Dear VRV users,
Today we have both good and bad news to deliver. Which would you like first? Okay, the bad…
I love Dungeons & Dragons. Like many young dweebs, I came to D&D after playing fantasy video games for years. It was like magic—compared to video games, the freedom given to me as a player in D&D felt infinite. But after several years of playing weird, unfulfilling D&D campaigns, I started to see the limitations of the game. Because while you technically can do almost anything in Dungeons & Dragons, there are some things that the game wants you to do more than others.
The Lost Boys is a kids’ movie—it’s all about sex. Or let me put that another way—the monsters of kids’ media tend towards a didactic form of moral panic. In American movies of the 80s and 90s, it manifests primarily as a thinly-coded stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS—anti-social violence, infection, disease and gay sex mutually imply each other according to the bizarre and homophobic torsions of the culture industry. That’s especially true for The Lost Boys, a horror-comedy that picks up the Peter Pan mythos and plunks it down in a California of the dilapidated 1980s.
If I asked you what an “EV” is in Pokémon, you might assume I was talking about the lovable little fox creature that evolves into a myriad different forms. But if you’re a competitive Pokémon player, you know exactly what those two letters mean—effort values. These values are increased by battling different kinds of Pokémon and give monsters a valuable edge, but the games won’t show them to you in any menu. And they’re just one of the hidden, deeper mechanics in the series that go beyond the well-known rock-paper-scissors of type matchups and factor into the complex world of competitive Pokémon battling.
Bushiroad’s BanG Dream has taken the West by storm since it was released in April this year. Based off the BanG Dream franchise that kicked off in Japan in 2015, the mobile game follows the story of five girl bands: Poppin’Party, Afterglow, Roselia, Hello Happy World and Pastel*Palettes. Since its release, the fandom has grown bigger and bigger to the point that it’s now one of the most popular rhythm games on mobile—a crowded market, including titles like Love Live, IDOLM@STER and IDOLiSH7.
For decades, internet users have turned to cats to provide them some reprieve from social problems and their personal troubles. In the beginning, there was longcat, Caturday, and That Fucking Cat. Then, there were cheezburgers, Maru, keyboard cats, nyan, and so on—the list is endless, and the sheer quantity of shared cat material online suggests that they may have been the engine that launched meme culture out of the orbit of sites like 4chan and onto the general internet.
This is the reality we now live in, in which one can purchase cat meme books at Spencer’s Gifts and easily follow any number of cat accounts on Twitter.
The comedy world is in the midst of a reckoning. Emboldened by one another, more and more performers are getting the courage to call out abusers in the industry, and audiences are starting to give more attention to acts that don’t fit the classic image of the standup comic—straight, white and male. But in an endless sea of original specials, it can be hard to sift through what’s actually worth watching, especially when everyone looks like a randomly generated white guy.
When Ridley Scott’s 1979 sleeper hit Alien arrived in theaters, it revolutionized special effects and kicked the wheezing horror genre into high gear. While Alien is without question Scott’s best movie, tightly paced and claustrophobic, Swiss painter H. R. Giger’s legendary creature design is what sets it apart from everything that followed it. Aliens, its 1986 James Cameron-helmed—yes, he used to make good movies—sequel, builds on and exaggerates Giger’s work so effectively you’d be hard-pressed to find modern sci-fi unmarked by its slimy fingerprints.
The spirit and the flesh. The ego and the id. The harp-bearing angel in a white dress lecturing the spandex-clad, tomato red devil.
In 1998, a new image joined this gallery of philosophical signs, supplanting the yin and yang symbol as the preferred picture of dualism for a generation of Nicktoon-loving ‘90s kid—a two-story house improbably erected of fish and bone.
It’s now been a few days since New York Comic Con came to a close, and my body, soul, and mind have mostly recovered. There’s something about these massive conventions that truly kicks your feet out from beneath you while also making you feel delighted about it. They’re a masochistic joyride, filled with swag, exclusives, the endless jostling against strangers all up in your personal bubble, and bursts of ecstasy. And all that’s before your seventh energy drink of the day.
Editor’s Note: We’re proud to present our second original serialized comic, Neon Starlight Express—a story about an intergalactic road manager who books 80s rock acts for alien civilizations, written by Wes Black and illustrated by Joseph Luster. Check back next Friday for the second instalment!
Whenever I start growing bored of JRPGs, I reread the manga series Magic Knight Rayearth. Created by the legendary manga team CLAMP in 1994, Magic Knight Rayearth is a six volume manga series about three schoolgirls summoned to the magical world of Cephiro. There, they are told they must embark on a quest to save a princess named Emeraude from the clutches of the evil high priest Zagato.
Before we get down to business this week, I thought I would point out this video interview with Max Watanabe, legendary modeler and CEO of Max Factory, a company that produces many of the Nendoroid and figma toys that you’ll see on the average comic shop shelf. There’s a lot of footage of Max and company hard at work, and a bit of insight into how and why people get so into plastic. The whole “toco toco” series is excellent, and I’ll leave it at that before I swerve off topic.
“Huh. I think I’m the only brown person in this room right now.”
I say that phrase to myself a lot. Most of the time—like when I’m at work, or back when I was in school—the thought would sidle up to my train of thought like some sort of bandit, hijacking it for a few seconds and then whispering, “This isn’t for you!” into my ear before kindly derailing the whole thing. When I’m at an event like E3 or Comic Con though, the metaphorical bandit doesn’t even need to hijack my train of thought—it’s already the conductor.
It’s been a long time since I’ve come into any piece of entertainment completely unspoiled. Even in the case of shows that deliberately keep a low profile, I’ve usually seen something to judge by. The only way for me to come in completely fresh and unawares is to have never heard of the subject before.
In the case of Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, that’s exactly what happened. For funsies, I decided not to look into it at all before I hit Play. And let me just say, boy, that was a choice. Because Birdboy is a heck of a thing to approach with no forewarning. That said, I’m actually glad I did, because it meant I was bowled over with just how dark the movie was willing to go at every new twist and turn.