Jul 16, 2022

"Kemono Michi": Wrestling Hunk Likes Beasts, Regardless of Gender or Species


Hulu just dropped a huge number of recent anime series.  Most are about the same: a boy meets a girl who reveals that he is the Chosen One, and they fall in love while fighting evil.  But Kemono Michi: Rise Up looked different: a muscular adult instead of a young boy, no girl to fall in love with, and the quest is to: open an alien pet shop.

Scene 1: A giant stadium.  The main event: Animal Mask vs. his longtime rival, MAO, the Macedamian Ogre.  In the locker room, Animal Mask ponders: if he wins tonight's match, he can begin the second chapter of his life.  His sleazy-looking manager wants to know what that second chapter is: he'll spend his life surrounded by the animals that he loves.

Scene 2: The match begins.  MAO is a very muscular, but Animal Mask is much beefier; surely they're in different weight classes?  

Meanwhile, in a fairy-tale palace, a pair of boobs prays for "the strongest warrior from another world."  And, in the midst of the match, Animal Mask vanishes!  

He and his dog re-appear in the fairy-tale palace, in front of the boobs -- a princess -- and her courtiers.  They wonder why he's wearing an animal costume.  "Is he a pervert?"  Hey, fetishes are no longer classified as perversions in the DSM!  

Princess Boobarella explains: she has summoned a great warrior to kill all the demonic beasts that roam their land. 

Animal Mask grabs her from behind: "Um...couldn't you wait until we are alone?" But he actually does a wrestling move, resulting in her on the ground with her panties showing -- in closeup.  Why would you do that?  You know you're not in the stadium anymore.

Scene 3: Princess Boobarella is still lying with her butt exposed.  Animal Mask explains: "I'm an animal lover. I don't kill animals.  Send me home!"  The courtiers are naturally upset about their Princess lying unconscious on the floor, so they attack.  Animal Mask runs away.

Not too bright -- it doesn't dawn on him that he's "not in Kansas anymore" until he's running through the fairytale city.  The townsfolk think he's a "pervert," and don't make eye contact.  He takes off the animal mask, but the "pervert" accusations don't subside.  "I'm not a pervert!  I'm a wrestler!" he exclaims.  Gay people are called "perverts" quite often, so this is becoming uncomfortable. 

Scene 4: 
 While he is hiding in an alley, Animal Mask is accosted by slave traders, who believe that "the pervert's muscles"  will bring a high price.  "And his little dog, too."  We flash to a shot of a female wrestler's boobs; then a girl with cat ears approaches him.  What happened to the slave traders?  He falls gleefully into her crotch, I guess in a fantasy.

She is accompanied by a humanoid wolf, who asks "Do you like my hairy chest and tail?"  Animal Mask does -- too much!  He rushes up, pins the Wolf, and starts humping him, while Cat-Ear Girl pulls at his jockstrap: "Get off my brother!"

Aninal Mask whispers "Don't worry -- you'll start to like it in a second. You like it when I rub you here, don't you?"  "No!" Wolf yells.  "Stop!"  Hey, jerk, he said no! Back off!  

Scene 5: Having finished "petting" the Wolf, Animal Mask turns toward the girl.  "You're next!"  He's interrupted by a slaver dragging off a girl with wolf ears and a tail, "I don't want to live at some noble's house, and get walks and naps and free snacks."  The slave trade is about household pets?  He is torn: "pet" the Cat-Ear Girl or rescue and then "pet" the Wolf-Ear Girl?

Cat-Ear Girl warns the Slaver: "He's dangerous.  He's a super-high level pervert!"  

"I am not a pervert!" Animal Mask protests.  "I simply love all animals, regardless of gender!"   He slams the Slaver to the ground.

Cat-Ear Girl, Wolf, and the Slaver, apparently all friends, rush away.  Animal Ears chases them, intent on "petting," but he is stopped by Wolf-Ear Girl.  "Thank you for saving me.  I don't have any money.  How can I pay you?"  The answer is obvious: "With your body."  

Scene 6:
  Back in their apartment, Wolf, feeling violated, takes a shower, and Cat-Ear Girl tends to Slaver's wounds.  They discuss how to get revenge: by stealing Animal Mask's dog companion!  

