paranoid

Why so series? – Paranoid

Paranoid is a bad series.

Sorry, but that’s how it is.

I generally like English cop shows, as they’re much more focused on the characters and how they solve the crimes perpetrated in the series. And how they often make the show bigger than it seems on paper. Like Broadchurch, which takes a found dead child and turns it into a heart-wrenching tale of a community in suffering, and the struggles of the detectives out to solve the case, while dealing with personal demons. It’s a nice change from most American shows, that often get watered down and drag on for season upon season. Like NCIS, Castle, and some others. I liked both examples just fine for a while, but it just gets boring, watching these characters stand still for so long (with the obligatory romances thrown in here and there), and you just tire of it all. Or at least I do.

In walks Paranoid. Promising a “murder that rattles an English town”. Sure sounds like it’s wanting to pull me in. Alright, I’ll check it out. Wow, this is really rather boring.

But why? Maybe I should say.

The story moves at a snail’s pace. With “the story” I mean the actual police investigation. Hardly anything happens. The detectives walk around confused with little drive. An anonymous fella keeps sending them information for some reason. Then the detectives seems to shrug and go off on to their own business. Meaning they’re off to talk to some new-age¬†lady; Whinge at some therapist with hints at a past relationship with said therapist; Get dumped by long-time boyfriend for some reason and then bang a colleague with whom a relationship is formed in no time flat. Like, the case isn’t very interesting at all, as it appears very random, even as it stretches over borders. The detectives aren’t very interesting either, and so down we sink into mediocrity.

Besides the promise of an interesting show (a Netflix original no less, with their success rate so far), the other thing pulling me in was Indira Varma. I’ve seen her in other stuff (Rome, Luther) and she seems to play a similar part here. Someone that’s initially quite grating, but later revealing more about herself. Unfortunately she’s quite awful in this. Which also has a lot to do with the writing and pacing, both of which are terrible. While the case is being resolved at the same speed as trying to get a bucket of water to freeze over in the middle of summer, Varma’s Nina and the younger police bloke (whose name I only remember by reading how other people thought their romance was very repulsive as well) have a romantic arc which goes from zero (where Nina’s a completely brutal bitch to Alec initially, and seemingly dismissive of his capabilities as a police detective) to one-hundred (loving looks, longing after each-other, oh – and fucking) in like one fucking episode. All while the only progress the police make is due to some anonymous arse sending them clues.Which he always seems positioned to find all the time, in between following the police and sending them veiled threats. Like what?

The characters are just very stereotypical and boring, so there’s no use watching for them. The story itself isn’t very interesting either. There’s just not much actual substance to be found in Paranoid. After two and a half episodes out a total eight, I called it quits. Don’t watch this show.

PS: Oh, and let’s not forget fucking everyone ignoring basic police procedure like it’s in style this season. Grabbing evidence bare-handed and basically breaking in to a person of interest’s house because you didn’t get a response.

Animu-time: Kurozuka

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Kurozuka is a bad anime

You don’t know what to expect when you dive into Kurozuka. While this is true for a lot of other anime as well, Kurozuka is a special enigma. Being about vampires (especially the main leads) can turn people off, seeing how vampires are often portrayed nowadays. Sadly, thoughts hop to Rob Pattinson as Edward in the cringe-inducing soft pornography for girls known as Twilight. Sure, Twilight isn’t the only sinner, but due to it’s popularity, it is the most stand-out. Onwards to Kurozuka, then.

On first on-look, Kurozuka seems to be a love story about vampires, set in Feudal Japan. That preconception is quickly smashed to bits after the first episodes as we skip to a bleak future version of Japan that has been a-bombed. Back in the past, our hero Kuro (known as “Minamoto no Yoshizune”, a very famous and popular Japanese literature hero) was fleeing into the mountains, and came upon the lodging of Lady Kuromitsu. He and his close ally Benkei were allowed to stay under the condition that they do not approach nor enter Kuromitsu’s room. Of course, that promise doesn’t mean all too much and Kuro finds himself outside the mysterious woman’s room, where he sees her biting and drinking the blood of a man. The place is attacked, and Kuro is badly hurt helping his hostess. The two had quickly became attracted to one another, and Kuromitsu offers Kuro eternal life with her. Kuro accepts. Then the focus shifts to the future where Kuro has become separated from Kuromitsu and ventures to find her. He instead meets Karuta and Rai and becomes embroiled in what is basically a civil war between the Red Army and the rebels, both fighting for the very prize Kuro seeks: Kuromitsu.

