaizou-kun is called Mr. Roboto (since in the Japanese version, Masatsuki always says, "Arigatou, Kaizou-kun!" after it transforms, the dub took the opportunity to make a "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" joke).  However, there are a few strange changes: the mail suits are referred to as exo suits, and the seal became the key.  Granted, neither really changes the story, but they do kind of stand out, whereas I didn't notice a lot of the differences in the dialogue without watching the dub with the subtitles on.

One last thing: not too many people know about this series is (very) loosely based on the stories of Mito Komon, who was an actual person back in the 1600's.  His name was Tokugawa Mitsukuni, and he was the Chunagon (also called Komon), a kind of lord in a feudal system, of the Mito province.  He was popular enough that eventually a play was written about him called Mito Mitsukuni Man'yuki.  There were more versions, but the most well-known is a live action TV series that aired in 1969, where a couple of injokes for the anime originate.  For example, in episode two, Mito introduces Sabu and Shin by their full names, Sukesaburou and Kakunoshin, which are the names of Mitsukuni's two retainers (shortened in the show to Suke-san and Kaku-san).  And the whole bit about Aoi being the seal comes from the seal that Mitsukuni carried, which he used to reveal his identity towards the end of each episode.  Also, Kagerou is the name of a ninja who was popular enough to get his own spinoff series.

All in all, Space Pirate Mito is a very enjoyable series.  I don't really do justice to the kinda of show it is in my summaries (I left out most of the jokes, for one thing), so please, check it out for yourself. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Curious Case of Forrest Gump

Mind you, I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I enjoyed it (although I wouldn't have objected if it were a little shorter), but I have to admit, this is just uncanny:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Oscars

As usual, I haven't seen most of the movies that are nominated, so I'm not going to predict anything, except to say that Wall-E is bound to win Best Animated Film, and should also win at least one of the sound awards (mixing or editing), and maybe even Best Original Screenplay.  I just can't see either song from Slumdog Millionaire besting "Down to Earth," but then again, I haven't heard them, either.
As last year, here are my thoughts on the ceremony as it happens.

  • I love the idea of the crystal curtain, but I'm not sure how I feel about the actual curtain itself.
  • Oh, Hugh Jackman, you're awesome.  That opening song was great.  Especially when the ending turned into a partial "This is the moment" parody.
  • Mom, of course, can't help pointing out how unflattering the dresses worn by most of the presenters for Supporting Actress are (especially Whoopi Goldberg and Tilda Swinton).
  • "To write is to live forever."  "The man who wrote that is dead."  XD!  The whole bit was good.
  • Boo to Wall-E not winning Best Original Screenplay.  (Mom also boos with me.)
  • Who is Jack Black glaring at?  He shouldn't be bitter; Kung Fu Panda took all the Annie Awards, apparently. 
  • Yay for Wall-E winning Best Animated Film!
  • Having actually seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I feel that its Art Direction Award is well earned.  
  • I liked the romance montage, but I was waiting for the Mamma Mia footage, since the girl was one of the presenters.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have thought to look for it.
  • Who was the other guy with Seth Rogan in that sketch?  The presenters weren't announced ahead of time, so I can't find it out.
  • You see what they did there?  Having a medley of older movie songs to make it seem less strange when they do the medley of this year's Best Song nominees.  But it was so random, and not in a good way.  Ugh, try harder next time, Baz Luhrman.
  • I figure that they had to give Heath Ledger the award because everyone else can try again next year.
  • That Documentary winner (I forgot his name) was cool.
  • Foul!  Foul, I say!  (Sorry, but I promised someone I would cry foul if Wall-E didn't win at least one of the Sound awards.)
  • Ah, it's nice that they honored Jerry Lewis.  Before tonight, I never knew that he invented the Video Assist.
  • Mom's comment: "Dean Martin, on the other hand, is dead.  I have the CDs to prove it."
  • Don't know who the guy is, but he did an okay job on Down to Earth.   Those guys playing the drums look like they're having a lot of fun.  And putting the songs together at the end was pretty cool, too.
  • Did I say this before?  Maybe I have but I'll say it again: if there are only three songs nominated, to have two of them be from the same movie just seems sort of tacky.  (And I'm not just saying that because "Down to Earth" didn't win.  I think that every time there's more than one song nominated from one movie.)
  • Ugh, I hate "I'll Be Seeing You," no matter who sings it.
  • It's interesting to have five presenters.
  • The whole 'mixing other movies in between clips of the nominated movies' confused me for about two movies' worth before I caught on to what was going on.
  • And of course, Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture.  Maybe this is just me, but I really feel like it needs a better title.  Or at least a title that kind of indicates it takes place in India, and not just a random American ghetto.
  • Kind of nice that they end it with a preview of the movies coming out this year.

Barbie and --what?!

Okay, look at this image of an upcoming Barbie line, and guess what the accompanying Direct-to-DVD movie is about:
You're thinking something involving fairies or royalty, right? Maybe a "Barbie does the Wizard of Oz" kind of thing? (Those dresses are giving me serious Glinda vibes. And those are obviously wands they're holding, right?) Well, think one more time before scrolling down.

Think you're ready?

Okay, here it is:

What manner of Tomfoolery is this?! Barbie and the Three Musketeers? I just... there aren't words for my feelings toward this. I mean, I haven't felt this kind of indescribable rage toward any of the Barbie direct-to-DVD movies just from seeing the cover. Maybe if they weren't wearing dresses.... Or if the dolls had the funky hats instead of crowns. Or if the doll's swords didn't look so unswordlike. And that cat with a sword? That's even worse, and makes potentially less sense, than the comic relief owl in that French animated version that I keep meaning to upload.
At the moment, there is hardly any information on the actual plot, nor has a release date been set, although a couple of books are slated to come out in August.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Parody Music Videos

Just a few music videos that I've been clued into these past couple of days. First, a DragonballZ Abridged music video:

And second, a parody of The Wrestler, using footage from the Friday the 13th movies (so yes, there are lots of gory shots.  Don't watch if that makes you squeamish.  But seriously, the lyrics are gold):

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sushi Pack - Donut Whodunnit

