What? Wait a minute! This isn’t smooch material! This isn’t smooch material at all! What gives, Talen?
Come with me on this journey.
What? Wait a minute! This isn’t smooch material! This isn’t smooch material at all! What gives, Talen?
Come with me on this journey.
Okay, let’s give you the absolute basics before the fold here on Always Be My Maybe, a 2019 Netflix romantic comedy movie. This movie is part of The Discourse about representation, as one of a small number of movies that present Asian-American characters and their lives as normal and desireable. That is an interesting conversation and it is a conversation I’m woefully ill equipped to engage with. I’m not Asian (kinda), I’m not American (kinda), I’m not Asian-American (kinda), and unpacking each of those kindas is an essay in and of itself and still wouldn’t position me as relating to this movie and its discourse meaningfully, because conversations about what even is culture are not related to why is media so racist about Asians.
And trust me, it is.
I found Always Be My Maybe funny, and charming, and it’s a romantic comedy so that I didn’t find it very challenging wasn’t a big deal, but also that’s not what it wants to be, so you’re fine, trust me, you’re fine. The romantic comedy is one of those genres that’s so well structured at this point that you fill in boxes and do the things the audience is expecting in what way you’re going to. It’s all competent, there’s some awkward humour, some more standard punchline stuff, some fun dynamic stuff, all that. You know how it goes. There are fat jokes, and that sucks, and I would see that as a good enough reason to not bother with it, but if you’re braced for those things and find it interesting to look at, I’d say give it a shot.
Oh, and there is a cameo from a big name actor that I found really funny.
The Bletchley Circle is a 2012 miniseries and subsequent pair of spinoff pairs about a group of women who worked in an official capacity for the codebreaking wing of the intelligence service during World War 2, and the subsequent and overwhelming bore their lives turned into once the Crown had a reason to stop treating them like bloody smart experts.
After World War 2 there was this thing called the Official Secrets act, which was ostensibly exactly that; it was legislation that made every person involved in secret work obligated to maintain that secret, and in order to maintain that, anyone who was involved in sharing that secret if it was ever discovered was also liable for punishment. The punishments were pretty severe, which meant there were people who worked in codebreaking whose partners never learned what they did at all, a thing that seems kinda badass until you remember just how much of the labour of the time during the war was being done by marginalised people, and this subsequent official secrets act was an actual and material hindrance on people using that independence they learned during the war to shape their life after it. Kind of hard to show you ran an ammunition factory for two years if you can’t mention the ammunition factory.
Anyway, the women know a thing about each other that only they know, including their intellects and experiences with difficult problems and noticing patterns in human behaviour, and so, they start a book club.
And hunt down serial killers.
Star Trek Discovery wrapped its third season a few days ago, and thanks to properly licensing the thing, here in Australia I was able to watch it nearly on schedule, waiting only a day or two to legally watch it on the legal service I legally pay for, which
for a change.
I guess up front there’s a sort of standard outlay of nerd stuff that I need to lay out here, because it’s never enough to just talk about a movie. On the one hand I find the task a little tiresome like there are some movies that get special disclaimers and clauses because heaven forfend I don’t show appropriate deference to a movie and be deemed as having, I don’t know, ‘wrong’ opinions? Because how can I say ‘I don’t want to watch Joker’ if I haven’t seen it?
Anyway, I suppose out of the box, some token criticism for this movie; there’s a line I think that didn’t quite land.
I mean I think that’s it?
The end of year is a time when media production gets busy, and that means it’s a time when media makers get busy making backlogs of media to try and spend some time relaxing. I mean unless you don’t do Christmas, but even if you don’t do Christmas, you’ll probably still have some reduced attention and time. What steps up to fill that void in easy content lands is the listicle, and that’s why you’ll often get year-ender list gluts. If you work in media, that’ll often be things like a top ten of the year, or the month-long top hundred, or, often, a top ten and bottom ten.
I dedicate my Decembers to Da Ween, Yo, and that means that I try to make sure my December has a really positive, sweet, easy tone. No big heavy analysese, no takedowns, no ‘wow, this sucks!’ and that also means if I vent some fun spite, nobody misses it because of I dunno, turkey comas or whatever we blame our suddenly not being Extremely Online.
I watched, or started watching, a lot of stuff in 2020 that could have been a Story Pile. In a lot of cases, I did not write about them, This is because for a number of them, they were boring or annoying and I did not enjoy them.
