Azn Badger's Blog

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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 1

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

It’s funny, amidst all the bitching I’ve been doing lately about my lack of inspiration for writing new posts, it dawned on me recently that I’ve neglected to cover one of the most obvious topics available to me:

My music library.

Most of the music I collect and listen to comes from movie and videogame soundtracks.

I think my interest in soundtrack music spawned from my having spent my childhood watching lots of movies with heavily thematic scores from an early age.

In particular, I think the iconic, and almost overbearing style of background music found in all the Godzilla movies I used to watch was largely responsible for me having grown up a “hummer.”

Wrong kind of Hummer, dumbass.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken good care to open my ears when watching movies; taking stock not just of the movie itself, but of the music that accompanies each scene within it.

That being said, in comparing my music library to that of some of my friends, it dawned on me that; like seemingly everyone in the digital age, the music in my collection differed extensively from most of the people I knew.

Because of this, I figured it might be fun if every now and again I took a moment to root through my collection and do a post on a particular composer you might like to know about.

I don’t intend for these posts to be biographies, as I honestly don’t know even know what most of the composers in my collection even look like, let alone what they’ve done in their personal lives, but I do hope to at least highlight the works of theirs that I am familiar with.

On that note, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I mentioned Godzilla earlier in this post, today we’ll be kicking off this new series of posts with a look at prolific Japanese composer: Rejiro Koroku.

It’s funny, the earliest instance I can recall hearing the works of Reijiro Koroku, was one that I honestly wasn’t aware of until just now.

Do you remember a Nickelodeon show called Noozles?:

All I remember about the show was the theme song, and the fact that it involved painfully cute stuffed animal koalas that would come to life if you rubbed your nose against theirs.

Well, for what it’s worth, a quick IMDb reveals that the composer of Noozles was Reijiro Koroku.

I don’t remember a single note of the show’s soundtrack outside of the catchy-ass English theme song; but according to history, Noozles was the first composition of his I ever heard, even if I didn’t know he did it until just now.

Cosmic…

Fun facts aside, the first, and easily most impactful instance in which I ever truly experienced Reijiro Koroku’s music, was in Godzilla 1984.

The Heisei Godzilla movies had some of the most badass poster art ever. Seriously, look 'em up.

Many look upon Godzilla 1984 as a plodding and largely unimpressive entry in the series, however my appreciation for it has grown over the years.

That’s not to say I always looked upon it in a positive light.

In my youth I can recall feeling Godzilla 1985 (that’s the version we got in the U.S.) was a little bit boring, however that was also back when I was young enough to have felt it was also kind of scary.

What can I say, I grew up with Godzilla as my hero, so my tiny 6 year old brain had some trouble wrapping itself around the concept of Godzilla being a nasty bad guy that maliciously stepped on security guards.

Looking at Godzilla 1984 as and adult though, it’s much easier for me to appreciate the unrivaled scale of the miniatures, the atypically topical/political nature of the story, and the oddly designed, but mechanically impressive Godzilla suit.

As you might have guessed, on top of all of this, Godzilla 1984 has an absolutely beautiful soundtrack.

In stark contrast to virtually every other Godzilla soundtrack in history, Godzilla 1984 has a hauntingly brooding and melancholy sound to it that is downright chilling at times.

Just give a listen to the opening theme/Godzilla’s theme:

As the first film in the Heisei series of Godzilla films, as well as the first Godzilla film produced following a near 10 year hiatus, Godzilla 1984 was a big-budget (by Japanese standards) film meant to formally usher the character into the modern era of sci-fi.

Like many other tokusatsu compositions, Koroku’s use of brasses is bold and almost outlandish by Western standards, however at the same time his music has an elegance to it that goes a long way towards legitimizing the inherent melodrama of it’s sound.

While rarely pulse-pounding, the music in Godzilla 1984 covers a great deal of the emotional spectrum, with many of the more peaceful tracks embodying an almost Gershwin-like romantic quality:

The military themes embodying a boldly triumphant quality of strength:

And Godzilla’s cues coming across as malevolent and downright demonic at times:

Curiously enough, though one of the highlights of the soundtrack is one track in particular that is actually quite successful in it’s capacity to tug at your heartstrings:

One of my favorite aspects of the soundtrack, and one that I can’t quite explain, is it’s “clarity.”

I don’t know if it was a result of a special recording process, but for whatever reason, Godzilla 1984’s orchestra comes across as bigger, louder, and “clearer” than what I’m used to hearing in films.

I have no idea how this incredible effect was achieved, but one thing’s for sure, I wholeheartedly approve.

That being said, I figure I should finish today’s post with a nod to my favorite tracks from Godzilla 1984.

Truth be told, the “Main Title” and “Self-Defense Force” tracks embedded above are actually some of my favorite tracks, however my all time favorite has to be the theme of Super X:

Like I’d imagine was the case with most kids, Super X’s scenes were easily my favorite part of the whole movie, and as such; I feel it’s only fitting that it was bestowed with one of the better compositions as it’s theme music.

Godzilla 1984 was the first Godzilla movie in 30 years to feature no other monsters besides the Big G, and as a result, I’m guessing the Super X was inserted into the film, not just because it was fucking awesome, but because Toho likely felt the movie needed something for Godzilla to fight that was plausible, yet wouldn’t crumble in a single blow.

Unfortunately, the Super X, as resilient as it was withstanding a whopping 2 doses of blue nuclear death breath, displayed a severe weakness in the form of being vulnerable to having skyscrapers dropped on it’s hull:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Filed under: Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters Review

I never thought I’d say this about a Godzilla comic, but goddamn this comic was preachy.

Godzilla, and indeed many giant monsters over the years, have often carried with them an air of social/political commentary, be it cautioning the world against the use of nuclear arms, or the dangers of bureaucratic obfuscation I.E. The Host.

While these messages aren’t always at the forefront of things, the symbolism that crops up from committing a giant radioactive dinosaur from the South Pacific to film or print is undeniable.

