Legacy and the Aging Protagonist: In Defense of Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super is one of those series that’s incredibly easy to dismiss as an easy cash-in to a long-lived franchise (though honestly, that title belongs moreso to the Dragon Ball Heroes card game). New characters are introduced for the purpose of story-expansion, and new power-ups are invented almost to accompany every new addition to the cast. And yet a good 50+ episodes in, the series has been doing a surprisingly solid job of not only continuing the story from where it left off, but also progressing each character’s arcs, keeping in mind the series’ 30+ years of in-world history to pinpoint where characters currently are emotionally. Not bad for a show about dudes punching alien-dudes until they die or befriend each other.

DBSuper Vegeta v Freeza

r we besties yet? Y/N

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Correlation Between Modern Manga Writing and Short-Episode-Count Anime

Anime adaptations of manga are nothing new. Checking upcoming anime every season, there’s always an interest in discussing what manga is deserving of an adaptation. That said, while interests in different subgenres continue to crop up among modern anime, episode counts are continuing to drop. Long gone are the days when 50-100+ episode anime was the norm. Now more than ever, anime episode count is dwindling, and it’s been affecting manga-ka in an unexpected way, having them take different approaches when it comes to writing their stories in hopes of nabbing that sought-after anime adaptation.

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Gabe Finally Watches: Nana

Nana tells the story of two 20-year-olds named Nana that have a chance encounter on a train to Tokyo—probably the most American-style setup for a josei I’ve ever seen. And the Western influence doesn’t stop there. From the apartment the two end up sharing, to the burger/bar the girlier Nana frequents, nearly everything about the series makes a point of distancing itself as far from your typical Japanese dramas as possible.
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Digimon Tri Episodes 1-4: Twittered

Digimon 00
I think we all know the lyric should be “ON MY LOVE.”

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Gabe finally Watches: Michiko and Hatchin

So Toonami recently started airing Michiko and Hatchin, which I’ve used as an excuse to finally watch the series in its entirety myself.

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Approved for Adoption – French Movie Review

While the general plight of growing up Asian in a predominantly non-Asian community may not be the most mainstream of stories told, it has been run into the ground at least for the audience that said story is being aimed at. Recurring themes of redemption from your parents conflicting with goals of making them proud, having dreams forced upon you by another, a general coming of age tale done Asian American (replace “American” with any other secondary culture) style… it’s not exactly something Hollywood would give a second glance and from what I’ve been exposed to, I’m of the camp of “you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a million times.”

Or at least I would have said that before seeing Approved for Adoption.

Approved for Adoption

Approved for Adoption (or Couleur de peau: miel, translating to “Skin Color: Honey”) is a French film telling the story of the influx of Korean adoptees from the perspective of the movie’s writer/director Jung. Right off the bat, Jung weaves an interesting tale of being adopted into a French family at the age of five, establishing an interesting dynamic not only between Jung and his adopted parents, but between him and the family’s biological children.

The movie is based on Jung’s graphic novel of the same name, bringing his sketchy art style to life and near-seamlessly melding it together with CG animation (think Monster House style) as well as live action footage of Jung himself as he roams the streets of Korea 40+ years after having left said country. Switching between styles keeps things fresh, but doesn’t come off as quirkiness for quirkiness’ sake, as each jump in aesthetic serves as a proper lead-in for the scenes to follow.

Growing up, you never really question the order of things, especially within your family, and Approved for Adoption successfully runs with that theme. As we follow Jung through his almost Dennis-the-Menace-like childhood, the fact of him being a Korean child in a French household is downplayed for the most part (sans visits from blatantly racist extended family) and things feel more like a film about family rather than about a Korean facing identity issues. Earlier scenes help develop the sense of belonging Jung has with each of his family members to the point that you really feel for each of them once the drama is delivered come the latter half of the movie when the elephant in the room that is Jung’s past is better inspected.

Suddenly this well-meaning family you’ve seen in its childhood has exploded into scenes of drama and introspection without anyone to truly blame for the shortcomings involved along the journey. You feel for Jung and his fish-out-of-water dilemma, but at the same time you feel for his parents and siblings who honestly have no way of relating to his problems or finding a solution to them themselves.

By the end of the movie, you’ve been exposed to so much misfortune along with signs of hope that any clear-cut finale would be an insult to what has developed so far. Rather, you are left with a lot to think about, and signs that while things may get bad, there will always be time to take on your problems one step at a time.

(Approved for Adoption was seen at San Jose’s CAAMFest. Check local theaters/festivals for showings.)

