Monsters

Manga Review: Vampire Game by Judal

vampiregame Vampire Game didn’t irritate me enough to give it a bad review, but it didn’t wow me either. Although I didn’t enjoy it, my best friend loves it. Maybe I should put it this way... If you enjoy talking cats, silly jokes, and a princess preoccupied with getting into trouble, you’ll like Vampire Game.

You might ask yourself, "If Emz didn’t like it, why did she read beyond volume one?" Well, it was a discount buyers mistake all the way. One day while shopping, I expected to pass by the little manga kiosk with nothing but a groan because I had spent my book money on skeleton leg warmers. To my surprise, they were having a manga sale. So, if you think about it, Vampire Game is a manga worth a buck a volume and if you run into a manga sale like that, grab it up! For the rest of you, read this little review before you spend your hard-earned cash.

The story:  A once great vampire king named Duzell led a war against humans. The king of the humans used a spell to defeat Duzell. One hundred years later, Duzell has been reborn as a wildcat who falls into the hands of a princess named Ishtar who likes to get in trouble. A cute bodyguard named Darres is charged with making sure she doesn't get into trouble and boy does he earn his keep! Though she is being courted by the most eligible princes in the land, you get the feeling Darres is her romantic prospect.

Here are some highlights from the series:

  • Volume one: This was the beginning of the end for me. The cat is irritating and talks. The art reminded me of bible story cartoons from when I was a child.
  • Volume two: The tale starts to get a tad interesting as we learn that Duzell the cat, can turn into a human if they drink that human’s blood. Since Dunzell drank from Ishtar, he becomes a clone of her. There is a great sword competition where he is able to fight.
  • Volume three: The sword competition continues. We finally see this tale’s version of vampires which look like Hellraiser characters with no skin.
  • Volume four: We get to see some ghouly demons. My favorite quote from the whole series is in this volume, said by the princess of a neighboring kingdom. “Dad! There’s this really hot naked weirdo in the stable and he was fooling around with your horse.”
  • Volume five: Scary mermaids show up who have wings and sharp teeth.
  • Volume six: The story for me finally gets good. The whole castle is in chaos as the monsters are allowed to come on grounds and to flood out of the dungeon. Another good quote, this time from a warrior. “For the record I am not cleaning this mess up. These guys smell bad enough now, I don’t want to think about when they start to stiffen!”

I am not a fan of this sort of art and since it started in 1996, it is in the older style. I wouldn’t suggest buying this manga unless you want to spend hours reading many pages to get to that one funny joke or cool monster sequence.

Get your copy here from Amazon

To learn more about Vampire Game, by someone who likes this series, visit http://www.princessishtar.com/

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Rosario + Vampire by Akihisa Ikeda

rv

Poor Tsuknune. He’s a C student whose sent off to a monster school in the boondocks by his ignorant parents.

Rosario+Vampire starts out great, with a spooky bus ride complete with freaky bus driver spouting out inside jokes and warnings. Tsukune is let off in a desolate area where the leave-less trees are full of crows. As he follows the bone lined path towards the spooky looking haunted castle, a girl on a bike slams into him. Moka is a vampire girl who happens to feed on him five minutes after they meet. Once Tsukune makes it to school grounds, he learns Moka is not the only vampire.

Yokai academy is a school for monsters, but there’s not a goth in sight. These monsters are all pretty preps with hidden powers and vicious tempers. Tsukune must hide the fact that he is a mortal if he wants to stay alive.230px-Cover_of_Rosario1

There are werewolves, succubus, and different types of vampires in this tale, but the most terrifying monsters at the school are the mermaids. Yes, you heard me right. Normally beautiful buxom blonds and redheads with alluring eyes and undeniable beauty, the mermaids in this manga are devils in disguise. The seemingly innocent girls sprout fins from their ears and their months expand to cover almost their entire face with two rows of shark teeth intent on sucking the life force from whatever they latch onto in the water.

Vampire lore in this manga states that water (even swimming pool water) makes vampires weak because of its purifying quality. To take a bath, vampires must add an herb mix to neutralize the purifying effects. The vampire Moka also wears a “Rosario” necklace which when removed, unlocks her vampire powers and she turns into a mega hot super bitch.

Favorite moments:

  • Tsukune: “Where did you get this (school) flyer?” Mom: “Well, there was this scary looking monk and…” Tsukune: “I don’t want to go to some bizarre monk school!” (But a school with hot vamp girls is alright?)
  • A kid in class pipes up and asks his cat woman teacher a smart alack question. She in turn, scratches his eyes out, giggles, and then continues with her class.