While Godzilla is one of the more malleable pop-culture characters in all of history, serving as a symbol of everything from nuclear deterrence to a hero to all children; I never thought I’d see him used the way he was in IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

I’ve been watching Godzilla films since the cradle, and naturally I grew up reading Dark Horse’s Godzilla comics during the early 90’s.

While no other Toho monsters or characters were featured in the Dark Horse comics, with the exception of a few less than stellar issues here and there, I found that these comics paid homage to the spirit of Godzilla about as well as anyone could ever hope.

Pictured: Godzilla preparing to surface amid the Spanish Armada. God I loved these comics...

Perhaps more so than anything else, I found myself blown away by the writers and artists of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters’ complete lack of respect and understanding for the character.

Over the course of 4 issues, I found myself utterly flabbergasted at the writer’s inability to satisfy even the least of my expectations for a Godzilla comic book.

Despite the book’s claim to being the first American comic to license the rights to use monsters from Toho’s stable other than Godzilla, a claim I don’t dispute; the fact of the matter is, within this first collected edition the writer’s did little to flex their muscles in this regard.

That is to say, despite featuring 4 monsters within as many issues, with the exception of a few pages at the very end, there was no interaction between any of them.

You see this cover? IT'S FULL OF LIES.

I’m sorry, but as much fun as it can be to watch Godzilla step on buildings, or watch Anguirus bounce around in the desert; at the end of the day we all pay to see the monsters fight and/or team-up.

The fact of the matter is, right from the start Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters paints itself as a tongue-in-cheek comedy.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural difference in the form of the Western mind being unable to treat a larger than life character like Godzilla with any sort of seriousness, but personally I found this interpretation and use of the character to be horrible misguided.

The way Godzilla and the other monsters are used in this story, as mobile natural disasters and calamities that are talked about (endlessly) and cut away to rather than given any sort of spotlight; it’s as if you could have made the exact same comic without paying out the nose for the licensing fees.

Or without featuring any monsters whatsoever for that matter.

Sadly, the entire book seems to be more interested in playing itself off as a pop-culture satire rather than an homage or addition to the legacy of Godzilla.

Allusions are made to the Godzilla mythos, in the form of a pair of psychic French twins that are clearly supposed to be an “evil” version of the Shobi-jin, who are featured in exactly one panel, as well as the use of Anguirus’ “soccer ball” maneuver from Final Wars as an odd form of locomotion; but at the end of the day pop-culture asides make up the majority of the page count.

While the names are changed, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, various news anchors, and the cast of The Jersey Shore are all satirized, and quite exhaustively at that.

Pictured: The Jersey Shore in comic form... I've never watched the show, but sadly, now I can say I've read a comic featuring them.

Why anyone would think a comic based on a pop-culture property would feel it wise to make said comic a send-up of other pop-culture properties is entirely beyond me.

Sadly, these caricatures serve as perhaps the closest thing the entire book has to actual characters, as outside of numerous joke characters, I couldn’t name a single character with any sort of depth or longevity; including the monsters.

If that weren’t bad enough, the story, or what little there is outside of talking heads mulling on and on about the monsters instead of us actually seeing them in action, is horrible disjointed and tonally unbalanced.

While most of the story is devoted to watching Obama be profane AKA “funny,” or watching short-lived joke characters/stereotypes get picked off by the monsters, there are in fact a few serious moments here and there that fail to illicit any sort of emotional response due to the goofy events that sandwich them.

For instance, there’s one scene where a Japanese fisherman becomes a suicide bomber in an attempt to kill Godzilla that could’ve meant something to me, had his character been featured in more than 5 panels, and had the story not been mired in referential pop-culture humor.

... And this added to the story, how?

Perhaps the weirdest instance of unwarranted seriousness though, is the addition of perhaps the only character in the entire 4 issues, a decorated U.S. soldier.

This character is supposed to be solemn and worldly, but really, I’d imagine he sounds like me or any other whiny, 20-something year old boy that tries to speak out about the “serious issues” in life.

Trust me, there’s a reason I don’t write about politics/world events on this blog…

That is to say, his character is used, for whatever reason, to condemn and damn the vapid consumerist youth culture propagated by spokespeople like the Jersey Shore folks.

While I see the validity of his and what I’d assume is the writer’s viewpoint, the fact of the matter is, I have no fucking clue what place this sort of preachy-ass bullshit has in a Godzilla comic.

Wrong fuckin’ time, absolutely wrong fuckin’ place my friend.

While I’m sure the team behind Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters was indeed hoping to build some sort of legitimate story with the license, in my eyes they absolutely failed in that task within what should’ve been a more than reasonable 4 issues.

Whatever success they go on to have with subsequent stories won’t change the fact that they seriously dropped the ball with their first book.

Despite all the flaws in the plot and characterization, I feel I should make mention of the less than stellar art.

While the covers are absolutely fantastic, (included in fold-out form in the collected edition) the interior art by Phil Hester is of a monochromatic and almost mosaic-like style that isn’t my favorite.

I suppose it doesn't help when rendering of Anguirus squishing hillbillies counts as the "best" scene in the issue.

The inking lacks character, and while many of the monsters are rendered well, much better than the humans anyway; there’s very little life to be found in their posturing and framing… Especially when the script doesn’t allow them to do anything outside of molest buildings.

Excuse me, “destroy” buildings.

In all, the intensely black shadows and monochromatic style of the art seems better suited for a noir story than a tongue-in-cheek monster story.

It’s sad really, as if you’ll recall, I was actually quite excited for Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

Oh well, at least now I know that if I ever want to read a Godzilla comic, my best bet is to save my money and dig up my old Dark Horse issues.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally, A Godzilla Figure With Articulation

The King of the Monsters, in all his glory.

(Photos courtesy Infinitehollywood.com)

As anyone who’s read this blog before already knows, I’m a pretty huge Godzilla fan.

I grew up on his films, I played with his toys before I could even speak; and to date he remains one my biggest heroes in all of cinema.

