TRAILER REVIEW: THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

Okay, so here we have the trailer for 2017s Oscar bait- a feel good film set in World War II about the actions of One Good Woman who shines a candle of light in the darkness of the worst time in European history.  Cinematically, it looks pretty crisp; bright colors and beautiful visuals that keep it uplifting in spite of its subject matter and its operatic choir tells us how important it is. It’ll probably be a good a film- these kind of films usually are, even if we all would secretly be watching The Avengers.

This is an interesting time for the film to come out; only a few years ago- no, everyone a few months ago-   would be in agreement saying ‘yup: internment camps, concentration camps and the holocaust was shit, thank God we’re all past that’. But not at the moment. Now we live in a time where the rhetoric has gotten so nasty, that it’s given licence for people to indulge in the worst of human nature- the KKK is no longer just a fringe relic, swastikas are now beginning to emerge again.

In this climate, even a film as innocuous as this will be controversial, and it wouldn’t surprise me if its inevitable academy award wins will be deemed as ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’. We’ll just have to wait and see how the traditional Oscar Bait will be recieved in this climate

FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in PASSENGERS

Yeah, you totally clicked for Jennifer Lawrence in the swim suit, don’t lie to me!

Passenger is a Sci Fi story about what would happen if they cloned Jennifer Lawrence so she could be in every Hollywood movie this year… okay I lie. What this movie is about is a romantic meet cute INNN SPAAAAACEEEE

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When SHIIIT HITS THE FAAAAAANNNN…

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Yeah, gas giants and messing up gravity doesn’t exactly get me in the mood to for having dinner, but apparently ensuing disaster gets those two ready to pick out curtains. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence were meant to be in stasis for a hundred years while their ship they travel to a new planet to start a new life (2016 certainly has that effect on people) , but alas something goes wrong and the two of them wake up, only to find that something is disastrous is happening with the ship.

First off, the water effect looks amazing and it makes me wish that Katara could have pulled that shit in ATLA. Imagine if she drowned the fire nation in one of those balls? Well, it would probably not be suitable for kids anymore, and probably why I’m not a director- but that bit was cool. I suspect it’s the best bit in the whole movie.

Less cool was when they changed scene and we got the romance. Oh God, the romance. The dialogue ‘We’re on a date’ ‘ very nice’  Took you long enough to ask’ in the most artificial way possible. When Pratt’s character got the robot to give her that love note, I was thinking ‘seriously, mr Robot, do you want to give Ms Lawrence some cheese with that note?’I’ll admit I really don’t like the romance genre, but I can get on board if it’s nuanced and has really well written characters. However, this looks like a very cookie cutter couple with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence playing Hollywood Romantic leads rather than feeling like actual people. So far we have melodramatic declarations of love, cheesy declarations of love, the much older guy of course (Pratt is 11 years older than Lawrence), and with all the action and the time period there’s no way it’s going to develop in a natural way and will probably be ‘sass first and then insta love.’

Maybe the action will save the romance, but thus far I’m not sold. So far, the cutesyness really doesn’t go with the action and it undermines the stakes, and it looks like a sci fi with a romance sub plot tumor as the focus of the film. This could just be a marketing ploy however: the romance to draw the Twilight fans and the action to draw the Martian and Star Wars fans. But as of yet, neither the romance or the action looks good enough to draw me in.

Also, the scene with that robot slamming its head on the bar and sliding it along the surface? Totally becoming a gif that will feature heavily in the upcoming year.

 

FIRST LOOK: Full Metal Alchemist The Movie (2017)

It’s a great year for anime adaptions. Ghost in the Shell is getting a movie, there’s another Death Note film being made in the USA, where hopefully the monsters will look less like they came from a low budget PS2 game. Now, Full Metal Alchemist– the series that spawned two of the most beloved shounen anime of all time- is getting a live action film.

