Thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9: The Blue Dragon

In order to understand what Dynasty Warriors is really trying to tell us, let's first get back to basics. Why is a video game series adapting the history of the Three Kingdoms, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms in particular, called musō (“unrivaled”) in the first place, and why would this be the game to pioneer “1 vs. 1000” combat mechanic it is so (in)famous for?
The mascot character for Dynasty Warriors has always been Zhao Yun, and I do not believe this is either accidental or arbitrary. Zhao Yun is known as one of the Five Tiger Generals, who were famed as the most loyal and revered generals of Shu. It is Shu's emperor, Liu Bei, who is generally considered to be the actual protagonist of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (if you had to pick one) at it's his exploits and deeds that are depicted in the most positive and sympathetic light. However while Liu Bei is certainly not a supporting character in Dynasty Warriors (especially if you choose to play as him), it's Zhao Yun who appears on the box art of all the mainline entries and who is oftentimes used ...

The Proverbs of Hell 37/39: And the Beast from the Sea

AND THE BEAST FROM THE SEA: The one painting in the series not to have a direct representation or invocation in the series. The tense sexuality that exists between the Dragon and the Sun-Clothed Woman is replaced here by a raw homoeroticism—a theme that is not entirely uncommon in Blake. (c.f. Object 47 of Milton a Poem) The Beast from the Sea appears in Revelation 13, one verse after the Dragon, and is said to be given his power by the Dragon, creating a sense of heritage or supplanting. In Blake, the Beast rises below the Dragon, but has clear dominion over him. Of course, that’s always how supplantation begins. 

ALANA BLOOM: Maybe he's trying to stop.

JACK CRAWFORD: You think there's any way to push him to be self-destructive?

ALANA BLOOM: Push him toward suicide?

JACK CRAWFORD: Suicide suits me just fine.

WILL GRAHAM: If he's really trying to stop, he's not going to kill himself. How could he be sure his death would affect whatever's inside him?

Will’s casual apprehension of the absurd logic of Dolarhyde’s difficulties in confronting the beast within is grimly funny. A crucial question, of course, is ...

The Memes of Production

Okay, so this popped up on my Twitter feed:


Now, it's tempting, isn't it?  A really desirable little chunk of cheese, just sitting there, saying "eat me!", conveniently arranged on a nice wooden platform, framed by a kind of metal wire sculpture of some kind...

I mean, there are so many possible responses.  The person who I saw sharing this on Twitter responded with the admirably direct "because they're stupid as shit".  I myself contemplated several possibilities.  There was "So near and yet so far" and "Because they don't know about Ockham's Razor", and a more serious one, which was "Of course they discriminate!  You have to when giving out grades!"  And so on.  It was gonna be great.  I was going to flip the right-wing narrative, revealing them to be - yet again - projecting their own sense of entitlement onto the people they hate.  I was going to point to their own desire for special treatment, their own snowflakehood, their own yearning for victimhood as a great big excuse, their own spoiled sense of grievance, which leads them to assume that they're right because ...

New Kickstarter Flash Goal, Podcast Appearance

So this just got announced. Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovich writing a 7th Doctor comic for Titan. This is, on the face of it, absolutely landmark. Comics were a huge influence on Cartmel, who drew a lot of his style from 2000 AD while freely plundering Alan Moore's catalog. So having him do one of his periodic returns to the McCoy era in comics is immediately interesting. It's a shoo-in for the McCoy book. Except I'm really out of stretch goal slots. So instead I'm doing a flash goal. If we can hit $10k by the end of the weekend, I'll cover this miniseries in the book. Here's the Kickstarter link. This would be an excellent time either to back it or to link it. We're at $9192 right now, so $10k by the end of Sunday is ambitious, but it's doable.

The fact that we're closing in on $10k also means that the next stretch goal is an interview with Kate Orman. The last two books have both had interviews with prominent creators who are openly fans of the era being covered—Gareth Roberts talked about the Graham Williams years, while Rob ...

