Posts Tagged ‘Miyazaki

01
Feb
14

Kids on the Slope, Mawaru Penguindrum

Kids on the Slope

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a funny caption for this picture.

Shinichiro Watanabe is a pretty great anime director. With the one-two punch of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, he firmly planted himself in the hall of the greats alongside Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. So, how could I not be excited about his new series, Kids on the Slope? Instead of his usual sci-fi/fantasy/action/comedy shtick, he opted for something rooted far more in reality. The series would take place in 1960s Japan and focus on high school students becoming friends over jazz music. The incredible Yoko Kanno (who has quite the eptitude for jazz) provided the soundtrack. All the pieces were in place to create yet another masterpiece of anime.
Yet, Kids on the Slope is somewhat lacking. It just doesn’t do enough to pull itself out of mediocrity. The main character, Kaoru, seems like a typical anime kid: shy, weird, no friends, nervous around girls, etc. His friend, Sentaro, is a lot more interesting as he starts out as a thug, but slowly the audience learns his troubled backstory and that he has a lot more going on underneath the surface. Female character, Ritsuko, is a blank, offering nothing to the series except for a completely cliche and totally unwanted love triangle between the three.
Kids on the Slope is better than a lot of the shit that passes for anime these days. The time period is unusual, the focus more based in reality, there aren’t any circle eyes or people getting punched into space, the characters interact in organic ways, and the love of jazz shines through. Unfortunately, the series falls into a lot of preditable tropes like the love triangle, the nervous characters, the characters who literally run away instead of talking about their feelings, and on and on. Kids on the Slope is truly a mixed-bag. It’s a disappointment because it could have been great but wasn’t.
Verdict: Average
Mawaru Penguindrum

Spoilers: The Penguindrum is a diary. Why is a diary called a Penguindrum? Because Japan.

Kunihiku Ikuhara created one of the greatest anime series of all time, Revolutionary Girl Utena. The complexity of story, the depth of characters, the epic tone, the action, the drama, the comedy, and the underlying metaphors were what elevated that series. If it had excelled at any one of those things, it would have been an awesome series. But it excelled at all of them, making it a legendary series. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to see Ikuhara emerged from his cave in 2011 with a new anime titled Mawaru Penguindrum.
With this series, it is quite clear that he is trying to emulate his past success. Penguindrum tries to have complex characters, an intricate story, and drama mixed with comedy. It technically has all those things, but it stumbles hard along the way. The characters aren’t very interesting. They are far more tropey than they should be. The story isn’t that intricate. In fact, it falls into the typical anime mystery camp. That is, the mystery is a rather simple background story, but important information about it is withheld from the audience until the end. There aren’t clues to follow or themes to unravel, no, it’s just purposely kept at bay. Lots of anime use this technique, and it’s frustrating for the audience.
The show has two more major problems. First, it focuses on one character at a time. For several episodes it will focus on one person, then the next few episodes it will focus on another, with a totally different set of plot points and themes. It makes the series feel like an anthology. By the end, there is little sense of cohesion. Second, the show is buried in metaphors. Utena had lots of metaphors but they were decipherable. Penguindrum has layers upon layers of metaphors. There are so many that it’s virtually impossible to know what is really going on and what’s a metaphor. There isn’t anything clearly tangible for the audience to grab hold to in order to slowly unravel what is real and what has deeper meaning.
Penguindrum becomes somewhat an incomprehensible mess by the end. I wanted to like it, I really did, but it tried to do too much. It piled on too many things and drowned under an artsy-fartsy mess of too many shitty metaphors.
Verdict: Bad
22
Feb
13

Brik Hates the Academy Awards: 80s Edition

It’s no mystery that I hate the Academy Awards. Hollywood spends half the year binging on cocaine and hookers and the other half praising themselves for it. No other industry exerts so much energy and spends so much money on self-congratulatory masturbation than the film industry. These sick fucks have the cushiest, easiest jobs in the world, and they act like what they do is some kind of goddamn accomplishment. “LOL OH LOOK I JUST RECITED SOME LINES SOMEONE ELSE WROTE FOR ME AND SHED A TEAR AT THE SAME TIME! I’M A FUCKING ACTING GOD! QUICK SOMEBODY GIVE ME FIFTY AWARDS LOL!”

In theory, I could get behind the awards if they actually awarded things that were deserving. You know, giving a Best Picture award to the best movie of the year. But the Academy rarely gives that award to the best movie of the year. Hell, they don’t even give it to the most popular movie of the year. Usually, they give it to whatever cool person produced the movie, or to the most obscure, independent, foreign piece of shit they can find. Typically, no one in the mainstream public will have even seen the winner.

