Modern Animation is Basically Fan-Fiction. And That’s A Good Thing!

 

 

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OK, I know what you’re thinking, you look at the title of this article and shout  “This guy is insane!”  Comparing all the awesome toons we have now to pedestrian fan-fictions!?  How dare he!?   But I promise you dear reader that this is by no means an insult, in fact it’s a compliment, just….give me a chance to explain.

 

 

 

If you are an older millennial or Gen-Xer you probably remember how shows were back in the day.  Not saying they weren’t good, heck there’s a lot of great older toons out there, but it was quite obvious that they were scripted shows.  Heavy on exposition with the occasional stiff dialogue or cheesy uncle joke.  Action series, like DC & Marvel comic’s at the time followed a very rigid and strict structure and comedies while fairly witty at times also followed down a very narrow line of paths.  In modern times however we have seen a change in how content creators approach animated series.  While it is true these shows are still scripted out, the way in which dialogue is formed and even the way scenes are executed seems to have vastly changed over the course of the course of the decade.

 

 

The most notable change in writing is how characters dialogue seems to be more natural and organic.  animated television series aren’t afraid to have off-beat, awkward dry, and nerdy humor.  On top of this many animated series have been made with the characters as the main focus with the narrative and gags built around them to serve and develop them as opposed to the other way around which was arguably quite a common in many older series.    There is also a tendency to mix the tedium of daily life with the most extreme of fantastical occurrences (Such as the premier of Final Space where the lead character cared more about getting a cookie from the cafeteria and impressing his a woman who quite obviously hates him, despite all the over the top sci-fi antics abounding around him) creating both a nice relatibility and humanization of the characters while still making an interesting enough story for the viewer to remain engaged in and entertained by.   Series also aren’t afraid to have a deeper level of emotional aspects to their stories, series like Adventure Time, My Little Pony/Equestria Girls, Steven Universe and yes even We Bare Bears have all had heart-tugging and emotionally complex character and story moments during their runs.    Modern animation has truly redefined the level of depth writers can go to in the terms of both individual characters as well as character/group relationships and dynamics.

 

But how does this relate to fan-fiction you may ask?  Well the truth is fan-fics have been doing this for quite some time.   Many of the more well written works for franchises online (that aren’t just porn that is)  feature complex and in-depth emotional moments as well as just sweet mundane scenes and dialogues of the characters just enjoying daily life.  The fact that many modern animations don’t shy away from the more emotional or more slice of life moments as often as they used to really shows not only how far the medium has come, but also how the more flexible writing style of modern animated series has given writers and content creators a wider brush to paint their narratives with and greater ability to add more depth to their characters.

 

Also take into account many of the modern content creators were inspired by the things they were fans of growing up, be it Fantasy, Sci-fi, anime, hanna-barbera, video games, comics, film, what have you.  Modern content creators have taken their childhood loves and made wonderful original and revitalized content from inspiration of their own childhood loves, their own passions and fandoms.

 

So yes, in closing, modern animation, more so then ever before is fan-fiction, and that is by no means a bad thing!

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18 Things To Look Forward To in 2018!

The new year is finally upon us and with it not only do we have a fresh start do do things better then we did last year, but also a years worth of new animations, comics, film and more to look forward to!  So without further ado, here are eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  In no particular order other then how I feel talking about them.  So let’s get started!

 

 

 

  1. Mary & The Witches Flower.

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The first feature length film by Studio Ponoc is getting an western release through GKids and Fhantom Events on January 18th and anyone who is a fan of animation should be excited about this one!   The film which more or less apes Studio Ghibli’s artstyle seems to be full of not just quality animation but a genuinly enjoyable story with a main protagonist attending a Harry Potter-esque school while also uncovering a dark secret.  The movie based on the children’s book by the same name will no doubt be a delight for animation and film goers of all ages!

 

2. The Snagglepuss Chronicles

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DC Comics has been making the most of their rights to publish books based on the classic Hannah-Barbara Characters as of late with their HB Beyond line which takes the classic toons and revives them with a modern twist and Snagglepuss Chronicles is no different. The book features an even more anthropomorphized version of the classic pink cat who is a gay southern gothic playwright during the “Red Scare” period of American politics.  The series despite being set in the past is extremely relevant to the increasingly disturbing state of American politics as of present and is sure to be a poingent socio-political tale as well as one of the best comics of 2018. So if you are a fan of classic Hannah-Barbara characters and quality socio-political commentary I say check it out!

 

 

3. Craig of The Creek!

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One of Cartoon Network’s new original series for 2018, Craig of The Creek is an animated slice of life adventure series about the titular Craig and his friends as the have various adventures in the forest nearby his neighborhood.   The show is more or less meant to be a stand in for the currently ending series Clarence though the visual style is more akin to that of Steven Universe and the general tone of the series going off the polite is far more relaxed and innocent.  Overall Craig of the Creek is another attempt at a modern version of a series similar to Reccess or Rugrats minus the occasionally manic tone of the latter, with seemingly a tiny bit of Bridge To Tarabithia thrown in, sans the sad parts of course.   If you are a fan of fun and relaxing toons I would definitely recommend checking it out!

