The Seduction Of Escapism

Once again this blog of mine has fallen into a lull and I haven’t really written in some months. And the story is pretty much the same or close to it. These past few months have been hard financially which resulted in me becoming more self-loathing and looking for ways to entertain myself at home rather than going out to comedy shows because of lack of funds. This in turn made me become more reclusive and less sociable and I began to look for fictional and more interesting worlds to escape into. The medicine of choice these past few months have been mostly anime and manga. As much as I tell everyone and anyone  how crazy I believe the Japanese are they make some amazing fiction. I couldn’t believe I haven’t fallen into that void sooner. I had a few run-ins with anime in high school and College (the last great anime shows I saw in those days were Cowboy Bebop, Big O and Inuyasha) but with Netflix having such a large selection I started dabbling and neck-deep I went in to the anime pool.

I then came to realize that there are a bunch of sites where you can read manga and I started to read the manga versions of the anime I was watching. I came to realize that the mangas were several times better and I just kept going deeper and deeper into these fictional worlds and completely forgetting about this blog and anything else in the real world (well within reason, I still go to work and take care of all my other adult real-life responsibilities).

Anyway, long story short, I started coming out of my anime/manga haze a little and realized that it has been many months since I blogged. And I posted one or two entries since I came to that realization but it has been a chore. It so much more fun and easier to continue on in escapism. When I wasn’t reading manga or watching anime I was of course reading other works of fiction and watching other shows (I recently watched all of “Revenge” and now know what all the hype is about).

So here I am back, for now. Don’t know when the next compulsion to completely indulge into escapism will take effect but I’ll try my best to moderate it somewhat. It will be hard, no lie. Especially with all the TV premiers coming back. Anyone watch Castle or Parks and Recreation? They’ve been good thus far. Glad to see them back.

Giving Hulu Plus Another Show But Still Not Impressed

As you may have read, I was sucked into the world of Inuyasha recently. Well I finished all 167 episodes that where on Netflix and realized that the story was far from over. Apparently a second series called Inuyasha: The Final Act was made and it’s available for viewing on Hulu. Used to watching this series from the comfort of my couch facing the TV, I decided to give Hulu Plus another shot. Luckily for me, this particular show was available for TV browsing (you can see where this is going), because I soon found out that not much has changed since the last time I tried the 7-day trial of Hulu 1 or 2 years ago.

One of the things that still annoys me about Hulu Plus is that I still have to sit through commercials. It’s one thing to see Hulu for free on my browser and deal with commercials but to still go through this after paying for a subscription service is irksome. For that same price I get commercial-free service with Netflix. Also, as I mentioned in the last paragraph if somewhat indirectly, not everything that’s available to view online is available for TV or mobile viewing. I had to sit in front of my computer to watch the newest episode of 30 Rock because I couldn’t do it from my TV.

Speaking of commercials, there used to be just one commercial per break. They then made it to 2 when you don’t count the commercial telling you what’s available in their catalogue for instant-browsing (so really it’s 3 now). Currently they keep advertising the CW lineup. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to check out one of their shows, Hart of Dixie. One of the biggest selling points for Hulu Plus is that you get all the episodes of the current season of all their shows. Well that isn’t the case for any of the CW shows. All that advertising and not only do I not get the current season of Hart of Dixie but the episodes that are available for viewing aren’t even in order, so obviously, I’ll just wait for this show to be available on Netflix a year or so from now (if I still remember or care to bother by that time).

I’m glad that I got to wrap up the tale of Inuyasha from the comfort of my couch; however, in hindsight, I should of just saved my $7.99 and watched those episodes on my browser. Most of the shows in my Hulu queue have to be watched like that anyway. What’s one more?

Rekindling My Love Of Anime With Inuyasha

I first got into the wonderful Japanese medium of Anime when I was a sophomore or junior in high school, with great classics such as Akira, Fist of the North Star, Galaxy Express 999 and Appleseed, to name a few. For those not in the know, Anime is Japanese animation that covers all mediums of fiction and aren’t necessarily for children. Some in fact are meant to be viewed by mature audiences because of adult content and graphic violence. Anyway, this refreshing look at animation blew me away upon first viewing. This wasn’t my childhood Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Not by a long shot.

Since that first time, I’ve tried to absorb Anime whenever I could and was an adamant viewer during my college years but for some reason my efforts have dwindled over time by many factors such as, no longer paying for cable and being preoccupied with other things. I did became aware, this past summer, that Netflix has grown its collection of anime and I have put a few in  my queue, but still I haven’t quite steered in its’ direction. Other shows were occupying me at the moment (see my previous blog entries on Mad Men and The Good Wife).

