Monday, September 11, 2023

Babymetal - Live Review from Atlanta, GA 2023

It's been four years since Babymetal last toured the United States. And four years ago, I was lucky enough to catch them three times, including seeing them for my birthday in Orlando on September 4th, 2019. Now, four years later, they've finally made their way back out here again. And, again, they've made it out around my area just in time for my birthday (well, the day before my birthday to be exact, but close enough). This time out they emanated from the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta, GA on September 3rd, 2023 as part of their Babyklok tour, and let's just say that it was well worth the wait. Back in 2019, some members of the fandom dubbed my birthday show as "Legend C", so I suppose this time out we can perhaps refer to it as "Legend 1986"?

I got seats this time around, which meant I didn't have to arrive super early like before, but I did wander around a bit before the show to see if I could find any of my friends from the last time they were here. I did find one of them, and we caught up for a bit before they started letting us into the venue.

Once inside, I was initially put off by my seat, in which my view was partially obstructed by an inexplicably placed huge stanchion.

Thankfully though, a couple who had gotten their seats split up was willing to trade with me, and I wound up getting a much better view.

Much better.

Still though, it's rather baffling that those seats are even available for purchase. The seat directly beside me literally has no view of the stage, and I noticed that a number of people who were seated there eventually moved elsewhere as the show progressed.

Onto the show, first up was Jason Richardson, a lone guitarists who performed on stage to a backing track. I mean, the music itself was fine, highlighted by a genre-hopping track not unlike something we might hear from Babymetal themselves, but the performance did feel kind of awkward just seeing the dude all by himself up there. Could he really not gather together a full band to perform on stage with him?

Next up was the co-headliners of the show, Dethklok, the cartoon band from the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse.

For the first half of their set, I was actually digging them. Again, the music's not bad, even if it isn't necessarily my taste, but the presentation was rather neat, as the cartoon characters were shown performing the songs in the background while the live band performed on stage. At first I thought this was actually a pretty good fit for a co-headliner with Babymetal, who are also quite a visual-heavy band. But then, about halfway into their set, the backing images started to become rather pornographic, which was honestly pretty off-putting.

The show was listed as appropriate for all ages, and Babymetal themselves are a very family friendly band, and I had seen a number of people bringing their kids to this show. So for Dethklok to move forward with this presentation was honestly kind of gross. Perhaps a censored version of the visuals would have been more appropriate, or just rotate in different songs that aren't as explicit. Otherwise, the band played for an hour, and it honestly did start to drag about halfway into the set. I didn't hate them or anything, but I also wasn't super thrilled with them, either.

But anyways, onto better things, my favorite band in the whole world was up next, and as always, they never fail to deliver big. I did take a few photos and video clips, but for the most part, I just wanted to take in the atmosphere and just really be there in the moment. They came out wearing their new outfits, which sort of resemble Power Rangers suits when viewed in person, and kicked things off with a song that, before this year, I was convinced I was never going to be able to see live, that being Babymetal Death.

From there, they moved onto Gimme Chocolate and Pa Pa Ya, and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as I took in the party-like atmosphere. The Gods of the West performed an extended intro for Distortion, which went long enough to where I thought we might be in for some new solos or something leading into the song (we were not), and during this period, guitarist Chris Kelly was motioning for the crowd to form a circle pit, which sadly didn't gain much traction. Su was able to succeed in getting the pit going later in the song, but from my vantage point, I did notice how the pit seemed a lot less rowdy this time out compared to years past.

BxMxC was a blast to experience live. And on this evening, our rotating song from The Other One album that we were treated to was Mirror Mirror, which I was very happy by. This song is one of my favorites off the new album. It's one that's brought me to tears listening to on occasion, and seeing it live certainly struck an emotional chord with me as well.

Monochrome was next, and I've gotta say, this song hits way different live. Like, I could feel this song in my chest. Very powerful performance, and I loved the moment where Su asked all of us to take out our phones and shine our lights.

While the previous two songs might've brought a string of emotional powerhouses, the next song was likely the highlight of the evening, as they performed their brand new song Metali. And let me tell you, the live version of this song is simply bonkers. Starting off with some sweet new Kami solos, this song truly feels like theater to watch on stage. There's a moment about halfway in where Su asked everyone in the crowd to sit down, and everyone in the pit proceeded to do just that. We then witnessed Momoko's cool solo moment, ending with her growling, "Are you ready?", as the music kicks in and everyone in the crowd hopped back up to their feet. This was just awesome to be a part of live.