Let’s look then, at the worst things I spent my time watching in 2020.
For this year’s Story Pile articles, there’s a lot of rich reading to do. Turns out that this was the year of I Had A Lot of Free Time To Watch Long Things And A Reason To Keep Myself Distracted, so instead of wasting a month on Hannibal or Longmire or American Horror Story I watched things that were interesting and then wrote about it.
Here then is a reader’s guide to some of 2020’s best Story Pile article, whether they be because the work is good and interesting and I want you to check it out, or because the work is absolutely buttcloaks and I want you to join in with me in feeling pain about these things existing.
First of all I did an in depth watch of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (parts one, two, three and bonus memes), which seems to be heralded as one of the best Trek series ever. The more time that passes, the more I look back on what held in my memory, the more convinced I am that it isn’t very good at all; it was novel, it was doing a kind of storytelling Trek couldn’t do much of at the time, and there were great ideas in it, but the show’s ambitions were failed by its executions. I do think it has probably one of my favourite episodes of any Star Trek ever – In the Pale Moonlight is great, and then immediately I think of four or five other really great episodes, which makes me doubt.
It was really enjoyable and it had some great ideas and great episodes. It’s just hard to get over the ways it was bad, because they were pervasive and permeating.
I also finally tackled the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, something I’d been on-and-off promising myself I’d do for a few years now. The series is big and it’s sprawling and it’s made up of four ‘equal’ components (though that’s not counting the games): the manga, the first anime, the second anime and the live action movie. This one was a little harder to really nail down – fact is, the worst of them is the movie and it’s still going to fill two hours… fine.
I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians, and my article on it is as much about that excellent sequence of Mahjong playing in the last act. I thought Douglas was an unexpected and excellent gem of a comedy show by a wonderful comedian, Hannah Gadsby. I also went over the ‘horror’ series Black Spot, which was about the intense and beautiful horror that came from an environment that feels to me completely alien.
There were some Story Piles that were just things I loved and wanted to talk about. Sort of raw enthusiasm, boiling away in me for sharing these stories or movies or series or characters or just good stuff so you could enjoy it during this time of Things Not Being Great. In that space, there’s John Wick 3: Para Bellum, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Lower Decks, Logan Lucky, andOcean’s 8. Just stuff I liked, with simple, no-nonsense articles explaining what I liked about them or why they were interesting. Sadly, my Durarara!! article has lost its fight with copyright robots that mean the music no longer shows up between the paragraphs. Tragic.
I also finally wrote a long form piece on Bleach, a series I still love and kind of feel I want to return to to explain interesting ideas in it, perhaps in the same way I did with the Fullmetal franchise. I also wrote about the Hatsune Miku phenomenon with Odds And Ends.
I watched The Thing for the first time this year and would you believe it, that movie? It’s really good. So was The Big Short, which mostly was me wondering: How many of the same actors are about to go unpunished?
Then there are the articles that are focused on things that I thought were real bad but where the articles were satisfying or fun to write. I didn’t do a lot of that this year, though! It may surprise you to realise it, but I’ve tried to keep pretty positive, even if there are a few Story Piles about throwing something bad into the sea.
Of this, there’s of course my article on Tall Girl, which was terrible. There was my article about Tomb Raider, a movie sneering at the idea of it ever being good. But the absolute crowning jewel of my ‘holy shit, oh no’ kind of articles this year had to be my piece on The Sonic The Hedgehog Movie (But Not Really), which is of course, about the 1990s kung-fu anti-drugs ad, Sidekicks, and the awful millionaires involved in its production.
I want to forward to you that Princess Mononoke is this year’s perfect Christmas movie.
I’d never seen Back To The Future.
This year, I watched it, which, you know, I kind of imagine this year I’d have watched more stuff? Seen more series? But I’ve been working non-stop at home, focusing and being exhausted and that means that I have a surprisingly small amount of time and energy to dedicate to watching movies.
Still, Nixie told me she liked it, so I thought: Hey. Let’s have a look.
I watched it, and then I had to decide what I was going to say about it.