Well now that I was caught up with most of my shows I decided to give Inuyasha a shot. I had originally started watching this some years ago, back when I had cable and it used to air semi-daily on the Cartoon Network, as part of it’s Adult Swim programming. Needless to say, after re-watching the old episodes I had already seen and getting into newer plot points (well new to me anyway), I was immediately caught up in this world of feudal Japan and just couldn’t get enough. I literally have only 2 speeds with this show. Either I watch it till I pass out on the couch or I avoid it at all costs to get other stuff done (you can guess which speed I’m opting for right now since I’m actually blogging instead of wasting the night away).

Anyone who has a Netflix account and is new to Anime should definitely give this series a try. It has everything you could ask for in a show. Great characters, a long and challenging hero quest, drama, romance, comedy, great fight scenes, amazing visuals etc (I feel like I’m quoting the Princes’ Bride. Am I?). What more could you ask for? I would try to summarize it for you readers but I don’t think I would really give it justice. For this I have Wikipedia to thank:

The series’ plot follows a high school girl Kagome Higurashi who lives on the grounds of her family’s hereditary Shinto shrine. When she goes into the well house to retrieve her cat, a centipede demon bursts out of the enshrined Bone Eater’s Well and pulls her through it. As she leaves the well, Kagome appears in the Sengoku period of Japan. During the demon’s previous attack, a magical jewel known as the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls was embodied from Kagome. She then becomes the demon’s target and it tries to consume the jewel and kill Kagome. In desperation, Kagome unseals the half-demon InuYasha who was placed on a tree fifty years ago by Kagome’s ancestor Kikyo, the youngmiko of the village in charge of the sacred jewel. Although InuYasha destroys the centipede, the Sacred Jewel is later shattered into numerous shards that disperse across Japan. Even the individual shards are capable of granting great power, and are eagerly sought by humans and demons alike. Kagome and InuYasha set out to collect the shards to avoid disasters caused by Sacred Jewel of Four Souls.

So there you have it in a nutshell (thanks as always Wikipedia). So what are you waiting for? Go to your Netflix account and start watching Inuyasha already!

Finished All 4 Seasons of Mad Men In Under A Month

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was reeled into the world of Mad Men once it became available on Netflix. I was so sucked in, that I breezed through all four seasons of this show in less than a month’s time. It was just that good. All of my other shows in my Netflix queue took a back seat as I would watch one episode after the other, day after day, until I finally finished them all today.

Now that I’m all caught up, I’m impatiently awaiting the fifth season of this show. Per the internet, they just started filming the new season and it won’t air until some time in 2012. I guess I’ll just have to wait for any unanswered questions and plot twists to get resolved. In the meantime I’ll just have to distract myself with other shows. It’s going to be hard. I want to go back into that world and see what is Don Draper going to do next.

Puzzled, Intrigued And Reeled Into The World of Mad Men

AMC’s Mad Men made its debut on Netflix on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Since then I’ve watched 5 episodes and am still at a loss of words to explain how I feel about the show. Usually, there needs to be at least one likeable character or a character with redeemable qualities for me to continue watching. I haven’t found such a character in this show and yet I’m looking forward to the next episode.

I’ve heard people say that this show takes a while to develop and get interesting but I haven’t had that reaction. The writing is incredible, subtle, intelligent and really takes you back to the 60’s. Each character is packed with layers of characterization, nuances, neurosis and quirks that they seem believable and you feel like a fly on the wall peeking into the private world of real living breathing people.

The show is of course centered around one character, Donald Draper, who is played by Jon Hamm to brilliant effect. Thus far, 5 episodes in, I find nothing relatable about this character. He seems the most flawed of the cast, with a troubled past that he wants no one to know about and who can’t help but act out in self-destructive ways with indulgences of infidelity, chain-smoking and hard-drinking. You would think this would cause me to have contempt for his character but the writing is such that I can’t stop asking, “why?”. Why is he doing those things? It’s obvious that he’s troubled, filled with some self-loathing and isn’t proud of his moral ambiguous ways. And yet he continues on with his never-ending circle of self-destruction.

This is one of those shows that I have no idea where the ride is taking me and yet I have complete confidence in the writing that it will be a someplace good. Despite having more questions than answers about the characters and the plot of Mad Men I’m still enjoying it tremendously. The visual authenticity of the time period definitely helps. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the four seasons on Netflix.