Late at night, as Ben locks up for the night, a mysterious silhouette that can only belong to Titanium Chef approaches the Green Donut.  Against his better judgement, Ben unlocks the door, and the figure rushes in, to better stay in the shadows.  He offers Ben an invitation to a Donut Convention.  While Ben reads and rejects the offer, Titanium Chef messes up the shop, boxes up a dozen donuts, and hightails it out of there.  Unable to let this rest, Ben follows after him.
The next morning, the Pack wakes up to find Ben missing and the shop trashed.  Ikura decides to take the case as a true detective, but his detecting skills leave a lot to be desired, as Maguro and Kani point out.  Miffed, Ikura bets the others that he can solve the case on his own, so Tako bets him a week's worth of chores that *he* can solve it first.  Kani and Wasabi get in on the action, too, although Maguro knows that they have to work together to find Ben.
Kani gets down to searching the scene of the crime and stumbles on a leaf (looks more like a feather to me).  She tries to identify it using a big book o' leaves, but halfway through she admits that she's getting nowhere.  Maguro knows all about plants, but Kani is determined to solve the case on her own and win the bet.
It took all night, but Ben tracked down Titanium Chef (although it should be noted that he doesn't realize who's behind the shadow) to an old warehouse.  But Titanium Chef discovers him all to easily.  Soon he has Ben tied to a chair and locked in a room, where he taunts him by telling him, "It will soon be mine."  And he is seriously rocking a deadpan voice, let me tell you.
Meanwhile, Ikura surveys the crime scene and takes photos of shoeprints left in the mess.  He recognizes Ben's shoes, but the other prints are a mystery.  He knows that Tako "is so into shoes" that he'd know them in a heartbeat, but he has to win the bet!  Maguro also takes up the case on her own, mostly to spite the others, and dusts for prints.  But with Ben keeping the place so clean, she can't find anything.  Instead, she notices that his cookbooks are all strewn about behind the counter, and deduces that whoever did it was looking for the recipe to Ben's new Green Donut Deluxe.  She opens a book with Oleander's face on the cover and judges from the recipes inside that Oleander must have needed something more appetizing than her usual fare.  But a quick look at the TV reveals that Oleander's been doing a live marathon for ten hours so far, giving her an airtight alibi.  Maguro is stumped on who else could have wanted the recipe.
Wasabi follows the trail out of the shop and into town, as he imagines the others doing his bidding for a week once he cracks the case.  But he goes too far and loses the trail in the bad part of town, suddenly remorseful that he went off on his own.  Back with Ben, Titanium Chef interrogates him to try and get the recipe, but Ben's not talking.  Unagi calls him via walky-talky, but Titanium Chef tells him not to touch the donuts, he'll handle them himself.  He continues to interrogate Ben, and does a dance of rage when Ben refuses to tell him anything yet again.  At one point Ben does agree to talk, but pulls a "just kidding" as soon as Titanium Chef pulls out a pad and paper.  Fugu opens the door a crack to ask Titanium Chef about something, but the Chef does not appreciate being interrupted and sends him away.
At the Green Donut, Tako finds the invitation to the Donut Convention and calls the number on the card.  He recognizes the voicemail on the other end of the line, but mentally doublechecks it against Oleander, Paradoxter, and Titanium Chef just to be sure.  Although he knows it's Titanium Chef, he can't figure out what he would want with Ben, and figures Kani might know, but since part of her bet includes rubbing her feet, he can't give in and ask her.  So every member of the Pack has reached an impasse with their investigation.
Titanium Chef finally reveals his face to Ben, who doesn't get why he wants the recipe either, seeing as he runs a sushi restaurant.  But apparently the Green Donut Deluxe is so popular that no one wants sushi anymore, so his business is taking a dive.  Somehow, I don't think that's the problem, Chef.  Tired of getting nothing from Ben, Titanium Chef goes to take matters into his own hands.
Ikura faces the facts: he needs help solving the case, and calls off the bet.  Everyone gathers around to share the evidence they found, and Maguro quickly deduces from Tako and Ikura's evidence that the Green Donut Deluxe's popularity is putting Titanium Chef out of business (again, why would the two even affect each other?).  With Kani's leaf (red cypress) and Wasabi's tire tracks direction (east), Maguro figures out where Titanium Chef must be holding Ben, and the Pack takes off to rescue him!
Back at the warehouse, Titanium Chef prepares to analyze the chemical makeup of the Green Donut Deluxes that he took earlier, leaving nothing for the Legion of Low Tide to do, so he sends them away, and even goes so far as to fire them (he's probably just cranky because they've been bugging him this entire mission).  But that's right about when the Sushi Pack arrives.  There isn't time to crack the code on the locked door, but fortunately for them, there's a shaft they can go through that leads them right to the kitchen.  But how to get the Chef away from the donuts?  Tako has a plan...
Ikura sets off the alarm on the front door, and while the Chef rushes off to see what's what, Wasabi shimmies down and chomps up the donuts lickety-split.  At the same time, Tako and Maguro rescue Ben, and he crawls up the duct with them, and they all get outside just as Titanium Chef reaches the door.  He chases the Pack half-heartedly, but the size difference works against him and they get away.  As they go, the Chef laments the imminent bankrupcy of his sushi bar.
Back at the Green Donut, they all share a donut toast while Maguro divies out the chores for all the bettors (not including herself, of course).  But there's one thing she forgot: who'll rub Kani's feet?  No one wants to, though I don't really understand why.  They don't look any different than anyone else's feet, and if anyone would have stinky feet, I'd think it would be Ikura or Wasabi.
Now, I'm just wondering, how exactly did Titanium Chef know that it was the Green Donut Deluxe that was stealing people away from his sushi and not something else, or even just the economic times?  I'm thinking it went something like this:
Titanium Chef: Can I help you?
Customer: *looks over menu* Do you have anything like that Green Donut Deluxe?
Titanium Chef: Madam, this is a sushi bar, not a donut shop.  Why would we have donuts here?
Customer: Oh, that's too bad.  I guess I'll just go to the Green Donut, then.
But honestly, a world where sushi restuarants can go out of business thanks to donuts?  That is seriously messed up.  No wonder he resorted to crime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Latest on the 2009 SSC Revamp

The Toy Fair was last weekend, and with it came the debut of the prototypes of the upcoming Strawberry Shortcake toys from Hasbro. (You can also see the impending new look of My Little Pony, if you're so inclined.) In my opinion, half of the toys look very cute, but the other half look just plain weird. My personal favorites are the mostly plush dolls, and the figure that comes with the DVD.
To go along with the Toy Fair, Hasbro put up a bunch of press releases, including one for Strawberry Shortcake that gives descriptions of a handful of the toys debuted, and clues the reader in to a sneak peek website for the new look. There isn't too much at the moment, coloring pages of all the characters, a redesigned game from the main site, but there is a page of profiles for all the characters, which is a draw for me. I note that when I visited the site yesterday, there were two videos up, A Berry Grand Opening and the Interview, but now there's only the Interview. Hm...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dinosaur Comics - Midas Touch

(Click for full-sized Retelling of King Midas)
I have been meaning to add Dinosaur Comics to my list of webcomic links for a while now (like a couple of years), but I always felt I had to read the whole archive first, and after reading through a few months at a time I would forget about it until someone linked to it again.  But this comic, originally from last November) clinches it: I'm adding Dinosaur Comics to my links list right now.  Seriously, I have not laughed this hard at anything in a good long time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oscars and Best Song Nominees - Keep Going Downhill

Apparently, despite there only being three nominated Best Songs, this year's Oscars are doing them all as a medley, rather than giving each song a full runtime.  That's why Peter Gabriel wants nothing to do with it, and I can't say I blame him.  I mean, seriously, why does the Academy keep giving the nominated songs the short shrift? Either nominating too few or nominating too many from one movie (which amounts to the same thing, really), and now this?  I mean, honestly, what do they think they have to make time for?  I guess we'll find out on Sunday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Character Meme snagged from Esme

1. Tako
2. Masatsuki Nenga
3. Vidia
4. McKenna
5. Kani
6. Ranban
7. Hadagi
8. Titanium Chef
9. Tadase Hotori
10. Miss Calamity
11. Tenderheart (AiCaL)
12. Mr. Small

1) Who would make a better college professor: 6 or 11?
Probably Ranban, although he'd definitely be the type to lord it over his students. I just can't picture Tenderheart teaching.

2) Do you think 2 is hot? How hot?
Not exactly hot, but incredibly cute in an exasperating kind of way.

3) 12 sends 8 on a mission. What is it, and does it succeed?
Mr. Small would ask Titanium Chef to bring him and Mr. Nosy some sushi, of course. Titanium Chef would have the Legion members deliver, but they'd be stopped by the Sushi Pack initially, until the Pack found out they were just doing an honest delivery.

4) What is, or would be, 9's favorite book?
I honestly have no clue what Tadase's favorite book would be. But his chara-changed self probably loves How to Rule the World: a Handbook for the Aspiring Dictator.

5) Would it make more sense for 2 to swear fealty to 6, or the other way around?
I swear I did not due this on purpose, but Masatsuki (2) already swore fealty to Ranban (6) in the show, so there you go.

6) For some reason, 5 is looking for a room-mate. Should they share a studio apartment with 9, or 10?
Kani needs a roommate, eh?  Neither Tadase nor Miss Calamity is that great a match for her, but she's less likely to lose her damage deposit if she rooms with Tadase.  Plus, I can totally see her fangirling him in the much the same way as Amu.

7) 2, 7, and 12 have dinner together. Where do they go, and what do they discuss?
Masatsuki, Hadagi, and Mr. Small... probably a ramen shop.  Whether or not they would discuss their feelings on being secondary characters, I can't really say.

8) 3 challenges 10 to a duel. What happens?
Obviously, Vidia would want to race, and would win, even if her opponent wasn't the most accident prone of the Little Misses.  For the record, Miss Calamity managed to get tied up in her own shoelaces.

9) If 1 stole 8's most precious possession, how would they get it back?
Tako stole The Book of Chum Chop?!  Titanium Chef would no doubt utilize a brilliant disguise to get the book back.

10) Suggest a title for a story in which 7 and 12 both attain what they most desire.
Hadagi and Mr. Small getting what they most desire?  Not quite sure what it would be for Mr. Small, so he can share Hadagi's.  Thus, the title would be "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

11) What kind of plot device would you use if you wanted 4 and 1 to work together?
McKenna and Tako?  Obviously, the world would be in danger (or maybe just one town) while Tako went on vacation.  Away from the rest of the Pack, he has to rely on McKenna and the power of her belly badge charms!

12) If 7 visited you for the weekend, how would you get along?
We'd probably get along just fine.

13) If you could command 3 to perform any one task or service for you, what would it be?
Doesn't matter, since she'd never do anything for a Clumsy like me.

14) Does anyone on your friends list resemble 11 (either in appearance or personality)?
Tenderheart?  Not really.

15) If 2 had to choose sides between 4 and 5, which would it be?
What would Kani and McKenna be up at arms about in the first place?  Then again, they both can be pretty crabby, so it wouldn't take much.  Masatsuki would take the side of whichever one appeared to be in the right, which would vary depending on the circumstances.

16) What might 10 shout while charging into battle?
Something akin to "I have a bad feeling about this!"

17) If you chose a song to represent 8, which song would you choose?
Jethro Tull - Man of Principle

18) 1, 6, and 12 are having dim sum at a Chinese restaurant. There is only one scallion pancake left, and they all reach for it at the same time. Who gets to eat it?
Ranban would get it, simply because of his size advantage over Tako and Mr. Small, even if he's not in his mail suit.