Omnom, human blood.

Omnom, human blood.

I was pretty excited to watch this, as it felt like vampires were treated as a big deal and it also seemed like a cool set-up for a powerful romantic saga, but alas, all the potential amounted to jack shit in this absolute train-wreck of a series.

The series jumps from different time periods, usually at the start of episodes, without giving the viewer much warning or explanation, which is the major flaw of the series in my opinion. It’s very hard to get a grip on the characters as is, so there’s really no need to confuse viewers additionally.

It’s hard to gauge what exact powers are afforded to the vampires of the series, as Kuro just seems to go all Goku on people at times when he needs to put another gear in. Besides obviously being more powerful than normal humans, there doesn’t seem to be much to vampires, other than whatever odd time dilution Kuro can cause when convenient. It’s never really explained what they can do. The reveal of how they work is also incredibly slow-played, so there’s not much in the way of flavour being given to us, except for some bursts of information at times.

As is the case with the vampirism angle, characters in the series don’t really develop. They’re very static in personalities and in what they do. Not even the main character ever develops, he just learns more about who he was. Frankly it’s very disappointing, because when things happen to our tragic heroes, it’s hard to care about them as they’ve just been one-dimensional plot-points. That can work if you have strong characters to begin with, but as noted, these characters are dull as hell. You also get some unintentional comedy in the absolutely bonkers scientist with a penchant for torture, who starts quoting Stoker (because you have to fucking shoehorn that into a vampire show like your life depended on it) and Tolstoy, and is generally weird as hell.

The story is equally odd. Parts of it just comes and goes as it pleases, like there’s a revolving door of relevance. It really is hard to care about what is happening when you don’t grasp the relevance of events to one-another. Characters just do complete one-eighties in order to provide more filler before the end finally arrives. It really is a shame, because it felt like it was to be a show that made vampires rather cool again, but the amount of plot-holes and contrivances really do get in the way of enjoying it. All of the reveals towards the end just made me laugh out loud with their increasing craziness, until we arrive in bizarro-world come the ending.

Welcome to Fuck-This-Shit City, Population: You.

Welcome to Fuck-This-Shit City, Population: You.

Visually, it’s very pleasing for most of the time and there is a lot of incredible imagery, but then you get some absolutely retarded character designs that feel like they invaded from another series.

The sound design is pretty decent, but many characters in the series are woefully miscast and a lot of the performances are really bad. The soundtrack, however, is pretty damn awesome. Both the OP and ED are great.

Now, I’ve been shitting on Kurozuka a lot, but the final scenes shows up and delivers the best possible ending the series could have had and I really freaking loved it, so I’m ultimately torn on where to go with the series; good or bad? Ultimately, with all the tomfoolery, I’ll go with bad, but there’s certainly enough good in here that a person that disagrees with what I found negative would find this to be a damn good show. It also increases my frustration with the series’ unfulfilled potential. The run-time of the entire thing is way too long relative to what it’s trying to convey. Honestly, remake this in film-length and condense the story a bit, and I’ll watch the hell out of it. I’m totally behind the point it makes about love and selfishness and I actually came away from it rather liking the vampire concept, but the length and general poor quality makes most of the series unbearable to watch.

Manga musings: Hellstar Remina

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Hellstar Remina is a good manga

So, how about Hellstar Remina?

Oh my word, WTF.

Oh my word, WTF.

If you’ve read an Itou Junji manga before, you know shit is getting real real up in here. Let me just state this: Hellstar Remina includes some crazy imagery that is not suited for everyone. Eldrich abominations and locations are in there. With that, let’s go. There’ll be some very slight spoilers in this text, in black text. You have been warned.

