Friday, August 19, 2011

Sam Raimi's Noir, Part IV

Why the 1960s?

I mentioned in my last post I wasn't big on the 1960s as a setting for this new Noir series due next summer in 2012. The anime series took place in about 2010 (perhaps earlier if you pay close attention) and you know what it worked jus
t fine. Dating a series, movie or whatever is always risky because you risk dating your proje

ct. Really who among us doesn't chuckle when we watch an 80s movie with their old time dinosaur computers? But you know what Noir spectacularly avoided that. When you think of the old cel animation of 2001 it looks quite good today compared to some of the others of the early 90s and further back. But I'm not here to talk about the series am I? No I'm here to talk about the possible setting in the 1960s. I must wonder what reason for this is?

Now a lot of those who are following this project have expressed some interest in the 60s setting. I guess it's understandable it does give it a new flavor. As for me, I don't like it. Of course I don't like all the changes in the live action series maid by Sam Raimi and his scurvy crew. The first and foremost reason I don't like the 60s setting? IT'S BEEN DONE! The radical groovy setting that was the 60s has been exploited as much as World War II has been exploited by The History Channel. From Forest Gump to Mr Hollands Opas and even Austin Powers have shown us the crazy 60s. Okay in fairness assuming they have half a brain to keep this in Paris we don't see much of Paris in the 60s here in America. Who knows maybe Paris didn't have hippies and peace and love and The Manson Family. But it brings me to my next point.

Paris doesn't matter. Regardless of the decade, Paris doesn't really make a huge diffrence in the 60s or 2000s. Of course one thing Noir gets praise for is the Eurocentric setting. Set in Paris even I admit I liked the change from Japan for this series. It worked sure and now that it has, I still wouldn't want it changed. But the fact is Paris and France in general for t
hat matter is simply the backdrop of the story. The series could have been set in rural America, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea, wherever and it still probably could have worked.
I mentioned Forest Gump in an earlier paragraph which brings to another point. Forest Gump if you ask me is a great movie. But it has set a horrible habit for film and television. This habit so is any period piece is now required to play all the songs of the era. And boy it's annoying. If you are like me and think The Beatles are overrated and really don't care much about oldies much less the new music scene the last thing you want is another bombardment of the "golden oldies." Even more so if you loved loved loved Yuki Kajiura's music for the series, you are gonna hate having it replaced. Now, in fairness this can also apply today. It would be just as easy to play Katy Perry, Lady GaGa (shudders). Frankly I don't want either. As much as it would be great to have Kajiura's music back, chances are it would be original. Though I would settle for a mix of original and covers or direct licenses of the OST. Another topic entirely.

Final thought into the matter, setting this in the 60s how are Kirika and Mireille going to connect? Of course I'm operating under the assu
mption they are still going to connect and not randomly be in the show together.

Look how they connect in the anime:

Perfect right? Simple mysterious E-Mail sent to M. So does this mean Kirika will call on a rotary phone? I don't know. So I think safe to say the 60s setting is simply to further the stupid KGB vs CIA Subplot they're injecting into this. Well bullshit to that I say. I'm getting my letter ready:

Dear Sam Rami,

You have raped my teenage - no -my childhood!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sam Riami's Noir, Part III

STARZ Massacring Noir OR
Jumping to Conclusions?

Perhaps it's not a good idea to jump to conclusions. I know that in the world of film and television things do change rapidly. How rapidly depends on the production really. Now with Sam Raimi's Noir getting the greenlight from Starz, the pre-production phase has begun and already things are looking grim for the anime's transition to the live action screen.

Previous posts and message board comments from around the internet and this blog have mentioned I was cautiously optimistic for a live action Noir. Even with the hyperrealism of the show, it still was just crazy enough to work in a Bourne Identity sort of way, maybe. Unlike shows like Dragonball and Speed Racer, Noir has a fairly serious plot line. Also unlike the others Noir is also very Eurocentric. So really gotta be pretty hard to fuck this one up? Well they did. At least based on these casting sheets released by the Actor Resource Showfax. Sheets like these are used by casting directors based on the writer and development notes as to who to look for when to cast. Let me sum it up for you.

Short Description –
[MIREILLE DUBOIS] 26/28, blonde, beautiful, sexy, graceful and stylish, "Bardot meets Deneuve." Mireille is an artist plugged into a sexy Paris avant garde. She is also one of the top assassins in Europe - cold, efficient and deadly - working under the codename 'Noir'. Mireille is a survivor of the War in the East, a woman who experienced horrors and traumas that forged her into 'Noir'. She embraces life and lives it to the full, but always on her own terms. Deep down Mireille is all about control - of her environment, people and herself. She can make you feel like the only person in a crowded room, and then, when you are, kill you without compunction.