19) What might be a good pick-up line for 2 to use on 10?
I'm horrible at thinking up pick-up lines, and I'm especially drawing a blank on something for Masatsuki to use on Miss Calamity.  Mostly because he's too earnest and/or naive to use pick-up lines.

20) What would 5 most likely be arrested for?
Aw, Kani?  Probably talking back to a police officer when pulled over.

21) What is 6's secret?
Well, he tries to keep his true form a secret from most people, even going so far as to send a servant who accidently saw it down a trapdoor.

22) If 11 and 9 were racing to a destination, who would get there first?
Tenderheart, no question.  

23) If you had to walk home through a bad neighborhood late at night, would you feel safer in the company of 7 or 8?
Titanium Chef, no question.  No offense, Hadagi.

24) 1 and 9 reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by 4's sinister secret organization. 11 volunteers to help them, but it is later discovered that he/she is actually a spy for 4. Meanwhile, 4 has kidnapped 12 in an attempt to force their surrender. Following the wise advice of 5, they seek out 3, who gives them what they need to complete their quest. What title would you give this fic?
Tako and Tadase team up with help from Tenderheart, but he's really McKenna's spy?  And she kidnapped Mr. Small.  Kani tells them to find Vidia, and she gives them something to get Mr. Small back?  That's one weird plot.  I'd call it "Tako's Strangest Day Ever."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Space Pirate Mito Revisited - Disc Four

Episode Eleven - Fear and Power/Osore to Chikara!
The battle continues to rage as Ranban's troops try to break through the Royal Army's barrier.  Ranban takes charge of the search for Aoi himself, and sends Mutsuki back to the Dainagon for doing exactly what her father did before her: not arresting an important criminal when he had the chance.  Meanwhile, repairs continue on the Chunagon, but it's going to be a while before it's ready to fly.  Despite everyone (and I mean everyone) piling on top of her, Mito dons her mail suit to out and look for Aoi.
As she waits for her punishment, Mutsuki thinks back to when she was just a little girl (and Masatuski was a baby), and the time she spent with her dad, when he told her that his job was protecting the galaxy's harmony.  She hopes Aoi will be safe, but that's not a given with Ranban's forces on the loose.  It's a wonder Aoi was able to stay hidden while unconscious (from the blast he produced in the previous episode).  In order to get back to his mom, he climbs the side of a cliff, which fortunately for him gives him a direct view of the shielded Chunagon being fired at.  Realizing he can't get close to the ship, he falls off the cliff, and only an opportune tree branch keeps him from falling into the Galactic Patrol's clutches.  Somehow he finds a cave to take shelter in and ruminate on how he can't really do anything except make blasts that knock him unconscious, when suddenly, his mother appears!  Aoi gives her a hug, but realizes just a little too late that it's unhelmeted Ranban, and not Mito (man, those identical mail suits!).  Ranban kisses him on the lips, sending Aoi to sleep (it's not elaborated on, but I'm guessing there was some kind of tranquilizing lipstick involved).  As rehelmeted Ranban takes Aoi into his transport ship, Masatsuki begs him to be lenient on his sister.  Ranban promises nothing, but as he turns to leave, Sabu leaps into action!  Her attack is a ruse, however, to let Shin sneak up on Ranban and Masatsuki.  Ranban, however, has enough power to actually send her flying, and on top of that, actually harm her (and Masatsuki).  While his enemies are down, he takes off in the transport ship posthaste, leaving Masatsuki behind.  Mito arrives just in time to grab onto the ship and sneak onto the Dainagon that way.
Aoi's classmates have also been captured, and Mutsuki is the one to bring them their food.  Although she dons the official Galactic Patrol mask to keep from being recognized, they recognize her voice anyway.  And when an ill-timed mushroom pops her mask off, Kafuko does some quick styling, making Mutsuki's hair just like it was in her human disguise.  But even though her secret is out, she can't go against the Galactic Patrol and help them, and when her friends push her too hard about Aoi, she runs off without even changing the freeze-dried students (and Miss Okubo) back to normal.  As she leaves, she sees the ground troops have returned and asks about Aoi.  They tell her that he was captured, and she feels better knowing he's safe, until she notices that Masatsuki wasn't with the rest of the troops.
Aoi wakes up in a circular room, and is immediately engulfed in flames, making him relive that flashback we all know and love.  It's actually an experiment, and although the flames aren't real, they're extremely lifelike.  Ranban has the scientists raise the level, and Aoi emits enough power to endanger the ship.  Regardless, Ranban has the experiment continue.  Eventually, Aoi destroys the room and the controls for the experiment, and passes out.  Ranban concludes that he has found the true seal at last.  
Unconscious, Aoi sits in a white plane, remembering things (only one memory is new footage) and feeling sorry for himself.  He is approached by the shadow of his father, and the two embrace.  Meanwhile, Mutsuki tries to get someone to help her find Masatsuki, but protocol keeps everyone at their post.  During her search, Ranban has Aoi, still unconscious, wheeled to another room.  She approaches Ranban, but is slapped away by one of the guards.  Ranban says nothing, and Mutsuki heads off with determination.  At the same time, the Galactic Patrol issues an ultimatum to Mito on the Chunagon, unaware that it's actually a shape-shifted Shin, and unaware that Masatsuki has been taken into the Chunagon's custody.  The real Mito, to get further on the Dainagon, leaves her mail suit behind as a decoy.
Alone, Ranban exhults to the not-actually-there Mito that he now has taken everything from her: the galaxy, the seal, the royal sword, and even her son, whom he is keeping naked in his private quarters.  To further enjoy the moment, Ranban desuits and then rages against the mirror and Mito, claiming she could never understand the curse he lives under, hating himself but still being forced to live (by whom?).  He's just about to kill Aoi to spite Mito when the pirate herself arrives.

Episode Twelve - Our Seal/Waga Inrou!
Mito and Ranban banter for a few moments, then Mito runs to Aoi's naked body, only to find that it was just a hologram, a trap set by Ranban.  He starts getting philosophical on Mito, commenting on how they are mirror images of each other (um, not really), as are their lives.  And then he flashes back to his 10,000th birthday, when it was revealed that he is neither man nor woman (but had been claiming to be male), and thus he was imprisoned, went insane, and staged a coup d'etat by blowing up his home planet.  Mito was away at the time, so she survived, and was happy to let Ranban rule as long as he was a fair ruler, but if not, she vowed to go pirate on his ass.  As the flashback ends, Ranban reveals that he has the true seal this time around.
Back on the Chunagon, repairs are slowly but surely being completed.  Carson finishes the repairs to bridge, but is told to avoid the engines, since his species can't take the heat, so to speak.  Masatsuki, nearby for some reason, laughs at Carson's apparent uselessness.  It looks like Carson's going to silence Masatsuki for good, but he instead frees him and tells him how to escape.  Masatsuki can't go without knowing why a rebel would help a Galactic Patrolman, so Conrad tells him about how Masatsuki's father saved his life.  He was once on the Galactic Patrol, but defected and was labeled a pirate.  Trapped in the pull of a black hole, he was rescued by Colonel Nenga.  Masatsuki realizes that this was the incident that disgraced his family's name, but rather than be upset about it, he's overjoyed that his father honored his convictions over his duties as a patrolman, and starts helping out with repairs to the ship.
Mutsuki finally reaches her determined destination, and frees her former classmates so they can help her save Aoi.  They crawl through the ducts to the real room where Aoi is being held (still naked), and crash through the ceiling, with most of the girls landing on Aoi.  Kafuko is bewildered by Aoi's apparent girl parts, and another girl who isn't named is bewildered by his lack of man parts.  The boys cover Aoi with a sheet, but don't seem to notice (or keep quiet about it if they do).  Their crash landing did not go unnoticed, but there are too many of them to escape without help.  They need to contact the pirates!
In the dreamscape, Aoi gets a pep talk from his dad, who keeps emphasizing that Aoi needs to save Mito, not the other way around.  Then he disappears, and Aoi wakes up, to the relief of all his friends.  Now fully dressed (and apparently not caring or not aware of his sudden boobs), he leads the charge through the Dainagon, executing karate moves that he didn't even know he knew.  As they race to the communication room, Aoi feels another shock like he did before, but stronger than before.  
The Chunagon is finally ready to get back in action, and leaves the protective shield, wiping out all immediate enemy forces.  Aoi is able to contact them, and Masatsuki and Mutsuki are reunited, kind of.  To help Aoi, Sobo uses her royal command to merge the Chunagon with the Dainagon, and the crew rushes in to do whatever they can to help their cause.  Sabu and Shin neutralize the troops going after Aoi and the others, and Masatsuki and Mutsuki are reunited for real this time.  Although faced with the safety of the Chunagon, Aoi goes back into the fray, and Mutsuki follows after him.  The other boys are prepared to fight, but Miss Okubo stops them.
Mito and Ranban have been fighting all this time, saber to saber, but Ranban uses his helmeted suit to detain Mito while he enters his mail suit.  It looks like Ranban has the advantage, but he slashes through a wall that leads Mito directly to her own mail suit, evening the odds.  Ranban still believes he has the advantage because, being neither male nor female, he has powers Mito does not, and even in six months, the wound in her shoulder hasn't completely healed.  He manages to knock Mito out of her mail suit, just as Aoi finally makes it to them.

