Monday, May 14, 2007

About to leave--no time for prooofreddig

-Johanna Draper Carlson thinks she's being criticized re: "superheroes are for boys" because she's a woman, and it's easier to criticize women. As proof she offers an excerpt from Dirk Deppey's thoughts on the subject. This is a pretty lame defense. Deppey is arguing a completely different point. Carlson started out talking about the immutable laws of genre, then quickly shifted into a much more defensible position revolving around sales figures. Demographics are the basis for Deppey's argument as well, but I don't think he's making any arguments about genre. Has Carlson just abandoned that tack?

Anyway, Deppey uses a "logic of the market" type argument and concludes that women who don't like what Marvel and DC produce should make their own comics. Two criticisms here (and Deppey's a MAN, guys!): (1) I think it's pretty clear that the people complaining about the Mary Jane statue, Power Girl's breasts, etc., have a strong attachment to Marvel and DC's intellectual properties. I don't know if this would doom any DIY solution (I would hope not, since mainstream comics written by women for women would be great for the overall health of the market), but this character loyalty is certainly an issue to be considered. (2) What Deppey calls "whining" is actually an effective way to promote change from big corporations. I really, really have to go, so I don't have time to give some examples. I'll supply some in the comments if anyone's interested.

-Seriously, does Carlson have some axes to grind with Two Morrows? I really don't understand what motivates her.

-Just want to note that Joe Rice is leaving CSBG for (I think) the second and presumably final time. Since Rice's reviews at CSBG are what initially inspired this blog, I thought it was worth mentioning here. Also, in the comments, you can see me use the word "perfunctory" in what I feel is the most appropriate sense.

-Okay--I watch anime on DVD as a way to make my twice daily stationary bike rides more appealing. I ride for about 20 minutes each time (it's at a pretty intense resistance, so shut up), about the perfect length for watching a single episode of most series (or two episodes of Cromartie High--what was up with that format anyway?). I've watched most of Ranma 1/2, but I've skipped over to Urusei Yatsura recently because I need to get acquire the 6th season of Ranma. Anyway, here's my point: my wife, who is only occasionally in the room while I'm exercising, says Urusei Yatsura is "weird" and generally inferior to Ranma. I've long thought that UY was the superior show. My wife's crazy, right? I mean, we all take Urusei Yatsura's superiority for granted, right?

Another, semi-related point: what other, readily available (like from Netflix) series are worth watching? I know this is an incredibly broad question, kind of like "what manga should I read on the subway," but I'm throwing it out there anyway. I know what some of you are thinking, but I don't like what I've seen of InuYasha (although I'd be willing to check it out if it's available in subtitled format, and if said format makes it much more watchable, as is the case with Ranma, IMO at least).

-Oh, and on the subject of Rumiko Takahashi, might she be an instructive case to consider in the current "superheroes are for boys, stupid" debate? My understanding (which might be way off base) is that Takahashi's real contribution to manga/anime was in creating crossover hits which straddled the line between shojo and shonen. Is there any particular reason DC or Marvel couldn't try such an approach? I mean, they like money, don't they?

-Brian Wood has bad taste in music (via the Blogorama interview with Cecil Castellucci, who also kinda has bad taste re: punk rock). Look at that list--it's like a catalogue of notoriously overrated bands! The Pogues! The Clash! Fugazi! Black Flag! Murphy's Law, for Chrissakes (though to be fair, I don't know that they're overrated so much as bad)! And one of Minor Threat's many covers of a 60s garage song which manages to sound far less intimidating than the original (see also "Stepping Stone;" cross reference with the far, far superior Paul Revere and the Raiders version). Look, here's a better list that I've just pulled out one of my orifices:

1. Raw Power-Raw Power
2. Ramones-Chainsaw
3. White Flag-Shattered Badge
4. The Kids-No Monarchy
5. Buzzcocks-Harmony in My Head
6. Undertones-Smarter Than U
7. Wire-Map Ref. 41 N 93 W (yes, I did have to look up the actual title to this song)
8. Wipers-Window Shop For Love
9. Nervous Eaters-Just Head
10. Misfits-Last Caress

I can even make a list superior to Wood's comprised of nothing but bands which may not be considered strictly punk by some purits:

1. Chocolate Watch Band-Sweet Young Thing
2. Real Kids-All Kindsa Girls
3. Husker Du-It's Not Funny Anymore
4. Jerry Lee Lewis-Long Tall Sally (the live Star Club version)
5. Sonics-Strychnine
6. Johnny Burnette Trio-Train Kept A Rollin'
7. Pleasure Seekers-What a Way to Die
8. Nerves-Hanging on the Telephone (MUCH BETTER THAN THE BLONDIE VERSION)
9. Replacements-Hayday
10. Remains-Don't Look Back

So really, I'm the one who should be writing the book about Vikings or whatever. I'll be awaiting Vertigo's response.


