Fun times with Big Hero 6

For many of us, film and television hold a special place in our hearts because it is such an immersive experience combining many different forms of art when done well.

Animation has been the go to medium for me to get my imagination socks kicked off, after books of course, and I have watched so many great series and films that it’s hard to pick which ones to talk about first. But since I happened to re-watch Big Hero 6 yesterday, it gets the spotlight today.

Disney has been involved in most of the biggest works of animation in our history, even being responsible for much of Studio Ghiblis work being distributed outside of Japan.

You have to hand it to them, they have produced some outstanding work, and Big Hero 6 was a fantastic edition to their repertoire.

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The film meshes sadness and loss, silly humor and courage very well, albeit in a way that makes no sense in some instances(but that’s why we watch animation, to be pushed out of the norm) and manages to create a small cast of characters that you can relate to and feel like family very quickly.

Fred is probably the biggest reason that everyone seems to come together so easily as he is just such a lovable character, his enthusiasm for life is magnetic.

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Combine him with Wasabis quirkiness, GoGos badass-ness(woman up!), Honey Lemons energy, and Hiro’s emotion and you have a great little group. Throw in the adorableness that is Baymax, and your heart will melt.

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From an artistic perspective, the world is really vibrant and filled with life. Color is so well used in this film, and San Fransokyo, an eclectic mix of San Francisco and Tokyo is very, very cool, the kind of place we all wished we lived in.

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The build up to Tadashis death, and the heartache of his passing is difficult to deal with. Hiros journey of discovery of who was responsible, his seeking of revenge and then learning to deal with the rage and realizing that Tadashi would not have wanted him to become a villain was very well done.

The pacing never feels rushed, yet manages to really show some growth and development not only of Hiro and his ties to the group, but even allowing Baymax, a robot, to shift and change from a very stiff, formal medical robot into a fun friend that brings the group together.

Overall the film pulls off some great twists, throwing you around emotionally while getting you really invested in its characters.

I am thoroughly happy to hear that there will be a second film coming out in 2020, although I hope they have decided to separate the films from the tv series, so that there isn’t any confusion for those who haven’t watched it.

I would highly recommend everyone check this movie out if they haven’t seen it, as it’ll really juice your inner child’s happy place.

Novelty without quality

Novelty is a driving force in our modern age.

We are suffering from a surplus of novelty and a severe lack of quality.

Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, books or video games, the more unique your content is, the higher the chance you’ll attract attention.

In the past this was most definitely not the case.

For centuries any changes to the status quo were met with fire and brimstone, but huge leaps in technology, leaps that take mere months instead of centuries, have completely revolutionized our way of thinking.

Now if you aren’t cutting edge then you might as well give up before even starting.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that older methods of doing things don’t still hold promise. I personally see great value in long form content such as podcasts, video and written word.

But those mediums have become increasingly popular to create in short form , little bite sized nuggets to share with the world so that their toilet breaks are more memorable.

Every year that goes by sees people giving more of themselves to the online sphere, a never ending stream of content blasting your synapses into oblivion.

I am not against technological advancement, or even living a big chunk of your life online, but I think what we choose to spend our time on matters, and the internet is mostly a sea of garbage.

I just hope with time that the culture of pumping out new, flashy  redundant apps and content that capture attention but don’t add to the improvement of our species slows down and people start focusing more on quality work.

Cross your fingers with me.

 

 

DragonBall: Inspirational story or dumb action show?

I’ve been torn on the subject of Dragon Ball for most of my life.

Very few series have attained the stardom it has, yet from a story perspective it isn’t too phenomenal. So what exactly drives people to adore it?

Is it just childhood nostalgia, or something deeper?

I think for many children, Dragon Ball and its subsequent continuations, was an inspiration.

Showcasing a cast who, no matter the odds, continued to focus on self improvement and continual growth. Regardless of how powerful their opponents were, they kept trying to get stronger and stronger, to protect their friends and family, almost never for personal gain(except perhaps Vegeta from time to time) .

That indomitable will that drove many of them to stand up to a myriad of increasingly powerful foes, no matter how outmatched they were, is sadly lacking in most of our day to day interactions with people.

I don’t think anyone can watch Gohans pain and see him internalize it and use it as fuel to finally attain super saiyan 2 for the first time without feeling some kind of wild exultation at his accomplishment.

We all look for mediums in our life, whether through books or film or games, that can fill that deep seeded need we have for inspiring heroes, people we can look up to during hard times and use a guiding light out of the darkness that can overwhelm our lives.

As children, we gravitate to these stories. Although Dragon Ball can be incredibly dumb at times, it still is incredibly motivating.

