DocHaus (Level 18)

It's no use, I'll have to use...THAT!
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[Inspired by watching an interesting little anime called Noir, which contained a lot less film noir than I was led to believe]

You've probably seen this in anime and in movies where guns are involved. The big shadowy evil organization of evil has several gunmen (henceforth referred to as "mooks") in its employ, supposedly hired to stand by and intimidate any hero foolish enough to try and pass them. However, the hero is able to defeat them quite easily before rescuing his ally or destroying the monster or boss of the episode. In the interest of giving the evil organization of evil a fighting chance, I've decided to pass along a few helpful tips:

1) Make sure every gun-toting mook you employ can hit a human-sized target from at least 2 meters away with a pistol. If they cannot hit said target, or at best can only perform grazing shots, then DO NOT EFFING HIRE THEM. Not even to justify that small business tax break. If the hero does not care about hiding the bodies, you'll be left explaining the mess not only to the police, but also to your fellow villains who will most certainly laugh at you while you try to justify the overhead.

2) When you hold one woman hostage in order to draw her partner out in the open, and then said partner appears in the open, your mooks should be instructed to take the initiative and shoot them both. Simply pointing their guns in the direction of the hero will not have the desired effect, and may in fact end up provoking the hero to shoot the offending mook or mooks and free the hostage. This is especially embarrassing when there are about 5 or 10 mooks for every hero at the scene, and the only ones who can pull the trigger can't hit a child-sized target 1 meter away.

3) Attempting to subdue the hero with sheer force of will does not work in this kind of show. If any of your mooks believe this is the correct manner to approach the hero, they should either be retrained or simply beheaded. There may be a few exceptions (i.e. Black Cat), but it's a safe bet those exceptions do not apply to your mooks.

4) If the hero is trying to get information from a witness who may point him or her in the right direction, and your designated sniper mook has a clear shot from a hidden spot, instruct him to take the shot, and not to sit around adjusting his aim for long enough that the hero has another clue about your evil organization of evil. In fact, the sniper should be paired up with someone at the same height as the hero, so both the hero and the witness can be killed at the same time. Also, instruct your shooter to aim for the center of mass, not the head, as that tends to get better results (See #1).

4b) For God sakes, if you've got the cash to hire an endless supply of mooks, then you can surely spring for some anti-reflective or anti-glare lenses. If the sniper's scope reflects light, then the hero will see it 9 out of 10 times. Count on it.

5) Equip your mooks with alternative weaponry and instruct them to use it to subdue whatever device or weapon the hero is using as a shield. For example: If the hero is reflecting your bullets with a sword, then give your mooks a weapon that launches acid, eliminating the threat of his sword and making him vulnerable to bullet attacks. If your opponent has a device that can launch an electro-magnetic pulse, then use old-style guns that don't require complex electronics to function. If the mook tries to turn your own weapons against you, then install RFID chips in your weaponry beforehand and render them useless to anyone but those with the right fingerprints. If the hero is still able to defeat your mooks, then either you need to train them correctly (again, see #1) or the writer is dead-set against giving you a fair chance, so kiss your ass goodbye and pray you get reincarnated in a series where the bad guy has a clue of what he should be doing.

6) If the hero does grab one of your mooks and uses his body as a human shield, instruct your other mooks to fire on him or her anyway. After all, they all should have known the risks when they signed up for this job, and chances are the hero has no such qualms about destroying their lives including the life of the human shield once their usefulness has ended.
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In which I review various manga I've stumbled across in little snippets.

Yakuza Girl--It has nothing to do with Yakuza at all except for the name. However, if you thought that Ikkitousen (or "Battle Vixens" in the US) could be so much better if only there was more explicit sex and less coherent plot development, then this manga is perfect for you. Of course, this also means that the chances of this manga appearing on American bookstore shelves are slim to nil.

Black Cat--Kinda like the GetBackers, except the guy with the evil eye later has a magic briefcase, and whenever you hear Train's name you almost expect "Drops of Jupiter" to start playing in the background. Dragged on a little too much, and the cast got really convoluted near the end. Dances on the line of DBZ-syndrome without completely crossing it, but the mere fact that I stuck with it till the end (with several breaks, sure, but still...) as opposed to, say, Bleach means that there's probably something I enjoyed about it.

The World God Only Knows--A high school kid who prefers dating-sim-game girls to real ones ends up getting drafted by the cleaner, newer version of Hell to suck out evil spirits from girls in the real world by kissing them. How convenient that most of the girls he has to help in the real world are similar to the archetypes from his games. Still, I actually found it kind of amusing.

