Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Madoka Magica a Deconstruction?

Madoka Magica is a Magical Girl show that is notorious for being a much darker take on the Magical Girl genre.

It gets labeled a Deconstruction a lot, but TVtropes explains that not everything Darker and Grittier is a deconstruction.  You can also be a deconstruction without really being Dark or Gritty, many aspects of the 66 Batman particularly the Movie were Deconstructive.

I think it's fair to call the first 11 episodes a Deconstruction, while Episode 12 is a Reconstruction.  (Rebellion I don't really want to get into right now).  That's pretty common for serialized Deconstructions nowadays, to Reconstruct everything before the end.  Like Venture Bros.

Objections to calling it a Deconstruction are varied.  For one other shows are argued to have deconstructed the genre before, and some people feel there can be only one.

Most notoriously would be Utena.  Utena is my favorite Anime, it has a few Magical Girl aspects, and is definitely a Deconstruction.  But I would not consider it a Deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre.  The Magical Girl tropes I think are the only tropes left completely intact.  It's a Deconstruction of Fairly Tale archetypes like the Prince, Princess and Witch, with some High School drama tropes deconstructed along side.  But it qualifies as a Magical Girl show in only the most borderline sense.

The key issue is, do the Dark and Disturbing aspects only tell us THIS Magical Girl universe is Dark and Disturbing, or is it trying to make us rethink what came before.  I think the answer to that lies in Kyubey.  Kyubey's predecessors aren't hated because they don't seem so clinically sociopathic.  But ultimately they're guilty of the same offense, they don't make any more effort then Kyubey does to make sure the girls are prepared for what their getting into.  In fact Kyubey has a lot more patience then Luna.

All great Deconstructions also have a Meta quality to them.  Is Madoka Meta at all?  It doesn't lean on the Fourth Wall as obviously as Scream or Wathmen does, but I think it is fairly Meta.

First of all is the fact that in Universe they're just called Magical Girls.  They're not Sailor Senshi, or Love Angels, or Pretty Cures.  The name of the Genre is the only title they needed.  That in itself suggests it's seeking to be a commentary on the Genre in some way.

In multiple ways the main cast of characters do seem designed to reflect prior Magical Girl archetypes.  Most of which were set to some degree by Sailor Moon. But sometimes in very mixed up or subverted ways.

I'm actually going to start with Hitomi not one of the Magical Girls.  Hitomi is very much in the Naru Osaka/Molly Baker role, the close school friend who never becomes a Magical Girl herself.  And in episode 4 she plays the Youma Bait role (and again in Rebellion).

The title character, Madoka, looks like she's supposed to be Usagi and Chibi-Usa rolled into one.

Homura looks like Rei Hino/Sailor Mars (and thanks to Viz Media in English now sounds like her), and her name meaning Flame might seem like a reference to that too.  But being originally the awkward Nerdy girl, and kind of the smart one makes her seem like Ami.  While being so physically ill and weak kind of echos Hotaru.  But her powers being Time Travel based would make her Sailor Pluto.

Mami is Minako/Sailor Venus as she was in the Manga and Crystal, the most experienced and a natural leader, and also a buxom blond.  Someone the other girls look up to and idolize.  And she takes the mission more serious then most also.

Sayaka and Kyoko are harder to compare to specific Sailor Moon characters.  But Kyoko is perhaps somewhat like the Outer Senshi in general, being not part of the story from the start and much more of a loner by nature.  And at times an Antagonist.  (With Homura when her backstory is revealed we realize she's not a loner by choice at all.)  There are a number of characters in other Magical Girl shows who seem to play that role as well, from Wedding Peach to Pretty Cure.

Sayaka I think one could argue is more like a typical Pretty Cure protagonist.  With her unique enthusiasm for being a Magical Girl and sense of Justice.  Her optimistic and idealized approach to being a magical girl is why her fall into becoming a witch was the most effective to follow.

Deconstructions come in varieties and so may not always be so Meta in nature, but it's pretty common.

TVtropes uses the term Unbuilt Trope for when the very work that creates a genre can seem in hindsight like a Deconstruction of what came after it.  And Sailor Moon is in fact an example of one.  But usually the best way to tell the difference between that and an intentional deconstruction of a genre (besides being historically aware it came before the rest of the genre) is that an Unbuilt Trope probably isn't going to have any Meta qualities.

Meanwhile you can be meta without being deconstructive at all, sometimes being Meta is just more fun.  So Sailor Moon can at times look like a Deconstruction compared to Pretty Cure, except that Pretty Cure is far more Meta then Sailor Moon is.  Pretty Cure loves winking at the audience.

If Madoka Magica is to the Magical Girl genre what Scream was to the Slasher genre, then Yuki Yuna is a Hero would be I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Yuki Yuna is a show that is obviously trying to follow the success of Madoka (though the things they have to fight seem more like Angels from Evangelion then Witches).  That doesn't automatically make it bad.  I watched all 12 episodes last night.  For the first eight episodes I was thinking, "this is interesting but not Madoka" then I watched episode 9.  And while it's still inferior to Madoka, in that episode the show earned it's right to stand on it's own.  The feels are strong in that episode.

The show's story structure is weird, I can see why some might feel the need to give up on it before it reaches episode 9, but trust me it's worth it.  You do need to have followed what came before for what happens to 9 to really hit home properly.

I bring it up here because I feel Yuki Yuna is an example of a darker take on the Magical Girl genre that isn't truly a deconstruction, even though a deconstruction helped inspire it.

And the only thing remotely Meta about it is that some of the 5 main characters clearly reflect the cast of Madoka.  But since I love studying archetypes I figure I'll go into that some.

Yuki Yuna being a Pink haired title character is clearly kinda based on Madoka, but also with a good dose of Sayaka.  Thing is, when viewing this show on it's own, without seeing Yuna as a reflection of Madoka, it really takes awhile to justify why she is the title character.  She doesn't even really dominate the POV much.

Karin has in the Dub Sayaka's voice which throws me off sometimes.  But I would say she largely plays the Kyoko role besides never being an antagonist at all.

Fu being Mami is perhaps the most obvious of all.  And with her descent from Minako not at all being forgotten.  She is central to why this show works for me.



Spoiler Warning!!!






I've avoided spoilers up to this point.  But now I feel simply saying that Toga is the Homura of Yuki Yuna is kind of a spoiler.  How she looks arguably makes her a candidate from the start.  But I am really surprised by how surprised I was when she went all Ominicidal Mainiac at the end.

Itsuki is the one who's not a Madoka character at all.  She's Fu's younger sister.

Now going back to Episode 9, I'll say now past the spoiler warning that why that episode works is how well done Fu's emotional breakdown is.  The one thing missing from Madoka is that Mami's the only character who's pain we never delved into as deeply.  That's what this episode delivers.  Fu is breaking down NOT because of what she's lost but because of the others especially her sister, and because as the leader, as the one who recruited the others for this, she feels responsible.

The last thing I'll say about watching Yuki Yuna is that I can now proclaim it scientifically impossible for a Magical Girl to be heterosexual.

Friday, December 25, 2015

I've talked about Christmas on my other Blogs

Which I'll copy Links to here.

Christmas relevant posts of this Blog

I figured for December I'd make and post here some Christmas related posts' Tiny URL Links (For why making TinyURLS for this Blog is important)

Jesus was born around December 25th
http://tinyurl.com/December25th

http://preview.tinyurl.com/December25th

Pagan Winter Solstice Holidays linked to Christmas
http://tinyurl.com/PaganChristmas

http://preview.tinyurl.com/PaganChristmas

September 11th 3 BC Birth-date theory debunked
http://tinyurl.com/zeycvqv

http://preview.tinyurl.com/zeycvqv

Response to Rob Skiba made back when I still didn't support December 25th
http://tinyurl.com/RobSkiba

http://preview.tinyurl.com/RobSkiba

Jupiter is the Star of Bethlehem
http://tinyurl.com/JupiterBethlehem

http://preview.tinyurl.com/JupiterBethlehem

Cyrenius does not mean Quirinius
http://tinyurl.com/NotQuirinius

http://preview.tinyurl.com/NotQuirinius

The Census of Luke (first made back when I still assumed Cyrenius was Quirinius
http://tinyurl.com/LukeCensus

http://preview.tinyurl.com/LukeCensus

Almah does mean Virgin
http://tinyurl.com/AlmahVirgin

http://preview.tinyurl.com/AlmahVirgin

Heli of Luke's Genealogy is the father of Mary not Joseph
http://tinyurl.com/MaryBathHeli

http://preview.tinyurl.com/MaryBathHeli

Hanukkah is a Biblical Holy Day
http://tinyurl.com/HanukkahIsBiblical

http://preview.tinyurl.com/HanukkahIsBiblical

The Desire of Women
http://tinyurl.com/DesireOfWomen

http://preview.tinyurl.com/DesireOfWomen

Possible Hasmonenan ancestry of The Virgin Mary
http://tinyurl.com/HasmoneanMary

http://preview.tinyurl.com/HasmoneanMary

A Hanukkah and Christmas relevant post from my SolaScripturaChristianLiberty BlogSpot blog
http://tinyurl.com/h8hyd58

http://preview.tinyurl.com/h8hyd58

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rey is not playing the Skywalker role

Spoiler Warning, if anyone still hasn't seen The Force Awakens.




