Anime Review: Hellsing

This bullpen anime review has a certain level of irony to it, in some ways.  One has to do with the future, but I’ll never tell (I love leaving vague messages, don’t you?)  The other level has to do with my love for anime at the time I watched this.  I initially thought I could find nothing better than what I saw on Toonami with the end of DBZ, Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star.   Also, I didn’t get to finish seeing anything from Tenchi, and I fell out of synch watching G Gundam that I gave up trying to keep up.   All that was left was Adult Swim and the anime they had on it.  As I saw some in snippets, I got to see all of Trigun, FLCL, and I got the initial taste of Shinichiro Watanabe which was enough for me to get both Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo on DVD with no regrets.  However, after that, I couldn’t find anything more that stood out as good after those were released.  Sure, there were plenty of series, but with limited resources and bandwidth, what could I rely on?  Then, while flipping through channels, I kept seeing the name, “Hellsing” on the info bar when I passed certain cable channels.  I thought this was the animated series of Van Helsing or something.  I wanted nothing to do with that movie, no matter how much Hugh Jackman was in it.  So, I finally stopped flipping, and saw what I was dealing with.  I was elated.  I finally found some new anime worth watching that didn’t seem either too unappealing or too unoriginal for me to get into.  Naturally, I had to seek it out on DVD and see if it was affordable.  It was 13 episodes, and I had some spare cash.  Yea, this was going to be awesome.

Hellsing is based on the multi-volume manga series of the same name.  However, this DVD set was a more abridged version of what happened in the manga, leaving a good portion of things out and re-telling certain stories for the betterment of filling a 13 episode arc.  Years after the company distributing this on DVD closed, another DVD series called Hellsing: Ultimate was made, comprising of longer episodes that played closer to the manga.  Sadly, since I don’t have that, I won’t be covering that.  But, I do have this, and I will cover this.  So, let’s dive in.

Hellsing is a story about a secret agency working within the country of England with one goal: search and destroy all vampires and other unholy creatures.  This organization has existed for an extended amount of time, headed by the Hellsing family.  Its current leader, Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing, runs the organization with an iron fist and a well-lit cigar.  Her servant, Walter Donlies does everything in his power to assist her with her day-to-day affairs, along with protect her with his impressive skills with Garotte wire.  As for the agency itself, it’s comprised of former SAS officers asked to join for their impressive skills on the battlefield.  Hellsing also has a secret weapon, which marks the true strength of their order.  His name is Alucard.  His game is to act as personal protector of Sir Integra and the Hellsing family.  As for how he contributes, well, I think it’s pretty obvious how he does and who he is.  So, with all these cards in place, what could the series entail?  How about a female SAS member named Seras Victoria coming to the realization that vampires exist?  How about a rival organization with their own hunter who makes Hellsing’s work much harder?  How about a vast conspiracy behind the increase of the undead that may run deeper than just the standard fare of vampires?  All those in 13 episodes and you’ve got one solid series.

What I dig about Hellsing is that it’s a very cunning look at vampire hunting that is very rich and detailed.  You’ll want another season or extension to the story after its ending.  Another key element is the soundtrack.  The music is very atmospheric.  The choices range from various forms of alternative pieces from Japanese musicians.  Oh, and if the opening and ending themes do not appeal to you in any way, your blood might be as cold as the vampires being hunted.  I mean, come on!  One of the themes is played by 1990s rock group, Mr. Big.  That should be enough for you if you dug that scene.  The animation is very crisp with the colors fitting the motif perfectly.  I also appreciate the vocal exploits of the actors as they sound perfect for the roles given to them.  It was here that I discovered the awesome talents of Crispin Freeman.

If you’re looking for a nice and compact anime series to fill out your collection, Hellsing definitely does the trick.  If you become a bigger fan of such, look into the manga or even Hellsing: Ultimate for a more detailed look at the story proper.  Oh, and make sure when you watch it that it’s on a wonderful night….for a bite to drink.  Or you could just watch it whenever…..

