Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anime ideas Part 1

Having recently watched Galaxy Express 999 a few weeks back, I emailed a friend of mine as I knew he had been watching anime for a while, and he knew a lot more about the subject than I do.  He recommended the above book, The Anime Encyclopedia, which I believe is the 2nd edition.  There's a 3rd edition that came out recently with a yellow cover that he said he was ordering.  It's pretty pricey, but he was going the Kindle route which makes it more affordable.  The newer edition contains a lot of newer synopsis and information on the subject.  So every few years or so they come out with a newly revised book to cover newer anime that should be included in the book.  So I decided to pick his brain a bit on the subject.  Below is excerpts from those emails.  Hopefully you'll find it interesting as well.  Plus I'll throw in a couple of Youtube videos I ran across that are pretty cool to watch too.  We were mostly discussing early anime as that's where my current interest lies, but he also talks about a few of the more recent and recognizable ones as well.  It was enough to get me started searching for a few things.

Stephen: In terms of a catch all for Anime, my favorites would likely begin with Galaxy Express 999 TV. The movie was decent, but the time compression needed to condense Matsumoto Leiji's masterpiece down to theatrical size left a lot out. The problem is, the only way you will really be able to see GE 999 TV, without buying the Japanese DVDs/Blu Ray without subtitles, is via Crunchyroll or FUNimation's streaming site. There is a DVD release of the first 40 or so episodes, but the company that released the series had no idea what they were doing. It's a shame, as Discotek/Eastern Star had 999 TV in their sites, but had too many classic series in their stable when S'More picked it up.

The original Captain Harlock TV series, conveniently available from Discotek/Eastern Star is also fantastic. Another Matsumoto Leiji great.

Following that would be another Matsumoto Leiji master work, Queen Millennium/Shin Taketori Sennen Joo TV. The movie wasn't bad, but the series was the best. Unfortunately, outside of bootlegs, you won't be seeing this with English subtitles anytime soon. It not available outside of Japan as best I can tell.

Mazinger Z, another series released by Disotek/Eastern Star holds a special place for me, being the first super robot show I saw as a kid. This was turned into Tranzor Z in the US, but the original, to me, is vastly superior. Watching it now, the animation (from 1972) could only loosely be called "animation." The story is a little hokey, but I like the series anyway. I'd recommend Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer as well, but they aren't available subtitled either, at least not legitimately.

You also can't miss Gatchaman. ADV/Sentai Filmworks released the series on Blu Ray from the remastered Japanese sets, and it looks quite good. I don't like that they put the extras on disc from the DVD, then stretched them to widescreen, but so it goes. Thankfully the series is in proper 4:3 aspect ratio.

You've already seen Cutie Honey. It was good, but not amazing. Go Nagai at his finest, even if they toned it down from the Manga. New/Shin Cutey Honey was pretty good as well. Cutey Honey F (Flash) was a Sailor Moon kind of take on Cutey Honey. Which is funny, since CH kinda started the whole magical girl thing...

Devilman the TV series was pretty good as well. Go Nagai once again. It's pretty old, and it's available from Discotek/Eastern Star (sensing a pattern? lol). It's toned down from the Manga, and it's nowhere near the violence level of the OVA/OAV series.

Space Battleship Yamato, better known as Starblazers to we Americans (I never saw this on TV, I'm a hand full of years to young for that), is also quite fantastic. There is a decent BD release (bootleg) available of the original show with English subtitles. Glad I grabbed that. It's a lot better than the US Starblazers release because, well, it's not censored and not compressed for time. I've only ever seen the first series of the 3 in Japanese. Starblazers isn't bad, but it's getting stupid expensive on DVD.

Mobile Suit Gundam, what kicked off the more realistic robot action (instead of super robots with special powers) is pretty good too. The US release is OK (if you can find it), but it's missing episode 15. And it's either dubbed only, or subbed and dubbed, but ridiculously expensive on US DVD. There are times I recommend bootlegs... Gundam Z, and ZZ from the same era are great as well. Again... have fun tracking down either, unfortunately.