This is not a discussion of if Rey is biologically a Skywalker or not, maybe she's Luke's daughter, I think her being Han and Leia's daughter is still more likely then that.  I also like the idea of her being Palpatine's clone.  But this post isn't about her ancestry, it's about her narrative role in how this Trilogy echoes the first two trilogies.

I fully agree with those who say it's inherently Sexist to call Rey a Mary Sue to demean her, like BrosWatchPLLToo and TheMarySue.  However there is a good reason for critics to feel vindicated in saying her victory here goes beyond Luke's awesomeness in A New Hope.

In the previous Trilogies, the Skywalker does not win their first Lightsaber battle with a Darkside Force user.  Also they don't even get to have said battle till the final act of the second film.  Anakin lost to Dooku and Luke lost to Vader, then in the Third film they get to be victorious over the Sith who dismembered them, and made different choices about what to do with that victory.

There is however precedent in the Star Wars saga for a young not yet Knighted Jedi defeating a Darkside Force User in battle in the first film of their Trilogy.  Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I The Phantom Menace.  And his victory over Maul is faaaar more implausible then Rey's over Kylo Ren.  Yes Obi-Wan had more training, but Darth Maul was also a far better swordsman then Kylo Ren, and wasn't wounded, and defeated Obi-Wan's mentor without breaking a sweat, and he had the high ground.

Now PT haters do criticize Obi-Wan's victory playing out that way.  (I like it, I want Star Wars to be ridiculous and implausible).  But they never called Obi-Wan a Mary Sue, they simply complained that the plot demanded he win and so he won.   Likewise the story Abrams was telling demanded Rey win, and so she won.

There were even specific references to the Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul Battle.  When Rey closes her eyes to focus before turning the tables, that's a very direct reference (so all this TFA ignored the Prequels BS needs to stop).

This reminds me of how in a lot of ways Obi-Wan played the Han Solo role in the PT.  Even having a similar sense of Humor in Episodes II and III.

And going to this connection about being the one to defeat a Sith in the first film of their Trilogy, Han did defeat Vader in A New Hope, not a Lightsaber battle but still, Han Solo defeated Darth Vader at the Battle of Yavin, and that victory too is implausible, his ability to sneak up on Vader with no one detecting him given all the tech the Deathstar had and Vader being basically Psychic is absurd beyond belief.

This is cemented by Han Solo playing the Ben Kenobi role in The Force Awakens.

So given that Rey has inherited the Millennium Falcon.  I would say it is really Han's torch that was passed to Rey, not Luke's.  The Lightsaber is now returned to Luke who'll need it if we do see him in battle again, people forget he doesn't have the Green Saber anymore, he threw it down on the Second Deathstar and it's not likely he picked it back up off screen.  I think Rey is going to build herself a Double Bladed Purple Lightsaber.

Now before anyone freaks out that I'm taking away Rey's status as The Messianic Hero of the new Trilogy.  I want to go back to my awareness that TFA drew on the PT just as much as the OT.  Obi-Wan was The Real Hero of the PT.  Anakin become the Villain in episode III and was a kid in Episode I.  And even in II Anakin's story was a subplot as far as that film as a stand alone goes, while Obi-Wan was on the trail of the mystery.  The PT is like a Batman story where Robin becomes the Villain and Liam Neeson was his Mentor.

Maybe the Skywalker role won't be a Jedi or Force Sensitive at all, just as the one who inherited Obi-Wan's role in Episode IV wasn't a Force User.  It's Poe who did what Luke and Anakin did in their Trilogies first installment.  Blow up a Battle station piloting a fighter.

In the PT the Sith who would be Anakin's Rival wasn't in the first film.  So perhaps one of the other Six Knights of Ren will be a Fighter Pilot who'll develop a rivalry with Poe.  And/or perhaps the Skywalker role is being divided between Poe and Finn, since the OT did have two Skywalkers but one of them played the Padme role.  And Finn got to be the best non Force Sensitive to use a Lightsaber on the Lightside with Luke's Saber.

So which of them will lose a hand?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Force Awakens theories and the Prequel references (Spoilers)

WARNING! This post will contain Spoilers for The Force Awakens.  For my Spoiler Free initial reaction to the film click on this link.

This is not a full review or anything, I still need time to decide how I rank it with the others.  Possibly a 2nd viewing.  This post is just me speculating about how it ties into existing Lore and the possible future of the Saga.



Spoilers Ahead!!!!





The first Prequel reference was when Kylor Ren gave the order to kill all the villagers.   It immediately made me think of Darth Sidous saying "Wipe them out, All of them" in The Phantom Menace.

They also name dropped the Sith, which EU wise was known before the PT but as far as film goes the PT is the only reason for Abrams to expect the general audience to recognize that word.

It seems that Planet that was destroyed was not Corusant, but it was definitely meant to feel reminiscent of Corusant same as Jakku is reminiscent of Tatooine.

But the big Prequel nod was the Clone Army reference.  It's not just a casual Clone Wars reference from the one line in Episode IV.  It specifically works based in the context of us knowing that the original Storm Troopers were a Clone Army.

And while the Rebels cartoons has technically made it canon that the Storm Troopers ceased being clones before the OT happened.  Someone who wants to consider the Movies only their Canon can still following The Force Awakens interpret the OT era Storm Troopers to have still been Clones.  In fact it kinda works better that way, I got the vibe that using these brainwashed soldiers over clones was some policy General Hux advocated, and that Finn's rebellion now threatens it.

And I like that.  You see before The Prequels even entered production I had always from the OT alone gotten the impression that there was some kind of connection between Boba-Fett and the Storm Troopers, like he was a former Storm Trooper or something.  I was never a big fan of Boba's character, this was the one thing I found notable about him.  So what was revealed in Attack of The Clones to me was a perfect confirmation of what I already felt, though not exactly what I'd have guessed.

Because of that, Rebels saying "No the OT era Storm Troopers were not Clones, and chips are why the Clones betrayed the Jedi so Rex cans till be a good guy" really pissed me off.  I felt personally insulted by that.

Now back to the Episode VII Clone Army reference.  I've also been thinking what that could mean for the future.

Between Finn's rebellion and many of their forces being killed with Starkiller base.  Perhaps the First Order will decide to use a Clone Army in the future.  Perhaps the Kaminoans have advanced their technologically and no longer need a full 10 years to produce an army of full grown adults.  And also perhaps an influential figure within the First Order who disagreed with Hux was already working on one.

What could make that route interesting to me is this.  What if they use genetic material they have on record of Finn to make him the Template of the new Army?  Or some of it at least?  Imagine the drama that could create in future conflicts?

You may think "why use the one who rebelled as a Template?"

1. That could be ideal for testing the ability to control the Clone Army, see if clones of a person who on moral principle rebelled against them can be made to obey without question.

2. Finn is going to become an important Hero for the Resistance now.  That could make a perfect psychological warfare tool and espionage asset.

3. They know Finn is a very capable at fighting, every time he fought another Storm Trooper he won.  It took Kylo Ren to beat him.  So really who better?

Supreme Leader Snoke

The theory of him possibly being Darth Plagueis was neither confirmed or refuted.  But I feel it's increasingly likely.

Now Plagueis never needed to be the same species he was in the old Expanded Universe, plus his "resurrection" could have changed his species.  Yet what we saw here does seem consistent with that species.  He looks pretty much like what Plagueis theorists were anticipating, though not quite exactly.

And then there is that Scar across his face.  It looks like more then just a scar like what we saw Kylo Ren receives by the end.  It looks like it should have been fatal.  It had me thinking Biblically of The Beast in Revelation who's Mortal Head Wound was healed.  So it could very well be from when Darth Sidious killed him or at least thought he did.

And I've seen it observed his Theme in the score is virtually identical to the Music played discussing Plagueis in Episode III.

He is also called Wise by Kylo Ren.  Snoke and Plagueis are the only Dark Side characters called Wise.

A specific idea I have on the Plagueis=Snoke theory is that maybe for some reason the death of Darth Sidious is what triggered Plagueis return from the Grave.

Update:

There were more Prequel references, I can't list them all.  We saw a Pod Racer on Jakku.

But ya know what really takes the cake, Kylo Ren does have the traits people hated about Hayden's Anakin.  And he kinda resembles Hayden with the mask off too.

Also in Reys' vision we do hear Ewan McGreggor as Obi-Wan's voice.  And possibly the sounds of the Younglings killed in ROTS.

In the Present of the story we never see the other Knight of Ren. I think we could see them more in the sequels.

I still think Rey's Staff foreshadows her using a Double Bladed Lightsaber.  And I really hope it's Purple.

In order to make full use of that, she'll have to be in a battle where she is outnumbered, two on one like Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul.  And I think that could be why having up to 6 supporting Knights of Ren will be useful.  I think she'll take some of them on, and in Episode VIII Luke will battle Kylo Ren.