 

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Written By: Ezenwa Anyanwu

Comic Book Properties That Should Be Cartoons

 

There’s no doubt that in the past decade-plus movies based on science fiction, fantasy, and comic book properties have become the heart of the blockbuster movie season because the scope of their possibilities came within reach of special effects technology. This has lead to a certain respect given, not only to the material in movies, but also in the merchandising—and by extension the approach to related properties. What has resulted from this is a slew of cartoon series that have been absolutely phenomenal—though many are unfortunately short lived.

Shows like Young Justice, Teen Titans, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, Batman The Brave and The Bold, and the rebooted Thundercats have seen life spans that really never allowed these shows to meet their maximum potential but nonetheless hit the nail right on the head in breathing new life in animation that are absolutely amazing. Likewise the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon on Nickleodeon and Cartoon Network’s only recently cancelled Star Wars Clone Wars have managed to build entirely new stories that are fun, enjoyable, and kid friendly adventures that have proven successful in selling kid and mark merchandise. What follows is a list—excluding the properties above that definitely should have extended and prolonged life—of properties that could really use the animation treatment, and could prove fun for fans and children of all ages.

 

Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth

Kamandi is set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future where genetically altered beast men rule the Earth, and the last human boy Kamandi fights for his life with a band of jungle chimera under the backdrop of a half-sunken Statue of Liberty and an overgrown jungle Manhattan. Can you imagine the line of toys? I can, and I want to buy them for my kids. Roll out!

 

Dial H For Hero

To be fair, this concept kind of has been a successful franchise for many years now. The Ben 10 series all tap into this concept of the one guy who can assume multiple powers, personas, or forms in order to become the best hero for the moment using a magical belt buckle known as the “H Dial”, which looks like a rotary telephone dial. In Ben 10 the same concept is applied to an alien wrist watch and the titular Ben Tennison can assume the form of any 10 alien species (likewise his archenemy Evan 11). Since the concept is proven successful (for many years now), there is no reason not to use it to revive this series in an animated format.

 

Heroes for Hire

The idea of Luke Cage, Power Man and Iron Fist making themselves a for-hire supero squad is something that is very private detective gone spandex. For years, this duo was a rough and tumble comedy pairing for Marvel that became very endearing and has allowed Luke Cage and Iron Fist both to make serious headway into A-list of the Mightiest Heroes on Earth (A for…Avengers..you know what I’m saying??). Creating a cast of characters that could include Misty Knight along with frequent cameos from characters like Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Moon Knight (among others) this cartoon could act as a touchstone for the Marvel Universe at large—more so than an Avengers cartoon in a lot of ways. Between the action and comedy, I foresee kids wearing wide open colors are shouting “Sweet Christmas!” if this property was ever translated into cartoon form.

Metal Men

Robots made of various metals with souls (or responsometers) and whacky personalities. Developed by Dr. Will Magnus they could often face a variety of threats set forward by staple villain Dr. T.O. Morrow. The merchandising could allow for a Transformers/Power Rangers type of building up into their combined form of Alloy when you have the figures of Tin, Lead, Mercury, Gold, Platinum, Iron, and Copper respectively. I’m tellin’ you. It’ll be a good one.

 

The Defenders

Sure, you could call the Avengers…or you could call the Defenders. The cool thing about the concept of the Defenders is that you could really pull from the entirety of the Marvel Universe per story, much the way DC’s Justice League Unlimited did. The Defenders are a team of Marvel Super Heroes (usually containing Dr. Strange) to face mystical and cosmic scaled threats. We could get a glimpse at the power of the Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, Hercules, anybody really. Get it going.

