spindizzy: A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic style portrait of me. (Lady Business)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
2015 was a weird year for me – I watched a lot of movies, fell head-first into the pit that is Steam and the Steam Sale, and started the flagrant abuse of my library card, because I am finally free of university!. But I accidentally ended up working mostly-full-time for half the year with the Three Hours On Public Transport Every Day that went with it... And then was really surprised by how much less reading I did once I switched jobs! But the upside of all of this is that I'm steadily getting clearer on what I like and dislike in my media! I'm still learning how to write about all of this (opinions on the internet: somewhat terrifying!), but hopefully by this time next year I'll be better.

And step one: start talking about all the stuff I loved last year. :)


Jupiter Ascending poster Mad Max: Fury Road poster Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion poster

Jupiter Ascending: The first time I watched Jupiter Ascending, I turned around to my spousal unit as the credits rolled and demanded "Is this what it feels like to be a target demographic?" And then I went back and watched it three more times before it left cinemas. ... Yeah, Jupiter Ascending might be my favourite film of 2015. It has all of the tropes and character designs that I didn't even know I could want, let alone expect to see; families in all of their glory, exactly as much world-building as it needed for the story (and to have my brain fizzing with ideas), humour at the right points, all of the incest and disregard for human life that I expect from mythology, talking dinosaurs with angel wings, a spaceship that was actually allowed to have a diverse crew, and a power structure that is too big and entrenched for even a protagonist to get rid of. Plus: Space Princess Jupiter Jones, who deals perfectly with being thrown in at the deep end of a universe that is much bigger and more advanced than she ever knew, and Caine Wise in all of his pretty, loyal, violent, flying murder-puppy glory.

I genuinely love everything about Jupiter Ascending. I've tried to review it before, I've tried to talk about it before, and every time it's ended with me throwing up my hands and yelling that it's perfect and haters can fight me (Ask me how many times I did that while writing this section!), because seriously. I love it, it's perfect, haters can fight me.

Mad Max: Fury Road: I had no idea what to expect of Mad Max beyond cars, sand, and Tom Hardy, but what I got was amazing. A story that deals with horrific violence and rape and ownership, that doesn't actually show that much blood and absolutely no on-screen rape! Women working as a team and realising that the only way to escape their problems is to tear them down and build the world anew! Badass motorbike-riding murder grandmothers! Actually showing the emotional consequences of violence! All put together really well, with awesome acting and some of the best practical effects I've ever seen. It was super great.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion Story: I had Feelings about this movie after I watched it. Until about half way through, this film feels like the trippy, happy, alternate universe fanfic that Puella Magi Madoka Magica (a deconstruction of the magical girl genre that manages to be hopeful and heart breaking in equal measure) really needed. It is gorgeous! It does amazing things with fight choreography and its changing art styles! It has a mystery and perfectly logical character development! And then the last half broke my heart and destroyed both me and my ship, it was amazing and I both loved and hated it, because no matter how angry these developments made me, they were perfectly in character and built up from the setting. I am awed and angry in equal measure, a full year later.

The Losers: This is a really fun, dorky movie about attractive badasses making things explode. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it's a really good antidote to watching grimdark action movies – and to the comic it's based on actually! It's kinda the happy AU to the comics, and that is what I need after the way that broke my heart into a thousand pieces.

John Wick: This is a classic revenge story, only the dead wife is mostly unrelated and the fridging incident is an adorable puppy called Daisy. Keanu Reeves is unexpectedly good as an emotionally wrecked former assassin for the Russian mob (what was it with 2015 and the Russian mob? I swear there were like five different set-in-the-modern-day films going "Russia! Russia is evil!"). I think my favourite part is the way the film lets you know that John Wick is someone to be scared of, even before it tells you the backstory, even before he does start killing people. The ending doesn't necessarily hold up, but I'm quite with it overall? I now have a film that I can hold up as my pinnacle of the revenge-murder genre, so I'm good!


