APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 6 July, 2001


House Organ

Words of Questionable Wisdom from the Distribution Manager

Draconic Measures

Hi, folks. Why is this issue called "Draconic Measures," you wonder? Because I'm easily confused sometimes. It's supposed to be "Draconian Measures." Ah, you say, but why "Draconian Measures," then? Well, because "draconic" implies something related to dragons, and this isn't a dragon-themed issue of APAGear, though the thought is actually intriguing. "Draconian" is the right word.

Still not satisfied? Okay, it's because the time at which we get a new issue online keeps slipping well past the stated deadline of the 7th of the month. (Nominally, it's the end of the previous month, but realism demands an extra week.) Normally, I mention that the deadline is upon us and then -- and this is the mistake -- I ask if anyone needs some extra time. Ah! That's how it slips! So I'm taking draconian measures this month: no extra time, hardly any warning. This goes up Saturday, July 7, 2001.

That's why it's called "Draconic Measures."

Sit back and enjoy another issue of APAGear -- our 29th issue to date. That's pretty cool!

Your Vaguely Humble Servant,

Christian Schaller
APAGear II Distribution Manager


This month's keener goes to Janne Kemppi. No surprise there, is there? Steve Hilberg is the runner-up.

What Kicks Ass?

I know that, in addition to wondering what "Draconic Measures" was supposed to mean, you're wondering, "Chris, what kicks ass?" So here's my short list of things -- most mass media entertainment products -- that kick ass this month. (Actually, it was last month, otherwise Gran Turismo 3 would be the sole occupant of this list.)


Close Encounters of the Third Kind -- Yes, at the very top of this list is a movie from the 70's. I watched it last night from midnight until about 2:30 or 3 AM. It was The Collector's Edition, on DVD, and it well and truly kicks ass. I remember it being pretty cool when I was a kid, but I'm somewhat surprised to see it holds its own still in the 21st century after my culture's mass media tastes have changed slowly from "let's tell a story" to "let's blow the holy shit out of something, slap a facile plot on it, and call it entertainment!" There's an odd thing, though: in the end, Roy Neary (the primary protagonist -- we won't call him a hero) essentially abandons his family wholesale and joins a bunch of aliens on an interstellar cruise to who-knows-where. That's why we won't call him a hero. I'm vaguely disturbed by this behavior of his. Can it be that this was passable in the 70's, but now modern social trends forbid this sort of thing? The movie is still pretty damned good, though.

Rurouni Kenshin -- Rurouni Kenshin kicks ass. It's a story about a wandering ex-samurai in Meiji-era Japan, seeking to atone for the ruthless butchering he committed during the revolution that ended the Tokugawa period. (He was on the Meiji government's side.) His method of atonement? He refuses to kill, using his reverse-blade sword (the cutting edge trails, rather than leads, effectively making it a blunt instrument) to protect the friends he meets on his journey. The series is not all serious, however -- it's got a fair share of comedy (mostly slapstick) and cuteness to it. Give it a shot. Four or five episodes per DVD isn't bad. (The OVA also kicks ass, by the way, but it is a serious drama rather than a light-hearted one.)

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles -- The Pluto Campaign -- This DVD kicks ass. The animated series (or "cartoon" if you also think "administrative assistants" should be called "secretaries" and "instructors" should be called "teachers") got trapped in an early-morning kids' slot on broadcast TV here in the United States, which is really too bad, because the show, while possibly appealing to kids, is every bit as interesting for adults -- okay, adults that are still kids at heart. The DVD collects about four, five, or six episodes into one 95-minute long feature. I'm not exactly sure how many episodes are strung together, nor can I tell you what, if anything, got cut. It follows the Roughnecks (Razak's, not Rico's yet) action on Pluto, wiping out bugs left and right. Those of you with weak constitutions or an irrational over-sensitivity to the supposed sanctity of Heinlein's book, Starship Troopers, be warned: I'm about to commit heresy. I find the movie (the one that gets people ridiculously stirred up) and the cartoon to be infinitely better than the book.


I confess I've mostly read manga and comics this month. The few regular books I've read do not kick ass.

Lone Wolf and Cub -- Do I need actually say anything about this manga series? Maybe. It's not about a wolf or his or her cub -- not in the animal-manga sense, anyway. It's not remotely in the same vein, say, as Gon. It's about a samurai-turned-assassin as he walks the path of hell (metaphorically, though not far from the literal sense) in his quest for vengeance against those who betrayed him and ruined his life. He's the lone wolf. His three-year old son is the cub, and the series is every bit about the child as it is about the father, I think. It's a realistic manga, not a fantastic one. (Though it is fantastic, actually.) It's up to 10 volumes now; I'm not sure where it will end, but I know few things will be able to replace it.

Comics One -- Comics One is not a comic or a manga, but rather a publisher of manga, and it seems to have crept silently onto the stage that Viz and Dark Horse normally shared pretty much alone. Comics One publishes only collected works -- that is, what we might call trade paperbacks. What I like about Comics One's publications is that they're printed in much the same way collections are published in Japan, glossy slipcover, cheap paper, and all. For ten bucks, you get well over 200 pages of manga. The stories aren't the best in the world -- we're not talking Akira or Lone Wolf and Cub or a CLAMP story here -- but they're not amateur offerings, either. My current favorite is...

The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection -- This series, published by Comics One, kicks ass. It's pretty weird horror fiction, as you might guess from the title. The first two volumes, Tomie 1 and Tomie 2, feature a girl who keeps getting murdered and hacked to pieces and the lovers that do it to her and each other. (By "do it," I mean murder and hack, not have sexual intercourse -- it's not that kind of manga.) She keeps coming back from the dead, sometimes before being fully dead. (Yeah -- weird, huh?) Ito is responsible for one of my favorite series from Pulp, Viz' "mature readers" monthly manga anthology: Uzumaki, a story about a town going crazy.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 6 July, 2001