Today, AniB muses on blogging!

Some thoughts on the blogging experience so far.

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Another off the cuff post…how unusual for me. Today though, I guess I’m going to do an introspective blog post, which is really unusual outside of the 10 Thoughts columns I’ve started doing regularly on Mondays. However, this is more about just blogging itself, which is honestly something I haven’t sat down and talked about at all in all my time doing writing on here. It’s been a hodgepodge of animation analysis, reviews, character pieces, the odd musing here and there, and hiatuses- but never actually about just the thought process and ideas of the writing that I’m doing at a given moment. So I figured I’d pull back the Wizard of Oz’s curtain a bit here, figuratively speaking, and speak candidly on where I’m at.

Dorothy and friends found an odd little man behind a curtain. The only thing you’ll find here are unfinished drafts, though.

Sometimes, I’m plumb out of ideas at a given moment. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have show reviews waiting to be done, or other ideas that won’t be written about, but occasionally, the current moment just doesn’t bear something I’d just love to write about at that particular time. Other people really thrive on this type of piece I’m doing now- the off the cuff, informal “stream of consciousness” type post which can make for some fairly entertaining reading, but considering my own goals for this place, I tend to gravitate towards hard analysis more often than not. To that, I hope people a) like such pieces as I keep going forward, and b) makes me curious if they want more of the informal type posts, especially as the focus here is as my tagline says- “exploring the world of animation with a fresh, fun, critical approach.” I’d also be curious if anyone would like to maybe collaborate on something at some point, but so far, it’s been mostly solo riding here, with a piece or two from a friend of mine who’s also invested in the success of this place.

Jet does his best impersonation of “The Thinker.”

Being a great writer, let alone a critic, is often a difficult and far more subjective sort of analysis than I’d like to admit. I’m obsessed with adding an objective lens to something in my work, but also acknowledge that despite having a unique grading system, my opinions are still that- opinions, though I try to make sure they’re solid (and hopefully good) ones at that. The review system I put in place was always intended to be the backbone on which everything else grew out from on this site, and it’s been really interesting to look back on what is now 36 show reviews and 3 movie reviews at the time of this writing (and I have a lot of shows just waiting in the wings for a more detailed treatment, trust me.) Sometimes, the highly variable amount of views I get on these can be really exciting or a bit disappointing (and I’m still waiting for a post to finally get 10 likes, the most I’ve ever gotten is 9, RIP), but at this point the most important aspect is that a consistent quality is maintained, regardless of whether a piece has racked up over 1,500 views, or less than 25, and that you, the readers, enjoy the content. Regardless of what I do on here, the audience is always the most important aspect of how my approach is continually shaped, because the sort of feedback I get can also help me structure how I’d like to approach my content now and in the future. There’s only one thing that’s worse than being a bad writer, and that’s being boring. (If you really like bad and boring writing, you probably like reading tax forms.)

Nagisa is here to assassinate “boring.” This also is an excuse to use an image in those sweet 3-E uniforms.

I picked up doing character analysis writing first as a good idea to expand my content, but was later surprised at the general popularity of these types of pieces as I went forward. They’re intense, but fun to write- you have to encapsulate a character perfectly in a concise sort of manner, and it requires quite a bit of time actually watching that character in action from a given show in order to write a good one. I think back often to the first one I did on Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender in the first months of my time blogging on here, and it remains ironically popular with daily hits despite the fact that it was probably my worst one (and I figured out analyzing in chronological order of events wasn’t necessarily the best way to go- you guys can correct me if I’m wrong, but you probably like going through different attributes tied into certain moments.) It was also my goal with those going forward to always choose a) characters that actually merited being written about (so they had to have a pretty good reason for a big spread), b) characters I wanted to read about (so if I was reading my own blog, what sort of characters would I really want reading material on?) and c) characters you guys want to see, if the demand rises. This was definitely the case with at least one of the characters I covered. Overall, all three of these general criteria I set for myself are equally relevant, but what really matters is if people enjoyed what they read, and if they leave a nice and/or thoughtful comment. Which leads me to my other major point…

Deku’s mumble storms are me when I’ve got an idea rolling along.

Discourse and dialogue is a big goal of mine. Animation is a medium that needs a wider legitimacy among the masses, because it is a serious form that can tell amazing stories in a very unique way. Sitting down to write about then requires keeping this sort of goal in mind, among many other aspects that are considered, because while I know people who love anime or Western animation, or Pixar animation, or something from Bones will obviously be the core audience of what I do, I’m always thinking about the random stranger who stumbles upon this place. The hope is that they can be transported on a new journey to somewhere they never quite imagined existed, in the best of ways, and perhaps discover something that piques their interest. And for the staunch animation fan, I hope the writing I do sparks dialogue, inspires your own thoughts and writing, if you are in fact a blogger as well, and makes you think a little bit more about the medium as you carry along enjoying it. For everyone involved though, it’s always the best when someone discovers a show they never explored because of a review, or maybe gained a greater appreciation of some aspect of something they didn’t think about, or even if they disagree and eloquently tell me as much. It’s all part of the writing process, but also the realm of animation discourse that needs to happen, and it’s very exciting.

So that’s a little look into how this endeavor of blogging is going for me! It’s been a lot of fun, quite a bit of work, but always worthwhile. I’m always keeping in mind a bigger picture, but I’m enjoying every little step of the journey as it unfolds, and it’s thanks to readers like yourselves! Here’s to a lot more great things to come,

-AniB


Like what you see? Have a thought you’d like to say? Leave a comment!