That being said, in my youth I had the bright idea to try and do a stop-motion Godzilla movie of my own.

I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time, but even then; I had standards for my work in the medium.

… I was kind of a weird kid.

Simply put, I found that, given the resources at my disposal; a Godzilla stop-motion was out of my reach due to the inarticulate nature of virtually every figure of him I owned or knew of.

Pictured: My first Godzilla toy. Pretty sure most kids had one of these at some point.

Given that I’m not much of a craftsman, construction of my own custom figure is, and will likely forever be; an impossibility.

That being said, recently I discovered an article concerning the upcoming release of a brand new, super-articulated Godzilla figure from  Bandai’s superb S.H. Figurearts series.

While Kaiyodo’s much lauded Revoltech series of toys dipped into the Toho universe of characters, after several years of waiting on the release of an actual figure of  the Big G himself; I think it’s safe to say that the licensing rights may have been passed to Bandai.

Anyway, based on the photos I’ve seen, the S.H. Figurearts Godzilla figure, as well as it’s accompanying Heisei Mechagodzilla figure; looks as detailed and poseable as one could ever hope for.

The articulation in the neck and head alone strikes me as being more fully featured than the entirety of perhaps any other Godzilla toy I’ve ever owned.

As good as it gets...

Anyway, I realize this likely isn’t exciting news for all that many of you, but it means a lot to me.

Even though this 6″ beast is more than a little overpriced, the idea of finally being able to fulfill a childhood dream; no matter how childish and inconsequential, is something that I feel would more than justify the expenditure.

I hope…

BWAAAHHHHH!!!!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Michael Bay Recycle Old Material? Surely You Jest…

Pictured: Michael Bay getting set to impale some poor soldier with his massive, military hardware induced boner.

Just so we’re clear, I haven’t actually seen Transformers 3 yet.

I will see it eventually though, mostly out of obligation.

Sure, seeing the first 2 in theaters is a pretty good reason to do the same for the third, but in all honesty; it’s my lifelong passion for the Gen 1 cartoon that keeps me coming back to the Michael Bay movies, regardless of their overall level of quality.

Reviews and opinions mean close to nothing to me at this point, so don’t bother trying to dissuade me from wasting my money or what have you.

If it’s got Optimus Prime in it, doing anything vaguely Prime-like, it’s my civic duty to go see it.

I know it sounds silly, but when it comes to Transformers, Godzilla, and Arturo Gatti; every show is worth seeing on some level.

Even when he lost (or should I say, ESPECIALLY) he was always a joy to watch.

Fan boy-i-ness aside, I’d like to change the subject of this wildly unfocused post, and draw attention to something I stumbled across on Topless Robot.

Cue video:

What the fuck is up with the stock footage Michael Bay!?

In this day and age, where blockbuster movies routinely cost upwards of $100 million to produce, are we to believe that Paramount and Michael Bay were forced to cut corners to the point of cannibalizing their own films from only 6 years ago I.E. The Island?

The use of stock footage, in films of all budgets is pretty much standard practice, but even so; this just seems kind of lame from an artistic standpoint.

I mean, if you’re going to strut around town calling yourself the “Cars, Asses, Explosions, Racial Stereotypes and Sunsets Guy” wouldn’t it be in your best interest to go balls out and stage your own shit for every movie, rather than, I don’t know; STEAL FROM YOURSELF?

Oh well, from a technical standpoint it makes sense for Mr. Bay to borrow footage from his own films.

As many personal touches as the man is known to add to his films, color correction is probably the most noticeable, meaning it would probably be easier to match stock footage from pre-existing movies in his filmography as opposed to grabbing someone else’s and having to color correct the shit out of it.

Pictured: The World Through The Eyes Of Michael Bay

Anyway, as much as this sounds like a pissy rant, it’s really not.

From what I understand, these 2 shots are the only instances of cannibalized stock footage; (not counting the truck load of military footage) and really that’s not too bad.

Truth be told, I’m used to far worse.

I grew up watching movies like Godzilla vs. Gigan, which made extensive use of stock footage from previous Godzilla movies.

Hell, virtually every Godzilla movie of the 70’s was produced on the strength of special effects footage ripped from Toho’s film libraries.

And that’s not to say this practice was only restricted to the Japanese film market, rather it was; and largely still is, common practice in virtually all film markets, big and small alike.

Take for instance, Hollywood in the 1950’s:


That, ladies and gentleman, was Bela Lugosi… Uh, saying stuff, while pretending to look upon stock footage of a busy street.

The only reason the use of stock footage in Transformers 3 stands out at all, is because the footage is borrowed from the director’s own filmography, and is still relatively “fresh” as opposed to the more typically employed public domain type stuff.

Borrowing from nature documentaries and military archives is one thing, but outright stealing tailored and personalized shots from your own filmography, and then compositing special effects over them is indeed quite low.

Oh well, it’s not like this is something that’s going to offend anyone on a personal level or anything.

At most, it just reflects poorly on Michael Bay and Paramount, making them look lazy and/or inept.

In any case, I’m hoping to see the movie sometime soon; and no, I won’t be going into it looking for reasons to hate it.

Here’s hoping Optimus Prime does something cool over the course of 2 and a half hours, as that’s all I’m really asking for!

*Sigh* THIS, is cooler than the entirety of Transformers 2...

Filed under: Boxing, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #9: “BULLLLLL-SHIT!”


Alright boys and girls, we’re back with more of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies!

This time around we’re tackling MANLY moment #9, a MANLY moment that belongs to none other than quite possibly the MANLIEST of all action heroes; Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As any self respecting MAN is aware, MANLY moments are very much the norm in any Arnie movie.

Seriously man, given the chance, Arnold could find a way to make just about anything the fuckin’ MANLIEST shit ever.

Jesus fuck, he even makes chugging a beer look fuckin' awesome...

He was just that fuckin’ MANLY.

During the course of his acting career the man has killed Darth Vader:

Done battle with (and killed the ever-loving fuck out of) intergalactic game hunters:

"Hey, you're that guy from Night Court!"

