Back Row Reflections – Blade Runner 2049

The following article contains minor spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner 2049”.
You have been warned.

The day I’m writing this is the day I saw both the original Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) and the subject of this article, the 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049. As such my thoughts are gut/initial reactions to both, so keep that in mind, please. That said, this will primarily be my thoughts on certain aspects of the sequel. Though there are some thoughts on the original that I’ll be bringing up when they’re relevant.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to it.

(Final note: Occasionally I’ll simply refer to the sequel as “2049” for short)

Blade Runner 2049 is a movie I’m surprised actually managed to turn out the way it did. This, a sequel to a neo-noir sci-fi movie from the early eighties that actually manages to keep the spirit of the original intact. Logic dictates this should’ve been an action-filled mess, or generally have just missed the point of the original entirely.

I would assume the involvement of Ridley Scott (who I was surprised to learn was just an executive producer, not the director for this) helped with that. And the safe assumption the director, Denis Villeneuve, was committed to keeping the tone in line with the original. Also helps that one of the original writers was on board. Generally speaking, the stars seemed to align in this specific case, and the movie is all the better for it.

The main talking point I have is something I might as well get out of the way now, and is a nice segue from the point I just made. 2049 has several moments where it looks like it could turn into an action-movie out of nowhere. But it doesn’t. Sure, there are some action scenes, but they’re very subdued and brief. The most “action-movie” thing that happens (apart from a few, very brief fight scenes) is when the character “Luv” and some lackeys come to kidnap Deckard.

They blow a section or two out of the side of the building Deckard & K are in, which knocks them (and Deckard’s dog) back as a result. From memory that was the only explosion in the movie, and even then, it was a fairly small one. Especially given the size of the building being hit. This was one of few key instances where I expected the movie to devolve into a typical action set piece…and (thankfully) that never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I like big action set pieces as much as the next person. When they actually belong in the movie in question. Blade Runner & 2049 are not action movies, and they never really try to be. While I’m not sure how much this made Blade Runner stand out back in the early eighties (given I wasn’t born yet), I know for sure it makes 2049 stand out among the movies of today.

Of the few sci-fi/sci-fi-related movies I have seen (and one yet to be released) this year, 2049 stands out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. I have a feeling Hollywood thinks this kind of movie can’t be made anymore, or can’t make money. Hopefully the fact that 2049 has already made its budget back proves them wrong. Though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t make them try to milk the franchise dry. Given rumblings of sequels to 2049 I won’t hold my breath though.

Tangent aside, I’ll now end on my thoughts comparing the original to the sequel. Straight to the point, I actually like 2049 more than the original. While I will concede I may have to give Blade Runner a proper watch later on (and also watch The Final Cut, as I’ve only seen the Director’s Cut), there’s just something missing from it that I feel 2049 actually has. And while I can’t pin-point too much, there is one major factor 2049 has over the original. Time. 2049 has a run time of almost three hours. Blade runner, no matter which version you’re watching, falls short of two hours.

While this might seem like an odd thing to bring up as a flaw of the original, I really do believe a lack of time is what hinders it slightly in comparison to 2049. 2049 has plenty of time to set up the plot and characters involved, especially the main character K. Blade Runner has some characters that you could honestly cut out entirely and it feels like you ultimately wouldn’t lose much. At least from a story perspective.

Whether it was thought a two-and-a-half-hour movie of this nature wouldn’t sell in 1982, or Ridley Scott just envisioned it as being as long as it was, I don’t know for sure. But again, I feel an extra half hour could’ve been added, which could’ve allowed for certain aspects to be expanded upon. Oh, also, I feel 2049 has a better/more fulfilling ending than Blade Runner. Sue me.

All-in-all I enjoyed the absolute hell out of Blade Runner 2049. And while I am very sceptical about any potential sequels that may happen in the future, I feel the future is bright for this franchise so long as the team behind 2049 is kept around to make sure it’s handled correctly.

At First Glance – Log Horizon

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Log Horizon

Ah yes, that OTHER “We’re stuck in a video game somehow” anime I’ve had on my to-do list for quite some time now. I could’ve done Log Horizon back to back with Sword Art Online few weeks back, but the listing Gods determined it would happen now rather than then. Unlike Sword Art Online however, Log Horizon revolves around the main characters realising they’ve been sucked into the MMO they’ve been playing (Named “Elder Tales”), as opposed to just being stuck in a VR headset forever.


A fate worse than death

Also unlike SAO, Log Horizon has the people just kind of thrust into this situation and forces them to realise what must’ve happened on their own, rather than having an exposition dump. Honestly? I found that funny, because it shows how much of a trope this set up must be by now. They even guess the whole “if you die in the game, you die for real” aspect of the whole thing.

From what I can gather, we’re introduced to the characters that make up the main cast (or at least main trio) in this episode. Shiroe (The Strategist), Naotsugu (The Pervert), and Akatsuki (The loli-I mean The Assassin). Shiroe I feel will be the one I like the most out of the main three, though Akatsuki is a close second purely by how she deals with Naotsugu’s perverted nature.

