FINALLY, A LIVE-ACTION ANIME ADAPTATION I CAN BE EXCITED ABOUT...
OMG! Live-action Kiki's Delivery Service from Disney!
"Variety reports that Kiki's Delivery Service, a Japanese series of books that was turned into a hit film by Oscar-winning animation helmer Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), is becoming an English-language film at Walt Disney Pictures.
Screenwriter Jeff Stockwell (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) has been hired to write the new "Kiki" screenplay based on Eiko Kadano's books. The first was published in English last year. Studio Ghibli's 1989 animated version featured the voice of Kirsten Dunst as Kiki.
The story follows 13-year-old witch Kiki who moves to the city with her talking cat Jiji where she lands a job in the local bakery. But Kiki's powers are not refined, and the adventures and scrapes she gets into show she has a lot of growing up to do."
I was going to comment on this yesterday afternoon, but I had to go somewhere for a few hours and, when I got back home, Arxane
had stolen much of my thunder by writing about the same thing I wanted to write about
Still, I think I have enough "original" to say so that no one will think that I'm just plagarizing Gareth.
Though Kiki's Delivery Service
is one of my top three anime films of all time (and one of the few Hayao Miyazaki films that I don't feel is, in at least some small degree, overrated), I don't have a problem with this idea. I dare say that I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm generally pretty open-minded about "remakes" even when I love the original because, if they're well-done, they usually offer different twists on the same source material or new things to see that weren't possible when the original filmed version is done, not to mention making new people curious about the older versions of the same story, and, if they suck ass, you don't have to watch them again and the original version isn't erased from history in any way. And this is a case where the existing filmed work was based on a literary source, so any remake can really be thought of as just a different take on the same source material. (Miyazaki apparently took a lot of liberties with the Eiko Kadano books anyway; Kiki never lost her powers in the book, nor was there anything like the incident with the zeppelin.) The finished film probably will be to the Miyazaki film roughly what Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
film, starring Johnny Depp, will be to Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
film, starring Gene Wilder (though I hope it's a better adaptation of the Roald Dahl book than Willy Wonka
, which I hated even as a child). I think the most likely outcome will be that, the Disney version won't top the Ghibli version, but it will still stand on its own as a pretty good film, very much like how the 1978 Dawn of the Dead
is among my top 8 live-action films of all time and the 2004 titular remake isn't, but the "remake" was still a pretty damn good horror film on its own merits. As long as the Disney Kiki
film isn't a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon and doesn't add too much to the Kadano books to make it hip for American kids, I'll be satisfied. (Note to Jeff Stockwell: learn from the live-action Garfield
and don't make Jiji a gangsta-talking cat the way the Garfield
scriptwriter did with Nermal. It just doesn't work, sorry.)
This eing the Internet, some people, in particular those people who place Hayao Miyazaki on too high of a pedestal, are making a big stink
already addressed some of these concerns, but I'll take on a few myself.
One laughable complaint I've seen expressed is that the original Kiki's Delivery Service
books are by Eiko Kadano and, as such, only Japanese people can possibly be able to adapt them properly, even if the stories are set in a generic European city named "Koriko" and don't have any Japan-specific cultural elements
, at least as far as I can tell. Someone made an off-hand crack that they'll give Kiki a British accent, like Harry Potter, but, if they want to be really accurate, maybe they should give her a Swedish accent? (Hayao Miyazaki based the look of the city in the animated version largely on Stockholm and Visby; I don't know if that's what Kadano had in mind.) And what is this nonsense that you have to be the same nationality as the author of a book to be able to do justice with a movie version of it. I can think of a fantasy book, Howl's Moving Castle
, from a British author, Diana Wynne Jones
, that some director somewhere in the world recently made a cartoon movie of
. What was that director's name? Hayao Miyazaki. That's not a very British sounding name! Funny how the purists won't complain about Miyazaki adapting a British book, isn't it? But westerners should never adapt Japanese books, even Japanese books with western characters in a European setting, because... umm.... ah... erm... "just because".