 

4. Cosmo

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The latest series for Archie’s all-ages action imprint. Cosmo is a revitalization of a silver age comic series brought back to life by popular Sonic Scribes like Ian Flynn, Tracy Yardly and more!  The series follows a young alien Cosmo and his crew as they go on various intergalactic adventures.  This series is just starting and if it’s anything like Ian and co’s past work it is no doubt to be a hit!  Infact the first issue came out this week so go to your LCS and pick up a copy why don’t yea!?

 

5. Black Lightning

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The latest CW/DC Superhero series which premiers on January 16th stars the company’s first African American hero coming out of retirement to help save his home town from an ever growing criminal element he thought he had defeated.  The series is sure to be the most relevant and socio-political charged series in the DCTV Universe to date and you would be crazy to miss out on it!

 

6. Teen Titans GO! To The Movies!

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While the television series is infamous for being rerun on CN far too often the fact its getting a movie could be good for animated films in the long run.  If this movie does well enough there is a chance WB could be open to more 2D &/or traditionally animated films in the future and possibly more animated films based on DC properties as well. So even if you hate how much CN airs the show on TV, i’d say at least give the movie a chance. I mean, c’mon you do want that Young Justice movie someday…right!?

 

7. Equestria Girls: Digital Series

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The Doug Meets Sailor Moon style Spin-off of My Little Pony which features the characters as candy colored magical teenage girls instead of sentient magical horses recently received a digital series that will be having a new episode every week throughout most of 2018.  With a first season spanning forty-five episodes and a second season currently in production fans of these ponies turned teens are sure to have plenty of laughs and friendship lessons for sometime to come.  *If the Discovery Family App would stop leaking them before they get their YouTube premier that is*

 

8. Krypton

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The long awaited series about The House of El and Superman’s home world pre-explosion is finally going to premiere in March of 2018.  The series has been loosely described as “Game of Thrones in Space” and while that will most likely end up being a bit of an exaggeration the series is sure to intrigue Superman fans both young and old.

 

9. Bingo Love

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An original Graphic novel by Tee Franklin and Jeen St-Onge showcasing the life of a same-sex couple from 1963 to the present day, Bingo Love seems to be setting itself up to be an important and heart warming love story for the ages.

 

10.  BumbleBee

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A Transformers Movie focusing on a fan favorite character and NOT directed by Micheal Bay!?  This could be a TF fans dream if things come true and with some of the same talent that worked on Kubo & The Two Strings behind the helm we might just get our first genuinely good live action Transformers film!  Fingers crossed!

 

11.  Summercamp Island

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Yet another Cartoon Network Original Project Summercamp Island is a surrealist slice of life fantasy series about two friends at their first summercamp which is much more than meets the eye.  With a visual style hearkening back to old Nick Jr. series such as The Busy world of Richard Scary and Little Bear and a cute meet weird style reminiscent of Adventure Time I have no doubt that Summercamp Island will be another hit for the network!

 

12. Aquaman

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The King of the seas is finally getting his own film and with this James Wan helmed film we are no doubt going to get an entirely new take on DC’s classic character!

 

13. Sailor Moon: Eternal Edition

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A new deluxe edition style re-release of the classic Sailor Moon manga with a new translation, color pages and more.  This is the definitive edition of the Sailor Moon manga and a must have for fans of the pretty sailor gaurdians

 

14. Miles Morales: Spider-Man

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Sony Animation’s first super-hero film may just end-up being their best film in years!  Though it still doesn’t make up for that gosh awful Emoji Movie!

 

15. Persephone

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An original graphic novel taking inspiration from greco-roman mythology sure to delight readers of all ages!

 

16.  Unikitty

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The popular Cartoon Cat-Unicorn and her friends from the LEGO Movie finally have their own cartoon and it is awesomedorable!

 

17. Sonic The Hedgehog

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IDW is bringing back the 90’s gaming Icon in comic form and it’s sure to be a blast for readers young and old!

 

18. Black Panther

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I may despise Disney but even I realize the success of this film is bigger then one studio.  Black Panther performing well could mean a better chance of more diverse and progressive leads in films to come.  Plus it might finally convince DC to green-light a Vixen or Static Shock flick, so there’s that as well.

 

 

And ther you have it.  Eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  There will of course be plenty more to enjoy that’s not on this list but this should be a fun little taste none the less. Happy new year everyone!

Monopolies Are Bad! How A Disney/20th Century FOX Merger Would Ruin The Movie Industry And Weaken Anti-Trust Laws.

