Monday, October 31, 2011

15 Things I've wondered about that you probably haven't

Before we go on with my crusade against cultural ignorance, here's some random stuff:

1. In both Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic X, a ring will give Sonic superspeed even by his standards. In the games, you collect a bunch of rings each level, yet no extra speed. Why is that?

2. Exactly what kind of ghost is Slimer supposed to be anyway?

3. Why do I know people that doesn't watch fantasy or science-fiction movies because they're too strange, yet hold a firm belief in supernatural phenomena?

4. Is it strange that I can see why people would be attracted to both Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Black Canary, yet I can't see it in Wonder Woman?

5. I wonder if Mr. & Mrs. Hitler lived to see their son become a historical douchebag

6. So. Capes. I'm still waiting for them to get back in fashion, please let it happen soon.

7. Wouldn't the world just be a scary fucking place if photographs were sentient like in Harry Potter?

8. So if everything we imagine becomes real in Fantasia... I don't think I have to finish that sentence.

9. Barbar's King of the Elephants right? I wonder if he can open diplomatic negotiations between the Ratqueen and the army of Nutcrackers

10. Whatever happened to Disney's Atlantis franchise? That stuff was awesome.

11. So where does Beetlejuice, Candyman and Biggiesmalls go when they aren't called upon? Puerto Rico?

12. So If I've gotten this right, Dr. Wily wants to take over the world, and replace everyone with robots so he can... what?

13. I wonder if my nephew will grow up with the same respect for Darth Vader as I had..

14. How exactly did no one notice that one of the nurses was the Joker? And when did he wire all those bombs?

15. I pray every day.... That there will never be a serious action movie make-over of Inspector Gadget.

Friday, October 28, 2011

East and West - Emotions and Archetypes

Eastern and Western Entertainment. Some people can love both, others choose one side and live with it, and even others choose one side and start mocking the other. I'm here to clear up what the ACTUAL difference between the two sides of this apparent argument is. I'm a fan of both, but seeing both sides making strawman arguments against the other has reached a sickening point. I'm sick of this, none of these are 'genres' and should never be regarded as such. This can't really be covered in one article without being kinda overwhelming, so I'm going to touch two subjects at a time.

Emotions are an important part of storytelling, if your characters don't have emotions it will be hard for the reader/listener/watcher to get into the characters and plotline. What I've basically tried to illustrate is the difference in which Western and Eastern animation/comics will show the emotions of the characters. Of course neither case is exclusive to the region and vice versa.

Basically, you can compare Western emotions to movies from the sound era. The story will be told in close-ups and facial expressions. There is a difference in which a human being can show sadness, and the detailed drawings of the west have the opportunity to capture this, if done well. A prime example of human facial expressions captured in animation is Dreamworks' The Prince of Egypt. Particularly in the scene where Moses returns from having met God. He meets up with his brother Rameses, now Pharaoh of Egypt. Rameses hopes that everything will turn back to normal. Unfortunately, Moses returns a ring given to him as a gift earlier in the movie, asking Rameses to free the Hebrews. Rameses' facial expressions through his reaction is beautifully animated, it manages to show by my count at least 6 emotions in about 40 seconds of animation. The Nostalgia Critic has also mentioned this in his video "Old Vs. New, The Ten Commandments vs. The Prince of Egypt" Which you can find HERE. (Around the 6:34 mark, but I really recommend watching the whole thing, it's good stuff!)

While the Western audience is treated to a more 'subtle' approach when it comes to conveying emotions, Eastern series often resemble what you would see in a silent movie or in a stageplay. One of the first rules I was taught in drama class was to never face away from the audience. The audience can't be allowed to see your back unless it's absolutely nescessary. In the same way, you have to 'emote with your hands'. Words have little meaning on their own, and since those in the back of the room can have a hard time conveying your emotions from your face, being able to emote with your whole body is a pretty good tool. Take a look at any silent horror film and you will understand. I especially recommend the public domain movie "Phantom of The Opera" starring the man with a thousand faces himself, Lon Chaney. Both of his parents were deaf, so he mastered the art of body language. Good news, it's public domain now, Go get it!

