Saturday, 21 December 2013

Taking a bit of a break

 Thanks to a combination of work, Christmas and other things, I'm not really going to have too much time for the blog for the next week or so.
 So, I'm going to take some time off and come back just after Christmas. See you all then.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Comics: Marada The She-Wolf TPB (Titan Comics)


  "Her mother was the first born of Caesar. Her father, a prince in his own land, a slave in Rome.  At the age of four , Marada saw her father broken on the rack, disembowelled and, finally, drawn and quartered. It was a public execution and, though the Prince was a long time dying, he uttered not a sound. That night, Marada's mother fled the eternal City, taking her child to be raised free, far from the place that had claimed the life of her beloved. That was twenty years ago.
 The child is a woman now, and that woman a warrior known and respected throughout the empire"

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Metal Project: Heavy Metal Heaven

The Metal Project: Heavy Metal Songs About Metal, gathered in one place.

  My last collection of songs was, I have to admit, quite a harsh listening experience so today I'm going to go for stuff that's a wee bit more melodic. You'd be surprised at how much Heavy Metal is actually quite singalong.
  Relatively speaking.
 Enjoy.

 Majesty - Metal Union (Germany 2013)

(Manowaresque "Hail Metal" Anthem)
Honour to: b3rgaz

Lawless - Heavy Metal Heaven (UK 2013)

(A band that just went on my "Investigate further" list. 
Catchy & melodic.
And they're British!)
Honour to: Dromedarius

I don't post many ballads so this next one is a bit of a novelty.

Terasbetoni - Metallisydan (Finland 2005)

(Stirring, "Lighters in the air" Power Ballad)
Honour to: kechrin

Rocka Rollas - Riding The Metal Storm (Sweden 2012)

(Uptempo and catchy Power Metal)
Honour to: Nergal135

Sorcerer's Spell - Jagermeister Metal (UK 2012)

(Bloody hell. Another British band!
A catchy ditty about the infamous liquer)
Honour to: SorcerersSpell

What the hell. Let's have another British band.

Battleaxe - Movin' Metal Rock (UK 1984)

(NWOBHM)
Honour to: DieLiebeNerthus

And finally...

Reckless Love - I Love Heavy Metal (Finland 2013)

(A poppy, Leppardesque hymn to 80s Glam Metal)
Honour to: Sam Logan

That's all folks. 





Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cheapo DVD Review: Dragonwolf (2013)

"The Devil's Cauldron, a city where depravity and violence has forged a society in which only the lethal and callous can survive;  two young men who possess the intellect and ferocity to flourish, carve a name for themselves as the most efficient and unstoppable hit men. Side by side, these two brothers are the deadliest killers,  feared by even the most evil criminals...
  But what happens when a beautiful and deadly woman comes between two friends who happen to be highly trained assassins?"

 "Dragonwolf" tells the story of two men, once friends, now mortal enemies and, through flashbacks, how they came to fall out over a woman.
 Not a massively original story but it's put together well, nicely shot and the fight scenes aren't bad at all. Energetic and reasonably inventive, in fact.

 So why did I stop watching this film halfway through and throw it back on the shelf for two weeks?
 In fact, the only reason I bothered picking it up again was that I haven't done a film piece in a while.

The problem is the dialogue.

 I don't know if this is a foreign-language film that was dubbed by minimum wage nightshift workers suffering from sleep-deprivation or the entire cast are all speaking a language they only just learnt. Either way, things move along Ok when nobody is talking but as soon as anybody opens their mouth it gets uncomfortable to listen to.
 It doesn't help that our unfortunate thesps are given lines that desperately want to be Tarantino-style cool but veer off course and hit "Pretentious" instead.
 There are other problems. One supporting character has a bad case of Incurable Ham Actor. Another is the sort of jive-talking Black Guy stereotype that stopped being acceptable somewhere in the 80s.
 Then there's the three swordsmen who seem to have teleported in from another movie entirely - some Japanese thing about demon-hunters would be my guess - quickly followed by a swordswoman dressed like a go-go dancer who seems to have been added purely to up the fanservice quota. God knows she doesn't really do much beyond tidy up a few plot holes. It's a bit random.

Dragonwolf does have some things going for it - fights especially - and if it wasn't for the hamfisted dialogue I'd be a lot more impressed.  Approach with caution.