Episode Thirteen: Seize the Happy Ending!/Ryakudatsuse yo. Daidanen! (Let's Pillage.  Grand Finale!)
Mito's crew do as much damage to the Dainagon as they possibly can, and manage to bring down the forcefield around the town.  But while all that was going on, the Galactic Patrol's enormous Galactic Cannon was approaching, and now it's set its sights on Earth!  Meanwhile, Aoi grabs Mito's light saber to fight Ranban, but gets another shock.  Ranban, however, doesn't plan on killing Aoi, since Aoi himself is the seal, the switch that powers the royal sword.  But that doesn't mean, he won't play with Aoi a little, and slaps him around with the light saber, all while boasting about how Aoi is powerless without his bracelet, an enhancer that brings out his powers.  Despite hearing this, Aoi goes forth to protect his mother, and emits a blast of energy so powerful that it blows him and Ranban straight through to the top of the ship, without the bracelet.  Ranban can't fathom how this could be, but Mito sets him straight: the enhancer was really a limiter, and now Aoi's powers have been unleashed unchecked!  
Ranban proceeds to lose it, slowly advancing on Aoi while spouting nonsequiters about being left behind and the mirror looking at him.  He and Aoi fight for real, with Mito's crew cheering Aoi on from the top of the ship, and his classmates doing the same from the Chunagon.  Aoi slices off one of the mail suit's arms and begs Ranban to just surrender already.  But by then the Galactic Cannon is lined up with the Dainagon, and Ranban teleports away.  He shoots a beam directly at Japan, surrounding everyone with a dark light.  A second beam starts powering up, and if no one stops it, Earth will be destroyed!  
Sabu takes off with Mito and Aoi, and Sobo guides them to the launching pad for the royal sword.  Once there, Aoi is flung into the system and suspended in the air while the starting sequence boots up.  Mito tosses him the bracelet, but when he puts it on, he gets another shock.  Ranban fires, and Mito activates the sword, but it doesn't work, due to Aoi's sex not being determined.  Sobo explains to Aoi's classmates how their species doesn't become male or female until they become adults, and Shin figures that up until then, Kagerou's genes dominated, so Aoi was male.  Sobo suspects foul play on Ranban's part, but that's neither here nor there, as Aoi has to become a definite gender or the Earth will be destroyed.  Mito tries to get his hormones flowing by making out with him, but since she's a. his mom and b. looks like a little kid, it doesn't work.  But Mutsuki might be able to do it...
With the beam from the Space Cannon drawing ever closer, Mutsuki kisses Aoi ever so gently on the lips and the controls suddenly spring to life!  The Dainagon transforms into a giant sword, and a model sword appears in front of Aoi that he uses to control the Dainagon like Mito controlled the Chunagon a few episodes ago.  He slices the cannon completely in half, and it explodes just like that.  The Dainagon goes back to being a ship, and Aoi falls as his bracelet breaks.  In the dreamscape again, he finds himself in his house, and his father thanks him for protecting Mito.  He bids his father farewell.
Meanwhile, Mito's crew hastily carries the unconscious Aoi to the Chunagon.  Mito explains to Mutsuki that she made Aoi the switch for the royal sword so Ranban wouldn't kill him if he ever captured him.  She knew that Aoi's powers would activate some day, because her genes would dominate eventually, and gave Kagerou the bracelet to give to Aoi if anything happened to him.  But when Kagerou knew his end was coming, he gave it to Aoi early, telling him it was an amulet.  During this exposition, they reach the Chunagon, and Mito takes over as captain.  The Chunagon disengages from the Dainagon, which sinks into the ocean.  Aoi wakes up, and Mito embraces her son, a touching scene that leaves no dry eye on the Chunagon.
Later, all the freeze-dried humans are turned back to normal, and any survivors of the space cannon are rescued by the Royal Army.  This includes Ranban, who asks to be killed, now that his grand plan has been destroyed.  He excuses himself by saying he just wanted to get back what he lost: status, the galaxy, and Mito.  Masatsuki steps up to the plate for Ranban, begging Mito to spare his life because he was a good leader.  But Mito never planned to kill him, so it's all good.  There's still just one matter to be cleared up, and Aoi's classmates take it on themselves to clear it up: Aoi is indeed a female now.  Mito doesn't care whether she has a daughter or son, and Mutsuki is okay with shoujo-ai, but the rest of his classmates are not so cavalier about it, and Aoi  is definitely not okay with it.
Regardless, Aoi is crowned Queen of the Galaxy, mainly because Mito didn't want to do it.  Ranban drives off with most of the Galactic Patrol to points unknown, and Aoi follows his lead and takes off on his own in the Shonagon to try and find his missing manhood.  Mito has Mutsuki and Masatsuki take charge as they follow after him, and the series proper draws to a close.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fun on Gaia: Genderbending

Of course, I have too much fun with the evolving items and their need to fit both male and female avatars.  And by 'too much,' I mean 'over an hour's worth.'  Kind of makes me want to write up an epic fairy tale about these two, or something.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dear School Gang Leader/Aa, Itoshi no Banchou-sama

Please read right to left (and click to see fullsize):

I've been reading Dear School Gang Leader (Aa, Itoshi no Banchou-sama), but this is the first time I laughed out loud.  I think it's the beat before the shop owner's line that does it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Space Pirate Mito Revisted - Disc Three

Episode Eight - Broken Hearts Aplenty/Yaburareta Kokoro (A Heart Smashed to Pieces)
Picking up where the last episode left off, Ranban congratulates Aoi on having enough guts to touch him/her (I'm going to keep refering to him as a him, for simplicity's sake), but reassures him that he is merely wearing a mail suit, and his true form, just like Mito's, is beneath the surface.  Seeing Ranban's mail suit, Aoi suddenly remembers the rest of the flashback he had last time: his mother trying to open the hatch to get away from the flame, his toddler self crying, and Mail Suit Ranban appearing from nowhere.  Ranban goes on to explain that the mail suit is modeled after the first Queen of the Galaxy, and all members of the royal family wear them.  Aoi is thoroughly confused: if his mom is royalty, why is she also a pirate?  Speaking of Mito, she opens up communication with Ranban, and agrees to come quietly.  Her crew tries to say their farewells, but Mito assures them she'll be back soon.  
While Mito is escorted to the bridge, Mutsuki tries to get to Aoi.  Barred from the elevator, she finds a ladder and climbs, all the while wondering what Aoi's true intentions were the other day.  On the bridge, Mito and Ranban exchange "pleasantries" before getting down to business: Mito will give Ranban the amulet once he lets Aoi go.  Reunited, Mito asks Aoi for the bracelet he wears, and Aoi once again guesses that it's the seal, although Mito still doesn't give him a straight answer.  As he takes it off, he feels a strange kind of shock run down his spine, but he gives the bracelet to his mother regardless.  Before Ranban can take it, Mutsuki arrives, still trying to get to Aoi on the bridge, despite being captured by the guards.  Mito takes the interruption as a chance to kick some action, and her ridiculous ribbons become electified, shocking most of the guards in the room.  Shin, who bypassed the sensors due to being synthetic, manages to surround the rest, leaving Mito free to target Ranban directly.
Ranban easily swats away the ribbons, but then Mito's glasses start emitting a high-power fire beam that Ranban still manages to evade.  In the ensuing fracas, Mutsuki gets knocked down, and though Aoi runs to her, Masatsuki gets to her first and warns Aoi to keep away.  The room is suddenly filled with warning bells and signs on the screens, and Mito tosses the bracelet back to Aoi.  She and Ranban continue their fight, and soon it looks like Ranban has the upperhand, which he claims is because he has the strongest of the royal family's mail suits, and without a suit, Mito has no hope of defeating him.  But just as Ranban's about to strike the finishing blow, his light saber merely slashes through Mito's ribbons, as she managed to manuever herself into the air and behind him, the perfect location to activate the suit's glitch.
As the glitch takes hold, Ranban's light saber falls in front of Aoi, and he remembers even more of the firey flashback: Ranban and Mito fighting suit to suit while he cried in the background, a chunk of the ceiling falling, Mito suddenly suitless, and him crawling on suitless Mito, begging her to give back his mom.  Back in the present, he watches the deja vu-y fight between Ranban and Mito (guess the glitch doesn't last as long in a stronger suit), and picks up the light saber.  With a mighty yell, he powers it up (holy phallic imagery, Batman!), and strikes a blow in the name of his mother...that hits Mito.  She falls to the ground with a smile on her face.
Stunned by what he's done, Aoi is powerless to stop Ranban from just walking up to him and taking the bracelet off of his arm.  While Ranban crows, Mito uses what little strength she has left to reach the controls in her glasses, powering up the Shonagon (the ship she took to the Dainagon) and striking a blow from the inside, the signal for the Chunagon to start firing.  The ship extends a sword-like protuberance and prepares to ram the Dainagon, which is in a chaos Ranban tries to contain.  
While all that is going on, Aoi kneels beside his mother, still prostrate on the floor, and is finally able to call her Mom.  She's just glad he's fine, and as the Shonagon approaches the bridge, Shin and Aoi prop Mito up and take her to it.  Ranban catches them just in time, and Mito's pure rage for Ranban getting her son mixed up in all this gives her a second wind, granting her the energy to leap at Ranban, knock the light saber from his hand, and knock him to the ground.   The two royals grapple with each other, and Mito yells for Shin to get herself and Aoi out of there.  More guards arrive, and Ranban shakes Mito off, but Shin and Aoi are able to get away.  Aoi, just like his mother, immediately wants to go back, and it's only a quick slap to the back of the neck from Shin that keeps him from commandering the controls.  
Shin drops Aoi on the beach back on Earth, then goes back to the Chunagon to report what all happened on the Dainagon.  Sobo finally gives us the backstory on Aoi's flashback: when he was four, Mito took him to space so he could meet his grandmother, but Ranban captured them instead, and that repressed memory was why he had such a hard time accepting Mito's true form (the dub further elaborates that this memory is why he shot his mother, an action he would have taken when he was younger if he had the chance).  The Dainagon retreats, but not before shining a bright light on the entire town that erased all memories of any aliens from the entire town.  Aoi, still on the beach, suddenly sees the entire series so far flash before his eyes, before falling over.  The Chunagon follows after the Dainagon, while everyone left on Earth wonders what they were just doing.
In her quarters, Mutsuki sits, depressed, and can't even muster a shred of enthusiasm for Masatsuki, who has become a member of the Elite Forces.  Ranban, rehelmeted, watches Mito suspended in a tube of liquid (what are those things called, anyway?).  Back on Earth. life is going on as it usually is.  On his way to school, Aoi notices his bracelet is gone, but as he wonders what he did with it, he hears the voice of his father call out to him...

