Three Awesome San Francisco Movie Theaters

Before I moved to San Francisco, I didn’t think I’d have a “favorite” movie theater apart from whichever one had the cheapest student tickets. After all, my college town didn’t have a ton of theaters that weren’t owned by giants like Regal or AMC. After being here just over six months, I’m still happy to catch a flick at one of the multiplexes, but I’ve fallen in love with three small theaters near me. If you’re looking to have a better movie experience in San Francisco, you should definitely try them out.

Sundance Kabuki
I’d never been to a Sundance cinema before I saw From Up on Poppy Hill at Kabuki, but I’ve been coming back ever since. Kabuki has super comfy seating with big armrests, and when you buy your ticket, you reserve a seat at the same time. That means no more trying to beat the crowd into the screening room because everyone has assigned seats anyway. They even have showings later at night that are 21+ only because you can buy alcohol. Haven’t taken advantage of that yet, so I can’t speak to the quality of the cocktails. Kabuki has multiple screens and shows blockbuster films, too.

New People Cinema
I’ve only been to New People a couple of times because their films are usually around for a day or two at most, and tickets sell out quickly. I caught Wolf Children there last year during the Japan Film Festival, and though I did have to get there early to make sure I got a seat, it was worth it. The chairs are comfortable, and since the New People building was built to showcase Japanese culture, they show anime and live action Japanese films. On the ground floor of the New People building, there’s also a cute little place called the Crown & Crumpet, which I recommend for chilling out over some tea.

Clay Theater
I went to this great little indie theater for a midnight screening of Akira. The sound was a bit loud, but hey, the place was run by two people so late at night, so I didn’t mind too much. The seats at Clay are decent, but I think the nicest part of the experience was having the super nice concession guy tell us to wait a few minutes while he made fresh popcorn so we wouldn’t get the last dregs of the previous batch. I don’t know if this is unique to midnight showings or not, but we also didn’t get pelted with advertisements before the film started; they just ran a black and white movie with interesting music over the dialogue and some trippy visualizations. Clay does midnight showings of The Room (Spoons!) and Rocky Horror Picture Show regularly, so I’ll have to check those out. Oh, and they show stuff during the day, too. :)

Did you spot the pattern for these places yet? Well, I found them because I’ll jump at any chance to watch anime on the big screen. I rarely got to do that before moving here, and as an anime fan, it’s awesome to have so many opportunities now.

New People is the only place on this list with a focus on Japanese film. So, if you’re just looking to check out a current film in a great theater, I highly recommend Kabuki. If you want a quirkier indie place that mostly shows older stuff, definitely give the Clay Theater a try.

Studio Ghibli Songs + Jazz = Awesomesauce Remixes

All That Jazz Album ArtI seem to be on roll lately with discovering new music (particularly good remixes of songs I already love), and when one of my roommates introduced me to a series of official jazz arrangements of songs from Studio Ghibli movies, I knew I had to get my hands on them. Seriously, these tracks are pure gold, and I can’t stop playing them. Give this version of “Kaze No Tani No Nausika” (from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind) a listen.

Tell your ears I said you’re welcome. :)

Fortunately, you can get your hands on tons of jazzy Ghibli goodness for less than $10 an album on Amazon, as long as you’re cool with MP3s. I grabbed the first two, and they have been quite enjoyable, though I’m probably going to end up buying the live album eventually. Some of those tracks are even better than the normal recordings.

What are some of your favorite remixes of video game or anime music?

New Articles Over at The G.A.M.E.S. Blog!

Since I’ve been posting mostly fun, fluffy geekery here lately, I thought you might like to know that I’ve actually had a few more serious articles go up on The G.A.M.E.S. Blog lately. Follow the links if you’re interested in checking them out!