I’m fairly certain Naotsugu is going to grade on me with time. His “I’m perverted and proud” thing was kind of funny at first, but they somehow manage to run it into the ground in this one episode alone. At least in my opinion they do. Like, I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, and am a huge Naruto fan. I can handle pervy characters as comic relief, especially ones that don’t get away with being pervy idiots. This time though, it just…doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Speaking of Naruto, let’s talk about Akatsuki. Fitting how she’s named that considering her Assassin class thing seems to be modelled after ninja, by the way. Akatsuki shows up a “guy” that won’t talk, only to turn out to be a girl who got stuck as her male character, taking a potion Shiroe gives her so she can revert to a female body. And then she comes out looking like an eight-year-old. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, both Shiroe and Naotsugu find her attractive.


Considering she looks like an eight-year-old, that’s a creepy choice of words

And yes, I bothered to check, she IS an adult, as are the guys, but the anime never clarified that on her end. And sure, it’s still just an in-game avatar, but it’s blatantly stated she took the chance to model her female appearance on herself a bit more. Thinking about it, Akatsuki’s appearance seems to garner a lot of unwanted attention for her, though only Naotsugu has made anything resembling a sexual advance so far.


Which quickly prompts her to knee him in the face, hence the cut-off

That aside we only meet a few other characters, and the plot of the next episode is set up throughout, not that I realised at first. But overall this episode did a decent job of introducing us to the characters we’ll be following on this adventure, so I can give them that much. Plus, the lack of exposition for why this happened works for now, since any explanation would probably come off as sounding pretty technobabble-y anyway.

So, will I continue to watch Log Horizon? Sure, why not. It’s definitely a different enough set up from SAO for me to not just write it off as a rip off or anything like that. Also, despite all the negatives I mentioned, it’s better than bad. It’s good! …Okay, fine, I couldn’t think of a better way to work that reference in there. Sue me. I was determined to make it anyway…even though most might not even get what I’m referencing.

Anyway, bad references to 90s shows aside, Log Horizon currently consists of 50 episodes across two seasons (25 eps per season), and from what I can tell is only currently available in Japanese with English subtitles.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Sword Art Online

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m back to doing these again. To keep it brief my attention was diverted elsewhere, and now it isn’t. Sorry for anyone who actually reads these things that my hiatus was longer than intended. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Sword Art Online

Ah yes, familiar territory. Well. In that this is one of those anime I’ve heard of, but honestly had no idea what it was about prior to watching it. Basic premise is that the hot new Virtual Reality MMORPG in town, the titular Sword Art Online, has finally been released, and players are eager to jump on and play. However, it turns out the log out feature isn’t present.

At first it’s assumed this is just a glitch or a bug. However, an avatar of the game’s creator informs the players that this was, in fact, always intended to be an aspect of the game. Basically, the game dev is insane and wanted to be a god over this world.

Not only is the creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, totally insane and wants to be a god of a virtual world, he also made it that if anyone’s virtual headsets are forcibly removed, or the people playing the game have their life bars drop to zero, they die in real-life. Their only method of escape being to finish the game.


“IF YOU DIE IN THE GAME, YOU DIE FOR REAL!”

Oh, as an added twist, player avatars are erased through some random mirror item he gives them all, and everyone suddenly looks like they do in real life instead. The result of which is a joke that I honestly got a laugh out of, despite the fact I know it would’ve made others groan.


“Son of a-you’re a guy?!”

“You’re not seventeen!”

Trust me when I tell you that could’ve been handled a lot worse. Hell, there’s a few movies that are evidence of that. Anyway, with this revelation our hero, Kirito, goes out of his way to charge on ahead to level up as quickly as he can so he can get out of the game. And that’s about all it gives us really, as far as plot goes. The only other character we get a chance to see properly for now is Klein. With the bulk of the episode before the big revelation being Kirito teaching Klein the ropes of the game.

It’s honestly a nice way to let us get to know a bit about both characters’ personalities. It honestly got the point that when Kirito goes off on his own, I was actually disappointed that Klein didn’t go with him. Though I like fact they do part on friendly terms. Hell, Kirito even seems a little down that Klein has friends to worry about and isn’t going with him. Hopefully that gets touched on in later episodes. I mean, they weren’t exactly subtle about it, so if it gets ignored I’ll be disappointed.

Oh. Also. The anime doesn’t have an opening. No joke. I thought there was just a cold opening before an intro, but it never happened. In fact, I’m fairly sure what ended up being the outro may even be the intro for the following episodes.

So, did I enjoy SAO’s first episode enough to keep watching? Thankfully yes. The premise definitely has me hooked enough to keep watching. Though one thing I do recall hearing about SAO is that the first season is good, but the second is iffy. Whether I’ll agree with that is beyond me at this point, but who knows.