Enola Holmes is a one-off, self-contained movie about Sherlock Holmes’ perfectly rad little sister, when she discovers her mother disappeared, decides to try and find her. This starts by recruiting her two supposedly impressive brothers, and when they aren’t useful, she instead decides to go to London, follow her mother’s trail, maybe thwart an anti-democratic plot of the nobles, possibly discover her own connections to domestic terror groups, and kill a man with kung fu.
It’s a fun little movie, where Enola delivers direct narration explaining her position in the story, which I understand may be seen as a bit twee or a bit untidy for a movie aimed at adults, but you know what, this is Da Ween and this movie absolutely feels like it’s trying to hold the attention of an audience who sees Enola as a peer.
The movie features Henry Cavill, aka Zack Snyder’s Superman, aka the worst Superman in two of the worst Superman movies ever made, and in this movie, he is charming and he laughs and he smiles and it’s like, oh yeah, this dude is made out of Iconically Handsome Movie Man Pieces, why is he so bad at Supermanning? This one casts him as a less-asshole counterpart to Mycroft, but then underscores that both of them are privileged assholes. That’s neat.
This is largely fine.
There’s this weird standard that Sherlock Holmes media gets held to, where they get compared to one another, or to the books, or to whatever most recent best version of it that exists is going around. Given just how much permutation there is of Holmes Media, or Sherlockians or Bakerstreetskin or whatever they want to call themselves, it seems to me to be pretty difficult to even make a quality statement about that.
What I can tell you is that Enola Holmes is a fun adventure story that seems to be complicated enough that any given kid watching is not going to be able to guess the way the story ends, but also not so complex that a kid is going to struggle with following what happens. There’s not a lot of adult humour, and it holds out the idea that hey, maybe young people doing their best and trying hard to make things better is good.
If you have Netflix, and you’re looking for something to add to the queue, and you have kids to entertain because school is over for the month, check this one out. It’s certainly better overall than a Potter movie, and it’s apparently a good introduction to an interesting series of kids’ books.
Alright, so the Blacklist. I’ve talked about it before. It’s a bad show. It’s a clueless show, a show that establishes itself with an interesting hook, then spends subsequent episodes constantly and effortlessly making sure it is less and less interesting. The first episode introduced us to the tension between a woman finding that the most wanted criminal in America was turning himself over to the authorities in order to personally explain to her some immense truth that started with the discovery that her husband of a number of years was hiding a secret from her that included hidden cash, weapons, and passports, in her house.
There’s no great secret or brilliant plot at the heart of The Blacklist, it’s just a fantastically dumb series that follows inthe pattern of CSI of each researcher finding one random thing they can build a whole episode around, and that’s what you’ll find if you bother to watch it. Any given episode has about one idea, and the rest is shaky-cam and mediocre stable characters orbiting around James Spader and making it look like they know what they’re doing as they build towards this season’s mysteries and revelations, to see the cool twist they’re building.
(There is never a cool twist.)
This is one of those movies that serves as a kind of Fight Club test for me.
The movie doesn’t set off red flags, not in the same way as Fight Club. That movie is one where if someone espouses how much they love it, you have to hold your breath and find out whether they’re one of the fans who recognise how cool the movie makes Tyler Durden (who ultimately wins), or if they’re one of the fans who recognise how that’s a really bad thing.
With The Big Short, the movie is interesting, about a topic I find interesting, and presents it in interesting ways, as it restructures a complicated narrative of many moving parts into a simple, understandable, easily followed movie. What I wonder about, when someone says they love this movie, is what about it they love.
I haven’t watched Lower Decks.
I did not know these songs were different.
For those not aware, there are two songs that are commonly seen as being the same songs – Nena’s 99 Luftballons and the English version, 99 Red Ballons. Now it is just literally an assumption that I made that the songs are basically the same. This is as many assumptions, pretty weird and misguided, especially when I already know about Simple & Clean and its predecessor unrelated song Hikari.
The basic narrative; the singer and a non-specific you buy some balloons, inflate them, and let them go, and then the world ends.
You know, a pop song.
In the German version, which Nena have expressed a preference for, the sequence of events is that the released balloons look like a UFO. One force comes to inspect them, then, rather than admit they were fooled by balloons, fire off some rockets to look impressive. The other side sees the display of strength, and, balloons forgotten, they retaliate with a similar show of force. And then it escalates and nuclear war ensues. The singer walks through the wreckage of the lost world, finds a balloon, and lets it go into the sky. It’s very sad and wistful and also extremely 1980s German, to hear tell of the spirit of the age.