I like the look of Edward Elric, who has hair of a true anime hero which must take hours each day to do; however, I am suspicious why we didn’t see him use his Alchemy and just got a load of cutting from Edward to the alchemy symbol. The huge cast of fleshed out characters and the nuanced portrayal of conflict where even the big bads seemed somewhat humanized, can’t make a mark in just an hour- but they could at least make with the cool battles we loved to watch? This better not be like ATLA where it was just a bunch of guys fusing their mind powers to fling rocks around which made you wonder why they didn’t just throw the things. Hopefully its budget will be better than this trailer suggests, so I shall move forward sceptical but not without hope

Also, is it somewhat weird that Attack On Titan and Full Metal Alchemist were set in Europe (or vague European land) and its made by and filled with a load of Japanese people (though this is accurate for Mikasa), while Ghost In The Shell and Death Note  are Japanese but filled with white people?

 

I HATE FAIRYLAND Vol 1-by Skottie Young

The humor around this centres on a bloody, cathartic subversion of the cheerful kiddie shows; a cute little girl entering the candy sweet fantasy world and hating every minute of it, before being slowly driven into an ax crazy murderous rage. With a premise like that, what could go wrong?

Well, quite a few things, but at the start, it’s pure comedy gold. We meet our heroine, Gertrude- our  Alice expy- getting sucked in to the magical fantasy land against her will. And the whole sequence is hilarious. The cheerful fairytal narrative playing which refuses to take into account the pain and misery that Gertrude is suffering in the panels. Gertrude is getting beaten, abused and sent into her own personal hell, while all the citizens of Fairyland smile, insensitive to her obvious pain.

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This is so deliciously cruel that it’s hilarious, and when we get to the breaking point where she blows the narrator to smitherines, it was hilarious. We see her get hurt and abused in this wonderland, the world that is usually fun and sweet actually turning into a groundhog day nightmare where she’s stuck there in child form for 27 years.

The artwork serves the story spectacularly as well. Young has created an incredibly cute, childlike asthetic that looks like every true fairytale land you imagine, so when the maiming does happen the juxtaposition takes maximum effect. We see brains, and blood, and cute little critters flattened in this bright, adorable artstle- it’s like if Nightmare on Elm Street took place in 100 Acre Wood.

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The problem is that after this strong start, things go downhill. The comedy relies purely on Gertrude being a jackass and maiming and everything in sight- which has potential, for a little while. With the right set up. After all, Happy Tree friends was funny, and Conkers Bad Fur Day had a similar concept of a crude, heavy drinking protagonist in a childish setting and was pretty creative, even if not always laugh out loud funny. But the problem is that the jokes didn’t have the right set up to land properly, and as a result the heroine is more annoying than the saccharine creatures she maimed.

At the beginning, we see Gertrude murder the moon (who is the narrator)The reason it worked when she shot the moon in the face was because our heroine had been pushed to breaking point: we’d seen her sucked into Wonderland, get continuously abused while a cheerful narration played, seen her trapped there for 27 years, all while having to listen to that same narration who’s insensitivity and lack of shits given about her pain made him seem sadistic. She was a woman on edge, and not only was this built up and cathartic, it was subversive because she’s not just saying ‘fuck you’ to the annoying creature, but destroying the forth wall and saying ‘fuck you’ to convention in a Deadpool and She-Hulk like way. The death was also extremely overkill and creative and a joy to read about.

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When she attacks the citizens of the town, she doesn’t have the same set up. The reason . In order to get to the payoff where blowing the citizens was justified, it needed to be set up; they needed to be annoying, Gertrude needed to be pushed to her very limit again. Maybe they could have annoyed her by singing cheerful songs at her, or constantly charged her with silly things like stepping on a crack or littering ala Demolition Man, or maybe she could have been lost and . But no: the reason they attack her is because she’s commiting a robbery- for no apparent reason.The creatures aren’t annoying and detestable, but just seem like perfectly nice, likeable creatures just trying to go about their daily lives, when Gertrude just randomly attacks them.