Meanwhile, Wolf-Ear Girl takes Animal Mask to the Hunter's Guild, where they can earn some money.  What happened to their petting scene?   Inside, he tells the Guild Master his qualifications: "I can love any animal, regardless of species or gender."  Is there much call for bestiality technicians?   The Guild Master is not impressed, but hires him anyway to track down a pack of cerberuses (the three-headed dogs from Greek myth) -- and kill them.  "No, I'll tame them instead."

Scene 7:  Animal Mask, Wolf-Ear Girl,  and two hunters running through the woods.  Animal Mask rejects an offer of a weapon; you don't stab animals, you "pet" them.  They encounter the pack of cerberuses.  "Three heads!" Animal Mask exclaims.  "Three times the fun!"  What does he expect them to do for him?

Since they're a pack of dog-like beings, all he has to do is tame the alpha.  He grabs it, pins it with a wrestling move, and buries his face into its crotch.  The dog does not have genitals -- he's just "sniffing." I guess.

The hunters are astonished.  "He pinned it, like you would pin a lady that you wanted to rape.  He's like a lady-killer, but with demonic beasts."  It's "lady-killer" in the subtitles, but that term in English refers to a man who attracts women, not a man who rapes them.

Scene 8: They made enough money from the hunt to get a room at an inn, and some clothes for Animal Mask.   He decides that "the four of us" will devote their lives to creating a world where humans, beast-people, and animals can live in harmony.  

The four of them?  Animal Mask, his dog companion, Wolf-Ear Girl...and a giant ant that suddenly appeared at their table.  "Who are you?" Wolf-Ear Girl asks.  The end.

Beefcake: Constant.  Animal Mask wears only a bulging jockstrap in every scene.

Gay characters: Animal Mask is bisexual, to an extent.  If you're an animal, or have animal parts, he wants to "pet" you.  But when we move from symbolic sex to real sex, he seems to prefer women.  His team later consists of three women and the giant ant.

Rape: He doesn't ask for your consent, and ignores your pleas to stop.   The hunters also seem to believe that rape is licit.

Pervert:  The term is used in the English subtitles when Animal Mask is dressed in animal-clothes (furry), when he is wearing a wrestling singlet (exhibitionist), and when he "pets" an anthropomorphic male wolf (rape or being gay). 

My Grade:  Rape, bestiality, and possible homophobia.  D.

Jul 13, 2022

"Roswell, New Mexico": Soap Opera with Bi Characters and Out-and-Proud Aliens


Roswell, New Mexico is the site of the famous UFO crash of 1947, which the town has capitalized on ever since.   It was the inspiration of a tv series about teenage aliens, Roswell, and now apparently a series entitled Roswell, New Mexico: "A woman returns to her hometown after 10 years to discover that her high-school crush is an unusual foreigner."  Presumably he's an alien, although the episode synopses sound more soap opera than paranormal: "Rosa confronts Liz over her reputation; Maria digs into her family history; Isabel's outing leads to an unexpected encounter."  

Outing as in out of the closet?  I'm reviewing the outing episode, "Sex and Candy."

Scene 1:
Isobel, a ponytail blond, is fighting with Evil Max (Nathan Parsons, top photo), using energy bursts.  She explains:  "You absorbed the toxicity of Rosa's death, and now you need to expell it! Cause an earthquake or something!"  So he punches the floor and causes an earthquake. Eventually Evil Max collapses from excessive energy expenditure, but his brother (Michael Vlamis, left) rushes in and uses his powers to revive him.  The rage gone, Max apologizes.

His Girlfriend rushes in, and is delighted to find the rage gone.  But there's a problem: Max doesn't recognize her!  

Scene 2:  Back at headquarters. Not only are Max's memories of the Girlfriend gone, he objects to a  "stranger" knowing  all their secrets, which distresses everyone.   I'm guessing that Isobel, Max, and his brother are aliens, but the girlfriend is human.  To avoid upsetting him further, Girlfriend leaves.

Scene 3:
 Twink Alex (Tyler Blackburn, left) meets Maria, an older woman, at a Mexican Market she has organized to draw business to the Pony (a tavern, I assume).  She introduces him to Forrest, who is helping organize an open-mic night.  They flirt over references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but when Forrest asks him out, Alex hesitates.  "Maybe I misread," Forrest says, walking away.  "Wait -- you didn't misread."  Two gay guys in Scene 3!  Even if they don't say the Word, that's good news.  I thought Isobel was coming out, but she's dating Max's brother.