Episode Nine: Ranban and Mito!/Ranban to Mito!
Masatsuki narrates the official order from Ranban to eliminate the memories of all aliens from (stupid) humans, and his own farewell to the plan, but goes too far and narrates the episode title (which is usually silent).  Six months have passed since that climactic battle.  Aoi often dreams of his mother and father leaving him, and feels that his dad is trying to tell him something through these dreams.
At the Galactic Patrol Headquarters, Ranban takes some time outside of his mail suit, only to be caught suitless by a servant, whom he sends down a hole through the floor, before suiting up, both in the mail suit and his cloak and helmet, once again.  Meanwhile, Mutsuki has quit the Galactic Patrol and spends her days playing happy homemaker while Masatsuki is away on missions.  Lately, he's started to question Ranban's tactics to maintain his rule at any cost, but he keeps his doubts to himself.
Mito has been imprisoned all this time, and on this particular day Ranban pays her a visit, trying to get her to reminisce with him.  It seems that when they were young, they promised to rule together (considering that Mito is over 12,000 years old, and Ranban is likely close to that as well, how long ago was this, anyway?).  Ranban also goes on about how their royal blood has special stuff in it which gives them unlimited power, but Mito writes this off as just meaning they can marry anyone (and by 'marry,' I'm pretty sure she means 'mate with').  Ranban wonders what would have happened if they had been united (and by this, does he also mean mated? I never picked up on that before), but it's all moot since he was barred from being in line for the throne (and Mito was told he simply disappeared), and forbidden to reach maturity(they talk about this more in a later episode, but I still don't quite understand what happened), so eventually he took over by force.  Out of the blue, he offers to let Mito see her son, and even assembles the special forces to take them to Earth.
Meanwhile, Sobo, who has been captain of the Chunagon in Mito's absence, meets with the leaders of two factions of the old Royal Army, who inform her of the huge fortress Ranban has been building.  They pledge their allegiance to Mito and join the crusade against Ranban.  With that in mind, the Chunagon follows the Dainagon to Earth.  Ranban allows Mito to go to the surface without any hindrances, but warns her not to try and escape.  She immediately finds Aoi, but it's obvious he doesn't remember her.  Once Aoi and his friends leave, Ranban teleports down to rub Mito's face in the fact that her son will grow old and die long before she does, and point out that she already lost her husband.  This touches Mito, and it seems she will tell him the the truth about the Amulet (the bracelet wasn't it).  Before anything happens, the Chunagon attacks and Shin arrives to take Mito back to the ship.  Mito is not pleased to see that the Royal Army was brought in, but as her mom points out, what choice did they have?  Mito immediately takes charge and sends Sabu and Shin to go get Aoi.  While they're off, Mito manipulates a hand-held model of the Chunagon to attack the Galactic Patrol's forces with the real ship.
The appearance of the spacecrafts jogs everyone's memories of what happened six months ago, although Aoi, having more to remember than anyone else, has a bit of a breakdown as the memories come flooding back.  The town gets it a lot worse in this battle than it did in the last one, believe you me.  Ranban, thinking back to the last episode, has an idea and calls for Masatsuki.  He reinstates Mutsuki and orders the two of them to capture Aoi for him once again.

Episode Ten: Disaster Revisted/Wazawai Futatabi (Calamity Once Again)
The battle between the Galactic Patrol and Mito's forces rages on into the night, and Ranban, for reasons of his own, seals off the battlefield, including the town below, with a forcefield shield.  This done, a huge Kaizou-kun is sent down to Earth, creating a mecha from everything it landed on top of, all as part of the special forces' search for Aoi.  Masatsuki leads the troops on the ground, and Mutsuki awaits her battilion's deployment with trepidation.
With most of the city unsafe, Aoi, among others, is holed up in the school, still reeling from his earlier mental breakdown.  Without warning, he runs to the roof and calls for his mother, even leaping into the air to get to her...only to land on top of his concerned classmates.  But Aoi isn't the only starting to lose it.  Masatsuki goes a little crazy as the build up from his previous missions starts to take its toll, specifically when he realizes the similarity of the frightened Earthlings watching him comb the town to the other aliens that got turned into instant noodles (the Galactic Patrol's preferred method of capture) during an earlier mission.  The strain is finally too much for him, leading him to shoot things randomly while chanting, "Justice!"  Reaching the school, he demands Aoi give himself up, and begins spouting 'facts' about him, only half of which are true (at one point, he seems to have mixed Aoi up with a gremlin), but he includes that fact that Aoi shot his mother and then ran off, which hits Aoi hard.  His friends demand the truth, but Aoi can only sputter, "it's true," leading them to think everything was true, until Aoi spits out the actual true fact and then runs off.  As a show of solidarity, his classmates offer to help him get out without being captured, and thanks to some quick thinking on their teacher's part (she made masks of Aoi's face for everyone), he (and a few others) are able to make it to the street.  Unfortunately, most of the Aoi-lookalikes were turned into noodles, although Masatsuki, still ranting wildly, assures them that they'll turn back to normal with hot water.
Kafuko leads them to a shortcut that leads to her storeroom of cosplay props, but her two cronies were sacrificed along the way.  An announcement goes out to Aoi: give himself up, or the town will be destroyed!  Masatsuki continues to terrorize the school, and Miss Okubo (Aoi's teacher) girds her loins to go and distract the troops and protect the students, using her crazy ninjas skills.  But despite everyone's efforts to get him out of there, Aoi can't let the town be destroyed and gives himself up.  Fortunately, this gets the Chunagon's attention, too, and Mito keeps him from being captured.  She tells him to keep running, since as long as Aoi is in the town, Ranban won't destroy it completely.  Miss Okubo joins him, and they all continue to run.  
Ranban orders all his ships to attack the Chunagon, but the faction of the Royal Army lead by the chicken arrives and gives a big "Who do you think she is?  This is Galactic Princess Mito!" speech, embarrassing Mito quite a bit.  Apparently, the princess bit is news to a lot of Ranban's troops, and he tries to play it off like a trick, urging his troops to keep attacking.  On the ground, Miss Okubo turns on their pursuers with her crazy Teacher Lecture skills, giving the kids more time to run.  Meanwhile, the Chunagon is hit and heads nosedown into the ground.  The Royal Army factions set up a protective shield in the shape of the royal seal that is able to repel Ranban's attack.
On the run, Aoi and the others find Mutsuki, who pulls out her guns and starts reading Aoi his rights.  He calls her by (last) name, surprising the other students, although they do recognize her once Aoi says it.  This, plus the arrival of a fully insane Masatsuki (boasting of 'how many' Aois he's captured, thanks to the masks), remove any shred of resolve to do her duty that she had, and she flies off.  No matter, though, since a host of troops arrive with Masatsuki and surround Aoi and the others.  But one trooper turns on the others, shocking them enough that they don't fire back.  It was Shin all along, and Sabu is not far behind.  While Sabu takes on Masatsuki, Shin gives Aoi back the bracelet.  Masatsuki uses a normal Kaizou-kun to make a mecha from a fallen trooper's gun, and Aoi calls upon his hidden powers to destroy it.  The blast is so powerful that only Sabu and Shin remain conscious, and Aoi is nowhere to be seen.