Hellstar Remina’s premise is incredibly simple. A professor predicts a wormhole to be present in the Hydra constellation. One day a planet is witnessed passing through it, into our dimension. The professor receives the Nobel prize. He decides to name the star after his daughter, who is instantly propelled into a global celebrity. Some time after this, it’s noticed that the planet is constantly moving¬† – at times at the speed of light – and that stars around it seems to just disappear. Scientists are befuddled, especially when they notice that the star has changed its trajectory and is now headed towards Earth. Then shit gets crazy. The following panic makes some people just lay down and cry and some go on a wild chase after the people they hold responsible: Professor Oguro and his daughter Remina. All while the planet slows its pace and seems to now be slowly approaching our blue planet. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: The planet has eyes and mouths, and devours the damn moon in a quick bite.

It’s an interesting notion that Itou puts out about celebrity: We’re rather quick as a people to shine the spotlight on things we find curious and then put it on a pedestal. Remina has done nothing apparent to validate the gigantic fanbase and general following she gets and her decision to “enter the world of entertainment” is incredibly bizarre from our viewpoint, but is widely celebrated in the manga. Maybe the people are so starved for enjoyment that they cling on to anything new, or maybe its a symbol for the sheep we all become to the organisations that produce the products we consume. It’s an interesting point to make.

Let me just restate: This manga is bonkers. Absolutely crazy. It’s a look deep into the human psyche. How far will you go to save yourself with apocalypse knocking at the door? How far can people be driven by insane ideas, when reality is insane enough that they seem plausible? As much as Hellstar Remina is about a monster-planet from another dimension coming to Earth and killing the fuck out of everything in its way, it’s also about people losing their morale values and becoming driven by mad ideas and basic needs. In the middle of global panic, a cult steps up and takes control of the numerous mobs in Japan.

These guys know how to ruin a party.

These guys know how to ruin a party.

Their Mission? To kill the professor and his daughter. People follow these zealots with a burning passion and a wild hunt is on. It features some commentary on people using religion to get other people to follow their lead. It’s also not pointed out as an evil, because hey, what if they’re right? As crazy as it sounds, reality is more crazy now than ever before, so it’s not plausibility isn’t naught. People basically revert back to the dark ages and witch hunting. At times they even stop to find enjoyment in what they’re doing, which is when they’re seemingly pointed out as being of lesser morality than us readers. That said, they could also be so relieved at the ordeal soon being over and just letting go. However, not only religious craze is spotlighted when people lose their shit with apocalypse on the doorstep. There’s a scene where a man tries to rape Remina, and she fights back. The scene is discovered and the man says “she was asking for it.” Surely we’re all shaking our heads at that comment, but it’s accepted in the manga, because, hell, she’s the cause of the apocalypse. If she can bring a killer-planet to us, why can’t she ensnare men by sheer will? It’s a different kind of horror to the jump-scares us horror fans find in most horror flicks nowadays. It’s the realisation that anything goes when it comes to killing this girl when it’s about staving off all our deaths. And we don’t even know that her death will save us.

Puny humans...

Puny humans…

All this while the monstrous planet above is just looking on. Maybe approvingly. Maybe it’s just observing us to see what happens when it shakes the world. By all accounts, it appears no more intelligent than a small child, poking our planet to see what happens. The few times we do get a peek at Remina’s surface, it’s terrifying beyond words.

lifeonremina

Life on Remina is pretty shitty.

The art is really good. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it’s highly realistic most of the time, and very confusing at other times.

As for the characters, there’s really only one to talk about, and there’s not much to say. Remina is a young, shy and modest girl who is propelled into super-stardom just by existing and having a planet named after her. She seems to have difficulty with handling the attention given to her, and then the apocalypse happens. Her desperate struggle is certainly one you feel sympathy for, but there’s not much exploring as far as character development goes. Remina is just another person. She just happens to be in the middle of a global witch hunt when mind-boggling coincidence has it a planet named after her arrives to kill Earth.

I highly enjoyed Hellstar Remina, and recommend it to people who enjoy horror and chaotic stories. As far as the ending goes – without spoiling it – I wasn’t a big fan of it. The story feels unresolved to me.

To finish, let me just say again that this manga is not for everyone. It features very graphic violence, like torture and (attempted) rape, which could be a trigger for some. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. Just know what madness you’re opening yourself to.