Another thing people are objecting to is that they think that Disney will make it pretty much like Harry Potter
, just with a female lead character. Is Disney's announcement motivated by the success of the Harry Potter
films? Probably at least a little. But would these films be anything at all like Harry Potter
? You'd have young teenage protagonists who can use witchcraft, but that's about it. The Kiki's Delivery Service
universe, in the film at least (I confess that I haven't read the novels) isn't really all that concerned about the mechanics of the magic, certainly not to the extent of Ms. Rowling's world, giving names to dozens of clearly-defined spells and establishing all sorts of magical codes of conduct and rules of physics, spelling out who can use magic and where and how they can use it. While some characters seem to be able to use potions in Kiki's Delivery Service
, Kiki's own powers, at least in the stage in her life shown in the film, seem to be limited to just flight and communicating with her familiar, Jiji. And the powers are shown as being a natural talent rather than being something mysterious that you have to learn to master. Another major difference is that, in the Harry Potter
world, magic is something that is very institutionalized (the magical version of Britain still being in Britain, where institutions prevail). As far as I know, there is no Kiki
version of Hogwarts nor is there anything like the Ministry of Magic. But all the witches in the Kiki
world seem to be "good witches" with very limited powers, so there's no reason to regulate them as they won't go mad in a quest for the ultimate power, like Voldemort did, and, even if a witch in Kiki's
world did snap, it's not like they'd be anything normal humans would fear. ("Ooh, you can talk to the animals. And I should fear you because of this, why?") Next, there is no separation between the world of ordinary humans and the magical plane; the humans in the city of Korico seem to be fine with witches living among them. Kiki is viewed as being pretty much an ordinary girl with a couple of special talents. Finally, the focus of the stories are entirely different, Harry Potter
being a children's adventure story full of dark overtones, scares that even adults might find a little chilling, and, often, death, while Kiki's Delivery Service
is light-hearted slice-of-life "coming of age" vignettes.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if you insist of being against the live-action Disney version of Kiki's Delivery Service
sight unseen, at least compare it to something a little more comparable to Kiki's Delivery Service
than the Harry Potter
series, where you have to dumb down the stories of both to the point of saying, basically, that they're both about magical teenagers, to even make a connection. Instead, be afraid that it will turn out like, say, the live-action version of Roald Dahl's Matilda
(which, now that I'm checking, generally got pretty decent reviews in 1996; I'm not bashing the Danny De Vito-directed Matilda
film, which I haven't seen as far as I can remember, I'm just using it as a more applicable comparison to Kiki
Granted, this is all assuming the film actually gets made. Anime fans have already been down this road many times before, where someone from an anime distributor or a major Hollywood studio or cable TV network announces that a American-made live-action adaptation of a certain anime or manga property is underway, but it never reaches any substantial level of production. Heard much lately about live-action Dragonball Z
? Or live-action Akira
? Or live-action Lupin the Third
? Or live-action Real Bout High School
(theoretically to be produced by Melissa Joan Hart's Hartbreak studios, which doesn't even have a website)? Or the live-action Witch Hunter Robin
series, which the Sci-Fi Network was talking about making for a while? Or, especially, live-action Evangelion
, which still doesn't have a studio? As I like to joke: "Current development status: pining for the fjords." Anime fans have got to learn that, just because someone offical talks about making it doesn't mean it will get made. Studios acquire the rights to a lot more properties than ever actually get produced into films, and even them commissioning a script or producing impressive-looking concept art doesn't mean that the film will ever get out of "development hell" (a.k.a. "preproduction limbo"). These sorts of vague announcements are made al the time for all kinds of properties, but the ones relating to anime or manga licenses tend to get overreported by anime news sites.
Even with James Cameron's live-action/CGI-hybrid Battle Angel
) film, while I think that particular project's a lot more likely to actually get made than anything I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a recent article by Bryan Curtis in Slate seems to give some actual journalistic credence to my suspicion
that the Battle Angel
film is just another one of those things James Cameron talks about for a while before he starts talking about something else he wants to do. Cameron has been talking about Battle Angel
on-and-off for at least half-a-decade now, yet has it reached any substantial level of preproduction? Not yet. The modern version of James Cameron seems to suffer from the movie director version of Attention Deficit Disorder, being excited about one idea until he's distracted by another one, unable to commit to any one project long enough for it to get into production, other than a few underwater documentaries. (And I do wish the "James Cameron as Steve Zissou" analogy had occurred to me before it occurred to Bryan Curtis; it's so obvious and so perfect, I don't know why I never made the connection.)
Not that that really has anything to do with live-action Kiki
, I had wanted to write about the Bryan Curtis piece about James Cameron before I found out about live-action Kiki
, but, since, as it turned out, I would be talking about live-action anime adaptations anyway, I thought I would work it awkwardly into this entry.
So, in conclusion, I can't think of any good reason why I shouldn't be optimistic about Disney's Kiki's Delivery Service
film, especially since, no matter how it turns out, the Miyazaki film will always still be there.
By the way, I was originally going to put a "cosplay" picture or two of this Japanese babe I found dressed up as Kiki, just for illustration purposes, but I decided against it as I obviously wouldn't have permission. But you can see the pictures to which I am referring here
. She's obviously over 18, so I can easily say, "Yowza!"EDIT (October 18th, 2006):
あいにく, 1年3四半期ぐらいの後でこのブログエントリを書いてから, Disneyの実写化プロジェクトで最新ニュースがない.
WELL, THIS HAS GOT TO BE A RECORD...
The interesting statistic here is the page views. I normally get no more than 3 or 4 at a time, with the vast majority of hits only looking at one page.
This guy, who came here from this X-Entertainment.com blog entry about Pop Tarts where the discussion turned, somehow, to Sailor Moon
, looked at 196 pages. More pages than I actually have. (I think I only have 101 or 102 pages so far in the whole blog, according to Picosearch.)
Either it's a very enthusiastic reader or it's some sort of bot, harvesting everything I ever wrote for search engines or spam.
A SIGN THAT YOU KNOW WAY TOO MUCH ABOUT CARTOONS...
You watched the stupid Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion special on ABC
, and, when they were showing the "family tree" of spin-off shows, you get annoyed that, while they did show Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
(the cartoon when they go time travelling with "Cupcake"), they somehow neglected to mention either Laverne & Shirley in the Army or the Mork and Mindy cartoons
YES, I AM GOING TO AN ANIME CLUB ON SATURDAY TO SOCIALIZE...
