Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 227, “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 227, “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Our month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki reaches its bittersweet conclusion with a look at Miyazaki’s purported final film, 2013’s The Wind Rises; and Mami Sunada’s documentary about its making, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Joining Paul and AJ for their final descent into the world of Studio Ghibli is Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis. The gang discusses the parallels between Miyazaki and The Wind Rises‘ aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, Miyazaki’s surprisingly fatalistic outlook on life, and–naturally–the grand folly of art. Plus, Joe makes an exciting announcement!

Next: leaping from one Disney-distributed universe to another, Paul and AJ enter The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

(Show notes for “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 226, “River Gods and Turnip Heads (feat. Monique Morgan & Nathan Burdette)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 226, “River Gods and Turnip Heads (feat. Monique Morgan & Nathan Burdette),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Bathhouses, talking fires, giant babies, grotesquely overweight witches…for this leg of Miyazaki Month, Paul and AJ enter the world of the filmmaker’s two most visually distinct yet perhaps least coherent films: 2001’s Spirited Away and 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle. Joining them on their journey is first-time guest (but longtime background entertainer) Monique Morgan of Beacon Hills: After Dark and Nathan Burdette of On the Rocks (and AJ’s blood relative). The gang discusses the limitless imagination on display in these two films, the strengths and weaknesses of that lack of coherency, and what the movies have to say about Japanese culture and war.
Next: Miyazaki Month comes to a close, as Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis drop by for The Wind Rises and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 224, “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood! (feat. Kitty Chandler & Anna Williams)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 224, “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood! (feat. Kitty Chandler & Anna Williams),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Our month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki continues! After the intense, mythology-laden epics Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke, Paul and AJ turn to perhaps Miyazaki’s lightest features: the 1988-89 one-two punch of My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Joining them is author (and The Deli Counter of Justice contributor) Kitty Chandler and editrix extraordinaire Anna Williams. The gang discusses Miyazaki’s painterly detail, his use of complex female protagonists, how both films are about growing up, and why it makes perfect sense that My Neighbor Totoro was originally released on a double bill with Grave of the Fireflies.

Next: we’re taking to the skies! Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast and All the Pieces Matter stops by to chat about Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso.

(Show notes for “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood!”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 223, “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay (feat. Eric Sipple)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 223, “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Man has been exploiting nature since the first caveman picked up a rock and bludgeoned another to death with it. This doesn’t sit well with some, like Hayao Miyazaki, who has made two powerful films about the environment and the ways in which human greed corrupts it: 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which led to the creation of the revered Studio Ghibli; and 1997’s Princess Mononoke, which finds Ghibli at the peak of its powers. To help Paul and AJ kick off their month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Miyazaki, another princess stops by, namely Princess Sippy Cup AKA The Deli Counter of Justice co-editor Eric Sipple. The gang discusses the ways in which Nausicaä and Mononoke tackle the same themes from different angles, Miyazaki’s shifting perspective over the years, and what both films have to say about violence and the nature of evil.

Next: Black Ice author Kitty Chandler (whose work just so happens to appear in The Deli Counter of Justice) and her editrix Anna Williams join us to discuss two lighter Miyazaki films, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

(Show notes for “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay.”)

Listen to Episode 186, “Godzilla vs. Ray Pier”

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Gobbledygeek episode 186, “Godzilla vs. Ray Pier,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Godzilla, that green, rubbery, nuclear-breathing master of destruction–he’s basically like if Gumby kicked ass, right? His origins were a little different. Close to a decade after America dropped the atom bomb, Japanese filmmaker Ishirô Honda sought to show us, in stark black-and-white, what the bomb may have wrought: a physical manifestation of his nation’s desperation and anxiety. And, yeah, he was green, rubbery, and breathed nuclear fire. Paul and AJ revisit the 1954 original, looking to discover why it remains so potent despite being so crudely made. Oh, and they talk about the new one for a few minutes too. Plus, Cosmos comes to a close and Jack White gets weird on Lazaretto.

Next: There’s this movie? That follows this other movie? About this dragon? Something about that.

(Show notes for “Godzilla vs. Ray Pier.”)

Listen to Episode 108, “Grave of the Rabbits”

Gobbledygeek episode 108, “Grave of the Rabbits,” is available for listening or download right here.

We know that every episode of Gobbledygeek makes you cry, but this one might especially depress you. It’s Geek Challenge time once more, so Paul has tasked AJ with watching the 1978 animated adaptation of Watership Down; in turn, AJ has challenged Paul to watch the 1988 anime Grave of the Fireflies. One is about the brutal escape of a group of rabbits from their soon-to-be-demolished warren. The other is about the brutal attempts at survival made by a very young brother and sister after their home is demolished in WWII-era Japan. Both are very sad. To lighten the mood, AJ talks about watching every episode of Childrens Hospital over the last week, and both of them discuss the addition of Ciarán Hinds to the cast of Game of Thrones.

Next: as summer winds down, it’s time to take a look ahead at the Fall/Winter Movie Preview.

(Show notes for “Grave of the Rabbits.”)

Four-Color Flashback: Chris Claremont & John Byrne’s ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #115-121

As last week’s introductory column wound to a close, I pondered two thoughts: Could John Byrne’s art be any more fantastic? Would Chris Claremont be able to refine his writing as time went on? Though we’re still fairly early on in their run, I’ve now been presented with two satisfactory answers, one of which was surprising, the other not so much.

I’ll start with the surprising one, the first thing that leapt out at me as I plowed through these issues: yes, John Byrne’s art is capable of being even more incredible than it already was! Seriously, he was doing a bang-up job on the seven issues we talked about last week, especially as he started discovering the physical and emotional cores of each character during the Magneto storyline. Even by those high standards, his work over these issues is nothing short of phenomenal. There’s the spread of Wolverine lashing out at Sauron as the rest of the team looks on in shock; the full page of Xavier’s memories taking place within his head; the group tackling Canadian superteam Alpha Flight; the list goes on. Just classic stuff on almost every page.

As for Claremont, his progression is what I had been hoping for and expecting, but it’s still good to see that his writing is getting better. Not that it was bad before, but there’s only so much corny dialogue and regional dialectics one can stomach. There’s still plenty of corny dialogue, but for the most part, it’s the good corny, the kind of corny one expects when one picks up a superhero comic from the late 70’s. Thankfully, Claremont has also dialed back the characters’ dialects. Nightcrawler stills busts out German phrases and Banshee’s dialogue is still littered with “ye”s and “aye”s, but more sparingly and at more appropriate times. There are instances when Sean’s actually able to say something that would sound intelligible coming from another character’s mouth!

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