She’s senselessly hostile for no reason.In fact, she’s just such a two dimensional nasty that she’s actually a hundred times more irritating than the saccharine animals- she’s like that gobby 12 year old on X-Box live who has to be nasty and spiteful because they think it makes them look cool. I think Young is relying on our own annoyance with saccharine characters like The Care Bears and Barney The Dinosaur to make us hate the citizens of Fairyland, which doesn’t work. Even if you have analogues to existing characters, you still have to build them up and make them work in their own right.

When the Queen does send someone to deal with Gertrude, it’s because Gertrude is serial killer who’s committed mass murder. The Queen, far from being the antagonist, so far seems to just be doing what she has to in order to protect her kingdom. This could work if Gertrude was set up to bra villain protagonist and the Queen the real hero, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as it feels as if we’re supposed to think Gertrude’s reaction to this world is completely natural- which it isn’t.

VERDICT: Overall, I Hate Fairyland has an uneven start and is very hit and miss. When the jokes are properly set up, it’s funny, but other times it just relies too heavily on the image of a cute little girl maiming cute animals being inherently funny- which is great on a t-shirt, but to carry a whole series? Whether the series will find its feet remains to be seen.

CONTINUE OR DROP: Continue for 3 more issues.

YOHANCE-THE EKANGENI CRYSTAL- by Paul Louise Julie

I’m always on the look out for something new and creative, so when I heard that there was going to be a space opera inspired by African art, I thought ‘count me in.’ I waited for months in anticipation.  So now that it’s finally out, what was it like? Well, so far it’s only really the opening action sequence- but is it one hell of an action sequence with amazing use of art.

As you can probably see from the cover the graphic novel, the art work is extremely distinctive and looks great. I’ve never seen another graphic novel with art quite like that. The aesthetic combines African tribal artwork and designs with your typical star wars space opera design to create a slight variation on your typical space opera aesthetic. Not only that, but he also has an interesting use of colours: using bright reds or blues to give the planets a really unnatural, otherworldly atmosphere.

Stylistically, there’s a lot of improvement from his work on The Packabout how he uses the layout. Part of the strength also lies in how it’s formatted. It will often give you a massive picture of the environment and have a few smaller panels scattered around honing in on certain details or cutting away to a character in the ship. This gives it a really cinematic feel, and you genuinely feel like you’e watching a switching from shot to shot. It’ll often go from a bigger picture of the background . I mean, look at this.

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As your eyes dark from image to image it’s like different camera angles.The dialogue is also short, sparse and doesn’t clutter the page. This leads to a very streamlike reading experience and allows you to focus on the artwork and what’s going on in the page. This whole first issue plays out like a storyboard that’s better than the actual movie could ever be. There’s so much improvement from his first issue of The Pack in how he uses the page’s layout to his advantage, and it’s great to see him coming into his own.

However, there is one aspect of the art that changes this comic from flawless to  hit and miss, and it’s a big problem: the character designs. Mr Louise Julie has made this baffling choice of photo shopping a human’s face onto his character model, and it makes them look like some horrendous uncanny valley monstrosity. Like with a lot of his work with The Pack, he manages to cover this up by avoiding having people’s faces close up by focusing on the scenery, obscuring them by shadows or light, or by having the perspective so far away from the characters that you can’t see them properly. He gets away with it for the most part  (and Yohance is in his suit most of the time), but then we’ll get a close up of his badly photo shopped face and oh man….

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Look at the gorgeous design of the robot monkey when contrasted against that face. You know what this expression reminds me of?

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I don’t want to be reading this  action sequence and suddenly see angry baby! I mean, my God- the way it’s photo shopped is so awful. It doesn’t help that when we do get a close up he’s always pulling the most derpiest expression and he reminds me of one of those actors on those BBC shows for toddlers. It just pulls me out of the action and I have to try and ignore it before continuing- and that’s something you really don’t want for your main protagonist. It’ll be hard to get emotionally invested in later issues when the main characters are an eyesore to look at.

