Friday, March 31, 2017

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Episodes 4-7

You all may have noticed during the hiccup of March updates that I've barely touched on Kyuranger. Truth be told I've been sort of avoiding it. After the debacle that was Iron Fist I needed better superhero television in my life. After some recovery time I've been able to look at Kyuranger again and well...I still don't much care for it. Ok, so I should probably elaborate just a little.

When last we covered this show, the group was still searching for one more team member and trying to figure out how to turn the seemingly villainous orange ranger to their side. Episode four was all about the missing part of their team as Raptor, the ships pilot/secretary became the pink ranger complete with a set of wings.....for some reason. We were also given a little bit of advancement for her character along with Sparda. In her case it's that she's very much a daydreamer and with him it's that his protective nature can get a little out of hand. If that doesn't seem like a lot of details it's because this episode was also home to some much needed exposition.

Turns out the evil empire Jark Matter makes a point of mining each planet they conquer for a material called, get this, plantium. It's the life blood of every planet and once enough is siphoned off, everything goes poof. The planet in the most imminent danger just so happens to be Earth so our heroes have an excuse to hunker down in Japan and give the budget a break. Maybe I was expecting too much but when the idea of a galaxy faring team was first presented I didn't expect them to sit around Earth for what is so far over half the series.

Speaking of budget, that's also given a little wink wink joke when the kyu roulette is introduced. The celestial energy the team uses may not be infinite so every mission they have a roulette to see who will make up the team. Normally I'd be for this as a means of ensuring different characters get their chance to shine while finding unique pairings. Problem is certain characters are always included, like Lucky, the annoying pox that he is. Viewers who prefer a more tertiary character like Raptor get to suffer as their favorite is ignored week after week while Lucky hogs the spotlight.

Episode five brought Stinger back to the forefront so he could finally be wrapped up into the team. Turns out he was never a bad guy, he was just under cover for the rebellion, or maybe he is a bad guy since he still seemingly killed the black rangers creator, but he definitely doesn't kill kids so in this shows logic he must be good enough. Yeah....I don't get it either.
There is some deeper storytelling at play here however as Stinger has his own personal quest to deal with. His older brother sold out their people to Jark Matter and became a top assassin for the organization. Family feuds may not be all that original for space opera but I'm willing to give this show a bone when it earns it.

Episode six was pitched as if it might be a focused on Hammy. The primary drama was about her aim to be team leader, and her irritation at Lucky for getting so much so easily while she works and trains like a dog. The lesson of this tale? She doesn't realize how great Lucky is. Oh god dammit! Is this shit for real? When given the opportunity to present some actual drama and talk about the issue of a character who just magically wins at life the show just rubs that character in our face all the more. And the excuse? Lucky is only the most lucky person in the universe because of how positive he is and that positive energy attracts luck. I'm about to throw up. Even the notion of picking a team leader is cast aside because Lucky doesn't think they need one since everybody on the team is a star according to him. Don't ya love it when team praising platitudes come outta the guy who gets all the attention? What a load of horse cum.

Episode Seven was an honest to god attempt at a fully featured team story line. A monster steals Balance's birthday and the whole group has to try and make things right. This almost works except for a completely unnecessary cameo by the current Kamen Rider that only serves to eat up time. Not to mention contued focus guessed it, Lucky.

You've probably noticed I hardly mention the monsters and frankly it's because they're boring. So far there hasn't been a real baddie to latch onto. I suppose that's only natural for a show that doesn't even have time to properly feature its own heroes but the result when combined with the relative ease of each mission is that nothing feels like a threat, There simply isn't much at stake here which makes the action scenes boring.

Nearly two months into the series and Kyuranger still just isn't working. It feels like a show that wants to be the new classic Sentai yet it refuses to put in any of the work. Instead it throws explosions and shiny shit at the screen like a spoiled rich kid hoping to earn your love with sheer dumb spectacle. This is all the more obvious when I watch my DVD's of older series like Kakuranger, a show with likable heroes who find themselves in interesting situations against challenging monsters. That was just a basic show but it succeeds by making an honest attempt to be entertaining. Kyuranger has nothing standing in it's way yet continues to stand in place and wave around sparklers.

I'm gonna give the show a couple more weeks as the episode ten mark usually involves an upgrade in threats and a shift in story line. That's a matter for another day though. I've gotta attempt to sleep before going to work and setting this years April Fools projects in motion. I take my April Fools pretty seriously around here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Star Wars Smuggler's Bounty. March: Rebels Unboxing.