How much did I pay for this? £4
Was it worth it? I'd be lying if I said I was anything other than disappointed.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Beauty and the Beast

  Welcome to another edition of Heavy Metal Cover Girls, a semi-regular feature devoted to the lovely ladies who grace the covers of  Metal, Hard Rock and AOR albums.
 There are lots of album covers devoted to half-naked men but to be honest, I'm never going to be posting any of them. Sorry.
 Anyway, the theme this time around is: Women and their pets. Some of which must take a hell of a lot of cleaning up after.

 Let's start with the one that inspired this particular post.

 The Ragged Saints - The Sound Of Breaking Free (Finland 2013)

One of my favourite recent album covers. 
Just screams "Joy" and "freedom" doesn't it?
Band website here if you want to have a listen: http://theraggedsaints.com/

Continuing the "Big cats" idea.

Elikat - Caught In Love EP (Spain 1989)

Another cover that's rather elegant.

If you're not a big fan of snakes, look away now.

Atrocity - Okkult  (Germany 2013)

Just out of shot, several nervous roadies armed with baseball bats, just in case the big-ass python gets peckish.

Sturm Und Drang - Gaduation Day (Finland 2012)

Graduation from "Snake-dancing stripper" school presumably. 

Alright snake-phobes you can come back out now. 

Sphinx - Burning Lights (Germany 1985)

You know, I think if she wants to walk around in a swamp while topless, I'm just going to let her get on with it. She's got a freaking crocodile. You'd be amazed how much personal space people are willing to give you when your pet can bite their leg off.

Altar Of Sin - The Damned Dogs From Hell  (Spain 2010)

I like dogs. I think I prefer Labradors though. They are less inclined to try and eat your soul.

Zodiac - A Hiding Place (Germany 2013)

  Screw having bluebirds as your Animal Friends. They might sing all pretty and stuff but can they bring back a moose for dinner? If you're ever alone in the forest try and make friends with the wolves. Apart from anything else, if they like you, they won't rip out your liver and eat it while you're still alive.

Longings Past - An Angel's Tale (USA 1994)


Aethra - Tales from Distant Skies And Far Beyond (Mexico 2003)

A couple of young ladies and their scaly BFFs. Since the natural instinct of the dragon is to eat maidens, the early training routine must have been interesting.

And finally, one last Big Cat cover. 
I know the joke you were expecting me to make.
Not going to happen.

Twisted Tower Dire - Make It Dark (USa 2011)

A cover that to me, says "Shit. We're lost"

That's all folks.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wall Art in Portsmouth and Southsea

  I'm not one of life's travellers. Some bloggers are out there trekking around the world, watching the sunrise from the mountains of Peru, drinking tea with Tuaregs, dancing on a beach in the moonlight...that sort of thing. And good luck to them.
Me? I'd rather stay home with a good book and a plate of nice biscuits.
Still, in my own small way I do a spot of exploring from time to time. Instead of going left to go home, I'll go right. I'll suddenly decide to see what's down the little alley I've walked past a hundred times. Sometimes it's fun to see what happens when you go the long way round.
 That's how I came to be poking about around the back of Southsea's shopping centre and discovered that somebody had done a spot of decorating;
southsea wall art

Wall art

Southsea street art
 For context, each of these is about 6 feet tall.

 That got me thinking. "Y'know, there's other stuff like this that I walk past all the time. Maybe it's worth documenting"
 The next set of pictures are all from Guildhall Walk, on the wall above..err...the public bogs. 
Sci-fi wall art
 A few years back the Portsmouth City museum had a Sci-Fi exhibition and these went up to promote it.
Pompey street art
 The exhibition has been and gone but the aliens and monsters are still here.
Portsmouth street art
I did a bit of Googling and it turns out these were done by Sifer Design
If you look HERE  you can see all of the paintings in context.

The last pics are from the hoardings surrounding the old Zurich building, just off Portsmouth city centre. There's quite a few of them but these two are my favourites.
Strong island mural
  I'm convinced that whoever did this is a Metalhead. If it's not on a metal album cover, it ought to be. 
Portsmouth mural
Sadly this one has been knocked about by wind and rain so a bit battered. Shame.

A little bit of research reveals that these were done with official sanction by a team of graffitti artists under the banner of We Are Pseudonym.  Article HERE.

 There's more artwork scattered across Portsmouth and Southsea so next time I'm feeling energetic, I think I'll dig out my camera and go do a spot of exploring. 

 That's all folks. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Metal Project: Metal Made In Hell

Q: What the hell is this "Metal Project" thing you keep blathering on about?
A: Easy. I look for Heavy Metal songs that have "Metal" in the title.

Q: All of them?