Bonus episode: The Peaceful Days of the People of Mito
A mini-story.  Mito is challenged by the pirate "too villainous for TV," Masakado.  Mito's cook prepares a salad to celebrate her inevitable victory, made from himself (he's a vegetable alien), and Carson, the rose-loving crew member, gets trampled by everyone else.  Back on Earth, Aoi teaches traditional Japanese dance, but he'd rather be teaching karate.  Miss Okubo hears on the radio that the horse she bet on won, but celebrates a little too close to the principal.  He lets her get away with it...if she buys lunch for everyone.  And Kafuko and her cronies spend the night working on cosplay, though she admits only to herself that it's to get Aoi's attention.
Mito defeats the challenger, as always, so Sabu throws Masakado over the side, where she is picked up (and nearly eaten) by some kind of space eel.  Aoi eats dinner and notices that tomorrow is the day his mom is coming home.  Mito sets a course for Earth, and the caption reads "To be continued in the first episode."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

SSC - Happily Ever After

Despite seeming like it would come out much later in the game, Happily Ever After was released a few days ago. While I already watched one half of it, it was my first time seeing the first segment, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. A few thoughts:
  • Why isn't Ginger Snap part of the cover art? She's in the first story, too!
  • Banana Candy just fails in her duties as a page, but then again, it was Brambleberry's fault for not having a mail box in the first place. Or maybe she had one and Banana Candy just didn't look hard enough for it. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised.
  • What's up with Tangerina Torta suddenly gaining an accent? She never had one before...
  • Why was Brambleberry so pleased that the princess was put to sleep, when she was supposed to vanish forever? I guess she (or the writers) forgot.
  • I was hoping the story would somehow end with the prince and Brambleberry becoming a couple. It's obvious she was crushing on him, and why would he eavesdrop on her if he hadn't followed her to the castle in the first place.
  • Wouldn't Rainbow Sherbert have been more behooved to cover her tracks with "I was saying 'my best friends'" than "'my best friend and my other best friend?'" If you're not listening for it, it's easy to miss an S, and makes more sense than that other phrase. But then again, this is Rainbow Sherbert we're talking about.
  • On the other hand, I'm sort of amused with the lead-in to A Princess Called Rap. Rainbow Sherbet mentions she's thinking about cutting her hair really short, and Angel Cake is all "No! No haircuts ever!" Considering how everyone has gotten superlong hair lately, I'm not surprised she reacted like that. Status quo is god, after all.
  • Was it just me, or was the dialogue really stilted in both stories? I mean, not all the time, but a lot of the time it just didn't flow right, like there was a kink in the deliveries or something.
On the note of 'fairy tales retold so they have almost nothing to do with their origins,' I've noticed that the latest Barbie DVD is called Thumbelina, but according to the synopsis, it's really a modern-day environmentalist tale. But the real reason I'm mentioning this is that the main character gets involved with a human girl named, of all things, Makena. Despite the spelling, the trailer reveals it's pronounced just like McKenna. So, I'm just wondering, what is up with that name? I'm tempted to rent the movie when it comes out just so I can make some sort of comparison post. Makena vs. McKenna!
While I've never checked out any of the Barbie DVDs, I did catch the beginning of Mariposa when it aired on Nickelodeon, and I really was sorely tempted to rent it purely for the snark value. I mean, I only caught the first ten minutes or so, but there was so much wallbanging going on, I wanted to share my thoughts. But I never got around to it, and the urge eventually went away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Space Pirate Mito Revisited - Disc Two

Episode Five - Cupid Strikes Twice/Naresome de hohosome? (Love Starts with a Blush?)
Picking up with the last scene of the previous episode, Mito tells Aoi about how she made a forced landing on Earth (mainly because humans are an endangered species, so the Galactic Patrol wouldn't be able to go after her directly) twenty years ago.  There she met a young man (Kagerou) who had fallen off a cliff and took him home in exchange for all his electronics, which she turned into a primitive transmitter that immediately broke.  Fortunately, Kagerou had some old vacuum tubes, and those did the trick.  Now, all she had to do was wait for her ship to pick her up.
Which took months.  As summer turned to fall and fall to winter, Mito finally lost it and went off on Kagerou about his "friend to the Earth" nature that went directly against her pirate nature.  Now, in all the time she'd been there, he never asked her to explain herself, and even after her outburst he continued to let her live in his house, no questions asked.  With Kagerou, Mito felt safe for the first time in ages, and so as winter turned to spring and the flowers blossomed, so did their love.  On the night of the Firefly Festival, Kagerou took Mito to a secret place to watch the fireflies, but before the sunset, her servo system malfunctioned, and he had to take her home.  The strain was too much for his already-weak system, and he came down with a disease.  Mito took off her mail-suit so she could use what was left of its power to operate on him, revealing her true self in front of him.  But being Kagerou, he didn't mind.
Finally, one day, Mito's ship arrived to get her.  At first, Mito hesitated to leave, but Kagerou gave her a plant to remember him by and sent her on her way.  But the plant worked too well, and she came back to his secret spot, where they watched the fireflies together.
Inspired by her own story, Mito sends Aoi to go after Mutsuki, but she's already left the first aid tent.  But she hasn't gone far, and Aoi invites her back to the festival.  Mito can't resist following, of course, and Masatsuki tries to contact his sister, unaware that she lost her headset/headband.  So he goes after Mito himself, using a clock-inspired mecha this time around.  It even manages to deflect Sabu's missiles, but Shin transforms into a leopard, and Masatsuki's catphobia causes him to accidently defeat himself.
Aoi takes Mutsuki to his father's secret spot, and they share a tender moment, as the night comes to an end.

Episode Six - Love Gone Astray?/Hagureru Koigokoro?
Masatsuki's crunched the numbers, and the most likely reason their plans have failed is that Mito's son is the brains behind his mother's operation.  But Mutsuki just can't believe that Aoi is a spy.  Despite Masatsuki's conviction that Aoi is just trying to fool her, she can't get him out of her mind, so much so that she doesn't even notice the new crop of mushrooms sprouting from her hair (why doesn't Masatsuki ever have this problem?).
A new day dawns with Mito and Aoi saying their respects at the household shrine for Kagerou before rushing off to school without their lunches.  Masatsuki helps Mutsuki get ready for school, as they reaffirm their familial bonds ("All we have is each other," Mutsuki says).  Still, he can't help teasing her a little about her feelings for Aoi, although he does it to remind her not to forget about her duty.
Aoi and Mito seem to be hitting it off all right, as they banter on their way to school, now with Sobo (who brought their lunches) in tow.  But Mito notices a disturbance, a teleportation ripple, and sends Aoi off while she stays behind to investigate.  Hiding in the bushes, she sees Mutsuki in her school disguise, followed by Masatsuki, who gives her a pep talk to keep her resolve up.  Mutsuki and Aoi walk to school, but her thoughts are still in a muddle.  It's obvious to the other girls at school what she's thinking about, and they push her to just admit it already.  Mutsuki is thrown for a loop when she realizes that she does indeed like Aoi, but she just can't admit it, even to herself.  Meanwhile, Mito alerts her mother to what she saw and has her keep Mutsuki under constant surveillance.  Sobo, though, is convinced that Mutsuki's feelings for Aoi are real and not a trick, as Mito thinks.
Resident rich girl Kafuko, having heard that Mutsuki like Aoi, questions her on what it is that attracts Aoi to her, and lists off a litany of Aoi's faults.  Mutsuki calls Kafuko out on her own attraction to Aoi, but Kafuko rebuts her by saying that she cannot possibly like him, due to her station.  Realizing that she and Kafuko are alike, Mutsuki feels a little better.  Little does she know that Mito was able to find the Nengas' cloaked ship, and is about to blow it out of the sky while no one is at home.  Masatsuki, out shopping, is alerted to Mito's plan thanks to a sensor disguised as a hercules beetle, but in his haste to get back, he whams into a pole, and thus sends a train car mecha on autopilot to defend the ship.
The mecha attacks Mito from a distance, making her retaliation shots mostly miss the mark, although a direct hit is not enough to slow this mecha down.  While Mito's distracted, Masatsuki sneaks onto the ship and gets out of there, but Mito just follows him in her smaller ship, the Shonagon.  He calls his sister for help, and as she's currently trying to avoid getting splashed by her classmates in the pool, she eagerly gets out of there.  Again, her mind is muddled: is Aoi really a spy, like her brother said?  
Speaking of Aoi, she catches him rinsing off and gets doused by the water, causing her aqua coating to start smoking.  Although it was an accident, Mutsuki thinks Aoi sprayed her intentionally, knowing that water is toxic to her, and slaps him in front of their classmates and runs off.  Berating herself for her stupidity, she lands in the train car mecha and takes out her frustration on Mito and the others (as they say, Hell knows no fury like a woman scorned), all while yelling out how much she hates Aoi.  Mito is bewildered by this, but Sobo knows what's going on.  
Back at the school, Aoi's classmates urge him to follow after Mutsuki (not aware that she took to the air), and even Kafuko and his teacher step up to the plate to get him off school grounds and back in Mutsuki's arms.  He follows the direction of the explosions that the whole town is talking about and tries to get the two factions to stop fighting by shouting at their ships.  Mito merely tells him not to be an idiot, since the girl he likes is the enemy.  While he tries to convince his mom to let him talk to Mutsuki, Masatsuki fires a shot at Aoi, and Mutsuki takes the brunt of it in the train car mecha, ejecting away and into the ship.  No one is happy with this turn of events, least of all Mutsuki, as she orders her brother to finally report Mito's presence on Earth to headquarters, telling herself that it's the right thing to do.