The English language version introduces an interesting wrinkle: It’s specifically instigated by bugs in the software that respond to the threat and escalate things. Oh, sure, both sides escalate the same way (there’s a verse in German in the English version), but the thing that kicks it off isn’t a pilot feeling embarrassed at being asked to inspect balloons, but rather complications in an automated system starting hostilities without a human interface.
Now, Nena, like I said (or implied I guess), don’t like the English version, they feel it takes a different take they don’t want to go in. Fair. I personally really like the English version now, because I don’t live in Cold War Germany. I live in Australia, where it’s entirely possible a badly made piece of software will result in immense harm, because of a glitch, and our solution to that is to go ‘uh, whoopsy?’ The fear of us abdicating serious and important decisions to computers is kinda on my mind.
Okay, but why do I care about this? It isn’t like I’m a big 1980s German Pop Hits fan. I’m not aware of this stuff, maybe I know a Queen song or two, or one or two Bowie songs that wound up in videogames. I was introduced to the song thanks to Goldfinger, who have recently re-ceovered their cover, because uhhh, you know, all the stuff.
Now I’m a big fan of ska bands from the 90s and early 00s that kept their heads and grew up a bit. Perhaps obviously, I’m a big fan of this song, and I like this version best.
And this year is when I finally went ‘hang on a second’ and looked up the German lyrics and learned about the two versions of this song. One of them is very clearly, in my mind, a Nena song, and the other, a Goldfinger song.
What motivated this?
Me wondering: Hang on, was super scurry in the German version?
So you was watching the first seven seasons of Letterkenny the other day,
You know, if you look at the media I talk about on this blog, especially as it pertains to horror, you might not realise that I have spent quite a lot of time watching horror movies and series that are, generally, just all bad.
It’s not that I’m averse to watching classics, I just haven’t largely gotten around to them, and so I want you to imagine my reaction to finally having a point of contrast with a range of boring, tedious and exceptionally shithouse movies by watching at least one movie that is in fact, good.
This series is not called Black Spot.
The actual review of this movie is very short: It isn’t very good. The story doesn’t do anything to hold itself together very well. There are numerous points where the assumed truths of the story are changed, and you have to invent motivations to explain why characters behave the way they do. Kit Harington is in it. There’s a pretty cool spider made of mannequin bits. The 3d is absolutely unnecessary, now. I do not recommend this movie.
Conventional visions of horror are about taking the familiar, and adding the unfamiliar. There’s a reason so many horror settings since the 1970s have been focused on the suburban and the conventional being transformed into something dreadful and horrible – and the reason the slashers and monsters in movies so often represent things that we already contend with all the time now anyway. In The Stuff, the horror is the invisible consumption of food culture, in Friday the 13th, it’s the failure of the suburban space to make us safe, and in Camp Crystal Lake Chronicles: Zombie Boy Versus The Sex Havers, the horror is about being punished by adults for arbitary idiocy that has nothing to do with you and them making their emotional damage your problem.
The root, therefore, of modern horror movies, is about things we find relatable, and as the genre has progressed, it’s only a matter of time before you come across a horror movie where the thing it’s infiltrating is another, different type of movie.
Two young fish are swimming along. An older fish swims past them and says ‘hey, kids. the water’s nice today.’ and swims on.
a few minutes later, one of the younger fish looks to the other and says: ‘what’s water?’
Normally there’s a fairly healthy turnaround time on Story Pile posts. I tend to like taking my time on them, and there’s also a sort of queue effect, where a movie or book or tv series will get watched while I do other things, then when I reach the end I’ll spend some time ruminating on my opinion on it before I ever write about it.
This, I watched last night.
Let’s just have a fun one for once.
I know it might have slipped your mind, but there was a Tomb Raider movie in 2018.
Sure, we’re bumping at the edges of the month, but trust me: There’s no Jimmy Buffett album that’s got anything fun to say on Pride Month. And this is going to be the last of our Boats to Build articles – at least unless I really regret it and extend my examination one extra album, for later.
The albums of Jimmy’s I listened to were the albums my dad’s music collection; the records he owned, on vinyl, and when we moved and I grew up, they were just there. In the church environment, dad couldn’t readily add music to his collection – certainly not vinyl, with his new fangled, impressive CD player that lived in the corner of the living room like a big black box of impressive technical doom.
