Lives in Edinburgh and speaks fluent English, French, Italian and Scottish Gaelic. Perhaps Japanese someday.
I have a tendency to be very, very lazy and too often apathetic. I'm not proud of it.
Grew up reading Italian Disney comics (often in French), and later Diabolik
. Yes, Donald Duck makes a fine superhero
. The Beano and Dandy too. Late to television but got to know Marvel and DC through their animated series. Reading novels came embarrassingly late (newspapers, magazines and reference books could be taken in chunks; reading a book from start to finish was daunting). The Foundation
series started that.
Important series: Friends
, Star Trek
, especially Voyager
, Babylon 5
Recently started with Japanese animation (Gateway Series
) and webcomics.
Someday I'll have a webcomic updating regularly... (Exile of the Romulans on Deviant Art)
The usual list of recommendations...
Work in progress...
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga I like
- Durarara!!: My Gateway Series. It is frustratingly cut short, but as long as it lasts it's tight, well-planned and often surprising. It's amazing how much they can put in what is at heart the story of an Irish woman who moves to Tokyo in the hopes of getting ahead.
- Kino No Tabi: A meditation on,well, anything vaguely philosophical.
- Kuragehime: The art is unconventionally cute, the cast is unconventionally cuter, and it takes the same approach to gender norms that shounen usually takes with the laws of physics.
- Bakemonogatari: Entrancing, mysterious, dialogue-driven and with powerful characters. And when it gets disturbing, it's intended.
- Mirai Nikki: Has its problems (a silly premise, shallow characters, contrived ending, seems not to acknowledge how bad its antiheroes are) but it has tight plotting that builds up to a truly apocalyptic climax, the sometimes very campy action is made bearable by black humour, and it shows Neon Genesis Evangelion's Shinji without the scorn heaped upon him, turning him into the adorable moëblob he should always have been.
- Nyarko San: Never mind the references to Lovecraft (and everything else). It's a love comedy / sex farce made by a team who know to avoid the clichés, sexism and voyeuristic fanservice so endemic in the genre. The eroticism comes from the dialogue and characterisation, not displays of flesh.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Gainax out-gainaxing themselves. It's the sort of flippant humour I love best. And Funimation's dub is great.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Some don't like its rhetoric of angst (mostly close-ups of crying) and its utterly threadbare characterisation is a real problemnote . But its strength comes from a driving plot where every blow is a logical follow-up of what has come before. And while shallow, the characters are powerful. Episode 10 is one of the most harrowing I have ever seen.
Comics I like
- Diabolik: Inevitably there are some weak issues note and the lack of continuity (there are only four recurring characters) is a problem. But in general it gives gripping intrigue/thriller plots with good art.
- The Sandman: An enchanting set of stories, that shifts to a different style each time.
- The Fosdyke Saga: So little-known, yet so brilliant. Amazingly expressive art when you consider the monochrome newspaper-strip format, so imaginative in its antics, consistently funny and you can see the love for Manchester shine through. Also worth checking are Bill Tidy's other cartoons (seriously, his output is incredible).
Webcomics I like
- Order of the Stick: Starts off with okay-ish jokes, turns into brilliant drama and adventure. Needs no knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons. The biggest problem is how it treats the goblins: Redcloak makes a fine villain as their leader, but the rest seem to be evil not because they enjoy it but out of a sense of duty. It occasionally looks at the implications of Always Chaotic Evil but doesn't follow them through. And if Belkar were an NPC, he would have been killed long ago.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: No, it's not pornographic (though it must be noted that as the author's skill improved, the cast came to wear less covering clothes). The first strips are lame, but from nr 74 onwards it becomes funny, quirky, endearing and one of the cutest things I've seen.
- DM of the Rings: Often hilarious, and a telling look at certain role-players (though I should not it does not match my limited experience of them). The author said he was was surprised that the idea was not picked up by others, mentioning that Star Wars might be a good candidate, because if there's one thing the Internet is good at it's taking a successful formula and running it into the ground. Maybe, someone suggested, because those ready to put time and effort into a good webcomic are not those who think of parodying the likes of Star Wars. Until...
- Darths & Droids: The team behind Irregular Webcomic took up the challenge. I expected a parody of Star Wars, which it does very well (pointing out what the prequels do badly), but I was surprised at the depth of character and the good use of multi-layered storytelling.
- Questionable Content: I can't quite point to what it does well, but it does it well indeed.
American television I like
- Babylon 5: Engrossing, despite a slow start (and end), a massive war that never kills anyone in the main cast, and some bad moments of protagonist-centric view and some preachy episodes. Well planned storylines and an epic outlook made it a landmark in television.
- Friends: It was quite tame and conventional, even more by today's standards, and dragged out Ross and Rachel for 10 seasons, but is worth seeing for the jokes (and acting) alone.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Whilst I did get frustrated at its mostly static situation, I loved the humour and especially the lightness.
- Scrubs: Thought rather highly of itself, but could afford to. Very intelligent Plot Parallels and ethical dilemmas (if at time too artificial).
British television I like
- Blackadder: Blackadder The Third and Blackadder Goes Forth at least. Rowan Atkinson plays a horrible man, but you can't help but admire his cunning. Tony Robinson and Hugh Laurie are also great.