Gabe Finally Watches Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011)

The DC Animated Series that ran from the early ‘90s to well into the ‘00s has to be one of the greatest television achievements in that it was able to take a running list of series and have them all take place in one solid continuity. While literally pages upon pages of backstory exist for nearly every character from Batman, to Superman, to the rest of the Justice League, each series was also able to work on a more focused, episode-by-episode, basis. So when I realized Bruce Timm, one of the creators behind the DC Animated Universe was behind the Green Lantern Animated Series, I figured I’d finally give it a shot.

Green Lantern TAS logo

Although Green Lantern: The Animated Series is technically not considered part of the same universe as the previous DC Animated Series, it definitely has the same feel as them. Getting past the art style of the series (which is essentially a 3D rendering of the 2D art style of past DC Animated Series), it takes similar cues from past DC works in that it drops viewers in the middle of the superhero doing their superhero-ing, summing up the details you’d expect from a hero’s backstory in an offhanded comment without bogging down the flow and general story progression. You’re immediately introduced to Hal Jordan, a noble human that represents the Green Lanterns for that particular sector of the universe, and his daily routine of handling intergalactic space policing with his job as a test pilot on Earth. Soon enough, the plot is kicked into gear when word on the street is that certain somebodies have been killing Green Lanterns across the worlds. Of course Hal, with his distinctly large sense of justice, takes matters into his own hands, resulting in his stealing a Lantern ship to track down the organization behind the killings.

What really makes the first season of the series is its sense of chemistry between Hal and everyone else that finds themselves as part of his crew. Hal is joined by fellow Green Lantern and resident tough-guy Kilowog, ex-Red Lantern and source of tension Razer, and the ship itself in sexy robot girl form, Aya. The cast’s interactions with each other is interesting in that each character actually interacts directly with the other members, rather than one speaking to a general whole as other shows tend to do. Hal not only shares personal dialogue between Kilowog, but also does so on separate occasions with Razer and Aya, and the rest do the same. It’s a simple thing to take note of, yes, but it’s something that really makes you grow attached to each character and is something that I personally missed the most once I got to the second season, which leaned more towards expanding the Lanterns’ world over character building.

Another aspect of the first season’s charm was just how tightly knit the plot was. Since the cast’s ship is limited to how far it can travel, not to mention finding out who the Green Lantern killers are with as little casualties as possible, something of a time stamp is made for the heroes, resulting in episodes that just fly by. It’s not a “popcorn series” by any means, but considering I was able to plow through the entirety of the series in less than a week, it is “popcorn” in the sense that the series isn’t bogged down by slow story-telling or sluggish dialogue.

Now with all this talk focused solely on the first season, you would assume that I would have some contempt for the second and final season of the series. It’s not bad by any means, but the quirky character interactions and all-around fast storytelling did come off as noticeably lacking. I can understand that since the main cast has been established that such interactions don’t need to be made as prominent, but the storytelling at times came off as unforgivably slow, especially when you consider that the stakes have been significantly raised. Later plot developments that tie in loose ends with the first season only further remind me of how I enjoyed those earlier episodes more so than the latter ones. It was just the type of season that took some time to build steam, and even at full speed, something just felt a bit off.

Still, even with the personal complaints I had with the series, Green Lantern: The Animated Series was one of the few American animated series as of late that was well worth it. And with all the flack GL’s gotten after the unanimously horrible live action movie, I say it’s about time things start looking up for him.

Extended Tweets: Adapting the Bone Comics

boneWas on a Mariah Carey musical kick on YouTube and noticed that her general look in the Butterfly music video looked a lot like Thorn Harvestar’s in the Bone comic. I get that the fictional fantasy world Bone took place in was primarily white, but I’m sure a young Mariah Carey would have been an exception had a live action movie been made (I mean, she did pretty well in Precious from what I heard, though that was a good number of years later).

… either that, or animate the movie and have Mariah as the singer for an epic inspirational late-90’s/early 00’s type of tune while the end credits roll. I could totally imagine a Bone movie being more possible at around the same time as something like Disney’s Atlantis or Titan AE. Then again, it would probably have the same levels of critical acclaim as them, too, so maybe it was for the best that it hasn’t happened yet.

Still. A Bone movie would work beautifully as a hand-drawn movie. Don’t wanna be nitpicky, but I’d rather Wikipedia be lying about a CG animated trilogy in the works. I mean I’m sure the fact that they’re splitting the movie into a trilogy suggests some care will be given to the franchise, but going the CG route for animated works as of late seems to be a decision made “because all the cool kids are doing it” rather than the aesthetic working well with the story and characters.

Episodic Review: Young Justice Invasion 19 & 20 (Series Finale)

“Business as usual”

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Episodic Review: Young Justice Invasion 17 & 18

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T minus four episodes!

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