I’ve pondered why such an obviously astoundingly talented artist could put something so god awful in something so beautiful, and the only solution I can come up is that he’s great with backgrounds and lighting, but either he isn’t an expert at rendering faces or  his art style doesn’t lend to rendering expressive faces and he’s trying to compensate for it. Either way, this is not the way forward.

Now, onto the characters themselves. So far, we don’t know really know that much about them apart from the sci fi archetypes they embody. Yohance so far is the double crossing Rogue with the animal robot sidekick… Yes, he’s your Han Solo, your Captain Mal, your Spike Spiegel and every other galaxy hopping space scoundrel you’ve read about. Our heroine, Cana, isn’t a Black Leia Organa or Padme Amidala (like I was secretly hoping based on the cover art), but  she’s a rogue as well, and she and Yohance have a Captain Mal/ Saffron dynamic going on.

There’s nothing to distinguish them just yet, and their characters are very derivative, but it’s only the first issue and judging from what I’ve seen, the creator clearly has enough writing skill to make them interesting later on. I’m glad he didn’t try to do too much in one issue, and I’m glad he took his time to create a really memorable opening sequence.

Now there’s one other major landmine of a flaw with this book: the  price. I was so excited about this book that I purchased it right away and unusually (suspisciously) it didn’t tell me the page count, but judging by the price I expected it to be around about 130 pages. Yeah, I paid £7.70 ($9.43 for any Americans reading) for 39 pages. 39 pages. I have purchased a lot of graphic novels, comics and manga on and I’ve never had to pay anything like this for a kindle edition.

I mean come on, I know this is an independent project and the guy’s gotta eat, but not only is this insane for a digital copy (the price is what I’d expect for a hard back edition), but this is financially unviable. I don’t know how long the series is going to be (but considering all we’ve had is the opening action sequence and we’ve only barely set up the plot, it’s going to be a good few issues), but who can pay £7.70 for what is essentially an opening sequence? And pay that for each installment? Not many people are going to be able to afford that, and since he’s an Indie publisher without the fan base of companies like DC and Marvel, he can’t really afford to charge a ridiculous amount- especially since he’s not big name yet. I personally don’t regret it- the artwork is gorgeous and it’s something I’ll gladly flip through again- but I can’t pay that price for each future issue.

VERDICT: This is an immensely strong start . However, because of how ridiculously expensive this is, I can’t recommend that anyone by this and I’d suggest either waiting for this to go down in price or for it to be collected in a larger volume. However, if you’ve got the cash to burn and you’re really desperate for an African themed sci fi, than I can assure you the quality is top notch. Also, for more of his amazing art work and a series centred around African aesthetic that’s more sensibly priced, I’d recommend giving his work on The Pack a look.

Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy: A Crusade Against Political Correctness

Frankie Boyle has always been the mortal enemy of political correctness; his shock value humor always  put him at odds with his co hosts on Mock The Week before he leftand he launched an attack on Right Wing Theresa May’s cabinet that was so scathing (and totally true) that the left wing Guardian refused to publish it. Frankie Boyle’s humor is black and brutal, whatever his mark. However, Frankie Boyle is at his sharpest when his uncompromising, savage tirades become politically charged. And on Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy, we see his most devastating dress down yet: the circus of scandal and bigotry that was the American elections.

The BBC is oh so diplomatic and so obsessed with balanced that in a debate between William Wilberforce and Satan himself they’d make sure to mention that Satan always provides his residents in hell with reliable heating for the sake of being non partisan; Frankie Boyle, on the other hand, doesn’t give a fuck. Free to say what he wants thanks to being placed directly on iPlayer, right out the gate he pulls no punches with Trump:

‘It’s not that he’s the worst person for the job, he’s the worst mammal.’

And he only becomes more scathing  as he relentlessly rips into what happened at the election. Don’t think Hilary gets spared any rough treatment, because he destroys her as well:

‘People said well, er, Hillary was the best qualified candidate ever […] that’s not the problem. Peter Sutcliffe was an excellent truck driver.’