A: Well I don't do bedroom projects (Unless I like them.) I don't do instrumentals (Unless I like them) 

and I don't do NSBM if I can help it (Because I don't want anything to do with that Nazi shit.)


 Because I'm in a particularly foul mood for some reason, this time around we're going with stuff from the realms of Black Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal and anything else that hates you and wants to make your ears bleed. 
 Brace yourselves, boys and girls.
This is gonna get ugly. 

The Crown - Death Metal Holocaust (Sweden 2004)

Honour to: henrikw84

Quintessenz- Black Metal Holocaust (Germany 2013)


Iron Gang - Speed Metal Made In Hell (Colombia 2008)

Honour to: drunkardfox

Fornication - Fist F****ing Black Metal (France 2002)

Honour to: PartyWithSatan

Cadaver - Decomposed Metal Skin (Norway 2004)

Honour to: shrederkiller

Blackrider - Full Metal Madness (Mexico 2013)

Honour to: /PossessedByMetal

And to finish this one seems appropriate.

Abigail - Final Metal Attack (Japan 2009)

Honour to: PartyWithSatan

That's all folks.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Turning Away

 For today's post the theme is: Girls who have their back to the artist.
 I'm not entirely sure why this is so common. The cynic in me suggests that some artists are uncomfortable drawing faces but if you look at the selection below, you'll see that there's some fantastic artwork on display.
   Don't get me started on how many metal album covers are just a close-up of a woman's bum.

  Anyway, here's a small selection of lovely ladies contemplating...stuff on the horizon.
I promise that all of them are wearing clothes.
Maybe not a lot of clothes but at least they aren't streaking.

Silent Force -Walk The Earth(Germany 2007)

metal cover  harem girl
Hopefully the portal doesn't actually dump her into earth's upper atmosphere otherwise this could get messy.

Payload - Odyssey Dawn (Finland 2013)

girl on swing
She seems strangely casual about the imminent nuclear destruction. 
It is entirely possible she caused it. 
Some people are really good at holding a grudge.

The next one is a bit sketchier in execution but I quite like it for some reason.

Legion Warcry - The Way To Escape (Italy 2012)

woman looking through magic mirror
Is it a window? A magic mirror?  Either way, wherever it's showing, she can never go back there.


 HB - The Battle Of God (Finland 2011)

metal album woman warrior
I have no idea why she's wearing a stocking on her arm. Hardy Boyz fan, maybe?

Evershine - Renewal (Italy 2011)

woman orbital laser
Personally I'd be legging it at this point. Whatever that is, it's unlikely to be good.
The last one is more AOR but what the hell, it fits the theme.

Two Of a Kind (NLD? 2007)

 girl corset facing away
 Ah, the dangers of strapless corsets.She's never wearing it again without judicious application of double-sided tape.
Incidentally, how come there's only one person on the cover? You'd expect...two..maybe?
(Snarking aside, I own this album and it's not bad.)

That's all folks.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Dog Who Loved Apples.


 I remember the first time I met Coco. 
  He had been living in a barn and fed whenever his previous owners could be bothered. As a result he was painfully thin with bald patches the size of my fist across his back and sides.
"Anxiety" said the vet from the rescue centre.
 That first night  I lay in my bed and listened to Coco pacing from room to room downstairs, whimpering because there was nobody around and he thought we'd abandoned him.
 He did that the next night.
And the night after that.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Terrible Metal Album Covers - Chapter 21

  I apologise for the extended layoff but a combination of work and other things meant the blog got put on the back burner for a bit.  I know, let's look at some more godawful Heavy Metal/Hard Rock album covers, shall we?
 As always, a terrible album cover does not mean the band are also bad - just in dire need of a new graphics team.

Death Mask - Split The Atom (USA 1986)

The experimental Tonsil-Removal laser worked magnificently. 
Pity about the side effects.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Metal Project: Demo Days

The Metal Project: Finding Heavy Metal songs about Metal since 2011. 
Well I needed a hobby.

  Once upon a time, way before Myspace and Youtube and Facebook, an aspiring young band would record a few songs onto a cassette tape, paste on a photocopied label and flog them at gigs. In time a vigorous tape-trading scene emerged, passing cassette from fan to fan. Through this, some bands went on to make a name for themselves. Others never got that call. 
This post is dedicated to them. 
Obviously the sound quality is going to be somewhat less than polished but hopefully we may just unearth a few gems. Enjoy.