Agents of Atlas

The cool thing about the Agents of Atlas is that nobody really knows who they are. They are clandestine in the way that the X-Men were supposed to be in the 80s after Inferno when everyone thought they were dead. They operate behind the scenes and fight against ancient systemic evils and have a team that includes a living robot, an Atlantean bombshell, an immortal seeming Asian FBI agent, and there are dragons. DRAGONS. Also, there’s a Chinese villain who’s name is Master Plan. He’s the Master named Plan. COME ON. This is screaming to be a cartoon show. Make it happen.

 

The Green Lantern Corps

I know they just cancelled a Green Lantern cartoon series but this one I envision is more about the different Green Lanterns across the sectors throughout the galaxy. Drawing from different characters across the Corps history and the galaxy. Of course, this would work best as part of a larger “DC Universe” show like a showcase of different characters and teams…

Showcase

Many characters like the Flash and the Metal Men could be utilized in a show like this. Many of DC’s Modern lynchpins like the Flash and Green Lantern had their start in the variety title Showcase in the 50s. The cartoon series could be just that, every week or two we’d get a new character in a short arc. Perhaps a series of 2-parters where the audience gets familiar with a character would be a way to go. More popular characters could be spun off into their own series. This one might do well aimed at a prime time slot like Justice League was…but hey. People love expanded universes, right?

 

There are many under utilized properties in the Big Two of comics and beyond. This is just a short list of shows I’d like to see. What shows from any company (or even beyond comics) would you like to see made (and made well)?

 

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Written by: Brandon Melendez

A Tale of Two Khans and Spock Envy: Comparing Two Star Trek II’s

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers of Star Trek: Into Darkness

I think its safe to say the JJ Abrahms loves Spock. I mean, we all do, but after leaving Star Trek: Into Darkness I came away with an overwhelming sense of Spock envy. While the notion of Star Trek is always to follow the dynamic captain as he develops due to the guidance of his crew in a reciprocal family/mock psychological element, I am more and more convinced that Abrahms prefers Spock to Kirk. The story seems to be centered, at least in its emotion, around the Vulcan (yes, I know what I said) while Kirk is kind of a floorshow. In the Abrahms Star Trek timeline, it is Spock and not Jim Kirk who causes events to transpire while the cocksure and wild Kirk simply is forced to react to stimuli. In the case of Star Trek II and this new Star Trek movie there is no greater stimuli for Kirk to respond to than Khan Noonien Singh (nee Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!) and luckily both films have their fair share of Khan to react to.

The classic portrayal of Khan is larger than life as delivered by the one and only Ricardo Montalban. Khan is a devious genetically advanced post-human who places himself above the morality and judgement of others (which dependent on the ferocity with which you believe in the survival of the fittest may have some logic to it) due to his superior mind and physique. No lie, Montalban’s costumes in Wrath of Khan were designed specifically to show off his superior physique and larger than life pectoral dominance. Khan however was driven incredibly mad in the original timeline of Star Trek when he was stranded with his crew and his turncoat wife on a planet which became a desert after their Kirk-imposed exile. Fantasy Island it was not. Between Kirk being his jailer and his jail becoming a death trap Khan and Kirk develop a rivalry worthy of any within all of science fiction. Shatner’s vengeful cry of “KHAAAAAAN!” is an Earth shattering staple of vows for vengeance, and more than slightly due to the fact that a rivalry between Shatner and Montalban could be nothing less than an over-the-top extravaganza of intense moments and smooth witted dialogue. Khan and Kirk in the original timeline is the epitome of the coin having two faces, and the two men are evenly matched.

This new portrayal of Khan is equally dangerous mentally but is also an incredibly more present danger as he has been turned loose on Earth and posed against Starfleet in general, rather than the singular representative of it in Captain Kirk. Benedict Cumberbatch (I suppose needing as dramatic a name as Ricardo Montalban) plays Khan differently. Montalban’s Khan is a man who lives life with passion and oozes culture through his pores while Cumberbatch’s is much more reserved and calculating in his every movement. Now that doesn’t mean that New Khan isn’t passionate but rather where Montalban burns, Cumberbatch smolders. Both portrayals are full of intensity, superiority, and Machevellian scheming.