You all might think I'm deserving of some degree of pity for admitting that, and you'd probably be right, but what can I do? I just moved to Ottawa, I won't be in school until this fall at the absolute earliest (I still have a lot of unfinished business from Montreal I need to attend to before that can happen), and I don't currently have a job (though, hopefully, that will change very soon), and I don't really know anyone else in this city yet. I don't socialize well as it is, so "the (anime) club scene" is all I have.
(WARNING! Boring introspective anime fan shit follows. Skip down to the next article if that's not your bag.)
I know the demographics of domestic anime fandom have changed since the days when I was attending the Animate/Anime Central club over at Université de Montréal, which was a real "sausage factory" (you could count the number of females that attended that club on a regular basis on one hand, and you could even if Yakuza gangsters cut about three of your fingers off), I'm just hoping that the club won't be mainly a bunch of 15 year old Inu Yasha
fangirls who would be much too young for me to even glance at sideways. (Yes, I know I like the series Super Gals!
, which is mainly about 16 year old girls, but that's one show where the girls are drawn only cute, not sexy. There are shows with younger female characters who are drawn in a much more creepy way, like Sister Princess
, but I don't watch those.)
But the anime club I shall check out is the uOttawa Anime Club, as in the University of Ottawa, so, hopefully, the venue will mean that there will be at least a few fans closer in age to me, female or male. I'm going there to socialize, not date. It would be cool if there are a few fans of older school anime too, since I haven't seen much recent anime other than Super Gals!
and one volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Anyway, I mentioned that I would try going to an anime club the other day. I bring it up again because of an entry posted at the animesnobs LiveJournal.com community
. I've been lurking at that community for a while, though I'm not about to join since I have no desire to get an LJ and since the screening process involves listing the top 5 animes you like and justifying your choices
, which I'd have a very difficult time doing. Some people can easily dissect and itemize the reasons why they enjoy watching what they watch, but some of us just can't do that; I can identify a few general trends in a lot of the shows I like, that they're, more often than not, light comedies with some degree of "slice-of-life" elements (true for both Japanese and non-Japanese cartoons alike), but a lot of the reasons why I like some shows and don't care so much for others are lost in the vagaries of personal taste. I can't quantify or qualify exactly what that Nth factor is with those shows I like best; they just clicked with me more than the shows that didn't. Also, a lot of the members of animesnobs
would likely classify a lot of the anime I like best as "fluff"; sorry, back when I was in my mid-twenties (circa 1999), I tried watching a lot of the shows that get the most hype from fans of more serious type anime, the "mindfuck"-type anime or the kind with a heavy plot with lots of pathos and angst and philosophy and weird symbolic imagery and depressing endings and insight into the human condition. After a while, I just gave up with most of them. Trying to get into the sort of anime that just doesn't appeal to me is one of the reasons I started to get burned out in the first place. I don't think I'm a superior anime fan for mainly liking light episodic comedies, but, on the other hand, I don't think I'm any lesser a fan to the people who prefer the supposedly more "sophisticated" stuff.
But, anyhow, and I'm getting to the point, I liked this entry from Zac Bertschy ("wintertospring"), who writes about "The Death of Anime Clubs"
"The days of the 500-person anime mega-club where a few "elite" staffers would run the show and selectively let members join the "inner circle" are over. Even the country's biggest clubs - the ones primarily in the bay area and in Southern California - are down to minimal numbers. Why? Everyone everywhere has immediate access to anime. They can watch stuff just as easily at home as they can anywhere else; they don't need to join the club to see it, and thus, the primary function of the club - and indeed, the primary function of nine tenths of the club's staff - has been eliminated. So what happened to the clubs?
Well, they've either adapted or they've died out. These days anime clubs have to be mini-conventions, with the focus being on social outings. You have to show a little anime, have video games on hand, allow people to cosplay, draw, whatever the hell they feel like doing, and you can't have the attitude that sitting in a room watching anime is the event's primary focus."
Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking. While anime isn't nearly as mainstream as a lot of the really optimistic anime fans seem to think it is, it still, relatively-speaking, exploded in popularity during the seven years I was at the UdeM club. When I joined, in 1994, you could pretty much only get anime on overpriced VHS tapes only at about three comic book stores in the entire Montreal area, and only a relative handful of titles were licensed back then. By the time the club folded in 2001, anime was available pretty much anywhere that had a decent selection of DVDs, and the prices had dropped significantly, though the price-per-episode is usually higher than that for most American TV shows on DVD, due to it being a niche market, and 90% of what used to be available only as "fansubs" got licensed, even shoujo (girl-oriented) shows like Marmalade Boy
. (I mean 90% of what got widely distributed as VHS fansubs, I don't mean 90% of all anime, as there are just a lot of shows that would have little even niche market appeal commercially.)