One can't look at the 80s without remembering Robotech. And more importantly, one of the series that made up that amalgamation, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. I can't recommend Macross, the original Japanese series, enough. Robotech was OK, but I felt smooshing all those series together caused damage to all of them. Of the 3 series that made up Robotech, I think Macross stood the test of time better than the others. It's a classic.

From a comedy perspective, Urusei Yatsura is a lot of fun. It's also ridiculously long (thanks to Takahashi Rumiko, who also gave us Ranma 1/2 and Inu Yasha), so if you only pick up a few discs of it, you might get your fill. I loved it from start to finish though. And with Takahashi's work, Maison Ikkoku is also quite fantastic. Good luck finding that.

Dirty Pair TV is fun, and available on DVD in a box set. You can also get boxes of all the OVAs as well.

Kimagure Orange Road is another fantastic series. It's slice of life, and it's a complete classic. Tracking that down for a decent price will be a heck of an affair as well.

Patlabor TV, OVAs, and especially the movies (released from 1989 for the TV series, with the final movie releasing in early 200s) is a fun show, with absolutely fantastic movies. Mamoru Oshii had his hand in the first two movies (not sure on third) and it shows. For Oshii, you can't miss the original Ghost in the Shell movie, or the sequel either (both are past 1980 lol)

You can't miss Akira. You've likely seen it, but if not, FUNimation's Blu Ray release is quite good.

Ninja Scroll is an Anime classic. In America at least. And it's quite good in my opinion.

Top wo Nerae! Or, Gunbuster as it is better known in the US, is a series that will put your mouth on the floor. Well, maybe not, but it's quite a fantastic series, well worth the effort of tracking it down. There's a Japanese Blu Ray release as well, but it doesn't have subtitles, which is sad.

Nadia the TV series is quite good as well. Sentai just released a Blu Ray set for cheap that looks amazing.

If you want a contemporary movie that blew me away, check out Time of Eve on Blu Ray (think there's a DVD edition as well). It's a touch expensive, given how it was released in the US (they collected money through Kickstarter to fun the international release, so the final product being on Amazon's virtual shelves is pretty amazing). Great story, thought provoking, and well written.

There are plenty more to go, like G Gundam (Gundam take on super robots), anything Studio Ghibli, etc but I need to be done for today.  Legend of Galactic Heroes is amazing too. The problem is the Japanese only release on DVD is insanely expensive, and lacks subtitles. My Japanese isn't good enough to understand it.

I think I'll do a part 2 tomorrow or within the next few days.  Stay tuned and healthy.


Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP, Leonard Nimoy--He lived long and prospered.

I was sorry to read the news that Leonard Nimoy passed away on Friday.  It's hard to let go of some of the memories and pleasures that some actors gave to you throughout all those growing years.   I still watch the old Star Trek: TOS series on Me TV just about every Saturday night, unless something is amiss.  I at least have to watch the opening sequence:  Space, the final frontier.

I got to see Nimoy live in Odessa, Tx of all places when he was asked to speak commemorating the opening of the new Odessa College gym back, if memory serves, in the mid-80's.  It was a packed house as one would imagine--I mean packed to the rafters.  He gave, probably for him, a rehearsed speech for such occasions, but shoot I think he could have said nearly anything and nobody would have cared. It was fun just to see him live in person.  I always thought he had a lot of charisma. 

Here's a New York Times obit for him. 

Below is a short bio told by Leonard.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

El Rey--The Director's Chair

We got a new channel on our cable (Suddenlink) network here called El Rey launched by Robert Rodriguez, which shows a bunch of action, adventure, exploitation stuff.  So far so good.  I don't know if it's just a teaser or promo or what, but I've been enjoying some of it.   I saw parts of the Beastmaster, Red Sonja, and The Outfit today (off and on).  And saw most of a Shaw Brothers film last night, although I forget the title, about a group trying to smuggle arms in WWII.  I hope this is a regular fixture and not a paid channel as it's nice to have another TV channel that is worth watching.  It wouldn't be hard to beat the Syfy Channel the way they've been running things lately.  They also have slated some interviews with directors.  So far, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Ford Coppola.  I enjoy that sort of thing as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

HBO's Westworld

Being a fan of the 1973 original film, Westworld, directed by Michael Crichton, which starred Yul Brynner and Richard Benjamin, I was excited to see HBO is working on a TV series of the same name.  Westworld was a theme park created by the Delos corporation, which also contained some other themed worlds to escape into, like Roman world and Medieval world.  The inhabitants in these worlds are robot simulacra, controlled by human technicians in an underground laboratory, supposedly the animals are robots too.