I don't know about you fine folks out there but for me and mine, the month of March has been dizzying. Every day there's something else to deal with, whether it's basic shit like extra shifts at work or more outlandish events like someone developing a rash in reaction to antibiotics. Suffice to say it's a good time to treat oneself on a regular basis and it's all the better when that treat comes as something of a surprise. Such was the case yesterday when somewhere between house appraisals, mushroom Alfredo, and the aforementioned rash victim visiting urgent care, a box arrived. Yes it was time again for Smuggler's Bounty from Funko, a company with a lean on ten percent of my income.

For March, Smuggler's Bounty went with the theme of Rebels, the current animated Star Wars series set between the prequel and original trilogies. Personally I've only seen maybe five episodes of the show as I'd like to finish The Clone Wars before moving forward. Still; I generally liked what I saw. The characters and tone seemed to have a better balance than Clone Wars and I liked how the format allowed the show to focus on a tighter group of characters. Reviewing the series is a topic for another day though. What's important right now is whether Funko was able to make this box worthwhile for someone who has yet to delve into this particular subject. Let's see how they did.

Broken record time. Here's the patch and pin...they're both patchy and piny. Honestly I really do appreciate getting these two items consistently thought there's only so many ways to write about them. The Zeb patch is kinda ugly while the Sabine pin is sorta nice. That's that.

Clothing time and I'm finally lucky enough to get a shirt outta this box and a none too shabby one at that. It's the entire pop form crew in an action pose with some nicer coloration. In all fairness I'd have been stoked to get a lackluster shirt after receiving hats and socks I'll never wear so this was getting a pass anyway. Still; it's one of the better Pop Tees I've gotten thus far so a major thumbs up here.

Now for the lifeblood of each box, the toys. This box doesn't skimp on the goodies offering not one, not two, but three whole vinyl collectibles. Funko revealed one of the pops long in advance, and the other one was leaked soon after but the third item made for a nice surprise.
So what have we got? First there's the aged Captain Rex dual-wielding some blasters. While not the most impressive Pop ever there's some good detail and a nice paint job on this old boy. I've seen mentions that there's some sort of block when it comes to Clone Wars based Pops. Not sure if that's true but if so then this is probably the best Rex fans can hope for.
In the middle is Darth Maul and man does he look terrific. It's tough to tell in the picture but there is a good amount of detail to this guy, making for a vast improvement over his previous Pop. This item was my primary motivation for picking up this box. Maul was one of the few cool elements of The Phantom Menace and while his later resurrection was a bit cheap, it finally allowed the character to grow and be more than neat looking action figure.
The third figure is part of the fairly new mini-Hikari line that have so far only appeared in these subscription boxes. This time around we have Chopper, the demented astro-mech, in one of five color variations. I ended up with the red one that looks distinctly like a giant gummy candy. It's nowhere near as nice as my Skeletor Hikari but it's a great addition to the box an I am more than happy to add one of these to my Funko collection.

Smuggler's Bounty really went with what works this time around. It's just a buncha toys & a shirt and I gotta give the service mad props for that choice. Much as I like the occasional dip into oddities like mugs or Christmas ornaments, I love the refreshing nature of a box that's just good, solid, toys. I'd place this one right among some of the best boxes I've ever received. It may not have been terribly surprising but there wasn't a bad item in the bunch.

The May box is going to themed after the 40th anniversary of A New Hope. Not sure if I want to get that one or not. On the one hand it's an opportunity to present something really amazing, yet at the same time such open themes rarely make for solid Funko boxes, remember Women of Marvel? Oh yeah, and for any of my readers who are into Disney, Funko's launching a subscription service for that next month. It's not something that really appeals to me but I like to let people know what kind of goodies are out there.

Gotta split for now folks. Have to be at work in a few hours. Like I mentioned earlier, this March is weird.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Marvel's Iron Fist Review. It Stinks!

Hello everyone. I know it's been quiet around here lately. Part of that is having a lot of extra work hours tossed my way, a situation that doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Other than that I've also been suffering from a bit of writing doldrums. I've attempted to start up multiple articles this past week with little success at making them worthy of posting. Mostly I'm looking for some new subjects to write about and wouldn't you know something landed in my lap over the weekend. I'm talking about Iron Fist, a series I was looking forward to with great enthusiasm only to be crushed by the reality that this show is bad, really, really bad.

Having been a Marvel fan since buying my first issue of Spider-Man before I could even read has made the past 9 years something special. I mean it's great to see these characters properly translated to the screen on a regular basis By and Large I've enjoyed damn near every part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe save for the lameness of Iron Man 2 and the second half of Luke Cage. More than that, I was stoked for Iron Fist to get his shot at the spotlight in a line of Netflix series that has so far provided great series for Daredevil and Jessica Jones (less so with Luke Cage) that fully embraced outlandish plot points like demon ninjas and mind-controlling freaks. Just imagine what could happen with the splendor of super kung-fu. So what the hell happened? There's going to be a hefty amount of spoilers ahead.

