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 Rey's 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 Knights 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

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