 

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Hello Friends, long time no post.  Well here we all are again in the absolute most ridiculous of timelines, and that’s putting things nicely.  Today we are here to talk about a very important subject, and this is how monopolizing an industry hurts that industry and the economy in the long run.  So get your herbal tea and stress ball ready because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

Not to long ago the Department of Justice struck down a merger deal between AT&T & Warner Bros. This thankfully prevented AT&T having a monopoly over cable and other services.  After that Matel rejected a buy out bid from Hasbro preventing the company from having a monopoly on the toy industry.  Sadly however there seems to be no one against the rather unholy union of 20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Corporation.  While it is true Disney is only interested in buying out FOX’s movie studios and related assets this still puts the entirety of the movie industry at risk as collectively in any given year Walt Disney can make up a good 20%-30% of the annual box office intake world wide with 20th Century FOX averaging at another 20%.  This would mean if the merger did go through and Disney remained in charge of all the properties that 20th Century FOX makes movies for they would have control of roughly 40%-50% of the annual box office putting them at an unfair advantage over other studios like Paramount, Sony & Warner Bros.

 

This merger would also effect smaller studios like Blue Sky that distribute their animated films through 20th Century FOX.  They would most likely have to find a new distributor for their films, which while hardly the most difficult thing to do could still end up leading to the shuffling around or pushing back of upcoming releases.  Comic book publishers like Dark Horse that deal with various FOX properties such as Aliens, Buffy, Firefly, Predator etc would most likely have to renegotiate deals or might end up losing the rights to the properties all together which would leave them with another heavy blow after Disney already cost them their rights to the Star Wars comics after the Lucas Films buyout years prior.

 

This buyout which would lead to a disruption and upset of licensing and distribution of properties could also lead to other pseudo-monopolies among Disney’s competitors as to no matter who ends up with the distribution rights to Blu-Sky’s films they would have an extra arm in animation.  For example if Universal got distribution rights to Blu Sky films they would then be releasing animated films for not only Blu-Sky but for Dreamworks and Illumination Entertainment as well, meaning you would have three different studios under one umbrella, even if they didn’t technically own all of them, it would still put the competition at a slight disadvantage.  In terms of licenses many companies work with the Alien & Predator Licenses as well as the Planet of The Apes.  Even if Disney sells off these I.P.’s like scraps to other studios in an attempt to balance things out it will cause countless companies to have to renegotiate with new owners either  way.

 

It is also worth noting that as corporations get bigger they take less risks which can lead to less diverse and experimental content being created which leads to flandarization of output which can lead to a saturation and decline into the quality, creativity and diversity of the products produced.  Healthy competition keeps these studios on their toes and can make them more likely to take risks, without that you risk the further degradation of the art of cinema among other things.

 

The allowance of this buyout also shows how hypocritical and corrupt both Disney and the current political administration continue to be as the DOJ was all to eager to strike down the AT&T/Warner merger due to it’s hatred of CNN, but will shamelessly allow the passing of a Disney/20th Century FOX merger merely because the mouse and the companies it already owns are such good friends with the 1% the same way higher-ups at FOX are.  This shows the further degradation of both our federal government and our capitalistic society as Disney crawls ever closer to a disturbing dystopian mega-corp!

 

So I beg you all to look past your juvenile fanboyish enthusiasm of seeing The Avengers & The X-Men in the same movie and realize this for what it is.  An attempted monopolization of the movie industry by a company that is the film world equivalent of the Republican Party.  A monster of a mouse that while not as bigoted is just as brutish & greedy doing everything it can to dominate an industry.  Despite the fond memories Disney may have given you as a child it is not your friend and it never was, like a corrupt politician you are just a number to it.  Do not support this merger and speak out against it just as you would the current corrupt administration or the stooges at the FCC trying to take away our Net Neutrality, don’t put the entirety of the movie industry and the continued existence of Anti-Trust laws at risk over something so petty!

 

In closing, monopolies are always bad, and you’re mouse is a rat!

My Little Pony The Movie (2017) Review

My Little Pony and all related works are property of Allspark Pictures/Hasbro & Lionsgate

Warning: Spoilers. Adorable Spoilers!

 

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A Reformed Tempest Shadow Helps Twilight & The Rest of The Mane-6 Restore The Kingdom’s Lost Magic

 

 

 

On October 6th 2017 The My Little Pony movie based on the popular Saturday morning cartoon of the same name opened up in theatres nationwide to the excitement of not only hardcore fans of the series but to animation fans as well as it was the first traditional/2D animated film to be seen in theatres since 2011’s “Winnie The Pooh”.  And while the movie was of course like many non-Disney animations crucified by critics, there may just be more to this fun little romp through the magical land of Equestria then so called professionals give it credit for.  Lets take a look and see if Friendship really is magic or if magic talking horses are a bit too 80’s for modern audiences.