DRAMAtical Murder poster Never Alone poster Transistor poster

DRAMAtical Murder: I lost two extremely sleep deprived weeks of my life to this game, and I am still not over it. It is simultaneously THE BEST and THE WORST. On the one hand, one of the love interests is a LITERAL RAPIST who throws the protagonist to the wolves (DO NOT TALK TO ME ABOUT HIS GOOD ENDING UNLESS YOU ARE READY FOR KEYSMASH, JUST DON'T), the plot is... Nonsense... Some of the sex scenes are hilariously terrible and I used the word "dickbiting" more in one day talking about this game than I have in my entire LIFE. But on the other hand, when it wants to? It can give you a genuinely well-written romance with slow-building affection. It can sit down with you and goes "I know life is hard and scary and you're so tired, but you have to choose life. You have to." It gives you... Two actually pretty well-written and satisfying romantic conclusions! And some truly amazing nightmare fuel of the "I have no mouth and I must scream" variety if you fuck it up. I honestly can't say that I recommend it, but I love it so much.

Transistor: If you are ever going to buy a game with or for its soundtrack, make it this one. Transistor is gorgeous in audio and aesthetic (holy shit the voice acting is good), and the way the game uses its narration to mess with your expectations and develop the world is incredible to me. It's not perfect – the controls and I are a bit rough with each other, and I have Complicated Feelings about the game's LGBT characters – but I cannot fault it on worldbuilding or characters. And I definitely can't fault it on inducing feels, because it emotionally devastated me. ... I recommend it!

Never Alone/Kisima Inŋitchuŋa: This is a really cute little platforming game that functions much better in local co-op than it does as a single-player game (appropriately enough). It does mechanics-as-theme better than any game I remember. Plus, it actually acknowledges and talks about the Iñupiaq culture that inspired the game! And includes lots of interviews about it as collectables, which is really cool! More like this, please, game industry.

Hatoful Boyfriend by Hato Moa — From my commentary in November:

Everyone warned me about this game. Everyone. And despite all warnings about all of the plot being in the epilogue, despite the promise that there was actually nightmare fuel waiting for me behind the cute fluffy exterior, despite it being a game where you date pigeons — I played it anyway. And I loved it. The dating routes are, with a... Couple of notable exceptions... really cute! In my opinion, you can see some of the developments coming quite easily for the romances, which is more than made up for by the fact that surely no one, but no one could have seen some of the twists in the Bad Boy Love section coming. Surely. Speaking of, the game is actually really tightly plotted, which I wasn't expecting; pretty much everything that is introduced during the various routes gets explained in the epilogue. And that epilogue is really good. I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I do, but no! The pigeon game won me over.

Graphic Novels/Manga

Gangsta Volume One coverBitch Planet Cover The Wicked + The Divine Cover

Gangsta by Kohske: I read and reread Gangsta more times this year than I'm comfortable admitting to. It feels like a spiritual successor to Kazuya Minekura's work (in my heart, if nowhere else); handsome, violent men and women doing what they have to to get by in a classic noir-style town with a bonus superpowered second-class citizenry. I LOVE IT A LOT! It makes me have serious ponderings over the way it depicts sex work, the way it handles its female characters, and how in every volume the world keeps opening up and getting more detailed. I adore it, and waiting until July for the next volume is going to be awful.

Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma and Robert Wilson: Guaranteed to make you want to smash the patriarchy and non-intersectional feminism with a steel chair or your money back. Plus, I've not met a single reader who hasn't gone "Yeah, I could see this happening." (PREDOMINANTLY WOMEN OF COLOUR OF DIFFERENT SIZES AND BUILDS, FUCK YEAH! And if you pick up the individual issues, there are feminist essays in the back and fake adverts in the back, ENJOY!)