At least it was to this little boy, who is re-watching the entire series from the beginning while travelling, and loving it just as much as I did as a child.

 

What defines an artist?

What defines an artist?

Is it a single piece of work that touches millions, or is it the consistent grinding out of good quality content that keeps a core audience enraptured over decades?

I don’t think there is an answer to the question, but it’s something that has sparked my curiosity over the past few years, what really makes someone or something great?

One of my favorite art makers is Studio Ghibli, that mastermind of animated work that has spanned decades, creating in my mind what can only be described as visual masterpieces that even 20 years later still enrapture me with their riot of colors and heartwarming stories of growth and perseverance.

Ghibli works are not perfect, nothing is, but they touch my heart, and have touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. Yet I still meet people every year who have never heard of Ghibli or any of its films, and look at me with a slightly puzzled look as I wax eloquently about how awesome they are.

No matter how amazing we think something is, there will always be someone who comes around and simply doesn’t think that what we love is anything special, much less worth taking the time to look at.

It’s that diversity of opinion that creates such a vast difference in the artistic work available to us. As people grow up and gravitate towards different aspects of culture and life, the work they produce becomes an amalgam of all these differing interests and gives us a huge swath of variety in the works produced.

So what some parts of society consider great work are laughed at by others as utter garbage not worthy of existence, it’s a sobering thought for those of us who work in any of the artistic fields since our egos tend to be quite sensitive to someone thinking our work is a piece of crap.

The world is full of everything and anything you can imagine these days, and I am quite happy to spend my days trying to create a space where people can laugh and cry and reminisce about their experiences through my work and the works of others I enjoy.

Especially Ghibli films, which are the most awesome and wonderful things ever and if you disagree you are obviously deranged.

Just saying.

The ridiculous beauty of Mob Psycho

There are a multitude of anime that manage to create characters that are infuriatingly stupid. Loud mouthed fools whos  only positive aspect is their sheer determination to beat the odds.

As I have grown older, my patience for these types of stereotypical “male” idiots has dwindled as my appreciation for characters with more depth has grown.

When I originally started watching Mob Psycho, I thought I had come across yet another anime showcasing the “dimwitted male who happens to be very strong” trope, used again and again in most shows these days.

I was wrong, and quite happy about it. Although the show is a bundle of cliches, just like the studio’s other work One Punch Man, the manner in which they put them together and the underlying meaning behind the character’s attempts to come to terms with who they are really resonated with me.

Mob, for lack of a better word, is awkward. Awkward in the cannot socialize, express emotions well kind of way. Rather than this being boring, it takes on a different light when you realize that the reason he is like this stems from repressing his immense psychic powers from a very young age, as well as an internalization of inferiority as he believes that his abilities do not make him special in any way, and that those things he lacks, such as social skills or good looks, are much more important and his lack of them a sign of deficiency in character.

Obviously for anyone who has watched the show, this is meant to be comedic, just the ridiculousness of a human being with such immense power believing his abilities are meaningless and refusing to use them in any way.

But if you look at the show deeply enough you can really see how this plays out in many people’s lives, minus the psychic powers of course. The consequence of repressing  for Mob are severe  as he develops a sort of dark, separate personality when pushed to his limit and completely loses control of himself, causing quite the devastation.

His inability to come to terms with his powers and recognizing that they are a part of him and one that he should use and be proud of is his downfall. There is wisdom in him not thinking he is better than other people, but he takes it to an extreme that is unhealthy.

I believe many people, myself included, have held ourselves back for fear of not being good enough when comparing ourselves to other people. It is so easy to look at other’s skills and think that because we cannot do what they do, because we do not have what they have, that we are  somehow lesser, inferior, weak.

Each of us has a set of things, whether physical, mental or emotional that we excel at. But even those things require great will, effort and loads of practice to become great at.  Not recognizing the gifts we have and the work we put into getting good at something will lead to many negative consequences, and Mob Psycho showcases this perfectly.

Mob’s brother, who is good looking, intelligent and very physically adept, lives his life feeling massively inferior to Mob, even though he has so much in his life, and because of that he does some very cruel things, and even more when he finally develops his own psychic powers.  Mob on the other hand will probably never reach his full potential due to his refusal to merge fully with his powers.

We are who we are, and only when we utilize all that we have been born with can we fully grow into our potential.

On a less philosophical note, Mob Psycho is a roller-coaster ride of great fight scenes, interesting use of color, using white and black and little bits of other colors in a way that really expresses the powers being used and draws you in, as well as  an amusing cast of characters, making it a fun view for everyone, I highly recommend it.