Richard Benjamin and the other guys are out to relax and have a grand time at the theme park, outdrawing the robots, joking around in the saloon, and yes, and having sex with some of the female robots,  in general, acting out their male fantasies.  The next day, however, one of the robots shoots one of the men dead, the revolt of the machines.  The one bad robot is played well by Yul Brynner.  With a subtext about our exploitation of slaves and coolies, Westworld is a worthwhile watch for action and some suspense.  They also made a sequel a few years later, which I also enjoyed called Futureworld (which was not by Crichton).  There was also a short lived TV series, Beyond Westworld (1980), which ran only three episodes, with two further episodes made that were unaired.

At any rate the new HBO series sounds promising.  Although I don't have HBO, and will have to wait for the series on DVD, I hope it does well.   Read about it here. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Predestination--The More Things Change

Last night I watched the Sci-Fi film, Predestination (2014), which came from the short story by Robert A. Heinlein called All You Zombies.  I wasn't familiar with either, which is probably the best way to approach the film.  Even if you're read the short story, you'd probably enjoy the film, as it has a lot of twist and turns in it, and also reminded me a bit of Phillip K. Dick.

As I said I wasn't really aware of the film, maybe half-remembering the title.  But yesterday I was so tired, as I spent part of the day cleaning out the garage, that later I really didn't care what I watched as I was so tired.  Just give me a bowl of soup, and something on the tube, and I was happy.  It just so happened I went to YouTube, and under their What To Watch section, I ran across Predestination.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.

 I'll back up a bit, as some might be wondering, how a recent movie from 2014 appears on YT.  Well, sometimes someone will put up a bootleg copy.  Sometimes they are watchable and sometimes not.  They will, once the copyright infringement is found out by YT management get taken down.  Also I'll explain a bit of how my home entertainment system is setup.  I've got a Vizio Quick Start (E3D420VX) Smart 42 inch TV.  It's HD +3D.  The 3D part I've never used.  What I like about it is that it has these apps on it that allow for streaming from Facebook, Netflix, Youtube, Hulu Plus, a weather app, among a few others.  I've also got a wireless router, so it transmits all that to my TV.  I'll admit, I like it.

So back to Predestination.  No spoilers.  To review this movie is hard without a few spoilers.  But since I insist you watch the movie without them, about all I can tell you is generalities about the film, and a basic plot.  It is a time travel story, that concerns time paradoxes.  It stars Ethan Hawke, who does his usual solid job of acting, Sarah Snook, whom I was unfamiliar with, but did a really good job, and Noah Taylor as head of the time travel agency. 

The story is told in a nonlinear fashion between the dates of 1945 and 1993 surrounding the story about a criminal known as the "Fizzle" bomber (yeah, ok, I had a bit of trouble with his nickname too), so you have to pay attention, but don't let that scare you off.  One of the bomber's explosions happens in New York in 1975, leveling a large part of NYC.  The Temporal Bureau and time travel was established in 1981, which tries to track him down and capture him.  Ethan Hawke is a part of this Time Bureau, but also works as a bartender in NYC under cover.