And even managed to get away with calling THE FUCKING DEVIL a goddamn choir boy:

To say Arnold’s done some pretty MANLY-ASS things over the years would be an understatement akin to saying Steven Seagal’s flipped a lot of fools on their heads.

In other words, it’d be a BIG fuckin’ understatement.

Which begs the question, just what is the MANLIEST moment of Arnold’s illustrious film career?

Well, that’d have to the be when he summoned his MAN-STRENGTH to call “bullshit” on, well, pretty much everything; and then inexplicably whooped the shit out of a curiously overweight Australian at the end of Commando:

Let me go on record by saying that, while it’s far from the best movie in Arnold’s filmography; Commando has probably the highest MAN QUOTIENT of any of his movies.

Commando truly is a “dumb” movie in the sense that it’s plot, dialogue, and overall production values are kind of ratty; however most of this is played to it’s advantage in the form of copious amounts of “violent but not offensive violence,” and an insane number of Arnold-isms throughout.

In short, it’s a big dumb action movie that thrives on being big and dumb.

Which brings me to MANLY moment #9 on our list.

At the end of Commando, Arnold’s John Matrix faces off against a former “colleague” (read: killing buddy) of his named Bennett, who just happens to be holding Arnold’s daughter AKA Alyssa Milano, hostage.

She looks like fuckin' Chucky with those overalls...

While totally bat-shit crazy, and holding a penchant for knives; I’ve gotta’ say, Bennett is just about the least threatening villain I can recall in a Schwarzenegger flick.

I suppose it doesn’t help that half the time the guy looks like he’d sooner jump Arnie’s bones rather than kill him:

Pictured: Bennett's "O" face.

Seriously man, while taller than Arnold, the guy is obviously somewhat out of shape and doesn’t look at all to be a match for Arnold’s Herculean John Matrix.

To make matters worse, the poor guy is obviously kind of sensitive about his weight, as he wears some sort of goofy-ass chainmail getup to try and conceal his love handles.

Think fat kid wearing his shirt to the pool:

Pictured: Bennett, in his formative years.

Top things off with the fact that he looks like a fat Freddie Mercury, and you’ve got yourself one very sad-ass final boss.

Despite all this, thankfully Bennett gives himself a fighting chance by capping Johnny Matrix in his right shoulder just before the final battle.

Sadly, that would prove to be just about the only good move ‘ole Bennett makes in the whole fight.

Using his MANLY powers of psychology, Matrix manages to convince Bennett to let go of Alyssa Milano so that they may knife fight to the death like the MANLY MEN they are.

The fight appears to reach an equilibrium of sorts, as both men receive minor cuts; however one could argue that Bennett pulls ahead at this juncture by attempting the use of scornful finger wagging and black magic:

Despite this, using the MANLY STRENGTH of his willpower, Johnny Matrix manages to power through the effects of Bennett’s evil spell and push the big Aussie off the fuckin’ catwalk.

Unfortunately however, his MAN STRENGTH proves to be too great, thereby causing him fall off alongside Bennett:

After their fall, the knives are discarded; and things really start to heat up.

In classic villain fashion, Bennett makes use of a conveniently placed pipe to try and press an advantage over Matrix.

Courageously/dumbly fighting unarmed and without the use of his right arm, Arnold manages to stay in the fight, landing pot shots when able, and generally doing well to counter most of Bennett big swings.

Hell, one-armed or not, Arnie even manages to ape Steven Seagal by busting out an awkward hip toss of sorts:

Despite the awesomeness of that maneuver however, it would seem it wasn’t all that damaging; as Bennett manages to bounce back almost immediately.

Utilizing a nearby furnace door, Bennett whacks Matrix in the nose by opening it ala Tom and Jerry then proceeds to tear it off it’s hinges and chuck it at our hero.

Despite missing by a fuckin’ country mile, this maneuver allows Bennett the time to pick up another pipe from the floor, with which he proceeds to go to town on Matrix’s stomach and flanks.

Did I mention that during all of this, Bennett still looks like he want to mount Matrix something fierce?:

Pictured: Bennett's "O" face Mk. II

I’m not gonna’ lie, Arnold takes a helluva’ beating during this sequence.

After sustaining an absurd number of pipe shots to the torso, Arnold manages to land a desperation kick to… somewhere on Bennett’s person, thereby freeing our hero and allowing him to stand up once again.

I call the kick an act of “desperation” not just because of the nasty circumstances during which it was employed, but because kicking is just something Arnold doesn’t do.

The man is shaped like a fuckin’ upside down PYRAMID OF POWER, kicking is not one of his strong suits.

Van-Damme he is not.

Anyway, from there the fight devolves into one of those awkward struggling/wrestling matches that suck all the momentum out of fight sequences.

Long story short, Bennett opened the furnace earlier, both guys almost get put into said furnace; and much grunting and sweating ensues, likely to Bennett’s pleasure.

Jesus fuck, man! How many times is he gonna' do that!?

Likely growing weary of being in such close proximity to a dark magician/child molester like Bennett, Matrix creates some distance with a strategically placed headbutt followed by a left hook to the jaw.

While Johnny Matrix indeed succeeds in gaining some breathing room with this maneuver, unfortunately he makes the mistake of knocking Bennett into the power grid, shooting thousands of volts through the big Aussie’s chainmailed form:

"You fool! Electricity gives him power!"

Now, ordinarily this would put a motherfucker to sleep like no other, but not ‘ole Bennett.

You see Bennett, like King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla, actually gains strength from electrocution.

Unfortunately, Matrix clearly was not aware of this fact, and is thusly caught completely off guard by the immediate and hellacious counter-attack that follows.

Totally helpless, Matrix takes blow after blow, not the least of which being the dreaded “double axe-handle to the man boob”:

Following this, Bennett declares himself to be “feeling good,” thereby solidifying his dominance at this late stage in the fight.