To Abrahms’ credit, he worked hard to parallel his sequel to the original sequel in a way that was mostly consistent with his aim of “reverent disrespect” in revamping the Star Trek Universe. The movie contains many parallels in the theme of the “needs of the many” and “the needs of the few” as well as the climactic scene in the warp core in both films, Khan himself, and the addition of Dr. Marcus who in the original serves as Kirk’s rekindled romantic interest and unbeknownst mother of his secret son while in this movie she plays a distractingly attractive science officer (distracting in the sense that Kirk follows the divining rod in his pants to all destinations–a consistent character trait across any universe).

However, where things diverge quite a bit in this universe is that, while Captain Kirk is certainly possessed of immense potential and genius, he is untested and young along with his brash disregard for the rules which leads him to trouble, and has him making mistakes more quickly than he can easily recover often relying on Spock for more than support, but for his actual salvation which is unlike Kirk(with due deference to that time Spock used rocket boots to save Kirk from falling off a mountain). In this movie, Kirk is first sent chasing after Khan after an attack on Starfleet headquarters kills Admiral Pike, vowing justice or revenge…the distinction was never made too clear. From there Kirk chases Khan to the Klingon homeworkd of Kronos (where we see some great reinterpretation of what Klingons look like–we can call that one reverently respectful because it was spot on). From there on, Khan manipulates Kirk up and down the line, and while the Captain is aware of it in short order he is mostly powerless to stop him–only to react to him.

Without spoiling too much, suffice it to say the Kirk is well incapacitated in the act of undoing some great damage done to the ship on Khan’s part (this movie is not lacking in one ounce of amazing action or ‘splosions) and it is, yup you guessed it, Spock who is forced to go on a flying-car-hopping, destroyed future ‘Frisco, fist fight to the crescendo that, honestly, has made me very excited for Abrhams Star Wars movies. With all the fantastic faculties of the Enterprise’s crew behind him Spock is able to subdue the villain in a move that surely stole not only the show from Kirk but also “Spock blocks” his epic rivalry (see what I did there?). That said, Spock using the mind meld and the neck grip as part of a martial art were a nice touch–well done sir.

In the end, the movie is full of great parallel and poorly hidden yet all the while entertaining Easter Eggs and nods to the audience–including tribbles. While the new Star Trek franchise isn’t half as cerebral as the original–and has effectively become space action thriller whereas the original series was a space western–it is by no means dumb or witless. Some fans are resistant to change of any sort, but I think that Abrahms has proven the continued viability of the franchise moving forward. I won’t begrudge trying to take a stoic character like Spock and exploring him some to show the emotion under the veneer, and I also feel compelled to say that the rest of the crew are dealt with evenly and respect for their core while trying, and succeeding, to make them equally relevant. I can only hope that as the king of all outer space that he continues to make Trek movies in parallel with his newest foray into the land of Star Wars–at least one more because I really want to see how he handles a war with the Klingons.

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Written by: Brandon Melendez

“It’s More Fun to be a Pirate than to Join the Navy” — Steve Jobs

Originally published at Write To Perfect

I came across this quote while reading Kristen Lamb’s Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author, and it really got me thinking about self-publishing. But first, a thought about self-publishing:

Self-published authors aren’t always the most well-liked people. We’re viewed as sloppy because some self-published books contain typos and story flaws and, well, fewer say it better than the people on Goodreads. For example:

“Aren’t best sellers. Not even worth reading most of those books. All those spelling errors. Its called spell check damnit. Imts not worth reading something that isn’t well known published. Real authors are j k rowling james patterson stephen king, ect. They make they big $. While these people. Hardly make anything for half of these books. They aren’t even in stores, how shitty is that. Therefore they aren’t ‘real’ authors. They are more like ‘amazon’ authors”

Also by the same person:

“All the ‘self published’ book I’ve read are all full of shit! They need to go back to college and leearn some grammar. Its called spellcheck people!”

