Category Archives: Story Pile

Here’s where you’ll find the blog entries that are about examining – specifically – TV, movies, and other forms of participatory media that interest me. This is the space you’re going to find talk of characters in TV shows, or specific moments in greater narratives, or why you might want to watch a particular show or why I love – or hate! – a particular movie.

Story Pile: The Owl House, Again, Part 1

When I first wrote about The Owl House it was a simplified article mostly trying to grapple with one of those great trends of the Online Age. That is, a show came out, and it was enjoyed, and then it got stamped with the Good Representation Label because it was Diverse and I, eternally cynical, went to check that out… and once I had confirmed this wasn’t people being very excited about things that we’re pretty sure this counts, I was overwhelmed with the sudden ennui that it’s 2020 and we finally got an uncomplicated yes-actually-these-characters-are-gay moment from a Disney show.

That was all I was comfortable talking about, and that’s all I did, because The Owl House as a show was, at the point I watched it, teetering on an edge.

See, if you had the Disney Channel, a cable channel, the second season was available to watch back in June 2021. But if you were like me, in Australia, it wasn’t going to come to Disney+ until April 2022. That meant that while you or your best friend or the tumblrphones may know how the narrative of The Owl House spun out, and whether or not it was a story full of promise that bombed out hard because the people making it weren’t given time or space or opportunity to do a good job, or it wound up being another of these amazing animated series we’re getting these days.

But now I have seen it, and y’know what? The Owl House kicks ass.

Spoiler Warning: No gloves, no promises, I’m going to talk about things in this series and I don’t care about footing around it. This is going to be an article about a series I like and a bunch of the stuff in it I like and I’m not going to avoid spoilers. Have you watched The Owl House? No? Well, you should go watch it! It’s great!

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Story Pile: My Dress Up Darling

There is a purity to slice-of-life, teenage romance anime. There’s an existing schedule, a default now, and a pre-existing set of tools for communicating our basics about characters. A boy may have one friend, three friends, heaps of friends, or no friends; a girl may stand out or blend in, and all the existing structures of hobbies, clubs, and fandom signifiers let the story put them in a context you can easily understand. Meeting these characters is quick, and the demands on their lives are similarly low-stakes, meaning that these stories can focus wholeheartedly on two characters and how they feel about one another, as expressed by them doing some kind of special shared interest. It’s a way the author can talk about something that they love, and show you a pair of characters growing, understanding, and coming to love one another while a host of other complicated questions sort themselves out.

This focus on the characters and their feelings and emotional states mean that this is an avenue to tell stories that are sweet and wholesome in a way that stories that need to invest in more adult concerns can struggle to examine. The day to day is simplified, and it means that big feelings can become focal to your life, the way love can feel like it stretches from horizon to horizon, when your day is all quietly ensnared in these first, uncertain expressions of vast feelings.

Such is the story of My Dress Up Darling, a breathtakingly sweet and joyful anime about two kids learning about one another’s needs, wants, interests and boundaries.

Lords I write that and then I have to write the content warning I do. Oh well, nothing for it but to do it.

Content warning — this series is horny. This series is fantastically and extraordinarily horny. It’s horny in the way of teenagers who find each hot horny, especially when one of those characters is into horny videogames. It’s an ecchi series, and however you want to reckon with that, you should know it ahead of time. Particularly, episodes 2 and 6 are perhaps watched best with a finger on the fast forward button if you’re uncomfortable with it but still want to see the rest of the series.

And a spoiler warning. I’m going to mention some stuff that shows up in this series. Nothing super major, and I don’t think it’ll diminish your enjoyment of the series, because this is a series much more about feelings of a moment than the surprise of them.