Low Valley - You're Heavy Metal (Portugal  1984)

Honour to: rumblephist

Rigor Mortis - Metalstorm   (Germany 1985)

Honour to: RigorMortis198588

Teacher's Pett - Metal Soldiers (USA 1986)

Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Angelkillers - Fighting For Metal (Italy 1984)

Honour to: DisciplineOfSteel

Incidentally the lead singer for that track is listed as "Screaming Beast"
I felt you might like to know this. 

Bad Heaven - Metal On Metal (USA 1985)

Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Charter- Princess De Metal (France 1984)

Honour to: metallife78

Saratoga - United Metal (NLD 1990)


Honour to: heavymetaller1978

And finally a band that did go on to bigger and better things. 

Death - Dead By Metal (USA 1984)

(An early outing for the Death Metal pioneers)
Honour to: ledzeprox666666

That's all folks


Saturday, 9 November 2013

150,000 Pageviews. Wow.

 When I first set up this blog, it was purely because I wanted somewhere to talk about things that interested me. I couldn't quite work out what exactly I wished to discuss so eventually thought "The hell with it. Let's talk about everything." And so it was.
 I can definitely remember my absolute delight when I saw the pageview counter begin to click up.
"Brilliant." I thought "People who aren't me are actually reading this thing."
 
 So imagine how pleased I was when I looked over at the pageview counter this morning and saw it had gone past the 150K mark.

 Cheers guys. Thanks for stopping by.
And to everybody that left comments and plugged me on their blogs - here's an enormous thumbs up to: 

Dale Cooper   Janene   Helena   Fortissima   Ian Cochrane  
Louis Van Deven   Jersey Lil   Jayme Art   Ani Krishna
Nothingprofound   Dan Bonser   Umashankar   PBScott
Unikorna   Rum-Punch Drunk   JKweath   Ian C
Sci-Fi-Gene   Charlene Lyon   Plastic Mancunian   Kevin D'Arcy  
Melanie Jean Juneau   Rich Red   Annie  Nimsy
Scorpion Sting  Phil Holtberg  Mike Pease  Neil Killion
Buffalo Theory MTL Robert Morschel
Kyle  William T Co   Darrin L Hammond  Anastasia F-B
My Travel Affairs  Sabre  Paul Worthington Gelaibee
Furita Rhapsados  White Widdow   The Wrestling Doctor

As well as:
Everybody over at BlogCatalog and all the Youtube Metalheads whose videos made The Metal Project possible.  

Just for the hell of it (and because I've been looking for an excuse to post it) here's a pic of the lovely Jinxy - keyboardist/vocalist with German Gothic Ghouls Santa Hates You
 And here she is, managing to look gorgeous, if rather disturbing, in one of their music vids.


 That's all folks

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Three Anime in need of a DVD release.

 DVD quite possibly saved the UK anime scene. (That and torrenting, obviously) but during the switchover, a lot of good titles got forgotten about.
As to why, there's probably all sorts of good reasons - licensing issues, labels preferring to release new material, Illuminati intervention - but wouldn't it be nice if you could sit down and watch the following without tracking errors and tape-snow?
 Here's a few things I'd quite like to see back on sale. For the time being I've restricted myself to things that actually got a UK video release first time around. (Some of them do have a US DVD but that's not the same, is it? )
 In no particular order:

Wicked City

 An uneasy truce between the Human and Demon worlds is protected by agents from both sides. With the treaty up for renewal and terrorists bent on unleashing hell on earth, a human and a beautiful demon woman are paired up to protect the one man crucial to the peace process. Pity he's such a dick.

 Normally I loathe "Tits and tentacle" horror anime with a passion but although this one is violent and sometimes downright disturbing, (oh dear gods, there's some places that should never have gnashing teeth) "Wicked City" has more going for it than shock value.
 The character designs are quite angular and take a bit of getting used to but it is nice to see female characters that are obviously meant to be grown women. Female lead Maki is cool, collected and competent and although some horrible things happen to her, keeps getting back up to get stuck in again.
 Male lead Taki is a bit of a knob sometimes but is likewise competent and it is nice seeing their initial sparring evolve into something warmer.
 The bad guys are like something HP Lovecraft would come up with if he got talking with HR Giger after a dose of absinth and then there's the Spider Woman...
 Actually, let's not talk about her. I watched this the other day and after that scene it took a crowbar to get my legs uncrossed again.
Wicked City is probably best not watched with company but if you like the darker end of the spectrum, this is worth seeing.

El-Hazard - The Magnificent World (OAV series)

  A mysterious woman transports three Japanese pupils and their borderline-alkie teacher to a fantastic new world. A world facing something of a crisis. El-Hazard desperately needs a way to stop the invading Bugrom insect-men and to do that involves teenager Makoto dressing up as ..erm..a Princess.