Scene 4:
A Sarcastic Doctor (Michael Trevino) and a woman in a medical theater, watching the surgical separation of conjoined twins.  She notes that Roswell has a higher than average rate of twin births, and asks "Do you have a crush on me?"  When he says no, she gets angry and storms out. Attractive people with complicated relationships in a hospital -- soap opera!  "Days of Our Lives" with aliens.

Scene 5: the Girlfriend runs into Evil Max from Scene 1 at the Mexican Market, and helps him with his Spanish (he was asking for "carne sin preservativos," which means "meat without condoms").  He asks her out, but she refuses: "You don't really know me." "Right, no one ever goes out on a date with a near-stranger."  So she agrees. (Amnesia is another common soap opera trope.)

Scene 6: Back at headquarters, Isobel and the brother help Evil Max get ready for his date.  

Meanwhile, Twink Alex and Maria from Scene 3 do some sleuthing: when Maria's mother was found after her abduction (soap opera back story), she was wearing distinctive cowboy boots made only by a "weird cobbler" who lives in the desert.  Maybe he keeps records of who he sold them to.  On the way, they discuss past relationships: Twink Alex has never had one.  "What about Kellie?"  "No.  Every time I was with a woman, I was just trying to disappear.  Except when we kissed in high school."  They're the same age?  I thought that Maria was much older, a mother figure.  

Twink Alex doesn't like being gay: "I know what I'm supposed to say, but I don't feel it.  The only time I enjoyed touching someone, was when we kissed."  Um...that means you're straight, dude.

Scene 7: Max arrives at the soda shop where Girlfriend works.  She gives him a Little Green Man milkshake, his favorite since they started dating at age 14, hoping that it will restore his memory.  Nope!  And he doesn't like mint anymore, which upsets her.  "Your tastes have changed since you came back from the dead!"  So order something else.   The date involves riding horses. 

Meanwhile, Twink Alex and Maria are still driving through the desert (as Joel and the Bots would say, will they ever reach the fireworks factory?).  Why didn't she bring Michael along?  "No, I don't like him.  He lied."  "He lied to save your family from my family.  And he spent 10 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, to protect Isobel."  More standard soap opera tropes. Wait -- I thought Michael, Evil Max's brother, was dating Isobel.  

Scene 8: Yet another character, a woman in heavy makeup, goes into the Planet 7 Bar and flirts with the female bartender.  "I feel like I'm over-dressed."  For a small town in the desert? Always.  "I just got out of jail, and I'm looking for trouble.  The good kind."  She sees Sarcastic Doctor from Scene 4, who groans. Not another woman who has a crush on me!  I have to bat them away!

Scene 9:
Still driving through the desert, Twink Alex and Maria get a flat tire.  A scary guy with an axe wants to know why they're trespassing on his property.  Surprise -- he's Travis (David Anders, right), the weird cobbler. I was expecting Gepetto.

Inside the house, they try to call for a tow, but get no bars on their cell phones.  Travis tries to flirt with Maria, and offers them warm milk (weird!).  He remembers the boots -- Maria's mother bought them.  Mystery solved!  

Meanwhile, at the bar, Heavy-Makeup Lady asks Sarcastic Doctor, "Why aren't you at the Pony? Are you avoiding Liz (Max's girlfriend) because Evil Max returned from the dead?" Heavy intertwining of romantic relationships, innit?  He counters with "Why are you here?", and she explains "After Noah, I'm not into a bar full of straight guys on the prowl."  So Planet 7 is a gay bar?

They all start dancing: lots of grizzled cowboy couples.  Who knew there were so many gay people in a small town in the desert?  Sarcastic Doctor invites her to watch the meteor shower, but she refuses: "Meteor showers remind me of the night my entire family burst into flame upon entering Earth's atmosphere." Psych!  She's playing with him!  Are all aliens out and proud?  I thought Evil Max and his gang kept it a secret

I'm fast forwarding through the endless scenes of Evil Max and Girlfriend heart-to- hearting on their date.