I try not to think too much about it. Dad didn’t buy more Jimmy Buffet albums after this one – and this album landed smack between my sister’s birth, and mine. It might be that dad felt there was a massive dip between this album and the next… or maybe, being a father of two and looking for work that could support that while trying to contribute to church meant that these were the first costs that got cut.
In a way this selection of albums that all predate my birth but were endlessly replayed as I grew up are part of the foundation of who I am, a reminder that no matter how millenial I am, I’m grappling with being a product of cultures of lies that give me conflicting, meaningless insights into who they think people can be. It’s up to me to pull these pieces together – or discarding them! – and seeing what I can find.
This album has both one of my favourite Jimmy songs, and one of my least liked Jimmy songs.
This movie is an extravagent, explicit act of utter swagger.
It’s always about the art of controlling attention.
Ha ha, see, check that out, it’s right there in the subject.
That’s a lotta colons tho’.
Okay, Friendship is Magic was – yes, was – a kid’s cartoon show that started airing in 2010 and finished up last year, which got to be a wonderful field research test sample for studies about fandom evolution, masculine toxicity, pornography, corporate branding, and defensive misogyny, about ponies. It wasn’t just a show, it was a cultural movement. It could be used to talk about fanagement or anon media spaces or maturation out of extremism or even the way the manosphere attempts to culturally colonialise everything.
Or you could use it to talk about a dumb standard story trope.
I love a good heist movie.
There are a lot of different ways to treat a heist, in a movie. There’s your Ocean’s Eleven, where the whole thing is conducted with a sort of elegant smoothness, where there’s some clear outcome, a magic trick of a conclusion and you’re just weaving the narrative around that point. There’s a ride to it, a certain gentle sleight of hand. They’re kind of spectacle heists, where the question is how it all looks in motion, like Michael Caine’s The Italian Job.
Then there’s the tense ones, the heists that are about backstabbing and misdirection and the carnage that ensues when something goes wrong and how crime is fundamentally and foundationally an example of a failure of trust, in society and in one another, like Michael Caine’s Get Carter.
Here’s Michael Caine’s The King of Thieves.
The basic plot of the movie is an inspired-by-history real world heist; the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Burglary, which holds the record as probably the highest-value heist in British history, with a net value of something approaching £200 million being lifted in cash and jewels. It was one of those crimes where the numbers are extremely hard to pin down, because insurance and assessment and privacy and disclosure were all involved. The real world events are kind of tailor made for a movie, and even tailor made for this movie.
See, what happened is that a collection of old thieves, in their sixties and seventies, hit a target that was generally recognised as being untouchable; it’s a safety deposit box facility in the centre of the UK jewel trade, and obscurity is part of its security. It was something of a white whale for them, to hear the telling – a target they never tried, and they’d even in varying stages, retired from crime, only to give the deposit one last shot in their twilight years. They made one of the biggest scores of all time, then had a hard time moving the goods properly, because their criminal contacts included people who’d been previously pinched and were under police surveillance. Eventually, all the older thieves were pinched and a young accomplice got away.
The movie, then, takes this real world sequence of historical events, massages them extensively, and hands the roles of criminals who used to be threatening, in charge criminals back during the 1970s to a group of actors who themselves set the tone for what a gangster in a movie looked like, and also Charlie Cox, who, no lies, is pretty good in his position as ‘the one young person.’
A little detail about it – which isn’t really super important, but it’s still there – is that the way this movie treats police. Typically, when the investigation of a crime begins in movies, it introduces a character to be the incarnation of the investigation – a tradition that reaches back centuries. Dogged investigators that can be the voice of the very task of getting to the bottom of the crime. In this, though? There is no single police person that’s at the root of the investigation. It’s shown as being the work of dozens of people, doing lots of different, specialised jobs, bit by bit, working together and helping one another in a coalition of different races and genders. That cooperating, collaborative group are, uh, cops in a surveillance state. So that’s… not… super cool. Weird.