 A cross-dressing hero... a beautiful woman who is really a Weapon of Mass Destruction and who has to be wound up on a regular basis...adorable living armour..spies and giant bugs and priestesses and romance and humour and a giant purple hippo...

This series is certainly inventive. Admittedly the story is the usual "Where the hell are we and why do these people think we're here to save them?" thing we've been seeing since The Wizard Of Oz but it's done with panache and some absolutely glorious Arabian-inspired design work.
 Considering this series is stuffed full of memorable, dynamic female characters it's a nice touch that they manage to make hero Makoto,  nutjob Jinnai and drunken slob Fujisawa-Sensei strong enough to hang with the girls without coming off as wimps or macho douchenozzles.
    An additional bonus is the excellent English dub which features the most crazed laugh in animation history.  
 One of the best things Pioneer ever released in the UK and if you like "Tenchi Muyo", there's a pretty good chance you'll like this.
 Since I am a massive fan of lethal - but curiously sympathetic -  War-Doll Ifurita, in lieu of a trailer here's a tribute AMV somebody did. In Russian but it still works.
Honour to: xurd666

Macross - Do You Remember Love?


  The SDF-1 Space Fortress and her ill-assorted mixture of crew and civilians were left stranded in space after an engine test went haywire. After fighting off wave upon wave of hostile aliens, the Macross has finally come home to Earth, only to find the militaristic Zentraedi have got there first.
 Meanwhile, young fighter pilot Hikaru and aspiring singer Lynn Minmay find themselves thrown together by circumstances. What neither of them realise is that the Zentraedi have taken a special interest in the young songstress...

 The Macross tv series was a massive hit in Japan and (after some heavy re-editing) later in the USA so a big-budget movie was inevitable.
 Considering this film dates from 1984 it still stands up well. The Macross franchise has always been based on the three pillars of Love, Music... and freaking awesome fighter jets that turn into giant robots. All are present and correct.
 At the core of the story is the relationship between Hikaru and Minmay, which gets complicated when no-nonsense officer Misa enters play. Unlike a lot of other movie love triangles, this never seems tacked-on.
Music... Ahh now this is a definite strong point. The orchestral score is majestic all the way through and then you get one of the most peculiarly Japanese moments in anime history when Minmay wins over an entire enemy fleet with a love song.
It makes sense in context.
 And just in case this film is sounding sappy, there's the semi-legendary transforming Mecha and some classic anime dogfighting. The short, vicious Mecha duel between human ace Max and alien giantess  Millia being a particular highlight. As is the spectacular final battle.
 "Macross-Do You Remember Love" was released on VHS by Kiseki but when they fell off the face of the earth nobody was in a hurry to pick up the DVD rights. Since the original Japanese  companies have spent the last couple of decades in legal trench warfare, I can't see anybody wanting to get involved in that mess anytime soon.
Bugger.
  Rather than posting the trailer, here's that dogfight I was talking about. 


  I was originally going to do this as a Top Ten but since the piece was already getting rather long, I thought I'd best chop it off here.

 There's a few others I can think of that I might cover at a later date: Wings of Honneamise. Venus Wars. Genesis Surviver Gaiarth...

Then of course there's a lot of stuff that never got a UK release that should have done.  The second Urusei Yatsura movie immediately springing to mind.

So, anybody out there got any suggestions?  I'd love to hear them.

  That's all folks.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Comic: Vampire Vixens Of The Wehrmacht (2013)

sexy nazi vampire
Created by Alex Ronald. Written by The Emperor and Alex Ronald. Art by Alex Ronald

 May 1940.  Britain stands alone against the Nazi War Machine.  As if things weren't bad enough, Churchill learns that the Germans have terrifying new allies. Vampires.
   Through cunning use of the Black Arts, one of these vampires is enticed over to serve the British cause.  Now the Special Occult Executive's newest agent and her reluctant human partner are off to retrieve a very special magical artifact.  

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Look Out! She's Got A Violin!

Welcome once again to the wonderful world of Rock/Metal cover art. This time around we're going to meet some marvelous musical maidens.  Try not to cough during the performance.
Trust me. These ladies may do more than glare at you.

Mantus - Demut (Germany 2010)

Beautiful woman with violin cover art.
An elegant young lady seeks out a quiet corner to practice her music. ..
Wait...
Why is there a whole mess of human bones just lying there?
Let's just back away before she sees us, shall we?