And again by the same person:

“You mean to be a good writer. Yes they may be writers but honestly anyone can ‘write’ a book these days. These ‘writers’ hardly can even say they wrote a book that’s only on kindle format or not even sold in bookstores. These are the low income writers.”

All right, so this may be the case of a Goodreads troll. However, this person isn’t the only one to share this viewpoint. And I can see where they are coming from to a certain degree. Sure, it’s easy to click a few buttons and put your book up for sale. It doesn’t have to be good, and, sure, it may be filled with typos; but that doesn’t mean all self-published books are like that.

Yes, I know that has been said a million times. Self-published writers are shoved into a stereotype, and that sucks. But, the way I look at it, in the context of this quote by the late Mr. Jobs…

“It’s More Fun to be a Pirate than to Join the Navy”

…self-published authors are like the pirates of the publishing world. We don’t abide by the rules of what traditional publishers say we should do. We go out and, with the help of other self-published authors and/or freelancers, and we pillage and steal from the traditional authors. We sneak up on them in the middle of the night when they’re sleeping and unleash our cannons on them. Then we board them and, with a few hacks and slashes of our scimitars, we take their money and their readers and sail off into the night, counting our treasure and seeking our next victim.

All right, maybe it’s not that intense. But if you really think about it, self-publishing is sort of the underground market of the book world. And sometimes it is more fun. We have full creative control over all of our work. We don’t have someone breathing down our necks telling us what we need to write next or how to write it. We don’t have to answer to the “higher-ups,” hoping that they deem our work “publishable.” Actually, “publishable” isn’t exactly the right word. “Marketable?” Yup. Nailed it.

But as the “pirates” of publishing, self-published authors don’t have to worry about that. We have a story to tell, and damn it, we’re going to tell it!

You know what? I like the sound of that. The Publishing Pirate. There’s a business idea in there, I just know it.

Anyway! Despite the beliefs of others, self-publishers are writers. Self-publishers are authors. I am a writer and an author. And I will continue to be one.

 

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Written by: Chris Stocking

Songs That Sound Like Summer

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and while here in New York the sequester has managed to cancel Fleet Week, the long weekend still marks the unofficial start to the season of Summer. The season of barbeques, and ice cold bottles sweating in the shade, sandy sandwiches and the sweet smell of tanning lotion, and of course, music. Yes. There is no season more fit to be tied with the sounds of obnoxiously loud outdoor music than the summer…though some songs no matter what time of year you hear them just make you think of summer. It may be that they are actually about summer…or it may just be that they evoke that sense of heat, weariness, and freedom that we all associate with the summer. In the spirit of those songs, I’ve created a list that I invariably connect with the season. This is by no means my ultimate top picks of the summer, but rather just a list that comes to mind with Barbeque season upon us (to be honest any one of these songs makes me think of at least a dozen other songs each). It’s a limited but pretty awesome playlist if I do say so myself.

(Disclaimer- This list may contain songs with “Summer” in the title, which you may construe as cheating. Forget you. Also, some of these songs due to the nature of covers and sampling may be the same song or variations on the same theme, melody, or actual recording)

 

After you check out my summer songs, feel free to share…what are yours?

 

Kool and the Gang- Summer Madness


Lovin’ Spoonful- Summer in the City

RJD2- June (feat. Copywrite)

 

DJ Shadow- Six Days Remix (feat. Mos Def)


Traffic- Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

 

Linkin Park- In the End


Parliament Funkadelic- One Nation Under A Groove

Seals and Croft/ The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze

Seals and Croft Version

The Isley Brothers

 

Metallica- For Whom the Bell Tolls


Miles Davis- Summer Time


Sublime- Doin’ Time

 

DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince- Summertime

Jack Reacher “Reaches” for a Hit

It started as a normal grocery shopping trip with a stop at the local Redbox, but it all went downhill from there. I was preoccupied on the phone and let my husband pick the film. After a weekend of horror films and TV shows, I can’t blame him for wanting something else, and I also can’t blame him for wanting an action film.

Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love a good action film once in awhile? It’s relatively mindless, gratuitous violence from fights scenes and generally, lots of explosions. It’s the perfect combination, but usually, the star of the film is a beefcake, not some five-foot tall aging actor trying to revive his career. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher.

Now, after this movie had made it into our home, I should have known this wasn’t a good idea because 1.) I really hate Tom Cruise. I’ve liked one film from him in my whole life and 2.) I didn’t hear very good things about this film. I recently made a vow not to prejudge a movie (too hard) before I watch it so I decided to try to give this film a chance.

The film starts with a random guy with an assault rifle, one can only assume he’s a sniper, as he loads his guns. The movie makes sure to pay close attention to certain details (like the fact that the bullets were hand made and yes, this will come into play later) and also how he selects his victims. Once the deed is done, the shooter leaves without a trace.

The police comb the scene for evidence and then apprehend a man they believe is the shooter (even though the watcher can immediately see they look nothing like each other). James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested and faces two fates from the “crime” he has committed; life in prison or the death sentence. The deciding factor is his confession but this jail bird doesn’t sing. Instead, he just writes “GET JACK REACHER” on a piece of paper, and cue Tom Cruise!

Who is Jack Reacher you ask, Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo)? HE IS A MAN OF MYSTERY! A decorated military man of mystery who “only appears if he wants you to find him.” There are so many ridiculous things wrong with this, but I’ll move forward. Of course, as the detective is discussing the illusive Reacher with DA Rodin (Richard Jenkins), a secretary comes in and says “Jack Reacher here to see you.” Where did he come from and why is he here?!

He’s apparently here to help investigate the murders. Which is strange because besides being a cop in the military and the fact that he has no actual ties to Barr, he’s not really qualified to be part of the investigation. From here, the fight scenes are weak (so is the plot twist) and Tom Cruise tries waaaaaaay too hard to be that sarcastic, snarky tough guy. Some of his one liners reminded me of Guy Pearce, but without being suave, attractive or bad ass. Am I being too harsh on you, Tom Cruise?

Listen, I love bad action films (or as I refer to them AWESOMELY bad films) the cheesier, the campier and the more outrageous it is, the better (I don’t care what you say, I loved The Expendables) but some films are just bad. Jack Reacher is one of them. This movie is available for renting now, I wouldn’t suggest it, but you’ll have to decide for yourself.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

The Eat Your Serial App is Here!

Hey Flakes,

As a way to get your Serials and Toast delivered to you in an even easier fashion than coming straight to the source, we’ve tried to develop a way to bring the source to you. Enter the Eat Your Serial App powered by Conduit Mobile. This is our first app, so we expect that its going to be COMPLETELY AWESOME. Awesome in the sense that Eat Your Serial will now be at your fingertips and easily accessible on your mobile device.

Since its a Conduit Mobile App, it is technically a “browser hijacking app”, which is much scarier than it sounds. Essentially its a customized link, with forced buttons that you can send to your homescreen to easily and quickly access all our content. From there it acts just like any other app, except you don’t have to download it…it takes up practically no drive space, because it is a part of your browser. But there’s more. Best part? It’s totally free. TOTALLY FREE. So if you love our content, and can’t wait to get your eyes all over it every day, this app is going to help you get it in your eyes and digested by your mind at breakneck speeds.

As always, we are open to any suggestions you may have to help this develop into a more serviceable and useful tool to get content INTO YOUR BRAIN THROUGH YOUR EYE SOCKETS (sorry, that was dramatic) so please feel free to share your thoughts with us either through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or comments.

To get all set up just go to this address: http://www.EatYourSerial.conduitapps.com

 

or use your QR Scanner on this image.

 

 

 

 

 

Eat it.

Brandon Melendez

CEO and Editor-in-Chief

Eat Your Serial