 

10 Thoughts: Week of June 25th

AniB goes to the movies, watches some anime, and stumps for the hometown hockey team. (Beware of T-Rexes!)

In this week’s 10 Thoughts, AniB takes a look at the movies, the usual look at this past week’s My Hero Academia episode, and as usual, a few other musings.

 

1.One of the issues with going to see animated films at the cinema is that you never know what kind of previews you’ll be forced to sit through. As the general audience is expected to be younger, you usually get a grab-bag of animated fare with promise, some ghastly looking premises, and the occasionally amazing-looking film. In the end though, it’s mostly exciting just to get to the movie you came to see…

2. …so in that vein, The Teen Titans Go! preview looks every bit as awful as I suspected it would. Memo to Cartoon Network: it’s your #1 show because you guys pushed into roughly 95% of your available time-slots. It’s not hard to make something the de-facto top show when it’s the only game in town, and if I had access, I’d like to see the numbers of their rarely other-aired shows extrapolated over the same time, or rather, TTG’s number’s averaged together for every viewing at the same rate of something else. I bet things don’t add up, and this film isn’t going to move a lot of people at all outside the 7-12 boys demographic (and their parents.) Mark my words on that.

3. Since this is a movie-centric 10 Thoughts so far, Incredibles 2 is definitely the clubhouse leader when it comes to to the animation award at the Academies so far. Going back to what I said a week ago (at the time of this writing) in a prior column, I’d be willing to bet even now it’s the odds-on favorite regardless of what Wreck-It Ralph 2 does as a sequel later this year, unless it’s absolutely stunning in a way no one saw coming. (Before anyone references Spirited Away or Wallace and Gromit, a friendly reminder that those awards were in 2002 and 2005 respectively- and the rules got worse for foreign films aside from the long drought. So I’m not holding my breath.)

4. One last movie thought, non-animated: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is definitely a popcorn-munching film, but from a purely critical standpoint, something about it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the franchise’s revival song in Jurassic World. Maybe (spoilers!) it’s because weaponized dinos is such a silly premise with a fancy coat of paint over it that I can’t take it seriously. But then again, anything Jurassic Park or World related requires a suspension of disbelief, and from my experience, an IMAX screen if you’re actually living near a theater that has one. Something about dinosaurs on the biggest screen makes it that much better.

5. Alright, I’m sure you want some anime thoughts now to balance things out, and that begins with this past week’s My Hero Academia, which more or less capped off a big turning point for the series, without spoiling too much of anything. I’ll say this: Izuku’s mom is a really loving person who truly has her son’s best interests at heart, and that should be lauded.

 

6. Continuing on with Hero Academia , it was killing me not to include manga spoilers about Izuku Midoriya in this past week’s character piece.That said, he’s a really good example of a shonen protagonist done right, and has definitely become a favorite character of mine since I first picked up the series.

 

7. I’ve been reading the One Piece manga for a little while, on and off, which is absolutely terrific. However, it is somewhat of a daunting proposition even just covering the Shonen Jump publication from the start, so don’t expect me to talk about the anime (or it various filler arcs) on here, since it’s simply too darn long to actually pick up and watch to the current point. That said… the manga is truly wonderful. I recommend it if you haven’t touched the series.

 

8. On a non-shonen note, picked up the first five episodes of Welcome to the NHK. What a weird, darkly humorous show so far, which is just odd enough to be intriguing without being a total turn-off. Hard balance to achieve, definitely…and this is one I’d like to see through to the end in due time.

 

9.   I’m planning to review a show again this week, but what that is yet isn’t even clear to me at this point. I’ve got a few pretty good ideas of what to go over though, and it might just be a Western show. Also, did anyone notice I finally added a “Movie Reviews” tab to the main site’s page? I’ve got three of ’em now, so the time seemed right…and while the focus here is still going to be primarily on shows, I’m open to animated film suggestions as well.

10. Finally, in one other non-animated thought, the Buffalo Sabres (my hockey team!) finally drafted Rasmus Dahlin, the Swedish wunderkind defensemen, this past Friday with the top overall pick. While I doubt most, if any of my readers, have a vested interest heavily in sports, it’s a big thing for the city and the hopeful continued resurgence of a massive turnaround in the pro franchises’ fortune of Buffalo, coming on the heels of a Bills playoff berth this past January. So coming back around, I suppose my question for the week is “what sports team do you root for, if any; and if not, could you recommend a sports show or movie you might have liked?” (I suspect I might get some Draft Day and Hoosiers comments if I say nothing…or just sports anime. Either way, fine by me!)


Like what you see? Any thoughts on the question of the week, or any other suggestions about things you’d like me to write about? Leave a comment!

What’s In A Character: Izuku Midoriya

All Might’s chosen successor and the future ‘Symbol of Peace.’ Who is My Hero Academia’s leading man?

To keep the ball rolling on this series, and perhaps inspired in part by the previous two entries in the series that addressed characters who also were students, we now jump from Class 3-E and Nagisa to a class expected to be the elites of hero society- U.A. Academy’s Class 1-A, considered the best and brightest in Japan, with the burden of expectation that they can become the next great generation of society’s protectors. And who better to talk about then the main focus of the entire series in Izuku Midoriya, hero name “Deku”?