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Story Pile: Dark Winds

I watched all of Longmire. It’s not a good show. Honestly it’s dreadful. It’s basically a cowboy sad dad feels story about a really terrible local sheriff who’s got the low-key racism of ‘well I can’t fix that, but everyone needs to be polite and nice.’ But I watched all of it because it had a fascinating b-plot that showed up from time to time of the Rez, an Indian Reservation that got to exist in a really interesting juridstictional space. And then I watched Fargo, which was a really good show but which mostly held me in the second season with this Native American character. And then I watched Letterkenny and Shoresy which both have elements of Rez politics and I found that interesting and then I found out that there was an actual crime thriller series set on a Reservation and built around that same tension between different police forces and

well

Of course I had to check it out, right?

Content warning: Look, not only am I not a member of the marginalised group this series represents and is about, but I’m also not even from the right country. This is entirely a vision of a cultural space that I have only ever experienced as media, presented to me by American eyes, and therefore, stuff that is acceptable and distributable under the existing power dynamic. You may well just not want to hear a white boy from Australia going ‘wow, I thought this was cool.’

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Story Pile: Oddtaxi

I have a concern about what I can only describe as ‘That Guy’ Media. I don’t have a precise list, but there are some kinds of media that slot into a particular space where someone, usually a white millenial guy, will exhort you that oh man you gotta check this out. And then they’ll hesitate almost performatively, like we I mean they’ve practiced this in the bathroom thinking about how we’re going to explain it to a stranger or a friend or some other captive audience, and it’ll be something like ‘… I can’t tell you much without spoilers,’ that eventually degenerates into ‘look, Just Watch It’ or something like that.

When I talked about Knives Out, in an effort to give a view on the movie that was interesting if you hadn’t seen it and interesting if you had, I did so thinking about something that was missed in the swirl of commentary about this movie. These articles aren’t being written for no reason, they’re written because I want to talk to you about something, and I want to talk about it in the context of something that I’ve watched or read or listened to. It’s when I engage with something and words about it want to get out of me.

And Oddtaxi is boy howdy the kind of series that makes me full of words. A frustratingly large number of them are “Have you watched Oddtaxi? Oh, okay.”

But talking about Oddtaxi runs the risk, at least in my mind, of making it into That Guy Media. It’s not even as pure as the Gay Effusing you get when an anime has two hot girls who like each other where a commentator just foams “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. You should watch it. It’s so good.” for ten minutes. It’s the smug cousin of that, which lacks the purity of “Oh My God I’m Finally Seeing Media I Like,” and is instead the same voice that asks “Oh, Have you seen the Raid?” or “Do you know the twist in Fight Club?

If you’re just here for an as-brief-as-possible, why-should-I-watch-this summary, I’m going to say that I like Oddtaxi, an anime I watched in its entirety in one day and which reminds me of Durarara!! and Paranoia Agent, but less bleak or apocalyptic. Lots of competing narratives, clear use of imagery, clearly neurodivergent protagonist, great music.

Okay, so what am I going to talk about beyond the fold?

What could I talk about, if I’m not going to effuse about the text, about its ideas, or its concepts?

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Story Pile: Chuck

Back in 2007, a confluence of events collapsed together as a lot of people who would move on to Other Things or who had Just Done A Big Thing all got involved in doing a project together for five years that managed to produce one of the tentposts of what we can now nostalgically look back on as ‘pretty good TV.’ I’m not trying to damn with faint praise here, but with shows like Psych and Fringe which I’ve partaken of this year I have come to have an appreciation for that particular era of TV when basically, Leverage was available through whatever method actual Americans watch actual TV.

Look, I haven’t had a functioning TV since like, 2004, let’s just talk about Chuck.

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Story Pile: Fringe

Well, this is a chonksome spoiler warning.

If I’m going to talk to you about what I found interesting about Fringe, I’m going to need to talk to you about each season of Fringe, and it’s an interesting series in that each season introduces a new status quo, and then usually changes that status quo midway through the season. A good way to think of it is that the five seasons of Fringe are one show trying out five different genres as ways to tell a story, in a broad way.

