Friday, 17 June 2022

A Quantum Microcosm, Adrift On The Sea Of History: Part 1 (Quantum Leap Season 1)

(Hope you made it through that long intro! Now that we're on the other side and you hopefully understand where I'm coming from, here is me talking about the first season of Quantum Leap, episode by episode, a little bit after I watched each one. At nine episodes it's nice and slim, a good appetizer, but every other season has 22 so I'm guessing I'll have to split these going forward. Either way... here we go. Oh boy, as the man says.)

Well, here we are again. It's a weird bit of temporal grace, me writing this. It is May 31st, 2022, and this is going to be the last paragraph I write before I watch Quantum Leap. For God's sakes I don't even have a name for this project yet. I will probably come up with something succinct and grandiose involving quantum singularities and microcosms and other weird alchemical-sounding words like that. It's just how we roll here. My coffee shop metaphors fail me 'cause this isn't me sitting down with you to tell you a story. No, this time you're along for the ride. I pulled you along the deep dark twisted wounds of my internal landscape, and I hope you understood me better for it. Now that you know where I'm at, it's time we voyage onward. Together this time, in a spiritual sense. You're probably not literally watching the show along with me or anything, but you're travelling with me all the same. I'm travelling episode by episode, and you're travelling word for word. What is a blank Notepad file below for me is a journey through Season 1 of Quantum Leap for you. I'm building the road of words for you to travel along, and maybe together we'll find some of that small-scale small-stakes enlightenment and respite I've been needing.

Wish me luck, my friend in words. Time to build your road of words. It's time, at last, for the Quantum Leap.

Monday, 13 June 2022

A Quantum Microcosm, Adrift On The Sea Of History (Introduction)

(Well, here we go again. Another long-form project of sorts that I hope will be finished before late September, when my writing business kicks into high gear with the Halloween blogging and NaNoWriMo. Until then, it's the summer! Warm sun, sandy beaches, grilled delights, cool drinks... and the beginning of this project, the long-awaited critical analysis/trip log of Quantum Leap. Before that, though... Well, I will let my past self explain. It's a little long and meandering, but put your trust in me and follow along as I grind my axe finally, won't you?)

Let's talk, you and I. Let's talk about betrayal.

I am writing this on May 24th, 2022. Night Of The Loving Dead Part 2 is currently being published on the blog as I write this. By now you may have read the coda, where I go into an existential crisis over the show threatening wild shit like aliens or a metaphysical battle between the sentient forces of prosperity and curse. Zombie Land Saga put me in an awkward spot of worry, the first time the show has ever truly done that to me. I've been here before, though. Over the last five years, I've voyaged to some of the highest heights in my internal landscape. The media I've talked about has moved and changed me, inspiring me on a fundamental level to think and do and create better. I sincerely cannot thank it enough for that. There's no such thing as perfect media, though, and on several occasions these important things have betrayed me and my trust. They've let me down, and those compounded letdowns compared to my own beliefs and tastes have led me here today, to exorcise the negativity in my heart and vent my frustrations once and for all on this page here.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Night Of The Loving Dead: Coda (The Prosperity And Curse Of Saga)

Coda: RIP, The Barriers Keeping The Macrocosmic Epic Apocalypse Out Of Saga

Night Of The Loving Dead wasn't supposed to end like this. Not exactly. I was going to post that absolutely buck-wild screencap set of the UFO, do some light screaming about fleeing the space shit in terror, and then that would transition us into the next project. Let me pull the curtain back for you. The next big thing on this blog is going to be me watching a little show from the 1990s called Quantum Leap. In essence, I'm going here because I have major burnout from the other massive long-running sci-fi franchises. Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, they've all let me down and become these monstrous Ouroboroi that are about themselves instead of anything strongly emotionally resonant. Quantum Leap seems like a story that's just about ordinary people and helping to change their lives for the better, with a sprinkle of fantastic elements like the titular quantum leaping. You know, a lot like how Zombie Land Saga is a fantastic story with the supernatural element of the living dead but it's actually about inspiring ordinary people in Saga to be better and come together. That is, until the fucking aliens came in right at the very end. I thought that was it, though. I thought that was the only horrible thing I'd have to deal with.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Night Of The Loving Dead: Part 2 (Zombie Land Saga Revenge) [2.5]

2.5: RIP, Our Physical Home After An Apocalyptic Disaster, But Also The Final Barriers Keeping Saga From Uniting Together!

Here we are. The final stretch. I am both elated and terrified. What's coming is a big storm, both literally in the show and metaphorically for our girls, but also metaphorically for you and I. We are going to deal with some of the highest utopic highs possible as Saga itself gets that little bit closer to being "saved", but there's something looming on a high mountain peak that we have to climb in order to make it out of this project alive. This is probably going to be a long one, so why don't we just dive in? To recap, a four-episode stretch was just spent on two showing how people react to learning Franchouchou are zombies, and two detailing the sad sad incident of Yugiri's death and the last attempt to save Saga. Taking all that together, on to the present, right?