Brack said...

In terms of anime, UY beats Ranma hands down. Mainly because it's just as much influenced by the animators/writers working on it as Takahashi's manga.

In terms of manga, I'd say Ranma has the edge. In many ways it's a refined version of UY's concepts and characters.

Lum was clearly supposed to be an antagonist n UY at the outset of the manga, but because the Ataru/Shinobu relationship was never established in the readers' mind before she shows up it didn't take.

In Ranma however, the relationship (such as it is) between Ranma and Akane is well established before Shampoo turns up to perform the role that Lum had in the first chapters of UY.

David Welsh said...

I think there are probably tons of examples of manga series that appeal equally to men and women. I can't believe that any of the best-selling titles in translation, from fantasy-romance like Fruits Basket to action-adventure like Fullmetal Alchemist (created by a woman) or Naruto could have achieved the level of sales they enjoy with a single-gender audience. Takahashi is certainly one of the most notable examples, but others like CLAMP have certainly followed in her footsteps.

As for anime, I don't watch a whole lot of it, but I really love Cowboy Bebop. It's a futuristic, noir-ish bounty hunter story, which normally wouldn't appeal to me, but the creators keep switching up the tone very successfully, from comedy to suspense to drama. It also has a fabulous soundtrack.

TonPo said...

Most of my personal tastes in "casual" anime watching tend to veer away from "good-times" fun anime that I enjoyed as a kid like Ranma. So therefore, I will refrain from recommending any anime for you to watch, since anything I can think of is probably not available through netflix.

You seriously think Black Flag is overrated? I will concede that they are beloved by far too many for possibly the most inaccurate reasons, but "overrated"? (see: "My War" LP).

Honestly, I could have made up Brian Wood's top 10 list off the top of my head after having read one of his comics, and it would have looked pretty much the same. His love of mediocre punk/hardcore seems to fall in line with his knack for producing mediocre comics beloved by punk/hardcore kids. Am I being too harsh? I guess I have no sympathy for people in their 30s who still maintain that Sick of it All is still worth listening to.

Dan Coyle said...

I think the format of Cromartie High School has to do with the fact that the manga's strips usually go on for four pages or less. Sure, there are continuing stories, but.. in any case, the anime's a straight adaptation of the manga so you're not missing anything.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Brack, I partly prefer UY because I never bought into the relationship between Ranma and Akane--they both seem like they would be happier with other characters instead. I like Ranma partly because all the dramatic irony produces some pretty funny results and partly because it's a weird commentary on gender roles (Ranma only really displays a personality when he's a woman). Uy just concentrates on the humor. Plus Ataru might be my single favorite character in all of animation.

David, I think I've seen every episode of Cowboy Beebop three times over from back when it ran on Adult Swim in the early part of this decade (when I was staying up until 2 am almost every night). I always thought it was a very stylish series, but I never got into it like my friends did. Isn't Samurai Champloo by the same director? Is that any good?

Tonpo, I just never liked Black Flag. I always thought they were kind of muddy and plodding compared to their DC contemporaries. I'm generally not a fan of SoCal punk/HC in general with a few exceptions (Adolescents, Angry Samoans, and actually DI, kinda).

Dan, I actually liked the anime even though I had already read almost all the manga it was based on. There was something I liked about the tone of the anime that added something to those gags (plus it had been a while since I read the earlier volumes of the manga). I was more curious about the format--are 15 minute shows common on Japanese TV? Or was Cromartie High an OVA series? I keep thinking that it would fit in perfectly on Adult Swim, but I'm guessing the Anime Network thing prohibits that.

Brian Cronin said...

It's interesting, Dick, in that Joe's reviews are what initially inspired Comics Should Be Good, too!

Joe Rice - a regular Johnny Appleseed (only with blogs instead of apple trees)

Dick Hyacinth said...

I still question Joe's taste in music. WOLFMOTHER?!?

Matt Brady said...

I was going to recommend Cowboy Bebop, and if you liked it Samurai Champloo is also tons of fun. It's a weird combination of samurai locales and plots with hip-hop styles. Really cool. I also like FLCL, although it's only six episodes long. Wacky and strange. There's also Serial Experiments Lain, a mind-trip/cyberpunk sort of story. And there's always stuff like Neon Genesis Evangelion, if you haven't watched it.

I've only watched a little Ranma, but I've never seen any Urusei Yatsura. I might have to check it out sometime. Wasn't one of the movies directed by Mamoru Oshii?

Sus said...

Maison Ikkoku!