For those who care, Sword Art Online consists of 49 episodes over two seasons (25 in season one and 24 in season two) and is available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There’s also a TV movie, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, and a film, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”. Aside from that there are also five video games based on the franchise. Normally I wouldn’t bother to mention that, but the meta nature of video games based on a property that revolves around the characters being in a video game world is hilarious to me.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article. You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it. Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion
Code Geass poster

Another anime that I’ve heard of quite a lot but just never bothered to watch before. For real I never had any idea what the hell this anime was about, but I’d seen plenty of gifs and AMV Hell clips using it, so I’ve known of its existence for quite a while.

The plot is told to us through a sort of flashback prologue intro, which seems to generally be a part of the show’s overall intro. Basically, the world is split into three superpowers. The Holy Britannian Empire (The Americas), the Chinese Federation (Asia) and the European Union (Europe & Africa). As of the first episode, “Britannia” has taken over Japan and renamed it “Area 11”, referring to the citizens as “Elevens”.

The first episode follows Lelouch (pronounced “leh-loo-sh”; and whom apparently is an exiled Prince of Britannia or something but I swear I don’t remember them ever mentioning that in episode one) going from a passive Britannian high school student, to getting caught up in a “terrorist” plot and ends up with a power known as Geass, or the “Power of Kings”. Lelouch pretty much immediately decides to use this new power to destroy/obliterate the Holy Britannian Empire; a vow he initially made when he was only a child.

Holy fuck. This show. I must admit the whole concept is very complex and hard to keep track of in some respects, but hell, I assume everything will be explained a bit better as the show goes along. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, so all the blood and stuff actually caught me off guard a bit. I mean I knew there were mechs in this anime but holy crap. There’s even a moment after gaining his powers where Lelouch orders the soldiers who were about to kill him to kill themselves instead. And they do it.


And they were all only a day away from retirement too.

Like, I’ve seen more violent stuff before, even in anime, but since I wasn’t expecting it in this anime, stuff like this did manage to catch me off guard and think “Oh shit, so this is gonna be one of those anime is it? Ok then”. Seriously they shy away from showing people actually shooting themselves and stuff, but there is a LOT of blood in the last 10-15 minutes of this episode for a show trying to be somewhat restrained.

The voice acting I must admit actually bothered me at first. I know I don’t really talk about voice acting in these things, but in this instance I will. It bothered me because I didn’t realise the Holy Britannia Empire was supposed to be The Americas……so I, and I’d assume anyone else who knows what Britannia usually refers to, expected people who were supposed to be Britannian to have noticeable English accents. Well, at least in the English dub anyway.

Must admit I’m not entirely sure what to think of Lelouch as a character this early on, but a female character (who remains unnamed in episode one) who seems to act as comic relief honestly seems out of place in this episode somewhat. Just in the grand scheme anyway. I mean this is an anime so there’s bound to be some comedy, but the tone is mostly pretty serious, so her being kinda dumb/ditsy or whatever was kind of odd. Especially since she only appears twice; and really, only one of those times is actually relevant to the plot.

All of that aside I did actually enjoy the first episode of Code Geass, and I do definitely plan on watching the rest of the show. The show itself consists of 50 episodes across two seasons, with 25 episodes per season (season two is specifically called “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2”). Along with two seasons Code Geass also has four stand alone OVAs (though the first two appear to simply be abridged versions of the two seasons), as well as a five-part OVA series called “Code Geass: Akito The Exiled”. The show is also available in both dubbed and subbed formats for those interested.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline. See you next time folks.

$$60,000,000,000 Reviews: Trigun

Having finally bought and completely watched the anime Trigun, Thomas gives his overall thoughts on the series on his new anime review series, $$60,000,000,000 Reviews.

Also, NEW LOCATION! MARVEL AT THE NEW BACKDROP! 

Firefly Episode Review: Jaynestown

Ep jaynestown sc110He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor, Stood up to the man and gave him what for, Our love for him now ain’t hard to explain, The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne.”

Continue reading

Firefly Episode Review: Shindig

Ep shindig sc147Sounds like the finest party I can imagine getting paid to go to.”
“I don’t suppose you’d find it up to standards of your outings. More conversation and somewhat less petty theft and getting hit with pool cues.” Continue reading

Firefly Episode Review: Bushwhacked

Ep bushwhacked sc086They made him watch. He probably tried to turn away, and they wouldn’t let him. You call him a survivor? He’s not. A man comes up against that kind of will, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it.” Continue reading

Philosophy At Odd Hours – What constitutes a Sci-Fi movie? Part 1

                   Philosophy At Odd Hours              

(where SamanthaMaybe and AlanahSees talk about all the things)

Sam and Alanah at VidCon 2012

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Comic Review Show!: Saga Volume 1

Samantha Maybe makes a decision between two relatively new sci-fi series, after a bit of an accident with a worm hole…

Mind the Gap and Saga both belong to Image

Music used in this episode includes:

Intermission – The Protomen, Necromancer – Play For Japan, River’s Perception/Saffron – Firefly, Book’s Hair/Ready for Battle – Firefly, Mal Fights Niska/Back Home – Firefly, Leaving/Caper/Spaceball-Firefly, Inara’s Suite – Firefly, Wild Arms Theme, TARDIS – Doctor Who:Series 5

follow me on twitter @SamanthaMaybe

Thanks for Watching!!!