I admit, for pretty much the final year or two that I was at the club, the nagging question as to why I was still going occurred to me more and more, as I could watch more and more anime elsewhere and, with a handful of exceptions like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
, the quality of what was being shown had dropped significantly as more and more of the stuff that was worth watching was licensed pretty much as soon as it was on television in Japan, so the VHS fansubbers, who tended to follow the fansubbers' code of not touching licensed shows a lot more diligently than many of the modern digisub groups do, had much less of pool of quality anime to show, and, as such, much of the anime that was shown in the 2000-2001 season of the club was really bottom-of-the-barrel stuff like Basara
. The official reason that the club disbanded was that the university was asking too much for the continued use of the auditorium, but the numbers were way down and it would not surprise me if they didn't exactly put a lot of effort into finding a smaller venue.
But I miss the social aspect of anime clubs, even if it was minimal at the club I used to attend. And this club is showing shows like Fullmetal Alchemist
that are shown on CN in the United States but not shown on television in Canada, and I don't bother downloading digisubs anymore because I no longer trust file-sharing software (especially because of the weird Japanese hackers I was attracting), so it'll be the first time I've seen much of what they're showing. I have no foolish notions that going to a new anime club will help me recapture the magic I felt going to an anime club for the first time in 1994, but that's because I'm no longer 19, I'm 30, and I've been jaded and burned out too many times by anime for that to be posible. I'm just hoping for a few fun times with good people I can vaguely relate to. Because I've been feeling a lot like Kiki
lately, alone in an unfamiliar city, and, if Kiki could make friends in Korico, I don't see why I shouldn't in Ottawa.
LOOKS LIKE THIS ONE WAS JUST A FOUR-YEAR MISSION...
Enterprise still lasted one more season than the original series
"For the first time in 18 years, the ''Star Trek" franchise is going off the air.
Yesterday, UPN announced that in the face of weak ratings it is canceling ''Star Trek: Enterprise," which is the last surviving spinoff of the famed 1966 science-fiction series.
The Friday night show, which is a prequel to the original ''Star Trek," will broadcast its finale May 13. Details of how the series will end have not yet been released.
''We believe in the show creatively but viewer levels just weren't there," said Joanna Massey, a spokeswoman for the network that has aired ''Enterprise" since 2001. This season, its fourth, ''Enterprise" has averaged just 2.9 million viewers, down dramatically from its first season average of 5.9 million viewers."
Somehow I'm doubting that the Star Trek
franchise will be off television for more than a year or two... it won't take another 17 years to return like it did the first time.
And I'm one of the few people who seemed to like Rick Berman-era Trek
series more than a lot of people. Once Seven of Nine was on Voyager
, the show was better more often than the very uneven Star Trek: The Next Generation
, with high production values, great "event" TV-movies like "Year of Hell" (the one where the Voyager deteriorates in an alternate timestream) and "Killing Game" (the one when the Hirogen make the entire ship into one big Holodeck, and the crew become characters in a World War II setting), and great character episodes like "Non Sequitur" (the one when Harry Kim wakes up in San Francisco as if he never got on the Voyager). Deep Space Nine
was the best overall, for the way they mainly focused on a few alien races, developing them like in no other Trek
I liked most of what I saw of Enterprise
, however, the problem was that Space: The Imagination Station put it on Sundays at 8 p.m. in Canada
, right opposite The Simpsons
and Arrested Development
, and, while I like to moan and bitch about how much The Simpsons
sucks now, it's affectionate moaning, in the hope that it will get back to what it used to be. Oh, wait, I should have been watching it on Friday night at 8 p.m. on City TV
Not that I think the Candian ratings mattered all that much to UPN.
I wasn't unimpressed by it, I thought he outlined his domestic and Iraq policies effectively
, I just don't have two cents to add about it.
Fortunately for me, another great world leader, certainly one held in higher regard than George Bush in most academic circles, opened his mouth and started talking about something or other
"Cuban leader Fidel Castro said President Bush appeared "deranged" during his inauguration speech, and he expressed little enthusiasm for renewed diplomatic ties with the European Union.
In comments aired on state-run television late Tuesday, Castro told thousands of teachers attending an international pedagogy conference in Havana that he closely watched Bush's inauguration speech Jan. 20 and saw "the face of a deranged person."
"If only it were just the face," he said, to roars of applause.
Castro, wearing his olive green military uniform, criticized Bush's government, linking it to corruption and torture. He then defended Cuba's socialist system, which the Bush administration has said should be replaced with a democratic, free-market one.
"This country is heaven, in the spiritual sense of the word," he said. "And I say (to Bush): We prefer to die in heaven than survive in hell."
Castro, 78, stood up for much of his five-hour speech. After he broke his right arm and shattered his left kneecap in an accidental fall in October, the Cuban leader was in a wheelchair before he started standing up and walking again in December."
So, let me get this straight: the unelected brutal fascist dictator gives a five hour
speech about how his oppressive prison-state-cum-country is a socialist heaven on earth, and he calls someone else "deranged"?
If he believes that, then I think that Castro's nuttier than a Vermont Teddy Bear
(or the crazy people advocates that are offended by it).
I NEVER INTENDED THIS TO BE AN ANIMATION NEWS BLOG...
...but that is what it's become lately. I don't know if it's just that I'm still not too comfortable living in Ottawa and talking about cartoons is comforting. One thing I am pleased about, and I don't think I made a conscious effort to do this, is that, when I talk about animation, my coverage is a lot more global and not quite as anime-centric as it used to be.