He goes on to criticize her for her total lack of charisma and described her as the worst candidate ever. His American guests are there to help him discuss the events surrounding the elections, and they’re amiable and entertaining enough. Sometimes it slips into political talk rather than comedy, but when the president is a man who has the world fearing that he’ll accidentally lean on the ‘Nuke the world’ button when he’s reaching for a pussy to grab, venting a little shock, horror and bemusal is the sugar that’s needed to help the anthrax go down. Still, Frankie Boyle is absolutely best when he’s raging solo, and when it’s just him laying into his target he’s hilarious and never loses its momentum for even a second. But even though he’s insulted everyone and everything at some point in his career, there will no doubt be many who think his show is a left wing conspiracy.

Even though Frankie Boyle is the man who drinks the tears of the Offended Class like a fine wine, people will accuse the misanthrope  who compared Palestine to a cake being ‘punched to pieces by a very angry Jew’ of being ‘politically correct’, because we’ve barely started legitimately criticizing that culture and we’ve already devolved to a point where we’d scream that phrase at Atticus during the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird where he tries to stop a lynching. Let’s be clear. Being suspicious of a man who’s strangely unwilling to rebuke support from the KKK is not being politically correct. Thinking it’s hilarious that a wealthy billionaire , who ruined the  Scottish countryside and placed working class  locals under risk of compulsory eviction for the sake of building a luxury golf course, is somehow an anti establishment hero, is not political correctness; it’s having a sense of irony. Attacking politicians and refusing to be entirely swept away by either party is vital, because raising any politician- even the most virtuous one in the world- to the level of Messiah is deadly and leaves you wide open to being manipulated.

And that’s one thing Frankie Boyle realizes too; he takes no prisoners, won’t introduce ‘balance’ arbitrarily if one side’s full of shit, and that’s why so often his political opinions are more honest and spot on than most journalistic articles.

 

FIRST LOOK: Ghost In The Shell Full Trailer

 

Another trailer and we’ve got a clearer idea of what the film is going to try and do. Rather than going for say, The Laughing Man storyline from the anime, or looking into the original manga for some good storylines, it seems like a straight up remake of the amazing original film.  That could be a problem- because its setting itself against an impossibly high bar. The film was groundbraking in its use of animation, and it was a film that was subtley harrowing, a film you felt rather than saw. I think that this version is going to be very Hollywood and lose its depth.

First off, the Americanism really, really shows. We’ve got a clearly Japanese setting, full of Japanese cyberpunk visuals (more reminiscent of Western works like Bladerunner or Neuromancer than anything from Japan), and yet we have a white woman running around speaking in an American accent, a bunch of white and black people with Japanese names blasting things in the most Hollywood style possible. The Japanese visuals they do show- the Geisha and the Carp- seem pulled out of Japanese culture rather haphazardly with little thought to their meaning or context aside from ‘ooh, this looks cool and Asian’. While the original Anime subtly emanated Japanese culture through its world (or Hong Kong in the case of the original movie), this feels more like a Tourist Shop vision of Japan. Beautiful, but ultimately lacking meaning behind the Geishas and kimonos.

Second, it looks like we’re getting a more emotional- and very human, very feminine-Major. Part of the conflict of Ghost In The Shell was that with all that remained of her human biology being a few brain cells, was she even still human or had she become more machine. A very cold, detached Major was more profound because it really made her question of whether her humanity was lost in all the wires, all the shells, all the more real. As for gender, Major Kusanagi, a female in the highly male dominated Japanese police force, was the most powerful and the most traditionally masculine one there; it asked questions like ‘was Major always a woman, or did she have the brain of a man?’ ‘Without hormones or a male and female body, which you could chose at whim, what did gender even mean anymore?’

A more emotional, vulnerable Major is perhaps more human and easier to emphasise with and more accessible to a mainstream audience, but it loses so much of the point and the conflict of The Major’s character.

All in all, it is still just a trailer and I will reserve judgement on the film, but so far it looks like it will be a very cool Hollywood film that copies the look of the original, but doesn’t quite capture what made it more than just another sci fi action.