I don't think we'll see Snoke use a Saber till Episode IX.  But I do think we'll see more of him in VIII then we did in VII.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Spoiler Free The Force Awakens reaction

I enjoyed it, it was a good movie.

My only real concerns for the movie was a fear it's be to much of a unimaginative rehash like Superman Returns.  But those fears proved to be unfounded.

The movie does Echo things from the prior movies, it will evoke Star Wars Nostalgia.  And I even appreciated a few Prequel references it had.  But it also had things never seen in a Star Wars film before.

It has a unique style to it, as distinct from the prior trilogies as they were from each other.  But still very much felt like Star Wars.

I also teared up at one point.  The movies has lots of superficial fun but also heart.

I recommend seeing it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The "Church" of Yevon in Final Fantasy X

In the West, Christianity remains the mainstream default religion (no mater how much my fellow Fundamentalists insist "True Christians" are a minority).  So any work of fiction looking to be Anti-Religion (or at least anti Organized Religion) in general is bound to have Christianity specifically in mind more then any other.

Thing is, this perception often filters how we view media from other non Western Countries.  Especially from Japan which has made a very notable mark on American pop culture thanks to Godzilla, Anime and Video Games.

Christianity is known enough in Japan that you see it referenced a lot.  But still only 1% of the population identifies as Christian.  The vast majority of those are Catholic though the LDS Church has enough clout in Japan to get three Temples built there including one in Tokyo.  Still Catholic tends to be the default in how Japan views Christianity.

Japan doesn't even really define religion the way we do in the modern West.  But the main faith in Japan remains Shintoism, with a strong Buddhist presence/influence.  And Shinto is an organized religion with the Imperial Family being at it's head.

Religious/Spiritual themes are quite common in the Final Fantasy games (they are fairly unavoidable in the Fantasy genre) often in ways that seem to come down against at least Organized Religion.  However Matt Pat of Game Theory argues it's against religion in general, often with the idea that if a God/gods does exist, It/they'd be Evil.

Often Christianity is very specifically in mind in Final Fantasy's religious themes, especially Final Fantasy Tactics who's Evil Church is clearly based on the Medieval Catholic Church.  In fact the game allegorically makes Jesus himself Evil and Judas Iscariot a defamed hero.  But it's a game inspired by English history, the War of the Roses (it's the Game of Thrones of video games).

Final Fantasy X and it's Yevon religion is often viewed as the harshest of all Final Fantasy games in how anti Religion they can be.  And because of that people in the West discussing it constantly bring up Christianity.

The only Christian references I see in Final Fantasy X are the purely superficial uses of the words "Church" and "Sin".  And that's going off the English translation, who knows how accurate that even is.  But I'll give the Dub the benefit of the doubt on that for now.

Applying the word Church to religious contexts outside Christianity has become common, the term "Separation of Church and State" is not meant to apply only to Christianity.  And the word "Sin" is not even necessarily Christian in origin.

The overarching theme of Final Fantasy X involves the Church of Yevon condemning Technology insisting Technology getting out of control causes us to become out of touch with Nature.

Western Atheists love to see Christianity as Anti-Science because Fundamentalists often disagree with mainstream modern Scientists on cosmological theories like Evolution.  (And some fringe elements will argue the Earth is Flat, my thoughts on that are here.)

And from that will try to insist Christianity is bad for Technological advancement.  But that accusation simply doesn't hold up.  The first book printed on a printing press was The Bible.  And that wasn't just a token gesture, the invention of the Printing Press was driven by the desire of Protestant Christians to end the Catholic Church's Monopoly on God's Word.  And even in modern history, a Young Earth Creationist invented the MRI Machine.

The Nature worship aspect of the Yevon religion is actually quite in conflict with Christian values.  Paul in Romans 1 defines Paganism as the worship of the Creation instead of the Creator.  Many Christians have felt sympathy for such Nature worshiping sentiments, like J.R.R. Tolkien and maybe also C.S.Lewis.  But that tends to be partly why those same Christians get heavily criticized by radical Christians for being way to Paganized (Jack Chick's infamous Dark Dungeons tract condemns them both).

The beliefs of the Yevon religion really do seem way more Shinto to me.  Yuna and other female Summoners seem to be molded after Mikos.

And the whole Technology is bad for nature sentiment that Final Fantasy X is seeking to deconstruct seems to be exactly what Final Fantasy VII comes down in favor of.  Which was definitely influenced by Shinto sentiments in doing so.

And even Superficially, all the Priestly Robes affiliated with this religion seem far more Eastern then Western in style.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why I Approve of Dubbing

It's popular to disapprove not just of specific failures of Anime Dubbing but of the idea altogether.

Vrai Kaiser has made a Defense of Anime Dubs, they made good points.  They did say however they're against dubbing Live Action works.  I can't agree with that as much, the scenario is indeed much different, for one it tends to be very visually obvious in ways something Animated wouldn't be.  But when something is kind of campy to start with, like most of the Godzilla sequels, that can add to their charm.

For the two serious Gojira films.  Godzilla King of The Monsters I consider a perfect example of an Americanization of a Foreign film done right, while Godzilla 1985 would be the ultimate example of it being done wrong.  I'll link you to SFderbis to explain why that is.

It annoys me that it's often called "Subbing Vs Dubbing", I know of no Dub defenders saying Subbing is bad, since the invention of DVDs I've always felt every release should include the subbed version regardless of if there is a Dub.  

As a student of the history of literature and mythology, I am a big fan of stories being retold in different ways.  And Dubbing works into another language I consider part of that, even when, in fact especially when, the Dub changes the story or characters in some ways.  If a Dub turns out bad, that's unfortunate but no less valid a work of art then something that was bad in it's original language, or any other poorly done adaptation.

When a Dub becomes very offensive because of it's Censorship, that's unfortunate too, but they become useful historical artifacts.  I don't think we should forget that America was once a land where Homosexual relationships were pretty much required to be censored.  And to some extent we still are in stuff made for kids.

For me personally when I'm watching something in any visual medium the ability to fully absorb myself into the story can be hindered if I have to read while watching.  But if I have no other option I can do it.  For Anime I've done it for The Rose of Versalies, El Cazador, the Attack on Titan OVAs, Engaged to The Unidentified, Kampfer, Yuri Kuma Arashi, Shoujo Sect: Innocent Lovers, many episodes of Strawberry Panic!, several episodes of the first series of Sailor Moon and most of Crystal since they went up on Hulu, and a few others I'm not sure I want to recommend just yet.  (Note, I think I recall seeing the Sailor Moon R Movie subbed a long time ago).

And outside of Anime, well the first Subtitled film I ever saw was The Passion of The Christ, I'm not as enamored with that as I used to be but it was adequate.  A number of French films like, the 60s Judex movie, and the first two 60s Fantomas movies, Nuits Rouges, the 2004 Arsene Lupin movie and the 96/97 Le Bossu movie based on Paul Feval's Novel which I highly recommend.  And some Korean and Japanese films including PGSM, several 90s and 2000s Godzilla movies, ThirstMemento Mori, Love My Life, and a two part episode of Detectives of Seonam Girl's Highschool.  And an Israeli film called The Secrets.

And there are more I plan to in the future, any French Adaptations of Paul Feval I haven't viewed yet only cause I simply can't get my hands on them, especially Les Habits Noirs.  Same with films based on Ponson and Eugene Sue's novels.

But the fact remains for a visual Medium I want to pay very close attention to all the visuals with my eyes while my ears tell me what the characters are saying.  Because after all the original director usually did not direct the film planning on people reading subtitles.  And Anime is arguably an even more visual medium then live action.  The Artist has even more complete control over every single visual.

I'm also in general not as hard on Dubs.  Even Vrai Kaiser thinks Utena's Dub is horrible, so do many Utena fans.  But I loved it, I loved hearing Jeremiah Gutwald as Touga, I loved how Saionji sounded kinda like Vincent Price.  And Misty as the title character.... it took me awhile to put my finger on why she sounded familiar, once I did I went, WOW.  But the best is Shiori, her voice was awesome.

One thing I must say with Utena is not only must you see the series BEFORE the Movie, but as far as Sub or Dub goes you must see the Movie the same way you did the series, it being the same voices in those roles is vital for the emotional impact.  And I say this because, when I first watched it at least, Hulu had only the Dub for the series but both for the movie.  If you watched the series Dubbed because that was the only way you could legally for free, don't then watch the movie Subbed simply on some abstract moral principle, it won't connect properly.

It's not likes Subs never make mistakes.  I frankly get annoyed when the Subs I watch leave out the Honorifics, or try to translate them in ways they don't entirely work.  Some people like Subs specifically because they're a way to learn about Japanese culture, well the honorifics are part of that.  And I find the way they're utilized in Romantic works very interesting and so even wish Dubs would start keeping them in some cases.

And related to that is how the subtitles will conform the names to western naming conventions (individual name before family name) even though I can clearly hear the names being said in opposite order.  When watching fiction about Ancient Greece and Rome or The Bible, no one is confused by them not having our modern naming conventions, so why does Japan having a system very similar to Rome's seem to be something localizers think we can't figure out?