 

 

 

The film starts out with a delightfully cheesy ponified version of “We Got The Beat” as a group of Peguses, pegausi(?) fly towards the capital city of Canterlot and we see a multitude of the candy colored ponies of this world doing so as well as dialogue filled with ridiculous horse puns abounds.  Once the opening music dies down we get the story started as Twilight is nervous about her meeting with Celestia, Luna and Cadence, the nations rulers (yes like with Transformers Hasbro likes to put politics and economics into their toy based worlds) to help get their approval for the final touches on her Friendship Festival. She of course gets rejected as they tell her she can make the party great on her own. This leads to her meeting with her friends and into the first big musical number.  And overall while this set-up is admitingly simple and cliché and this does lead to the first six or so minutes of the movie being far too saccharine and sweet it is all a purposeful deception to help make the juxtaposition of the introduction of the film’s villains even more poiganat.

 

 

 

As soon as the party begins a dark black cloud of smog is seen overhead as a steampunk style zeppelin lands in front of the crowd and this is where the story really kicks off.  A tyrant named the Storm King has sent his commander a scarred unicorn with a broken horn named Tempest to interrupt the festivities and demand the rulers magic.  This of course goes about as you would expect as they refuse to cooperate and Tempest and her army of yeti like Storm beasts begin their attack with Twilight and her friends narrowly escaping leading to the grand adventure that makes up the rest of the film as they travel beyond their utopia’s borders to the world beyond to find help.

 

 

 

Overall in terms of story the movie is pretty straight forward.  Heroes taken by surprise by big bad and having to go on epic adventure across dangerous fantasy world to find whatever person or mcguffin can save their kingdom.  Nothing new but the film still manages to make the concept work well enough none the less. It also doesn’t idle as it like the upbeat and fast paced songs throughout it is determined to hit beat after beat of the story on point. Which while frustrating at times as it seems it is causing some of these new locals and environments to go to waste, it does help keep viewers on the edge of their seat throughout as it gives you the sense that you too are doing your best to stay one step ahead of the villains.

 

Speaking of villains the antagonists of this film are very well done overall.  Tempest Shadow is actually a well defined villain, looking past her over edgelord appearance for  such a cutesy series her imputes for her actions actually makes her character work quite well.  After being abandoned by her friends and presumably family as well after an Ursa  (A giant bear made of stardust) attack left her with a scar and a broken horn as a child she left her homeland in hopes of seeking out a way to restore what she had lost.  This makes the character of Tempest rather sympathetic despite her initial cruel nature. She is an individual that was the victim of a traumatic event that effected her physiologically as well as psychologically and was abandoned by her friends when she needed them most, thus causing her rather dark outlook on life and her resentment towards her people.

 

 

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The Storm King Mocks Twilight & Tempest as he prepares to create the ultimate storm.

 

The Storm King while much more 1 dimensional also serves a purpose as a looming threat to the land.  And when he makes his full appearance we see the reason for his character.  Just as Tempest represents loss the Storm King, a large white monkey like creature represents greed and cruelty as his only desire in life is ultimate power and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt or how many nations he has to conquer to attain that.  In terms of personality he is flamboyant yet menacing, and overall while he may not have as much depth as Tempest, what he represents does. The Storm King is arguably an analogy for the dangers of colonialization, capitalism and white supremacy as again we see from his actions in the film he cares about no one but himself and will betray even his own commander and non chelauntly put his solders in harms way just to get his way.  So yes, while he may not be as well defined as Tempest, his message still rings quite clear.

 

As for the other new characters introduced in the film, while they may only be plot devices to move the story forward their personalities and designs still shine through.  Capper is a suave conman cat who could just as easily fit in a classic WB or Disney animation as he does this film. Captain Celano and the rest of her pirate parrots are visually appealing characters and Princess Skystar and her Mother Queen Nuvo have a nice contrast against one another as the young princess of the Seaponies bubbly and energetic personality seems to be quite annoying to her much more serious mother. Overall while these may not be the most well developed characters you do get a good sense of their personalities and the film does give them all ample screen time alongside the mane six.

 

In terms of animation, while not the most beautifully animated feature the use of Toon Boom does make the movie more visually in depth then its Satam toon counterpart which is primarily animated in Flash.  Though admitingly the colors aren’t quite as bright or vibrant because of this.  It does however give a more genuinely cinematic and timeless feel to the adventure which helps immerse the viewer into the world as it unfolds.  On top of that the character’s facial expressions and movements while a bit more subdued do feel more organic and sincere which helps the emotional beats come off as more powerful then usual.  The only real problem is some of the CGI backgrounds for areas like Canterlot & the desert city of Klugetown do look a bit unrefined in comparison to the 2D characters and landscapes.  Overall though the animation is a step above the television show which does help the film in the long run.

 

The music is honestly the main event of the film however, as the songs while quick and upbeat are all inspiring, heartfelt and catchy.  And even the more somber ones like Tempest Shadow’s menacing and “Be Prepared” inspired number “Open Up Your Eyes” and Sia’s melancholic “Rainbow” are songs that will be stuck in your head for quite some time.  Infact, like Moana before it all the songs are well worth listening to on repeat ad nauseam, especially Pinkie & Skystar’s adorable “One Small Thing” Number.

