It’s the end of April and it’s time for the rundown of my favorite things from the past month!
Let’s right to it with:
I watched a grand total of two movies, and one of them was because I realized I didn’t want to call the piece of shit I watched earlier in the month my favorite. The piece of shit was 400 Days and I don’t want to talk about how boring and nonsensical the entire venture was.
So instead I’m gonna talk about Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Part One – Beginnings. That’s a big, unwieldy title so I’m gonna go with Madoka Magica One. The movie is a reimagining of the series by the same name, which I watched a few years ago. The advertised premise of the series/movie is a Magical Girl show. If you’re familiar with that genre of anime, you know it’s weird that I would watch it. Exceeeept this isn’t your generic Sailor Moon style Magical Girl. It starts off bright and cheery and immediately goes to dark, depressing places. It plays with the notion of Magical Girls and asks questions about how it would truly affect the personal lives of the adolescent girls that become warriors. They struggle with questions bigger than themselves and the answers they arrive at are not necessarily the happy ending answers you expect.
If you want a show that embraces the weird qualities of anime while turning them all on their head, Madoka Magica’s a good one to cut your teeth on, and you can watch all three movies, or the series, on Netflix streaming right now!
I have a recommendation for an artist that I have recently reconnected with, a French singer by the name of Ingrid St-Pierre. The linked song is captivating to me and most of her music contains a similar quality about it. I’m a sucker for this style of music and the French have several artists who are doing it just so well.
If you’re familiar at all with the Penny Arcade webcomic and company, you might know a thing or two about Katie Rice, who won their reality web series competition a few years back, and launched a new webcomic called Camp Weedonwantcha, about a bunch of misfit kids that get dumped at a camp, only to never be picked back up. They survive on their own and get into all sorts of mischief and mayhem. It’s in a super-deformed style you might find reminiscent of Ren & Stimpy, which isn’t for everyone, but it gives Katie incredible elasticity in facial expressions that don’t feel out of the ordinary.
The reason I adore this webcomic, and why I am recommending it for this month, is that it has a heartwarming quality about it that isn’t always obvious. It may go for months of one-shot comic pages that tell silly jokes and expand the cast of campers until suddenly it delves into a story arc for one of the campers that tugs at the heartstrings. Highly recommended.
TV has been pretty good for the month. I finished off Daredevil, Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, iZombie; I have been watching a few anime series (Sword Art Online, Bodacious Space Pirates, and I finished off From the New World). Some have been better than expected, others started off strong and then got worse, and some are simply great.
But the one I have to give it to this month is Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Season 2 just started, and I have a lot of issues with the show in general, but one thing that stands out from this new season is the addition of Anna Camp as the rich alpha mom who is so smart yet settled to be a trophy wife and hates her life. She’s only in two episodes, but every moment she’s on screen she’s just dynamite and steals the entire show.
Kimmy Schmidt is kind of like 30 Rock in that it sacrifices a lot of logic to just have silly fun, and that’s not typically my style of comedy, but it gets the comedy right often enough that I can overlook it (which I couldn’t do for 30 Rock).
I was playing kind of a random assortment of games this month, including Final Fantasy VII, the new mobile game Marvel’s Avengers Alliance 2, and the one I’m going to recommend even if you can’t play it yet, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
Mirror’s Edge was an interesting game when it came out. A first person platformer, which prioritized finding the correct path and precisely following it to get into or out of situations in a brightly-lit, primary color fauxtopia. The original did a lot of things oh so right, but it had several misfires that made it uncommonly difficult to play in specific ways (that is, without fighting at all). Despite that, I played the game several times over and have been impatiently awaiting its successor. Dying Light was close, but not close enough (it wasn’t precise enough).
So the Catalyst Closed Beta was the previous weekend and I got to dig my fingers into the Parkour dirt for a few hours. The open world environment is a welcome change in a world that begs you to explore and find new ways to get from point A to B. I had the same feeling when I played the first open-world Spider-Man game after the PS1 era Spider-Man game that gave you a tiny taste of city-wide webslinging. A painstakingly designed series of courses that give you the impression of a large world, but doesn’t let you explore it fully, versus a less-designed world that is your playground. I’ll take the latter most of the time, and in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst it’s a major improvement. It’s a Day One purchase for me.
As mentioned previously, I listen to three podcasts. Most of my time this month is once again on the irreverent Blurry Photos as I’m working through the backlog to get caught up to the newest episodes, and I’m going to recommend a history mystery to you this month in the form of the Bloody Benders. It’s a grisly story, but has a lot of doubt surrounding it, and as such it makes for a good spooky tale to send shivers down your spine.
I am always in the middle of three or four novels as well as short stories and things I find around the web. This month has found me working on Anna Karenina, Century of Sand 2: The Ragged Lord, Once Upon a Time in the North, and my choice for the month, Radiance.
Radiance is something of a mystery to me. It’s lush and vibrant in its descriptive prose, which I generally do not enjoy, but it’s so persistent and the world it describes so interesting that I find myself hungering for each new metaphor, each new hyperbolic comparison. A solar system converted to human habitation before the advent of modern cinema, Radiance is a retro futuristic world that has all the flair of the early moving pictures, when talkies was still a word people used to disparage movies that had audible dialogue.
It hooked me with a prologue that extols the virtues of prologues, which was meta enough to catch my attention and keep me reading. Cat Valente is an author I have heard many good things about, and upon finally giving her a chance I am wonderfully excited to read everything the woman writes from this point forward.
That’s my list, what’s yours? Make me recommendations and I’ll try to check them out before the next Media Medley!