Category: Animation

When the Social Issues of Lakewood Plaza Turbo Hit Close to Home

When the Social Issues of Lakewood Plaza Turbo Hit Close to Home

Cartoon Network’s OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes joined the national conversation on gun violence when five new episodes were digitally released weeks after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. One of them, “Let’s Not Be Skeletons,” features allegorical argument for gun control. The timing was coincidental, as animated television develops over months to years. The episode was actually pitched back in July of 2016, (coincidentally or otherwise) not long after the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, Florida.

While OK K.O. usually follows the goofy adventure of K.O. on his dream of becoming a hero at his local plaza populated with superpowered humans and non-humans alike, it’s no stranger to social issues. The main conflict rests between a heroic bodega and a villainous corporation, after all. Sometimes it even address issues directly; including climate change in the Captain Planet-based episode “The Power is Yours,” journalism in “Action News” (unfortunately overshadowed by “Let’s Not be Skeletons” when they were released simultaneously), and misogyny in “Second First Date.” However, this post focuses on how OK K.O. explores real world racism, addiction, and of course gun control through its fictional setting in some of its best episodes.

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Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

I saw a lot of films last year. It’s a family tradition to go out and see a movie about once a week. I’ve always treasured it but especially now. It’s been one of my consistent comforts for a year like 2017.

Most critics get their best films of the year list out before the end of the year, but given that I’m not a professional critic, my access and time is a bit more limited, especially when it comes to those that just sneak in at the last minute before hitting wide release in January. Plus, I figured getting out my list a couple weeks before the Oscars would be close enough.

What I’ve realized over the past several years is that media itself isn’t as important, so much as our reactions to it. I don’t just mean big topics like oppression and hegemony, but the easy, personal things. Who did you empathize with? Who pushed you away? What tugged at your heartstrings? What annoyed you? What lingered with you after you left the theater, if anything did at all? Do you still feel like the same person before you experienced it?

The films I list here changed me in some way. Sometimes they gave me new knowledge and sometimes they reminded me of what to hold onto. Each one gave me increased perspective and energy that I hope to bring to 2018.

The ranking here is approximate. I tried to put some films in some kind of order and I have my top favorite saved for last, but really, every film listed here is one that I treasure.

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AMV Theater: Throwbacks

AMV Theater: Throwbacks

Last time on AMV Theater, a series of anime music video recommendation posts, we looked back at my introduction to AMVs and the origin of the art form. This time, we’ll be watching recent AMVs (made in the last decade) of classic anime (over 20 years old). AMVs can be a great introduction to an anime, particularly if it’s an older title. Not all the anime featured in this post are necessarily “obscure,” but finding engaging modern AMVs of them can still be tough. A couple of these are even the same anime I showcased last time, but I warned you my preferences would be obvious.

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“Born Sexy Yesterday” Case Study: Ashi

“Born Sexy Yesterday” Case Study: Ashi

I only watched a handful of Samurai Jack episodes as a child, but I couldn’t miss its conclusive return on Adult Swim this year. It gave me hope that creative, artistic shows cancelled prematurely could come back to life. (I’ll wait for you forever, Motorcity.) The fifth season finds Jack 50 years later, directionless without his sword–the only weapon that can defeat Aku and restore peace to the world. A pack of Aku-worshipping septuplets come to murder him, though only one named Ashi survives. The early episodes were impressive, but my excitement dimmed after the direction Ashi’s arc took in the eighth episode.

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Samurai Jack season five, Princess Mononoke, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

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Reflecting on Samurai Flamenco

Reflecting on Samurai Flamenco

I wish I could say March 27th 2014 was the day “Goto-san, let’s get married!” was heard ’round the world as the series finale of Samurai Flamenco aired. Unfortunately, many viewers had abandoned the show along its broadcast, or simply weren’t watching it to begin with like myself. Thankfully the sliver of attention to a marriage proposal between men characters convinced me to check out what became one of my favorite anime series for its exploration of immaturity, nostalgia, social misfits, queerness, and love. I know it’s a silly show, but I like to take it seriously too.

Samurai Flamenco follows a young man named Masayoshi in his effort to become a superhero like those of tokusatsu he’s idolized all his life. On his first patrol, he winds up stripped of his homemade costume and accused of public indecency by a police officer named Goto. Instead of arresting him, Goto hears him out and becomes the confidant of the city’s mysterious vigilante. The sensible Goto and eccentric Masayoshi naturally clash, but their teamwork forms the heart of the show. Masayoshi also joins forces with a powerless yet destructive magical girl named Mari, plus her sidekicks Moe and Mizuki. Mari and Moe are already a couple, but Masayoshi’s love story is just beginning…

This post contains spoilers for Samurai Flamenco from the seventh episode to the end. This show takes many twists and turns so if you wish to experience it unspoiled, I recommend watching it (on CrunchyrollNetflix, Hulu, etc.) before reading on. The streams tragically don’t have the polish of the Blu-ray version, however.

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AMV Theater: Beginnings

AMV Theater: Beginnings

Anime music videos, fan-edited videos of anime clips set to songs, have such a presence in my life I forget other people aren’t as familiar or invested in them. If anything, other people only seem to enjoy them ironically. I don’t make them anymore, but I have a deep love for AMVs and watch them regularly. I figure if others aren’t going to watch them as much as I do, I can recommend my favorites and explore the artistry of AMVs in a series of blog posts. I like fan-edited videos of other mediums as well, so those are bound to pop up along the way.

The longer this series goes on I’m sure my preferences in editing style, source material, and subject matter will become clear; when there are many more sorts of AMVs out there. Maybe I can spark interest in them to make you explore them yourself. As for me, my investment in AMVs began around 2007 when my growing interest in anime and the quick rise of YouTube collided in discovering a magnificent Princess Tutu AMV.

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Favorites of 2016

Favorites of 2016

It’s been a while… and it’s been quite a year. For now, Malia and Karleen are looking back at their favorite fiction from the past year. Not necessarily the best, but the favorites. In a year like 2016, our comforts and catharsis are all the more important.

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