Category Archives: animation

DuckTales: Remastered – Woo-oo!

It seems to me that DuckTales Remastered doesn’t even need a full review. If you have a PS3, Wii-U (which sounds appropriate, given the property) or Steam, you should have this game. If you have a 360, you should get this game when it’s released in a month. It’s one of the best short platforming games out there. Read the rest of this entry

Young Justice: Season One

The original Young Justice comic was the perfect source material for an animated series. It sadly never came to happen, but the Teen Titans cartoon was a good substitute. It still would have been nice to see Tim Drake’s Robin teamed up with Impulse and Superboy in an ongoing animated series.

A couple years ago an announcement was made for a Young Justice cartoon, featuring an Aqualad of color and a lack of overall humor. The latter was a deal breaker for YJ purists with the former being a deal breaker for DC purists. I was of course interested in the series, and it did not disappoint. Read the rest of this entry

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

[Author’s Note: If you’re just curious about what I thought of the movie, skip down to where you see the asterisks. Otherwise, this is a very lengthy post. I’ve noticed that no one tends to read the entries about anime (except for the dozens of people who keep coming here for Tekkaman Blade pics), so I went crazy with it. If you want to read a 2300-word post, knock yourself out. I promise you none of it will be on the exam, though.]

It is difficult to find good, creative, original science fiction. Sure, some people might have that one friend who does nothing but read science fiction anthologies and keep up with all of the latest material on the web, but the rest of us have few sources and even less time. What the popular multimedia world is most often known for are the scifi retreads – either of old works or old ideas. “It’s the delivery that matters!” we say to ourselves. While true, it also opens ourselves up to eating the same cereal so long as the marshmallows are offered in new shapes and/or colors. For example, I loved four and a half seasons of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica despite the fact that it was a retread of the original BSG that invoked the darker and edgier trope and borrowed heavily from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner and a little from the rest of the Philip K. Dick library. I recognized the sources clearly but still moved forward. That may very well be the reason why I was able to move forward with it.

There are no more original ideas. It’s all be done before. The movie trailers on TV look like items from either a few years to a few decades ago. It seems like movies are being made just so the studios have a steady flow of product coming out. No one holds off for the great ideas. No one devotes time to meticulously perfect a creation. Having something out there is generally regarded as being much better than having something great.

I’ve always been an anime fan. The general anime fan likes to cite creativity as a reason why s/he prefers Japanese output over American. I’m not that fan. I’m not an otaku, as I’ve said before. I watch what I watch. While the ideas over there are decidedly different in origin, they area also quite plagued by hackneyed ideas. Watch enough Japanese content and you find that it becomes increasingly more difficult to find original ideas. (Even in writing this introduction to a review about The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya I’ve realized that it is not entirely original because it could be considered a lighter and fluffier version of Akira. I’m still moving forward with this idea of original content, though.) No matter where you look, people borrow from ideas that they find interesting. Read the rest of this entry

Why girls suck at the game

This is a short animation with a title that I believe translates to “Girls Suck at Video Games”. Click the URL and watch it: http://vimeo.com/12625441

Read the rest of this entry

The one in which Toy Story 3 is discussed

Unfortunately Totoro is not pictured despite being featured due to love for Studio Ghibli Pixar’s Toy Story 3 made a ton of money this past weekend, and I am not ashamed to admit I added to the number they will use to advertise the profitability of their company. It was a good movie. No, it was a great movie! It is amazing how moving a story about talking toys can be. The first two proved that toys can be entertaining. OK, I take it back. The first one proved that toys can be entertaining. Toy Story 3 goes beyond that.

The most striking thing about the film, though, is that it does not seem to be a good fit for a younger audience. Kids will absolutely love the visual stimulation the film provides, not to mention the fairly punchy script. Now take the plot into consideration. Andy is now 17 years-old and has to part with his toys. Not only does he have to learn to part with his childhood, his toys have to learn how to let go as well. The film is incredibly sentimental, which may go completely over the heads of the children in the audience.

It leads me to ask if the movie was really intended for them or for those who were children when the first two Toy Story films were released?

Regardless of the answer, there was an amazingly powerful scene near the end which could have very well been the end itself. It’s a spoiler, so avert your gaze or skip down to the next paragraph if you want to be surprised. Anyway, the most powerful scene was when the toys found themselves in the dump, on the way to the incinerator. While Woody scrambles as best as he can to get away, the others solemnly look to each other and join hands. Eventually Woody joins them. They look head on at the incinerator, silently accepting death together. There is something very powerful and probably Buddhist about it, and it brought tears to my eyes. (Everyone else cried at the end when Andy gave away his toys, but this scene was much more meaningful to me. Probably says more about me than anything else.) Toys should not be able to elicit such a response from me! Sadly, it is a scene that kids wouldn’t understand.

I had half a mind to download a cam of the film to screencap something from the dump scene, but the last thing I need right now is the MPAA and Pixar breathing down my neck. On a completely different note: I didn't grow up with a hardwood floor. I grew up with really ugly shag carpeting.

Some are already saying that Toy Story 3 is the best Pixar film to date. That sentiment is heard after the release of every single Pixar film, with the exception of Cars. Of course, this means that people are saying that it is better than Up! Naturally, I totally and utterly disagree. But it is up there. It is a great film. It may be the best movie of 2010.

