Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, March 20, 2010
      ( 3/20/2010 06:46:00 AM ) Bill S.  

WEEKEND PET PIC: A foto of Kyan Pup on the couch. I know: what are we doing, letting the dogs up on the furniture?

THE USUAL NOTE: For more cool pics of companion animals, please check out Modulator's "Friday Ark."
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Friday, March 19, 2010
      ( 3/19/2010 07:00:00 AM ) Bill S.  

“CAN YOU BELIEVE I WOKE UP IN THE 21ST CENTURY?” When we last saw Neo Takigawa, the 23rd century time traveler struggling to become a pop star in our time, our spunky heroine and her singing partner Saya were getting ready for the big Sparrow Park concert that will make or break their career as Clap. Scheme-y and afro-haired music mogul Ebisu has been working to undermine the duo’s chances for success -- wanting Saya as a solo artist on his label -- but his efforts prove half-hearted at best. Though the poofy Ebisu considers Neo a “wretched female,” he’s still too much a show bizman to totally destroy a potential moneymaker like Clap.

The second half of a two-book manga comedy, Majiko!’s Mikansei No. 1 (Tokyopop) follows our duo through a series of comic obstacles -- the most outlandish of which is the twosome’s appearance on a Japanese game show to promote their first single. Along the way, we learn the not-so-surprising secret of 21st century music super-star Nanato, while Neo’s former 23rd century teacher, Miss Kitaouji, finally tracks down her missing student. She contacts the girl with the news that a time portal will be opening to take her back to her original era, but (of course) the portal’s opening is set for the same time as Clap’s big concert. Which will Neo choose: pop stardom in the 21st century or repressive schoolgirl life in the 23rd? Geez, what a tough choice!

If Mikansei No. 1’s central dilemma is a no-brainer and its central mysteries none-too-mysterious (though as far as I can tell, we’re never shown who Neo’s unknown 21st century benefactor is), the series’ comic energy and Majiko!’s appealing brushwork make it all pop. We’re even provided a hint at the end of the book that our girl’s performances in the modern world will have a small freeing influence on the future -- or at least make the skirts in that time shorter. The liberating power of pop ‘n’ roll: how very 20th century . . .


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
      ( 3/17/2010 06:40:00 AM ) Bill S.  

MID-WEEK MUSIC VIDEO: Arguably the best track from the Killers' debut disc:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010
      ( 3/16/2010 09:31:00 PM ) Bill S.  

“LOSE SOME OF YOUR BLOOD AND CLEAR THAT HEAD OF YOURS.” For half a volume, Sakyou Yozakura’s “Mature”-rated Blu Manga release, Blood Honey, has a decent premise. Yuki Akabane is the member of a degraded line of vampires: the only supernatural power his family line has maintained is a charismatic attractiveness, though the hunger for blood remains. Our hero works as a nurse at a local hospital, primarily taking blood donations, which he’s not averse to sampling the wares. When a “donor nut” named Osamu Mayuzumi starts showing up way too frequently, sparks fly between the two yaoi handsome men.

Boy Love attraction thus melds with Blood Lust in an amusing fashion in this one-short manga. We’re told, for instance, that cram school instructor Mayuzumi is so hot-blooded (check it and see!) that he has difficulty holding his temper in the classroom. Giving up some of his blood gives the guy enough self-control to keep from running amuck in front of his students. The idea doesn’t make a lot of literal sense, but it’s presented with a goofy sincerity. Too, our young couple’s mutual attraction is dramatized with enough comic yearning to make us want to see the twosome hook up for more than just the occasional midnight snack.

But then writer/artist Yozakura tosses it all away by introducing a third character (a vampire nephew of Akabane’s named Kiri Kurosu) and devoting all of chapter three to the kid's romance with an older monk. The shift pulls us away from the book’s appealingly warped central gimmick -- though Kurosu is also a vamp, there’s not a hint of blood letting to be seen -- in favor of an uninteresting student/teacher romance. As a result, the book never regains its original focus. When Yozakura returns to his basic couple in two quickie concluding chapters, we barely care.

Reading Blood Honey, I couldn’t help thinking of the sort of old-fashioned porn flick that takes a pop culture fad (Star Whores, say), dresses it up with a few colorful costumes and then drops it all in favor of a bunch of rote fuck scenes. It all could have been so much more, but most of the book’s audience probably doesn’t care, anyway. There's a kinda blurry shot of dick in the third chapter, so I'm betting the Blu-core audience is happy . . .


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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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