Scene 10: At Weird Cobbler's cabin.  Maria goes off in search of cell phone bars, and Twink Alex snoops. When Weird Cobbler catches him, he explains: "Maria's Mom was abducted, and three weeks later she returns, wearing a pair of your weird boots.  Naturally we think you know more than you're letting on."

Weird Cobbler sings "I think we're alone now" and approaches in a threatening manner.  "Drink your milk!"  When Twink Alex refuses, he attacks!  Then he goes outside, tells Maria that Alex is dead, and chases her with an axe.  If they kill off the gay guy in Episode 6, I'm leaving.

She runs into a cornfield, and gets grabbed!  Psych -- by Michael!  (Evil Max's brother, the one she doesn't want to date.) Wait -- it's an hour drive from the city; their car broke down about 10 minutes ago.  He would have to leave shortly after they did.  How did he know to come?  Maybe his alien powers?  But before Michael can rescue her, Weird Cobbler conks him on the head. 

Scene 11: Back at Planet 7, Heavy-Makeup Lady asks Sarcastic Doctor to go into the bathroom with her for a quickie, but he refuses.  He's interested in someone else.  So Heavy-Makeup Lady starts dancing with the female bartender.  

Meanwhile, Weird Cobbler chases Maria through the cornfield.  She ambushes him, conks him with the axe, and runs away.  She grabs Michael; Alex, still alive, comes out of the cabin.  They all run toward the truck, chased by Weird Cobbler. Suddenly another Weird Cobbler emerges from nowhere and shoots...um, his clone?  He explains: hisevil  twin took part in a government research project that fried his brains.  He appeared three weeks ago, and locked the real Weird Cobbler up.  Fortunately, amid all of the axe-chasing, he managed to escape. 

After all the psycho-slasher shenanigans, with her friends and the evil twin in need of emergency medical care, Maria still asks the real Weird Cobbler about her mother!  "I don't remember her.  I get lots of customers.  Could you please call an ambulance?"

Scene 12: Evil Max has his memory back, Sarcastic Doctor actually was interested in the woman he rebuffed back in Scene 4,  Heavy-Makeup Lady smooches with the female bartender.  Michael uses his alien powers to heal Twink Alex's gunshot wound and then smooches with Maria, Twink Alex smooches with Maria, Michael smooches with Twink Alex.  Busy night!

Scene 13: Morning.  Twink Alex reports to Michael that the sheriff didn't find anything: Weird Cobbler and his evil twin had vanished, and their cabin had burned down.  They discuss last night: "If anyone had told me that I would be having a three-way with my best friend and my first love...."   Then Twink Alex leaves.  Michael returns to Maria.  They smooch again.  So, just a one-time thing?  Alex is alone again, naturally.

Meanwhile, Evil Max and Girlfriend smooch, say "I love you," and smooch again.  Six times.

Scene 14
: The open-mic night.  I'm getting tired of the drama.  Forrest (Christian Antidormi), who got rebuffed by Twink Alex in Scene 3, is performing.  Twink Alex comes in and grins at him. 

Meanwhile, Max goes home.  Isobel, apparently his sister, presents him with a t-shirt: "I Got Probed at Planet 7."  She was Heavy Makeup woman from last night!   He goes to the bathroom to take a shower, sees weird markings on his back, and flashes back to the alien spaceship when he was a boy.  The end.

Beefcake: A little of Max.  Some of Michael as he undresses for the three way.

Gay Characters: Isobel, Alex, and Michael are all apparently bisexual.  Forrest appears in six episodes, so apparently Alex gets a semi-permanent boyfriend.

Gay/Straight Kisses: 30/2

Soap Opera Tropes: Exhausting.  

Aliens:  Are they in hiding, or not?

My Grade: B.

Addendum:  This was actually Season 2 (Netflix will do that to you).  I reviewed an episode of Season 1 back when it premiered in 2019, and forgot about it (over 300 reviews per year will do that to you).  See: Roswell, New Mexico: At Least the Gay Guys Kiss.

"Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness": Indiana Jones in a World with No Heterosexual Desire

 Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness (2022) drew my interest with its bizarre title and excellent animation.

Scene 1: A desolate jungle.  Snarly Prince Lapin, who wears an Indiana Jones-type hat, and his younger brother go though various booby traps in a Mayan temple. They are there to steal a valuable relic, the Hamster of Darkness, but it turns out to be fake.  They barely escape alive.  