An aside, though. Am I the only one who thinks that Buzz’s Spanish mode is a tacit admission that DreamWorks got things right with Puss in Boots? Or was I too busy laughing to be offended by the stereotyping used in both cases?

Puss regrets his not being featured in the film like Totoro...

South Park: “Whale Whores” and racism

Last week’s episode of South Park was a pretty biting commentary on reactions to whaling as Check this hand 'cuz I'm marvelouswell as to the show Whale Wars. At first I thought it was being unnecessarily racist to the Japanese, a culture Trey Parker appreciates enough to have become fluent in the language. By the end of the episode, you see where it all goes. It’s pretty brilliant.

Watch the episode here.

What at first looks like a racist commentary of Japanese whaling turns into a commentary on cultural norms. We kill cows and chickens all the time. Hell, we breed them specifically for the purpose of consuming them. It’s the American way. The Japanese eat whale meat. So long as they target whales of sufficient population size, it shouldn’t be a problem. Cow and chicken populations aren’t threatened, and that’s why the world embraces our desire to ravage those particular species.

But it’s probably presumptuous to say that everyone will understand what Parker and Stone were saying with that South Park episode. The ending was just a high brow tag to an otherwise very low brow episode. Many viewers were probably snickering too much at the racism to realize that the projection of our values on other cultures is even more racist.

I want to give credit to the South Park team for how they handled the episode, but I don’t think they intended on the result they have here. The episode, as I saw it, was presented through the perspective of an unintentional racist who just happens to see the practices of other cultures as silly and primitively brutal. This is an embellishment of the perspective we have whenever we are approached by something foreign and say, “What the—? That’s not right!” And don’t say that people don’t do that. Try going out to dinner at the average American diner and strike up a conversation about the consumption of dogs and cats in other cultures. Get back to me with notes on the reactions.

The roundabout point of the episode was that whaling isn’t such a big deal considering what we do over here. I just think the meaning can easily be extrapolated for other discussion on norms, especially given the fact that they went out of their way to make the Japanese mere caricatures of their own culture. Now I just wish more episodes could be more like “Whale Whores” and less like “Butters’ Bottom Bitch”.

Pixar is up above all others

Remember my glowing review of Up! and how I said that Pixar is simply better than all of the other studios? I’ve apparently been given more reason to believe that’s true. Read this story about a dying girl, cold calls to Pixar for a request, and the subsequent home viewing of Up! delivered by a Pixar employee. Yeah, you can’t do much better than this studio. They involve writers who treat viewers like they have an iota of intelligence and are overall quite humanitarian.

Up – Pixar’s latest success

There is something magical that Pixar manages to include in everything it makes. I would be hard-pressed to find a misstep that they’ve made (well, Cars…). They’re amazing, and everyone knows it. It’s clear what part of the magic is – they don’t treat their audience like it’s simple, despite the fact that their target audience is children. There is so much that the other major studios could learn from Pixar.

Up’s trailer slightly misleads as it doesn’t spell out the whole plot, which is rare these days for Hollywood films. All the audience is given is a cantankerous old man named Carl who lifts his home away with balloons and accidentally takes a young scout with him. Why does he want to go away? Where is he going? The explanation is in the first 10 minutes of the film, but it’s all shown and not told. We get exactly why he wants to take that house to South America and stay there until he passes. He’s not an angry old man – he’s a romantic.

Which brings up one of the clever themes integrated into the movie, devotion versus obsession. Carl crosses paths with his old hero whom he had always thought simply fell off the face of the Earth. No, the man disappeared because the world didn’t believe in his discovery, which he has been tracking for the better part of the past forty or fifty years – and ending anyone he believes might be getting in his way. There’s something obviously Ahab about him, and he works wonders as Carl’s foil.

This review isn’t as full of spoilers as I usually like, but like the first act of this film, it’s all better when seen rather than explained. This film is art at its finest – an experience that appeals to your senses and emotions. If you don’t feel something at least during the beginning of the film, you either know too well how to separate yourself from fictional experiences or you simply need to learn how to feel.*gasp* He wears the cone of shame!

I should make a special mention about the dogs. Anyone who has ever had a dog or spent time with dogs will find the dogs hilarious, especially the joke that Dug shares with his new friends – whom he already loves. And the cone of shame…you have to love the cone of shame. And yes, I am understating everything. There’s a reason. Go spend your money on the film.

Bechdel Rule: Failure. There are no two women who speak to each other. Not that it matters. There’s nothing NON-feminist (masculist?) in this film, so no one should care. This film is good for the whole family – period.

Understanding Disney’s place in animation

Remember when Disney was the leader in terms of film animation?  Heck, there was even a time when I’d argue they were the best in terms of TV animation as well.  They got there because they were smart.  A YouTube user put together a short video showing a particularly clever shortcut of sorts that Disney used to employ – reusing existing cels as templates for scenes in other movies.

The YouTube user who uploaded this wrongly stated that the Disney Vault is hiding the truth about their productions, that they’ve made one film, from us. Truth be told, the only thing concealed is how clever Disney studios can be.

The Beauty and the Beast example, I’m sure, is likely paying homage rather than copying the cels.  Given how much money was pumped into that title, especially given the computer work, one can’t say that they resorted to the same sorts of shortcuts.  The rest are just interesting.  New cels need to be produced for these scenes, but it is a great way to shave some production time.

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