Pummeling away at Matrix’s back with fists and elbows, Bennett continues to pour on the verbal abuse to John’s MANHOOD.

“Your’e a dead man John!”

With those words, whatever weakness may have remained in John Matrix’s soul burned away to cinders, leaving only MANLY MAN-NESS in their wake.

With those words, John Matrix summoned the mightiest of MANLY words from deep within himself, channeling the MANLIEST of MAN spirits in the process:

The rest is, as they say, history; as John Matrix spins around and proceeds to whoop the everloving-fuck out of Bennett.

Using only ONE HAND Matrix unleashes a 13-hit Ultra Combo of hooks and backhands that sends Bennett reeling.

Lacking the strength to employ any more magic spells or electrical attacks, Bennett; in a final act of villainous cowardice, draws a micro uzi and makes a move to blast Matrix’s nuts off.

Improvising in a manner that could only be referred to as MANLY-AS-FUCK, Matrix then promptly rips a steam pipe off the wall and throws it into Bennett’s rotund form:

If that’s not the 9th MANLIEST moment ever, I don’t know what is.

Check back tomorrow for MANLY moment #8!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Words That Sound Cooler Than Their Meaning

Ever notice how every once in awhile you run across a word that sounds really fuckin’ badass, only to discover later on that it’s actual meaning is equal parts pathetic and absurd?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this happened to me a whole helluva’ lot when I was little.

That being said, the following is a brief list of some words fitting the above description, most of which I first encountered as a young badger.

#1. Reticulated

This is what I think of when I think "reticulated." A big fuckin' snake killing the shit out of Owen Wilson.

Definition: Constructed, arranged, or marked like a net or network.

You know what the longest snake in the world is?

While it might be wrong, given that I read it almost 20 years ago; my Snakes issue of Zoobooks taught me that the world’s longest breed of snake, was the Reticulated Python.

Animal kingdom factoids like this was really important to me as a kid, but apparently learning the meaning of words like reticulated wasn’t; ’cause it took more than a few years for me to discover it’s definition.

I remember thinking the word reticulated meant something along the lines of “really fuckin’ big,” or “seriously fuckin’ savage.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Reticulated Python’s name simply referred to the characteristics of the pattern drawn across it’s scales.

#2. Hyperbole

That's a hyperbole if I've ever seen one...

Definition: An extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Do you know what what the term “hyper” means to child raised in the era of super saiyans and hyper combos?

It refers to something crazy fuckin’ awesome (and destructive) that most likely requires a super combo meter to perform, that’s what!

When I first heard the word hyperbole, my young mind immediately thought it was some sort of secret Street Fighter move, or failing that; some sort of secret X-Men vs. Street Fighter move.

At some point in my struggle to define the word hyperbole; I came to the conclusion that:

“Hey, Magneto has his Hyper-Grab; maybe there’s some sort of super combo version of it I haven’t seen called Hyper-Bow-Lee!”

Pictured: Magneto, warming up his "hyper-bow-lee."

Yeah, I played a lot of fighting games back in the day…

Actually, I’m pretty sure the first time I ran across the word was in written form; whereupon I most likely pronounced it as “hyper-bowl.”

I consider myself a pretty good speller nowadays; but back in the day I was a shithead just like everyone else.

#3. Isosceles

"Man, that guy's so isosceles; it's just plain unfair!"

Definition: Having two sides equal.

“Isosceles Kramer…”

That’s all I needed to hear to start thinking isosceles was the coolest fuckin’ word ever.

Sure, I learned it’s meaning at some point in math class; but that doesn’t mean I ever made any attempt to retain that knowledge.

You see, numbers and I have feuding like an Irishman and, well… Another Irishman, for as long as I can remember.

That is to say, despite my Azn-ness; math has always been one of my weaknesses.

Despite this, thanks to Seinfeld; I’ve maintained a healthy relationship with the word isosceles.

Unlike most of the other words on this list, I never came up with my own interpretation of it’s meaning.

In all honesty, from the time I first heard it up until the present, there really hasn’t been a time when I was unfamiliar with it’s meaning; but even so, for such a slick-ass sounding word, isosceles has a pretty pathetic meaning.

#4. Abdicate

Above: “Abdication” at it’s finest….

Definition: To relinquish formally a high office or responsibility.

Did you ever see that episode of Hey Arnold! where Eugene was obsessed with the Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired movie character, “The Abdicator”?

Well, I did; more than a few times at that, and it was this episode of the show that first introduced me to the word abdicate.

Just like I’d imagine the character Eugene felt, for whatever reason; the name abdicator sounded like a believable superhero to me.

Then again, I’m pretty sure any word that ends with an “-or” has the appropriate amount of manly “oomph” to it to work as a a superhero name.

Anyway, I remember that the actor that plays the abdicator actually learns the meaning of the word abdicate at some point during the episode; leading to me first hearing the word and learning it’s definition in the space of 20 minutes or so.

While I know the definition well now, thanks to Hey Arnold!; to this day I still get a kick out of thinking back to the brief time in my life when the word abdicate referred to “beasting on someone mightily in a Schwarzennegger-ian fashion.”

#5. Dodecahedron

Let's see, it's one part Destoroyah, two parts Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, and a billion parts retarded...

Definition: A polyhedron with 12 faces.

The above image represents what I thought dodecahedron meant before my math teacher had to go ahead an’ spoil it for me.

Yeah, I was a pretty fucked up/retarded kid.

... And apparently I was a very imaginative speller as well.

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Best Boss Music #13: Super Godzilla

Super Godzilla was one of those games that I really wanted to like.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the case for me with pretty much every Godzilla videogame I’ve ever played.

You see, even though Godzilla and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES were both shit, the fanboy kept finding stupid reasons for me to give ’em second chances.

“Sure the gameplay is sloppy and monotonous, but c’mon; it’s motherfuckin’ Godzilla!”

As a kid, (minus the profanity) these were the kinds of thoughts that would run through my head every time I’d stick a Godzilla game in my NES.