Episode Seven - Courting Disaster!/Manekareta Saiyaku! (Invited Disaster!)
With the location of Mito's whereabouts confirmed, the Galactic Patrol wastes no time showing up, nor do they bother cloaking their ships.  Ranban personally congratulates the Nengas, and Masatsuki pitches his 'take Aoi hostage to get Mito' plan.  In private, Mutsuki is still smarting from Aoi's apparent betrayal, and Masatsuki leaves her, in disgust, in their quarters.
Seeing the Galactic Patrol's arrival, Mito tries to go out and find Aoi, who hasn't come home since the previous day, but Sabu once again (on Sobo's recommendation) exploits the mail suit's glitch, and goes out to find Aoi herself.  Before the glitch wears off, Shin and Sobo transport themselves and Mito back to her main ship, the Chunagon.  Awake again, Mito takes charge and orders the crew to prepare to take on the Galactic Patrol, and after getting a talking to from her mother, takes her place at the helm.  They reach Earth and open fire on Ranban's ship, the Dainagon, but nothing changes.  Mito realizes that the Galactic Patrol plans to hold the town hostage until they get Aoi and the seal, and laughs out loud, finally feeling like her old, pirate, self again.
While Sabu is searching for Aoi, Aoi is trying to get back home, only to run into...Mutsuki?  She holds him tight and tells him that nothing will stand in the way of their love, only for them to be blown apart by the force of an explosion behind them.  The gig is nearly up when a cat shows up, chasing Mutsuki.  Tired of the game, she sprays Aoi and the cat, who both fall over unconscious.  She flies Aoi to her ship, but not before Sabu sees them.  She latches onto the ship, but Mutsuki fires at her, and a full blast is too much even for a cyborg such as Sabu, who falls to ground.
When Aoi wakes up, he is surrounded by Galactic Patrol officers and faced by Mutsuki, who reveals herself to actually be Masatsuki, claiming revenge on Aoi for breaking his sister's heart.
Meanwhile, Mito gets fed up with attacking GP ships, and decides to go for the Dainagon itself, despite warnings from Shin and her mother that that's exactly what Ranban wants.  They set up a decoy Chunagon, then head straight into the Dainagon's line of fire.  Shots end up hitting the town below, including a direct hit on the school's courtyard.
Ranban faces the captive Aoi, greeting him with "Hisashiburi ne?" ("It's been a while, hasn't it?")  Aoi doesn't remember, so Ranban fills in the blanks: apparently Mito took him into space when he was very young once, like two or three.  Suddenly Aoi remembers his mother and the fire that he remembered back in episode three, only this time he also remembers a dark figure that doesn't look much like Ranban.  Ranban insists that this time Mito will lose everything, and contacts her just as the crew finds Sabu, still too hurt from the fall to do much.  Ranban refuses to show Aoi to Mito, but promises that he hasn't been hurt, but he will be charged for her crimes if she doesn't give herself up, and gives her some time to think about it.  Mito, of course, can't just give in, nor can she give her son up.  Sobo reminds her of Aoi's psychic powers, but they haven't been seen since episode three, so Mito doesn't believe he can make it out on his own.  Neither does Mutsuki, who has been locked in her quarters by her own brother.
Mito is bound and determined to face Ranban, but her crew, even Sabu and Shin, refuse to let her go, not even when she pulls her light saber on them.  Only by appealing to their softer side does she get them to go along with her.  Meanwhile, Mutsuki manages to crack the lock and heads for the bridge, where Aoi is being held by Ranban.  Aoi remembers that his dad told him the bracelet would give him the courage to protect himself and his mom, and makes a break for it.  He doesn't get too far before Ranban stops him with a slap, but Aoi knocks off his helmet in the process, revealing a smirking face that looks just like his mail-suited mother!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Space Pirate Mito Revisted - Disc one

I decided to separate these posts by disc.  The Complete Anthology keeps the setup of the original discs (as far as I can recall, anyway), complete with original special features (although none of the discs have very much.  This first disc only has the clean opening and trailers) and episode count.  The episode title given in the subtitles occassionally differs from the actual Japanese, so I've included the subtitle, the actually Japanese, and my translation, if needed.

Episode 1: Mother Returns/Atashi ga Mito! (I'm Mito!)
The series begins with Aoi Mitsukuni remembering one of the few memories he has of his father, the two of them visiting an old castle, and his father giving him a bracelet.  Current day, Aoi is 15, his dad has been dead for ten years, and he's waiting for his mother, who works as a supermodel in New York, to come home for her annual visit.
Meanwhile, up in space, the titular space pirate, who looks like a little kid with glasses and a ridiculous ribbon in her hair, pushes her crew to reach their destination, but the entire ship is captured en route by the Galactic Patrol.  Not to be held back, Mito puts on a mail suit that makes her look like an adult and races through their captor's ship, looking for the controls.  She is detained by Ranban, head of the GP, who demands she give him the seal so he can uphold justice in the galaxy.  Initially Mito fights him with a light saber, but then just shoots his weapon out of his hand with the same light saber.  However, Ranban manages to get a holo-picture of Aoi from Mito, and makes off with it, driving Mito crazy.  In order to escape, her second-in-command, Sabu, exploits a glitch in Mito's mail suit that turns it off, and they get out.  Although upset, Mito realizes that she's already late, and takes off on her own in a smaller ship, the Shonagon. 
In his shadowy hall, Ranban commands his special officers Masatsuki and Mutsuki Nenga to capture Aoi, Mito's son (although I'm not sure how he knew he was her son just from the picture.  Must have intuited it from her reaction).
Back on Earth, and with yet another train not bearing his mother coming and going, Aoi decides to see if his mother somehow made it back to the house without him noticing.  He catches Mito sans mail suit there, but he doesn't recognize her and grabs her, thinking she's a thief.  She gets away from him.  He later finds a newly mail-suited Mito, and asks her if she saw a little girl go by, but Mito feigns ignorance.  They go and pay their respects at the grave.  While there, Mito sends her son away, sensing the presence of the Nengas.  As soon as Aoi is gone, Mutsuki goes to arrest Mito, but Mito instead pulls out a huge bazooka, and the fight is on.  Mito leads Mutsuki away from the graveyard and into a construction area.  Aoi follows after the trail of shots from their weapons.  Mutsuki is overpowered by Mito, so Masatsuki shows up and starts going off on a spiel, but Mito shoots at him mid-sentence, causing him to fall from the precipice he was on.  Instead, he debuts Kaizou-kun, a small device that transforms an ordinary construction vehicle into a mecha! (Note: kaizou means 'remodeling.')  With the mecha, Masatsuki corners Mito, but just as things look bleakest, Sabu and Shin, her second- and third-in-command arrive and destroy part of the mecha.  Mutsuki plans to arrest them all, but then mushrooms suddenly sprout from her hair, giving Shin the time to collapse the mecha completely, which Mito then shoots rapidfire.   The Nengas make a quick getaway, and Mito's mail suit starts to malfunction.  It opens up and releases her, just as Aoi (who had been watching from a distance) runs up to her, getting an eyeful of her true form emerging.