(SPOILERS for the My Hero Academia anime follow. This will not cover events that are still manga-only.)

In an unusual twist for the “What’s In a Character” series, Deku’s a character that is still very much a work in progress as his series is ongoing. However, there has been enough material about him at this point to start writing something compelling about his character, especially in the context of his very important role: that of the shonen protagonist.

 

Izuku Midoriya is compelling in both his earnestness and plainness. Nothing about him screams “leading hero” immediately, but everything about him does yell back “likable!” His younger self is simply precious (Little Deku!) and his current incarnation is simply pleasant, with expressive eyes, messy dark hair and freckles that seem to complement his aesthetic in a pleasant manner. Matched with his appropriately kind manner, he feels like a comfortable old friend you’d root for and you get the sense you’ve seen this type of kid before in some other show, but maybe not cast as the main hero. And yet, it comes together splendidly not only because Midoriya proves to be a natural rooting interest, he’s also genuinely interesting beyond his looks. (Sorry, Kirito.)

“Stay out of my way, Deku! I’m going to be the #1 hero, so you better give up now!”- Katsuki Bakugo

In that vein, Midoriya’s contrasting appearance is notable with that of Katsuki Bakugo, his childhood “friend” turned archrival. There are several thematic subversions that can be observed between the two, starting with the color of their hair. Traditionally, blonds are seen in fiction as “chosen ones” or “prince charmings” or something of that nature. Bakugou certainly believes he’s the latter, but he’s also no gentleman. Deku’s dark hair suggests a fairly unremarkable character with no particularly interesting fate. Furthermore, to reinforce this thematic idea is that All Might himself has blond hair- and is a realized version of that great promise and potential fulfilled. In fact, the show makes it very clear from the start that Midoriya’s desire is not enough to overcome the obvious disadvantage of being Quirkless, or simply lacking the talent to match how motivated he might be.

A curious note to the Midoriya-Bakugo dynamic is actually the perception of the two from their classmates in junior high versus how they’re viewed at U.A. Midoriya, for the first time in his life, finds himself quite popular among his U.A. classmates for both his earnest, kind nature, incredible resolve and detailed planning (though his mumble storms with the latter tend to backfire a bit for people.) Bakugo on the other hand, after being the king of the hill in high school, finds a similar position at UA with his talent, but not nearly the same kind of admiration at first due to his abrasive nature and generally angry tendencies. However, both Midoriya and Bakugo gain respect from their fellow classmates as the events of the story unfold, and the rivalry continues to bloom, with the explosive power of two rising heroes very much on two sides of the same coin, with two very different approaches yielding them results.

Perhaps this simultaneous difference and similarity in approaches was never fully on display than when the rivals were forced to work together in passing their first semester practical exam, where they approached the difficult task of having to hand-cuff or escape through a designated gate from All Might (“Katsuki Bakugo: Origin,” season 2, episode 23). Forced into a situation where their clashing philosophies and individual strategies did nothing but put them at a disadvantage, it was here that both young men put everything on the line- even their rivalry for a brief moment- and came together to achieve a goal against the very man they aspired to be like in their own ways.

Finally, it is interesting to note that Bakugo was the one to inspire the hero name of “Deku.” Literally playing off the meaning of “do/can’t do” in Japanese, he uses the nickname as a way of taunting Midoriya, reminding him that he won’t amount to anything. However, when the latter meets Ochaco Uraraka, she actually tells him that “Deku” was a great name, giving off the vibe “of a hero that can do anything!” And so, with a renewed outlook, Midoriya embraced the name, something which truly infuriated his rival considering the original intent.

“I AM HERE!”- All Might

Of course, no self-respecting Deku piece would be complete without some discussion about his relationship with the “Symbol of Peace” himself- All Might. The chance encounter in which Deku was saved from the slime villain in season 1, episode 1 turned into an emotional ride in just two short episodes as the mighty hero was revealed to have a surprising and crippling weakness (Superman, he is not), and the fanboy with nothing more than dreams stepped up and inspired him in the most unlikely of ways. Part of what makes this dynamic so interesting is that Midoriya isn’t from some special bloodline, crazy backstory or mythical family ties- he’s just an ordinary kid who with luck and circumstance, combined with unlikely action, won the lottery to begin the unlikeliest of underdog stories just as society’s greatest success story was about to hit his twilight (All Might.) The fact that All Might then followed it up by making Deku train through “10 months of hell” reinforced that even receiving the gift of “One For All” was an obstacle in itself, not to be taken lightly. As the world’s #1 then transitioned to be a U.A. teacher, it was obvious that while he wished for Deku to grow into his role, he also needed to be more engaged in training his successor than he already was- a fact that was exposed by retired hero Gran Torino during Midoriya’s internship when he was the first to help Deku’s power be controlled properly. This breakthrough was juxtaposed against All Might’s professional duties as a hero and more importantly, an educator who had to give focus to all the promising kids under his tutelage, suggesting the underlying strain that came with being the so-called “Symbol of Peace.”