 

 

In closing, while the My Little Pony movie may be seen as just a shameless cash grab by ever aging and outdated critics, unlike other toy or app based films you can see a genuine amount of effort and heart was put into it’s creation just like the Discovery Family cartoon it is based on.  Like Princess & The Frog before it, while it may not break any box office records, currently being at only a little over $28 million world wide, it does show there is still a need for traditional/2D animation in cinemas.  And like the Disney & DreamWorks films of the mid to late 90’s it is most definitely worth a watch for animation fans of all ages.

 

 

Final Grade

Story: 8 Out of 10

Animation: 7 Out of 10

Music: 10 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 Out of 10.

 

My Little Pony The Movie is now playing in Theatres Nationwide.

 

 

LEGO Ninjago Movie Review

Ninjago & all related elements are the property of LEGO/Warner Animation Group

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

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Back in mid-September the LEGO Ninjago movie opened up in cinemas nationwide.  And while it opened with little competition it also sadly seemed to open-up to little fanfare as well.  But is the film really the dud mainstream critics say it is, or is it just a different kind of playset.  Let’s dive in and take a look shall we.

 

 

 

In terms of story the film does seem to be a bit more reserved then the previous two LEGO films trading an over the top adventure for a slightly more down to earth and self-contained tale about a teenage boy named Lloyd having to lead a double life as a regular highschool student and leader of Ninjago’s ninja heroes that protect the city from the nefarious Lord Garmadon.  The twist being that Garmadon is actually Lloyd’s father and his civilian self is constantly belittled and ridiculed by his neighbors and classmates for being the son of the villain with many stating “his dad ruins everything”  And this overall ends up being the impetus of the films story.  Lloyd trying to reconcile his feelings towards his father and wanting to understand why the villain abandoned he and his mother.  Thankfully he gets a chance to confront these feelings and his father after the dreaded Meowthra, a giant cat is unleashed on Ninjago and the group of Ninja along with Garmadon have to go on an adventure through the jungle to find some mystical McGuffins to stop the beast.

 

Overall the story of the film is an interesting one, like the first LEGO film it focuses on a strained relationship between a father and a son though this time completely within the confines of the LEGO world.  The real world only being set-up pieces for the start and end of the film.  And while the story may not be as energetic and extravagant as previous pieces, it still manages to do what it needs to do quite well, even if it is more subdued then past installments.

 

The animation for the film is of course the next area of note.  The overall visual style of the movie is indeed the same as previous LEGO films using a modified CG animation to give an authentic LEGO feel. However it is somewhat obvious the film didn’t have quite as extravagant a budget as the past two installments as some character movements do look a bit stiff, even by LEGO standereds.  That said however the mix of non-LEGO made backgrounds in world does give it a somewhat unique and organic feel that helps the movie stand out enough to make it as visually appealing as its older siblings.

 

The voice cast aslo does a phenomenal job as Dave Franco’s performance as Lloyd is a solid portrayal of a moody angsting teen and Justin Theroux does a great Will Ferrel meets Saturday morning cartoon villain for Garmadon.  Abbi Jacobson, Zack Woods and co also help give life to the rest of the Ninja friends that come along for the ride.  And Jackie Chan is a serviceable Master Wu.

 

At the end of the day while LEGO Ninjago may not be the strongest installment in Warner Bros. LEGOverse, it is still a decently enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor, that like past films preaches the importance of family and friends. As well as teaching viewers that no matter what others say you can work to better yourself as a person and a parent.

 

Final Grade

Story: 7

Animation: 7

Overall 7 out of 10.

The Importance of Neurological Diversity in Media

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Over the course of the 21st century we have seen a slow but steady increase in the amount of diversity presented in various forms of storytelling, art and entertainment media.  The majority of the focus has been on things such as racial and sexual diversity though lately other types of diversity such a body diversity have begun to make headway as well.   I personally feel though there is another type of diversity of equal importance that often gets overlooked in the debate.  and that is neurological diversity.

 

 

While true many characters in various animated series, comic, films and television programs are given diverse personality types and some of these could be attributed to various neurological conditions or quarks, very seldom do we see such things actually addressed within the context of the work.  Though thankfully this too is slowly changing.  This year Sesame Street introduced an Autistic character named Julia onto their program to both reach out to young autistic children and teach other children from a young age that some children may act/behave differently than them and that’s OK and should not prevent you from wanting to become friends.  And while Autism like many things in the realm of human existence is a spectrum and one character can only cover so much, the character’s inclusion into the children’s program is a small step in the right direction.

