For the Love of Sailor Moon

sailor moon crystal banner

A Fan Girl’s Guide:

One Saturday morning in my teen years I was flipping channels. I noticed this cartoon full of people with ginormous eyes and over-exaggerated expressions. There was also this talking cat and these weirdly cute super hero girls. I was hooked. Yes, I was one of the throngs of girls who became an anime fan thanks to the short-skirted, strangely coiffured Champion of Justice named Sailor Moon.

Of course I had to read the manga. Now I was in full fan mode. Takeuchi’s character designs were beyond gorgeous. They were angelic. I would read the story after studying each of the panels. Then I wondered where all the deep story arcs had gone when I watched the continuing seasons of the anime. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Miraculously in time for the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon (cough, clever marketing ploy, cough) is a series reboot that, like so many franchises in this modern age of storytelling, promises to stay true to the original storyline. You had me at “closer to the original character designs.”

In honor of the coming remake and Usagi’s birthday on June 30th (yes, it’s sad but I know that), here’s a squee-worthy post of all things new in the world of Sailor Moon.

 

sailor moon crystal usagi pose

5 Things You Need to Know About the Sailor Moon Reboot

  1. Watch the reboot on Crunchyroll!

Although Niconico, a Japanese video streaming service will be steaming the first episode worldwide on Saturday, July 5th,, Crunchy Roll will also be streaming the show. This site will probably be a better bet for English viewers. Tune in at 6am Eastern, 3 am (ouch) Pacific. New episodes will air at 6am EST (come on, really?) on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

 

  1. New Series, New Title

The series is officially called Sailor Moon Crystal. Here’s the very pretty and very Japanese website. http://sailormoon-official.com/

 

  1. Sailor Moon in America

VIZ Video has the North American licensing rights but is also planning a re-dub of the original anime. This time, they’re releasing all five seasons (200 episodes) with a new voice cast. They’ll be debuting their revamped series on the same day as Crystal.

 

  1. For Sailor Moon News…

Check out this great Sailor Moon website I found for all your news updates: http://clubsailormoon.com/

 

  1. The Official Trailer is Stunning

In case you haven’t seen it, or just want to gawk at it again, here is a link to the official trailer for Sailor Moon Crystal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Ft3viBgtQ

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A Tribute to Dianna Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle Cover 2When I’m with a book, I’m never alone.

I said this the other day and promptly realized it is not dorky, or a cry for help, but a truth about book people.

I’m a fan of rereading my favorite books because they’re like best friends. You want to catch up and remember the good times after you haven’t seen each other for a while. This is also true of certain authors. Their voice becomes familiar, like a warm blanket you keep on the couch. One of my favorite blankets authors is fantasy writer Dianna Wynne Jones, who recently passed away. I just finished her last book, The Islands of Chaldea, with a melancholy satisfaction. It was full of her usual quirk and humor in a United Kingdom-esque realm, but it’s sad to think there won’t be another new story from one of the most enjoyable and prolific young adult fantasy writers of all time.

Jones is undervalued in academia and the YA marketing machine. I’ve rarely seen a book of hers on a reading list or found a title of hers on a “Top 100” list. But if Miyazaki loved her world enough to turn Howl’s Moving Castle into a film, I’m clearly not alone in my thinking her a storyteller to reckon with. She exemplifies one of the most ethereal qualities in writing: voice. Each of her books are fresh and unique, but you know who’s telling the story. She also does subtle conflict startlingly well. Jones doesn’t write action-packed tales chalk full of page-turning suspense. She writes life-like journeys. You finish the book and regret that the trip is over.

Another facet of Diana Wynne Jones’ storytelling is its completeness. None of her books are screaming for a sequel, yet some have it. Each story is a full package. My first encounter with Jones was actually the fourth book in a series of four. I was so entranced by the story, which was itself immersive and entertaining, that I finished that one outright, went back to the beginning and then reread the last book.

So here’s to you, Diana Wynne Jones. You will be missed but thankfully, your words live on. You’ve inspired me to be a better writer. You’ve made me realize that character details and quirks are important enough to drive a story. You’ve made me wander in realms concocted from your boundless imagination. Your stories make me want to return and hear the voice once again of an old friend.

My Favorite Diana Wynne Jones Books/Series

*Sadly, some of these are out of print but hey! Remember that place called the library?

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
  2. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (a series of 6 plus short stories starting with Charmed Life)
  3. The Dalemart Quartet (starting with Cart and Cwidder)
  4. The Islands of Chaldea

Have a favorite author that’s unappreciated? Something to say about Diana Wynne Jones? Let me know below.

