Friday, February 24, 2012

The Huh? Files: Wrathing things up with AVG.

About three months ago I let it be known my disappointment concerning the anti-virus app AVG. To refresh I had bought and installed a brand new copy AVG 2011 only to have it expire a short time later. This week I got an interesting little email. It said that my license key was “mistakenly” invalidated and a new one was included that extended my service through to the same time next year.

How thoughtful to do this two months after the original key was set to expire and long after I had already went out and purchased and installed a competitor.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rosario Vampire Volumes 16 and 17.

Rosario Vampire, why am I still reading this? I'm not too sure. It's not the best, but it sure ain't the worst. While I try and figure that out, let's talk Season 2.

The anime. The animation was much improved, the writing very much improved. I like how it deviated from the manga with some original stories and characterizations, and when stories were directly lifted from the manga, they were actually just as good as the original. However the constant upskirts and nude transformation sequences distract in a negative way from what was a vastly much better series. I do look forward to Season 3. I know, these things have a tendency to be forgotten about after about 26 or so episodes. There's still a lot of story left to be told.

I expand on a point made in the previous paragraph: deviating from the original source material. I used to be one of those perfectionists that wanted movies and such to be letter perfect to the original book. Well, think about 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie is boring enough, now imagine watching the movie after having read the book. I imagine that there were some howls of protest because Discovery went to Jupiter instead of Saturn. How much more boring, and much longer would the movie had been if the slingshot around Jupiter had been doable in 1968? I hate to imagine that. Now think of the sequel: 2010. It was pretty close to the book, but there was stuff added. The whole conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Once again the strict constructionists probably howled in protest, but I say it helped make for a more complex story and sped things up.

Now I try and judge each book and movie based on its own merits and try and not to compare the derivative story from the original source material. Sailor Moon anime sucked not because it was nothing like the manga, it just sucked period.

Speaking of things that suck: Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 7. I'd swear reading about this particular plane ride from Japan to China took longer than an actual one. Then we're introduced to a rather complex relationship between two of China's top monster crime syndicates. To top it off the main antagonist of this season, Fairy Tale, is somehow involved in the chaos that ensues at the home of one of the crime families. I'm thinking we really don't need the involvement of Fairy Tale again so soon. We just came off of two intricate story lines let's give it a rest for a while.

I did find a couple of things interesting in this volume. The first was the juxtaposition of the two Mokas. In the previous volume Inner Moka was allowed out for the day with the predictable result: we're stuck with the broody, violent, doesn't like anybody Inner Moka permanently. She can't transform back into dear, sweet, innocent, loves everybody Outer Moka. My point to make here is that I think the names are reversed. Keep in mind that the silver haired Moka was what everybody else knew before the creation of the pink haired Moka. So the people who know Moka now call sweet Moka “Outer” and Super Vampire Moka “Inner.” It's really just the opposite. I can't possibly know if this is what the author intends, or is something I'm reading too much into.

One thing I've noted is that of the four vampire sisters, Moka is the only one to get a personality swap when sent to the outside world. I wonder if there is any real particular reason behind that.

The other thing about Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 7 I find interesting was the development of the character Fangfang. I was not happy with the introduction of him and his Sister Lingling. I was thinking we really don't need them. We see that in this volume Lingling seems to be slowly written out because now she is being treated like Ruby. You know, when we need a character to fill a certain role: pilot, mechanic, dress shop worker, butcher, baker, liquor store guy, etc, etc, Lingling, like Ruby, will be there. (It's easier to draw a character you know than to draw one from scratch.)

Fangfang on the other hand. I was against him for various reasons. The first one was because I thought he was going to be a gay foil to the girls. I'm not into boy/boy manga, I like chicks, real chicks (chicks who are chicks since birth.) Plus I was afraid that the one gay male character was going to be a negative stereotype and get treated to endless rounds of ass whuppin by the other girls. Then that's completely forgotten and he's turned into a perverted lolicon fetish type, and then just someone to get the crap kicked out of him at inconvenient times.

Anybody remember Gin?

In this volume Fangfang's character came into being: a best guy friend of Tsukune. That is something that this series, and many other harem manga/anime is missing. Sure it's great to be surrounded by chicks, but it's also great to have a bud sitting next to you enjoying the big game. Tsukune and Fangfang become inseparable best friends. Nothing sexual about what-so-ever. Just a couple of dudes out having grand adventures, drinking some beers, beating up the bad guys, beating each other up, and will always have each other's back. There are things men will do and say that they will never do in the presence of a woman. The reverse is true: woman will do and say things with each other, but not with a man in the area. I'm hoping that the buddy/buddy friendship of Tsukune and Fangfang is explored with great detail down the road.

Rosa-Vam Season Two Volume Six I found interesting not for any real great story advancement, but for the the fact that many of the hack premises that are usually done at the beginning of a series are being done this late. We have: bloomers, sports day, fate of the hero, lunch box/bento picnic, body measurements, and Freaky Friday. With some twists. The girls make a big deal out of the gym shorty-shorts. Usually on sports day the good guys are missing the main hero for the most part, and then have a miraculous last minute come from behind victory. In this chapter the heroes are there, but are getting the asses soundly handed to them, until the calvary shows up: moms. (Would have been nice to see them in bloomers.) While the moms are evening the score, Moka and Tsukune are having a picnic. Of course the picnic is ruined when the bad guys trample it and sports day is ended in a Dusty Finish when Moka and Tsukune are disqualified for their revenge tactics and everything degenerates into a Royal Rumble.

I mentioned Freaky Friday. In this movie a mother and daughter switch minds for a day. This plot has been used again and again. Most notably in last year's movie The Change Up. The plot will often center around two people who either envy or hate each other. Somehow their lives are swapped then at the end they realize that things are not always as they seem and gain new found respect for each other. Rosario Vampire did it a little different, you would think that it would be say Moka or Kurumu, Kurumu and Yukari, Tsukune and Mizore getting the switch up. Some mind swap that would cause the most commotion among the gang of friends. Yukari and Fangfang. I was doing what you're probably doing now: “Say what?” Those two? How is that supposed to be provide some insight or even hilarity into these characters. There's no conflict between these two. Well, conflict comes about because now Fangfang decides to peep in on all the girls and even himself in Yukari's body during the whole body measurement sequence.

The real insight comes to Yukari. Normally on mind swaps the person gets a major insight to the person they have taken over. She sees herself from the outside and has the shock of her life. Her view of herself is completely destroyed when she finally realizes that she is a little girl with lots of growing yet to do. Of course, we can always count on Tsukune to tell her what her friends really think of her. So we can have that reset to zero by the next chapter.

I do have to point out something of a retcon that occurred: Mizore saying she hated the way Yukari talks. I can't seem to recall any instance of Mizore even hinting at that. Of course, that whole bit is forgotten by the next chapter.

In closing, I am enjoying the Rosario Vampire series. I like the way the characters are being developed. Each one is clearly defined. The artwork is not overly complicated. I can easily tell what is going on in each panel. The translation is been pretty good and smooth.

When I first picked this series up, I had considered dropping it almost immediately. I'm glad I stuck through and look forward to Rosario Vampire Volume 18.

By the way, is it Rosario Vampire, Rosario Plus Vampire, or Rosario To Vampire?