ITEM! Disney has announced the creation of a new CGI animation unit primarily dedicated to the creation of sequels to Pixar films
"Reports about the death of the Disney cartoon appear to have been exaggerated. The Walt Disney company this week announced the construction of their first dedicated computer animation studio, with a mission to produce sequels to such Disney-Pixar hits as Toy Story.
Disney's partnership with Pixar was credited with throwing a lifeline to the company's ailing animation division. The partnership's termination last year was therefore seen to spell trouble for the Mouse House. But Disney retain the rights to Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo, allowing them to make sequels without Pixar's involvement. The first film to be made at the new studio will be Toy Story 3, scheduled for release in 2008.
The studio will be based in Glendale, California, near to the company's animation headquarters at Burbank. "They'll have individual projects in there, using the same techniques and the same infrastructure that we have at the main location in feature animation," explained studio chief Dick Cook. "But it will primarily be doing sequels to Disney-Pixar films.""
Everyone at RottenTomatoes.com seems to be screaming bloody murder because of this
, but, even as someone who thinks that Pixar is the most consistently great animation studio in the world today (easily a peg or two above Ghibli), I have a wait-and-see attitude. Disney is a money-making organization (as is Pixar), and they are merely doing what their contract with Pixar fully permits them to do. Pixar knew when they signed with Disney that Disney would retain control of the characters (well, other than the external licensed characters like Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story
films), and these films have been highly profitable for Disney, so, if Pixar doesn't want to sign another distribution deal with Disney for whatever films they want to do after Cars
, Disney will just clone the goose that is laying the golden eggs, and what I've seen of Chicken Little
so far has been quite promising, so I don't think Pixar has the exclusive franchise on making quality CGI films.
But I maintain my skepticism against the premise that Pixar won't ever sign another distribution deal with Disney. I think that it's largely a feint, either to bring about an end to the Michael Eisner era at Disney, or to merely get a bigger portion of the profit pie. This new potential competitor for Pixar may just be another bargaining chip to get Pixar to return to the table while Eisner is still in charge.
Is an announcement from Disney about a Region 1 DVD release for the most controversial (and, perhaps, unfairly maligned) film in their "Vault", Song of the South
From Mickey News
"Will the long-buried Disney classic Song of the South finally see the light of day? Possibly. We've known for some time that some within Disney would like to see it release, as would film critic/historian Leonard Maltin and former Disney vice-chairman Roy Disney.
However, others oppose the release of the film, including critic Roger Ebert and the NAACP, feeling it's demeaning to black Americans. Up to this point, Disney head honcho Michael Eisner has kept the film in the vault.
However, Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios spoke at this summer's annual convention of the NFFC, the Club for Disney Enthusiasts and told conventioneers a release is possible. The club's newsletter, called FantasyLine Express, ran this quote:
Q: Will Song of the South ever be released on DVD?
A: Yes. Cook said that the public has requested a DVD release of Song of the South more than it has requested any other film. That said, Disney also is aware that some elements of the film reflect the time in which it was made and don't reflect current attitudes. He said that the Studio has encountered similar issues with other older material. In some cases, such as some of the World War II material in the Walt Disney Treasures DVD series, they've addressed the issue through introductions that place the material in context. He said that Disney hasn't yet found the ideal solution for Song of the South, but he was confident that they would."
I've said it before, just a couple of days ago, in fact, that, once Disney put the World War II shorts on DVD in the Disney Treasures On the Front Lines
set, with all of the proper historical context provided in the introductions by Leonard Maltin, Song of the South
could not be far behind. I've never seen Song of the South
(though I had the LP Brer Rabbit
album with a mini storybook with the gist of the animated segments), but, even taking into account modern racial sensibilities, nothing in Song of the South
could possibly be as shocking as Donald's attempted suicide in one of the WWII shorts (which is played for laughs, but you still see him point a gun at his head).
In sad news, Dan Lee, the Sheridan-trained Canadian animator who went south to work for Pixar and who is probably best known for designing Nemo in Finding Nemo
, has died of cancer at age 35
"Dan Lee, the Canadian animator who designed the character of Nemo for the blockbuster Pixar film Finding Nemo, has died of cancer. He was 35.
Lee died Jan. 15 at the Alta Bates Summit Hospital in Berkeley, Calif., where he had moved to pursue his animation career. Though he was a non-smoker, Lee had been diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2003.
"Dan was a longtime member of our Pixar family," Finding Nemo writer and director Andrew Stanton said in Lee's obituary, published Saturday in the Globe and Mail. "He single-handedly designed Nemo and has been a major influence at Pixar. Dan was a wonderful, irreplaceable, talented human being, and we miss him terribly."
Lee studied at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. He graduated at the top of his class in the school's prestigious classical animation program and won the Board of Governors Silver Medal Award for Academic Excellence. After graduation, he headed to California in 1994, joining acclaimed animation studio Pixar two years later as a sketch artist, character designer and animator.
Lee's work can be seen in other Pixar hits, including A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. At the time of his death, he had been working on an upcoming 2007 release."