The final reason that Anti-Dubbing attitudes bugs me is that I simply am a fan of the art of acting.  In various styles, acting without speaking, and acting that's speaking only.  I defend the acting of The Star Wars Prequels because I understand that Lucas was going for an older style of acting.  I love both highly Theatrical and Operatic over acting, and much more subtle acting.  Both take talent but different kinds, some actors can do both and some only one or the other.

And I've watched enough Anime Dubs to know they have some damn good acting in them, great performances that many are missing out on because they think the very idea of dubbing is somehow disrespectful.  Some are great because they're over the top, and others because they're heart-wrenching.

So please, give Dubs a chance.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Comparing Terra Branford and Aerith Gainsborough

A lot of time is spent online comparing the villains of Final Fantasy VI (III in it's original American SNES release) and Final Fantasy VII, including on this blog.  But I feel today like pointing out some narrative similarities between two important Heroines of those games.

Both women are essentially named Earth, Terra is Earth in Latin, and Aerith is well known to be a variation on the English "Earth".  (Yes I know Terra is Tina in Japan where this wouldn't work, but I still don't think it's a coincidence).

Both are half Human and half magical species.  Terra is Human by her mother while Aerith is by her father as I've discussed elsewhere.  The Cetra and Espers are very different from each other, but both are magical races vital to the lore of their respective games, and in both the parent of the Heroine in question was the last of their respective magical race.

Both essentially are the real deal of what the mentally unstable Villain of the Game thinks they are and/or wants to be.

Because of that the villain is argued to be their Evil Counterpart.  That argument is more valid I think for Aerith and Spehiroth, they summon the opposing plot relevant spells.

But in VI however if any of our Heroes can be viewed as the Good Counterpart to Kefka it would be Celes Chere, who has her magical powers because of the same unnatural Magitek experiments.  But I do find it amusing how if you gave Kefka Terra's hair the ability to distinguish him from The Joker would be gone.

This is a comparison really of their archetypal plot relevance, their personalities are very different.  Aerith was NOT the Ingenue she gets flanderized as.  Terra is different from both versions of Aerith in being more introverted, and not part of a Romantic plot-line which is pretty rare for a female character even now much less in the 90s.  I think it could be valid to interpret Terra as Asexual.

Terra is ultimately considered the main lead character of Final Fantasy VI.  The creative team insists it was supposed to have no main lead but be a true ensemble. However Terra is who we start with, Terra is on the Box art (in Japan).  Yes later in the game we're often without Terra, but a similar thing happened with Cloud in VII.

Aerith was easily among the three most important of Cloud's companions throughout Disc 1, but then she is killed off.  By the end however her Death to me becomes more then a Fridging because she becomes the Messianic Archetype of the story.  Terra also in a different way develops a bit of a Messianic quality.

I like both characters, but it's Terra who is one of my favorite video game characters ever.  I really wish her rather then Cloud had been the first Final Fantasy character to get into Super Smash Bros,  Her game was originally on a Classic Nintendo Console unlike Cloud's.  And is often considered the best RPG for the SNES.  And I think SSB needs more Women far more then it needs more sword fighters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

That Trailer blew my Mind

I have never been pumped by a trailer, even TDK's trailers.

Words can't describe how I'm feeling now.

While I'd been optimistic about this movie I did have concerns.  Now those concerns are gone.

In 2008 and for awhile after I thought there was no way I'd ever be as excited for a movie as I was for The Dark Knight. Not unless a live action Legend of Zelda film was ever made.

but now, that I saw that, I have have called The Dark Knight the greatest film every made repeatedly.  Think this will be better.

This IS THE Movie I have waited my entire life for.  Star Wars will hold me over, but this is the main course.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

There is nothing wrong with Superman being Angry

The Batman V Superman clip that aired with Gotham Monday night has been debated a lot not surprisingly.

There has been a lot of debate about if it's a Nightmare/Dream sequence or a vision of a possible future, or a Bizzaro or Cyborg or some other kind of Evil Superman clone, or a Red Kryptonite type thing.  It has a surreal vibe to it that has me thinking a dream or vision is likely.

However it really bugs me how there is still this Reeve based view of Superman that says he can't be angry.  Cause that is the only thing really "Evil" about him in the scene, he looks angry.  What we see doesn't equate to him condoning the soldiers kneeling to him, he could correct them on that later.  Anger isn't inherently Evil, Jesus chased out the Money Changers in righteous Anger.

I'm a fan of the Seigel and Shuster Superman and George Reeves, and the Crisis to Crisis Superman comics where he could indeed get angry and frustrated at times, the Crisis to Crisis Podcast is going through Dead Again right now.

And you don't need Frank Miller to justify him being mad at Bruce.  Bruce has in the regular Canon crossed certain lines that have gotten Superman pretty pissed off.  Tower of Babel and the OMAC project scenario.  Batman has a strict no kill rule but he does cross serious lines that go beyond even the Sonar plot point in TDK.

I know a lot of long time Superman fans feel DC has been ruining the character getting to dark and edgy and ignoring his human side, and I agree with much of that.  They love Supergirl which is lighter in tone without being boring like SR.  But the Supergirl episode that aired the same day as this preview clip was all about her dealing with her anger.

I was once very worried about possible DKR influence on this movie, DKR was a great Batman story but was horrible for Superman.  But the theory I've been coming to for awhile now is that this may be the inverse of DKR in that it'll be Batman who becomes effectively a villain during their conflict.  That he's crossing lines he never did before because how what happened in Metropolis effected him. And that could explain why Superman would be so pissed off, if Batman just did something really questionable.  I think it's possible we could see something like Brother Eye.

Tales of the Shadowmen 12 is now available to order. Including my story The Piano Maidens

Tales of the Shadowmen 12 is now available to order.  Including my story The Piano Maidens, this is the most important story I’ve written thus far.
http://blackcoatpress.com/talesshadowmen12.htm 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Order of Dumas

I've been slacking on the TV reactions lately.  I've been enjoying the shows I watch just as much, but I haven't been feeling compelled to comment.

But also this week I was late in watching the latest Gotham.  I saw it today on demand.

Now I'd observed back when I discussed the Knightfall Audio Drama how the Monastic Order Azrael was affiliated with was named after French Author Alexandre Dumas.

As soon as we saw the Monk talk to Galavan I started to suspect the show was going there rather then the Court of Owls as we suspected originally (that could still be where the Wayne Enterprises corruption is headed).

So naturally I Geeked out at the name drop in the latest episode.

Naming the order after Dumas was very fitting, it was a French order in the original comics, and Dumas dealt with similar themes in some of his fiction, as did other French Writers of the period like Paul Feval.

Speaking of French Plup fiction, not long till the next Tales of The Shadowmen with my next story in it is published, so happens to be a story derivative of Dumas and Feval and others.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Captain America: Civil War may kill the MCU

I have seen every MCU film so far but Ant-Man and I have liked each of them, I've gone against convention and considered the first Iron Man the weakest.

I've been less consistently impressed with Marvel on television but still liked much of it, the AOS tie in with Winter Soldier was fantastic, and I loved Agent Carter season 1.  I haven't gotten a chance to check out the Netflix shows yet.

I have defended Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy against their critics.  And I personally love that Iron Man 3 wasn't another generic foreign terrorist but actually dealt with false Flag Terror.  My Dad hated Iron Man 3 at first but upon re-watching it he really liked it.

But I have felt that doing Civil War was a bad idea from the start, I tried to be optimistic for it but the Trailer has not alleviated my fears.

The original story-line in the Comics was one of the most hated Marvel has ever done, probably only One More Day and the Clone Saga are more hated.  And the people who do like it would probably all agree that an only 2 to 2 and a half movie could not do justice to the story-line.

Now it's being adapted into a universe where the initial premise doesn't apply because the MCU doesn't even do secret identities.

One thing that can be said about the original story-line, as stupid as it was, Steve taking the position he did made sense with his character there.  But this trailer is telling us Steve is simply against the idea of Superheros having accountability what so ever.  I like seeing Captain America go against the government when it over reaches it's power, but this does not fit that.

The people at Marvel were considering Civil War before Batman V Superman was announced.  But the earliest reference to it was considering it for an Avenger movies, no latter then the 3rd one.  Not a movie coming only a year after Age of Ultron.

Everyone was talking before Age of Ultron came out about how the disagreement between Steve and Tony in that was going to set up Civil War.  And continued to think that even after it came out.  But it didn't.  Even leaving side that Steve and Tony's issues in that film were resolved by the end, this Civil War trailer if anything has switched them around from were they were in that film.  It's completely random.

What's really grating is it seems like most of Steve's reasons for his actions is just about Bucky.  It shouldn't be that damn hard to get understanding for the fact that Bucky was brainwashed.  The whole set up is contrived to fit where the previous films left everyone.

I will of course disagree with anyone who said this trailer revealed too much.  Any entire important character were absent.  As I've said before I like a trailer to tell me what I can expect, and I appreciate that this one has told me to expect exactly what I feared.