One night a rather androgynous man comes into the bar, and Hawke and Snook begin a conversation.  Ok, during this second act the groundwork of the story is laid out, and I must admit, it was fascinating to hear, and at the same time I wondered if this whole movie was just going to revolve around this conversation in the bar.  It does move on from there and gets a bit more action oriented.  Snook tells a bit about her background, how she once trained for the SpaceCorp and other details.  Snook relates her past of falling in love, getting pregnant, her baby is abducted from her, and Hawke ask her (being a timetraveller), if there was a way to do so, would she like to rectify the past.  She thinks he's crazy, but she agrees.  I think I've already given away too much, ha.  If it sounds interesting give it a shot.  It's one of those SF features that's like Looper, Time Cop, Minority Report, Source Code or Enemy.  It's compelling, but left me scratching my head too.

Here's a link, but I expect it to be taken down soon.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Galaxy Express 999

One of the few things I've been doing lately has been looking back at some old gaming videos and also some of the older anime.  I've always been interested in both, though never bought any of the gaming consoles or games.  However, with anime I was always an interested fan.  It wasn't until around 1987 or probably later that I even saw much anime.  I used to go to the Dallas Fantasy Fairs back then, which was aimed more at comic books, but also had inclusive things like anime, science fiction, toys, movies, and so forth.  I remember they'd have an enclosed sectioned off part of the floor where they'd show nonstop anime, and I didn't stay and watch any one particular movie (because I wanted to meet comic book artist and attend some of the programs they provided), but I remember some of the sounds and pictures from those old anime movies, and it was like walking into another realm.

Around the 90's the SciFi Channel started up, they started showing some older anime.  And it was either them or another channel, early in the mornings, that would show an early anime called Gigantor, which I enjoyed.  I'd tape them on my VCR, along with some Jerry Anderson films, like Captain Scarlet, and rewatch them later.  It was very cool to discover all this SF related stuff that was unknown to me.  It wasn't until later a friend loaned me a copy of Robotech: The Macross Saga that I became more inquisitive about manga and anime.  The anime was harder to find, mind you this was before PCs and the internet, so about the only way to find some of it was mail order, attending a con, or shopping out of town mostly.

But also around the same time, the SciFi Channel started showing other anime, like Akira, Robot Carnival, Urusei Yatsura (Lum), Vampire Hunter D, Twilight of the Cockroaches, Dominion: Tank Police that I started to see that this Japanese animation had a lot of depth to it.  It has only expanded and grown throughout the years, and grown into its own.  I'd pick up and buy some anime along the way too like My Friend Totoro, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, Phoenix 2772, The Dagger of Kamui, The Castle of Cagliostro, Lensmen, Roujin Z, Odin, Venus Wars, and some other stuff.  I just recently picked up Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone the two-disc special edition, and love it.  I'm still finding stuff all these years later that delight me.  Some I like more than others, and I tend to enjoy the SF stuff more, but I'm open minded as you never know what you'll discover.

But like I said, lately I've been going back and looking into some of the early anime.  It's the hand drawn stuff and not as sophisticated as what is current produced, but that doesn't bother me.  In a lot of way, I find some of it more charming.  One I ran across recently that I had heard about, but never seen is, Ginga Tetsudo 999 or Galaxy Express 999 by Reiji Matsumoto. 

Reiji Matsumoto was born in 1939, the son of an officer in the Imperial Army Air Force, and from the age of eight onward he was drawing comics.  Like most artist of that era he was highly influenced by Osamu Tezuka's success in the early postwar years.  At age fifteen he created his own comic story, called Adventures of a Honeybee, and when he sent it to the comic magazine Manga Shonen, it received an award and was published.

After high school, Matsumoto joined the flow of young artist into the burgeoning Tokyo comics industry, and like many of them he began drawing romances with with starry-eyed heroines for girls' comic magazines.  During this period he married the pioneering woman artist Miyako Maki.  The first work that brought Matsumoto real attention was in 1970, Otoko Oidon (I Am A Man), published in the boys' weekly Shonen Magazine.  It was a comedy story of a student without a school, and young adults loved it.  It's about a semipathetic, humorously drawn hero, it's loving attention to the details of daily life, and its sexy female supporting characters became a trademark of Matsumoto comics.