 

Other then that we have seen many other television programs address unique character quarks but not all have quite tackled the issues head on.  The character Jeff from Clarence has expressed to his friends how he has his own way of doing things and how many things other kids do make him feel uncomfortable but outside of over exaggerations of typical OCD & Germaphobic tendencies the show hasn’t always gone too in depth towards Jeff’s neurological quarks from a serious perspective outside a few speeches by the character himself.  I am not saying  the character can’t properly represent neurologically diverse individuals, just that this type of teasing is noting new in animation.   Other then that many other all-ages and adult animated programs have also touched on or introduced characters with various neurological quarks as part of their character traits that while engrained in their character’s habits and personality are not always explored as deeply as they could be.  Steven Universe is a masterpiece in its emotional depth and maturity but even it like most other programs can shy away from the more serious psychological issues at time.  The cult favorites My Little Pony/Equestria Girls have characters like Fluttershy & Sour Sweet that represent conditions such as severe generalized & social anxiety and disruptive personality disorder but these elements are only used as obstacles to over come social issues & friendship problems more often then being something the character has to live and work to control on a daily basis.  Then of course you have Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burger’s who is also a very socially awkward character but her unique quarks are often just played up for cringe or laughs.

 

Now again I am by no means saying that these characters cannot be inspiring to viewers that share the same or similar unique neurological diversity to them, just that with media’s slowly increasing willingness to talk about so many other types of diversity and to talk about things like emotional maturity and true morality in a more refined, serious yet still easily digestable manner that it would also be beneficial to neurologically diverse viewers and society as a whole, as everyone has some sort of quark or imperfection that helps make them uniquely who they are, to discuss characters neurological diversity in a more open, casual and mature manner as we have seen other issues brought up within media over the course of the 21st century.

 

One example I think television could take some level of inspiration from would be comics.  In recent years we have had characters like Jessica Cruz pop up to many a readers delight.  Jessica Cruz for those that don’t know is the newest Green Lantern of Earth and is unique not just in the fact that she is the first female Green Lantern to hail from our blue orb but also because she is a character who has openly dealt with the trauma of extended bouts of sever anxiety and depression and was still able to over come these and become a hero.  The book doesn’t ignore the issue though and early issues show how even as a hero Jessica still is working to overcome and control her anxiety and that it is her true arch-enemy the same way the Joker is to Batman.

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This extremely open and human portrayal of Jessica is what helps make her work as a character and seeing her overcome her fears and anxieties to become a hero is an inspiring story for readers of all ages.

 

Overall I do think that the representation of neurological diversity is becoming more prevalent if not somewhat more slowly then its ethnic/sexual/physiological counterparts.  I just hope that our favorite cartoons and comics will continue to push the envelope so to speak and continue to add episodes and stories giving open dialogues about neurological diversity and neurologically diverse charters so young children and adult viewers alike can continue to be empowered and inspired by these characters that give us all the courage to dream.

Thoughts On: Building Better Fanbases

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One of the most common complaints in the digital age and even before is how insane and down right toxic fandoms for everything from Comics to Cartoons, Film to television to video games can and have been.  One thing I always find myself wondering is why things are like this and really there is no easy singular answer to this question but today I will be doing the best I can to from my perspective point out the various flaws in the way we as both groups and individuals portray ourselves as fans.  So without further hesitation I ask if you will please humor me and see what you think, am I spot on or way off the mark?

 

 

I. The Psychology of A Fan

1: Fulfilling A Need:  Before one can ask what is wrong with fandom we must first ask why we become a fan of something in the first place?  There is of course no right or wrong answer, different people gain or lose interest in things for different reasons.  However in base psychological terms one could argue that we become a fan because we feel the thing we gain interest in fulfills a psychological &/or emotional need that was previously missing in our lives or was not present to a degree that we were satisfied with.  Whether it is  being inspired by superheroes, letting animation tug at your heartstrings or satisfying your adrenaline rush with certain scifi and horror franchises we all have our own reasons for partaking in the fictions we choose as they give us something we feel everyday life doesn’t and if we like what we partake in well enough, and if we feel it can help fulfill what we see as a gap in our emotional and psychological needs we will justifiably become a long time fan.

2: Obsession:  This is one step that every fan enters to some degree during their lives and it is arguably the most dangerous one to navigate through.  After we get our first hit of something we keep coming back for more, like an addict we can become increasingly obsessed with a character/series/franchise of choice to where it can consume every facet of our lives and we think about it every waking moment of our existence, we branch out from just casual enjoyment to a more hardcore endearment towards our new found obsession.  While this in and of itself is not always a bad thing and may just result in joining a forum or two, occasionally drawing some fan art, watching some Youtube videos and getting a couple of knick-knacks here and there for others and can become an extreme it can result in doing everything you do, every action being about or for this thing you now love to a point to where like any other addict it can interfere with your real life and the relationships with in it.  If left unchecked obsession can lead to an individual being unable to handle any form of criticism towards the thing they like taking a general critique of it as a personal attack on their honor and person which can lead to never ending ever increasing extreme and ridiculous arguments between different factions both within and outside of fan communities.  This is the most dangerous part of the fan life because it can easily lead fans to extremist levels of overreliance of the thing the love and lead them to be so out of touch with reality that they would openly threaten the life of another person for merely having a different opinion or viewpoint than them on it.  Thankfully though many of us grow out of this phase and slowly learn that not every negative word given is an attack on their person.