The Force Awakens meanwhile is the first time ever this close to a film coming out that I honestly don't know if I'll like it or not.  I'm someone who's expectations have always been right.  With TFA it could go either way, it could be exactly what I'm hoping for or exactly what I fear base don what little we've been shown.  I'm going to see the movie, the fact that it has John Williams assures me that it at least can't be as boring as Superman Returns.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My defense of the When a Stranger Calls remake

Much of this is copy and pasted from something I originally wrote on the remake's IMDB board.  So when I refer to “This film” or something like that without clarifying I’m referring to When a Stranger Calls 2006.  I like both versions, they're both good but very different.  Also this will have spoilers.

The original is more like 2 or 3 movies in one. With this only really remaking the 1st 20 minutes in a more drawn out fashion, and I tend to like drawn out more. I prefer the 2006 film and I don’t think I can fully explain why, it simply thrilled and entertained me more. But I have no objections to people who prefer the original, I simply want to defend the Remake against unfair criticisms.

This remake (Which I saw before the original) is the most legitimately suspenseful film I’ve seen in recent years, that’s why I have little tolerance for the haters whining about it being PG-13. The only thing the original Halloween has that this doesn’t is 1 or a few very brief shots of Nudity. It is in no way any less Violent then this movie.

It wold be cool if in 2013 they made a sequel to this remaking the stuff from 7 years latter. Wouldn’t be the first time an adaptation was split into 2 separate films.

The kids not being killed is a problem for many. In the original the kids are killed off screen, I have no problem with that, us simply being told what he did makes it more disturbing because we can use our imagination. We also don’t see the kids who are killed alive at any point, we never get to know them, the kids we see are Jill’s years later who do survive. In the original this is the first time Kurt has done this, at least in the States.

In the Remake we see that other Babysitters had been stalked and killed previously. The opening scene is basically how the 1st act of the original ends (or second act begins depending how you define it), with an after the fact crime scene, where we barely see glimpses of the aftermath of the killer having killed 2 kids and a Babysitter, and that he did so with his bare hands. So in both the Killer kills off screen 2 little kids we never see, in both it serves the purpose of telling us what he’s capable of for reference later in the film. So I apologies for not seeing the massive difference between the 2.

I also see Jill in the remake being called Stupid by it’s critics. The only basis for this being that it’s popular on the internet to call modern Teenagers stupid, especially modern Teenagers in modern Teen films. But in fact here is no great difference in how they react to the phone calls, the remake jumps forward less and is closer to telling the story in real time, which is part of why I find it much more suspenseful. But if you try to break it down the Remake’s Jill may well have actually decided to call the police sooner, but I wouldn’t bet on that, I’m going by memory.

A lot of it is generational I’m sure, people who where Teenagers in the 70s and early 80s can relate to a late 70s Teenager like Carol Kane more. I was a Teenager from October 31st 1998 to October 31st 2005, this is part of why I prefer Episodes I-III to IV-VI in regards to Star Wars, and part of why I relate more to Camilla Belle. But also a big reason I think so highly of Camilla Belle’s Jill is because we see her being brave enough to risk her own life to try and save the kids she doesn’t even know. I don’t think I would have had the courage to do that. And we get to see her fight back, which is one of the things I love most about Slasher films, Carol even in the last act doesn’t really fight back, the Detective saves the day.

On a very superficial note, the Title more accurately describes the 2006 film. In the original is applies to the gloried prologue, but ultimately the film is more about Kurt then it is Jill who is completely gone for the middle 40 minutes. In the 2006 film the “Stranger” remains a mystery which is far more appealing to me.

I do have mixed feeling about the final scene being all about how scared Jill is.  It is realistic for such an experience to be traumatizing, but it bugs me that male character in films like this seem to much less likely to be as traumatized.  Another reason I'd like a sequel based on the later part of the original made years later (it's now past 2013 of course) to show that she was able to recover from it.

But other then that I really love the movie.  I think it's a underrated suspense film.

Update: copied from another old post I made later on.

I just re-watched it, my opinion remains the same but I will amend 1 thing.

There is some difference in the reactions to the Phone Calls, but let’s see who’s smarter. Both films the first time she talks to the cops they ask if she was threatened and Jill says no. In the Remake I see this as accurate as it’s still before he asks if she’s checked on the Children. But in the original he said that from the start, and I feel that’s definitely a veiled threat.

In the remake Jill does check on the children the first time he says that. In hindsight in the original we know that was bait, she’d have been dead if she’d checked, but still I feel the more believable instinct is to check once you're actually worried.

In the remake the second time she talks to the Cops she has a very logical reason for knowing she’s being watched. In the original we the audience don’t question cause as film viewers we suspect it’s probably true, but she had no real reason to suspect that.

During the ending Jill is very clever, remembering what certain things do in that house and takes advantage of them, it’s not easy to think that fast and clearly in a high tension situation.

It’s not fair to compare their intelligence, as in the original Jill’s decisions don’t even make much of a difference. In the original she’s a blank slate, her personally is vague to make it easier to imagine ourselves in her shoes. In the remake I outright admire Jill, she’s brave, intelligent and resourceful, my kind of woman.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I could care less about Suicide Squad being PG13 and not R

The recent announcement has once again riled up those who worship the R rating.

I personally have as I've matured/grown up, grown less fond of cursing and graphic sex and violence in media.  And I intentionally did not preface that with "gratuitous", even scenarios where it truly does fit the story I still feel it's better left off screen.  I firmly oppose government censorship, but I'm all for self-restraint.

For one thing it is a scientific fact that fiction forcing the audience to use their imagination can help make them smarter.  That's why reading is good for the brain.

I probably have more tolerance for cursing then the others, because sometimes some people are good at swearing in a way that is very funny.  That's the thing, it's only good to me when it's done for Humor, my life experience has lead me to firmly reject that it ever helps makes things more dramatic or intense, and certainly that it's inherently unrealistic not to swear in certain scenarios.  Because swearing is pretty rare in my real life experiences, so I find excessive swearing in fiction and music funny, but not believable.  I tend to find it funny even if it's not meant to be, like Jackman's F Bomb in The Wolverine.

The Dark Knight and Casino Royal are often the default examples for how Dark and Gritty a PG13 film can be.  But ya know what I consider just as unsettling if not more so then those, Revenge of The Sith.  Officially that film just barely crossed the line into not qualifying for PG, but I don't care, that all the dismembering is bloodless does not make it any less grimm, in fact scientifically it would be unrealistic if they were bleeding since we know the Lightsabers singe everything.

And then we can talk about all the old classic Film Noirs of the 40s and 50s, none of which are graphic.  And even the Pre-Code stuff people talk about would still not be R worthy to modern standards.  Or even what The Longest Day did with a G rating.

The Dark Knight Returns animated movies actually went further then the Comics thanks to the Joker's gun toting spree killing.  And still only got PG13.

The MPAA doesn't care how dark or disturbing the themes and tone are.  It just looks at purely arbitrary check lists, more then 1 F word gets an R even if it's otherwise indistinguishable from Frozen.  And they care more about Sex then Violence.  Getting an R rating purely for the violence, which is what Suicide Squad would have to do to qualify, would require an amount of graphic blood and gore that would only be distracting from the plot.

The original Halloween would besides it's one nude scene be absolutely a PG13 film today.  I know this because the When a Stranger Calls remake (which I love) actually does MORE then it in terms of swearing and violence and suspense and was PG13.

One person I've seen outright express he doesn't want children there with him as he's watching a movie about Psychopaths.  Well legally the kids can be there regardless if the Parents are with them.  I for one want parents to stop letting the MPAA make parenting decisions for them.  A parent should be free to take their kid to a porno theater if they choose to.

Harley Quinn was created for a Saturday Morning children's Cartoon show.  It was a well written show that cleverly included mature themes, but was still officially a kids show that was watched by kids, I know because I was one of them.  So Children have as much right to see her Big Screen debut as anyone else.  Pretentious older comic book fans do not own her.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Linkle has been anounced

I have a second Zelda post for Zelda month.

http://www.themarysue.com/female-link-confirmed-linkle/
I think it's awesome.

The name seems awkward.  I actually grew more fond of it when I heard it pronounced,  it's apparently pronounced similarly to Linkel.  While I was at first thinking Link Lee or Lankl La.

I hope this is testing the waters for allowing a Female Playable character option in Zelda Wii-U.

Some people are complaining, as if Star Wars hasn't given me enough to be frustrated with people who all themselves "Purists".

The complaints about the fully 3D Zelda games have been that they don't have as much player choice in how to play the game (I don't care as much, but I understand why many do).  And we like that Zelda Wii-U seems like it's gonna finally not be like that.

Well Zelda is the only remaining video game franchise with a blank slate player character premise that doesn't allow you to at least choose their gender.  Pokemon it seems wanted to have it from the start but limitations prevented it till Crystal.

But people have forgotten that Link is supposed to be a Blank Slate character, he's become distinct in people's mind even while still never talking.

Link has certain defining traits, mainly Courage, none of them are traits that preclude him being a her.  Besides maybe that the presumed love interests are always female, but then that gets into Heteronormative assumptions.