They’ve been pulling this shit for years. So, I decided to analyze the past years, offer my own nominees, and declare new winners. Best movie isn’t the one that makes you cry or makes you think. Best movie is the one that you want to revisit over and over again. A movie you watch once and never again isn’t good. It’s only good if you can’t help but watch it a million times. Rewatchability is the hallmark of something great.

This time around, I’ll be taking a look at the Best Picture winners from the 1980s.

Continue reading ‘Brik Hates the Academy Awards: 80s Edition’

25
Feb
12

The Borrower Arrietty

The Borrower Arrietty

Why is it that Hollywood feels the need to dumb shit down to the lowest possible level for children?

Recently, Mrs. Brik and I went to the first-run movie theater (which we rarely do) to check out The Borrower Arrietty. Here’s a list of the crap we saw trailers for before Arrietty started: Mirror Mirror, Madagascar 3, The Lorax, Brave, and a horrible Disney Channel sci-fi sitcom.

Madascar and Lorax are both an assault upon the eyes. Bright, clashing colors, huge amorphous shapes, and a general sense of unreality that makes me want to puke. Of course, if it’s for kids it has to look cartoony and overdone. Apparently, kids can’t understand something animated that looks at least somewhat real. Mirror Mirror looks just as shitty, except it’s live-action. The whole movie looks cheap and fake and must have been filmed entirely on a green screen. Plus, the addition of Julia Roberts in anything automatically drops it into the crap heap. The woman hasn’t been in anything good since Ocean’s Eleven in 2001, and she sucked in that, too. Brave also looks like a CGI shitfest, but it comes from Pixar and they have a good track record, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt this time and hope it might be good. And that Disney channel show. Jesus fucking Christ. Mrs. Brik and I were cracking up at how retarded it looked. They make the most obvious, lamest, safest jokes imaginable. Sure, kids don’t need to be subjected to Chris Rock or George Carlin style standup, but they aren’t morons. They can understand a joke with mild complexity. All of these are proof that we as a culture constantly insult our childrens’ intelligence. Unfortunately, our children like this drivel because it’s all they are ever exposed to.

They should be exposed to good stuff, like anything in the Studio Ghibli film library. The Borrower Arrietty (that’s the official title which was inexplicably changed to The Secret World of Arrietty in the U.S. and just Arrietty in Europe) is one of those movies, and would be a great option for something you could watch with a kid.  Continue reading ‘The Borrower Arrietty’

03
Jan
10

20 Awesomest Anime of the Decade (2000-2009)

I’ve seen me lots of animu in the last decade. I started watching this stuff in late 2001, and it’s ruined my life ever since. That being said, I felt it was my obligation to impart upon you the fact that there are good anime out there. It’s not all moeblobs and slice of life bullshit. So, as it’s so trendy to do right now, I’m giving you my list of the 20 Most Awesomest Anime of 2000’s. Keep in mind that even though I have ranked these, they are all equally awesome. My list probably won’t sit well with the pretentious arthouse goons or the moe-loving fapboys, but rest assured these anime are actually good shows.

20.) Boogiepop Phantom (2000) – This is one of those series where the fun comes in figuring out what the hell is going on. It’s a supernatural thriller, with each episode taking place from the point of view of a different character. I love the washed out color palette, the haunting music, the “realistic” look of the characters (i.e. no crazy hair colors), and the non-linear story. Instead of spoon feeding the viewer, it allows you to deduce what really happened on your own, although this may require multiple viewings. As the “angel of death,” Boogiepop doesn’t really have a name that would inspire fear in anybody, but if you watch this series late at night with the lights off, you might get a little freaked out.

19.) Paprika (2006) – A film from a true master, Satoshi Kon. While Millenium Actress is probably his most praised work, I find that there is something intangibly better about this movie. Kon continually plays with themes of identity and reality, and he does so to perfection here. In a future world where people can use technology to enter dreams, a doctor is attempting to use it to help psychiatric patients. She uses a persona known as Paprika. As the movie progresses, the line between what is real and what is the dream world blurs. Eventually, things spiral out of control, and climax in one of the weirdest and most incredible finales ever put to film.

Continue reading ’20 Awesomest Anime of the Decade (2000-2009)’

17
Oct
08

My Neighbor Totoro

Catbus

Catbus

Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus Catbus

Totoro and friends

Totoro and friends, Catbus not present

Verdict: Awesome
Verdict of whatever crack Miyazaki was smoking when he made this movie: Incredibly Awesome




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