 

 

“This is a Quirk passed on from generation to generation. Are you prepared to carry on ‘The Symbol of Peace?'”- Toshinori Yagi, to an overwhelmed Midoriya

One For All as a Quirk in My Hero Academia isn’t just an incredible power, but also a narrative framing device for all of Midoriya’s actions once he earns the right to hold that flame. The old saying “with great power comes great responsibility” rings truer and truer as Midoriya continues to slowly get stronger, eventually gaining a small level of control over his amazingly powerful Quirk- while All Might grows weaker, highlighting that Deku’s control of his power is actually on a clock- a race against time only intensified by the emergent League of Villains and an anti-Deku figure- Tomura Shigaraki, whose relationship to the mysterious All For One is a bizarre inverse of Midoriya’s chance All Might encounter. For Deku and Tomura, both have been given a path to change the world- but whose path will shape the future is now an increasingly tenuous question as the series continues on. Indeed, everything comes to a head when All Might and All For One engage in their long-foreshadowed rematch, and it is at this moment that both sides officially pass the torch on to their fated successors- as All Might fights and wins with the dying embers of his Quirk, and All For One’s defeat leads to his arrest by the authorities, moving both men out of the picture as events move forward.

 

Deku’s steady but slow growth in learning to control his Quirk occurs at a believable pace within the framework of the story. In a well-done twist, he first has to train his body to receive One For All, but upon gaining it from All Might, he’s able to tap all that power-but incurs a serious cost on himself. After literally breaking himself on a number of occasions, he gradually begins to learn how to control the powerful Quirk he was gifted after the aforementioned training internship with Gran Torino. While it’s my intention to not dive into manga spoilers for the anime-only viewers, Deku’s power continues to develop concurrently with his own self-discovery of his own style. What Midoriya comes to realize is that while striving to be the #1 hero is is goal, he’ll have to be his own man in doing so- and making One For All his own Quirk, rather than mere imitation of his mentor and idol proves to be an extension of that important lesson.

 

“Come at me with everything you’ve got!”- Izuku Midoriya, issuing a challenge to Shoto Todoroki at the U.A. Sports Festival

 

Undeniable yet still is Midoriya’s effect on those around him not named All Might or Bakugou. He manages to start making a skeptical Aizawa a believer in his power with a simple ball toss test (“What I Can Do For Now”, season 1, Episode 5), is the first to draw out Todoroki’s fire side during the U.A. Sports Festival (and in turn, trigger a healing process for that boy; “Shoto Todoroki: Origin”, season 2, episode 10), and even shows the so-called “Hero Killer” Stain enough resolve and conviction that the villain, despite being recently beat by Deku, Todoroki and Tenya Iida, has enough tenacity to save his enemy’s life when he is snatched by a Noumu. (“Climax,” season 2, episode 17). It is also Midoriya’s example that inspires a small group of his fellow classmates in the daring rescue attempt of Bakugou after the League of Villain’s successful infiltration of the summer camp, and prior to that, he becomes an embittered young boy’s (Kota) hero in a life-risking battle versus the villain Muscular (“My Hero,” season 3, episode 4.) It is examples like these that in individuals ways, show just why Midoriya was given One For All, as he’s shown a profound ability beyond merely powerful punches and kicks to change hearts and minds, backed by his own conviction in his ideals.

While Midoriya’s story isn’t yet finished, the fundamentals of his character shine through even as important plot points and scenarios shift in the narrative flow of My Hero Academia. There is little doubt that even as Midoriya continues to grow gradually into the massive shoes of his idol and successor, his underdog path, coupled with his conncious choice of hero name (“Deku”) and his vow to “keep a smile on my face, just like All Might,” will serve him well and keep a consistency to the character that has already been established in the series. He might not have the completed story of his rise from hero otaku to top hero, but with a well-crafted fundamental build as a compelling protagonist, the ride continues to promise a lot of enjoyable moments and steady growth as the series continues on with more depth. On a final note though:

Little Deku is already the best. Truly adorable.


Like what you see? Big fan of My Hero Academia or Deku? Leave a comment!

10 Thoughts: Week of June 18th

Now presenting live: a week of heroes and villains, plus some other animation musings.

It’s Hero Week unofficially here at AniB Productions- between the highly anticipated debut of Incredibles 2 this past Friday and the current arc in My Hero Academia, it’s hard for it to be anything else.

 

1.This week’s thoughts came a week late, thanks to the comprehensive Incredibles review that was posted last Monday instead. Before jumping into the highly anticipated sequel  this past weekend, it was worth a look back into its predecessor, which was an absolutely terrific film. Check out the review here if you haven’t!

 

2. Naturally, Incredibles 2 was a Day 1 viewing for me, and it lived up to the hype, which was impressive considering how good the original film actually is. While I don’t intend for this week’s 10 Thoughts to turn into a shilling column for The Incredibles franchise, here’s a link to that review as well.

 

3. One more Incredibles thought: It was an almost surreal experience to finally revisit that universe after all that time and anticipation, and while the true measuring stick for the sequel will be against its illustrious predecessor, this film will be the clubhouse leader for Best Animated Film of the Year, particularly at the Academy, where the revised rules as of last year made it far harder for foreign films to win at the expense of critics who often don’t take animated fare that seriously unless they specialize in the field. Much as I enjoy Pixar films and The Incredibles in any capacity, this is a change that feels for the worst- and in its first year of implementation resulted in The Boss Baby and Ferdinand getting nominations, which simply felt off.

 

4. Alright, I suppose it’s time to talk about My Hero Academia again, isn’t it? The series’ biggest fight to date in the anime finally occurred, and for those of you keeping up with the series, you’ll be well aware of the stakes that were involved in this one…which was translated pretty nicely from the manga.