The ZeldaUniverse forum has had some negative and positive comments.  I'll share some Positive ones, from a fellow usernamed Spagh.
Linkle has the badass look down without being over sexualised or at all masculinised, she's exactly what a female Link needs to be like. If she were anything else, I'd be pissed that Nintendo had done it wrong, but this is spot on. I'd like to see her in more games if the reception isn't too bad! An alternate gender option for Link in Zelda U, maybe an amiibo, maybe a Smash Bros DLC character, it'd be awesome!
 Man, even just looking at certain aspects of her design is awesome. The patterns on her kneepads look similar to some of the technological designs in SS which was cool, the fact that she has a watch of sorts playing on the motif of time is a nice nod, the necklace gem being the same colour as Timeshift Stones and the Ocarina of Time, they've just done so well with it.
I agree that her look is perfect.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tatooine Slavery and Headcanon

I've talked before about how I became a Star Wars fan because of The Phantom Menace, and how I didn't mind that Episodes II and III played out differently then I expected.  Today I want to talk about something specific.

In Episode I Anakin says he dreams of becoming a Jedi and then one day returning to Tatooine to free all the slaves.  When Episode I was the only prequel we had I remember how I expected we would see Anakin do that during his Jedi career.  Then in Episode II he returns to Tatooine but never does that, and for Episode III we knew before it came out it wouldn't feature much of Tatooine.

However that expectation never happening only added to the Tragedy of Anakin's fall, he never even did what he originally wanted to become a Jedi to do.

And in hindsight I should have known that wouldn't happen because we saw Slavery still going on on Tatooine in the OT.  It's just not as exposition dumped as it was in Episode I.

But an added layer to that is how I've been rethinking the OT lately.  Even though this is stated no where I've developed a headcanon that after Jabba and his syndicate was destroyed in Return of The Jedi that Slavery on Tatooine collapsed.  And so Luke and Leia fulfilled their father's dream without even realizing it.

And it really shows how RotJ works as the last installment of a 6 episode saga even better then it does as a trilogy.

The OT alone was centrally focused on the Rebellion vs The Empire, so spending the entire first act of the finale installment resolving what was a peripheral subplot of the previous films seemed like just an exotic diversion.  Yes Han being frozen had to be resolved, but I feel like a normal writer would have spent far less screen on that and made it a quick cold open.  I suspect negative reviews of the film at the time probably said just that.

But then we got the chronological first installment and we see the issue of Slavery on Tatooine, which was directly linked to the Hutt clan, was vital to how and why Anakin became a Jedi in the first place.  And we see that Jabba pretty much rules the entire Planet.  Then dealing with the Hutt story-line truly becomes necessary to close the saga.

For that reason perhaps it's for the best if the new movies don't revisit Tatooine, they'd probably do something to contract this theory.  All it'd take is one sexy dancing Twi'lek slave girl, which based on his approach to Trek Abrams wouldn't be able to resist.

In fact I'd bet the old EU probably contradicts this somewhere.  But fortunately I never considered that crap canon.  I can ignore the new movies if I want to also, but I'm hoping I won't have to.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Disney's Black Cauldron and Zelda

I figured I should do a Zelda post for Zelda Month.  Perhaps I should have waited till now for the Majora's Mask post.  But this is something I've been thinking about for awhile.

The Black Cauldron (1984/85) was not one of Disney's most successful animated films, but when I watched it for the first time, there were things that had me thinking it could have been an overlooked or indirect influence on the early Zelda games.

First of all it was Disney in general who started the trend of depicting Fairies as little winged Pixies (as opposed to beings more like Greek Nymphs) as we also see them in Zelda.  And this was among the Disney films with those kind of Fairies.

But also the main protagonist of the film, besides having a different wardrobe, looks very similar to me to the official artwork of Link from the Zelda II and A Link to The Past days (though his hair is kinda short), before OoT standardized how we're used to him looking now.  Likewise with the Princess of the film looking like some of the artwork of Zelda from that same period.

It's villain, the Horned King, looks nothing like Ganon, but I feel he has a similar vibe to pre OoT Ganon.

I suppose this is far from the only likely Disney influence on Zelda.  The fairies I already mentioned could come from many Disney films.  Link's iconic costume is definitely inspired by Peter Pan, probably specifically the 1950s Disney animated film.  Which OoT drew attention to with the clearly Neverland inspired Kokiri.

And The Master Sword certainly has a Sword in The Stone vibe to it.  And the Sleeping Zelda in Zelda II is kinda like the original tale of Sleeping Beauty where she was asleep for a Century, which wasn't the case in the Disney film, but the Disney films were likely the first vehicle any of those kinds of fair-tales reached a non Western audience.

And then I could also mention Star Wars.  Star Wars wasn't a Disney property back in the 80s when Zelda was born, but it is now and I got Star Wars on the brain lately so I figure I should mention it.  But first....

It is clear to me that in the original NES Zelda games Ganon was related to the Moblins the same way Bowser is to the Koopas and King K Rool to the Kremlings, and a lot of video game bosses with their mooks.  A Ruler of an evil species that is physically larger then all the other members.  It was A Link to The Past that began giving him a more distinct backstory, which OoT codified and now Skyward Sword has made even more complicated.  And now the fact that the Moblins are based on the same animal as Ganondorf's beast form seems like a coincidence in current Zelda lore.

The reason for that rant is to provide more context and relevance to my suggestion that possibly the Moblins were inspired by those Hog like guards at Jabba's Palace in Return of The Jedi.  Who according to Wookipedia are called Gamorreans.

I also think Leia could have helped inspire the trend of ruling Princesses that exists in video games in general.  It's not as common in pre Video Game fantasy works as you might think.  It certainly didn't come from Tolkien, his few ruling women were all Queens.  She was certainly a direct inspiration for Hilda in Final Fantasy II and Asheila in Final Fantasy XII, which are both very SW inspired games.

And Byrne in Spirit Tracks is definitely the Zelda franchise's Vader Clone.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Superman Unbound is the best Animated Superman Movie

The idea it covers that I find interesting is the notion that ironically because Kara grew up on Krypton she can understand humanity better. Because they didn’t have powers on Krypton, she knows what it feel like to be helpless.

We get to see her be scared, which makes her bad@$$ moments even more rewarding.

And Supergirl aside, it is my favorite of the Superman animated movies. Of course I haven’t seen Superman vs The Elite yet, or Brainiac Attacks. I hated Superman Doomsday, Allstar Superman was an interesting little homage to the Silver Age,

Lois is snarky, and I love how she Flips off Brainiac.

Superman's strategy for defeating Brainiac at the end was pretty cool.

It’s also a pretty Libertarian film when you think about it. “You can’t control a living thing without taking away what’s Alive about it”-Zor-El.

My only criticism is the Planet they decided to place Kandor on at the end did not look Habitable to me, it looked like a barren wasteland.

Kefka, Sephiroth and Final Fantasy villians

Kefka of Final Fantasy VI (III in it's American SNES release) and Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII are considered the two greatest Final Fantasy villains.  Fans often fight over which of them is better, but I've never seen anyone become a close third contender.  There are plenty other antagonists who are interesting enough to serve their purpose, but no others achieve true greatness.

It's no coincidence in my mind that those two games are also popularly considered the two best Final Fantasy games.  A great story needs a great villain, and a great game (especially an RPG) needs a great story.

Out of 13 games, none of which have bad stories, (sometimes game-play to complain about, but no bad stories), why are these two villains by far the best?  They are very different from each other, and most of what they can be argued to have in common applies to plenty other FF villains, being powerful mentally unstable black mages with a God Complex.

I think the notable common denominator isn't between the characters but in how they relate to the story.

Both those games are the only Final Fantasy games where the Finale Boss was also the main recurring antagonist through out the game's narrative.  Most Final Fantasy games the Final Boss is some Lovecraftian horror that is unleashed at the end, or an Orcus on his throne type mentioned but never met till the end.  Which is the trend for JRPGs in general.

Doing that hurts the ability of any of the villains to really become a compelling character.  If the climatic battle of the game feels disconnected from the earlier adventures, it hurts the symmetry of the game.

And I think it at least subconsciously effects how the writers write the story/characters.  If none of the recurring antagonists are the actual main villain, then the writers may feel they don't need to put in as much effort into defining them.

The only other main series Final Fantasy game that is even close to being an exception to this is XII.  That one does have a trio of interesting villains.  But the actual most powerful one gets the least development.

Final Fantasy X and XIII are the most ambitious stories in their high concepts, and have an interesting cast of protagonists.  But their main antagonists mostly just seem annoying, and the final bosses lacking in personality.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Well, I just re-watched all 6 Star Wars films.

Over the last week.

I tried to gain some understanding for why so many people insist Episodes 4-6 are better then 1-3.  But I still just can't see it.  The sequels are just so much.... less to me.  So much more restrained and limited.  Nostalgia seems the only logical reason to me to prefer them.

Only Return of The Jedi can even slightly instill the same kind of emotions from me.  And most of that is from what wasn't in the film originally.

