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Author: Chag

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: a Retrospective

Madoka Movie Poster

I got this gigantic movie poster for being one of the first people to pre-order tickers for the screening. Nifty ain’t it?

Earlier this month, the first two Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica movies finally came to the fine city of Toronto — at a theater right across from my flat, no less! The sold out theater looked like any anime convention in this part of the world: dressed up and disproportionally Asian. There was a festive air at the screenings, and if the Madoka movies ever do show up in a city near you I would whole-heartedly recommend attending for that bizzaro-world vibe alone.

If you are curious about actual movies, don’t be — these movies don’t really add anything new to the series. There are some new cuts here and there (most notably some spiffy transformation scenes), but they’re fairly inconsequential and most of them would go by unnoticed unless you’re comparing them side to side with the TV series like the nerd you probably are.

Rather, these movies simply a slightly dressed up version of the original series that retains the integrity of the storytelling, nothing more. If you’ve never watched the series before, you wouldn’t be missing much if you dived straight into the movies. The Gurren Lagann movies these are not.

However, the movies are a good occasion/excuse for fans of the series to revisit the story — a perfect way to reflect on the little SHAFT show that took the world by storm. It’s been a long while since I watched the series, and I’ve forgotten the a lot of Madoka‘s quirks. The first movie made me look down at my watch far too often, while the second movie warmed my heart enough to make me think twice before writing a tl;dr textual smackdown. So instead of a smackdown, this not-so-little post is a gentle putting down of Madoka — a retrospective on the series and a couple of the storytelling problems that irked me during my two-part re-visitation.

Needless to say, the following rant contains plenty of spoilers, so you have been warned. Read more »

Discovering Photography

Over the last few months, I’ve gone on a bit of a spending spree. With a new camera body, new lens, and a new bag to hold everything in, I found myself feeling slightly ridiculous at how much I’ve poured into this hobby of taking photos of plastic butts. I was itching to make more use out of the D7000’s advantages, and that itch drove me from my cozy man-cave and into the Canadian winter, where I rediscovered why I enjoy photography. Read more »

Paintless Gunpla for Busy People

LAZY-PEOPLE

Remember that post I wrote for Hobbylink Japan that I mentioned in the Hi-Nu review? It is now live on hobbylink.tv — check it out!

Review: MG Hi-Nu Gundam

Master Grade Hi-Nu Gundam-18

Suprise — a Gundam review! Bet you weren’t expect that, huh?  It’s a little depressing to realize that it’s been a year and a half since I’ve done one of these. But unlike the hiatus I took in figure collecting, there’s a bit more to why the plamo section of Hobby Hovel has been neglected for so long.

In short, I’m a little burnt out on Gundam. From its conception, the Gundam franchise has been somewhat of a glorified toy commercial. Director Tomino Yoshiyuki broke the conventions of the late 1970s with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but after 30 years, Gundam has become a convention if of itself, along a long list of tropes that are continually recycled to this day.

For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was episode 5 of Gundam Unicorn, which continues to sideline quality storytelling in favour of echoing as many tropes as possible. There’s even a Lalah clone, right down to her physical appearance. The OVA has started to feel like a snotty little rich kid living big on his grandfather’s fortune — everything about it seems to be a thin slice of something great long ago. Once again, I find my expectations butting heads with reality.

I like Gundam, and the adventures of the White Base and its crew will stay with me forever (not to mention the exploits of Bernie, Shiro, and hell, even Domon). Yet for the sake of the franchise, there is a desperate need for innovation and risk-taking. I’d much rather have oddballs like Turn-A Gundam and G Gundam as opposed to the same story of about the space colony boy stumbling into the cockpit of cutting-edge military hardware.

By now you’re probably asking “if you’re so worn out on Gundam, why’d you buy another kit?” Well, I didn’t — this bad boy is actually a freebie from HobbyLink Japan for a little article I wrote for them (which will be up on hobbylink.tv in a few days). Whatever feelings I may have towards the Gundam franchise, building models is as fun as it has always been, especially when it’s one of the big daddies of early universal century mobile suits. Read more »

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