 

5. I’m sure the followers of My Hero Academia also want more details on my thoughts of the fight that are spoilery for everyone else, so skip down to #7 if you haven’t seen or followed the series.

 

6. All For One is one scary dude with a terrifying Quirk that makes his options virtually limitless in a fight. Chances are that his abilities to augment Quirks was the inspiration for the Noumu program he’d spawned, given that the creatures are known for being essentially organic meatheads of stacked combat Quirks with enhanced physicals acrost the board.

What you really came to ask about though, was my thoughts on All Might’s final battle against his archenemy. It is in a word, symbolic. It’s not just that All Might throws the final embers of One For All in his body into defeating All For One, but it’s also the proverbial passing of the torch to Midoriya at last. Izuku is now truly the wielder of One For All, and the weight of that finally hits him as he gets All Might’s victory message… More importantly, it is a total changing of the guard. All For One is probably headed to a max-security outfit where he’ll no longer be in the picture, while All Might is no more as a hero, meaning Izuku and Shigaraki- who was teleported out of the battlefield against his will- now represent the new generation. (For the sake of knowing the manga, I’m just going to keep it to anime spoilers that I discuss here, but I’ll say this much: don’t expect things to slow down.)

 

 

7. Don’t look up if you want to avoid spoilers! It was definitely a fitting arrangement to have events go down the way they did in My Hero Academia and Incredibles 2 releasing in back to back days, which made for a vividly entertaining weekend in animation.

 

8. In non-hero week related stuff, the request to write a piece on “a anime harem of my choice” was quite entertaining, partially because it was so unexpected, but I do thank The Luminous Mongoose again for the nomination to do so. I think it embodied something important about life though: sometimes, when you write something outside of your usual routine, you grow from it, and even get rejuvenated to some extent as well. So it was a fun exercise!

 

9. Heard from a friend that Disney’s DuckTales reboot has had some more character developments, including a Gyro Gearloose that in their words, “is much meaner.” I’ve yet to sit down and really dig into the series, but I am intrigued, and last year even wrote an initial impressions piece based on the very entertaining pilot.

 

10. Since the success of the past character piece featuring Nagisa Shiota from Assassination Classroom, I’ve been hard at work on a new one, which hopefully I’ll release sometime this week. There’s also a few other ideas in the works going forward, so every day and week will continue to bring surprises!


I hope everyone has a great week, and feedback is always appreciated! If there’s any animation show, character, movie, or even episode you might want me to take a look at, let me know!

Build a Harem! (Special Post)

See Deku’s face? Welcome to AniB’s stab at an interesting request.

Well, it finally happened. I got a request to write about an anime harem that I’d pick according to these rules set here and well…I guess you could say challenge accepted!

First off, thanks to The Luminous Mongoose for the nod to do this piece. His blog is here if you wanna check it out, and he writes some quality, fun anime pieces.

Okay, so being perfectly honest, I initially laughed at the idea of building a harem, in part because I’m like the least fan-service oriented, harem-obsessed critic out there. But then a great idea came to me in light of this nomination, which was to of course, do something unconventional. Instead of the generic listing of anime waifus and has-been girls, I’ve decided instead to build a squad of 5 characters that best emphasize a desired trait that can be valued in a character. (By “trait” here, I don’t mean boobs and butt- I mean actual tangible qualities of a person.) So in turn, this “harem” isn’t the usual high-school comedy group that goes all over, but rather, picks that reflect the strongest personification of that quality I’d want in that individual. So, without further ado, here’s my picks:


Determination: Gon Freeccs (Hunter x Hunter)

I wrote a while back about Killua Zoldyck, and while he’d be an obvious choice for this exercise, given that he’s my favorite anime character in existence, it turns out that for this specific “harem” his best friend Gon was actually a better fit. Gon is the paragon of determination in a character. He won’t quit to achieve his ends, even if his recklessness could cost him his life- a price he comes all too often close to paying. However, there are few characters in anime with more conviction for their goals than the young Hunter, and even fewer that are willing to suffer, even greatly, in order to achieve them.

 

Truth: L (Death Note)

https://i1.wp.com/images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/35700000/L-Lawliet-death-note-35773784-500-343.jpg

Truth is justice, and justice is truth, if you’re the world’s greatest detective. L is someone who behind his eccentricities and unusual upbringing is ultimately only after the truth of the toughest crimes in the world so that he can solve them, and in his case, he gives Light Yagami all he can handle in his dogged pursuit to find “Kira,” the persona given to the man committing mass murder in the name of “justice.”

 

Love: Edward and Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

I thought carefully about this pick, but the brothers represent a very deep sort of brotherly love that is inseparable in the quest to regain Alphonse’s lost body. They are tasked with fixing a grievous wrong that was self-inflicted, but in turn, find themselves wrapped into immeasurable danger as their quest to find the so-called “Philosopher’s Stone” continues to get darker at every turn. Edward in particular is driven to ensure his brother’s survival, and is shown to be selfless in his pursuit of regaining his brother’s lost body.

