It seems somewhat appropriate that I get to wish everyone Happy Halloween before I talk about the first selection today. And ordinarily it would be a sad week when the only live action movie title on offer had a name like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead, but this one pulled a ton of awards on the Film Fest circuit, and the trailers look wonderful. Independent films are pretty much the only place you can find non-formula original work these days, at least out of America where most studios either want to re-imagine something that made a ton of money 20 to 50 years ago, make a sequel of something that made a ton of money in the last few years, or make a film based on a youth cult mega-selling book/graphic novel/TV series. The other new film to DVD this week is an animation, and a sequel, but it is an instant classic: Toy Story 3. The original Toy Story was one of those works that changed everything within its field, and the sequels have been on a par.
In TV, the gorilla in the room is the re-imagined version of V (2009): The Complete First Season. I love the actors they have brought together for this variation of the story, definitely a number of my favorites, and the improvement in FX tech over the last few decades also helps make it more enjoyable. But I do not see the kind of quality upgrade that Battlestar Galactica brought to its franchise, where they re-examined the core concepts and the consequences that grew out of them, building a worldview with more realism and relevance to the current human condition. An actual original miniseries based on a book set, The Fallen ran on ABC Family back in 2006, telling a tale of a Nefilhim (a human-angel hybrid) who had the power to redeem fallen angels. It was originally broadcast as a sequence of three made-for-TV movies, and finally compiled into a complete program on the disks. The final TV series with new episodes this week is Doctor Who, with two entries: Dr. Who: Revenge of the Cybermen (the Tom Baker story, not the Hartnell/Troughton sequence) and Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis from the Silvester McCoy period. Classic Doctor is always worth watching, even if they didn’t hit the bulls-eye every time.
In anime, for the first time ever as near as I have been able to tell, the Original Dirty Pair: Part 1 becomes available in this country. I have the Feature Film box set, various OVA series, and Dirty Pair: Flash (a sort of remake), but I am really looking forward to finally getting my hands on the series that started it all. The original Girls With Guns program, I can’t wait to see how many times they say It’s not our fault per episode as they destroy the cities and planets they are protecting. Yes, this series inspired a lot of others, including the recently mentioned Birdy The Mighty.
As a former professional pyrotechnic engineer and avid sci-fi fanatic, I have been waiting for Oh! Edo Rocket for a number of years. The basic premise is simple; an alien princess lands on Earth and needs to be returned to outer space. In Edo period Japan (a few hundred years later they named the town Tokyo) the only man for the job is a fireworks expert that keeps tying her to a flying bomb and lighting the fuse. The local government officials frown on this practice, since in Edo during the mid-1800’s there was a set of harsh frugality laws that banned all luxuries, including fireworks. And then they threw in some silly factors, just to make the animation even more entertaining. They ran this one as two 13 episode seasons, and are releasing each season as a separate box set. I know I should wait until they release a complete series box set and pay $10 less for the combined product, but that is not an option for me this time. I have been waiting too long to have this as part of my permanent collection, I am not waiting any longer.
We have two other new choices this week, starting with Uta∽Kata, in which a school girl comes across a mirror that does not reflect the world around her. When Manatsu steps from inside the mirror, offering friendship and magical powers for the summer, it may be a promise too good to be true. The other? Blassreiter – The Complete Series rolls out in a single box set, for those that didn’t pick it up when it came out a season at a time, with the usual associated price drop. The Pale Rider series (for those who speak only English) is all about melding flesh with machine through a blood born virus, and those who fight against the spread. Another economical re-release, Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino – The Complete Series [Viridian Collection] also from Funimation continues the story of of the cyborg child-assassin teams begun in the first series.
That also brings up a question about the difference between a season and a series; a season would seem to be a complete year, and a series would seem to be a complete story. But a season often starts in one year and finishes in the next, while a story might constitute everything within a story arc, or everything involving the same characters taking place inside the same universe. Various sources explain it various ways, but no explanation I have ever come up against works for every instance and example. Answering that question should be a fun project and an interesting mental exercise; I will share my results (assuming I ever come to any) here when they happen.