Mandragora Negra - Suenos De Realidad (Spain 2012)

So I'm assuming there's some hidden meaning here, or some symbolism at play.
And if anybody knows what it is, drop me an email. Try to use short words, please. 

Here's what they sound like. Melodic Power Metal and not bad, either.

Mago De Oz - Love And Oz (Spain 2011)

A nice elegant cover, and a nice, elegant, young cover girl. 
(I can't actually read Spanish but as far as I can tell, 
this is a compilation of Ballads from the Iberian folk-rockers. )

Another Spanish band and another violin -toting angel.
That's probably just a statistical fluke. 

Secret Signs -For A Lifetime (Spain 2012)

 
Violin purists are probably going "How will she get a decent tone out of that?
And where's her bloody bow?"
Meanwhile the rest of us are wondering why we never see nudist angels when we go roaming the woods.
Horseshit, lager cans and the odd redfaced jogger are more common round my way. 

Seven Dark Eyes - ...Across Oneiric lands (Italy 2008) 

Well a wandering swordswoman needs to have a hobby.
You can't be slaying and slaughtering 24/7, can you?

(BTW "Oneiric" means "Pertaining to dream". You're welcome.)  

All the covers so far have had a certain elegance to them, maybe even a touch of the wistful.
Time to take the blatant fanservice up a notch. .

Eden's Curse - Symphony Of Sin (USA/Germany/Italy 2013)

I would like this cover a lot more if it weren't for two things.
The leaves superglued to her boobs. 
Sorry, but that just smacks of the record label panicking.
"Quick, Cover up her nips."
Otherwise it's quite well done in an arty calendar sort of way.

Here's what they sound like:
Pretty good if you ask me.
I don't suppose there's any chance of you lot visiting Portsmouth is there? 

That's all folks. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Anime: The World Of Narue (2003)


  Teenager Kazuto Izuka is a thoroughly ordinary teenage boy. Narue Nanase is an unusual teenage girl who claims to be an alien. Most people think she's a weirdo looking for attention but when Kazuto is attacked by a bizarre mutant dog-monster, he's rescued by Narue and her trusty baseball bat.
 It's when she reveals that she can teleport that things get interesting.

As it turns out, she was telling the truth all along.

  Urusei Yatsura, Ah! My Goddess, Video Girl Ai, Tenchi Muyo,  Onegai Teacher, Kanokon...
  Anime has a long and proud tradition of pairing hapless teenage boys up with girls who have something special about them. In fact, there's a reason series like this are known as MagicalGirlfriend anime. There's quite a few of them too.
 And that might be the problem I have with this series. It's definitely not the worst anime I've ever seen. (There's a blog post I'll manage one day.) but there's very little here that another series hasn't already done and usually better.

  Kazuto and Narue are likeable enough, I suppose, but aren't particularly memorable and since they pair up in episode one there's no real progression in their relationship. No real drama either. They just sort of pootle along having mildly amusing adventures.

 The first episode suggests that Narue might have to spend time fighting off hostile aliens but they don't bother showing up again until the very last episode.  Narue's sister shows up midway through but after the initial kerfuffle, slots neatly into the cast as though she'd been there all along. There's a UFO-obsessed classmate who is determined to unravel Narue's "secret" - but sends the entire 12 episodes utterly failing to notice that something is going on.

 You get the idea. Plot threads that nobody picks up on. A story that has only the sketchiest underlying arc. Characters that aren't as interesting as they ought to be.
To use a Buckaroo Banzai quote: This series goes nowhere and does nothing.

 World of Narue isn't horrendous but it's the anime equivalent of  digestive biscuits -  something to resort to when you haven't anything more interesting available.

 
 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Metal Project: Through Metal And Madness

The Metal Project. The answer to the question: How many heavy metal songs can you find on Youtube with "Metal" in the title? 

 Another selection with no real theme to it.  Have you ever heard of the dog breed the "Bitsa"? (As in "Bitsa dis...Bitsa dat") Well this selection is like that.

Cult Of The Fox - Through Metal And Madness (Sweden 2011)

(Unpretentious old-school stuff with a bit of a crunch to it.)
Honour to: metalboundrecords

Angorya - Hermanos Del Metal (Argentina 2010)

(Thrashers proving once again that Spanish is perfectly suited for Heavy Metal)
Honour to: pablocostan

Electric Eels - Metal Star (USA 2010)

(The date above is misleading, apparently this is from a compilation of unreleased material, I'm guessing from the 1980s. 
US HM with some flourishes.)
Honour to: DisciplineOfSteel

Hellchild - Speed Metal Hell (Japan 1999)

(Whipsaw thrash. Vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, mind you.
Takes an unexpected turn towards the end. )  
Honour to: HELLCHILDFAN101

Titan - Metalfever (Germany 1987)

(Instrumental but not bad at all.
Makes me wish there was a version around recorded with an actual budget.) 
Honour to: heavymetaller1978

And now, a rare opportunity to post something from the ladies.

