So I will be a little busy for the next week, but starting in August, I will start a brand new theme month! I don’t want to spoil anything as to what it might be, but it will be my best work yet!
So for those of you who don’t know, a few weeks ago I posted a review of the bitter sweet Canadian show, Total Drama Island. I explained that after a while, the show went downhill and I lost all interest in watching the newest season, Total Drama Pahkitew Island. Well Cartoon Network really wanted people to watch it, so much so that for two straight weeks they marathoned the shit out of the show, showing all the episodes every day until the newest episode that night. It was annoying at how much they spammed the show, and I had no choice but to watch it and bring you this first ever RE-examination of Total Drama by reviewing Pahkitew Island.
Oh my god….this was bad. So bad in fact that it was a parody of itself (which means it’s a parody of a parody). Let’s start with the cast. In the past, TDI’s cast of characters has ranged from good to barely passable. The original cast was colorful and unique enough, that I could actually believe these were representations of typical teenager personalities. Now that’s not to say they were flawless or great, I’m just saying that TDI had characters that went beyond there stereotypes. The couples made sense for the most part, and they had other qualities other than “I am the generic ‘insert quirky character trait’”.
For example, I loved Heather and Courtney. They were manipulative, controlling, and for the most part the villains of the show, thought they approached it in different ways. The thing is they were not card board cut outs of character archetypes, they were not caricatures. Heather was bossy and a bitch, but it was fueled by competition and power. She had a reason for being this way rather than having it work for the show’s sake. She knows she is evil and always wants it her way, and for this type of show it works.
Courtney is a lesser of the two evils. She controls, but she would not call herself a villain. Instead being in control gives her life order, and to a degree a purpose. She cannot simply sit on the sidelines and watch as her team loses without her, she needs to be in control. Sometimes we see that play to her disadvantage and can sometimes alienate her from the others. However, in the down time we see that Courtney can be just as vulnerable as the rest. These two are characters!
Now I will go down the list of TDPI caricatures.
Ella: Snow White….I mean yeah…she’s Snow White.
Dave: Quirky Germ Freak with no qualities other than that.
Rodney: Rip off Wreck it Ralph except extremely dumb! (I cannot tell you how much I hated him)
Amy and Samey: Katie and Sadie clones except more lazily written and boring.
Max: Evil wannabe who is just annoying.
Scarlet: Real villainess who’s “surprise reveal” was not a surprise….to anyone.
Beardo: No one cares. Just…no.
Lenard: Crazy DD nerd with no qualities other than he thinks he is a wizard.
Jasmine: While uniquely designed, is just too bland other than her accent and tallness.
Sugar: OH MY GOD WE GET IT YOU ARE A SOUTHERN HICK! GOD DAMMIT!. (sigh) the single most annoying character ever written. A “villain” with no motivation or reason (seriously, she hates Ella for no reason).
Topher: probably the most original character that would have done so much better in a previous season, but sadly, is bogged down by all the other losers.
Sky: Bland athlete is bland.
Shawn: Like “Shaun of the Dead” except not funny, original, good, or anything redeemable.
So that’s a rundown of the tired, clichéd characters of TDPI who are in no way memorable, or well written. Don’t get me wrong, the original is nothing special, but at least that one put in some effort. I watch TDPI and I get the feeling no one even tried to give a shit, and at the end of the series, neither did I. I went into this excepting crap, and that’s just what I got, but now I can share my opinion in a more detailed way as opposed to simply saying “Pahkitew Sucks!” Now I can say “Pahkitew Sucks because none of the characters are good and I can’t even begin to give a shit about any of them.” As always, I am Zack the Wizard, catchphrase in progress.
So last summer I picked up this book without really reading too much into it. It was part of a time where I would do that a lot, pick up a graphic novel or book and just read it. It lead to many terrible reads and sour tastes, but I Anya’s ghost was not one of them. I could really say it was a hit out of left field for me. So let’s dive right in.
We start out with Anya Borzakovskaya….or Anya Brown, getting ready for school. We immediately see that she is obsessed with your average high school girl problems; her weight being the most prevalent. I must admit that the first act of this novel is not that exciting. Anya goes about her day complaining about how much of a loser she is, how cute the token love interest is, and so on until the second half of the title comes in; the ghost.
Due to Anya’s clumsiness and her being distracted by her first world problems, she falls down a well and finds the remains of Emily, a girl who died in the dried up well. Understandably she freaks out at the sight of Emily, and because no one is around to save her, Anya is forced to spend the night in the well with a sweet, adorable ghost girl.