Matsumoto's real fame has subsequently come from science fiction comics and anime.  In 1974, he worked on directing and designing the animated television series Uchu Senkan Yamato (Space Cruiser Yamato or Star Blazers in the US) and created a comic story of the same name.  When it was later released as a theatrical feature, it triggered an unparalleled animation boom among children and adults, with billion-dollar implicatins for merchandising firms and comic publishers.  In the wake of Yamato, Matsumoto has created a string of science fiction comics with animation tie-ins, notably Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, and Sennen Joo (or Queen Millennia).  The Japanese market much like the American market have a tendency to milk the mark of demands, so these stories are first manga, then animate for TV, and then selected for theaters, along with endless sequels if the market still has the demand.

So what is so special about Matsumoto's work?  Through plotting, pacing, and his artwork, he is able to create a lyrical mood that's appealing universally--a muted feeling of melancholy and pathos that pervades even his comedy stories.  A lot of his male fans are ecstatic in their praise of his lavish detailing of what Japanese call meka, or mechanisms, and machinery--his depictions of spaceships, railroad engines, airplanes, guns, and gadgetry have a romantic aura about them that few other artist can achieve.

One of the things that holds true about the soundtrack to Galaxy Express 999  is that it too has this sense of romanticism or a tone-painted quality to it, much like the dream-like imagery of classical composers like  Debussy and perhaps Ravel.  Also I couldn't help but also think of the electronic composer, Isao Tomita,, who has created such beautiful works like Snowflakes Are Dancing, Holst: The Planets, The Bermuda Triangle, etc.

Galaxy Express 999 is a retelling of the manga and TV series, about a young boy (Tetsuro) in the future who witnesses the murder of his mother by some robots.  He is determined to avenge her death, and to do this he must be changed into a robot himself on a far distant planet, Andromeda, where he will be given his eternal robot body .  He must ride the Galaxy Express to get there, which stops at many different ports in space along the way, and he encounters many new characters along his adventure.  Before he leaves earth he meets a young woman who says she can aid him in his quest, whose name is Maetel.  Also along his way young Tetsuro grows up some, and learns many things about life.  I really enjoyed it, and although the Youtube video looks like it came from a VHS copy as it's just not very clean, I would love to own a copy on DVD.  I imagine the picture quality is much enhanced. It's a great anime from the 70's.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Chappie is one of the first trailers that's grabbed me lately.  I can't say I'm a huge fan of Neill Blomkamp yet, though I've seen both District 9 and Elysium.  After seeing Elysium, I think he needs to pay attention less to the underlying message, and stick more to the storytelling.  I didn't think Elysium was a horrible film, but it could have been better.

 District 9 was okay too, but, and I need to rewatch the film as it's been a while, as it suffered a bit from suspension of disbelief.  The hero was a bit too goofy for me, and I realize that was somewhat the point, to rise above his ways, but it didn't totally work for me either.  That said though, I think Blomkamp is someone to watch as he at least comes up with good ideas, but has a little bit of trouble translating them to the big screen.

So what movies do you think will hit or miss for 2015?  As always I'm looking forward to many of them.  Some are really on the fence for me and like most movies, it depends on what the critics and the average joe (word of mouth) says on whether I'll end up seeing or renting the films.

For sure, the one I'm most interested in is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that's not until the end of the year.  The new Terminator film sounds interesting, but Schwarzenegger (age 67) is getting up there in years.  That's another thing that I wonder about at times--who will replace all these older box office draws?  Who will be the newer action heroes?  Sure there's still Tom Cruise, and he does pretty good job with that role, but it seems there's still room for more in that area.  At any rate, Terminator: Genisys may turn out very good, but I really have to question the title.  Genisys, really?  I don't know, just sounds/looks a bit odd.

I'm also fairly excited about Jurassic World because I love dinosaur films.  I didn't hate Jurassic III either, in fact, I enjoyed it as much as II.  For me the set-up for II just went on too long, and I wanted it to get on with the story.  But either way, Jurassic World has a lot of potential--plus it should release in June, a good time to get out and see a blockbuster film.