Podcasting Blade Runner & Gangs of New York

How do you do fellow kids?

This week I have no less than two new podcast episodes for you from Wrong With Authority.

Daniel and I just released a new episode of Consider the Reagan, the thread in which two or more of us watch and comment on a film released during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.  This time it's Daniel and myself talking about original Blade Runner (1982), followed by some chat about the recent sequel.

Download here.

(By the way, if you're interested in my thoughts about Blade Runner, watch this space, because at some point I will start properly writing my vast project about the Alien series, and this will involve a fair bit of stuff about Blade Runner, because... well, wait and see.)

And the entire Wrong With Authority gang - James, Kit, Daniel, and myself - also just released a new episode covering Martin Scorsese's 2002 historical crime epic Gangs of New York, in which Daniel Day Lewis gives one of the most memorable screen performances of the early noughts, and also Leonardo DiCaprio stands in front of the camera and pulls faces.

Download here.

We plan to have more such episodes for ...

The Proverbs of Hell 36/39: And The Woman Clothed In Sun

AND THE WOMAN CLOTHED IN SUN: The big one. Hannibal describes its “unique and nightmarish charge of demonic sexuality,” which is fair enough, but seems desperately insufficient. Let’s add, then, a brief discussion of gaze. As John Berger memorably simplifies it, in art the norm is that “men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Which at least broadly describes this picture, sure, in that we are seeing a woman being looked at. But the woman is obscured in the picture. We watch her being looked at, yes, but we do not really see her ourselves. That picture is The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed With the Sun. Here the object of our gaze is, as they say, dat ass. This isn’t so much a charge of demonic sexuality as a stunningly homoerotic vision of erotic puissance. Dolarhyde, clearly, does not miss the point nearly so much.

FRANCIS DOLARHYDE: Hello, Dr. Lecter. As an avid fan, I wanted to tell you I'm delighted that you have taken an interest in me. I don't believe you'd tell them who I am, even if you knew.

HANNIBAL: What particular body you currently occupy ...

Thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9: Flavours of Musō

Each numbered Dynasty Warriors installment comes in a set of three games. This is also true of Samurai Warriors, and the collaboration games (Gundam Musō, One Piece Pirate Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, etc.) will often have a variation of it. The three versions of Dynasty Warriors are as follows:

The Base Game (e.g. Shin Sangoku Musō 7/Dynasty Warriors 8)

These are the core numbered releases, and the ones that tend to see all the major changes. They will often appear at the start of a new hardware cycle to take advantage of graphical and processing enhancements made since the last main entry, will offer significant gameplay changes (while the base combat of course always remains comparable, things like modes, story progression, RPG elements and other features can and do change quite frequently and dramatically). This is when the vast majority of new characters will be introduced and existing characters will be completely redesigned from the ground up, oftentimes both aesthetically and mechanically. Some characters will lose former signature weapons and gain new ones (or in the case of Dynasty Warriors 9, get shifted into a different weapon class).
You might see new areas of China rendered and new ...

Kickstarter Update/Capaldi Entry List

Since I did my usual "forgetting to queue Proverbs of Hell for a Monday," I figured I should provide a Kickstarter update instead. At the time of writing, we're at $8069. We hit the Algebra of Ice stretch goal over the weekend, which means we're now approaching the $9000 stretch goal of The Unknown, which from Big Finish's Diaries of River Song series. I haven't listened to it yet, but it sounds fascinating. The hook is simple: River Song meets the Seventh Doctor. This is self-evidently a good idea. River's entire M.O. is that she destabilizes the Doctor's place in the narrative. She can do the things they do, and knows more than them. That's especially true in stories before A Good Man Goes to War, which obviously this is. The Seventh Doctor, on the other hand, stands out even among the Doctors. He's manipulative and has foreknowledge of events in ways they don't. That's a stereotype of his character in the same way "the loud obnoxious one" is of Six, but it's also similarly true. So having River meet him is, in its own way, as much ...

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