Still I can at least admit Nostalgia is a huge factor in my perception.  The Prequels meant a great deal to me growing up, the old SW films like the old Superman films were just an amusing relic of a past time.

But the fact remains to me Puppet Yoda is so stale and soulless compared to the beautifully detailed and life like Yoda of ATOTC and ROTS.

I remember seeing Yoda use his Lightsaber for the first time, it was such an Epic moment.  And Episode III had the most powerful ending, and with the best music Williams has ever composed.

I've teared up when watching the Prequels.  But with the OT, only the very end of ROTJ, when we revisit all the Prequel locations and see Anakin restored to how he originally was, is able to make me tear up.

Star Wars was always meant to be Fantasy not Science Fiction.  And a specific type of fantasy at that, it's modeled after old Saturday Morning Matinee Serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

Star Wars was never meant to be something that holds up under nit picky scrutiny.  It's supposed to be absurd and formulaic and ridiculous.  Lucas combined it with his love of Joseph Cambell's Hero of a Thousand Faces which gives it an additional intellectual underpinning.  But that's all about Mythological archetyeps and motifs, drawing on myths that are also not meant to be realistic.

There being a tentacled Sea Monster in the Garbage disposal of a Battle Station makes no sense.  At the beginning of TESB all the drama around Han leaving to pay off his debt ignores a very obvious option, that he can come back after he pays it off.  Also Luke leaves Dagoba being told he still needs more training, but yet when he comes back his training is suddenly complete.  And how did the Empire beat them to Sky City when Boba had to follow them to even know that's where they were going?  And of course we all know both Death Stars had ridiculous design failures.

All those flaws are fine by me, because it's supposed to be an Operatic Melodrama.

But with the Prequels such logical failures are held against them by fanboys.  Because Nostalgia caused the OT to be put on a Pedastool they were never meant to be on.  I'm not saying that to denigrate them, I'm saying that because it creates a wrong perception of what they were seeking to be.  If you want to compare them to Batman movies they're Batman Returns and Batman Forever, not The Dark Knight.

With Episode II especially I keep hearing "that's like something from a Video Game" and thinking "how is that an insult"  I constantly play video games, and watch footage of games I don't have on Youtube and think "I wish more Action and Adventure movies would be like this, instead of always holding back out of a lame desire to be realistic".

And guess what in ROTJ when the Rebel fighters fly into the center of the Death Star to blow up it's core, I can't stop thinking o Star Fox.

And then on the reverse of that I hear "Taxation Disputes and Senate meetings are boring", and I couldn't disagree more.  That is the stuff that really intrigues me.  And yes it's hard to make sense of it because a Galactic geo-political system is not something we can yet relate to at all.

Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert had far better fleshed out systems, but frankly even theirs are likely wrong to how things would actually work.  Star Wars was never meant to hold up to the same scrutiny as those works.  But to suggest it's shouldn't delve into that at all if it wants to have lots of Action is a limitation I reject.

Supergirl second episode

I really liked the second episode.  The show is pretty solid.

I was bugged by the reveal that Astrid is apparently answering to another villain.  I really get tired of how many female villains turn out to be subordinate to male ones.  And I don't want another Zod story.

Hank Henshaw seems to be a Cyborg already.

Having Maxwell Lord is interesting.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Supreme Leader Snoke

Will be played by Andy Serkis.  It seems confirmed he's a Mo-Cap character.  He's going to be the ruler of the First Order, what remains of The Empire.  And it also seems confirmed will be a Dark Side Force user and Kylo Ren's master.

I was really hoping that the remnants of The Empire and the Sith or their replacement would be separate from each other.  After all, we saw in the Original Trilogy that the purely military people in The Empire weren't exactly happy having Vader and his religion around.  That would have made for a more complicated scenario, but whatever.

There has been some speculation about Snoke, one rumor is he will be some kind of Snake or Reptilian alien.  If that is what happens a lot of Conspiracy Theorists are going to have a field day with it.

Whatever kind of Alien he is.  I have a hunch that he may turn out to be Darth Plagueis.

If what this Trilogy is going for is making Star Wars into a sort of Trilogy of Trilogies, then that is would be a good way make them interconnected.  A villains who was mentioned as an important plot device in Episode III but never seen.

One of the main things we know about him is that he supposedly learned how to cheat death.  So revealing he wasn't as dead as Sidious thought would fit.

Remember the old EU isn't canon anymore, so nothing about the old Darth Plagueis novel has to be stuck to.  Including whatever species he was said to be there.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rogue One and the Deathstar Plans

I know a lot of people feel making Rogue One about stealing the Deathstar plans was a bad idea.

Thing is I just re-watched Episode IV, and the opening scroll says that the Rebels just won their first victory against The Empire and that the Deathstar plans were stolen at the same time.  So really if you want to depict a pre-Yavin Rebel victory that battle is the only option.  Even Rebels doesn't contradict that, it's not really depicting any actual proper battles.

Now I know some people don't like spin off films being more Prequels at all, they wish they were set in the same era as the new films.  I couldn't feel more the opposite.  I don't want to know anything about what happens after Episode VII till we see Episode VIII.  Star Wars trying to do something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be a mistake.

The spin off films are for now better off staying in the era fans already care about, the new era will get it's EU material once it's proven itself in it's actual Episodes.  But it would be a mistake for Disney to just presume their film will be a success before it even comes out.

Rogue One is probably going to be about the battle, and the spies getting the Deahtstar plans a subplot that may even be mostly off screen.  Rouge One will come out about when Rebels Season 3 might end, I wonder if it's possible they will make a lose tie in there?

I really hope Jimmy Smitts has a cameo in the film as Senator Organa.  As well as Admiral Akbar.

And as a nod to Rebels just show The Ghost, don't try to write it's characters in but just showing The Ghost as part of a Rebel fleet would be a fun nod with no risk of continuity lock out for people who don't follow the show.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The new Star Wars Trilogy needs to do something NEW

I'm repeating myself here somewhat but it bears repeating.  A few things so far give me hope we're not getting pure Nostalgic rehashing in The Force Awaken, but the over all picture isn't hopeful.

I'd be satisfied even if what's new is largely Superficial.  Just showing us new worlds and new species like the Prequels did, even though the Prequels didn't elaborate a lot on much of what it introduced, it gave a young imagination something to work with.

I've had people mock me lately for praising what was new and inspiring about Jurassic World.  Giving it the most bare bones plot summery possible to say "see, same thing as the first movie", but those are mostly similarities required for it to even still be the same genre much less franchise.  By that standard King King (1933) is a rip off of The Lost World (1925) and Godzilla a rip off of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Haters can easily if they want to write off what was new and different about Jurassic World as "gimmicks", but those gimmicks sparked my imagination, and that's why I fell in love with Jurassic Park, and Star Wars to being with, their ability to spark my imagination.

What does NOT spark my imagination is showing me the same thing but calling it something different.  That Desert Planet isn't Tatooine, it's Jakku, that Snowy planet isn't Hoth, that Forest Planet isn't Endor, that Planet shaped Super Weapon/Battle station isn't a Death Star, and that Villain dressed in black using the dark side of the force and wielding a Red Lightsaber isn't a Sith.

I'm fine with the trilogy having all those things, mostly, but they need to also have more.

You want to say that the Jedi and the Sith aren't the only Force Users, that's great, but you need to have an actual substantial difference.  Otherwise there is no point is trying to sell us on Kylo Ren not being a Sith.

Tatooine was the only OT world revisited in the PT.  Because of that it's the only world I really cared about the new Tirlgoy revisiting.  It's at the narrative center of the Star Wars story.  But I'd be fine with it not being in Episode VII if the reason was they wanted to not revisit any prior worlds to assure the audience the new films weren't gonna be all rehashes.  Instead we get Jakku, which is different because there are ruins of an old battle there, that could still have been done on Tatooine, there was plenty of room.  And it sounds like the Jakku battle took place after ROTJ ended anyway.

From what we've been shown so far, every location in this movie is just a reminder of something from the OT.  And I would honestly be less upset by that if they didn't pretend they were different places.

BrosWatchPLLToo said in their podcast about people complaining about the Death Star similarity "who cares if it's another Death Star, your getting a new Star Wars movie" and my response is, no the pseudo Death Star is evidence we are NOT getting NEW Star Wars, we're getting old Star Wars with different actors.  If I want to see the Rebels destroy a planet shaped Super Weapon/Battle Station, I have two movies I can see that in already.

It is part of Star Wars that a lot of it's ideas repeat, but they repeat differently.  In the Prequel Trilogy everything that echoed the OT was at the same time introducing something new.  The Force Awakens needs to do the same thing if it will keep Star Wars alive.  If it does, Abrams is making a point of hiding it.  But what he made a point of hiding about Star Trek: Into Darkness was that he was rehashing an old villain.  So I have good reason to be worried.

Gotham, Firefly two parter reaction

I decided to wait till now and do both episodes together.

I'm still highly suspecting a Court of Owls plot.  But something about Galavan's history tying into a mysterious monastic order in Europe makes me think of Azrael.