I'm hoping the new James Bond film, Spectre, will do well too, however, the predicted date of release on that one is in November.  Also will Mission Impossible 5 be another hit?  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was the highest grossing MI movie of that franchise.  It will be interesting to see if IM 5 can top that, but it also has a December release, so a lot of tough competition that last month.  Plus Hunger Games: part 2 will come out around that time as well.  I guess we'll see.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Boyhood/Captain Harlock

 Over the weekend I watch Boyhood, the Richard Linklater film, and enjoyed it.  It was about how I thought it might be, so I wasn't surprised too much by the film,  and it wasn't boring either, nor did it feel like a forced watch.  Most of the films I've seen from him have been very character driven, and contain quite a lot of dialogue to carry the story along, and Boyhood was no exception there.  The male lead, Ellar Coltrane, was quite a natural actor thru all of it and did a good job.  I also thought the editing, the combining of all the separate ages  throughout time, was edited pretty seamlessly, and I enjoyed the soundtrack.

You have probably heard or read how Linklater shot the film over twelve years using the same actors, which gives the film an authentic feel.  I don't know if there's any one scene that stands out from the rest, but it's sort of one of those films that washes over you and you just let it play out.  It still has a fairly indie vibe to it, which is where Linklater got his start more or less, so I guess that's to be expected.  For my particular taste in films, it was okay, and enjoyable.  I really don't have any negatives to say about it.  I thought one or two of the family get-together scenes might have been too forcefully joyous, but didn't bother me.  I still think my favorite film by him might be Slacker, but I'd like to rewatch parts of Boyhood before I send it back to Netflix.  As a disclaimer I tend to get excited about other types of films more like SF, action, etc.  That said, I'd still recommend the film.

The first time I had heard of Captain Harlock by its creator, Leiji Matsumoto, was in the above Eternity comic of the same name.  I was not very well versed in anime or manga (and I still feel that way), but the comic was in a discounted box of comics, and the price was right so I picked it up. I thought the comic was okay, but I could tell it was just the tip of an iceberg of a long storyline, and didn't keep up with it.  Plus it ended up getting cancelled anyway by the fourth or so issue, due to some foul up concerning Eternity getting the copyrights from an unscrupulous source, who didn't have the rights to be licensing the franchise from the get-go.

I'd more or less forgotten about Captain Harlock, although other things related to it had come out like the anime feature Galaxy Express 999.  From what I can tell there was also a TV series of anime as well.  Also from what I can tell they refer to all of this as the Leiji-universe, which implies, that there's a storyline and offshoots of storylines there, I just don't know enough about it, nor was I a fan of it in all its incarnations.  So I'm more or less a novice about the franchise really.  That may have helped my liking of the feature film, Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

I basically just ran across the feature film on Youtube last week, and saved it to watch at a future date.  I don't think it was ever released here in the states, or if it was, flew under my radar.  When I first watched the opening of the film, I thought it was going to be a live action translation of the film, using real actors, but was surprised that it was all done with computer graphics--which was done very well too.

I remember seeing Final Fantasy many years ago at the cinema, and enjoyed the CG of the film, really moreso than the actual storyline.  I vaguely remember the film dealt with spirits, which is a bit hard to relate to coming from a western culture.  But with the Harlock film, it's more defined as space opera, or space fantasy in a Star Wars-like mold, so I could relate to that more.  Now granted there were parts of this movie that alluded me.  Either I missed plot points or they were not brought out well enough in the film, but that aside I still enjoyed the film.
What made it interesting to me was that the characters were ambiguous, and it was hard to tell who was the good guys or bad.  Was one of the characters going to turn on the next and do their duty and stab the other one in the back to fulfill their assignment?  To boil the storyline down into a tidy synopsis, might be a bit tricky, but I'll try.

The resources of earth are being depleted so mankind has gone out into the galaxy to explore new worlds.  Many years in the future a sustainable homeworld was not found, so colonist returned back to earth, however, now many years later, they are not allowed.  A war breaks out called the Homecoming War, and a governing body is established, the Gaia Coalition.  So the Gaia Coalition is like the Federation or Galactic Empire in Star Wars, and the others are the rebels of the alliance.