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Night Of The Loving Dead: Part 2 (Zombie Land Saga Revenge) [2.4]

(TW: blood)

2.4: RIP, The Attempts To Make A Better Future From Days Long Gone, And The Cynical Belief That Better Things Aren't Possible!

Well now, this is an interesting double feature. So far over a season and a half, we've had multiple episodes focusing on key members of Franchouchou. We've seen Sakura's pessimism be shattered, Ai and Junko working out the new landscape of how to be idols in a post-undeath world, Lily shining brightly, Saki reckoning with her own past, and Tae... well, Tae got to have a fun day out and we adore her. Absent from that list is Franchouchou's No. 5, Yugiri. I haven't gotten much of a chance to mention her, as she's been along for the ride and doing her own thing, inspiring where applicable and taking the misadventures of Franchouchou with grace and mild bemusement. There have been no focal episodes about her, though, until now. Unlike certain other shows with certain other characters who remain as bland set dressing because the writer would rather focus on other people (wonder Who I'm subtweeting here), Zombie Land Saga Revenge decides to rectify this. So, right at the start of the back half of the show, we get episodes 8 and 9 as a focus on Yugiri.

Of course, that's not all that's going on here. This is not like other arcs of the show, where the undead girl in question has to reckon with some ideological challenge or signifier of their living life rearing back up in the modern day. Quite the opposite. There are no zombies in these episodes. Well, until the end when we do see Franchouchou for a song. And that one guy, but that's a whole other thing to deal with. This is the story of Yugiri's life, and how it ended. It's far richer than that, even, as it's the story of Saga in the long-ago era of Meiji Japan in the 1880s. The story of how this scrappy little prefecture was dissolved by the government, and the fight to have it reinstated out of local pride. A story about Saga's first attempt to save itself, the revolution which followed, and the bloodshed which followed. It's the story of how utopia failed to take hold back then, and that is the signifier of living life that we must reckon with. Not just Yugiri, but the show itself. Let's get into it. Back through the years we go, back before even the lost age of 1983 which Junko hails from. Back a hundred years before that. Back to Meiji 14, the year 1881.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Night Of The Loving Dead: Part 2 (Zombie Land Saga Revenge) [2.3]

2.3: RIP, The Secret Of Our Undead Lives And The Dehumanization Of Thinking, Feeling Zombies!

Now we're delving into the real crunchy stuff, y'all. The first five episodes of this season are all pretty good, and gave us some fun things to look at and talk about. The next seven episodes of the season all call back and respond to what came before in various ways, and we'll be looking at them for the rest of the analysis. We'll talk about episodes 6 and 7 this time, and though things in 6 are going to echo out to the rest of what's to come, they make quite a pairing. I promised you terrifying threat of narrative collapse, and not just in the last post. It's been hanging over us since the end of Season 1, with that post-credits tease of Ookoba the reporter musing over pictures of Ai, Junko, and Lily and comparing them with the Franchouchou girls. The implicit and terrible threat of what would happen if someone learned the truth; if someone learned that the girls of Franchouchou were zombies. It's going to happen. It's imminent. It will happen, and it is going to happen in episode 6: Tae Yamada's very own episode.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Night Of The Loving Dead: Part 2 (Zombie Land Saga Revenge) [2.2]

2.2: RIP, The Unsmashed Barriers Keeping Us From Letting Our Voices Be Heard As We Make An Impression On Our Idol Rivals!

Yes, just as Zombie Land Saga Revenge isn't afraid to parallel two strands of the same theme with a Saki and Lily episode apiece, so too do we get another two-part story arc involving Ai and Junko. Given that Junko rocketed up to become my favorite Franchouchou member after I wrote up season 1, you can bet I'm excited about this. There's going to be emotional resonance, girls wondering about their place in Franchouchou, lament over the past, and at least two moments where Junko's performance moves me deeply. I'm excited. Are you excited? Let's begin.

Opening episode 3 is Ai, looking up idol stuff online. In particular, an Iron Frill performance. Her old idol group's got incredible moves, moves that Ai admits are beyond Franchouchou just yet. Then autoplay puts on an acoustic guitar song which Ai reacts to in surprise before Sakura bursts in and Ai closes the browser all flustered like. Put a pin in that. Still, even if Franchouchou aren't on the level of Iron Frill, they're doing well for themselves in their own pond here in Saga. Between performances and TV appearances they're making real progress in climbing back out of the hole that was the EFS bomb, but Ai warns everyone not to be complacent or else they'll always be "those local idols what bombed at the EFS". No, they have to go beyond that, rise above what the people expect of them; rise above what happened to them in the past. If they can't, they'll just be dead and rotting corpses, figuratively and literally. It's a very Ai way of looking at things, refusing to let the traumas of the past define you and always striding to move forward from it at all cost. Even Junko agrees that regression in the entertainment business is the same as dying. The pair of experienced idols in life know what's up, and they each have a unique outlook on all of this.