  • Last month, I reviewed an anime called anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. It’s a really good anime about a bunch of high school kids who try to grant their childhood friend’s wish. The show is really sad, though, so bring some tissues if you’re a softy.
  • I actually posted my review of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance earlier today. I’m something of a Kingdom Hearts fangirl, as I’ve noted before, so head over there to find out what I thought!
  • Speaking of Kingdom Hearts, I also recently put up an article on Kingdom Hearts music.
  • If you like anime, you might like this feature I wrote on the music of Code Geass.
  • I’ve also been helping out with a podcast for the site. You can listen to The G.A.M.E.S. Blog staff talk about gaming news, reviews, etc., on iTunes.

Ok, that ends the shameless self promotion post. I have a couple of crafty things that I’ve been playing around with lately, so I’ll try to write something up about them soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget to update your bookmarks and re-follow the blog here on its new home! There’s a subscribe button on the main page. Thanks a bunch for being such awesome readers! :)

One A Day #11: Thoughts on Women in Comics, Games, and Anime

Lately, there’s been a lot of stuff in the media regarding the portrayal of women in various areas of geek culture. I wasn’t planning to open this can of worms here, but it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot recently because I’m trying to figure out exactly where I stand.

So, here we go. Don’t expect this to be organized or anything. I’m just thinking with my fingers on the keyboard.

Sometimes, I almost feel as though I’m not offended enough by my own culture’s objectification of women. As a geek, should it bother me that comic book women are often drawn in horribly contorted poses that aren’t even physically possible? Frankly, I don’t have a lot of experience with comics, but from what I’ve seen, the men can be drawn just as ridiculously in terms of poses that would break their backs. I’m looking at you, cover of DC Vs. Marvel.

Seriously, Superman and Wonder Woman are competing to see whose spine will break first. Their chests practically run perpendicular to their legs! Plus, I think Cap lost part of his leg somewhere. (For more ludicrous images, check out Escher Girls. It’s a Tumblr that curates tons of pictures of anatomically incorrect portrayals of women in art, and I have to admit most of the stuff you’ll find there is pretty cringe worthy.) Still, I’ve never been incensed to anger over it. This isn’t just comic books, though, and the bad figure art involves more than just broken spines.

One thing that irritates me is how in anime, comics, and games, breasts are often drawn like giant, perfectly rounded beach balls stuck onto women’s chests with a little bit of fleshy glue. As an example, I’ll borrow this image from Escher Girls.

For one thing, many women with breasts that large actually get reductive surgery because their size gives them health problems. Also, there is definitely a possibility that being flooded with pictures like that could give geeks unrealistic expectations about the female form. Maybe this portrayal of women has even cost a lot of great ladies a chance at dating someone because that person placed too much value on looks. (Honestly, though, who needs that kind of date, anyway?)

Admittedly, however, this sort of thing hasn’t stopped me from reading manga or comics, watching anime, or playing video games starring big boobed women. I was just replaying Final Fantasy X earlier tonight for the first time in years, and I noticed that Lulu’s boobs jiggle when she bends over for her victory dance at the end of a battle. Didn’t bother me in the least. Maybe I’m weird. Maybe I’ve been desensitized to this sort of thing because most of my friends seem to be guys. Perhaps I’ve just been unaware of any problems because I’ve been surrounded by great people that like me for who I am and not what I look like. Of course, I don’t actively seek out games with jiggling boobage, so it could be that I just end up choosing not to expose myself to it much.

Speaking of video games, someone recently asked me if I was offended by the main character from Lollipop Chainsaw. Now, I haven’t played the game, but the idea of a pretty teenage girl running around with a chainsaw and kicking lots of zombie ass sounds awesome. (I am in no way drawing a comparison here, but I do happen to enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer a lot, so maybe that’s why the concept sounds cool.)

I will say that it’s a little annoying that Juliet had to be a ditz in a revealing outfit, though. (Again, I haven’t played the game, but reviews I’ve read mention that she’s ditsy.) I’m pretty sure she could fight zombies just fine in jeans or something. Actually, it would probably make more sense for her to be wearing pants and trying to stay covered up to avoid leaving so many places for the monsters to nibble at. I mean, look at Leah from Diablo III. Maybe she’s not the best example of a great female character (Despite the fact that she’s been fighting off risen corpses constantly and saw an angel fall from the sky, she doesn’t believe her uncle’s stories about the end of the world until he’s killed by a demon! How thick can you be?), but at least she’s dressed sensibly for going to war against the undead.