3: Control & Reconciliation VS Submission:

If you manage to wade through the sea of obsession you will eventually find yourself at the shores of sanity once more.  You can acknowledge that you are a fan of something, accept you may be a fan of this thing for the rest of your lifetime, but you also accept that it is merely an interest a hobby, just one part of your character and psyche and not the totality of your being.  You realize that it is OK if not everyone else has the same interests as you and that it is OK if people like the things you like for different reasons. You learn to control yourself and only indulge in excess content related to this thing you love in moderation over reasonable periods of time and within reasonable expense.   You know there will always be people that both like and dislike your thing and that’s OK.  However if you don’t eventually get to a point where you break free of the bright and shiny lights of obsession you in a way are submitting to something, letting this thing that doesn’t even exist on the same plane as you, letting a mere idea and dream, a metaphysical existence control you and your actions.  Instead of being a mere fan you are now a servant to this force with no will of your own and like a cultist you blindly follow it wherever it goes and whatever the hive mind of the community says.   This is a very dangerous path to tread down as it can stunt personal growth not only as a fan of something but as a person as well.  At the end of the day we have to stand tall and say that we control our interests and that they do not control us.

 

In closing while being a fan can be a very satisfying experience we need to like with any other aspect of our lives practice these things in moderation and sensibility.  We are the ones responsible for our actions both good and bad while participating in a fan community and no level of delusion or obsession can ever justify treating a fictional character or creature with more decency and respect than a living one.  We must learn to keep ourselves in check and not overact to every thing said about our interests we dislike.

 

II. Fixing The Cracks

 

  1. Acknowledging Alternative Views:  While it is true that many sites and critics will be purposely overly negative or unprofessional to rile-up controversy just to get easy clicks and advertisement we should realize that not everyone who has a view differing from our own is out to harm or demonize the things you enjoy, in the wise words of the great sage Linkara “Get over yourself internet, not everyone has the same interests as you!”

2. Putting The Pro Back in Professional:  The advent of the digital age has arguably caused critics both young and old to get a bit lackadaisical in their practices, far too many critics online and in print form have taken a more hostile and troll like approach to their job.  Given this smug sense of elitism has always existed in the profession to a degree but we have known for decades you can dissect a film or any work of art and storytelling without being cruel even if most of your conclusions of it are negative ones.  Critics may be getting paid or praised for their word but at the end of the day they are also a type of fan and it is important to be aware of ones own confirmation biases both positive and negative when going into a review and still trying to give everything you view an even shake and letting each individual work stand or fall on its own legs.

 

3. Talking about the issues:  Whether we like to admit it or not things like Toxic Masculinity, Mental Instability,  Exclusivist mindsets, Sexism, Racism, Homophobia and every other nasty part of human nature can and do butt their ugly heads into fan communities.  It is important we continue to discuss these issues and call out those guilty of these practices to help make a better and safer fan community for those from all walks of life.

 

III. Final Thoughts

Overall the points and topics presented here are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of human interaction and how fans and fanbases/communities view one another.  In truth you could write an entire series of books about the psychology of the various fanbases on the internet and it could take a lifetime to even get everyone on board to consider addressing the problems inherent in their communities but I do believe that if we are willing to acknowledge the faults both within ourselves and the communities both online and off that we partake in we can make better more professional, mature, caring and empathetic fans in the future.  Or who knows maybe i’m just a madman.

Thoughts on: Ben10 Reboot! (2017)

 

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Reboots & Launches of popular IP’s are common place in American media, especially amongst series in the superhero genre.  It is a way for companies to publishers to keep their characters fresh and relevant for a new generation of readers and viewers.  However like with anything else the various incarnations of these heroes can be met with positive or negative feedback from their fans.  Today we will take a look at one of the newest heroes to get a reboot; Ben10!

 

First off I will admit right off the bat that growing up as a kid I despised the original Ben10 and really never had any interest in its various sequels /movies /spinoffs /specials /etc.   And this was because around the time Ben10 originally aired in the middle of the 00’s like many I was a teenager in that “everything replacing the shows I used to watch sucks” phase. To me Ben10 was just a wannabe a show that tried to capture the spirit of popular DC superhero cartoons and anime without putting any of the effort in.  I acknowledge though I was most likely in the minority of individuals in that mindset as the series became one of Cartoon Network’s most popular original series for a good number of years not only amongst those who were kids in the ought’s but  some nineties kids as well who saw it as one of the last hold outs of shows with that classic action cartoon vibe to it, and I can see where they are coming from, looking back the original Ben10 has that late 90’s Saturday morning cartoon feel to it to a degree, however even looking at the previous incarnation from a more objective and mature standpoint I still can’t say I care for it all that much.