If you want an opinion of Fringe without the spoilers, though, I’d say that it’s pretty good. It says a lot about how TV series with interesting ideas work in that I am finding myself best able to describe it as ‘It never angered me,’ as if that’s a mark of high quality and esteem while not making it sound like it’s some sort of masterpiece. The episodes have to be watched in order (and one was screened out of order), the creator’s vision is reasonably interesting, and each season changes things so that if you dislike one season you know a change is coming.

It’s really good sci fi if what you’re looking for is decent sci fi, rather than pop-the-top-off-your-head-expand-your-brain-weirdness sci fi. If you’ve read even one decently sized science fiction short story collection, you’ve read the kind of stories you’ll get here, interspersed with a different ‘big idea’ world thing going on, along with some reasonably interesting, fun characters.

Okay? Like, that’s the recommendation. Fringe never made me deeply exasperated with it being stupid.

An added content warning: This is a series with a lot of body horror. Most episodes open with a 5 minute short story about something graphically awful happening to a human through the metaphor of a human body. Drugs are a constant presence, with Walter regularly offhandedly mentioning being stoned out of his gourd, too.

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Story Pile: Psych

I almost did this as a Sherlock Holmes thing earlier in the year.

Psych is a TV series that is still? Kind of? Technically? Ongoing? It started in 2006, and in the first episode, Shawn is excited to maybe get his hand on some free CD Wallets, while in the most recent 2021 movie (This Is Gus), they suggest someone change her name from ‘Karen,’ because of the meme. It follows Shawn, a modern day Sherlock Holmes who has tuned the ‘easily bored smug dickhead’ dials all the way up, and sets him and his best friend Gus, a longsuffering niche pharmaceutical sales representative and probably iconic blerd?, in a new shared task of running a detective agency, which solves…? Crimes?

Oh and the gimmick is they pretend Shawn is a psychic.

Because that gives them a legitimacy that they don’t have by default.

You know, like real psychics.

Low key, this is the thing that I found the most interesting about the pitch of this series; it’s about how cops are so bad at being cops that they will turn to outside sources to help them solve things, and those things are nonsense. And the nature of power, and the way power is concentrated in our society, is such that The Police, a serious institution with the Serious Job of Seriously Engaging with Serious Crimes, have means to accept the help of psychics before they have means to accept the input of ordinary people who are just good at the things police think they shouldn’t be good at.

The whole series starts with that premise: Police are bad at their job, and when they encounter someone good at their job, they assume that must be for illegitimate reasons.

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Story Pile: Reaper Man

Man.

The Discworld is incredible.

There are 41 Discworld novels, and with one exception, each novel is a standalone piece that requires no background reading in any other novel to work as itself; some concepts may be explained more thoroughly when they’re more focal, but if a story is about or includes stuff like L-Space or the Auditors or the strange mythology of the Nac Mac Feegles, the story that includes them will include an explanation of what they are and why you should care about them. Once you understand that concept, or recognise that character, though, you can see them show up in other people’s stories, and their presence connects the books one to another. There’s a web throughout the story where some characters are fleshed out through cameo appearances in other stories. It’s one of the masteries of the writing; that many of these characters have such whole identities that when you see Fred Colon for a quick joke in a novel where he’s not advancing the plot, he’s still believably Fred Colon and all these characters are whole people with realised inner lives.

The character who shows up in almost every Discworld novel with only two exceptions I’m aware of, is Discworld’s version of Death. There are five ‘Death’ novels, where they focus on the specific character and characters in his orbit, counting in order Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather and finally Thief of Time. These books can be read in sequence to read the development of the character, his relationships, and his life – such as it is.

Reaper Man tells the story of when Death became a person for a while. A person who could live, a person who could die, and what it meant for Death to confront Death.

Spoilers below the fold. Also I guess content warning, because this is a book about Death.