Fast forward to the next day and she is saved from the well by chance. Anya is relieved and tries to get her life in order, but she seems to have picked up a paranormal partner. Emily seems to have followed Anya out of the well (one of her remains was scooped up into Anya’s backpack and that is why she can leave). To remedy the situation, Anya decides that Emily can stay for a few days, but that she has to return to her remains afterwards.
What follows is Emily improving Anya’s life by improving her grades and stalking her boy toy (ghost powers and such). Before long it seems like Emily is here to stay. Anya teaches her about the modern age and crappy teen romance, which Emily mistakes for true love. It is at this point where their relationship turns sour, and Anya learns things about Emily that were better left buried in the well.
Honestly, at the time I was reading this I thought I was in for a clichéd teen graphic novel with a ghost side kick, but what ended up happening was something a little different. It still has a bunch of teenaged first world problems, but how the main conflict presented itself and how Anya dealt with these problems was kind of refreshing. I would say that the art style is functional, but nothing to write home about. I like it because it fits the mood of the novel, but I wouldn’t say it is anything ground breaking.
Instead of learning about friendship or the importance of romance, Anya’s Ghost deals more with adversity and what it means to be happy with yourself. By the end of the graphic novel, Anya has a new understanding of self-respect and confidence that I think is very refreshing for this genre of what could be called Teen Fiction
It’s here! The moment I have been building up for seven weeks is here! Bryan Lee O’Malley’s newest Graphic Novel “Seconds” dropped yesterday and I picked it up first things and read it immediately. I want to thank you guys for reading these reviews and giving me the time of day, it really means a lot. So with that let’s jump right into Seconds
I noticed that right of the bat this was not Scott Pilgrim. What I mean by that is, while Seconds has O’Malley’s signature style of art, the pacing and comedy is different from that of Scott Pilgrim. So for those of you who wanted Scott Pilgrim Vol 8, this is not it. With that in mind I find that it is a comfortable move to make. If all this build-up was for just another Scott Pilgrim story, I feel like the fans, and me to an extent, would be severally disappointed.
Now Seconds does share some similarities to Scott Pilgrim. Both novels have a mostly young cast (Katie, our protagonist, is 29) and has a real hipster aesthetic. On top of that, both novels have a large fantasy element. Scott Pilgrim had dreams and the subspace highway in the character’s heads while Seconds deals with parallel universes and traveling between them. However, perhaps the most striking similarity between Scott and Seconds is that both deal with learning from mistakes and taking responsibility.
Now for this section of the review I will only give a short summery rather than a detailed outline of the plot, and stay as far away from spoilers as possible. This is a brand new novel, and I do not want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to read it yet. “Seconds” tells the story of Katie Clay, a young chief of the locally famous restraint Seconds. We meet Katie just as she is about to open up a second restaurant (that she wants to name Katie’s). Right way we see that we have a 3rd person narrator telling us this story, one that strangely only Katie acknowledges and responds to. I found this to be a little distracting from the narrative, but thankfully it didn’t happen too often to really bother me. Moving on, we see that Katie is stressed about everything going perfectly. She has been dreaming about this restaurant forever now, and in a month it will be a reality. Through a workplace accident Katie makes a mistake at Seconds, and is given a mysterious message in her old dresser in the form of a mushroom. Attached to the mushroom is a note pad and card with instructions “1. Write Down your mistake. 2. Ingest mushroom. 3. Go to Sleep. 4. Wake anew”. She does so and the following morning things have changed, it was as if her mistake has been erased. At this point all seems well and she realizes she can make any mistake she wants and nothing bad will happen, or so she thinks. Katie will soon realize that there are rules to the magical power she has been granted, and before she knows it the world she lives in will be turned upside down.
Now right away you are thinking you know how this all will end, I thought so too. However, O’Malley played with my expectations of the novel and by the end of it I was quite surprised with how it ended. The art is amazing; the extra effort to have this novel in color (at least my hardcover edition is in color) was well worth it. The fantasy elements were stellar and the city landscapes were well done. As it turns out O’Malley had some help with this one. Nathen Fairbarin did the coloring and he did a fantastic job. Now saying all this there are some nitpicking issues I had in some aspects. For starters, Katie seems to be the most “anime-like” out of the entire cast. She makes almost all the clichéd anime expressions at some point in the novel. To add to that, she looks like a chibi, or chibi-esque, but that might have to do with the fact that she is short. This posed as a small problem when she was next to other characters that had more normal proportions and made the art clash a little. Like I said it wasn’t a big deal for me, but it was something I noticed.
As it stands, Seconds is a solid summer read that I would recommend to anyone who just read the Scott Pilgrim series, and is looking for more Bryan Lee O’Malley.