 

Trust: Karma Akabane (Assassination Classroom)

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ2IsesN2dYMjFjihDfwgK85CbO7QNT1zpmcZKYFvOFECc_QE-N

So why in the world would I pick Karma? At first glance, he doesn’t seem like a good fit for this type, but then you take a deeper dive…He’s a genius with a streak of frighting crazy behind those eyes, but he’s also a man who carefully evaluates the people around him, and for those he chooses to ally himself with, there’s a bond of brotherhood that can be forged as if it were put through fire. Karma’s acceptance of Class 3-E, along with his personal character arc that relates to his friendship with Nagisa Shiota, reflect this quality strongly.


Well, this group certainly isn’t a “harem” in any traditional sense of the word, but they are surprisingly strong characters in their given traits (and they’re also all boys. Apologies for anyone expecting cute girls doing cute things.)

I’m also not entirely sure who to nominate, but here’s 5 folks who might be interested:

1. negativeprimes

2. TheAniMessenger

3. Oishi

4. Shokamoka

5. (AniMo)nologues

….

Alright, here’s one girl for your troubles:

The Eternal Try-Hard: Yuuko (Nichijou: My Ordinary Life)

https://myanimelist.cdn-dena.com/images/characters/14/112668.jpg

Yuuko is someone who always keeps going, despite being a constant magnet of bad luck and downright unfortunate circumstances. She’s not the smartest or sharpest tool in the toolbox, but she is perhaps the one that is most admirable as she pushes onwards in her ordinary life, be it through silly games, poorly thought out jokes, or misadventures at a restaurant. Comedy, like life, ain’t easy.


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Movie Review: Incredibles 2

The long awaited sequel is here at last. Does it live up to its name?

As promised, here is AniB Productions’ review of Incredibles 2! In a first, there’s going to be a spoiler-free section…and some spoiler thoughts as well, along with the usual grading format.

The Lowdown:

Film: Incredibles 2

Studio/year released: Pixar, 2018

AniB’s thoughts:

The 13 and a half year wait is finally over. Yes, today (at the time of this writing) was the day Incredibles 2 finally turned from fiction into reality and audiences jumped back into the world of heroes right where they left off back in 2004, with John Ratzenberger’s Underminer announcing his “war on peace and happiness!” In a twist though, the movie is opened up with government agent Rick Dicker in the same questioning room from Jack-Jack Attack with Tony Ryndinger, Violet’s new boyfriend as he describes the beginning of the attack and the shock of finding out Violet was in fact, a superhero…and off we went.

Since this is the non-spoiler section, it won’t be entirely easy to dish out the juicer details of the film, but there are some things that can be confirmed without doing so, such as the return of the jazzy Incredibles motif courtesy of Michael Giancchino, or that Jack-Jack inevitably plays a bigger role in this film, hardly a surprise given his relatively minor casting in the original film. However, the more pressing question that anyone’s dying to ask is “was it worth the wait?” To that, the answer is a pretty clear “yes,” with a lively action plot, more than a little influence from classic Bond adventures, fluid fight sequences with all the beauty you’d expect a Pixar film to have, and a rousing climax. It is in a word, “super”- and worth the investment into a theater trip when the rest of the cinema is (or was, if you read this weeks or years after the fact) lacking at the time of its release any sort of rousing alternative….until Jurassic World’s sequel hits theaters next weekend, but that’s another story entirely.

(Skip ahead to grading if you don’t want spoilers.)


Okay, so now it’s time to discuss the little nuances and details of a long-awaited film that exceeded expectations.

First off, picking up where they left off was probably a good decision now that I’ve seen the film, though I would have liked to see more of the Underminer after the frenetic opening sequence. He’s still digging his tunnels underneath Municiberg for all we know (and he’s one ugly mole for sure.) This part of the movie was as action packed as you’d expect (and hope), and a useful framing for introducing the wealthy businessman who’d push to revive the supers via a comprehensive plan- which he wanted Elastigirl to spearhead, much to the chagrin of Mr. Incredible.

I’m sure you all want to hear about Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack, the Parr children. I’m happy to report that the expanded roles they get in this film are in equal parts charming, funny, and serious. Violet receives an interesting subplot after Tony’s mind is wiped by Dicker at the beginning of the film, and true to her development from the prior film, she’s a lot more outgoing from the get-go, and isn’t afraid to voice her displeasure when things go south. She also has much better command over her powers, and definitely gets to do some cool things with her force fields in particular. Dash is the only one of the original VA cast that was replaced between the first two films (Huck Milner stepped in for Spencer Fox, who simply got much older in that time frame), but you’d never be able to tell the difference as on screen, he’s still the same confident, slightly cocky kid you’d come to expect. In this film, he gets a running gag of pressing the wrong buttons on control panels of very high-tech things…which actually pans out with the unexpected and fun return of the Incredimobile after the discovery that Bob still had the remote to the car.

The single biggest change in this film though, had to be the emergence of Jack-Jack as a major factor in the film. As you might expect, the youngest Parr’s role often was fairly comedic, but the humor visually worked, particularly the fight with the raccoon as a good example. Jack-Jack also wound up being a major source of Bob’s headaches in parenting while Helen was away- but also a source of joy as he was the first to discover the baby had powers (as no one actually realized in the first film that Syndrome’s defeat was directly caused by Jack-Jack’s manifestation of abilities, or anything about the events of Jack-Jack Attack. In another clever nod, when Edna Mode is later tasked with babysitting him from a weary, sleepless Bob, she finds that Mozart stimulates his powers, indeed confirming that the Mozart that the babysitter Kari talked about over the phone to Helen in The Incredibles was in fact the initial trigger for Jack-Jack, and a sneaky reference for those who knew the film assiduously.