Happy 50th Birthday Doctor Who: A Fan’s Tribute

Doctor LineupHow do I love thee?  Let me count the sonic screwdrivers.  As I write, the fiftieth anniversary special of the longest running sci-fi show in history is making its wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey way across tele and movie screens, proving that nothing outlasts a geek romance.  Fans make other fans.  It’s probably one of the biggest grass roots success stories in entertainment: a British indie gone big budget time travel-palooza.  But finding Doctor Who merchandise in major retail chains isn’t what has drawn and kept fans.  Doctor Who remains true to its roots—a character-driven adventure story with depth, quirky humor and two lumps of the mysterious.

What drew me to Doctor Who wasn’t some big marketing campaign but the persistent urging of a friend and longtime Whovian who kept saying I should watch the Shakespeare episode, being the literary geek I am.  First, I had to watch “The Christmas Invasion,” the annual holiday episode that perpetually revives the Doctor’s story and reminds us of who he is, especially if it’s a regeneration.  It’s no big surprise then that my Doctor is Ten.  I love asking the same of other fans.

Sorry, where was I? I just got sidetracked by the Doctor Who game on Google.

 Doctor Who is both old and new, familiar and reinvented with each episode.  No television show has surprised me as often with bold storytelling choices and ridiculously good acting.  Taken with a bit of cheese, Doctor Who is unique as a sci-fi adventure.  We’re not just treated to aliens but also meet the likes of Vincent Van Gogh in the same scintillating suspense story.  The Doctor is the perfect hero-never winning too easily but always making sure you know who he is and what he’s capable of.  He can ride a horse through a mirror or drive his spaceship into the sun.  Watching him frolic and barge his way through time and space, across cultures and history is like sitting in a TARDIS motion-simulator ride.

Doctor Who’s longevity comes in part from brilliant writing that is both episodic and overarching.  Even though I’m for Tennent’s Ten, my favorite series is the first of the 11th Doctor’s regeneration.  My mind was blown when bits of story came back to form a completed jigsaw puzzle at the end of “season” five.  Episodes like “Blink,” though stand alone, generate compelling foes like the Weeping Angels.  I’ve even turned my dad into a bit of a Whoovian.  The other day he astounded me by naming the first two words of the TARDIS acronym.  Even my mom saves me her TV Guides when she sees the Doctor on the cover.

With a new generation of fans adding to the numbers of long-time Whovians, America eclipsing England in their viewing numbers and world-wide Who fever, The Doctor’s days in the pop culture sun are long from over.  My trepidations of an older incarnation for Doctor number twelve are soothed by the promise of Moffat’s writing, the momentum from the touted revelations of The Day of the Doctor and the fact that no matter who is in the TARDIS, that big blue box will always take me away from the mundane world.  I am indeed the Doctor’s companion and I’ll be along for the ride as long as he travels.

Doctor Who 50th Poster

Geek Trends

Can geeks be trendy?  Isn’t that idea in itself an oxymoron?  I think it’s safe to say that within its own circles, the world of geekdom has ideas and favorites that rise and fall.  Here are a few trends I’ve noticed lately that make my geek senses tingle or cringe.

1. Mashup Cosplay

Avenger Girls...and we have a Hulk

Avenger Girls…and we have a Hulk

The art of cosplay seems to have reached a new status in pop culture and is no longer pegged simply as a strange hobby for wacky devoted people.   With celebs getting in on the act; Tom Hiddleston’s Loki appearance at Marvel’s Comic Con panel or Matt Smith incognito as Bart Simpson, a dedicated show on Syfy and hundreds of easy to wear products flooding the market beyond Halloween time, it’s no wonder veteran cosplayers are looking to do something different.

The latest way to amp up cosplay is by mixing fandoms or styles to create a unique costume.  A lot of ideas start as a Deviantart picture that entices with original concepts of familiar characters.  Japanese artist Sakizou is a hot item for cosplayers.  Her creations come from taking objects or ideas and making frilly lolita meets steampunk designs.    Disney characters are popular mashup subjects with everything from burlesque to jedi princesses making the rounds at cons.  One talented cosplayer I know took a Sakizou design to create a steampunk Cinderella.  Love the Walking Dead and Superman?  Perfect.  Man of Steel Zombie.  See how easy this is?

Japanese artist Sakizou creates beautiful characters.

Japanese artist Sakizou creates beautiful characters.

Mashups allow a cosplayer to make a character taylor fit to your body and personality.  I had fun making a feminine Captain America to match a group of cosplay friends doing girly Avengers.  And why not?  Just because I don’t have biceps doesn’t mean I can’t rock the shield and stripes.

2. Geek TV

Did you know shortly before the premier of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, DC announced a Gotham cop drama centered around a young commissioner Gordon?  And now, Warner Brothers is working on a dark Wizard of Oz called Red Brick Road?  They say it will be Oz meets Game of Thrones.  You know nothing Dorothy!