Short Description –
[KIRIKA] 18-20, Japanese, stunning, chilling, balletic and agile. Kirika is a human guided missile. Programmed from infancy in the ways of The Soldats, an ancient society of assassins. Kirika follows her orders without question and would happily die to achieve her mission. Knows nothing of the outside world, and relies on her trainer Lance for guidance. After a fight with Mireille, Kirika develops amnesia and cannot remember her Soldat past. Suddenly she's an 18 yr old girl with 1960s Paris at her feet, and Kirika is going to experience it all, with only Mireille as her guide.

Already you can tell a lot has been changed and if you ask me not for the better. Now you probably guess I'm already a Noir fan. But I'm not as engrossed in it as probably some of my others. But I give my gripes of so much change for what seems to be the sake of change. The plot being set in the 1960s, personally don't like it. It wasn't a period piece to begin with, why make it one? But not the worst thing you can do. The introduction of CIA Agents a whole pointless KGB sub-plot? Male love interests for Mireille and Kirika because they're so clearly afraid of subtle girl x girl thematic elements? Why Starz? Why does this have to become Generic American Crime Show #20184?

There is so much more and others have their vocal opinions on it as well. I can bitch all I want and yeah probably won't change anything but never stopped other internet critics before right?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sam Riami's Noir, Part II

Project Gets the Green Light
But what's next?

With June comes an announcement of the 2001 anime Noir officially getting the green light. Sifting through the news of it, we are still left with more questions than answers and more post their hopes and desires for a good treatment. So now that a series has the green light, what comes next? Unfortunate I'm doubtful we'll be hearing any details for what could be another good seven months.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The End of Madoka

WARNING: Here be spoilers

After a month long delay Puella Magi Madoka Magica came to its long anticipated finale, which will no doubt polarize viewers. Going into it, I expected a sorrowful tragedy after a grueling 8 episodes (yeah the first two don't really count) of watching everything go to Hell in a hand basket. Between Sayaka turning into a Witch, to Kyoko's death, to watching Homoura go back time and time again to stop Madoka's untimely death. As a deconstruction series of Magical Girls one could only expect the worse, instead we got a Gainax Ending. Maybe.

In the end Madoka's ending is bittersweet, Madoka transcendens space to become a God so that other Magical Girls won't have to suffer the little bastard QB finds a new energy source, but alas the quest of being Maho Shoujo is not over as new demons take place of the witches. Okay this post may sound negative but in all actuality I really did enjoy Madoka's ending. After marathoning all 10 episodes to prepare for the finale, it started to get a bit soul crushing. Watching Homoura shoot Madoka again, that isn't easy! Good ending and all I did find it a tad funny and half expected the cast to start saying "Congratulations!"

CONGRATULATIONS! Okay sillyness aside while this ending may have bordered on a tad Deus Ex Machina, I'm quite willing and ready to forgive and forget. Madoka sacrificing her self (how appropriate for Good Friday) makes her all the more lovable now, but not as loved as Mami ;) and Homoura became my favorite character of all time! Some might find this a tad anti-climatic I however think it was perfect. We were treated to some badass action in episode 11 as Homoura unleashes a barrage of hard core artillery fire proving she is AWESOME.

Akemi Homoura
Time to die Walpurgis!

Awesome as she is Homura is unable to defeat Walpurgis on her own, and as she prepares to turn back time Madoka comes to make her wish. As the universe erases it self to restart in a new way, Madoka is erased from time and space except for poor Homura. Now she can't get her lesyay.

Eat your heart out Michale Bay

A bitter-sweet ending at its finest without too much of an asspull this series will still remain among my top favorites. One can hope this will get a proper R1 License and not a royal screwing by Aniplex, less I mention $400 Garden of Sinners movie -_-

Post Script: There has been much talk of an alleged sequel or spin-off, if this does happen let us hope we won't get the same mind warping results of End of Evangelion, but all the same stay true to what made Madoka great.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pokemon Black

Pokemon Black Version

An interesting legend that has been around for a while, even before the release of Pokemon Black and White, as the origins point to 4Chan you have to take this with a grain of salt, otherwise it is an interesting story. For those of us who grew up playing the Generation I games, I think we remember Lavender Town and the ghosts of Pokemon Tower that were unobtainable until you revived the Silph Scope. This urban legend comes from and has been reposted a number of times from other sources, below is the full story.