According to Anime News Network
, The Right Stuf International
(yes, "Stuf") has listed a street date of April 12th
's DVD release of the first Urusei Yatsura OVA1
, Inaba the Dream Maker
N.B. Cover from British VHS release, used for illustration purposes as the R1 DVD cover is not available.
In my opinion, Inaba the Dreammaker
is the greatest Urusei Yatsura
film out of those not directed by Mamoru Oshii, the director of the first and second UY
movies. Like with CLAMP's Miyuki-chan's Adventures in Wonderland
(and, to a certain extent, Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away
), it's a Japanese take on Alice in Wonderland
, and has a bunny boy (really just a human in a rabbit suit), named "Inaba" after a Japanese folktale
, who, venturing out into the real world, comes on to Shinobu, who sends him flying, making him drop his key to the dream world. Shinobu, Ataru, and Lum must venture into the dream world to return it, leading to many strange encounters and adventures. In some ways, it's comparable to Ataru going from dream world to dream world the greatest Urusei Yatsura
film of all (or, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest anime film of all, period), Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
, though, unlike Mujaki, I don't think Inaba's trying to trick them into thinking the dreams are real, to keep them trapped in the dream world. Inaba's just an innocent kid who happens to be in the dream-making business, he doesn't get mischevous and philosophical like Mujaki does.
Chris Beveridge has written an early review of the DVD
over at Anime On DVD
If you're an anime fan who has been wanting to get into Urusei Yatsura
but find the length of the TV series too intimidating, Inaba the Dreammaker
is an excellent place to start, for comedy and beautiful visuals.
Incidentally, should any fans of musician Matthew Sweet
ever read this, I believe that the plurality, if not outright majority, of shots from his 1992 music video for "I've Been Waiting" come from Inaba the Dream Maker
, though you also see some shots in there from a couple of other Urusei Yatsura
productions, mainly Movie 1, Urusei Yatsura: Only You
(including one rear shot of "Lum" coming out of a pool that's really Elle, with her hair changed from red to green), and Movie 5, Urusei Yatsura: The Final Chapter
. (None of the shots are from Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
, though.) Because of rights issues, Matthew Sweet can't put the music videos for "I've Been Waiting" (or "Girlfriend", which features shots from Space Adventure Cobra
) on his official site
, but, if you want to see it, you can get low-quality RealVideo files in Zip format here
, and, if you want something in a little better quality format than that, maybe sniffing around "The World of Urusei Yatsura's Lum"
a little will yield you some treasure (in DivX-encoded .AVI format).
Nothing else, really, but, on Monday, I went into the Best Buy on Merivale (the first time in my life that I have ever been inside a Best Buy store, I shit you not), and they actually had a better anime selection than I expected. Not as good as The Comic Book Shoppe
at the other end of the Merivale commercial drag, and nothing remotely approaching that of Metro Video
in Montreal (which I miss with a passion, and I still haven't found a store in Ottawa that compares), but still easily better than any Ottawa-area HMV. They had 2 copies of Super Gals!
volume one with box, though they didn't have any other volumes of that show (I was looking for volume six, the only volume of those released on Region 1 DVD that I don't yet have).
Also, since I still don't really have any friends in this city, I'm going to try going to the University of Ottawa Anime Club
this coming Saturday.
1 Though AnimEigo lists it as an OVA/OAV, it's actually an hour-long TV special from 1987. I don't know why they call that one a "OVA" and call Always My Darling, the TV special from 1991, a "Movie". Inaba the Dream Maker has a different opening and a different format from all the actual OVAs, which were produced to be sold direct-to-video.
THE 2005 ANNIE AWARDS...
...for outstanding achievements in animation were handed out on Sunday night
, and, as I fully expected, The Incredibles swept in every category in which it was nominated
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles - Pixar Animation Studios
Animated Effects: Martin Nguyen - The Incredibles
Character Animation: Angus MacLane - The Incredibles
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production: Tony Fucile - The Incredibles
Directing in an Animated Feature Production: Brad Bird - The Incredibles
Music in an Animated Feature Production: Michael Giacchino - The Incredibles
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production: Lou Romano - The Incredibles
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production: Kevin O'Brien - The Incredibles
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production: Brad Bird - Voice of Edna Mode The Incredibles
Writing in an Animated Feature Production: Brad Bird - The Incredibles
So, as you can see, it was a great night, not just for The Incredibles
, but also for writer/director Brad Bird, who won 3 awards in his own name1
And, the only categories in which people nominated for The Incredibles
lost were the categories where The Incredibles
were nominated multiple times, and they lost to other people who worked on The Incredibles
I don't think it will be any shock which film will take the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, and it will be the film that most deserves it. In fact, it should have been nominated for Best Picture, but that's a pipedream. Since the Best Animated Feature category was established, we'll never see a repeat of 1992, when Beauty and the Beast
somehow got the nomination.
Unlike for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Mamoru Oshii's Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
actually did get nominated for the Best Animated Feature Annie, but, even for an award given by people who know and love animation rather than Academy voters who view BAF as a minor sideshow category, The Incredibles
wins out over anime, so people should stop complaining that Innocence: GitS2
was snubbed by the Academy as it had no chance of winning. Not against Mr. Incredible and family. (Perhaps it should still have gotten nominated over Shark Tale
, but, like I said, Dreamworks gave it such limited exposure, no dub, and no For Your Consideration campaigh that I'd easily bet that over 90% of Academy voters simply weren't aware of it when they were filling their cards for the nominees.)