True horror fans will adore this manga for its artistic detail in the haunted house-like school, raven filled trees, and elaborate monsters. There is an awful lot of chibi content. Luckily most of it makes you laugh, not groan. Rosario + Vampire is rated older teen, I suppose because of its panty shots and big chests rather than for violence.

Get your copy from Amazon here:  Rosario+Vampire

Theater or Renter: March 2009

Theater or Renter: March 2009 includes Five Speculative Fiction movies Watchmen, Race to Witch Mountain, Knowing, Monsters vs. Aliens, and The Haunting in Connecticut.  Will we watch? Will we rent? or do we even care? Rules of the Game: Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then share with us your comments: does the movie, it’s trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?

Watchmen:

Release Date:   MARCH 6th

Listed as:  Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: Legendary Pictures, Lawrence Gordon Productions, DC Comics

Director: Zack Snyder

Produced by:  Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Deborah Snyder

Written by:  David Hayter, Alex Tse, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

Stars: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson

The Plot / Story: Set in an alternate 1985 America where tensions between the US and the Soviet Union is high and the "Doomsday Clock" is set at five minutes to midnight, former superhero-turned vigilante Rorschach discovers that one of his former colleagues has been murdered. As he investigates the murder he uncovers a plot that is intent on killing and discrediting all past and present superheros. As he reconnects with members of his former crime-fighting legion, including Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan, they uncover a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy that not only links to their shared past but has catastrophic consequences for the future. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

For More Watchmen Fun:

Race to Witch Mountain:

Release Date: MARCH 13th

Listed as:  Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Director: Andy Fickman

Produced by:  Andrew Gunn, Mario Iscovich, Anne Marie Sanderlin

Written by:  Andy Fickman, Mark Bomback, Matt Lopez

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Tom Everett Scott

The Plot / Story: Advancing the storyline from the 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain, a Las Vegas cab driver and a discredited astrophysicist attempt to rescue two paranormal siblings from the hands of a villainous man. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Knowing:

Watch additional Knowing features here in the P:S HQ Knowing TV Spot - "Warning" Knowing TV Spot - "Message"

Release Date:  MARCH 20th

Listed as:  Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Studio: Summit Entertainment

Director:  Alex Proyas

Produced by:  Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch

Written by:  Alex Proyas, Stuart Hazeldine, Juliet Snowden

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne

The Plot / Story: John Koestler, a professor, finds that the contents of a time capsule at his son's elementary school make predictions of the future that have come true. The predictions lead the teacher to believe the world is ending, and that he and his son are involved in the apocalypse. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Monsters vs. Aliens:

Release Date:  MARCH 27th

Listed as:  Animation, Sci-Fi

Studio: DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures

Director: Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman

Produced by: Lisa Stewart, Jill Hopper, Lisa Stewart, Latifa Ouaou

Written by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger

Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Rainn Wilson, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Jimmy Kimmel

The Plot / Story: When California girl Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall.  She is labeled a monster and captured by the military and held at an institution that houses other monsters.  When a UFO lands and an alien overlord named Gallaxhar demands that Earth be given to them, General W.R. Monger suggests to the President that the monsters can provide the firepower to defeat the aliens. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The Haunting in Connecticut:

Release Date:  MARCH 27th

Listed as:  Horror, Thriller

Studio: Lionsgate, Gold Circle Films

Director: Peter Cornwell

Produced by:  Scott Niemeyer, Norm Waitt, Steve Whitney, Paul Brooks, Daniel Farrands, Phyllis Laing, Wendy Rhoads, Andrew Trapani

Written by:  Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe

Stars: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight, Ty Wood, Erik J. Berg, John Bluethner, D.W. Brown, John B. Lowe

The Plot / Story: Based on a "true" story, Lionsgate’s The Haunting in Connecticut charts one family’s terrifying, real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner’s clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now unspeakable terror awaits, when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the powerful dark forces of the supernatural, returns to unleash a new kind of horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The “true” story was featured on the Discovery Channel television show called "A Haunting.”  It was actually one their pilot episode called "A Haunting in Connecticut.”  For more on the episode check out wikipedia episode guide here


Netflix, Inc.Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home - Try free for 2 weeks

  	 Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets!Don't wait. Guarantee your seat before you go and  avoid a sold out show. Skip the box office lines and buy movie tickets at Fandango.com.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Literature of Change

We have discussed What Speculative Fiction is, What makes it Progressive, and Why it is important that it is progressive,  but now it is vitally important to clarify some key points about the nature of Progressive Speculative Fiction.  There are two equally disastrous paths we can take from here.  As with everything in life, we have to find the middle path between the opposites:

  • The Light Side: Everything is great, and will only get better.  The future will be a universally happy place.  We are heading towards a utopia.
  • The Dark Side: Entropy rules the world and things are only getting worse.  The future will be a gloomy and sinister place.  We are heading towards a distopia.