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Story Pile: Revolutionary Girl Utena

When I hear people talk about ’90s anime’ it seems to be used to refer to the early 90s, with long-running, heavily episodic series that often didn’t have satisfying endings, but that was okay because you were always there for the ride. Stuff like Ranma 1/2 (take a drink), Yu Yu Hakusho, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball. Thing is, while that stuff has lasted (and is great and fine), that is the early 90s. Seemingly split in half, it’s the late 90s where the anime making a splash in English language areas took a sharp turn; you got Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain and Trigun, all anime I remember watching at the time. I don’t know if I saw the change at the time, but I do now in hindsight.

Revolutionary GIrl Utena was one of the Very Noticeable anime of the late 1990s; from that period when suddenly the anime you were getting were a bit less ‘whacky hammerspace’ and a bit more ‘you need to watch every episode and also here the villain fist-fights a rogue kangaroo.’

Revolutionary Girl Utena is visually splendid, has lovely music, is steeped knee-deep in metaphorical symbolism, and queer in the way that its faintest fig leaf stands between it and the audience. It’s a fairy tale but one where the fairies are like, the horrifying kind. Revolutionary Girl Utena was my, and many other anime fans’ introduction to an anime that resisted easy answers.

Anyway, there are some sort-of-spoilers after the fold, if you really care about spoilers for a 25 year old anime you weren’t going to watch don’t lie to me.

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Story Pile: The Wire

There are certain shows and films that I am cautious about being too overly enthusiastic about recommending. Breaking Bad, in which a mediocre white teacher snaps and becomes the most dangerous man in the world for about twenty people, is a show that I figure I’m probably going to always want to like cautiously. The Raid, a movie that millenial white guy film buffs tout like it’s their Asian friend that justifies Asian Cinema, that’s one too. And I’m dreadfully worried about what it might communicate if I pontificate overmuch about The Wire.

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Story Pile: Speed Racer

In 1999, The Matrix came out. Then I blinked, and it was 2008, and Speed Racer came out. And I, despite being a grown adult, looked at these two works, as advertised, and asked myself: How the fuck did these things come from the same people?

Turns out that that’s an incredibly stupid question.

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Story Pile: Moriarty The Patriot

Understand that literally anything that gets compared to Death Note has an uphill battle with me. Fortunately, Moriarty The Patriot isn’t like Death Note, in that it’s a fun anime about an interesting character. It doesn’t rely on a lengthy sequence of connected cat-and-mouse ploys to hook you in or arbitary ambiguated rules that make for world-affecting crime wizards in a society that cares an inexplicable amount about their impact. On the other hand it’s good that it doesn’t have to compare to Death Note because the alternative is comparing it to Sherlock Holmes and the character there of Professor James Moriarty, with whom this anime has nothing in common.

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Story Pile: Elementary

Oh hey, this happened didn’t it? There was a whole Sherlock Holmes TV series a few years ago that lasted for seven years and went out with pretty good ratings and earned a bunch of praise before it became a footnote in the fanagement story of how fans of another Sherlock Holmes story decided to be proactively racist to Lucy Liu of all people?

Hey, why don’t I check that out? Adrienne says it’s good and she’s neat so let’s check it out.

Oh hey, that was pretty cool!

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Story Pile: Orson & Olivia

A recent conversation on twitter kicked around with the question of ‘hey, do you remember a television program that it seems nobody else remembers?’ and that led to a lot of people sharing the ways that television, for all that it’s this heavily documented and mass produced resource that feels infinitely replicated in our streaming now, is still a massive sprawling media space of things that didn’t necessarily stick to the culture at large. Of course, there are always some people who remember everything. The people who made works are often the people who will always stand by and recognise the part they had in the place of things.

For example, Orson and Olivia is remembered, at the least, because of the voice actors.

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Story Pile: The Irregulars

In 2016, Netflix announced that Tom Bidwell, the director of Netflix’s Watership Down was going to make a new series based on the Baker Street Irregulars. For those familiar with Sherlock Holmes stuff, that’s an exciting idea — the Irregulars is a term that Holmes used to refer to a group of youths around Baker Street who he could rely on to do all the tedious parts of investigation that he wouldn’t want to be caught doing. The premise, Bidwell described was even more interesting:

Sherlock Holmes had a group of street kids he’d use to help him gather clues so our series is what if Sherlock was a drug addict and a delinquent and the kids solve the whole case whilst he takes credit.