Geek TV

Geek TV

But seriously, when did geekdom glut the TV market?  It’s great right?  I’m not sure yet.  The geek TV floodgates have opened, thanks to The Big Bang Theory and the reboot of Doctor Who.  Now, since geeky ideas are trendy in the mass market, networks seem to be jumping on the bandwagon like immigrants craving passage to America.  Make it good studio execs.  You know geek fans aren’t to be trifled with.  Batfleck anyone?

Making geeks cool since 2007

Making geeks cool since 2007

3. Mass Market Geek Fashion

It’s never been easier to get your geek on-literally.  Forever21 announced a DC line making Batman cool to hipsters and teens (like he needed the help).  Sites like Welovefine and Heruniverse have supercharged their geek offerings lately.    I’m a fan of geek dresses.  Tardis, Dalek, R2D2 or Vader?  So many choices!  Take a look at the T-shirt selection at Target.  I’m never at a loss for a quick present idea for the geek  hubby.  Apparently there’s a company called Black Milk out of Australia that makes chic geek clothes like leggings and tight tank dresses in Star Wars, Harry Potter and even Lord of the Rings designs.  Even Old Navy is in on the act.  You can’t check out without walking past a barrage of geek accessories.  And that’s after you’ve brought your toddler Star Wars shirts to the checkout line.

From Welovefine.com

From Welovefine.com

Exterminate your wardrobe

From Heruniverse.com

The Geek Singularity

Revel my geeky friends, revel.  We may never live in an age as uniquely geek as this.  It’s as if all the sweet spots of comic book, fantasy and sci-fi culture have hit their apex in pop culture, spawning movies, television shows and merchandising of nebulaic proportions.  There may never again be a time when Comic Con features nearly the entire cast of Marvel’s Avengers and X-Men: Days of Future Past, strutting movie icons like Hugh Jackman and Samuel L Jackson; Peter Jackson wooing Tolkien devotees with Hobbit footage and Doctor Who panels visited by The Doctor himself.  In true Sheldon Cooper theory, I christen this golden age The Geek Singularity.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

If the coming soon to theaters list is any indication, The Singularity should last at least into 2016.  Comic Con is on my bucket list but not even on the radar for at least six or seven years so I need this phenomenon to last.  According to their panel, Marvel has movies projected to 2021 so the longevity of the current comic book/ sci-fi/fantasy zeitgeist is a probability at least in the Disney universe.  What with a new Star Wars trilogy on the way, The Singularity may well last another couple of decades.  And who cares if pop culture hangs on.  Being geek has never meant being mainstream-until now.

The Winter Soldier

The Winter Soldier

Here’s a look at the future of The Singularity…

2013

50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

Ender’s Game

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Agents of Shield (Television gold? I hope so.)

Thor: The Dark World

2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Spectacular Spider-Man

Games of Thrones Season 4

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Thank God they’re mutant once again, not alien.)

X Men: Days of Future Past

Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel’s obscure but cloying gamble that I would see just for Karen Gillan as a bald villain.  I love you Amy Pond!)

2015

Pirates of the Caribbean 5

The Fantastic Four (Didn’t they just do this?)

Avengers: The Age of Ultron (Salivating for this one.)

Justice League (Please come back Christian Bale!)

Superman Sequel (featuring Batman; please come back Christian Bale!)

Ant-Man (Um, well okay, for the sake of The Singularity.)

Star Wars Episode 7 (J.J. Abrams has his work cut out for him-I want my daughter raised on good Star Wars.)

Future Projects

Deadpool (You’re welcome fanboys.)

Aquaman (The comments about this movie on IMDB read like an episode of The Big Bang Theory: “Aquaman sucks!” “Dude, 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water so he controls almost every sea creature and can easily sink almost all the world.”)

Death Note

BLEACH (Anime getting some geek movie love? Beautiful. Can I get some Americanized live action Sailor Moon? Wait, no, just no.)

The Phantom

Wonder Woman

X-Men 4 and 5 (Let’s hope they’re as good as the prequel sort of reboot.)

Nick Fury

The Flash

"Two of You? Oh the mind races" -River Song

“Two of You? Oh the mind races” -River Song

A Super Remake: Man of Steel Movie Review

There are two things you need to know before you read this review from my perspective.  1. I am a Jesus lover. 2. I am not a huge Superman fan.  I’m not sure which one will offend some people more but there it is.  These were the lenses through which I watched a preview of Man of Steel this past Monday night.  The film surprised me in both perspectives.