Super creepy Pokémon hack

I stumbled on this unsettling story of an obscure Pokémon bootleg/art-hack that I thought might be neat to share on here. I think this originated from 4chan, so I’ve no idea if this hack actually exists. It probably doesn’t, but it’s still a great concept/tale!:

I’m what you could call a collector of bootleg Pokémon games. Pokémon Diamond & Jade, Chaos Black, etc. It’s amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such.

They’re generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they often are), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.

I’ve been able to find most of the ones that I’ve played online, but there’s one that I haven’t seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sam Riami's Noir?

Sam Raimi's Noir?

Sam Raimi of Spider-Man and The Evil Dead fame and Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker) have been announced as being attached the live action adaptation of the anime cult classic Noir the 2001 action series that practically defined "Girls-With-Guns." I guess it is no surprise a series like Noir would get considered for a live action TV Series and really this could work....COULD WORK.

I need not mention over the last few years we've been treated to some real turkey live-action adaptations of anime. From The Wachowskis Speed Racer to the unmentionable Dragonball Evolution, not to mention the ever dreaded Americanized remake of Akira. So here we stand in the face of another live action adaptation, however this one can work.

I won't lie, I'm skeptical about this and with little details on what the series is gonna be like it's no wonder. Questions race through my mind and every other Noir fan out there, will this be anything like the series? Will it be Americanized (as opposed the European setting, even you can't mess that up unless you really try) and will Yuki Kajiura's music be featured in the series? Can Starz! Network make a good work of art and not sour the remaining anime community from live action treatments of shows? Possibly. At present we only have more questions than answers. There's a few things I'd like to see my self in a Live-Action Noir TV Series. I'm not going to focus too much on the plot setting as things like that will be fleshed changed meddled around with for its new format anyway.

  • French/European Setting
  • A Japanese or otherwise Asian girl playing Kirika (Whether she's English, French, America, all Japanese Chinese whatever)
  • License Kajiura's music or otherwise rearrange/cover them.
  • Keep the girl on girl love themes? I will say tread lightly on this. There is such a thing as too much and too much pandering to the base can hurt the quality rather than help it. In other words don't turn it into an episode of MANswers.
That's really about all I can think of. I want to see this project do well. Noir is a show I particularly enjoy and something like this could actually go well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Halo Legends

From Master Chief to Cortana

Halo Legends is an 100 minute collection of short anime stories from the Halo game universe and franchise. The already massive multimedia franchise spans four major games and several novels! Naturally only a matter of time before Anime gets it's turn. Comprised of eight self contained episodes all created by different studios from around Japan the package has a little something for everyone. Hardcore fans may not care for some the liberties taken, while non Halo game fans and players may enjoy it. Similar to The Animatrix which told small stories of The Matrix trilogy and Batman Gotham Knight which told stories from Batman between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Halo Legends each has their own canonical interpretation on an expansive storyline.

The Episodes

Halo Legends contains eight short episodes packaged on one DVD and Blu-Ray Disc each with their own short story to tell. The stories take place at various times and places in the Halo universe.

Origins I & Origins II

Plot: Created by indy studio Studio 4°C the same team behind The Animatrix create a portrait of the backstory 100,000 year long Halo universe. It is comprised of two parts.

Thoughts: This is perhaps the worst inclusion of the collection. No doubt Halo has a long expansive history all of which is probably intresting, but the way the episodes present this is one long narration by the character Cortana (voice of Shelley Calene-Black taking over from Jen Taylor) over some animation and a lot of stills. It's the most uninteresting backstory and dullest presentation I've seen. Granted the universe is probably big enough to fill one full movie with it but this tells us everything quickly over the span of two 15 minute episodes. I could have saved my self the $20 and go to Wikipedia to read it.

The Duel

Plot: Created by the acclaimed studio Production I.G the minds behind Ghost in the Shell and the animated segments of Kill Bill: Volume 1 The story takes place long before the Human-Covenant War, Duel tells the story of an Arbiter, Fal 'Chavamee, who refuses to accept the Covenant Religion.

Thoughts: Acclaimed director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) helped bring this episode to life with a young new director Hiroshi Yamazaki. Unfortunately for I.G this wasn't their better work. The story is infamous for taking extreme creative liberties with canon material and serves up a very uninteresting Samurai morality play. No surprise Samurai are long staple of Japanese fiction but the overly experimental style wasn't pretty. Clunky CGI models combined with a bad photoshop water color motif make this a visually unpleasant story. Combined with a cheesy skyward scream of NOOOOOOOOO, this episode nearly prevented me from continuing the series. New creative styles are always good, but this was neither the time or place to use it.