Let's start with the title character. Both my brother and nephew disliked the performance of Finn Jones. I wasn't so set to blame him however since what's written for him her is such a none-character he honestly didn't have much to work with. Throughout the series I wasn't sure what they were trying to do with him. He spent 15 years in a mystical city, fighting his way to the top in order to earn the power and rank of Iron Fist, yet he's played out like a emotionally broken child with no understanding of his powers. Beyond that, his life in K'un Lun is barely touched on and handled inconsistently. One moment he's talking about it like it was just the most awesome place on Earth, then's he's freaking out over the abuse he suffered there. The guy jumps from being a gentle kung-fu nerd, to boiling pot of rage, to scared child, sometimes within the same scene. Because of this he can barely utilize his own superpower, begging the question of how he earned it in the first place. There's a video of a previous Iron Fist kicking massive amounts of ass, something that this version of Danny Rand never accomplishes. Our hero doesn't even take down any of the main villains in this season, his supporting cast takes care of that.

Speaking of support characters, let's start with Colleen Wing. While I found both the actress and character annoying on multiple occasions she still fares better in this series than the title hero. The girl actually has a proper journey as she finds so much of her life to be a lie, finally turning against the group that made her what she is. It turns out in this series that she's actually a member of the hand...though she's not a demon ninja because this is a different (but still evil) branch of the hand. Despite Colleen's dojo serving as a recruitment center for this group that has the money to put people through medical school, she somehow has no money to stay open which results in her cage fighting for two episodes with zero bearing on the rest of the story. Also, she's somehow allowed to freely roam the streets of New York City with a katana.

The Mechum family is another matter entirely. The actors for Joy, Ward, and Harold all do a mostly fine job, but most of the time it feels like they're in a completely different show. While Danny is traveling to Hong Kong to destroy a drug factory or battling crazed assassins, they deal with board room meetings and drug addiction. Joy in particular could have been removed from the show and it wouldn't have made much difference.
Harold Meachum ends up being the real villain of the peace and his arc is drug out and pointless. He was evil before, then he died of cancer and brought back by Hand medicine to be more evil. Once Ward stabs him to death he returns even more evil and that's it. There's a subplot about Ward's guilt at killing his father that goes nowhere.

Much of the series occurs in such a haphazard manner. Sub-plots like the cage fights, or Danny's stay in a mental hospital merely happen with no effect on further events. Furthermore the show tries to operate inside of a vacuum. Yes the Hand, including scary old Madam Gao are here but never the demon ninjas or possessed children previously seen in Daredevil. Now it's a secret academy somehow hidden within New York City where fit teenagers work out all day.

As if all the issues with story line, characters, acting, weren't enough, there's lazy direction and piss poor production values. Danny's fight against a spider themed assassin looks like something straught outta the second Mortal Kombat movie. And they are so few locations it makes the show feel claustrophobic. Here's a scene in the office, then Colleen's Dojo, then Harold's apartment, then the office, the dojo, office again. You get the idea, it's a very cheap feeling series.
Possibly the biggest issue of all is tone. Not once did this ever feel like an Iron Fist tale. Instead of a naive yet fun kung-fu master battling hordes of colorful martial artists and ninja, we're treated to this emotionally cold, sluggishly paced upper crust family drama. It's a tone that might have worked if this were a character like Moon Knight but not here. There's never even a pay off to all this shit as the final conflict is Danny hiding on a rooftop, trying not to get shot by a zombie business man.

Iron Fist is so lame I nearly didn't finish. I had to stop episode 12 about twenty minutes in to take care of some things and barely had the strength to turn it back on. I was so tired of watching these characters moping about in their pajamas, unable to process basic emotions. During the first half of the show I kept giving it a pass in the hope it was going somewhere but it just kept getting worse. I wasn't just disappointed, I was full on exhausted over how awful this was. It's not just bad but the worst thing Marvel Studios has ever made.

I've mentioned before how I seek to be a more positive voice on the internet so it's tough to write something so negative, but this show really isn't getting the tongue lashing it deserves. As viewers we can only hope that the Defenders team-up does some major damage control for this character, and that the entire Iron Fist writing staff finds themselves without jobs. At the very least I have proof of not loving all Marvel productions for when I review DC movies. Marvel shit the bed here, plain and simple.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Wind Storm, The Funko Shop, and Japanese Whiskey.

Fare warning dear read, I'm starting this article fully unaware of when I'll be able to post it. Why's that you ask? Just the other day my area was battered by a nifty wind storm that knocked out power for some, and cable & internet for many more. Thanks to the stretch of time without proper web excess this post has evolved from something with a focus to a general grab bag. Don't worry, I'll tie it up with a bow somehow.