On the TV side of things, it was also a good night for us King of the Hill
fans, which, although not nominated for Best Animated Television Production, still brought back two Annies, for Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production, awarded to Brittany Murphy for her role as Luanne Platter in the episode, "Girl, You'll Be A Giant Soon" (the one when Luanne tries to help Hank in his protest against propane being excluded from the Great Texas Grill-Off by spouting the merits of propane through Big Tex's speakers at the Texas State Fair), and for Writing in an Animated Television Production, awarded to Etan Cohen for the episode "Ceci N’est Pas Une King of the Hill" (the one where Peggy's sculptures made from propane cannisters become a hit with the elite who buy art, but only because they view them with condescencion as being produced by an uneducated hillbilly). In the Best Animated Television Production category, none of the Fox or Cartoon Network adult-oriented comedies were nominated, and Spongebob Squarepants
was the actual winner.
A Jury Award for "Special Achievement" was given to the Disney Treasures On the Front Lines
set, which is a collection of all the major propaganda shorts produced by Disney for the American government (and a few for the Canadian National Film Board, and a few more for Latin America) for the Second World War as well as a few representative instructional films (one on "flush riveting", which made me appreciate a minor plot point in The Aviator
a little more because I sat through the short on the subject) and the partially-animated feature film Victory Through Air Power
, in which Alexander de Seversky tried to popularize the idea of bombing Germany and Japan from massive planes at high altitudes. A lot of these shorts, especially the Academy Award-winning Der Fuehrer's Face
, were thought of as dealing with issues too sensitive to release commercially in today's world (Donald wears a swastika! In another one, which used to get shown on the CBC in very edited form, Donald actually tries blowing his brains out with a pistol when he believes his legs are gone.), so Disney deserved to be commended for not cowtowing to political correctness for once and biting the bullet and releasing them fully remastered on DVD (and, from the rumours I've heard, due to the positive reaction to this set, Disney may get around to ending the moratorium and finally releasing on Region 1 DVD their most racially-charged animated film of all, Song of the South
, which even the NAACP supports releasing for historical value).
1 To be honest, I didn't know that Brad Bird himself was the voice of Edna Mode until he got nominated for it. :blush:
TALK ABOUT THE IRAQ ELECTIONS, OR TALK ABOUT FOX SUNDAY NIGHT CARTOONS?
Hmm, damn, tough choice...
Nearly 8 million Iraqis voted in their first real election in half a century
. A handful of 'splodeydopes (suicide bombers) killed 29 people, and that is indeed a tragedy, but the violence wasn't nearly on the scale expected, so overall, I'd say today was a triumph for democracy and a triumph for Bush. Some Europeans would disagree
. Oh, those cute Europeans. Acting like their opinions matter.
Okay, I'm done. Let's talk about what I know...
So, anyway, on tonight's King of the Hill
, Dale was reading his son, Joseph1
, his favourite bedtime story, the Warren Commission report
on the Kennedy Assassination
, which, of course, conspiracy theorist Dale believes to be a fairy tale. Joseph asks Dale why Dealey Plaza is called "Dealey Plaza" and Dale has to check the Warren Commission appendix, where he is shocked to discover that he's had it wrong all these years. Kennedy was travelling west
on Elm Street, not east
, so Dale becomes confused as the official explanation, that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy with a single bullet from the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, makes perfect sense, an explanation Dale has never been able to accept. So he travels to Dallas to check out the scene of the assassination himself and sees that the grassy knoll was ahead of where Kennedy was, proving the Warren Commission right ("Heading West-- the Grassy Knoll is in front of Kennedy. The Book depository is behind him... But... But that makes sense. It can't make sense. It's the Warren commission report for God's sake! But that means the government could be right."), and Dale can't overcome his cognitive dissonance, until he sees some of the other wacky conspiracy theorists congragated there, too wacky for even him, and a kindly policemen who is wearing a little American flag (who mistakes him for a crazy, muttering homeless person) treats him to a nice hot meal in a shelter, so, as a representative of the "government" treated well, Dale does a 180º flip in his worldview, and becomes a super-Patriot, complete with Uncle Sam hat and a huge, painted stars-and-stripes on his roof (with only 34 stars, so he tells Hank to pretend it's 1861). Meanwhile, Hank gets his new driver's license in the mail and is horrified to discover that the government computers now have him listed as a female, and, after the postal service seems to lose the birth certificate he sent by registered mail to the deparment of public safety, he discovers that trying to prove you're a male to government bureaucrats is a lot tougher than he expected. ("Gender is not as cut and dried as it used to be, Mr. Hill. Even if you have Male organs, there's transsexual hormone therapy, plastic surgery..." "Can't you tell the difference between the ones made by God and ones Jerry-rigged out of a toe and some old skin?" "Legally, no.") Will Hank be able to get the government to fix the mistake, and will the newly-patriotic Dale think that Hank's complaining that the government made a mistake constitutes an anti-American activity?