We then rounded out the evening with a number of classics, including an especially hard hitting performance of Megitsune...

... and moving on to their appropriately timed performance of Headbanger. They play this song on the band's big birthday celebration shows, and so far, they've played it every time they've come around for my birthday, too. I wonder if Koba's seen my posts on social media?

Headbanger - Legend 1986 Version

They closed out their show with Road of Resistance, though at the very beginning of the song, I noticed that something went awry with Moa's flag. She leaned down to check on one of the security guys in front of the crowd, then laughed it off with Momoko afterwards. Closer fan cams would later confirm that she had indeed accidentally hit the security in the head with her flag pole, and was apologizing for the incident afterward. The song itself was fantastic as always, and brought us home in a big way, after which they had told us, "See you!", to which I gleefully yelled it back in return.

So yeah, another successful Babymetal show, and I honestly think this one may have topped their prior performances I had seen from Orlando and Atlanta in 2019 (not The Forum, though. That one's still the best I've seen live). Even if their show may be relatively short (only an hour, though it went by so quick I'd swear it was half that length), they always deliver, and put on a hell of a spectacle that just demands to be seen in person. I would absolutely see them again whenever they may make their way back around, and if you get a chance to see them near your area, I can't recommend it enough.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Velcro the Ninja Kat: Second Edition Paperbacks - Now Available!!

Our 10 year celebration of Velcro the Ninja Kat continues with these brand new commemorative Second Editions of the Ninja Kat novels, featuring updated text, and dynamic new cover art capturing key moments from the story. Click the links below for each corresponding book, and order your copies today!

Velcro: The Ninja Kat - Second Edition Paperback

Velcro: The Green Lion - Second Edition Paperback

Velcro: The Masquerade - Second Edition Paperback

Velcro: Polluted War - Second Edition Paperback

Velcro: The Egg Hunters - Second Edition Paperback

Monday, February 13, 2023

Movies I've Seen Multiple Times in the Theater

I'm sure most of us have come across certain movies that we've wound up going back to see again while it was still in theaters. Sometimes we get dragged out to the same movie multiple times by different groups of friends (Van Helsing), or sometimes we happen to stumble upon something that's so good that we just have to go back out and experience it again and again (Belle). Heck, sometimes that movie's so good that we wind up being that friend that drags everyone else out to see it, so that they can experience its greatness for themselves (Dredd)!

Well, over the years, I've been keeping track of the movies that I've seen in the theater multiple times, and now here's what that list looks like today.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Art of the Ninja Kat

As we continue our 10 year celebration of Velcro the Ninja Kat, let's take a look back at some of the artists who have contributed over the years in bringing this journey to life.

Sharon Kemmerer

Velcro: The Ninja Kat - First Edition (2012)

Trevor Tee

Velcro: The Comic (2013 - 2014)

Velcro: The Green Lion - First Edition (2014)

Velcro: The Masquerade - First Edition (2016)

Christine Schongar

Velcro: Polluted War - First Edition (2017)

Velcro the Ninja Kat presents: Kip (2018)

Velcro: The Egg Hunters - First Edition (2020)

Travis Earls

Velcro the Ninja Kat: The Complete Edition (2022)

And introducing...
Daniel Hooker
(Click on the covers to expand)

Velcro: The Ninja Kat - Second Edition

Velcro: The Green Lion - Second Edition

Velcro: The Masquerade - Second Edition

Velcro: Polluted War - Second Edition

Velcro: The Egg Hunters - Second Edition

Coming soon...