The idea of ‘Sherlock without Sherlock’ is a really cool one, and it’s not the only time this idea’s been floated. Gene Wilder made The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, which even used an actor who’d been renowned throughout the 60s for playing Holmes. The Great Mouse Detective has Sherlock Holmes in the literal background of its own story, and that movie whips. There’s a lot you can do around Holmes, right?

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Story Pile: House

One of the last television programs I watched, regularly, when there was a television in my house plugged into a plug in the wall that was connected to an antenna on the roof that pulled signals out of the air and converted one of five free-to-air channels, paid for with advertisement revenue of me watching the show, was House. I remembered thinking it was very clever, a very smart series, whose main character was very smart and clever and that justified such complex narratives.

I wasn’t quite sure what I expected when I rewatched the show. My memories of the show cut off at some point, which I assumed meant I just wasn’t that into sitting on my sofa to watch something far away from a system of videogames and music I had in the other room. What I expected to find in hindsight was a show that was probably really intelligent and thoughtful, and that I’d still find it annoying because I’d grown tired of dealing with dudes who fancied they were like House.

Turns out I was half right.

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Story Pile: Fullmetal Panic

I promise I’m not just an immense mark for millenial-focused high school alt history, it’s just come up twice.

Fullmetal Panic is kind of a greatest hits of 1998 to 2004 ‘anime’s subject material. It’s a highschool drama, it’s a gifted child narrative, it’s a mascot-based comedy, it’s a Highly Marketable And Merchandisable mecha and military kind of story that includes most of your greatest hits, including in a fairly economic way, the three flavours of Waifu; Big Sister, Little Sister, And Miscellaneous.

It tells the story of Kaname Chidori, an ordinary high school girl who has the Techno Renaissance in her head (but she doesn’t know that), and her new classmate, Sousuke Sagara, an ordinary highschool boy who’s a former child soldier transferred to the school to serve as Kaname’s long-term bodyguard because there’s multiple non-state actors (and state actors) that would use her head full of super-science ding-dongery to take over the world, deployed by the NGO Mithril, who are technically mercenaries, but the kind of mercenaries who seem to largely be paid in justice and are often scrabbling for money.

The mecha are detailed, the helicopters are realistic, the gun nerdery is (I’m told) extremely in depth and all of these components are brought together to tell a story that kind of runs in three basic lanes:

  • Super-science conspiracy stuff
  • Mecha battles with ‘small scale’ tank-comparable mech
  • High school comedy nonsense

Spoilers for the anime and light novels to follow.

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Story Pile: Brave Father Online: Our Story of Final Fantasy XIV

Some of the dates her are a little general, sorry, it’s just what you gotta deal with. Here’s the long walk version: Sometime, around 2016 by my best information, a Japanese blogger who played a character named Maidy Maidy in Final Fantasy XIV made a blog detailing his story of connecting with his father through both playing the game Final Fantasy XIV. Maidy’s plan was to get his dad into the game, and befriend him there, without his dad knowing his friend was his son.

This was successful in the way that autobiographical blog posts relating to videogames rarely are.

The real-life account of this was so compelling there was a book made (2017), then a TV series (2017), then a movie (2019), and at each step of this process, the original author, who was a real person talking about his real relationship with his real dad resisted changes that were suggested to make the story more tragic or heartbreaking or more classically dramatic. The movie uses in-game footage captured by an ordinary player account, though dramatically enhanced through crime programs, and Maidy ‘plays’ his character and his guildmates play their roles with him. It is effortlessly charming, very funny, classic to its form, and a movie I really enjoyed.

It is a personal story about a relationship and a videogame.

Content Warning: Cancer!

