Crunchy Pants

Gundam AGE Restored My Faith in Gundam

Still a better love story than Twilight. Hell, any story is a better love story than Twilight.

Still a better love story than Twilight. Hell, any story is a better love story than Twilight.

 

Long long loooooooong time readers of AZM may have noted the distinct lack of Gundam related posts of late.  The franchise lost me with Gundam SEED and it’s been a struggle to get back to it.  I tried a few episodes of OO and just couldn’t get into it and I kind of lost steam with Unicorn.  So by the time AGE was announced, I completely wrote it off.  The character designs made it look way too kiddie and the AGE design seemed like a Bandai cash grab with its changeable forms.

I. Was. Wrong.

On a lark, I decided to give it shot since the GundamInfo YouTube channel has the entire series subbed. In two days, I marathoned the first sixteen glorious episodes! I’m fucking hooked and if you’re a Gundam fan old or new, I think you’ll absolutely enjoy this series.

Generational Gundam

Be jealous of our hair!

Be jealous of our hair!

The series begins in Advanced Generation (AG) 101 and spans three generations of the Asuno family, Flit (AG 115), Asemu (AG 140-142), and Kia (AGE 164).  Each member of the Asuno family pilots his own version of the eponymous Gundam AGE.  I’ve only gone through the Flit arc so my review will be somewhat incomplete.  But I have every confidence that the next two arcs will be just as amazing.  There will be some slight spoilers, but they probably only make sense if you’re a huuuuuge Gundam nerd.

The Ghost of Gundam Past

To longtime Gundam fans, Flit’s arc will feel very familiar.  It’s almost like a very condensed remix of the original Mobile Suit Gundam with a little Zeta mixed in.  Flit’s personality reminds me a lot of Kamille and it’s not just his hair.  He’s so very conflicted about fighting and killing to save those he loves.  He also shouts the familiar “Gundam IKIMASU” when he launches like Amuro and Kamille.  And of course, in the tradition of “kill ’em all Tomino,” his mother dies in a fire right before his eyes which is weird because Tomino wasn’t involved in AGE.

Emily looks like a younger version of Sayla Mas.  In a way, this show kind of answers what would have happened if Amuro and Sayla got together.

Flit’s star-crossed relationship with Yurin echos Amuro and Lala so you can guess how that turns out.  I called it when they first met each other, but that didn’t make that final scene between them any less painful.  There’s also a sort of Char clone in the guise of the mischievous child, Desil, which is a pretty interesting choice for a Gundam series.  Normally, the Char clone is an older, stoic pilot with a lot of experience.  Desil doesn’t even come close to stoic, more psychotic.  So he’s not exactly a one-to-one Char clone, but the ease with which he pilots a mobile suit definitely reminds me of the Red Comet.

If you couldn’t tell by now, AGE also continues the tradition of absolutely terrible names and weird hair styles.

Call me Zack!

Call me Zack!

There are some other cosmetic references to previous Gundam series.  The Zalam faction normal suits look like Zaku.  The Diva’s final form looks like White Base. Oh, and Don Boyage sports a wicked mustache that totally looks like the Turn A.

I am the man who will stand at the top of all Gundam mustaches!

I am the man who will stand at the top of all Gundam mustaches!

If you’re not a longtime Gundam fan, you might not catch all the references.  And I don’t think they matter that much to the series as a whole.  The characters are wonderful and the plot is solid so if you’re new to Gundam, you’ll still enjoy AGE.  But for us oldschool fans, the nods are a welcome bonus.

AND HARO!!! I love Haro.

The AGE System

Hut one, hut two, hike!

Hut one, hut two, hike!

Time to talk mobile suits.  Though I know it’s a gimmick to sell more model kits, I really dig the AGE system.  The system is housed in that cement mixer looking thing to the right of Titus there.  It analyses combat data from the Gundam and builds a new component for the mobile suit that will help it adapt to defeat an enemy.  It’s essentially a high speed rapid prototyping 3D printer.  With the current advances in 3D printing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see DARPA develop some kind of 3D weapon printer in the future.

The Black/Red Comet!

The Black/Red Comet!

Speaking of mobile suits, the Vagan enemy suits in AGE are lethal.  For the first few episodes, they tear through the Federation suits like they’re made of paper.  Conventional weapons don’t seem to do anything.  They have two forms, a mobile armor form which is three times as fast as any Feddie suit and a mobile suit form which is armed to the teeth.  As these shows go, the Gundam can usually run through a bunch of enemy suits without breaking a sweat.  But with AGE, every fight with a Vagan mobile suit is earned.  Flit gets his ass handed to him constantly.  It’s a welcome change to the franchise and one that I hope sticks around.  The stakes are raised when each fight really counts.

Two More Generations to Go

I’m really excited that I have two more Asuno’s to meet, Asemu and Kia, which also means that AGE-2 and AGE-3 are on their way.

So if you’ve been away from Gundam for a while like me, or if you’re interested in getting started with giant robots punching, I think AGE is a great jump on series for new and old fans alike.  I believe it’s still streaming on GundamInfo’s YouTube page in Chinese, English and Korean.  There are 49 episodes so be sure to get some popcorn ready.

GODFUCKINGZILLA!!!!!

SHIVERS! FUCKING SHIVERS! Turn your speakers up to 11 and marvel at how fucking good this is!

My good friend, Mike Dent, sent me this new teaser trailer for the new Godzilla movie and HOLY FUCK!!!!! Oppenheimer’s “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” speech is frighteningly haunting as the camera slowly pans across the devastation left by what I’m assuming was an epic kaiju battle. This new Godzilla appears to be bigger than previous versions and that snout is certainly a little shorter. But the silhouette looks menacing and powerful, exactly the way he should be!