 

TRAILER REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast and Holy crap did Belle just pull out a wand?

The new trailer’s out and holy cow did Hermione just pull out a wand at 0:38? Yeah, it looks like Belle’s trying to remember her past life, but doesn’t realize that although she’s got the cool bookworm down, she doesn’t have any of those kickass powers that she used to save the boys so many times in the Harry Potter films.

So far, this is a tricky sell. The original fairytale is one that was originally used to convince young girls to marry much, much older men for the sake of the family. It was a pretty nauseating story, and yet the talent and excellent writing of the Disney film made it into a pure joy. Unlike with Cinderella- which was merely fun and enjoyable and an achievement for its time- Beauty and The Beast was one of the greatest Disney films ever made. So how can it compete.

Well, it looks gorgeous. No expense was spared to the set, Watson is great and the Beast looks convincing, and thanks to the original they’ve got a pretty damn good blueprint from which to work from. It’ll probably be good- and yet the support cast- including the cutlery look too close to the original. The thing is that the original was so good, that if it tries to be its live action copy it’ll always be its pale shadow. The cups look nice, but the CGI can’t capture the charm of the original.

All in all, it looks like it’ll be good but whether it’ll be able to strike out as its own thing is another matter.

Also, Gaston better be as funny as this guy:

ORDER OF THE POISON OAK (Russel MiddleBrook 2)- by Brent Hartinger

Blurb: Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen.

Geography Club’s Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger’s third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It’s also the story of Russel’s latest club, The Order of the Poison Oak, a secret society dedicated to helping its members see life’s hidden beauty, and accept its sometimes painful sting.

Review: Order of The Poison Oak is the second book in the Russ Middlebrook series, following The Geography Club,  and takes our three best friends, Russel, Min and Gunnar, out of High School and into a Summer Camp for children who are burn survivors. After the complete dramatic car crash that was Russel’s coming out, he understandably wants a break from being The Gay Kid and a chance to be himself. But of course, dealing with a set of gobby tweens proves to be a handful, and he soon finds himself in a competition with Min over the affections of the sexy camp leader Web.

The characters: As usual, the characters are great. Thanks to the Ever Complicating power of bisexuality and its superpower to create love dodecahedrons, Min and Russel are now romantic rivals competing for the same guy. They compete, but their friendship is as deep and enjoyable to read as ever.and it develops still, remaining one of my favorite aspects of the series.

Gunnar is more tolerable this time, being as his actions are less terrible (I still haven’t forgiven him for what he did in Geography Club), and his story is of a guy who (almost certainly) has aspergers syndrome dealing with his awkwardness around girls. His said love interest, Em, is great, with a dry sense of humour and a Cool Nerd Girl personality that makes her a great addition to the book and, like with Brenda from the previous book, I wish she’d become a permanent cast member. But while she’s in this book, she’s great fun.

Our other stand out is Otto, a burn survivor who is volunteering at the camp who is fun and likeable, and only gets better in later books. I also like the sexy Web (what an appropriate name), the object of desire and a complete tease. He is the spear counterpart to the femme fatale, and although being a YA novel, there’s not a lot of sex but Casanova once said that the sexiest part of any encounter is the walk to bedroom, and the sexual tension that rises whenever he’s around is palpable.

The Plot: While the previous book followed a tried and tested High School popularity/ Mean Girls sort of plot, the plot for this one was iffier. It worked, and it served to allow the characters  a chance to develop and interact (and chase the sexy, sexy guy), it did at times feel like it was here to teach us a Very Special Lesson about looks not being everything, but the strong characterisation saved it from falling too deeply into that trap.

One good thing was Russel assuming because he’s gay that he’s automatically on a higher plane of tolerance and is ready to be oh so kind to the poor little burns kids, but they turn out to be nightmares at first. Russel learns that just because he’s gay doesn’t make him immune from having a white savior complex, which was a nice twist and this character flaw made Russel  more appealing.