 

Nowadays it's more like: "GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER, WHY AM I STILL PLAYTHING THIS PIECE OF ASS!!?"

Despite the Big G’s spotty track record up to that point, Super Godzilla, in my young mind; was supposed to be the game that made up for it all.

I remember reading preview articles in Game Players and GamePro that made Super Godzilla look like the shit.

The screenshots looked sharp, the gameplay sounded fresh and unique, and the roster of monsters, while quaint by some standards; was packed with fan favorites and a host of Heisei era kaiju that had yet to gain exposure in the U.S.

Not only that, the game promised a thrilling and campy Godzilla story involving aliens taking control of Earth’s monsters, with the Earthlings responding in kind by taking control o Godzilla and piloting him via remote from the cockpit of the Super X2!

It looked and sounded like a Godzilla fans dream.

I rented Super Godzilla as soon as it became available at my local videostore, and I can honestly say; I was disappointed.

 

The first thing that hit me right off the bat, was the game’s general lack of quality in both audio and visual terms.

I mentioned that Super Godzilla looked good in stills, and I wasn’t lying.

 

HOLY SHIT!!!

The game makes extensive use of extremely large and detailed character portraits for Godzilla and all of his Toho frat brothers, however therein lies the problem:

The character graphics consist almost exclusively of barely animated, or worse yet; “Ken Burns-ed” animation cycles.

You see, the core gameplay of Super Godzilla consisted of 2 basic functions:

Finding and then fighting the enemy monster of each level.

While one would think this would be an action-packed process, Toho made the decision to structure the “finding” aspect of the game as sort of a grid-based strategy game, and worse yet; made the “fighting” section a barely interactive mashup of repetitive cutscenes.

You remember the lengthy and unskippable summon cutscenes from Final Fantasy VII?

Well, imagine a fighting system where all you do watch 4-5 shitty looking summons over and over and over again, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play Super Godzilla.


Rest assured, one can take time to make many a sandwich while playing Super Godzilla…

Okay fine, the “fighting” in Super Godzilla has at least some level of interactivity to it, but believe when I say it; it’s not much.

Basically, when one enters into combat with an enemy monster, the screen morphs from the overhead map to a 2D sprite-based fighting game layout.

Pictured: The Thrilling Battle Screen...

From this screen, the player can make use of 3 buttons and maneuvers:

Punching, blocking, and using items.

While blocking is self-explanatory, landing a punch is required in order to initiate the aforementioned cutscene attacks, which are empowered by the player’s “fighting spirit” meter at the bottom of the player’s HUD.

As one would expect, given it’s massive place on the HUD, the “fighting spirit” meter is the crux of the Super Godzilla “fighting” system.

When one advances towards one’s opponent in Super Godzilla, the player’s “fighting spirit” increases, gradually falling when the player retreats.

Upon landing a punch on the enemy, the player’s “fighting spirit” will freeze in place, inviting the player to retreat and open up the attack command window at the center of the HUD.

Depending of the volume of the player’s “fighting spirit,” as well as the distance that they retreat, the player will be given more powerful attack commands to select from.

In all Godzilla has access to 4 attack commands: tail whip, body slam, fire breath, and hyper fire breath from weakest to strongest respectively.

Sadly, no tail slide though...

Items gathered from the “finding” phase of each level consist of instant use health power-ups, defense boosters, and a “fighting” spirit

Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay system, was the addition of enemy UFOs as random encounter enemies in most of the stages.

Taking only 1 hit to destroy, these UFOs absolutely shit ALL OVER what little enjoyment was to be derived from the “finding” portion of each level.

I don’t mind random encounters in RPGs, but when said encounters involve only 1 enemy type, and a pathetically weak one at that; I just don’t get it.

I suppose it doesn’t help that many of the levels in Super Godzilla have time limits, making these random encounters have zero possibility of doing damage to you, but still serving to potentially end your game through wasting your motherfucking time…

Make no mistake, finding and killing the Mothership hidden in each stage is deeply advised, as it is the only thing that will stop you from having to fight baby UFOs every 5 seconds.

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Despite the bland and painfully slow-paced gameplay, Super Godzilla did have a few little things going for it.

For instance, during the “finding” portion of each level, the player was often free to choose their own path in maneuvering the map, making item gathering and avoidance of stationary enemy emplacements entirely up to the player.

In addition to this, there’s a great deal of variety in the tasks heaped on the player on their plodding march to finding the enemy monster.

For instance, in the 3rd stage, you are required to raid (read: step on) several enemy bases in order to free a captive scientist.

In the 4th stage, the player must do battle with a pair of Battra’s, however if one is quick enough in reaching the second while it is still in it’s chrysalis, it is in fact possible to destroy it before it hatches.

These variations in gameplay also extend to the “fighting” segments of the game in the form of each enemy monster having certain attacks in Godzilla’s repertoire that are ineffective against them.

Thankfully, most of these variations are fairly logical, with Biollante’s superior mass making her invulnerable to Godzilla’s body slam attack, and Battra’s speed making them unable to be hit by anything but Godzilla’s most powerful fire breath attack.

Yeah, somehow I don't think running into it would be an advisable course of action...

Toho can suck a dick though for making Mechagodzilla able to counter Godzilla’s basic fire breath.

I know he did in the movies, but for fuck’s sake; didja’ really have to make the fire breath one of the most common attacks to pop up in the attack window?

Anyway, the 1 huge plus Super Godzilla has going for it, (besides being a Godzilla product) is the inclusion of, well; Super Godzilla.

During the last few stages of the game, the player can go out of their way to obtain a series of power ups to transform plain ‘ole Godzilla into Super Godzilla.

What's this, Godzilla's evolving!? Godzilla evolved into SUPER Godzilla!

Bearing a truly awesome design, that was largely transplanted into the design for Space Godzilla the year after the game’s release, Super Godzilla granted the player access to a brand new set of attack commands, a Mega Buster like chargeable punch, and the ability to walk through buildings and obstacles on the map screen without taking damage.