Basically, it was another "Hank vs. the bureaucrats" and another "Wacky Dale" episode tonight, and even when Dale is acting the polar opposite of the way he normally acts, it was still verging on self-parody. But, even with the high-quality writing on King of the Hill
, at the end of the day, it's still a cartoon, so I'll cut them some slack and let them do a sillier, self-parody episode every once in a while. Believing that ultra-conspiracy believer Dale, who probably has re-watched the Zapruder tape thousands of times frame-by-frame didn't know that Kennedy's motorcade was travelling west strains credibility a wee little bit, however. And I don't know, but, while I don't think Johnny Hardwick took the week off (if they had, they wouldn't have done a Dale episode), something about Dale's voice was slightly off, like he'd reverted to the way he sounded in the first season. I did like it when they showed us that Dale had built a very detailed model of Dealey Plaza. It was a pretty funny episode, but I hope this isn't the beginning of a silly episode trend.
As a bonus for people who enjoy Dale and his conspiracy theories, here's a simple and easy to follow diagram of "what really happened" in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963
... geez, how many times has it been now that Moe remodelled the bar? And it's not even the first time that a Simpson family member has helped run the bar. But I'm sure even re-hashed episode concepts will be comic gold compared to the post-Super Bowl episode next week, when Homer does some sort of halftime show at the Super Bowl. They already did a crap "Simpsons
go to the Super Bowl" episode a few years back, with Rupert Murdoch and John Madden and a bunch more celebrities who were doing cameos for the sake of having a celebrity cameo-centred episode (always the worst kind of episode).
Also, today's Family Guy
rerun was one I hadn't seen before: it was the episode when Peter Griffin's boss at the toy factory died and he becomes a medieval fair jouster. At the wake for his boss, Peter mentions his old job at "The Electric Company", but it's not a job at an electric company, but rather a job at the 1970s children's educational series The Electric Company from Children's Television Workshop
, and had Peter as one of the two silhouette heads that say half of simple words (and the parts of words come out of their mouths as they say it):
Head 1: B
Head 2 (Peter): et
Head 2 (Peter): I-I knew that. Slow it down, will you?
Head 1: P
Head 2 (Peter): it
Head 2 (Peter): Come on, pal, it's my first day.
Head 1: F
Head 2 (Peter): at
Head 2 (Peter): Oh, that's it, Buddy! (Chokes the neck of the other guy.)
Jeez... it's not like I don't remember The Electric Company
, and I've even mentioned it in this blog before once or twice, but, geez, that brought back memories. I remembered the music, and I remembered the words being split into two and then reassembled, but I forgot about the silhouettes and the letters appearing from the mouths. Damn, that was trippy.
And what makes me feel old is that there is now about a whole decade or so of American adults who are too young to get the reference, as The Electric Company
went off the air in 1981 (well, unless they saw The Electric Company
reruns on Noggin, but I don't think that lasted long).
1 Yes, you can call Dale and Joseph Gribble father and son. Just watch the episode "Peggy's Headache" to see that they have a normal father/son relationship. An adopted father is still a father, even if he isn't a biological one. Blood isn't everything and all John Redcorn is to Joseph, really, is a sperm donor.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!
The fucking tongue-in-cheek petition by "Cutiepie", ostensibly meant to ask George Bush to ban anime
(but which is really just meant to irk otaku), seems to be making the rounds of anime boards ONCE AGAIN. I've been getting several Google hits about "banning anime", so I clicked on the link to the Google/Yahoo search, and found several very recent threads, like this one
, reacting to the petition as though it was meant to be taken seriously.
One last time, THE CUTIEPIE ANTI-ANIME PETITION IS A JOKE, PEOPLE!
AND IT'S A REALLY LAME JOKE, AT THAT!
Don't get me wrong, I like facetious anti-anime sites meant to jerk the chains of anime fans who take anime much too seriously and take absolutely everything they see written against anime on the Internet at face value, no matter how ridiculous and obviously fake the claims are, as much as the next anti-fanboy, but the "Cutiepie" petition falls flat as basic satire, like it was written by an anime fan with a very simplistic view of "fundamentalists" and "soccer moms" in about five minutes. If you're going going to do a tongue-in-cheek site to tweak the nipples of the man-boobs of otakus, at least put a little time, care, talent, and effort into it
. (Or, do as I just did and pluralize "otaku" with an "S"... they hate it when you do that. Same with "animes" and "mangas".)
And it's on PetitionOnline.com, fercrissakes! If there's a site to put your petition on to ensure that absolutely nobody will take it seriously, it's that one, since it takes all of two minutes to set a petition up. All you need is a Hotmail or Yahoo e-mail address. It's too easy and too free.
I don't get what it is about that petition that is so enduring and convincing that anime fans, to this day, react to it as though as it was meant to be taken seriously. But they do, to the extent that AnimeNewsNetwork.com, sick of people tryig to bring it to their attention as if it were real, had to add this to their FAQ
"This petition is a joke, get it? Haha."
If you look at the "Cutiepie" petition and can't tell, at a glance, that it is just a really bad joke, maybe you should turn off the anime every once in a while and pick up a book about learning to think critically, because critical thinking
is an ability you have yet to develop.