Monday, January 16, 2023

My #1 Movie of the Year, Every Single Year

While I haven't actively been reviewing movies anymore for a few years now, one thing I still like to do all the same is, at the end of each year, I still enjoy ranking my favorites from the past year. And seeing as how I've been consistently ranking my favorite films every year since 2009, I thought it might be fun to look back and see what I chose at the time to be my #1 favorite movie from each year (as well as the decades as a whole). So, without further ado, here are my #1 Movies of the Year from every single year that I've been consistently ranking movies:


(James Cameron)

2000 - 2009
Best of the Decade

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
(George Lucas)


(Christopher Nolan)


Sucker Punch
(Zack Snyder)


(Pete Travis)


Iron Man 3
(Shane Black)


(Christopher Nolan)


Inside Out
(Pete Docter)


La La Land
(Damien Chazelle)


(James Mangold)


Bohemian Rhapsody
(Bryan Singer)


Frozen II
(Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)

2010 - 2019
Best of the Decade

(Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)


The Hunt
(Craig Zobel)


Raya and the Last Dragon
(Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada)


Sonic the Hedgehog 2
(Jeff Fowler)

And there it is. And while I do still stand by most of these, there are a few which I would totally swap out for another movie at this point. However, while I was considering sharing those picks that I'd change, I instead decided that I'd just like to let these initial picks stand on their own. After all, the Academy doesn't get to go back and say what movies they would have picked for Best Picture if they changed their minds years later, so who am I to go back and retroactively change what's essentially my own picks for Best Picture each year at the time.

But anyways, those are my original picks for #1 Movie of the Year each year. What movies were your favorites from each year at the time?

Saturday, December 31, 2022

My Top 4 Movies of 2022

It's that time once again. Let's take a look at what wound up being my favorite movies I watched from 2022. But first...

Honorable Mention from 2021

(Mamoru Hosoda)

Technically a 2021 release, though it didn't come out theatrically here until January this past year, I mention it now because it's without a doubt the absolute best new movie I've seen this whole year (the best new movie I've seen in over three years in fact), and it's not even close. If it counted as a 2022 film, it'd easily top this list. And had I seen it before posting my list last year, it would've easily topped that one, too.

A modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast for the social media age, this was just such a gem of a movie. I was so impressed with the film upon initial viewing at the theater that afterwards, I immediately left for the ticket counter, purchased another ticket, and watched it a second time in a row right then and there, which is the first time I had ever done that for any movie before.

A beautiful movie with breathtaking music and a story that'll hit you in all the feels, I can't recommend this one enough. I watched both the dubbed and subtitled versions, and while you really can't go wrong either way, I'd personally suggest going with the dub on this one.

Now then, onto the entries for this year's list...


Top Gun: Maverick
(Joseph Kosinski)

Just an all around solid and impressive outing, this movie serves to remind us what going to the movies is supposed to be all about: pure escapist fun! Also perhaps the most technically impressive movie of the year as well, given everything that went in to the making of this film, and capturing everything that they did in a practical manner. Here's hoping this movie's massive success triggers a return to form of sorts for the medium moving forward.


(Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)

The first Scream not directed by Wes Craven, this fifth entry all the same serves as a perfect tribute to the franchise, while paying respect and staying true to Wes Craven's vision for this series up to this point. I honestly thought this was the best since the original film, and was highly impressed with its clever takes throughout. It's almost a shame that they're still planning to make more of these though, as I felt this movie also acted as a perfect sendoff for the series as a whole at that.


Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
(Joel Crawford)

I just really dug this movie. I thought the first Puss in Boots was okay, but that it didn't quite meet the potential it had to be a truly great film. Well, eleven years later, we have a sequel that absolutely reaches that potential and then some, and I'd honestly say that this is just straight up the movie we should've gotten all those years back in the first place. And heck, while we're at it, I'd also say that this movie also accomplishes what Pixar's Soul tried and, in my opinion, failed to accomplish from a thematic standpoint as well, and is very much the film that movie should've been, too. There's just so much heart and charm here, and a surprising amount of character and thematic depth, all brought to life with some truly stunning animation to be found throughout.


Sonic the Hedgehog 2
(Jeff Fowler)

The Sonic movies are officially my personal Avengers films at this point. I thought the first movie was a pleasant surprise, and I found this follow-up to be similarly delightful. And enjoying this one in a crowded theater packed with enthusiastic Sonic fans especially made for a really cool experience. I'd perhaps argue that the first movie is a better and more overall solid film, but even so, this sequel is still a blast all the same, and does an outstanding job bringing the video games and these characters to life in a big way.

If there's a common theme amongst my picks this year, I'd say that a pure genuine love and respect for the source material and its existing fanbase is what you could perhaps take the most away from what helped elevate these films for me this year. And that sentiment certainly holds true in a big way with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in which you can just tell how much the filmmakers truly love this series and are very much fans of it themselves, and in turn made a movie that fans around the world would similarly love and appreciate.