The storm itself was a hell of a time. I had to help out at the shelter job that day which meant putting around on my moped with 70 MPH gusts of wind trying to blow me over. Truth be told it was kind of a blast. Every corner brought new surprises, the biggest being when I obeyed a stop sign to find the giant pine tree to my right leaning on some power lines. After taking off I couldn't stifle my mad laughter until loose leaves smacked me in the mouth. Later that night the aforementioned tree finally crashed as you can see in the above photo.

The storm was actually something of a surprise. Granted, March usually brings plenty of wind but I can't recall a straight out wind storm happening here since maybe the 90's. Usually this sort of thing comes equipped with rain or late season snow but not this time. Still; it's the sort of event that cements the notion that Winter is on the way out.
Along with the season change is something of a personal phenomenon. Every March, I have just an unshakable urge to spend money. It might just seems like some sort of spoiled spending spree to some of you out there, but for once I think I understand why I get this way every Match. Before we get there let's take a peek at how I've been overdoing it this year.

Other than unboxings, I rarely speak on my collectibles. When something truly wonderful comes around however, you gotta share the good word. The good word in this case is the Funko Shop, a direct source from Funko for a variety of limited run figures with passable prices and flat rate shipping. That shipping method can be a pain for someone who only wants one item but it sure makes it easy to add those little extra temptations as well. I mean you're paying the same for shipping anyway, why not get the most out of it? That's the reasoning of a man with more toys than cash.
Still it is quality shipping. Funko Shop orders have better tracking than the companies subscription boxes. There's alerts for when it ships, out for delivery, and at the door. As if that wasn't good the interior packaging is aces. Not only are there several sheets of top notch packing bubbles but each item is also housed in it's own factory source box. For the sake of your karma, please recycle some of this shit.

So what was so important that it made me splurge not just once but twice during the past few months? I'm getting to that, but let's check out the little additions first On the left we have the mighty maiden, She-Ra. I'm not the biggest Master of the Universe fan out there but no way was I gonna let this girl slip by and leave my Hordak Pop all lonely.
Also from the first order is the Holiday Batman Dorbz. What's to say really. It's holiday's festive Alright?
Then we have Wally Gator. Call this one of those hazy childhood memories but there was a period when for whatever reason I was positively obsessed with Wally Gator cartoons. A local joint called the Movie Market had VHS tapes and I'd consume them much to the dismay of my siblings. The obsession didn't last long but I've still got a little of that love for this generally lame character.

The big reason for my orders though were these two beauties. Cereal Monster Dorbz Ridez. I'd previously missed the Fruit Brute and Count Chocula entries in this line but nothing save for the destruction of planet Earth would keep me from obtaining Yummy Mummy and Frankenberry. Just look at these beauties! Everything from packaging, coloration, it all serves as a tribute to some of the finest mascots for some of the best cereals ever produced. All the cereal monsters are practically saints in my view. Colorful embodiments of the sheer joys of horror and sweetened food. While I am a bigger fan of Yummy Mummy's foodstuffs, I can't deny Frank has the better whip.

Not content to merely indulge myself with nifty toys, I also headed out to the big-ish city today before facing another extended work sequence. Target worked me over with their buy two get one free video games deal which resulted in me bringing home Poochy Yoshi's Woolly World, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Tales of Berseria. Those three would be more than enough gaming for quite some time, which means I'm in trouble since I also received my preordered copy of Nier: Automata. Pray for me folks.

There was still one final indulgence to this week, one I wasn't sure I'd be able to nab. Recently I played through Yakuza 0. Truly one hell of a game, and one that's full of Japanese cultural information. One point of interest for me were the bars containing all the primary Japanese whiskeys. The game ended up giving me a thirst for both knowledge and booze so I went in search and behold the result; Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky. It cost me a mint but god was it ever worth it. This stuff is beautiful. Simply smelling it makes you feel good. It's harsh yet smooth. Think of it like having a caramel cigar out out in your mouth. I'm drinking it right this minute which may help to explain the absolutely haphazard nature of this post.

So yes, like many a March before it, this one has involved selfish splurging yet I finally understand the reason why, which is the only thing keeping me from hanging my head in shame. Winter's almost over, the doldrums of cold nights are coming to an end. Buying all this crap is something of a revitalization. It's a reward for making it through the lackluster early months. Having come to terms with that I advise you all to go out and spoil yourself if you have the means. Maybe get yourself a nifty little figurine or some slightly better hooch.

Well, I'd say I've prattled on enough for now. It's been an odd week around here and I've got a nasty clump of work starting in just a couple of hours. I'll try to get a more sensible post around for you all in between shifts. Until then you can confess to any recent splurges of your own in the comments section.