Drawn by Pain – Internet Show

Showing us exactly what you can do with no budget and a good animator is Drawn by Pain. It’s a live action with drawn overlays series that arrived in my in-box courtesy of the fine folks at zero punctuation (they ran a trailer advert for it) and it’s turned out to be a good watch.

Drawn by Pain follows it’s sometimes heroine Emily as she confronts her inner demons while terrorizing NYC lowlifes (or possibly Connecticut’s south coast, there’s a 106.9 WCCC sticker in there). She appears to be slowly driven mad by her youth, hounded by forms given life through her odd artistic powers.

What really lies inside Emily’s abilities to injure and kill to defend herself with drawings and how she’ll tackle the problems they cause is the focus of the series.

Artistically the shorts are tight Drawing is sketchbook style and pops out of the screen from the city and ‘burb backdrop. Camera work is competent shot with (if I had to guess) a couple of Canons GLs or similar cameras and some good recording gear. Acting improves as the series gets its chops broken in.

If you want either an action/drama that’s fun to watch or a study in making a good mixed media film on a shoe-string budget this one’s for you. (Drawn by Pain drawnbypain.com)

Dennō Coil or Coil – A Circle of Children

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Dennō Coil. The angle, youth wearing VR overlay glasses, sounded something like .hack. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

What Dennō Coil does have is a compelling story line centering around a group of young protagonists and a not altogether far-fetched technological premise. Through the plot the authors have weaved urban legend and the vibrant imaginations of children starting to explore the wider world.

Our storytellers viewpoint for the story is well balanced with much of what happens being caused or influenced by a well-done and well thought out perspective I rarely see in film. It had me going right up to the end, not quite sure what the larger picture was.

So this is definitely one to watch. It’s got competent animation, a very approachable bit of science fiction, and a compelling story line.

Baccano!: Strangely Excellent Anime Series

Sometimes things look a bit strange from their description and you decide to take a chance on them. So it went with Baccano!, described as a not-wholly in chronological order series about a myriad of people who’s lives intertwine around covered-up events on a train back in early 1930s.

Coincidentally the events on the train takes place in the middle of about three timelines, blending back and forth with minimal warning.

Baccano Background

What I was worried about here was that I’d never know what I was looking at, which part of the story I was actually following. But they get around that with a device that’s usually irritating in film.

Most of the time when you see a shot from a different angle it’s annoying overkill on a point. Baccano! uses the affect in good measure to show where and when a certain scene is taking place. Same scene, different character.. at the same time, but strangely it works to move the plot along. You’ll quickly infer when it is by who is moving around and where they are.

So what I’m saying is if that all made sense to you, you’ll like the series. It’s about as fast paced as it gets and the audio/visual work is superb, the characters fun (if somewhat deranged), action filled bits of movement, and a mystery at it’s core. It might be a bit too much gore.. but nothing along the lines of, say, Sweeney Todd.

Added: almost forgot to put a link to the official Baccano! website.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Along with every other American with nothing better to do this weekend I showed up at the theater to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Not having seen the other two movies in the series it left a mixed impression.

Pirates has a standard plot, good special effects, and some solid acting. All of these made the movie enjoyable.

Everything that Pirates 3 has going for it gets balanced by it’s incredible length. You’d be forgiven for sleeping through bits of the movie and not noticing. Whole scenes could be erased to improve the movies flow and ease up on the boredom.

After discussing the movie briefly with a smattering of other people this view is justified. Even fans of the genre came up with a “but it could’ve been shorter”. This is a length rarely seen outside war documentary-esque films.

So, if you’re easily bored this might be one to wait for on DVD. Unless it’s something you’d really like to see. In which case, it’s probably worth hitting at the theater.

Finally Saw Borat: Cultural Learnings…

At the insistence of Jolene and Jay (actually ran into him at Taste of India, which is cool) I finally saw Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

While Sacha Baron Cohen’s humor is definitely not for everyone (pretty over the top) it is exceedingly funny.