Both are extremes, and neither can ever paint a valid world that has any grounding in reality.

Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

Damien G Walter at the Guardian wrote a fascinating article about the utopian and distopian sins of Science Fiction (read it here).  He asks the basic question that I would love to paraphrase: Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

From the recent releases, you might assume the answer is a yes, but it doesn't have to be.

Gloomy has its place in any story, but if that story only strikes one note throughout, then it become boring, and the audience looses interest.  We can see this trend with Lost and Heroes, but shows like Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Sanctuary show that it s possible to strike a happy median.

Sometimes a story has to be bleak and gloomy throughout to make the point, like 1984 by George Orwell, but more often then not writers take the gloom to an unnecessary extreme.

The challenge for writers of science fiction today is not to repeat the same dire warnings we have all already heard, or to replicate the naive visions of the genres golden age, but to create visions of the future people can believe in (The Guardian).

Must SF fix the worlds problems?

Kathryn Cramer at Tor had an interesting take on Damien's post (read it here):

I view science fiction partly as a set of perceptual tools we take with us into the world. I don’t think SF can be held responsible for finding solutions to all the world’s problems, but I think it is SF’s task to help us understand them (Tor).

Whether or not the writer understands or believes it, all fiction is a perceptual filter that shows their readers/viewers the world from a certain point of view.  People are influenced by these perspectives to differing degrees.  The quality of the fiction plays a part in that, but so too does the structure and discipline of the reader/viewer's mind.

It is too much to ask any writer to solve the world's problems in their work, but they have to understand that they are responsible for show the cost and consequences of their character's actions.

For example, we like to believe that people are born good or evil, and that it is alright to be amoral from time to time.  This is why so many people reacted negatively to George Lucas' edits of the original Star Wars Trilogy and the addition of the prequel.  He clarified Han Solo's morality and showed how a good person can become evil.  In fact, it has been argued by C. S. Lewis and others that their truly is no such thing as evil.  There is only vile, horrible, and misguided attempt to do good.  If you look at most of the "monsters" in history, they are people who thought they were doing good even though they wrought horrors on the world.

It is the job of every writer to show that every action has an effect.

A Positive Science Fiction Platform?

Jason Staddard over at Strange and Happy put forth his Stranger and Happier: A Positive Science Fiction Platform.  While it is well intentioned, I think it swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Let's go through the planks in the platform.

Positive science fiction starts with acknowledging that there are positive things happening, now (Strange and Happy).

Is this necessary? No.

Often an SF writer will start here, but others will start with the fear of the current situation or from the perspective that the current state of affairs in beyond saving, and impose a new solution to avert the mistakes the present state could lead too.

  • Star Trek starts with a world war and global catastrophe that nearly brought about another dark age.
  • Lestat saw the system of mandated belief an filial duty as corrupt and corrupting.  It wasn't until he became a vampire that he started looking for a better way.

That does not mean we should ignore this plank, but simply take it as advise rather than a rule.

Positive science fiction is about the possibility of positive change (Strange and Happy).

Absolutely.  In the Project: Shadow Manifesto, I call this simply "hope for the future."  Things can get better, but that doesn't mean they are destined to.  If there is no hope, there is nothing at stake for the characters and no tension in the story (What is Progressive SF?)

Positive science fiction has a protagonist or protagonists that can effect change (Strange and Happy).

Definitely.  This is the problem I have pointed to time and time again with SF media, and why I didn't like Battlestar Galactica for a long time.

This ties directly into hope.  If it is impossible for a character to affect change, then there is no tension.  The villain will win.

Positive science fiction isn’t afraid to look at challenging definitions of “positive (Strange and Happy).”

This is where the writer has an important question to answer.  "For whom is the change positive?"

Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side is necessary to bring balance to the force.  There are many ways to take this, but it is fundamental to Progressive Speculative Fiction.

Positive science fiction inspires people to act and influence positive change (Strange and Happy).

So long as it is not preachy, I agree.  If the story inspires the reader/viewer to make a possitive change within themselves, then the story succeeded.  There isn't enough time or space for me to list all of the stories that have influenced me positively.

Literature of Change

There is a common thread weaving through this discussion.  Jetse de Vries on his blog, In the Plane of the Ecliptic found the middle ground between gloom and naivite, the answer we have been looking for:

I disagree with the cliché that SF is the literature of ideas (they help, but they're not the core): to me, SF is the literature of change.

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of change: things change for the worse, or things change for the better (I realise life is much more complex than that: some things improve, other things worsen, and some things don't change very much. I'm looking, admittedly roughly, at the net result here) (In the Plane of the Ecliptic).