 

The single biggest aspect that set apart The Incredibles from its sequel was the villain. I detailed a bit in The Incredibles review about why Syndrome was exactly an amazing villain that lifted the whole movie, and I’m not sure I can say entirely the same about Screenslaver. In context, she was a pretty neat villain idea- a hypnotist puppetmaster who was also a communications genius that decided to hijack monitors and use special goggles as mind-control devices, and one embittered by personal tragedy and blame- but there was never quite the same emotional heft to her character that Syndrome built in relation to Mr. Incredible-the spurned fanboy turned supervillain with an island base of his own creation to boot. I also will add I had zero problems with the woman being the villain here, or in any movie that actually does it, and I was also happy with Elastigirl’s expanded role in this film doing “hero work” as we actually got only some tantalizing glimpses of her in action during the original film (and not much at all solo.) Likewise, in building on the first film’s “your family is your greatest adventure” lesson for Mr. Incredible, he takes much more of a front and center role in learning to be a better dad, although this fails miserably for a while as he winds up getting a total lack of sleep as well…

 

Overall, this was a very good film, in fact, even excellent. Is it as good as the first? Not quite, but it’s close, and after years of waiting, it proved to be a worthy followup. It’s a funnier film than the original, but in return sacrificed some of its heavier emotional weight, but the end product remained the same in the most basic sense: a seriously entertaining film.


Animation Quality: The latest offering from Pixar is always eye candy, and Incredibles 2 was no exception. The action sequences in particular stood out as fluid and lively, and the colors popped off the screen with a vividness that was wonderful. 5/5 points.

Characterization:
You probably already know and love the Incredibles family, but the major difference this time around is that Helen takes center stage, while Bob plays more of the deuteragonist role this time, but in a way that both supports their characters well instead of awkwardly.

Mrs. Incredible, real name Helen Parr, is Bob’s wife and the former pro hero Elastagirl, noted for her incredible stretching powers and elastic limbs that allowed her to contort her body into almost any shape and develop a unique melee style of combat. In retirement though, she’s a devoted mother and wife who wants the best for Bob and for her kids, who can be a handful between teenage Violet, Dash, and the youngest Parr, baby Jack-Jack. She secretly misses being a hero, but she’s equally as willing to live in the role of a stay at home mother as she is Elastigirl. In her words, “she’s flexible.” That mantra is put to the test when a wealthy telecommunications tycoon pegs her ahead of her husband and Frozone to lead a comeback of the supers- meaning that while she gets to revive the Elastagirl mantle, she’s forced to leave the kids with Bob, who between his glory days dreams and usual status as breadwinner until recently, wasn’t cast into that role.

 

Mr. Incredible, real name Bob Parr, is a man who still pines for the glory days of his youthful prime as a hero before the government decided to push the idea of a hero society underground. Reinvigorated by the defeat of Syndrome, things go awry when the attempt to stop the Underminer turns sour and Rick Dicker shuts down the experimental program to bring supers back, deflating him until a new offer comes in…and Elastigirl takes center stage. And so, instead of being “the man” this time around, Bob’s challenge is to be a good dad while also dealing with the general jealousy of not being “Mr. Incredible” all the time. Bob, despite his shortcomings, is a good family man, husband and father, and his best interests at heart intersect in his mind with what’s good for his family. When he actually takes to the fight though, he’s blessed with the power of super strength and enhanced agility/reflexes, his power on the battlefield is no joke.

This go-around, Violet and Jack-Jack play a much larger role, while Dash plays more of an important supporting role. There’s a subplot with Violet in her role that unfolds as a clever mix of the age-old angsty teen and the issues of being a super that conflicts with having a normal social life. These issues Violet works through in the film, along with showing off some pretty impressive uses of her force field abilities this time around, along with invisibility.

Jack-Jack’s role I talked about at length in the spoiler section, but for the non-spoiler people, he does in fact get a much larger role in this film. You won’t have to wait until end of the movie this time to get some significant action for the baby of the family.

Dash mostly plays a supporting role, but still has some genuinely funny moments and things he’d only do that sometimes work…and sometimes don’t work at all. The change in voice actors also went off seamlessly. Sadly, he doesn’t get quite as cool a sequence as “100-Mile Dash” from the first film, but he’s still a fun character.

Frozone and Edna reprise their roles as well. I’m happy to report Frozone gets a larger role in this film, particularly when it comes to actively battling, and Edna still gets her moments, so don’t worry about it.

I’m not going to mention much about the new characters here for spoiler reasons, but they definitely give a much different feel to this film than the first. They also work well within the context of the story. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know who I’m referring to. 4.5/5 points.

Story:
The plot from the first film about super being illegal rears its ugly head again as the main issue at the center of the film, and it’s within that context that a comeback attempt for heroes is spearheaded by a certain new character and his influence. In the mix of that is another family tale that unfolds. There’s a clever inspiration from Bond films that you can feel in this movie, along with the obvious silver-age superhero influence, and a touch of modernity that creates a clash of the cutting edge against the old-school, and like the first movie, technology plays a big role, though it’s not via giant hero-killing robots this time. 4.5/5 points.

Themes: The family aspect of the Incredibles remains intact, along with the fine balance of superhero work that created issues for Mr. Incredible in the first film and now Elastagirl. It’s still really well done, though perhaps not with the same level of depth as the first film, and while the main villain is good, that individual might lack some of the extra personal depth of a “Syndrome” though the conviction is certainly there. 4/5 points.