To recap: Borat is one of Sacha’s characters. He’s a Kazakhstan reporter coming to America to do a cultural exchange report.

Never mind the fact that Sacha’s speaking an odd mix of bullshit and Yiddish (it’s obviously not a Russian dialect, anyway. This was noted on NPR when they interviewed him). Or that he looks suspiciously unlike a Kazakh. No, he passes just fine stateside (except maybe in New York on the morning commute. Those people are equally pissed off at just about everyone.)

Live comedy abounds as he hoodwinks people on his tour into believing in his character. And to be honest he plays Borat to the hilt. At one point during filming he passes out and snaps back up still in character.

There’s quite a bit of outrageous material in here. Such as Borat chasing his traveling companion Azamat (Ken Davitian) naked down the hallway (of a prestigious hotel) waving a sex toy. Even so, I can’t bring myself to call it offensive; most of it is simply derogatory towards Sacha himself rather than demeaning toward others.

Everything considered, Borat is worth seeing. As long as you’re not offended by the content it’s hilarious. He affectively lampoons people by showing them as themselves, making for some classic scenes.

Anime – Black Blood Brothers

Black Blood Brothers - Jirou
Just finished watching the 12 episode Japanese TV series from last year, Black Blood Brothers. Being only 12 episodes it’s not exactly epic in scope, but they managed to pack a fair amount of content in a limited run. Also, it looks like there’ll be a movie follow up, possibly already produced, from the Japanese language website. I’m not sure, I can’t read it and wikipedia’s BBB article (warning, spoilers) contains nothing useful on the subject. If you’ve got a translator or can read Kanji, go hit up the official site.

The story’s interesting. It’s about humans and vampires living in a special zone after a catastrophe having occurred in Hong Kong, exposing the public to the existence of the vampires kind. Our protagonist, Jirou, is guarding a small boy whom he refers to as “brother” and obviously has something more going on than he lets on. All of the other cast are either vampires or people aware of their existence who try and keep a wrap on the publics knowledge that they’re still around.

Animation-wise the series gets a bit loose in spots. It’s apparent that Studio Live and Group TAC did the best they had with the studios budget, and I think they eeked out all the value they could. While it’s not overly expensive, they evenly applied effects and more detailed sequences throughout the series to good affect. It’s obvious that Hiroaki Yoshikawa (director) struck a good rhythm producing the series.

So it’s probably worth buying if you like the title. Episode one can be watched at BigGlobe but only in it’s original Japanese. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to find it translated if necessary. You might start with Scarywater, as they’ve usually got english subs for non-published work.

Return from Katsucon 2007

Alright! Back from Katsucon 2007. Not too many pictures compared to some people… and a good portion of what we shot was of various friends and acquantences hanging out. You can find them at http://villa-strayligth.net/katsucon_2007.

Overall the con was a good time. Went down with old friends, met up with people I don’t see all that often (as they live a few states over) and then hung out with a great crowd on Sunday morning (in the early-*early* AM) who happened to alse be loitering neer the Connecticon booth.

After the fiftieth round of whatever that childrens show was with the pirates and a woman who, I’m pretty sure, was high on something singing “something something A PIRATE!!” it got a bit old. If only I had a projector and a pocket sized PC to hook it up to…

Coincindentally, people seem to think being asked “Pirates or Ninjas?” at 2AM is odd. At this simple query I ended up getting people that actually gave a sidelong glance and walked faster. I’m asking people, mostly drunk, at an *anime convention* this, mind.

Chilling with the Magfest crowd was a blast, I’ll have to actually make it down to the convention this year (if only it wasn’t right after New Years! :))

So that’s about it for Katsucon 2007. I imagine there was anime being played, people dressed up in costumes, and various activities. The art room floor was fun, as was the merch cavern (which we noticed was really the parking lot, and the reason we had to drive around endlessly on Thursday looking for parking). Otakon’s coming up and we’re looking at it with a bit of skepticism. The venue wasn’t all that hot last year, but I might make it down.