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver: From our October Favourites post:

The art is so good, it consistently blows me away. I love the combination of sketchy lines and digital colouring, and the way the artist manages to make it clear whose point of view we're viewing any given scene from. Especially on the pages where the art is carrying all of the story-telling on its own. E. K. Weaver isn't afraid to let pages go by with no text at all, either as a way to montage the passage of time (even when the characters are talking) or characters having intense emotional revelations. It's so good and novel, and I love it. (I was wondering whether the pages where everything bursts into colour would look as good in print but they still work pretty well!) But also: the characters are really great. They go through a lot of growth over the course of the comic (especially Amal), and they're just – charming and wonderful and so good together and for each other. I am really fond of them, even as they keep fucking up and realising the new and interesting ways they have fucked up. They're really well written, and my heart ached for both of them at various points, even as they made me laugh. Especially That Ending.

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks: Yes, cute comic using a ghost story/mystery to tell a story about family, friendship, and fixing mistakes! Especially as Maggie's responses to finally going to public school and the drama that comes with it are all pitch-perfect.

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles In October I said:

What I forgot though, is how much I love The Wicked + The Divine. For all that the comic is ostensibly about murder, reincarnated gods, and music, it's also about fans. Specifically, about a fangirl (and I love how much of this series is focused on queer women, that is great.) and her wanting to be a part of the world her idols move through. The whole package is great: the art is stylish and colourful; the pantheon are alternately awe-inspiring and terrifying, as they should be; Laura is my favourite character, because she is inventive and clever and trying her best to be cool in the face of divinity; her relationships with Lucy and Cassandra are great; and the dialogue is occasionally perfect.

I'd like to add that it manages to be really respectful about fans, which I prize in a world where fangirls are still sometimes a punchline. Laura's dedication and her longing isn't a joke, it's a part of her and part of what gets her involved in this world. And Baal Hammon described as "the Carthigian God of fuck you" is never going to stop being my favourite.

Zodiac Starforce by Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganuchaeu From the first time I mentioned this:

I'm really excited about this, especially as it's a good intro to the series! I like that this series is set after the climactic final battle, when the team have put their lives back together; it's kinda nice to just come in on an established team rather than starting with the Obligatory Origin Story. I think the way that the comic reveals bits of what has happened through the way the girls react to each other and the idea of fighting monsters again is really cool; some of them think it's going to be great and bring them back together, while the others are like "... NO, that is the worst reasoning of all time." I think it's really interesting to see how the series presents these different types of girls, their complicated relationships with each other and with the girls who aren't on their team, and with the goddess that gave them their powers.

Issue three had some revelations that made me flail wildly, so I'm really excited for the next issue and the utter doom in it. (ONE DAY, when it's complete, I want to sit down with it, Mahou Josei Chimaka and Puella Magi Madoka Magica and dig into the way they all play with magical girl tropes. ONE DAY.)

Flutter by Momoko Tenzen: This was one of my favourites for November:

Flutter is one of my favourite BL manga. It is a sweet, simple, office romance; there is drama and FEELINGS; all of the sex is consensual (Q: Susan, does that really need to be remarked upon? A: ... You must be new around here.); and the Cool Love Interest is revealed to actually be a massive dork when he's in love, which warms my heart. But what surprised me on rereading it was that Flutter actually touches on respectability politics and openly identifying as a gay man, which isn't something that comes up often in the BL manga I usually read! If you're looking for a place to start with reading BL manga, this is a pretty good place to start.

One Piece by Eiichiro Oda: I came for the awesome fight scenes and because [personal profile] renay has been excited about this series AS LONG AS I HAVE KNOWN HER and stayed because this series ripped my heart out. It does friendship and teamwork in ways that consistently emotionally destroy me and I love it. My favourite part is how Eiichiro Oda manages to set things up twenty volumes in advance, and I'm still blind-sided every time! I've stalled at volume 52 because my libraries don't have anything after that, so I'm stuck at the worst possible moment, so wish me luck in getting up-to-date this year!