Even the simplist horror and fantasy deals with the nature of authority and friendship.  Change is the only constant in the universe, and Speculative Fiction is the literature of change.  Writers ask themselves, "What if this happened?"  The answer is usually, everything would change.

How writers explore the changes is the difference between and great and a mediocre story.

Speculative Fiction BOX Sets Limited Time Deals

OMG I love Christmas, and Amazon made it even easier to give this year.  They have put out some excellent must own SF box sets at prices that are practically a give away.  The only catch is that the deals are limited time only so if you are thinking on doing this don’t procrastinate!

  • get your copy of sg-1 Stargate SG-1 - The Complete Series Collection $99.99:  This show rules!  I have the first three seasons but had to get this one when I saw the deal imagine paying less than $2 per DVD full of Stargate goodness!.  Stargate SG-1 Season 1, Season 2,  Season 3, Season 4, Season 5, Season 6, Season 7, Season 8, Season 9, Season 10,  Disc 51 includes: Ark of Truth Promo, Continuum Promo, "Stargate SG-1: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 7)", From Stargate to Atlantis: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1), Behind the Stargate: Secrets Revealed (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1), Disc 52 includes: "Sci Fi Inside: Stargate SG-1's 200th Episode (SG-1 Season 10)", "Behind the Mythology of Stargate SG-1 (SG-1 Seasons 1-10)", Stargate SG-1: True Science, Disc 53 includes: **Season Three, Timeline to the Future, Part 1: Legacy of the Gate, Part II: Secrets of the Gate, Part III: Beyond the Gate, **Season Four, SG-1 Video Diary: Teryl Rothery, "Stargate SG-1 Season 5: Gateway to Adventure ", Stargate SG-1: The 100th Episode, **Season Five: SG-1 Video Diary: Don S. Davis, **Season Six: SG-1 Directors Series: Smoke and Mirrors", SG-1 Directors Series: The Changeling, SG-1 Directors Series: Memento, SG-1 Directors Series: Prophecy, SG-1 Video Diary: Richard Dean Anderson Paradise Lost", Disc 54: **Season Seven: SG-1 Directors Series: Revisions, SG-1 Directors Series: Heroes, SG-1 Directors Series: Resurrection, "Behind the Scenes: Journey Inside Lost City", The Storyboard Process, "Bra'tac vs. Ronan: Designing the Fight", Stargate Magic: Inside the Lab, Richard Dean Anderson: "My Life as a Mime", **Season Eight: Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Amanda Tapping" "Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Michael Shanks" SG-1 Directors Series: Threads, Profile On: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, The Last Day of Teal'C, SG-1 Directors Series: Moebius, “Stargate SG-1 Alliance: The Making of The Video Game"
  • Battlestar Galactica Franchise Collection: $99.99 (Season One | Season 2.0 | Season 2.5 | Season 3.0 | BSG Razor)
  • The Ultimate Matrix Collection$24.49 (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions/ The Animatrix)
  • The Mel Brooks Collection: $38.99 (Blazing Saddles / Young Frankenstein / Silent Movie / Robin Hood: Men in Tights / To Be or Not to Be / History of the World, Part 1 / The Twelve Chairs / High Anxiety)
  • Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection$26.99 (Planet of the Apes [1968] / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the)
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection$22.99 8 Disc Collection
  • Alien Quadrilogy$32.99 (Alien/ Aliens /Alien 3 /Alien Resurrection)
  • Jim Henson's Fantasy Film Collection$20.49 (Labyrinth / MirrorMask / The Dark Crystal)
  • Godzilla DVD Collection 7-Pack$64.99 (Godzilla (1998) / Godzilla 2000 / vs. King Ghidora / and Mothra The Battle for Earth / vs. Destoroyah / vs. Space Godzilla / vs. Mechagodzilla / Giant Monsters All Out Attack / vs. Megaguirus)

Forrest J Ackerman, Deceased.

According to the LA Times

Ackerman, a writer, editor and literary agent who has been credited with coining the term "sci-fi" in the 1950s, died Thursday of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, said John Sasser, a friend who is making a documentary on Ackerman.

Ackerman was 92 when he passed away and an inspiration to many. One of the ways he influenced our generation and those that came before us, was his position as editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Though of his more famous achievements he was the writer/creator of the characters Vampirella and Jeanie of Questar.

He was a huge fan of all things fantasy, horror, and sci-fi which as stated in his LA Times Obituary, he was

a man who actually had known Lugosi and Karloff and whose priceless collection of science-fiction, horror and fantasy artifacts ran to some 300,000 items.

Which could possibly be the largest in the world, if not close.

Watch Forrest J Ackerman brief history of early Sci-Fi video here

His death is a great loss to all of fandom across the greater Speculative Fiction genre.