 

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So here is where I will most likely get a fair amount of shade thrown at me, but oh well.  Overall I find the 2017 incarnation of Ben10 to be the most entertaining version yet!  The characters are all fairly lively and Ben & Gwen act like real kids not just stereotypes of what adults think kids act like, they have fun, relax and bicker with each other but not to a cliché extreme like the originals did. This gives their dynamic a more natural feel which benefits both characters and makes both much less annoying than they were in the past.  The color pallet of the show is also much brighter and more visually appealing and the characters redesigns really breath new life into them and visually it seems to fit somewhere between Be Cool Scooby Doo and Gravity Falls, making for a cute yet quirky visual experience. The shortened run-time of episodes also helps the series in my opinion because like with the original Powerpuff Girls or Courage it feels like something is always happening, it is fast paced enough to keep the viewer engaged in the episode while still being contained enough to not feel as disjointed and manic as something like Teen Titans Go!  While like TTG & last years PPG reboot it is more on the comedic side than the action side it never feels like it is over doing it, there is a good balance between humor and action that in my book puts the show closer to series like Regular Show, only instead of two friends working at a park this is two kids spending the summer traveling the U.S. with their Grandpa.   Overall I just find this new version much more enjoyable and entertaining.

 

At the end of the day like with any reboot or reimagining your personal enjoyment of this series will vary and I understand why some hardcore fans of the original series may not be on board with this new incarnation and that like TTG! and PPG16 that it will be yet another show that will be divisive amongst Cartoon Network and Superhero fans.  I myself though would urge to give the show a chance, if you are a 90’s kid you should have grown out of your “everything sucks” stage by now and to all those ought’s babies out there don’t make the same mistakes we did, don’t let nostalgia goggles and confirmation bias cloud your judgement take in every new experience you have, even something as simple as watching a cartoon with all the same innocence you did as a child, let a work speak for itself and analyze how it holds up on its own terms not how it works compared to the past.  If you like it great and if you still dislike it that’s fine too.  I guess all I am saying is, give the new Ben10 a chance!  If you do I think you might just be pleasantly surprised. 😉

 

Season 1 of Ben10 2017 is currently airing weekdays on Cartoon Network.

Thoughts On: Why We Love Samurai Jack!

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On August 10th 2001 Cartoon Network premiered Samurai Jack, an original series created by  Genndy Tartakovsky who had previously made a name for himself with one of the network’s earlier hits Dexter’s Laboratory as well as helping Craig McCracken out on the much Beloved PowerPuff Girls.  This however would end up being  Taratkovsky’s biggest hit yet. But why is it so beloved?   Well, I cannot speak for everyone, but here is my two-cents on the subject.

 

If you look at Jack’s success in its simplest form it is arguably one of those in the right place at the right time situations.   Jack aired when action based animations were still popular acquisitions and anime had been rising in popularity in the west over the past five years, so you take an original series that is action oriented while still having the style of comedy one would expect from the Cartoon Network brand at the time mix that with some Asian themes and boom you have yourself a show that could grab multiple demographics in one foul swoop.   This explanation however is vastly over simplifying Jack’s success and is more of something you would hear in a cooperate boardroom then an average animation fan such as myself.

 

The true reason for Samurai Jack’s success is in the execution of the show, the series used the animation medium in ways that are still a delight on the eyes.   Taking the traditional simple shapes of cartoon characters and juxtaposing them with even more simplistic yet beautiful painting like backgrounds having a characters motion and sound effects fit perfectly with the music, making every little sound as crystal clear as what little dialogue came from the characters all made for a truly unique and enjoyable experience.  Yes unlike so many cartoons that depend so heavily on dialogue to move their story forward Samurai Jack depended on action in a literal sense.  There were whole episodes where jack would hardly or never speak at all, episodes that fully depended on the movements of the characters and world around them to tell the story.  This also helped the series have a cinematic feel to it which made things feel as if they had even more depth and weight to them.  This in my opinion is why Samurai Jack was so successful and why the series has resonated with so many for so long, it was something genuinely unique in comparison to other animations on television at the time, it fully took advantage of animation as a form of visual storytelling.  It was a simple as it was complex, and as refined as it was innocent.  Even by modern animation standards it is a series that truly stands out.

 

Sadly Samurai Jack ended its initial run in September of 2004 but its legacy would endure.  The series continued to get new adventures in comic books from both DC Comics and IDW Publishing over the years and constant on again off again rumors of a feature film, reruns on Boomerang, and fans demanding more adventures kept the flame alive and finally after over a decade Adult Swim,Cartoon Network and Genndy Tartakovsky  have answered fans demand and greenlight a 5th season to wrap-up the storyline which began airing on Toonami on Saturday nights as of March 11th 2017.

 

Overall Samurai Jack is a series that so far has stood the test of time and continues to be one the most beloved original series Cartoon Network and Tartakovsky have produced.  And while true the Adult Swim revival is a bit more bloody and intense then the original, for the most part it still manages to retain the spirit the original had and continues to be a genuinely enjoyable piece truly showcasing animations legitimacy as an art form.

 

So welcome back Jack, and thanks for all the memories.

 

This post is dedicated to Mako Iwamatsu, the original voice of Aku and Last Airbender’s Uncle Iroh.