The Assassin's Curse cover The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms cover vN cover

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke: I was not expecting to love this as much as I do. It feels like a Tamora Pierce story - a girl runs away from the life her parents chose for her, accidentally gets cursed to be protected by an assassin hired to kill her, discovers magical powers and maybe falls in love. It just charmed me completely, especially because Ananna just wants to go back to her life of piracy and adventure, and instead is stuck with ALL OF THIS NONSENSE. Practical characters dealing with very impractical circumstances is one of my favourite tropes, so this really worked for me.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin: Y'know what most books about fantasy gods are missing for me? The sheer amount of pettiness, incest, casual cruelty, inhumanity, grudges and overly-dramatic love that actual mythology has. And apparently N. K. Jemisin knows this, because she gave me all of that with a side bonus of colonialism, different cultures and races, and a takedown of what happens when awful human beings are given absolute power over others and their gods.

vN by Madeleine Ashby: CANNIBAL ROBOTS and an explicit discussion of consent and abuse through robots programmed to love humanity. It was really good, even as parts of it turned my stomach, but it kinda fell apart at the end for me. Still recommended though.

Short stories

Eyes I Dare Not Meet In Dreams by Sunny Moraine: Here's what I said about it in our September Favourites post:

I may have spent a lot of September grabbing people whenever they mentioned short stories and demanding to know if they've read this one. I really enjoyed it, which is not what I expected for a story about dead girls in refrigerators. There's a current of anger all through it, of being really done with girls being discarded and ignored until they make themselves impossible to ignore, and it's combined with some really spectacular turns of phrase that take my breath away. I really like the way that the dead girls themselves aren't explained, but the reaction of the world around them is (and I can picture the dead girl fandom clear as day). It's a story that sticks with me, and I keep coming back to it, so I'm offering it for other people to try.

The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri: A time travel story about complicated family relationship, making sense of being trans and trying to explain it to a family member that doesn't want to hear it, and (in some ways) whether the future is pre-determined or not. It does cool things in the way it jumps around in time and strikes out words as it needs to, with the way it has one location and jumps around in time, but stays in the same house. It's hard for me to explain why I like this so much - it's a really quiet, personal story; all of the drama comes from feeling betrayed by family, but that might be why it's good.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley: "I’m a real soldier. A real fucking hero. I’m made of light." Kameron Hurley takes on war and the rhetoric that's used to get support for it, and the sheer level of bitterness and weariness in this story is breathtaking.

Anyway: Angie by Daniel José Older: Anyway: Angie has a dapper as fuck lesbian badass, and quite frankly that is enough to sell me on anything. That the story is good and genuinely horrifying in parts is just icing on the cake. There are some parts that I go "Hmmm" over that are too spoilery for this post, but Reza.


Hamilton poster

HamiltonFrom the November faves post:

The music is incredible (I have been listening to it almost every day), and the performances are consistently excellent—they feel very visual, so it was I think my favourite theme of the musical is that of legacy; all of the male characters are concerned to one extent or another with their legacy, and all throughout the play Eliza weaves herself in and out of Hamilton's; she asks to be part of it, she forcibly removes herself from it, and at the end she is the one who shapes Hamilton's story. It's so well done.

So that was my 2015 in media! I have ludicrous plans for my media consumption in 2016, and I'm really excited about what's coming!

Date: 2016-01-08 11:27 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Yay, I agree with all your short fic words (thanks again for the Sunny Moraine story rec) and am so excited you read Hundred Thousand Kingdoms :) :) Agree 100% about stories about gods needing the stuff from old mythology to make them extra compelling (which is why I like W+D as well). Assassin's Curse goes on my list too.

Now off to see your reading goals!

Date: 2016-01-10 02:19 am (UTC)
litomnivore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] litomnivore
Mad Max: Fury Road was for me what Jupiter Ascending was for you—I had to actually flee the theater and the friend I'd seen it with because I was so overcome by having seen something that seemed expressly made for me.


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