Plot: Created by the lesser known and many times disliked Bee Train (Noir, Batman Gotham Knight: Field Test) this story focuses on the tragedies involving the SPARTAN-II recruitment in 2517, and the SPARTANs coming to terms with their origins. After SPARTAN Daisy-023 and a group of fellow Spartans escape they find themselves confronting ghosts of their past.

Thoughts: The very fact that directors Kōichi Mashimo (Noir, Blade of the Immortal) and Koji Sawai (Ranma 1/2, Blade of the Immortal) were attached to this project is what made me pick this up to start! Though after the waste of Origins and The Duel, I was growing more skeptical that the rest of this project would turn out decent shorts. Homecoming actually proved to be the strongest episode yet! For being so short, it packed plenty of story and emotion in one small punch. The very iconic anime style art proves to be deceptive as the story is quite dark and tragic, and truly was one of the best of the collection. It's a bit unfortunate that studio Bee Train gets little to no credit for this, no surprise when you see the big I.G logo down in the corner of the poster, considering this is probably one of their high points. Bee Train being a former subsidiary of I.G this project really kind of fell into their lap as opposed to being directly approached like 4°C, I.G, and BONES. Homecoming is one of the strongest episodes of this series and probably will make you cry.

Odd One Out

Plot: A non-canon and satirical interpretation of the Halo universe featuring SPARTAN-1337. 1337 crash lands on a strange planet, who's inhabitance include Dinosaurs, cave children and a AI simply known as "Momma." The screwup of a Spartan fights to get off the planet and show his worth.

Thoughts: Odd One Out comes to us as a fun off canon episode from Toei Animation the studio that brought us the Dragon Ball series, no doubt making many childhoods! I guess it comes as no surprise a vast majority of Halo players hate this episode for being a stylistic self parody of the Halo games and universe, and not being a Halo Player my self, that probably explains why I like it as much as I did. The episode is the only real breather episode in a collection of otherwise very serious (narm aside) stories. The episode is a fun shout out to Dragonball and One Piece. The animation is silly and zaney and a lot of fun, but again loyal Halo players will probably take offense to it.


Plot: Taking place during the Battle of Algolis, Prototype tells the story of a Marine who, despite orders to destroy an advanced prototype armor, uses the suit to buy time for civilians evacuating from the planet.

Thoughts: Created by Studio Bones the people behind Fullmetal Alchemist, Prototype returns the serious and gut wrenching formats following the breather episode Odd One Out. Featuring creative interpretation from the acclaimed Shinji Aramaki this episode features more impactful drama as seen in Homecoming. This episode is splendidly animated and written and is my other favorite of the collection. After thinking no one could top the great job in Homecoming, Prototype proved me wrong, it wasn't another action episode it had a lot of the human drama that I enjoy in a story like this. When I think of Halo I don't think of a real storyline quite like this but I think this proved me wrong. If you asked me which do I like better Prototype or Homecoming, I simply cannot choose because both episodes are easily the very best of this collection.

The Package

Plot: An all CGI Film taking place during a SPARTAN-II raid on a Covenant Assault Carrier using Booster Frames to recover "the package".

Thoughts: Created by Casio Entertainment and Shinji Aramaki this episode doesn't have a lot to say for it. As a story it's pretty shallow and not as deep as the other stories presented. It is pure action and feels like something out of Star Wars (not that's a terribly bad thing). Dai Sato the writer behind such shows Cowboy Bebop, and Wolf's Rain doesn't craft an elegant story in this case but rather a pretty typical action story. Hardcore Halo fans will be disappointed even more to find Master Chief and Cortana are voiced by different people for reasons unknown instead of Jen Taylor and Steve Downes. The Package is mediocre but not terrible.

The Babysitter

Plot: story about the rivalry between the SPARTAN-II Commandos and the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as they're sent to a Covenant-controlled world to assassinate a Covenant San 'Shyuum.

Thoughts: Studio 4˚C concludes the collection with one more episode, thankfully this one was rather good. A good story of comeradery in battle between soldiers and the friction between units it's a good story with a good plot. Animated nicely this is a great conclusion.

Halo Legends is rated PG-13 and is available from Warner Home Video on Blu-Ray and DVD. The two disc edition includes a 60 minute making of featurette and the Blu-Ray includes a look at Halo 3: ODST.