Back at their boat, they find a baby abandoned by its parents -- a rabbit with a crest of feathers and chicken feet.  Younger brother decides to adopt him, and names him Chickenhare.

Scene 2:
The pre-industrial era kingdom, 17th or 18th-century.  Anthropomorphic animals of all sorts.  Its main raison d'etre seems to sending adventurers out to find humorous relics, like the silverware from the Last Brunch.  Dad is an expert adventurer, and Chickenhare (Jordan Tartakow) wants to be just like him: he reads every book available on adventuring, and practices with his squeamish, stick-in-the-mud servant, a turtle named Abe.

Scene 3:  Time jump. Dad is now king, watching the Olympics-style contest to determine which hopeful will be admitted to the Royal Adventure Society and get to go out in search of the lost relics.  In the stands, Chickenhare overhears his friends making fun of him.  He puts on hare-slippers to hid his chicken-feet, and an Indiana Jones-style hat to cover his tuft of feathers. 

Scene 4: Time jump. The young adult Chickenhawk competes in the adventurer contest, but flubs the obstacle-course challenge because he can't run well in hare-slippers.  Dad suggest he look for another career. Does he need a career when he'll be king someday?

Scene 5
: Chickenhare decides to go out on his own to find the most important of the relics, the Hamster of Darkness: then they'll have to admit him to the Royal Adventure Society.  The problem is in the clues: "Check the Constellation of the Hamster at 9:00 am."  Constellations are invisible at that hour.  Maybe if he reads the original text; but that volume has been checked out of the library -- by his evil Uncle Lapin!

Scene 6:   On the way to the Silence of the Lambs-style prison where evil Uncle Lapin is held, Chickenhare tells servant Abe what he doubtless already knows: when Grandpa chose the younger son to rule, Lapin was furious and tried to assassinate Dad and usurp the throne.  

Lapin refuses to hand over the book with the original text.  He also snatches a chicken feather from Chickenhare's head.

Scene 7: And uses it to escape!  He's going to get the Hamster of Darkness for himself and use it to usurp the throne!  Dad goes after him. Shouldn't he just send the royal navy? 

Scene 8: In the library, Chickenhare and Abe find a map on the wall behind some books.  At 9:00 am, the sun shines onto the map, illuminating the proper constellation.  They now know where the Hamster is!  Dad is going the wrong way.  They have to go after the Hamster themselves, to save Dad (and the kingdom) from Lapin.   

Scene 9: They set sail in a small sailboat. Again, call the royal navy!  You're the Prince.     

Scene 10:
  In an Oriental port city, Chickenhare and Abe go into a bar full of disreputable types to hire a guide.  Han Solo?  They are warned against hiring a shiftless female skunk, but when they are shanghaied, she rescues them.  So...

I'll stop the scene-by-scene there.  You should know that:

1. The Hamster of Darkness is actually a sceptre that you can use to summon millions of hamster-ghosts to do your bidding.  

2. There are no indigenous peoples.  They are not stealing the artifacts from anyone.

3. There are virtually no heterosexual relationships in this world.  The evil mage who built the Temple of the Hamster had a wife, and one of Lapin's gorilla henchmen has a wife back home.  Otherwise nothing is mentioned, and there are no male-female couples, even in crowd scenes. 

And only one reference to heterosexual desire.  When they reach the Temple of the Hamster, Chickenhare points out a statue of the wife of the builder.  Abe says "It's wonderful that you appreciate the female form, but..."  But Chickenhare has just discovered a clue.  

4. Lance and Luther, a chicken and a hare (Cedric Williams, Joseph Camen), are partnered, and could be read as a gay-subtext couple.  

5. The Indiana Jones and Star Wars homages are deliberate.  During the climactic battle on an ice bridge, Lapin says "Chickenhare, I am your father...just kidding."

6. Chris Grine, who wrote the original graphic novel, has many other projects, including graphic novels concerning the Animorphs, Alien Bones, The Secrets of Camp Whatever, and Time Shifters,  with a minimum of heterosexual desire.  