Episode Two - Call Me Mom!/Kaasan to Yonde!
Picking up precisely where the last episode left off, Mito crawls back into the mail suit and tries to convince Aoi that everything he saw was just a dream.  And that might have worked, except that Sabu and Shin are still there.  Shin belatedly morphs into a cat.  Mito is berated by a floating UFO type of thing that is her mother (who was in the previous episode, but didn't do anything worth mentioning), and so she emerges from the mail suit and tells Aoi the truth.  Or starts to, anyway.  He faints after hearing "This is my true form."  And wakes up later thinking it's all a dream, only he's still dreaming.  He wakes up again, but still can't believe his mom is really a little kid.  Until he runs into the room full of mail suits...
With Aoi properly awake, it's time for him to hear the official exposition about everything.  Sabu is a cyborg and Shin is a nanotechnoid shapeshifter, and the mini-UFO holds the soul of Mito's mother, Sobo.  Aoi's still not convinced Mito's not a fake: what about the magazines she was in?  Turns out they were faked using Shin's shapeshifting.  Mito proves her identity by relating a memory of when Aoi was eight, but it's her story-telling style, not the actual story, that brings it home.  Mito also accidently lets it slip about the Galactic Patrol, so Sobo fills Aoi in about the space pirate part of the title.  This brings some explanation about the seal, apparently the key to a super weapon.  Aoi figures it's the bracelet his dad gave him, but Mito neither confirms nor denies this.  Instead, she takes the opportunity to finally embrace her son with her own hands, not the suit's.
The Nengas report back to Ranban, but keep Mito's presence on Earth from him, so they can capture her themselves and bring back glory to their family name that their father somehow lost.  This gets elaborated on more as the series goes on, but not until disc three or four, if I recall correctly.  
The next day, Aoi leaves the house without telling Mito, or telling her that it's "Take Your Mom to School Day."  At school his classmates notice he's down, and the resident rich girl figures its because he has an Oedipus complex.  As class begins, a new transfer student is introduced -- Mutsuki Nenga!  Aoi, however, is none the wiser.
Meanwhile, Mito cleans Aoi's room while he's at school and finds the flyer for "Take Your Mom to School Day."  She runs off in such a hurry that she forgets to put on a mail suit.  Fortunately, Aoi covers for her by saying she's a relative of his, and the teacher has her registered for third grade.  After school, Mito tries to get Aoi to call her Mom, but it's just not happening.  
Aoi is spared some embarrassment by the arrival of Masatsuki and Mutsuki, who use Kaizou-kun on a drink vending machine this time.  But Mito takes over a bus (no, really) and calls for backup.  She ends up driving on a train track as far as she can go, but the Nengas corner her and Aoi.  Sabu arrives with Shin and blows up the mecha, and then Aoi starts to glow.  The Nengas eject, and the bridge blows up.  When the smoke clears, Aoi is out cold...

Episode Three - Sabu and Shin/Sabu to Shin
The papers report the destruction of the bridge as being due to old age, but Mito's more concerned about getting Aoi to call her Mom.  Still unable to say it, Aoi takes off for school early, but without his lunch, causing Mito to chase after him.  Sabu is dissatisfied with the arrangement, but Mito would rather let Aoi have a normal life on Earth than take him into space, and she is the captain.  So Sabu rails against the boy instead, and Sobo plants the seed of testing Aoi's 'manliness.'
Meanwhile, Mutsuki gets herself ready for school, which means covering herself with aqua-coating to keep out water (which is deadly to her species), and then uses the old "there's something on your shoulder" technique to plant a tracking device on Aoi.  She also tries to get information on Mito out of him, but her interegation is interpreted as putting the moves on him by the resident rich girl (who is so much a rich girl that she has her cronies do the Ojou-sama Laugh for her).  Mito thinks much the same, having finally caught up with her son, but she is found by Aoi's teacher and taken back to school.
Later, Shin, disguised as the school nurse, hooks Aoi up to a machine and monitors his reactions to a scenerio she describes to him.  Sabu, preferring a test with more direct results, teleports with Shin and the boy to the Chunagon (Mito's ship), all witnessed by Mutsuki, who has another mushroom attack.  
Up in space, Mito's crew laments the fact that they haven't heard from their beloved Mito since she went to Earth, when Sabu and the others show up.  The crew gets a good look at Aoi, who freaks out before being dragged out in an X-wing plane by Sabu.  Sabu intends for the flight to make Aoi realize that he and his mom live in totally different worlds, but all Aoi can think about is the classes he's missing.  And it doesn't help that the Nengas, lead by the tracking device, start shooting at them.  The control panel gets hit, and it goes up in flames, giving Aoi a sudden vision of his mail-suited mother doing something while surrounded by flames (it's hard to tell exactly what).  He suddenly grabs the controls and starts steering the plane, screaming like a mad man the entire time.  He avoids all the shots from Masatsuki and Mutsuki's ship and even manages to get behind them.  No doubt he would have taken them down if the plane hadn't run out of fuel.
The Nengas corner Aoi and the others, but are sent running by the sudden arrival of Mito, who found out about Sabu and Shin's tests from her mother earlier in the episode.  And once the danger is over, she's ready to lay out some punishment whip-style on Sabu and Shin, but Aoi covers for them, and Mito lets them off the hook.  She officially tells the crew that she'll be staying on Earth for an indefinite amount of time, and leaves the others to have a scene between Aoi and Sabu.  Sabu grudgingly admits that Aoi isn't a complete failure, and Shin comments that Aoi is no ordinary boy (to which I say he wouldn't have been, being a half-alien as he is, even without any powers).

Episode Four - Trouble at the Firefly Festival/Taihen na Hotaru Matsuri! (The Terrible Firefly Festival)
The Nengas report to Ranban, making excuses for not having any leads on Mito's son.  After the report is over, Masatsuki makes plans to take Aoi hostage to get Mito to surrender herself.  Mutsuki has doubts about taking a hostage, but Masatsuki reminds her that it's the only way to bring honor back to their family.
Back with the Mitsukunis, Mito notices that it's the day of the Firefly Festival (the town is known for its fireflies), and tries to coerce Aoi into going with her, even though he already made plans to go with his friends.  As he leaves for school, Mito's mother points out that Aoi still hasn't called her Mom yet.  Aoi, meanwhile, ruminates while looking at a photo of him and his mail-suited mom while waiting for his friends.  They meet up with him, and spy Mutsuki spying on them (well, Aoi), so they all get together and do typical festival things (goldfish catching, shooting prizes, playing shogi, etc.).
While relaxing later on, Mutsuki prepares to stop beating around the bush and capture Aoi, but she's distracted by the sound of her brother (who had been watching in the background) being frightened off by a cat (I haven't mentioned it, but Masatsuki is afraid of cats, like his father.  Which is probably why he's the more gung-ho of the two about reclaiming the family pride, come to think of it), and goes off to help him.  Aoi's friends, seeing a chance to hook him and Mustuki up, send him after her.  All of this is viewed by the resident rich girl, Kafuko, who reveals that she hates/loves Aoi because he refuses to be smitten with her.  Which is why she interrupts the two of them, right when Mutsuki was about to capture Aoi.  She sends her cronies to scribble on Mutsuki's face, and with attack imminent, Mutsuki yet again reaches for her gun, only for Aoi to take down the two girls himself and tell Mutsuki to run for it.  Kafuko is about to go after the girl when the voice of their teacher (in a nearby tree) distracts her, and Aoi gets away, as well.
As the two reach a safe distance, Aoi realizes he's been holding Mutsuki's hand and blushes.  Mutsuki wonders why her heart is pounding so fast... (maybe because you were just running?)  As the day turns into evening, Aoi and Mutsuki continue to spend time together.  Their conversation turns to their mothers, with Mutsuki confiding in Aoi that her mother is bedridden (then immediately wondering why she told him that).  She also realizes, from that way he talks about his mother, that he didn't know Mito was a space pirate until recently, and starts to feel a little sympathy for him.  Not only that, but she gets an attack of mushrooms and runs off, clutching her head.  Fortunately, she manages to pull out all the mushrooms before Aoi catches up with her.  Tired of running around, Mutsuki screws up her courage to capture Aoi once and for all, but finds that she somehow mislaid her gun.  Which is when mail-suited Mito finally finds Aoi and drags him off.  Outwardly, she is polite to Mutsuki (who introduces herself by name, but didn't she give Mito her name as a Galactic Patrol member in the first episode?), but inwardly she is seething that Aoi blew her off to apparently go on a date.  And that's when Masatsuki, finally free of the cat, crawls up and sees his sister with Mito.  He instantly leaps into action, using Kaizou-kun to make a streetlamp mecha.  Mito calls on Sabu and Shin to take down the mecha while Aoi gets Mutsuki to safety.  While Mito enters the fray, Aoi and Mutsuki run down the stairs while those gate things fall over like dominoes, but they manage not to be crushed.  But a falling lamp does clock Mutsuki on the head before the fight is over.  (Masatsuki is over powered, of course.)
Seeing Mutsuki hurt, Aoi chews out his mom for getting her involved, but when Mito comes out of the mail suit to express her regret, Aoi tells her that he cannot accept her as his mother.  To him, she's still just a fake wearing his mom's face.  Hurt, Mito runs off, while Sabu explains that the captain just wanted Aoi to call her mom, and thought the mail suit would help.  Aoi takes Mutsuki to the first aid tent, and then finds his mom crying by the river.  As the fireflies come out, she tells him this is a special spot she and his father used to go to.  She asks if he wants to hear more, and he says yes, but the episode ends before she actually does, setting up for the next episode to be an entire flashback.  But that's on the next disc.