There are two brothers, Ezra (wheel chair-bound) and Logan, the younger brother, who is set up to seek out Captain Harlock and assassinate him.  (One of the things I didn't quite get was that Logan was, I think, somehow accidentally responsible for Ezra's confinement to the wheel chair.)   Anyway, Logan goes into space and finds Harlock, what's odd is they look vaguely similar, perhaps they have the same barber.

So Harlock and his pirates fly around the galaxy creating mayhem and looting supplies from the Coalition in his super-cool phallic crossbones spaceship.  Captain Harlock has a plan to reset everything, resetting earth so that it has plenty of resources again, and everyone can return and be happy.  We learn, however, the Coalition has shady secrets (don't they always?).  There are conflicts between the two brothers, there are conflicts between Logan and Captain Harlock, and there are twist and turns aplenty matey (sorry couldn't help myself).

Either way if you don't like anime, space opera, or whatever, the graphics in this thing were pretty eye-popping.  I might also mention that I suspect there's plenty of flawed science in the film, after all it's not supposed to be Cosmos, but instead a fantasy like Star Wars.  You should at least give the video below a few minutes just to see how great this thing looks, the CG is pretty impressive.  At around two hours it's a pretty long film, but I didn't mind at all, and it would have been hard to edit it down, and still make any coherent sense. 

Here's a link to Space Pirate Captain Harlock on Youtube.



Monday, February 02, 2015

Nerd School

I watched Big Hero 6 late last night after the Super Bowl, and loved it a lot.  The art and story were great, with some great characters, a lot of humor for all ages, they celebrated being nerds and science, and had a lot of pathos and some emotional depth, like no other animation I've seen of late.  Too say too much about it would be giving away too much joy I feel one might derive from watching and experiencing it on your own, so I'll just highlight the basics.

The story is set in the near future in a place known as San Fransokyo--sort of a mixture of a near future of San Francisco and Tokyo.  We meet one of the main characters, Hiro Hamada, at an illegal robot fighting tournament.  From this scene you get that the kid is smart, crafty, and a yes, a average teenager full of crazy energy.  Soon after we meet his older brother, and his Aunt Cass that is his legal guardian.  Soon we meet his older brother, Tadashi, who is the one who has created Baymax.  Baymax (I never could understand his name that clearly and kept thinking they were saying, Betamax), at any rate, Baymax was created by the older brother as a healthcare helper, and looks like a big squishy marshmallow.  He's also a rather loveable creation.  Tadashi knows his younger brother is sort of a slacker and tries to provide a good influence on his life by directing him  to study harder and invites him to his university, where we meet more characters in the film, or the Nerd Squad.  They are a bunch of loveable brainiac misfits, who love science, and have invented all these cool inventions to help benefit mankind.

On the whole, Big Hero 6 is an adventure and mystery tale.  It is one in which it calls upon, Hiro to become the hero, and rise above his normal existence to overcome the odds and grow up some too.  In some ways, Big Hero 6 did remind me a bit of The Incredibles, in that it's a superhero yarn in the end.  But it does surpass that cliche in a lot of ways, and the characters and art that make up that world were always such a marvel to look at that I didn't mind.  All in all I enjoyed it a lot, and will pick up a copy for my own DVD library.

Also this weekend, I watched a short Youtube video, by a young movie reviewer, Chris Stuckmann, who I've come to respect.  I don't always agree with his taste or assessment on all of the films he reviews, but I can respect what he does, his energy and drive, and yes, a lot of time I do like many of the films he reviews.  So at any rate, this past weekend he put up a different type of video about the influence of anime and Toonami, which had influenced his life growing up as a teenager.   I thought it was well edited and made, although I'm not that well versed in anime, and at times I don't feel like I'm that big an anime fan, however, I do like some of it.  Perhaps I'm just not in the right generation it is geared towards, but I do have enough interest to keep trying a few of them.  That said though, whether you are a big anime fan, or a fan of Toonami, or even just a fringe animation fan, you should give the video a watch.  It's pretty good.