Media Roundup: Catching up on Warehouse 13, Finished the 1st Girl Genius novel and Psycho Pass

I’m finally getting my posts in order. Sorry about last week! It’s my second week in a new lab, and that always takes a little adjustment.

Warehouse 13

Premise – A secret government branch is charged with tracking down and neutralizing “artifacts”, which are dangerous objects imbued with some kind of power.

Borrowed from gawkerassets.com

Verdict – I’m catching up with this show (there is a certain time lag to watching these things legally), and finally seeing the first episode where James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) guest starred. His character was kind of a wastrel professor, and a lot of fun to watch. It’s interesting that the more we learn about him, the more sense he makes as a character.

Things don’t look like they’re going to come easy this season, especially with given what the team is going through. As usual, I love the acting and characterization–though one character, Myka, does seem to have a wireless connection to an encyclopedia in her brain. Other than that, I’m pretty happy.

Agatha H and the Airship City

Borrowed from girlgeniusonline.com

Premise – This is the first book in the novelization of the Hugo award winning webcomic Girl Genius. It follows Agatha Clay. I won’t say too much about our main protagonist to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say that she lives in a steampunk-esque world where mad scientists rule the world. And oh, is her journey ever fun. The story is the same as in the webcomic, but the different mode of presentation adds to the experience of the story.

Verdict – Full disclosure, I read the novel as someone who loves the webcomic. That makes it a little hard to gauge how the story would seem to someone who doesn’t already know all the characters. That said, if you don’t know the characters, you could be reading the webcomic. It’s online, it’s free, and it’s one of the best comics of its time (and again, has won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. Three times in a row, from when the award was established, to when the writers withdrew themselves from nomination. Because they just kept winning).

The novel provides different details than the webcomic, and we get a little more of the characters’ thoughts. The story is as fun as ever, with crazy characters and absurd situations. It’s a humorous adventure tale, and manages to mix in serious situations with a good dose of comedy. The first book deals with Agatha getting swept up in adventure for the first time, and learning the truth about herself and her family. She also learns what she’s capable of, and establishes who her friends and enemies are going to be. The cast is huge, their roles are diverse, and the story is kind of epic.

Psycho Pass

Borrowed from myanimelist.net

Premise – A dystopia where criminals can be detected before they commit a crime. Unlike the movie with a similar idea, Minority Report, here they detect potential criminals by continually running analyses on people’s psychological state. Depending on their results, latent criminals may be deemed redeemable or unreedemable. Some of the redeemable ones are main characters, working under handlers in taking down other potential criminals.

Verdict – I knew going in that this was going to be dark (it’s made by Gen Urobuchi, who’s in the same league as Joss Whedon and GRRM for character death–in fact, I’m writing another post about that). But wow. I think the mission statement of the first episode is to make the audience realize that this will not be a light and fluffy show. As in, trigger warning for that episode.

The next few episodes turn it down a little bit–it’s still a dystopian police show, but it’s not actively trying to freak out the audience anymore. It’s just trying to give us a sense of what the world is like, and what kind of issues the police force deal with. And then an arc dealing with a really disturbing set of murders launches. This is why it took me so long to finish the show–the most free time I had to watch it was late at night, and I couldn’t watch these episodes late at night. They needed to be seen in daylight, way before I went to sleep.

That arc served as a kind of introduction to the main storyline that followed. I was actually expecting that main storyline to be darker–not that it wasn’t plenty dark, because it was. It’s just that I was expecting the absolute worst.

I should also point out that the set up between the two main leads, in any other show, would be a set up for a romance. Probably a cheezy one, but I suppose someone could have done it well. But from the first moments I saw that, I was like, ‘nope, you aren’t tricking me like that. I’ve seen your other stuff, and I know better.’ This was part of why I was expecting much worse, but the show didn’t take it in that direction. And I’m actually really happy that they kept it at a friendship level.

As a caveat, there are some improbable deductions, but what show doesn’t have those these days?

Overall, I really enjoyed watching this (in the daylight). There’s a lot to think about, and different viewpoints representing that. It deals with the impact that being in awful situations has on different people. It discusses what it means for people to be separated based on how likely they are to hurt other people–both for the ones who are and those who aren’t likely to do it. It exposes our human weaknesses, but doesn’t blame people for having them.

Interesting ideas are raised, which are worth thinking about, especially given that a lot of us do live in kind of a safety bubble, though in a different way from the people in this society. It kind of makes me wonder what goes on behind the curtain of my own society, to make it capable of running the way it does. And whether or not I really want to know.

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