20th Century Boys

20thcenturyboys01This is the best comic book I have read for years. I hesitate to call it manga. It is manga but banish thoughts of Naruto from your mind. This is grown up stuff — compelling, scary, Eisner winning stuff. 20th Century Boys (a reference to the T.Rex song) tells the story of a group of childhood friends who as adults confront a mysterious and murderous cult-leader known only as “Friend” who himself seems to have some connection with their childhood memories. Who is “Friend” and what set him off on his murderous spree?

Told in three time-periods and covering 22 volumes, this is a manga comic to spend a month enjoying.

Best anime EVER in the history of the world EVER

We are a family of otakus. Every week, Shonen Jump (manga) gets downloaded to our tablets; I am currently reading Death Note (all 108 volumes); my daughter writes her own Sword Art Online stories; my son is in the Manga-Anime Club at school; my other son wishes he was Naruto; my wife has a Totoro purse; we have watched everything ever made by Hayao Miyazaki, including his 1978 TV series, Future Boy Conan; and we think that Ghibli’s Joe Hisaishi is the best film composer in the world.

However, I fully understand why anime doesn’t work for some. You either stop at Pokemon or roll your eyes at the Meido fetishes. Too many robots, too much whimsy . . . just too weird.

Fine.

But you have to give Space Brothers a try. We are absolutely in love with this series. As I said to Rebecca today — and I really mean it — I would choose Space Brothers over GoT or Sherlock right now. Yes. It’s that good.

Funny, sweet, epic, Space Brothers tells the story of be-afroed, hapless genius Nanba Mutta, who wants to be an astronaut. Alas for Mutta’s self esteem, his brother Hibito beat him to it.

That’s all I am going to say. Watch at least the first episode and fall in love. We subscribe to Crunchyroll and stream over the Xbox. I am sure there are unofficial ways to get it too.

EuroTV: New Zealand edition

It seems many of you found The Fall. Not exactly the most cheery thing ever filmed. I hope you are also able to find The Returned/Les Revenants. It is the best thing I’ve seen on telly all year. Stylish French zombie fare par excellence. Luther is also back, so spool that up too, and cover yourself in Cockney bombast.

Recommended this time is Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, a BBC/Sundance production set in New Zealand (so barely Euro!). You know Campion from The Piano, from which she brings Holly Hunter as one of the lead actors.

I’m only one episode in, so it’s a difficult show to properly describe. Imagine Twin Peaks crossed with The Killing but a little more subdued (at least compared with Lynch). A young pregnant girl goes missing in the remote community of Laketop and cop Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) is brought in to investigate. Hunter plays a Log Lady-esque weirdo who last saw the girl. Etc.

The reviews have been good and Campion’s involvement as writer-producer-director ensures that Top of the Lake succeeds or fails based on her vision. This is no series-by-committee but ambitious long-form drama. So far, me likey.

Interestingly, Australian funding for the show was pulled when Moss’s involvement was revealed. It seems the Aussies don’t like Americans playing Antipodeans. I call it revenge for Russell Crowe making a career out of dodgy accents.

Available on Sundance Channel and BBC2.

EuroTV: The Fall and Les Revenants

This really is a golden age of television. At the push of a button or the click of a mouse I can watch the best TV the world has to offer, whether it is a new, complex American cable series (Game of Thrones — made in Europe but with American money), tight-and-light BBC-fare (Sherlock), and Scandinavian cool (The Killing).

Here at the Kulturblog I’m going to offer regular, brief highlights of new European shows that our American readers might find on Netflix or PBS or the torrents of bit.

Two shows this time, one British, the other French. Continue reading

Indiana Jones Geekery, Part One

Update: 3/Sep/12

The book came. Begins in Chicago with Indy almost getting into trouble with some bootleggers before he heads off to the Sorbonne to begin his graduate studies. Breathless!

***

This site is home to the favourite thing I have ever written. With rage pouring through my creative veins, I wrote a review of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull which, unlike most of what I have written in the past, is a post I can still read and am still proud of.

There may be better films, but Raiders is the greatest (sic). So when I caught it on the telly the other night, I inevitably paused between channels to see Indy race away from Belloq and urge Jock to “start the plane!” Jock has “Sky Pirates” written on his shirt and I thought, as one does, “I would like to own that shirt . . . and who are the Sky Pirates anyway?”

(Such is the way my brain works.)

I’ve long enjoyed the Lucasfilm Expanded Universe (EU). In fact, many of the Star Wars Dark Horse comics are the best things to happen to Star Wars since 1980. I suspected that my questions regarding Jock (also, where did he get his pet snake Reggie?) had been answered and the Indiana Jones wiki confirmed it:

Jock Lindsey was an American freelance pilot. Lindsey cut his teeth as a stunt pilot performing in Midwest airshows and relocated to Venezuela after a rumored flight-related tragedy. He frequently was hired by Indiana Jones to fly the archaeologist to remote parts of the world.

And so for reasons perhaps related to my mild OCD I have decided not only to read more about Jock and his Sky Pirates, but also to enjoy the Indiana Jones EU chronologically. I am skipping the Young Indiana Jones ouevre (a few years ago my kids and I did a young Indy marathon) and am starting  instead in 1922 which is the agreed terminus for the adventures of non-Young Indy, marking the first fictional event after Hollywood Follies (the last of the Young Indy films).

I have ordered from Ebay a copy of Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi, a novel in which “Indy descends into the bottomless pit of the serpent god and finds a sacred stone that holds the key to the [Delphic] oracle’s prophecies.” Sounds hokey but fun and I shall probably read it  to the kids.

Kultur? Obviously not, but I need an escape from the middle-brow psychedelia of Johns Fowles’s The Magus (my summer read) and I have a feeling I’m going to love this journey of geekery. There are a dozen novels, a few comic books and short stories, and a couple of video games.

I have even cleared a space on my shelf for this Indiana Jones literary collection. Right next to my newly restored Rancor. Expect reviews here at KB. Should be riveting stuff.