Most of Super Godzilla was tough to slog through, but for what it’s worth, the final battle against the Super Godzilla exclusive, and exceedingly well-designed giant monster, Bagan; is a far better one than the game probably deserved.

Say what you will about the game, Bagan was pretty tight lookin'...

That being said, while Super Godzilla does in fact have a truly horrible soundtrack, with many tracks serving to utterly butcher some truly classic Godzilla themes; the boss music played during the Bagan fight is actually… good.

That’s right, I said something was “good” in Super Godzilla.

Seriously, give it a listen:

While it’s honestly not a great piece of Super NES music by any standards, it’s easily the best track in the game; and has a pretty serious sound to it that’s rarely heard in 16-bit game music.

I love the opening notes, and how bizarre and frankly, “alien” it feels, making it quite appropriate for the climax piece of a giant monster alien invasion story.

Perhaps the track’s biggest accomplishment though, is that it actually sounds like Godzilla music.

Godzilla movies have played host to some of Japan’s finest composers, and as such, have always bore a distinctive and powerful sound.

Many of the tracks in Super Godzilla feel generic and flat, but the final boss theme has a “big-ness” in it’s instrumentation that make it sound like a cross between the trumpet heavy orchestrations of Akira Ifukube and the synth-heavy work of Takayuki Hattori.

Anyway, Super Godzilla is one of those games that I want to like.

I know it sucks, but the Godzilla fan in me still tries to find ways to redeem it.

While most pro-Super Godzilla arguments are likely to be filled to the brim with bullshit, let it be known that any argument citing the final boss theme as a redeeming factor have at least that going for them.

"You WILL play Super Godzilla, and LIKE IT."

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Godzilla Comic!

Godzilla is one of my biggest heroes.

Anyone that has read even a single article on this blog is probably aware of that by now.

I’ve been watching Godzilla movies since the cradle, and despite the character’s less than stellar film catalog over the past decade; I’ve remained an ardent fan ever since.

One particular aspect of Godzilla mythology that was particularly special to me in my youth however, was the Dark Horse comic series of the early 90’s.

While there was in fact a Marvel Godzilla comic sometime before the one in the 90’s, even as a little kid I found the art, storylines and characters to be somewhat disagreeable.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't like Avengers in my Godzilla...

That’s saying a lot coming from a hardcore Godzilla fan.

Anyway, the 90’s Dark Horse comics were, in my humble opinion; actually quite good.

I still have every issue I collected from way back in the day, and I find that every time I crack one open for a little taste of nostalgia; I end up having a good time.

While the art and writing staff would change pretty much from issue to issue, I found that Brandon McKinney’s pencils stood as some of my favorite in the series; not to mention Arthur Adams’ always stellar cover work.

My first, and favorite issue, featuring the work of both the aforementioned artists.

The overarching plot of the series concerned the exploits of “G-Force,” a team of Godzilla-focused Japanese scientists who curiously seem to spend almost no time on Japanese soil.

Over the course of their adventures, they end up doing battle with Godzilla, attempt to protect Godzilla, fight several varieties of alien species, and even travel back and forth through time to thwart the nefarious machinations of an evil scientist.

Needless to say, the storyline wasn’t exactly the main draw of the comic.

The real selling point of the comic, was the same as is typically the case in most Godzilla movies, that of getting a chance to see Godzilla stomp through cities and beat the shit out of other monsters.

... Or in the case of Godzilla vs. Barkley, shut up and jam.

The biggest success of the comic, in my opinion; was that it managed the rather impressive feat of crafting it’s own unique characters and universe, all while maintaining the feel of the Godzilla movies, both new and old.

While there were a few issues that I purposely ended up skipping do to poor artwork or writing, the Dark Horse Godzilla comic of the 90’s is one that I regret not fully collecting, as well as one that I wish had lasted a little longer than it’s 17 issue run.

Fortunately, I happened across a news article on Sci-Fi Japan today announcing the impending release of a brand new American Godzilla comic published by IDW.

While no real details are available as to the nature of the comic at this point, one thing that’s certain, is that Toho is involved in it’s production on an advisory level; and the creators of the comic have been given free reign over their use of the extensive roster of Toho’s monsters.

While it might not seem like a big deal to some, both of these points do quite a bit to bolster my optimism regarding the release of this comic.

The sum of these points is that Toho trusts IDW enough to allow them use their characters; but more importantly, it means that I’ll finally get a chance to read a Godzilla comic where he fights a monster I actually give 2 shits about!

Pictured: A monster I give 2 shits about.

Anyway, the new comic comes out in March, and rest assured; if it comes out in trade paperback and is at least somewhat good, I’ll pick it up without hesitation.

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The Top 10 Runner-Ups of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, Part I!

Before the dust settles on the epic event that was the unveiling of the Azn Badger’s list of the Top 25 NES Tracks, I feel it’s my duty to take a moment to discuss some of the tracks that almost made it on the list.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, today we’re going to be talking about the:

“Top 10 Runner-Ups of The Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks.”

Epic fucking title, am I right?

Anyway, hopefully the following ruminations will help shed some light on my process for selecting the tracks for this list, as well as hopefully uncover a few hidden gems for the less game music savvy among us.

That being said, let’s get to it!:

#10. Zanac

“Stage 1”


Zanac is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up that I received as a gift in my pre-teen years.

You see, despite the Playstation and Nintendo 64 already having risen to prominence by this time, my father; good intentioned thrift store shopper that he is, saw fit to give me NES games up until around my 13th birthday, when I’m pretty sure he gave up giving me gifts altogether.

 

 

Pictured: Birthday's at the Azn Badger's house...

 

While this was admittedly kind of strange, looking back I think it helped me to better appreciate the older generation of games, not to mention my dad’s yearly efforts to go out and get me something unique and different every birthday.

Thanks dad, for, uh, bein’ my dad, and filling my room with goofy outdated shit that only you and I can appreciate.

 

 

Dad's most recent random gift: A VHS-C camcorder!

