Mobile Suit Victory Gundam

gundam-victory

fpastar020TO START

In 1979, Yoshiyuki Tomino inadvertently kicked off an entire subgenre of mecha anime with Mobile Suit Gundam (or 0079 as it’s sometimes referred to), deemphasizing the seemingly integral aspects of unrealism and ‘logistics that simply work because it’s a cartoon’ wanton disregard for physics and gravitas in favor of a more hard science fiction approach to mechanical warfare and dealing with living or fighting in outer space.  For the next decade, anime producers and directors would mimic and explore the things he introduced with that landmark show, creating works varying from Ryosuke Takahashi’s Armored Trooper Votoms to Sh­ōji Kawamori’s famed Macross franchise.

Mobile Suit Gundam went on, more or less, to be the subject of twelve more series and numerous OVAs, specials, & films.  Tomino directed the next three sequel series, up to Victory Gundam in 1993, continuing to work within the Universal Century timeline he’d created with the 1979 series. After Victory Gundam’s broadcasting, UC timeline wouldn’t be wholly revisited again in series format, as future directors and creative teams would focus more on alternate scenarios and universes that happened to feature Gundam suits.  For anyone interested in a guide to the Gundam franchise, I’ve written an overview and guide available here. Read more of this post

Alternate Perspective: Summer Wars by JH

“Anime? You mean the Japanese cartoons like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!” or “Anime? You mean the Japanese cartoons full of sex and violence?” are probably the two most common responses by “normal” people when they find out that someone watches anime; I can’t help but find the polar opposite associations rather hilarious. Nobody would ever say “oh, you read poetry, you mean that stuff about flowers?” or “oh, you read poetry, you mean that stuff about wars?” The Association stem from the confusion that anime is a genre rather than simply animation from Japan; it’s no more a genre than French films are a genre. Once I’ve explained that to people unfamiliar with anime the next question is inevitably “why do you watch cartoons?”.  Indeed, the stigma against animation has something only suited for kids or outrageous satirical comedy is pervasive in most of the West. The simple answer behind why I watch it is that the creative freedom inherent in animation, and frequently expressed through animation, far outweighs that in the vast majority of live-action films, and Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars is a prime example of that imaginative explosion. Read more of this post

Macross Plus

If someone were to ask me to compile a list of the best OVAs ever made, there are a few titles that would immediately leap to my mind.  Gainax’s landmark 1987 anime Gunbuster is one, and so is Giant Robo, which had its first episode released in 1991.  FLCL (2000), Time of Eve (2007), Green Legend Ran (1992), Cat Soup (2001), Key: The Metal Idol (1991), and Bubblegum Crisis (1987-92) would each probably have places on that list as well.  It isn’t that there must be anything of profound substance in a work, nor even any incredible feats of narrative brilliance, for me to consider it worthy of inclusion among the “best ever made”.  A lot of it comes down to sheer enjoyment, I’ll admit, but the compilation of such lists inevitably involves some amount of subjective preferences.  But there’s no denying that a lot of that enjoyment relies on things such as animation quality, the uniqueness or quality of the cinematic form, the adroitness of the writing, the development of the characters and the presentation of the themes, etc.  And while I’d certainly consider these titles—and others, probably—as being within the top ten or twenty, I don’t believe any has what it takes to be the best ever made. Read more of this post

The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur

Science Fiction; U.S.; 1993; 83 minutes; written and directed by: Adam Simon; based on the novel by: Harry Adam Knight; produced by: Mike Elliot; Executive produced by: Roger Corman; New Horizon Home Video

Actual Quality

Guily Pleasure Quality

There are some movies that defy all thought and predictions. Films that go beyond the boundaries set for them by their contemporaries. Films that literally boldly go where no respectable person has gone before. (Mainly because respectable people know better.) These are films that are so bad they’re good. You laugh at they’re vain attempts to make you care, the silly ideas that are meant to scare you, and performances that no one, not even the actors and director, seemed to know what they were going for.These are the films that find themselves in our Guilty Pleasures Pile, and though many on this film blog have already thrown stuff into the pile, I’m going to make my first contribution in a while to the stash with a little mockbuster film Roger Corman executive produced en lure of Jurassic Park called Carnosaur. In fact, it’s fun to see how these two franchises kept butting into each other’s territory.

Corman was known in the olden days as the director who looked for one thing from his actors and one thing only: Stand on the tape mark, you turd. Actually, he was a wonderful guy to work with and lot of fun, but you had to hit your marks. He didn’t care what your line sounded like, he didn’t care how you did what you did… he just wanted you to stand on the tape mark and say your piece so he can say “cut”. Read more of this post

Megamind

Science-Fiction, Action, Comedy; 96 minutes; 2010; U.S.; Directed by: Tom McGrath; Procuded by: Lara Breay Denise, Nolan Cascino; DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, Red Hour Productions

There are two things I’ve never enjoyed in Hollywood matter how hard marketing tries to make me enjoy them: Will Farrel movies and DreamWorks movies.

Well, that last one is a slight exaggeration. The first two Shrek films were enjoyable for me when they were funny. But the franchise was quickly exposed to be no more than a mindless and spiteful Disney mockery when their jokes failed to entertain those watching them, even if the viewers did tire of the Disney formula that DreamWorks was trying to demolish in their own jerky way. And as for Will Farrel, I’ve never enjoyed him in… anything. To me, he just comes off as a sick joke that’s trying too hard to be funny. Heck, I didn’t even like Elf, and that movie was trying to stay away from Farrel’s usual tacticks.

So why would I even watch a film that packaged these two annoyances together into one set for the Hollywood studio to throw at me? Well to be honest, I don’t quite know why myself. But I’m sure glad I watched the new DreamWorks film starring Will Farrel: Megamind.

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Never Let Me Go

Very early on while watching Never Let Me Go I was struck with the realization that I must be watching an adaptation of a novel. There’s simply a certain quality that such adaptations have that original screenplays don’t. They’re marked by a certain stately elegance, a temporal broadness (for whatever reason, feature film screenplays tend to stay rooted in one time period), and, most of all, a feeling that the visuals are struggling to capture the original prose and say more about the characters than are possible through a camera lens. Other such films in the past decade that also had these qualities were Chocolat, The Hours, Atonement, The Reader, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Perceptive readers might note all of these films were nominated for Oscars as well, and there’s a part of me that’s surprised Never Let Me Go wasn’t. Read more of this post

Time of Eve: Social Consciousness and Machines

The concept of artificial intelligence is certainly an intriguing one.  A veritable library of science fiction films, comics, and novels have been released concerning it, dwelling on themes as wide-ranging as the philosophy of mind, the moral implications of robotic servitude, sexuality, and numerous others—often in some combination.  Time of Eve, a six episode OVA released over the course of 2008 and 2009, follows in the footsteps of those that have come before, so it probably won’t come as much surprise to see Asimov’s three laws of robotics playing a key role in its thematic undertones.  And, perhaps not unlike many other works focusing on artificial intelligence, Time of Eve’s main concern isn’t even artificial intelligence.  It uses that focus as a mirror in order to analyze what it means to be human, using multiple layers of allegory and a keen pace of storytelling to do so. Read more of this post