Jul 12, 2022

Boo, Bitch: In My Day, We Called Them Nerds


Boo, Bitch!, on Netflix,  In my day, that was a bad word.  Erika is a high school wallflower whose mantra is "Be invisible," sort of like the nerds of my day.  Erika constantly moons over the Boy of Her Dreams, Jake C. (Mason Versaw). 

The only beefcake photo of Mason Versaw I could find was extremely unattractive, so here's Reid Miller, who plays Brad (below).

Jake C. literally does not know that Erika exists; he's attached to a girlfriend so self-centered and caustic that one can't imagine how he can stand to be with her more than 20 seconds.  BFF Gia makes it her life's mission to help Erika win the Boy.  

Sounds like the distaff side of a 1980s teen nerd movie, and indeed this tv series does feel like it was written by oldsters trying to guess how kids today act.  "Look, they're texting on cell phones, har har!  In my day we passed notes!  They use weird acronyms like LMAO, even when talking.  Hi-larious!"

Erika decides to turn over a new leaf, go to a big senior year party, and start living before she dies.  Unfortunately, just after the party, she is squashed by a moose. Now a ghost ("Boo, Bitch!"), she must finish her unfinished business by the full moon or something. 

I watched the first two episodes, but the first was all set-up, so I'll do a scene-by-scene of Episode 2.

Scene 1: Erika awakens after the moose-stomp.  Gia points out her bloodied body protruding from the moose: she's a ghost!  But she's able to be seen and touched.  She has to eat and use the bathroom.  She can't make herself invisible.  She seems perfectly alive, except for lowering the temperature of the space around her.  How is that possible?  My guess: in Japanese folklore, ghosts are corporeal.  The only difference from humans is a spot of blood visible on their body.

Scene 2: They go to their coffee shop hangout, where the barista is complaining that it's so cold, his nipples are showing (men's nipples, har-har).  Erika discovers a new power: she wants a mocaccino, but has no money. A zap of electricity fries the computer, so for the time being all drinks are free!  

They test Erika's ability to manipulate other electronic objects, like a laptop and the sound system.  She tends to over-zap.  

Scene 3:
At home, they conduct some research, but every book and movie about ghosts seems to make up its own rules.  

Erika's Mom and Dad (John Brantley Cole, left) come in to announce that they're taking Erika's brother Oliver to his game and they left the liquor cabinet unlocked (very progressive parents!).   Traditionally one hides one's teenage anomaly from the parents, but I'm guessing that Mom and Dad find out by Episode 3.

Scene 4: In the bathroom (she has to pee again), Erika mourns her "meaningless, uneventful" life.  Then the phone rings: it's Mason, the Boy of Her Dreams, inviting her to a post-party hang!  

Scene 5:
They drop by the woods to put hot sauce on Erika's corpse so animals don't eat it.  Then, still doing research, they check out a spirit sighting posted on their social media page by a fundamentalist Christian club: it turns out to be Jesus in a pizza, but Gia and Erika interview them anyway.  "What happens after you die?" "You go to heaven or hell. Those are the only options." "What about purgatory?"  "Only Catholics believe in that, and of course it's crazy."  Finally, a tv show where Christians are not all Catholic.

Meanwhile, Jake C and his three friends, two named Jake (Conor Husting, Michael Solomon), the other a jock (Austin Fryberger, left), are in the hot tub (shoulder and head shots only). They criticize his interest in Erika, and urge him to go back to the Mean Girl Riley.  She's best friends with one of their girlfriends, so if she's angry with Jake C for dumping her, none of them can be friends with him anymore.  

Scene 6: Brad (Reid Miller, top photo), who is at the fundamentalist Christian meeting even though he has long hair and wears a cape, invites the girls to visit his Afterlifers club: "Bring a packet of hemlock, or Capri Sun."  He's quite feminine; maybe he's gay.

Meanwhile, Jake C's ex-girlfriend arrives at the hot tube in a boobalicious outfit.  He asks her to leave, but she notices that he is distressed and insists on staying; they're still friends, after all.  "What's bothering you?"  "I invited Erika to this party, but she didn't show up!"  Wow, that's quite a turnaround.  I wonder if Erika is usng her ghost powers to mind-control him.  

Scene 7:
The bickering, argumentative Afterlifers meet in a cemetery at midnight: magician Brad, medium Gavin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), and astrologist Raven. 