Show-Ya -Metallic Woman (Japan 1990)

(Classy hard rock with some neat guitar)
 Honour to: CATFIGHT6666

  Destillery - Heavy Metal (Germany 1999)

(I'm just going to to come right out with it. These guys really like their early Maiden. The bassist especially)
Honour to: 666MetalLove666

And finally...

Witches Mark - Bringers of Heavy Metal Death (USA 2013)

(Sits on the border between USPM and Thrash.
I'm trying to work out who the vocalist reminds me of.
Ah well. It'll come to me.)
Honour to: WitchesMark

That's all folks.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Valkyrie: Prisoner Of The Past (Eclipse 1987)

  Former WW2 fighter ace Valkyrie woke from her forty year magical slumber to find the world had moved on. The man she loved is dead. The few friends that remain are old and grey-haired.
  But there is somebody else who remembers the beautiful, raven-haired pilot. And he has a score to settle. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Film: Space Battleship Yamato (2010)

Starring
Takuya Kimura
Meisa Kuroki
Toshiro Yanagiba
Naota Ogata
Hiroyuki Ikeuchi
Shin'ichi Tsutsumi
Maiko
Reiko Takashima

Based on the 1974 Anime Series

 For five years the  enigmatic aliens known as the Gamilas have been battering the Earth with their missiles, systematically turning the planet into a radioactive waste. 
  But then a capsules arrives from space with schematics for a new warp engine - and coordinates for the planet Iskandar.
 The reborn Yamato, Earth's last battleship, is dispatched on a desperate mission that may be humanity's last hope for survival.

  The first thing you have to remember is that this film is based on an anime. Specifically an anime tv series from the 1970s. The writers had to pare the events of 26 episodes down into slightly more than 2 hours and in the process a lot of plot points and development got somewhat compressed. 
  This might explain why hero Kodai can walk onto the ship as a new recruit then literally 5 minutes later he's not only an officer but in charge of the brand new secret weapon. This sort of thing is standard in anime, trust me.

   So, once you've tuned yourself to the proper wavelength, what you get is an old-fashioned space-opera with elements reminiscent of "Star Trek", "Star Wars" and "Starship Troopers".
  It's not stunningly original but "Yamato" plays the old riffs with enough style to get away with it and enough twist to the tale to make it that little bit fresher.

   Visually this film looks good. The Gamilas spaceships are disturbingly organic, like the bastard offspring of a zombie starfish and a Henry Moore sculpture, and I have to admit that there is something fundamentally right about seeing a WW2 battlewaggon soaring through space with all guns blazing.

 Like a lot of Anime heroes Kodai is initially a bit of a tool but matures out of it. I was slightly less impressed with heroine Mori's character path. She's introduced as a sharp-tongued fighter ace with a tendency to get punchy, and does get in a  few cool moments, but by film's end she's relegated to the role of love interest and getting dragged hither and yon like a hapless 1940s movie damsel. Shame.
 The rest of the supporting cast are sketched in with sufficient depth to make them worth caring about. I particularly liked ships medic Doctor Sado  - usually carrying an enormous bottle of sake around with her and often a cat as well.
  One particular character might as well have "Dies in the next scene" in neon letters on his forehead but that's about par for the course.
 If we're quibbling, one particular moment in the  climax dips into cringeworthy but maybe that's just me. You'll recognise it when you see it.

Summing up: A fun slice of old-fashioned, spacefaring heroics with no attempt at deconstruction or knowing camp and all the better for it.

 Since posts with pics are always guaranteed to get double the pageviews, here's a few screenshots.

 The wise Captain Okita. For some reason I find myself thinking about fish fingers

Susumu Kodai looks puzzled.
  
The initial relationship between these two, summed up in one photo.

The lovely Yuki Mori looking peeved.

She looks a lot happier here.
 
 Dr Sado gives Kodai a checkup. Or possibly a singing lesson.

This is coolness. 
Why has the ship still got an anchor?
Why not?

And here's the trailer.


That's all folks

Saturday, 12 October 2013

My Top Ten...Cheesy (but fun) 80s Rock Videos.