A good example of the Eastern animation making use of the whole body language thing is apparently best in their fighting scenes. Every punch and kick, however weak, is given special attention. The lights seems to dim around the action, and only the most important things are animated. My nifty drawing above also illustrates the difference in showing emotion in the two kinds of media.


Here's where it gets fishy. When it comes to archetypes, the Eastern audiences are treated to archetypes way more often than in the West. Or at least, the Eastern creators are more open about it. A bad example of archetypes being put to use can be found in the series 'Naruto'. The creator himself, Masashi Kishimoto, has stated that when he first pitched the series to his editor at Shounen Jump (the biggest shounen manga magazine in Japan, and possibly, the world) his editor told him to add a rival for the titular character. Thus Uchiha Sasuke was born.
Masashi Kishimoto has stated that in order to create Sasuke, he studied the archetypical rival character in other manga, and he created what he himself has named "the perfect rival". Sasuke bears all the typical signs of a rival character: he has a tragic past (which only became more complicated as the series went along), he's adored by the main character's love interest (nevermind that the main character is oblivious to someone else loving him as well) and he's a bitter, emotional mess. He is the complete opposite of the main character. Sasuke has since gone on to be one of the most notorious examples of cardboard cut-out anti-heroism in the modern era of the genre. Among elitist manga fans, he is outright and publicly loathed and he bears a large part of the guilt in Naruto cosplayers being looked down upon. Don't trust me? Try cosplaying Uchiha Sasuke at a convention sometime. See what happens.

In the west, a more common archetype is the villain who is evil 'just because'. I'm not talking about a villain who is supposed to be a demon, that in itself is pretty obvious. I'm talking about the villains who just got out of bed one day and decided, "you know what? I'm gonna fuck it up for everyone but me!". Not that such a character can't be well-written, but there's the example of Victor Kruger, the Kurgan (played by Clancy Brown). For those that don't know, the Kurgan is the main villain of the first Highlander movie - his entire purpose in the movie is to go around killing off the other immortals so he can become a formidable enemy for Christopher Lambert's character, Connor MacLeod, the Highlander. While the Kurgan's background is fleshed out in the novelization, he just comes off as a mass murdering brute. Throughout the movie, in the modern era (I use the term loosely, the movie was made in the 80's), he wears punk clothes and hangs around in motels, and in the past he "killed Ramirez and raped his woman before his corpse was cold" (Ramirez being the teacher and friend of the Highlander). This could of course be explained by the Kurgan being born into a barbaric tribe in Russia around 1005 BC, but it's really not that much of an excuse. You'd think that after more than 1000 years the guy would at least have picked up some basic understanding of morals, but apparently not.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In defense of The Simpsons

*Sigh* I never thought I would have to write this. Here goes anyhow. One of my favorite shows of all time "The Simpsons" stands at the threat of being cancelled. This is despite other shows of the same nature (Family Guy) having 2 or 3 spin-offs running smoothly. This is sad. Whenever I defend The Simpsons in public or whenever I hear The Simpsons being talked about in public lately, a lot of people accuse it of not being funny anymore, and having grown stale. More recently, people have said that Family Guy is a much better show and that Simpsons should be cancelled to leave more space in programming to that show.

I'm sorry but that is just not true.

Like a lot of other kids of my generation, The Simpsons were one of my first mature satirical influences. These were dark times in Scandinavia, only 3 channels and most of them only showed local bad comedy or reruns of The Muppets Show to trick you into having a glimmer of hope that the monopolic channels might actually show something of quality for a change. Then, in 1995, a channel called TV3 burst onto Danish television, showing all of the sugarcoated American nonsense from the 80's that everyone missed if they didn't get it on VHS. Sooner or later, Simpsons started getting shown on Danish television and when I became old enough (Around 8) I was hooked. The family was dysfunctional as hell and reminded me alot of my own family. And as they say, truly good comedy makes people laugh at themselves. This is perhaps why Homer Simpson may be dumb and egotistical, but unlike Peter Griffin he actually cares about his family and will do anything he can to make them happy.