In the same breath, though, I’ll point out that real cheerleaders seem to dress pretty much the same way as Juliet as part of their job. Also, I’m fairly sure I am not part of Lollipop Chainsaw’s target demographic, so it’s not like this game was made for me. Neither of these things makes it magically okay for everyone, but again, for some reason, I’m just not ready to take up arms over it. There are too many other things I can be doing with my time, like showing game companies that make titles I approve of how much I adore them by playing their games and encouraging others to do the same.

I have nothing against sexy women in any medium. But here’s a hint for the people who want to make female characters with sex appeal and score a few brownie points with geeky girls like me: women don’t always need blouse-bursting boobs, revealing clothing, and a few missing ribs to be sexy. They only need to rely on these things when there’s nothing else interesting about them. Intelligent, confident, determined female characters can be very sexy without being scantly clad. This type of woman will know how to use whatever mad skills she has to get what she wants. Otherwise, she’ll do whatever it takes to learn what she needs to know or obtain the proper tools to accomplish her goal; either way, she’ll pursue that goal relentlessly. A character like that should be able to rock anything (even if it’s jeans and a screen tee) and make it attractive by the sheer power of her confidence in herself. I’m pretty sure she would appeal to both male and female geeks looking for a strong protagonist who isn’t just a sex object. As an example, check out this image of Gertrude Yorkes from the Runaways comics.

Oh, Gert. One day, I will do a post all about you and your awesomeness.

Ignore the fact that she’s a teenager for a moment. The point here is that she is walking fearlessly into a fire to save her boyfriend with her telepathic pet dinosaur at her side, and she even takes the time to include sarcasm in her threat to the enemy. How badass is that? Somebody out there finds her attractive, and I know it. Not gonna lie, even I have a bit of a lady crush on her.

This portrayal of women doesn’t appeal to everyone, and that’s sad. However, the female geek audience is growing, and it’s about time we had some attention. After all, as far as I know, girls usually don’t pick up games to marvel at their breast physics or comics for the Boobs & Butt Poses. Also, just because you might have a female character in your comic or game that is like the one I described, you don’t automatically win. I’m talking about making this kind of woman the lead character.

The bottom line? It doesn’t bother me that there are people out there who want to play games and read comics with unrealistically proportioned women. Let those people have their fun. I’m not condoning violence against or degradation of women simply for being female, but I also don’t think stuff like Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball or Lollipop Chainsaw is really hurting us. However, I do think that a trend toward more comics, games, and anime that include sensible portrayals of women is definitely healthy for geek culture as a whole.

Should companies start creating things that objectify men in a way that is specifically tailored toward women to make things fair? Um, no, because that won’t change anything. Should everything portray women the same way as Gert? No, because not all women are like her. However, there needs to a better balance. I just think there should be more geek stuff designed with people like me in mind.

I didn’t get around to talking about the recent backlash against the concept of merely opening a dialogue about the portrayal of women in video games, but I’m tired, so I’m signing off for the night. Perhaps I’ll get to that later this week.

Meanwhile, what are your thoughts on all of this?

New Anime/Game Music Column on The G.A.M.E.S. Blog

Click through to check out the first article in our column, The High Notes.

Guess what, gang? It’s time for some shameless self-promotion! (Also, I genuinely think you might be interested in reading the article I’m about to share.)

I recently kicked off a new column for The G.A.M.E.S. Blog that we’re calling “The High Notes.” I probably won’t be the only staff writer contributing to the segment, but every week, we’re going to try to spotlight something cool in anime or gaming music. For the inaugural article, I decided to talk about some awesome anime openings. The songs spotlighted in this feature come from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, The Twelve Kingdoms, and Cowboy Bebop. Stop by and share your thoughts anime and video game music! I’m also open to suggestions for things that I should check out for their awesome soundtracks, so feel free to leave a note with your recommendations here or on the article. :)