  One of my biggest gripes with the current Metal music scene is that while the videos are vastly improved in terms of production values and lighting they aren't what you would call fun.
Way too many vids feature a band in a warehouse. Those going for something a bit more epic are almost inevitably in muted colours and going for the statement. "We're artistic, so we are."

Don't get me wrong. There's some great videos out there. (Nightwish immediately spring to mind.) but I do kinda miss the days when Heavy Metal/Hard Rock bands weren't afraid to wear bright colours and wave toy guns.

 So, just for the hell of it, here's a selection of 80s Rock vids featuring women with big hair, men with big hair, dubious acting, bands not afraid to wear yellow spandex and above all...FUN.

  Just to make things a bit more interesting, I'm not going to include some of the big names you'd expect. If you like your 80s rock then chances are you have already seen   "Breaking the Law", "I Wanna Rock", "Hot For Teacher" and "Gimme All Your Loving" a dozen times over.  Hopefully some of these will come as a pleasant surprise.

Let's start with an under-rated band, a video with a very simple idea and quite a nifty guitar solo.

Autograph - Send Her to Me (USA 1985)

(I'm guessing the director only heard the chorus before planning this vid.
Also, is it weird that my favourite girl in this video is the one right at the end?
It's the way she smiles.)
Honour to: teokeh00

Helter Skelter - Dr. Jekyll (Germany 1988)

(Obscure Teutonic glam rockers ham it up in some very peculiar outfits indeed.
The lead singer in particular is wearing trousers that Dave Lee Roth would order taken away and burned.  )
Honour to: Deathrose1985

Lionheart - Die For Love (UK 1984)

(A NWOBHM "Supergroup" that included ex-members of Iron Maiden, Tygers Of Pan Tang among others
 but never quite managed to keep a stable lineup.
 The video features the band as the most conspicuous commandos in military history)
Honour to: HardRockas

It's been a bit lightweight so far so how about something a bit heavier?

Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King (USA 1987)

(In which the band terrorise an unfortunate dwarf.
After this Savatage started getting more ambitious but here they are pure US Metal,
showcasing the late Criss Oliva's guitar talents and brother Jon's trademark evil laugh.
My battle-jacket has a Savatage patch in prime position on the back. I wear it with pride ) 
Honour to: earMUSIC
   Incidentally, there's a great story from the making of the "Hall.." promo. Supposedly the little person who was the star of the vid spent the best part of  48 hours solid glued into his makeup and costume, surviving on liquids and even sleeping in the damn thing.Yet he still kept going like an utter trooper.
  Nobody could work out where he was getting his energy from until the director walked into the gents toilet and found lead singer Jon Oliva holding the dwarf upside down, a straw up his nose, over an enormous line of cocaine. 
 "Jon." sighed the auteur. "Put the dwarf down and let's get back to work."

Zebra - Tell Me What You Want  (1983)

(A band that always had more in common with Rush than Ratt so the vid has aspirations to some sort of artistic statement. 
As with a lot of early 80s vids the end result is ...peculiar.)

Honour to: Ryder276

I blame all that smoke. You didn't think it was dry ice, did you?

Bullet - I Sold My Soul To Rock And Roll (Germany 1984)

(Gonzoid German boogie merchants - famous for one of the tackiest album covers of all time - with their version of the Faust legend. 
Badly choreographed dancing girls a bonus.)
 Honour to: JMZilver

Queensryche - Queen Of The Reich (USA 1983)

 (A video that Queensryche don't like to talk about these days. Wonder why?)
Honour to: QueensrycheVEVO

 Grim Reaper - Fear No Evil (UK 1984)

(Another of those vids where the band arrive to save the day)
Honour to: andrewotherside7

Compare and contrast with..

Zodiac Mindwarp And the Love Reaction - Prime Mover (UK 1987)

(Where a bunch of filthy grebos use an armoured car to bust into a girls school and corrupt the obviously-not-teenaged inhabitants with the power of Sleaze rock)
Honour to: artfairy?

Y&T - Don't Stop Running (USA 1984)

(In which a lovelorn geek gets to play hero)


Honour to: JohnFindlater


Obviously there were all sorts of bands I could have used: Helix, Honeymoon Suite, W.A.S.P, Saxon, Raven, Killer Dwarfs...

Screw it. Just as a bonus (And to show you how many band-plays-hero vids there were in the 80s) I present for your consideration a vid that didn't make it into the above list due to being black and white.

 Thor - Knock 'Em Down (Canada 1985)




Honour to: Epitaph6663

That's all folks.
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