The movie didn’t do well. It was seen as lacking in punch or style – it wasn’t cool enough or funny enough or dramatic enough or historically precise enough. You can watch it on Netflix, and you may get the feeling you’re watching three movies snapped together awkwardly. The opening is a very old dogs-new-tricks kind of narrative where these characters rouse themselves from a quiet end to do one last score that they honestly probably do need to do, because the life they put together isn’t even giving them dignity in its end. Then there’s an actual heist movie, which is as much about showing how a complicated technical task can be done with a variety of holdups and failures, and how some of those failures are actually dealt with, and what that looks like (and how absurd that can be). Then, the movie becomes a socially jarring failure – a failure that, if you were mapping the story to a story you had more control over, you might make more dramatic, more cool, or more classy. It wouldn’t turn into a bunch of old men shouting at one another over bitter, ancient grudges. It wouldn’t end with them all getting caught and the least notable character getting away.
It ends with four senior actors who helped shape our culture’s vision of these moments, sitting in the dock, getting ready to walk into court, getting ready to be tried, and negotiating with themselves about how they’re going to do it.
There’s this line, a line I’m told is from Yeomen Of the Guard, which I’ve never seen, and I think I heard from The West Wing. There’s a point where the hero and his men are discussing how they go to the executioner’s on the next day. A man in the next cell makes fun, and there’s this exchange:
“What does it matter how a man falls down?”
“When all that’s left is the fall, it matters a great deal.”
These actors probably are never going to do something like this, ever again. Even before the pandemic, we’re talking about actors who are all cresting into a point of their lives that are not going to do prop-based physical acting roles, roles that convey them as gangsters any more. There’s a real chance that the shift in the way England relates to the world is going to make Hatton Garden not an important centre of the global jewel trade, too. The men who really did this crime are all passing away from their advanced years.
The movie isn’t an amazing movie.
But as a way to fall down, I’m fond of it.
I feel like this movie doesn’t even merit a review. I should just kick open the door and shout HOLY SHIT THIS RULES, all fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, I’m out energy as I storm out into the night. But this is a dignified place, I tell myself, and so instead let’s try and put some energy into explaining why this movie.
Your vital statistics! Ocean’s 8 is the fifth movie in the Ocean’s franchise and its second cast shift, all operating around the ‘premise’ if that counts, of a group of incredibly cool celebrities doing a heist of some variety with the overall air that it’s really neat to see these cool actors having fun making a fun movie. There’s a drop of tension, sure, and there’s a puzzle about how the thing that got done got done, but at the heart of it, an Ocean’s movie is about watching actors you’re kind of fond of for some reason be really cool, usually to a soundtrack that rules.
In this case, the flip of the script is that we’re dealing with Debbie Ocean, Danny Ocean’s sister, played in this case by Sandra Bullock, and her gang of ne’er-do-wells is in fact crime ladies. Isn’t that a shocking twist?
It’s so wild, because the last time they did this, the gang was entirely men and nobody thought that was weird, but for some reason, this time around? People were? mad? for some reason?
Once the media juggernaut that was the Fullmetal Alchemist story had smashed in place a bestselling manga then created not one, but two best-selling internationally successful anime, not to mention a bunch of tie-in videogames, merchandising out the wazoo, it resolved that it was time to release a live action movie. The movie was originally developed for 2013, but was held up, citing reasons of technology and budget, not made and released until 2017.
And the movie, my friends, is bad.
And then like the krispy kreme, we’re back at it again.
It’s very hard to deal with contrary impulses and present a fair position without being coloured by the arguments you had on the way to get somewhere, or by the arguments you’re anticipating. For example, while I may say straight up that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is probably the best anime of its type that exists (mage-punk, long-running action-adventure character driven stories with themes of war and loss), there’s still the hanging asterisk that I was also pretty positive about Fullmetal Alchemist, and how much can someone trust my opinion on this one? And what’s more, how can I praise that anime and yet have qualified praise for this one, because that was a Bad Anime and this is a Good Anime?
Anime fandom is a mistake.
Anyway, the coda: I think that Brotherhood is one of the best anime of its type, and yet, I think that has flaws that merit critical attention; I think that it’s worse because of the 2003 anime, and I think that anime is treated worse for not being this.
In 2003, the then-ongoing Fullmetal Alchemist manga launched a new anime, which took the series’ adventure story and complicated scientific-based material magical power system reinforced through firm, rigidly defined character interaction, and made it into an affair of visual spectacle. This was a good decision because all the pieces were in place to make a great action adventure anime, with a dash of horror, with the promise of riding the popularity of the manga readers that were following eagerly along with the manga.