Neo Yokio, Ezra Koening’s satirical urban fantasy animated series, arrived on Netflix in September of 2017 to mixed reviews. Season one followed Kaz Kaan, a wealthy and recently single exorcist, in his adventures slaying demons and perusing the city of Neo Yokio. With still no second season confirmed, Neo Yokio returned for a Christmas special this month. For a show that dabbled in ideas of class, materialism, and socialism, Christmas is the perfect homecoming. Most animated Christmas specials aired in the United States either focus on the myth of Santa Claus or the birth of Jesus Christ, if not both. Neo Yokio, an anime hybrid of a US Christmas special, is about neither. Pink Christmas looks at the holiday for what it’s become–materialist, self-serving celebration–through the eyes of its fictional wealthy.
This post contains spoilers for Pink Christmas and The End of Evangelion.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Neo Yokio’s Christmas Special for the Ages”
As of this month, it’s been over six years since Motorcity was cancelled. For an introduction to the short-lived Titmouse animated series on Disney XD, see my first retrospective post that answers the question “What is Motorcity?” This time, we’ll be diving into the series proper with the first episode.
“Battle for Motorcity” was originally envisioned as a pair of episodes for a two-part premiere, but was condensed to one episode. Despite the shorter runtime, it artfully and naturally packs a ton of worldbuilding, character dynamics, and future plot points into a single high stakes pilot. In a cyberpunk future where the rich deserted Detroit to build a utopia above it, the young Burners fight to protect the old city from the evil corporation KaneCo. Let’s take a Tour of Motorcity and look at not only the fictional universe and characters, but where “Battle for Motorcity” places the story in the genre of science fiction dystopia and the sociology of economic polarization in Detroit.
Continue reading “Tour of Motorcity Retrospective: Battle for Motorcity”
A retrospective on Disney XD’s short-lived animated series Motorcity has been a long time coming on this blog, half to express how dear it is to me and half to hopefully introduce it to other people. After rewatching it last year with a friend who had never seen it before, I started writing in-depth looks at episodes. I lost steam on the project as I felt I couldn’t do such a wonderful show justice in my analysis, but with the recent possibility Motorcity could return I’m willing to try again.
Before we get into an episode-by-episode retrospective, we first need to ask: what is Motorcity? Whatever happened to it? Why is it relevant again? What made it so special? And what now?
What is Motorcity?
Chris Prynoski had the idea for a cartoon titled Motorcity about rebellious driving in a future Detroit, Michigan where cars are obsolete for over a decade. An action-packed, if crude, proof of concept was produced for MTV following Prynoski’s Downtown in 2000, but was never picked up. Years later, now the owner of the dynamic animation studio Titmouse, Prynoski partnered with the channel Disney XD to finally develop Motorcity.
It premiered April 30th of 2012. The Disney XD series takes place in a futuristic Detroit, owned and operated by the billionaire engineer Abraham Kane, constructed on top of the old city. The dystopian Detroit Deluxe offers safety and sanitation to its citizens, at the unseen cost of personal freedoms such as artwork, fashion, and of course automobiles. In Motorcity, corporations are literally built on top of the people kept out of sight and demonized. The Burners, a diverse gang of drivers headed by their fearless leader Mike Chilton, turn their backs on Deluxe to fight for the people below and dismantle Kane’s tyranny. However, the show is anything but dreary. It’s heart-pounding, vibrant, and hilarious!
Continue reading “Tour of Motorcity Retrospective: What is Motorcity?”
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.
Continue reading “When the Social Issues of Lakewood Plaza Turbo Hit Close to Home”
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.
Continue reading “Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017”
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.
Continue reading “AMV Theater: Throwbacks”
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.
Continue reading ““Born Sexy Yesterday” Case Study: Ashi”
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 Crunchyroll, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) before reading on. The streams tragically don’t have the polish of the Blu-ray version, however.
Continue reading “Reflecting on Stigma, Immaturity, and Queerness in Samurai Flamenco”
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.
Continue reading “AMV Theater: Beginnings”