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Story Pile: Community

When Community was at its first wave of popularity, I remember reading a tumblr post praising it for its authenticity in comparison to the other, more successful and advertiser-prone alternative geeks-and-jokes series, The Big Bang Theory, which chose to describe the latter Bazinga-Em-Up series as nerd blackface. A phrase that at the time I thought ‘yeah, that’s a smart way to describe it’ and now I think ‘oh no, that’s a real sign of how brain-rotted I was to see geeks as an oppressed underclass.’

I think this helped to create a narrative about Community; that it was the ‘real’ funny sitcom about nerdy things made by nerdy people who were good, not like that other one, that was bad. And make no mistake: Big Bang Theory is extraordinarily tedious basic-ass sitcom made with a laugh track to prime delivery and a condescending view of nerds’ abilities to, like, respect women’s boundaries. By comparison and also just, on it own, Community is a really funny show.

Mostly.

In fact, so much so I’m just going to spend a few paragraphs here talking about things in it that I think are funny as hell.

The deaf girl and Abed rivalry. Troy embracing dance, but not the other thing, with the theatre. Jack Black showing up and making fun of retroactive continuity. Troy being a savant at Air Conditioning. The flag being a butthole. The pillow fort/blanket fort contention. Abed’s rap. The episode with the six rolls of the dice. Physical comedy on many levels. Dean Pelt’s many ridiculous outfits and the time when he burst out rapping even if sounded like he wanted to drop a hard n.

Hell, even just single lines are amazing and bring to mind an entire comic situation. Would that this were a Time Desk. You can excuse racism? Oh he’s too attractive, even the shadow. Football is in your blood. I’m a living god. I hope this doesn’t awaken anything in me. The professor was SO old. How about I pound you like a boy? My father held grudges and I’ll always hate him for that. This isn’t budget daycare.

Now I mean this is a series that I may have just praised but you’ll also notice that for example, Ben Chang doesn’t show up in any of those anecdotes, and Laverne barely does. It’s because Laverne’s a fucking homophobe and everyone around her is just okay with that because everyone else in that room is a homophobe, as you might note by the way they’re totally okay with one of their friends being a blatant homophobe. It’s a quirky belief, just like her antisemitism. Oh wait I’m supposed to mention something that’s acceptable. Her fondness for parental abuse?

I like this series. I like Community. There are a bunch of episodes that are funny and it has some great sequences of dialogue and some episodes A plot or B plot is really great and forms an enjoyable, thoughtful whole. Lots of plots resolve out cleverly, the reference pool is very relatable to me, and when the show dips into nerdy topics, I get the strong impression that I, as a white guy who is now approaching forty, am the kind of nerd they want to be talking to. It’s really good at being a funny show with a cynical edge.

But there’s always something that comes up, eventually, and ruins it.

If you want the short reason, before the fold, here’s the simple bit: Britta. But for more, we need to lay down a content warning for Child Sexual Assault.

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Story Pile: The Story of Tiffany Aching

I’ve said that the correct place to start with the Discworld books is to grab one that looks interesting and go for it. There is no need for the continuity of the story for it to work for you, they’re all contained stories that work well on their own and hold together without the need for knowing exactly what comes before and after. You don’t have to treat these books like they’re part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a reading order to tell you what you can or can’t handle.

This is not, however, to say there is no continuity in the Discworld. Instead, that continuity is much more about tracking the narrative path that follows something in the setting, whether it’s a character or organisation or country, seeing the way they change from one story to another, the way they grow or suffer, the ways their choices and jobs and circumstances shape them. It can be something like watching the Omnian Church arc from inquisatorial fundamentalism to its eventual representation by Constable Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets.

One of these stories is about a nine year old girl, and her arc from wisp to witch. It’s the story of the what it’s like to grow up and want to wrestle with the incomplete world the adults have given you, about how being smart isn’t the same thing as being good, and how being good is a thing some people have to practice. It is a young reader’s set of stories that come together to form darkest, most intricate Smurfs fanfiction you’ve ever read.

I want to talk to you about the story of one Tiffany Aching.

