Saturday, June 22, 2013

RUROUNI KENSHIN: Wandering Samurai

STOP! Anime time! . . . Sort of.

Based on Nobuhiro Watsuki's best-selling manga (which birthed an anime series and several OAV features as well), RUROUNI KENSHIN is the story of Kenshin Himura, formerly an assassin during the Meiji Restoration, now a wanderer. Using a sakabato (reverse-bladed katana), Kenshin has vowed to use his skills to protect life rather than ending it. He stumbles into the life of Kaoru Kamiya, who's dojo has been implicated in several murders that have claimed her school's style as the one used by the killer. A killer that has ties to Kenshin's blood-soaked past. Things get even more complicated from there.

The 2012 film takes the well-known characters into a live-action setting while preserving the feel of the source material. And I LOVE it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

TOMB RAIDER: Woman in a Man's World

I don't often talk in-depth about video games on this blog, but having finished Crystal Dynamics' TOMB RAIDER reboot some time ago and finding that it's still holding as one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year, and that it feeds into a interesting discussion occuring in the gaming industry right now, I thought I'd look at how this franchise has grown, and why the newest entry is a great step forward for the title's main character.

First, some history. In the mid-1990's, Sony's brand-new Playstation console was in search of an icon to call its own, an answer to the legendary Mario or the still-popular Sonic who were synonymous with their own parent companies. And for a moment there, it seemed that the Playstation's search was over with the arrival of archaeologist/action heroine Lara Croft. Debuting with 1996's smash hit TOMB RAIDER, Lara was an immediate sensation, but not because she was a compelling, relatable character, but because. . . well, because of two obvious reasons:

Lara was Indiana Jones with boobs, a hyper-sexualized male fantasy who, through a half-dozen games, two movies, and a comic series, has been eye candy first, and a character a distant third (sorry).

But then something changed. A couple years ago, Crystal Dynamics decided to take the franchise in a completely new direction and redesign the game-play mechanics and the franchise's main character from the ground up. Going back to Lara's roots, they delivered a younger, less experienced version of the popular heroine to show her violent and heroic origins, and in doing so created easily the most adult take on the character - and one of the most clever female protagonists in years - that the medium had ever seen.

Friday, June 14, 2013


"Is there a place in the world for Superman?"

This is the central question that struggling writers and skeptical fans have been asking about the original SUPERhero for years (if not decades) now. Does this character, who was created at such a different time in our history, who stood for what many think of as outdated or even corny ideals, who can't feel the pains of the world the way we can, still matter to a modern audience?

This question is also at the forefront of MAN OF STEEL, the rebooted cinematic vision of Superman from the film-makers behind WATCHMEN and THE DARK KNIGHT. And overall, I can say yes. Mostly.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


For those going to see MAN OF STEEL this weekend, there's a certain teaser trailer for a certain holiday fantasy film based on a certain beloved children's literary classic that they'll get a chance to see on the big screen when they take their seats.

Alternately, we can just watch it right now on the internet. Because the future!