Brad is familiar with the phenomenon of "embodied ghosts": he totally boned a hot chick, but then she vanished.  Ok, he's straight.  She died a virgin, so she had to bone a guy to go on to the other side.

To summarize: ghosts have unfinished business.  They become embodied when they need bodies to complete that business.  Like Erike needs to kiss the Boy of Her Dreams.  I would have thought sex, but ok.

Scene 8: Jake C. and his ex-girlfriend Riley leaving the house, discussing reasons that Erika might have stood him up.  Uh-oh, seeing Riley act nice has gotten Jake interested again; they kiss.  Now Erika won't be able to horn in!  The end.

Beefcake: The four guys in the hot tub, but we don't actually see much of them.

Gay Characters: Gia and Gavin don't display any heterosexual interest in this episode, but guess what?  In later episodes they start dating each other.

Heterosexism:  The fade-out boy-girl kiss is the whole, entire point of the whole, entire series.

The Corpse: Erika's body is right next to the road.  Won't someone find it?

My Grade: D.

Jul 10, 2022

Ninja Kids of the 1990s

One of the legacies of Ralph Macchio's Karate Kid (1984), and ultimately Bruce Lee's popularization of Chinese martial arts, was a fad of ninja kids.  Unfortunately, they almost invariably limited buddy bonding to concentrate on making teenage or preteen martial artists, or both, improbably hetero-horny, contributing to the 1990s insistence that no gay kids could exist.

In 1993’s Surf Ninjas, hardbodied teenageJohnny (Ernie Reyes Jr., who also starred in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) gazes at girls and Playboy magazine.  His brother, Adam, claims lack of interest, but when Johnny’s potential bride shows up in a veil, he quips “Chick’s got a veil, dude better bail,” and when Johnny’s opening line to her is the lame “Wanna go to the mall sometime?” he says “Way to close the deal, Casanova.”  Though he expresses no interest of his own, he is aware of heterosexual desire at the age of eleven.

Born in September 1979, Ted Jan Roberts made several karate kid-type straight-to-video films before he retired to become a martial arts pro. In A Dangerous Place (1994), the fey thirteen-year old kicks, jabs, and buddy-bonds with William James Jones without glancing at girls, but in A Power Within (1995) and Tiger Heart (1996), the fourteen year old’s main goal in life is to ask a girl for a date.

3 Ninjas (1992) starred three martial arts-whiz brothers: Rocky (Michael Treanor), Colt (Max Elliot Slade), and Tum-Tum (Chad Power).  (Because they are strong, quick, and gluttonous, respectively).  Only the oldest, Rocky, is interested in girls, to the hilarious amusement of his brothers.  But none of them expresses any interest in boys, or even has a male friend.

The $29,000,000 gross ensured a sequel, The Three Ninjas Knuckle Up (1995).  This time it's the second brother, Colt, who -- on a vacation in the Southwest, flirts with – and rescues – the Native American girl Jo.  When his brothers tease him, saying “Colt’s gonna kiss Jo,” he happily agrees: “Maybe I will.”

The ninjas had remain to be kids, just on the edge of adolescence, in The Three Ninjas Kick Back (1995), only Max Elliott Slade remained of the original cast. Sean Fox now played Rocky, and J. Evan Bonifant Tum-Tum.   At fourteen Colt was obviously an adolescent, significantly taller, with a deeper voice.  Again, Colt is the one who grins at, almost-kisses, and rescues a teenage girl.

 In The Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998), there was a new group: fourteen-year old Mathew Botuchis, teen-idol cute in a red muscle shirt, played Rocky as assiduously girl-crazy, rescuing and kissing not only his girlfriend but a  new, brainy female sidekick.   The other boys, played by Michael O'Laskey and James Paul Roeske.  remain uninterested.

What are we to make of these variations in heterosexual desire?

1. Not every kid in the movie had to pursue a hetero-romance, but at least one of them did.
2. There was no room for same-sex friendships.  Males were bullies, antagonists, enemy spies, never friends.
3. Heroic fantasy, such as the Neverending Story, had more room for buddy-bonding than movies set in our own world.
4. Beefcake was not necessary, nor even recommended, since every shirtless or swimsuit shot invites the gaze of gay boys and teenagers, and you want to pretend that there are none.

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