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Story Pile: Martian Successor Nadesico

Martian Successor Nadesico is a comedy-drama science-fiction space opera story with an enormous cast of characters that introduces a spaceship, recruits its screwball crew, goes to mars, then to the moon, engages in multiple sorties, defies the UN, deals with shadowy secret research, uncovers a conspiracy, grapples with questions of culture and media, wins a war, creates a peace, has a talent contest, multiple music videos, love triangles that go through the full typical mathematical configurations, is funny as hell and serious as a heart attack.

This popcorn anime of the late 90s is now a vintage classic.

The world was a different one, where anime were not being wholly produced on computers (yet), nor the natural end point for a churning industry of marketable light novels (yet), nor an endless filler spiral trying to maintain the presence of one of the big three shounen anime in the minds and charts of the viewing public (yet). It was a time when anime series were seriously grappling with just being too big to reasonably buy, where a 13 episode anime would still cost you $140 to buy, because you’d get two episodes per VHS tape, and each tape would cost you $20 AUD.

You had to pick dubbed or subbed when you bought the tape, and it was entirely possible that the track you wanted wouldn’t be available when you went to the store. An anime might sell out of like, volume 6 in sub or dub, and you had to wait literal years for the next reprinting.

It was a time when the medium was the message in a truly astounding way: when anime was competing for a small number of slots, for a small audience, and as a result, it was even more self-referential, trope-codifying and quietly impenetrable than you’d imagine. Right now, the main anime people know from this time, and I say ‘know’ in that they ‘kinda remember’ or ‘have watched some of,’ or think about it as a thing that’s important to ‘anime,’ is Evangelion or Pokemon, which you can definitely look at as two forking paths: one of mass-market popularity, and one of deliberately reflective genre awareness.

It’s one thing to be a leader. It’s another thing to be one of the first followers.

And it’s even more impressive to somehow follow both.

SPOILER WARNING: Uh, spoilers? Some? For stuff in the series that is why you should want to check this anime out?

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Story Pile: Flight of the Phoenix

What’s your favourite movie?

That’s one of those questions that we ask from time to time, a conversation starter. For me, I don’t have a good answer – like, I struggle to give a meaningful response that doesn’t involve explaining ‘I’m bad at favourites,’ which means that the conversation stops being about an interesting common shared media thing and starts, instead, being about my personal anxieties. They’re not fun to talk about. I mean I assume they’re not, I haven’t found anyone interested yet.

I do like asking the question, though, even if I can’t answer it for squat.

One time I asked it, and I got told amongst others, that my friend’s favourite movie was Flight of the Phoenix.

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Story Pile: The Gentlemen

Look, I don’t know Guy Ritchie. I don’t know the man, I don’t know his life. I can look up details in his backstory or read interviews or find out whether he’s a hash-tag-cancelled style dude, or whatever. I understand he was married to Madonna at some point, he’s made a bunch of movies, and people like some of them and make fun of others. If you want you can point to films you like that he’s made like Sherlock Holmes and The Man From UNCLE, or maybe if you want you can point to films that he’s made that you don’t like Aladdin or Swept Away.

I am never ever dealing with the whole of a man, and movies aren’t made, they escape. With that in mind, there is a prudent recognition that when I say ‘Guy Ritchie has done,’ with a movie, that what I really mean is that Guy Ritchie’s name is being filled in as the default answer to a host of questions about decisions for the crafting of a movie that has been released by a company that is itself composed of a small army of worker ants that then subsequently dismantle the company itself upon the completion of their task. It is always an inadequate term personalising an enormous communal task as if one guy did it, because hypothetically we can treat a movie as if a singular vision guided the millions of decisions that brought it into being.

Anyway, Guy Ritchie sure turned fifty, didn’t he?

Content Warning: This movie includes implied bestiality and sexual battery pending an assault. Basically, someone gets pinned to something and then it’s interrupted.You don’t see it, and it is brief, but it’s still feels pretty unnecessary to me.

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