 

Anyway, Zanac is a game I know nothing about, other than the fact that I played it a lot during middle school.

It’s reminiscent of Space Megaforce on the Super NES, with sharp graphics and a surprisingly action-packed experience despite the limitations of the NES hardware.

Anyway, the details of Zanac are a mystery to me, but it was tons of fun and “Stage 1” had awesome music that was this close to making the lower-tier of the Top 25.

#9. R.B.I. Baseball

“Game Music 1”

*TUNE TO :23 FOR THE PART OF THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE LIST*

My brother LOVED R.B.I. Baseball.

A neighbor of ours owned the Tengen “black cart” version of the game (my dad also gifted it to me at some point…) and most of my memories of the first 5 or 6 years of my life involve watching my brother play it.

In fact, despite being able to play it at our neighbor’s house basically whenever he wanted, I can actually recall several instances where my brother went out and rented it.

Let it be known boys and girls, my brother loves him some baseball.

 

 

A logical hobby for him given that he fuckin' IS baseball.

 

I never really played R.B.I. Baseball.

To be honest, I’ve never really played any baseball videogames besides the occasional game of Base Wars or Super Baseball 2020.

 

Boobies, Robots and Baseball: FUCK YEAH.

 

Something about robots playing baseball just tickles my fancy…

Anyway, up until Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball on the Super NES, I can recall no other sports game that had my brother so engrossed.

Perhaps the best memory I took away from R.B.I. Baseball, was the music, which would loop constantly throughout every game.

That and the delightfully rotund players, whose husky builds and slow-footed nature fit the music perfectly.

 

 

SOOOOO FAT!!!!

 

It may not be the most intricate or bombastic of tunes, but nostalgia goes a long way…

Even if your only experience with the game consisted solely of watching it over your older brother’s shoulder.

#8. Gauntlet

“Title Theme”


This one was suggested by a friend of mine.

Honestly, I’ve never actually played Gauntlet on the NES.

I own Gauntlet 2, (another random gift from dad) but I never liked or played it much.

I played a lot of Gauntlet Legends in the arcade, mostly because it was fuckin’ hilarious; but that’s a story for another day…

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the heroes of Gauntlet Legends!

 

Anyway, while I was compiling this list, I took the time to look up the Gauntlet “Title Theme,” as I honestly couldn”t recall the melody.

To my surprise, my buddy made a pretty good pick.

It’s a nice little diddy, reminiscent of a medieval minstrel’s tune, making it all-too appropriate for a sword and sorcery game like Gauntlet.

I actually had this one on the Top 25 up until my final revision, where I removed it in favor Super Dodge Ball.

Listening to them side by side, I feel I made the better decision…

Sorry buddy, had to go with my gut on this one.

#7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

“Super Shredder’s Theme”


The reason for this particular track being on the Top 10 Runner-Ups list is kind of silly.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project was a game I played exclusively at one of my spoiled friend’s houses, and just happens to be the game with the longest fucking title on this list.

While in many ways superior to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, Turtles III was the unfortunate victim of being released around the time most of us were just starting to jump platforms to the, at the time; brand spankin’ new Super NES.

 

 

"Bummer dudes! Your game came out 2 years too late!"

 

Like I said though, it’s a great game, actually better than #2, it just didn’t get enough exposure is all.

Anyway, the reasoning behind the selection of this track for the Runner-Ups being silly, is the fact that it’s only on here because it’s the original version of “Super Shredder’s Theme,” which would go on to be remixed for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

 

 

2nd Best Beat 'Em Up EVER.

 

“Super Shredder’s Theme” from the Super NES version of Turtles in Time is HANDS DOWN one of my favorite boss themes of all time, making the original 8-bit version, while in fact vastly inferior; still pretty fuckin’ good.

Here’s the Turtles in Time version for reference:

Anyway, it’s not deserving of a spot on the Top 25, but it laid the ground work for what would become one of my favorite pieces of game music EVER, and as such such it gets a nod in the form of a spot among the Runner-Ups.

#6. Little Nemo: The Dream Master

“Mushroom Forest”


I fuckin’ loved Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland back in the day.

I didn’t find out about the old comic series, or Winsor McKay until sometime in middle school, but regardless; that was a great fucking movie.

The world was colorful and inviting, the songs were pretty decent, and Nightmare Land and all of it’s denizens were suitably creepy and stunningly well-imagined to boot.

 

 

Jesus fuck this guy was awesome...

 

Because of my love for the movie, naturally I went out and rented the game at some point.

While the game was not nearly the work of genius that the movie was, it was a pretty solid platformer nonetheless.

The monster costume gimmick was cutesy and fun, and the scepter was very much a thinly veiled Mega Buster, but the thing I remember most; was the music!

The music was, like the movie, whimsical and grand in scale to an extent that few NES games aspired to, let alone movie tie-in platformers.

While the Nightmare world theme and the Final Boss themes were pretty fuckin’ spankin’, like most memorable game tracks, the best piece was from the first stage, the “Mushroom Forest.”

Don’t be surprised if you see a Let’s Play of Little Nemo posted here someday…

Wow!  This post ended up being a whole helluva’ lot more involved than I was expecting it to!

That being said, I’ve decided to split it in half, so tune in tomorrow for the Top 5 Runner-Ups, as well as the ultimate, absolute and final post in the Top 25 NES Tracks series!

Filed under: Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part II

Welcome folks, to day 2/stage 2 of the Azn Badger’s Let’s Play of Contra III: The Alien Wars on the Super NES!

This time around we’re tackling an overhead level, powered by that wonderfully gaudy, and undeniably “90’s” breakthrough in gaming technology: Mode 7!

Remember when this was considered "mind-blowing?"

In case you haven’t noticed as of yet, I have a mild case of writer’s block at the moment, so until I get my shit together, you’re all gonna’ have to settle for Let’s Play videos.

Don’t worry though, Contra III is a pretty short game, so I promise this won’t drag on like that Godzilla Let’s Play I did awhile back…

Anyway, enjoy!:

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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