Big budget geek movies are a hot ticket this summer.  After not visiting my local cinema for months, I’ve already chalked up three in a span of weeks thanks to a comic book and sci-fi smorgasbord.  But Superman?  The man in the red cape and matching tighty redies was never my thing.  Perhaps this is because it seemed too easy-a flawless, god-like alien who can do anything and especially enjoys flashing his abs and catching falling damsels.  What makes Man of Steel so compelling is that it brings out the weakness and humanity of Superman.  This is also what set my Jesus senses tingling.  In this weakness we see just how strong he is.

In the beginning, Man of Steel expends a lot of its script fleshing out the world of Krypton.  We see the race of “supermen” as they wreak havoc on each other and their planet.  Comic fans probably have mixed emotions about the portrayal of their world, but as an outsider, I appreciated the back story.   Flash forward and we’re following the life of Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) as he tries to lose himself and mask his abilities in the modern world.  Then we flash back to Clark’s childhood and witness his struggle of fitting in and hiding his powers with the help of his loving earthly parents.  The script superbly balances the flash back and real time storytelling so that viewers aren’t lost.  Man of Steel does what comic adaptations of late have mostly handled well-it tells a subtle story of a plausible superhero in our modern society.  David S. Goyer of Batman fame wrote the script along with some story help from Christopher Nolan, so it’s no wonder the plot and dialog were tighter than Superman’s…boots.

Next, we meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), a cheeky reporter who has a soft spot for covert military correspondence.  This is when the story really picks up and the cape goes on.  Watching Superman learn to fly was a cinematic treat.  Special effects and sound mixing are often the stars of this film.  Certain prolonged fights tend to get achy on the ear drums but as my hubby pointed out, make the viewer experience a sort of Superman sensibility as we hear clearer and see with pinpoint accuracy how many panes of glass shatter in Metropolis.

As with the story, the acting is more subtle in this film adaptation.  We see more human moments thanks to Cavill’s introspection and Adams’s stable yet vulnerable Lois Lane.  Other headliners like Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane crowd the screen like a well-cast Shakespeare production.  Michael Shannon is a standout as the unrelenting villain General Zod.

Christ-imagery has always been a reference in the Superman mythos and this aspect is undeniable in the spiritual theming throughout the film.  How this film handles this side of the Man of Steel is laudable.  Clark never sees himself as a god but instead asks why God gave him his abilities.  When he weighs the responsibility of using his powers he has a Gethsemane moment, asking if he must indeed drink the cup that has been handed to him.  His Kryptonian father repeatedly tells him that he was born to bridge two worlds.  Superman isn’t Jesus, but his savior archetype helps us draw parallels between the spiritual and the human in a film world that isn’t always friendly to the Man of the Cross.

As a geeky summer movie season explodes, make this remake a priority.  Thanks to Zach Snyder’s crafty direction, a sophisticated script and just plain fun special effects, I’m a fan of Man of Steel.

"On my world, it stands for hope."

“On my world, it stands for hope.”

It’s All Geek to Me

Avengers Assemblage

Avengers Assemblage

It’s a great time to be a geek.  But you always knew that didn’t you?  Those of us who are unafraid to wear the banner of Geekdom have always known that embracing the counterculture of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, etc.. is just a fun way to live.  But it seems more and more that mainstream media is willing to buy into (and cash in on) the idea that a nerdy life is a wonderful life with a coolness all its own.  Shows like The Big Bang Theory and King of the Nerds prove that the geek subculture really isn’t “sub” anymore.

I muse on all this after walking the packed halls of Megacon in Orlando earlier this month.  Each year this geek culture convention seems more teeming with all walks of life; families with strollers decked out in Steampunk attire brush past way too many teenagers with Homestuck horns as they part ways for thirty-somethings in comic book spin off attire (I speak of my own crew here).

Perhaps the most telling harbinger of geek going mainstream is my favorite cult serial turned prime-time epic Doctor Who.  If the number of young and old fans sporting Doctor costumes at Megacon didn’t give it away, the fact that my mom saved her TV guide featuring Matt Smith’s mug  as the 11th Doctor really sealed the deal.  I’m sure they could have featured something from The Good Wife or even Celebrity Apprentice but this British classic was the chosen marketing du jour.  It makes me giddy.Well Disney Owns Both

So I admonish all those out there unafraid to take a weekend and parade around in costume, those who would watch a comic book  movie just as soon as a snooty foreign film, those who would dress their babies in Star Wars onesies to let your geek flag fly!  Let’s storm the walls of normal and make geek the new cool.  Not that we care though.  That’s the quintessential geek platform.  But consider this geeks, revel in your prime-time lineup.  There’s an Avengers show on the horizoPowdered Toast Man!n, plenty of new and old Big Bang and who knows what we’re in for with the new Star Wars regime.  There will always be no lack of “sexier than thou” shows but for the moment, even American Idol has been edged out by the likes of a raggedy Batman and Boy WondermAvatarsan in a blue box.Bad Loki!Schwarma

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