That's what I like about The Simpsons, and why I don't really care about Family Guy. Family Guy is just a collection of people who's cherishment of one another is dependent on comedic value. The charactirazations of the Griffins feels like easily modeled high concepts, with only few steadfast characterpoints that isn't thrown to the wind unlike the rest of the charactarizations if a joke calls for it. A very easy example lies in Peter. Peter is supposed to be catholic, but this is only brought up when it's convenient. Instead he goes and does all sorts of stuff like creating a church dedicated to The Fonze. If the creators intention with Peter Griffin was to make fun of catholics, they failed miserably.

I'm very fond of South Park, we know who the characters are, and although they're completely bizarre they don't just go and do stuff that they really... wouldn't do. For instance, we know that Cartman is a anti-semitic asshole of a kid, so we know that he's not suddenly gonna go pick flowers and dance around in a tutu.. unless brainwashed of course.

I see Simpsons as a classier South Park (No dancing poop), and a valuable asset to the comedic scene. And Family Guy? Uh.. Am I the only one that feels like I'm watching some animation a fanboy made to a stand-up perfomance? It doesn't really feel like a show.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Random Selection of Good Old Games

Most of the time, when you talk about old games that are good, chances are the most mentioned are either not only good but GREAT or almost exclusively from the consoles.

So this is a selection of old games in random order that aren't GREAT but they hold a nostalgic value to me, and can most definetly get the rank of "good".


Back in the 90's, The Pink Panther was re-exposed to the world in a packet-format TV-series as was popular at the time. Typically, an episode of such a show would have a 10 minute episode with the host character (in this case, The Pink Panther) and then two 5 minute long cartoons with other characters like forexample The Blue Anteater. In Any case, the show spawned two PC adventure games for kids that would challenge them but teach them about stuff while they do it. Pink Panther - Passport to Peril taught kids (and at the time, Me as well) about different cultures and countries around the world.

The storyline is as such: There's been made a summer-camp called Chilly Wa Wa for the children of highly influential and rich people from around the world. But suddenly the children have started to act weirdly from one day to the other, Pink Panther gets assigned to travel around the world (England, Egypt, China, Bhutan, India and Australia) and find out stuff about the kids so he can try and make them normal again. All the while the kids playing the game would learn about the things children in these cultures have to deal with while growing up. There would also be songs, Awesome songs. Go check them out on Youtube. And while you're at it, check out the sequel Hocus Pocus Pink as well.

LEGO: Chess

Do you like Lego? Do you like Chess? Well then what the hell do you need to know?! This game taught kids about the boardgame chess while entertaining them with short clips depending on which character defeated which. There would be differently themed Chess boards and stories, forexample: In the Cowboy storyline, a sheriff is trying to capture three robbers. So yeah. It's Chess. CHESS!


This is one of the simplest and shortest platformers I have ever played. It's easy as boink and you can pick it up and complete it in an afternoon. Which is perfect if you have an afternoon to spend. Seriously, I know standard length for a game is 10 hours and I wouldn't have it any other way. But this game is just too much fun to pass by.

For another really good Donald Duck game check out Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow.

(EDIT: I know the picture says "Going Qu@ackers" but it was called "Qu@ck Att@ck" in Europe.)


It's the universe of Asterix The Gaule meets the boardgame RISK in a way. You start out with the ever-silly village that Ceasar somehow just can't conquer and then start conquering back all of Gaule from the Romans. While most of the time the conquering would be like a simple strategy game animation, other times it would switch to a platform game depending on if you're Asterix or Obelix. And other times (again) it would be a parody of the Olympic game Hammer Throw.

There, wasn't that fun? If you have other games that people really need to mention more, please name them in the comments! Maybe I can make more of these :D