I was skeptical at first, but I am totally on board with this new Godzilla! I also kind of want Gipsy Danger to punch him in the face because crossover! It needs to happen!!!!

Smaug The Stupendous

“His name is Bilbo.”

My only regret is not seeing this trailer on a giant movie screen with surround sound. We finally get to hear Cumberbatch’s voice as Smaug and holy fuck, I can just imagine my seat rumbling in the theater and he speaks. Just wow!

So I’m probably reading too much into this, but I thought Thorin Bushy Brows decided that Bilbo was a bro at the end of the first film. From the sound of the trailer, it seems that Thorin Cranky Shield is all pissy with Bilbro again. Sooooo did the broship of the first one never happen? Or does Bilbro bro too hard for Thorin Smouldery Eyes? I’m sure it’s going to be amazing, but that characterization seems off to me. But like I said, I might be reading too much into a throwaway line in a trailer.

Looking forward to it, although not looking forward to the high frame rate 3D nonsense. 2D for me all the way!

Wonder Woman Fan Film Puts DC And Warner Bros to Shame

I don’t know if it’s just blatant sexism or if they just don’t know what to do with her, but I’m so terribly dismayed that Warner Bros can’t get Wonder Woman back on screen.  If that failed TV reboot is any indication, I’d say they just don’t know what to do with her.

Well, Rainfall Films is tired of waiting for someone over at Warner Bros to get their head out of their ass.  They dedicated most of 2013 to filming Wonder Woman: Rainfall.  And even though it’s a bit heavy on the slow mo for my tastes, it’s stands as a fine example of how awesome a live action Wonder Woman show or movie could be.  I love the interpretation of the costume.  It echoes the comic very well and looks absolutely badass.  I also like that she silently dispatches her assailants without any banter, though it would have been nice to see Rileah Vanderbilt get some lines.

I hope this is a wakeup call to Warner Bros to get their shit together.  We’ve got a bajillion different live action Batmen, there’s a bunch of live action Supermen, Linda Carter is getting lonely out there on Wonder Woman island.

Watch all of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II!

It’s been about two years since the original Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series dropped which I quite liked.  They spent a lot of time getting the origins out of the way so that this sequel could be more action packed.  Part of me is sad that this didn’t get a theatrical release.  I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen.  But I’m happy that it got made at all.  I feel like Legacy and Legacy II really show the potential that this franchise always had for awesome action drama.

The embeded playlist will play all ten episodes so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ass kicking!

Robocop 2014, I’d Buy That For A Dollar!

Never judge a man in a robot suit by a photo.

Remember when set photos of the new Robocop suit came out and everyone was complaining that he looked like shit?  Well, fuck that noise!  This trailer for the Robocop remake is fucking badass and the suit looks absolutely fantastic!

Those of us in the tokusatsu fandom know to never judge a suit by a photo alone.  There are plenty of busted ass looking Kamen Riders that are completely awesome.  And some awesome looking ones that are hella lame.

It doesn’t seem like this new version will have the same sort of biting social commentary as the first one, but it still looks like a lot of fun.

Hands On With the Cintiq Hybrid

companionHybrid

This past weekend, I went to PAX Prime to hang out with my brother.  I didn’t really look at the exhibitor list because I figured we’d just play it by ear and wander around.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon the Wacom booth.  I grabbed the closest representative in a Wacom shirt and blurted out, “DO YOU HAVE COMPANION HYBRID THINGY TABLET PLAY WITH I WANT TO?!”  The gentleman calmly pointed to where the Cintiq Companion Hybrid rested, just waiting for me to draw things upon its glossy surface.

QUICKDRAW

So to really get a good feel for this new piece of kit, I’d have to sit down with it for a few hours.  But I didn’t want to be that shit head on the con floor, so I kept my time to few minutes to get a good overview of what to expect.

If you’ve ever drawn on a Cintiq tablet before, the Hybrid is instantly familiar.  If you’re new to the product, it might take some getting used to.  Unlike the textured surfaces of the Intuos 5s and the Bamboo line, the Cintiq drawing surface is smooth glass.  You won’t get the tactile resistance you might expect from paper.  I’ve never found that to be a problem but I heard a few other people next to me complain about the lack of texture.

Previous Cintiq models that I’ve worked with always had a weird tracking problem as I drew closer to the edge.  My lines would jump around making the device somewhat useless as I worked towards the edges.  This was the first thing I tested out with the Hybrid and it handled the edges perfectly.  No weird skipping.  No tracking problems.

The tracking and pressure sensitivity are exactly what you’d expect from a Cintiq.  It tracks almost flawlessly and handles changes in pressure just as well.  The Hybrid also functions as a tablet computer, but it turns off hand/palm detection when you’re drawing.  The woman next to me was playing with the Windows 8 version which was giving her problems with the palm detection.  Every time her hand touched the surface, her drawing would go all wonky.  The tech couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem so that might be something to watch out for.

The new Pro Pen is pretty comfortable.  From what I could tell, it’s pretty much the same pen as the previous Cintiq iteration.  I didn’t ask the tech, but I suspect it’s not compatible with anything else but a Cintiq.

If I had more time with it, I would have fired up a big ol 300-600 dpi CYMK file to see if I could make it crash.  I also didn’t test out the pinch or zoom or any of the tablet gestures but I’m assuming them shits work just fine.

Overall, I think it lives up to my expectations.  The specs made me drool, but actually having one in my hands made my pants all kinds of crunchy. Now to figure out how to afford the bloody thing…

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