- Life On Mars: Bringing the police procedural back to its roots and dissecting those same roots. Very character-driven. Pity they couldn't end it well.
Films I like
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Terry Gilliam brings to this film a unique cinematography.
- I like Pixar films in general, but especially Up, WALL•E and Toy Story 3.
- I don't care much for most Disney films, but I do like the visually inventive Alice in Wonderland, the dramatic The Lion King, the highly self-aware The Emperor's New Groove, the avant-garde Fantasia, and the Disney renaissance in which they took their old tropes, took them to pieces, and put them back together fit for a more cynical age: The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Enchanted.
Authors I admire
- The fiction of Isaac Asimov in general, but Foundation is what made me actually read full-length novels with its brilliantly simple idea of epic scope.
- Arthur C. Clarke, his short stories cover a variety of intriguing ideas and some display a remarkable sardonic humour.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Self-aware, inventive and incisive as anything. And at times just rib-cracking hilarious.
- J R R Tolkien, though it's the Silmarillion that really got me into his mythos. I recommend buying Christopher Tolkien's The Leys of Beleriand, third book in his collection of his father's unpublished writings. Some wonderful poetry.
- H P Lovecraft, inventor of modern horror. The best of his stories I've read are the truly dream-like Celephais and Nyarlathotep (both just a few pages long), and the very atmospheric The Colour Out Of Space. You have to swallow his florid prose (sometimes good, sometimes hilarious), his visceral racism note and the fact that some stories, like The Call of Cthulhu, have since become a mass of clichés and much parodied, but he remains a great innovative writer.
- Larry Niven. Some of his futurism has been hilariously wrong, but there's no denying his vision, imagination and hard science.
- Tom Holt. My enjoyability of him varies, though I can't always say why. Falling Sideways is the best I've read, though that's because it is untypically upbeat.
- The Brontë sisters. Not so much the best-known, Jane Eyre (though it does have some good, very modern dialogue), but rather Wuthering Heights, a character study but also a genuine horror, and the obscure The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a study of an abuser who might have made a decent husband had he less money and power. My biggest problem with them is that the heroines come across massive inheritances far too conveniently.
Singers and composers I like most
- Loreena McKennitt: Mesmerising. She scours the world for inspiration, arranging folk songs, putting old poems to music and writing her own songs into which she puts a part of her being. "The Mummers' Dance" is the best.
- Enya: Her songs are not as meaningful as McKennitt's, but each one is a very distinct tune while always having her own unmistakeable style. "White is in the Winter's Night" is the only Christmas carol I know that I do not find unbearably cheesy. The songs of her former group Clannad are also good.
- Cecil Corbel: I've heard her sing in five different languages and she gets them all right.
- Julie Fowlis: The best modern singer of Gaelic songs I know of.
- Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd: In Gaelic, Scottish dialects, standard English or just instrumentals.
Videogames that I enjoyed playing
- Katawa Shoujo: An sexual explicit visual novel, where every girl has a disability, from a group who met up on 4chan. What would you expect it to be?note Rin is one of the characters I have felt the most emotional attachment to ever. Everything about her leads to a heart-rending tragedy that flows naturally out of who she is.
- Iji: Short, rather limited gameplay, and one bad Difficulty Spike (seriously, what is it with Asha?), but still a remarkable effort for an amateur freeware project. It really creates the feeling of mowing down hundreds of alien soldiers.
Things I find enjoyably bad
- Guilty Crown: Excellent art, animation and soundtrack, some good ideas, the writers aimed to make a more hopeful version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and failed very badly. If they had put some effort into the writing it would have been the show of the year. Instead, we have flat characters with no consistent motivations, ten episodes with no evident plot, a belated plot ripped from Evangelion without the aura of mystery or attention to detail, buckets of clichés and jarring fanservice that is too brief to even be enjoyable. (And more disturbingly, a strong Japan-as-victim nationalist subtext in the first episodes.) The first half is bad throughout, the second shows some of its potential; they put a stop to the most obvious problems and manage to make their Shinji-expy into a mix of an insecure teenager and an inspiring action hero. (Did the writing team change? Or were they given the time to flesh out their ideas?) You can watch it without your brain to enjoy the action, or laugh as someone gets sliced through the middle then gets back up saying it hit no vital organs, or watch it critically to ponder how it could have been done right. (First thing that occurred to me: switch around protagonist Shuu and his love interest Haru. Maybe not any better, but certainly less clichéd.)
Relating to the wiki:
Articles in need of TRS attention
- Indecisive Parody: And maybe Indecisive Deconstruction. The title and description imply the creators could not stay on a parodic/straight approach to the genre. Yet there are plenty of homages that parody while also giving everything you expect from the genre and those behind it knew exactly what they were going for. "Mixed Parody" would be better.
- Just Eat Gilligan: A case of someone wanting to use a well-liked line instead of an indicative title. It's fairly well-defined, but the wicks and examples cover all sorts of interpretations of that phrase.
- Pass Fail: This one is straightforward. The title and description do not fit most of the examples, and I have no doubt that the examples have it right. Should be renamed "Passing" and the description made to fit the sociological definition with a note that it is sometimes played for a clumsy aesop.