Bridgette making her costume had me thinking of Selina making hers in Batman Returns.  That seems to be the movie this show reminds me of the most.

I think they're possibly going for a Javert type for Barnes.

Galavan is manipulating things like Palpatine.

I really don't like this approach to Nygma, I prefer The Riddler not to be a murderer.

Barbara and Galavan's "Sister" are a lot of fun.

Oh, and I also totally ship Selina and Bridgette.

If Season two remains consistent, I could succeed everywhere season 1 failed.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Supergirl Pilot reaction

It was pretty good, some dialogue I wasn't fond of.

The actors were all great which is what I care about most.

I'm annoyed we're seeing Phantom Zone villains again.  But at least it's not Zod... yet.

As the show finds it's feet, let's hope things get much better.

Bringing Balance to The Force

The Phantom Menace first mentions the prophecy of the one who would bring Balance to The Force.  Later episodes begin throwing the idea of destroying the Sith into that.

Then Yoda says in Episode III "A prophecy that mis interpreted could have been", and indeed it was, while what Obi-Won says to Anakin after he defeats him on Mustafar implies he thought the Prophecy had failed, most SW fans agree Anakin's turn was part of the Prophecy's plan all along, or at least always an option for it.

Where I differ from most is that most do seem to be under the impression that the prophecy wasn't fully fulfilled until Return of The Jedi.  It is interpreted as being that bringing Balance to The Force required destroying both orders.  And I myself had fallen into that trap in the past.

The conclusion I have come to is that the Prophecy is never discussed in the Original Trilogy because it is irrelevant to that Trilogy.  It was 100% fulfilled by the time the credits rolled at the end of Episode III.

We are never shown exactly what the Prophecy says in the movies, I don't know or care if any EU work ever does.  The Sith are not connected to the Prophecy at all when we're introduced to it.  I frankly think the Sith were inserted into how it was interpreted possibly between Episodes I and II (in universe) simply because the Sith returned at the same time this Chosen One was found.

Common sense says that when we have hundreds or thousands of Jedi and only two Sith, that the dis-balance is in the Jedi's favor therefore it was their order that needed to be destroyed.  But they blinded themselves to the possibility that they themselves were the problem.

When Revenge of The Sith ends we have exactly two Sith and two Jedi left, and two New Born force sensitives who's fates are undecided.  I know EU material skews those numbers, but going off the actual Six Episodes that is how it was perfectly balance when the Prequels ended.

One of the Criticisms of the Prequels is that it was Jedi overkill, but that was intentional.  The order is larger then it was ever meant to be.

Through out the Prequels the Jedi are not what they were meant to be.  The non Military aspects of their function became forgotten most of the time.  And by Episode III they were headed into dark territory with the situation they were forced into.

But even before we entered Episode I, the fact that they take children away from their parents and raise them to be soldier monks at such a young age is a major ethical problem, yet even in Episode V Yoda is still thinking that was Ok, that Luke is too old, when he should have realized starting Anakin's training so young was the problem, and Luke's age was in fact the ideal age to start.

The Jedi Order blamed the Dark Side clouding things for their inability to use it properly.  But was that really the sole reason?  Maybe they should have considered that they'd spread the Light Side way too thin.

Prequel haters are a lot like Gene Roddenberry.  Roddenberry hated that the Star Trek stories people actually liked don't fit his idealized Utopic vision of the Federation.  Prequel haters likewise hate that the Jedi order we saw didn't fit the idealized view of it they got from how the OT seemed to describe them.  The difference is, with Star Wars the Prequels were the creator's true vision all along, but the simpler story was easier to introduce people to the world.  Not unlike how the late Third Age of Middle Earth was a lot simpler then the First Age.

Obi-Won and Yoda were remembering things through rose tinted glasses. And people forget even going off the OT alone they were WRONG about what needed to be done to defeat the Sith. Luke went against their advice in trying to redeem to his Father and succeeded.  They wanted Luke to simply fight and kill both Vader and The Emperor, and there was really no way he could have done that. So if they can be wrong about the future, they can be wrong about the past.

Return of The Jedi if anything was an undoing of what the Prophecy achieved, now things are out of balance again.  How does this effect The Force Awakens?  For one thing I think the Knights of Ren being created to fill the void left by the Sith's destruction was inevitable.

When the title was first announced people complained "The Force doesn't Sleep",  But I've been thinking, since the Dark Side was always more active, the Jedi being more purely reactive, perhaps in a sense The Sith being destroyed did make it become somewhat dormant, and now the Knights of Ren are waking it back up.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shadow Play, Pretty Little Liars, Season 4, Episode 19

I wasn't doing TV reactions on this Blog yet when that episode aired.  It's one I feel like commenting on now.

This won't be an in-depth analysis like you'd get from BrosWatchPLLToo or Heather Hogan or Jacob Clifton.  Just some things I want to say about it.

Lots of TV shows do Noir episodes.  But they're usually more Neo-Noir style flanderizations of the genre.  And I don't dislike those, I loved Smallville's Noir episode (which was titled Noir) from season 6 and the K-Pop music video Poison.

Shadow Play is different however, it really does feel like a recreation of a classic Film Noir.  Spencer has a major Lauren Bacall vibe.

One specific classic Film Noir it draws on is Laura.  Which it does pretty well.

But what also makes it fun is being an inversion gender wise, for this Noir story most of the cast is female with only two males.  Some of our ladies dress like classic Femme Fatales, but the Femme Fatale role is really Ezra.

Obviously PLL fans have seen it.  But I think even people who wouldn't normally like PLL should check out this episode if they're fans of the classic Film Noirs, it really does them justice.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

If Rey isn't a Jedi I will be let down

Leaving aside for a minute all the other things that concern me about the Force Awakens.  (Those other concerns wouldn't really be disappointments to me because I never felt I was promised otherwise, which I suppose is sad in and of itself.)

The one thing that I always liked was that Daisy Ridley seemed from very early on to be the lead.  Her very look implied she was Han and Leia's daughter and thus the one who will be carrying on the Skywalker legacy.  Having a female Jedi as the lead this time was the one thing I felt would be truly refreshing.

When we started seeing all that stuff with Finn having a Blue Lightsaber, the thought I might have been misled briefly entered my mind, but there is no reason Rey can't be a Jedi also.  The Prequels had two Jedi per movie.

One theory that popped into my head then was about Rey's staff, which became prominent in promotional material about the same time.  That parts of it would detach to reveal a Lightside version of the double bladed Lightsaber.  It's be a great symbolic way to show the new Jedi aren't as stagmatic and stuffy as the old PT order that needed to be destroyed to bring balance to the force.

The mystique around Rey's character had me thinking she was already trained in the force, but for some reason was rejecting it.  That she was Han and Leia's daughter but had been in training with Luke.  And the events of this movie will force her to bring out her Lightsaber.  And untill I noticed something I missed I felt the full Trailer had strengthened that.

The Trailer has that line about "There are stories about what happened" and I liked that, the idea that things had fallen in legend.  But then I realized it was Rey who said it, which effectively killed the above theory.  If she is a Skywalker/Solo she doesn't know she is.

And I heard a Podcast recently saying even if she is a Solo that doesn't necessarily mean she becomes a Jedi, she could be like Leia in the OT.  And that is exactly what I was excited we were NOT getting again, that it wasn't gonna be a third round of the female lead only being the Politically important character/love interest like Padme and Leia were.

Getting a Black Jedi does not make up for being denied a female Jedi.  The PT gave us Mace Windu, the most prominent female Jedi they gave us was the one who gets killed without a fight on the planet with the glowing flowers.  And yes I know Clone Wars and the EU have more, but the Films are what's truly Canon.

Boyega being in the main 3 on it's own is more then Black characters had gotten before.  And as I said I'm fine with him being a Jedi so long as Rey is one too.

A female Jedi is what Star Wars needs right now.  What the world needs, and anything I might dislike about TFA I could forgive if it gives me that.

The second teaser showed a Lightsaber being handed to a female, the voice over had people thinking it was Leia but the hands looked too young to be Fisher's to me.  Right now that is my only remaining hope that Rey will be a Jedi.

If I finish the movie and it seems firmly settled with Finn as the only Jedi, I will not be bothering with Episodes VIII or IX.  Yes I suppose one of the new characters in those could be a female Jedi or Sith/Knight of Ren, but I'd have to see them actually use a Lightsaber in the trailers or Posters in order for that to sucker me in again.

In-spite of my misgivings, I've decided if I can afford it I will see TFA this December, if for no other reason just to spite those idiot racists threatening to boycott over Boyega.

I suppose there is a chance I'm setting myself up to be a hypocrite, to become exactly what the PT haters were, whining that I didn't get exactly what I expected/wanted.

No matter how I feel about Episode VII, even if, and this is a really big stretch, I wind up hating it even more then I hate Superman Returns.  I will never begrudge those who like it, I will express my opinion, but I will never tell people who like it they are part of what's wrong with society for being so easily pleased.  In the past I had been a dick to SR fans, I was a hypocrite then, but I grew out of that.