Seikon no Qwaser--It's like Fullmetal Alchemist, except the Alchemists are called "Qwasers", they are only able to manipulate one element (with a few exceptions), and they get their powers from sucking someone's breasts instead of drawing a circle on the ground. There's also some plot involving the Russian Orthodox church, but if the last sentence caught your eye, chances are good that the plot doesn't matter.

Hayate the Combat Butler--Pokes fun at various shonen manga, but at the same time, the massive amount of in-jokes can get kind of confusing. There also seems to be a small pattern where Hayate meets a new girl, they start crushing on him, and he ends up too focused on his job to notice, then this cycle repeats with a different girl. Other than that, I found it somewhat entertaining.

Feel free to comment, or add your own.
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Does anyone actually fill in the episode/volume summaries?

I mean, for the first few that I've done for Ga-Rei or Michiko to Hatchin, I thought you needed to include some words about the item itself. However, I keep skimming around and there are tons of episodes and manga volumes without any summaries. Even the more popular ones like Code Geass or Eureka Seven seem to have this same omission.

Whatever. I'm just shouting into the void here, ain't I?
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Before I begin, I just want to say "MY OPINIONS ARE SRS BIZNESS! SRSLY!" Okay, now that we've gotten that little outburst out of the way...

You've probably heard of this complaint in some form, where my first memory of it was Dragonball Z. A lot of the "plot" seemed to be summed up thusly:

Goku: Ha! I will vanquish you with my ultimate attack!

Villain Du Jour: Well guess what? I have an attack that's even bigger!

Goku: Really? Damn, I guess I should use this unknown superweapon that was never hinted at until now!

VDJ: Well, your attack is strong, but I have this other powerful attack!

Goku: Ow! That hurt! Give me more episodes to charge up my even bigger attack!

VDJ: Oh no! I am defeated!

Goku: Well, it's a good thing that he...

Other Villain: Surprise! I'm even stronger than the last guy, and everything you learned to defeat him is completely useless against me! Looks like you'll have to pull even more superpowers out of your ass!

Goku: Fuck!


After that implied "Fuck!" moment, the aforementioned summary would pretty much be recycled ad infinitum, though with different characters and attack names. At first, I thought this was exclusive to DBZ, but then I saw other franchises fall into this trap: Bleach seems to have turned into a contest over whose sword/ban-kai/whatever is bigger. Naruto started out interestingly, but then turned into who can summon bigger monsters, making one wonder if they even cared about the actual "stealth" aspects of ninjitsu in the first place (as an aside, the only character I can think of who actually used stealth in his attacks carried a gigantic steel paddle on his back). Inuyasha seemed kinda cool when I was younger, but looking back I can now see how Naraku's spirit would conveniently escape every time the protagonists supposedly killed him, and how each time he would send demons that required ever stronger attacks and training montages in order to defeat until I just stopped caring.

One common thing I find in each of the above animes is that there never seems to be an actual ceiling on the power one can have. It seems to be a purposeful choice from my point of view: by removing the maximum limits to the power of the characters that are in the story, or that will appear later in the story, you have an excuse to keep writing new plotlines. As long as you can keep selling these books, you can keep grabbing a paycheck, even if you've practically run out of ideas on where to take the story. There doesn't have to be forward progression, just upward progression. Kagome can spend God-knows-how-many years never actually finishing off that Shikon Jewel as long as Inuyasha has new villains to slaughter with his gigantic sword, where the only change appears to be how often he screams between each strike. If people keep buying the books, then the writers can keep bringing home the paychecks.

Maybe I'm being an elitist curmudgeon here, but I like the shows where there is a sort of ceiling to how powerful the characters can be, where the enemies aren't simply defeated by pulling new superpowers out of nowhere, but by using different strategies. For example, you can argue how Lelouch's Geass power was a sort of "deus ex machina", but at least that power had a ceiling, and at least that could be countered by villains who didn't resort to screaming even louder than him. In Cowboy Bebop, there wasn't a super-starship that could only be shot down by a ten-year-old piloting a super-mega-ultra-starship. Hell, the crew of the Bebop actually screwed up some of their missions, and couldn't fight the same adversary in a larger form either. Even the climactic battle scene was somewhat down to earth, with Spike holding a simple gun vs. Vicious with a sword.

I could list tons more examples for either side, but I think you all can see what I'm getting at. Why is it that some series just continue long past their shelf life, when it just seems the writers are recycling different plots with ever-expanding powers that were never hinted at before and will possibly be useless later on? Isn't it better to have a sort of power ceiling?
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