The kids had character, and I liked that Russel genuinely struggled to not obsess over theirs (and Otto’s) scars and to be modern accepting, but falls short. The only problem is that we did get a cringe worthy road to understanding with a face palm inducing scene describing Otto’s inner beauty when Otto began to play the guitar which felt cheesey and like I was being taught a lesson about looks by a primary school teacher.I love this series, it’s one I’ve read multiple times but it does have an exasperating lack of subtlety.Luckily, Otto’s a strong and appealing character so as painful as that scene was, it didn’t transform him from a character into a lesson.

Verdict: The plot is a lot shakier than the last, but the characters are just as loveable as usual and I enjoyed Min and Russel’s friendship deepening and seeing how the chaos caused by our sexy love interest would play out. If you read the first, I’d definitely give this a shot.

Ghost In The Shell- Should We Still Support It In Spite Of It’s Race Controversy

 

Ghost in The Shell- one of the most enduring franchises in Anime history, spawning the superb movie (which everyone should watch) and the great anime series (and its even bettwe sequel 2nd GIG). Now finally, a new generation will have a chance to become aquainted with an excellent franchise.

Well, it’s hard to tell so far but it does seem to have the cool, melancholy tone of the original film (although no CGI could match up to its beauty of course), and it definately has a Japanese cyberpunk thing going on. Motoko displays far more emotion than any of her other counterparts- including the hard to read film version and the seasoned, in control leader of the anime- but that not be a bad thing. Although I love the Major, a criticism is that she is a bit too perfect and can seem flat because she never really goes through any character arcs (for the record I love the Major). Maybe a Major with more of an emotional arc will make her more compelling as a lead.

I’m not sure how I feel about its white washing. On the one hand, it is great that we’re getting another female lead action franchise and that Ghost In The Shell- an absolutely amazing series- is being brought to a new generation. This could help the franchise assert itself in popular culture once more AND it will help increase the sales of the original series and maybe even increase interest in Asian media. But now anime (with a few exceptions like Madoka and Stein’s Gate) seems to have devolved into Harem wish fulfillment fantasy,Moe, ginormaboobs and yaoi bait, I’m not sure that’s entirely a good thing. But I digress.

However, looking at the cast it’s still pretty white. I understand the argument that Hollywood needs a big name it feels safe with to headline the movie and that’s why it chose Johansson. I don’t agree, but understand. But this shouldn’t mean that the supporting cast shouldn’t be predominatly Asian- yet Batou and almost all of the support are white. The only character who is currently named that is played by an Asian actor is Daisuke, the leader who is never really part of the action. He could risk falling into the role of promoted to obscurity (when they have a POC who’s really high up, but is so high up that they have little characterization and are not involved with any of the important action.) Or being the calm, magical Asian.

This is frustrating because even after the last Oscar fiasco, and with so few roles for Asians to prove themselves in, we have a film set in Japan which is yet again devoid of any Asians. There’s an arguement for Scarlett Johansson as the lead (being the sole female lead of one of the biggest action franchises), but not on this scale. Besides, when I see an Asian film with a bunch of white people, it really does kind of give me a bit of a weeaboo feel.

One thing that should be noted though, is that a lot of people in Japan don’t actually care that much about it being played by a white person. They seem just as bemused about the idea of a Chinese American (Lucy Liu) playing a Japanese character and appear to roll their eyes at how Hollywood it looks. This is probably to do with the fact that they grow up in Japan with their own thriving tv shows and media featuring Japanese people, so of course representation and the problem of Japanese actors being denied work is alien to them.

All in all, it’s hard to tell whether it’ll be good or bad, but I’ll see it to support the franchise, and to prove again that a female lead action franchise is not a risk at all (but bad writing a la Catwoman is). And maybe if this becomes a hit, we’ll get more like it. In the mean time, I’d like to leave us with the greatest animated sequence ever put to film, so we can remember why this franchise is so beloved:

However, I’m not Asian so it’s not my thoughts which count. If anyone else has anything to say about this please feel free to post in the comments.