Don’t Insult the Viewer: Michael Giancchino’s score once again is wonderful, reprising the jazzy themes that helped carry the original film, albeit with new flairs and leimotifs. This film is a fun ride throughout, and is briskly paced, balancing storytelling with action in a way that makes for an entertaining end product. 5/5 points.

Overall: 23/25 (92%): It was always going to be a daunting task to live up to the original Incredibles film, which is no doubt a modern animated classic at this point. However, this film managed enormous expectations with flying colors, and viewed purely on its own merits, it’s an excellent adventure that preserves the family-flavored brand of superhero-ing that The Incredibles is known for, creating another worthy adventure for all ages to enjoy.

Movie Review: The Incredibles

Pixar’s superhero family gets revisited in their classic first adventure.

In an unusual break from AniB Productions’ usual schedule of shows and characters, we’re actually doing an animated film review! Yes, the timing to do The Incredibles is right. Not only is it my personal favorite film, it comes entering the final stretch before Incredibles 2 finally debuts, and I couldn’t be more excited. Truthfully, this review is also going to be a bit more contemplative on the context and details of the film, especially as The Incredibles is by now a very well-known quantity. I don’t doubt some people might still not have seen it all these year later, but this review’s going to have spoilers- and I don’t regret that one bit. So here’s a look one last time at Pixar’s first family of supers before they return for their long-awaited debut, with a special review of The Incredibles!

The Lowdown:

Film: The Incredibles

Studio/year released: Pixar, 2004

AniB’s Thoughts:

 

“It’s showtime.”- Mr. Incredible

 

From the first moment Michael Giacchino’s first notes of a wonderfully jazzy score hits your ears to the final note of “The Incredits”, this was a film that created an enrapturing world into the age of the silver age superhero…and the challenges of suburban life as a normal family, albeit with superpowers. The film came in the footsteps of Pixar’s previous successful endeavors, including the prior year’s Finding Nemo (2003) and Monsters Inc. (2001), and would go on to be an important part of the studio’s absolutely dominant decade in the animation medium- a period that saw the modern animation giant grab an unprecedented 6 out of the first 10 Best Academy Awards in Animation, including this film.

Before we delve into The Incredibles as a film though, consider the circumstances in which it emerged, which were wonderfully unique. First off, the movie released in a time before the superhero deluge of the last decade or so emerged, which in turn allowed these brand-new characters to thrive in that niche. Then there was the year itself: 2004 proved to be an unremarkable year in animated film fare aside from this wonderfully complex tale of a hero family, featuring competition like Disney’s Home on the Range (which actually can tie into a greater story about how that point was around that studio’s nadir, but we’ll save it for another time), The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, billed as the “finale” to the flagship show of Nicklelodeon’s, except that it wasn’t, Shrek 2, which while arguably the second best film of that franchise, didn’t exactly have a high bar to clear in retrospect as that series began a prolonged decline for DreamWorks, and Shark Tale, the studio’s other film from that year which a) featured Will Smith as a talking fish and b) was utterly inadequate compared to the aformentioned Finding Nemo that had proceeded it as an “animated fish film.” When looking back on these other films, it may become easier to begin seeing why Pixar was so dominant at that time, and the massive chasm other animation units had to overcome in improving their films up to a certain standard, which in reality was a good thing- as animation can be a wonderfully deep and complex medium through which a story can be conveyed, not merely fodderized to the tune of “kid’s movie.” Such a mere descriptor did not do The Incredibles justice.

 

Indeed, The Incredibles was uniquely layered to tell a different story to any member of its audience at that given moment in time- from Mr. Incredible’s mid-life crisis, to Mrs. Incredible’s pressure at being a good mother and faithful wife; Violet’s teenage shyness and very apt name as she grew from a “shrinking violet” into a blooming flower with her confidence and self-assertiveness through the film, and Dash, who yours truly at the age of 10 related perfectly at the time to a kid frustrated at not being able to show off his true talents, but also with a side of mischievousness that added levity to high-pressure situations. While the family is definitely compelling with a wholesome dynamic often absent in films that makes it all the more refreshing that it exists here, I actually wanted to devote some time to the one major character who won’t jump from the original film to the new iteration, and that of course is Syndrome.

 

Syndrome was a pretty well-constructed big bad for the film with a compelling, if straightforward origin story inflated to the extreme. The one-time Mr. Incredible fanboy as “Incrediboy,” a massive childhood obsession for Buddy Pine turned sour after a fateful night for all parties involved, and feeling rejected by his hero, he turned it into an insatiable and clearly unhinged plan for revenge over many years. While the film leaves a lot to the imagination, Pine clearly continued to develop his prodigious talent as an inventor in the intervening years, and was also successful enough in developing weapons technology that he became incredibly wealthy, buying and transforming Nomanisan Island into his own personal base and testing ground equipped with state of the art facilities and technology to carry out his “Operation KRONOS” plan. The dark truth behind Syndrome’s identity isn’t too hard to figure out once his adult self makes his explicit debut on screen with his perfected Omnidroid prototype, but it does make for an impactful moment when Mr. I discovers the secret computer storing the data of the villain’s diabolical scheme- and confirms the sinking suspicion that old heroes forced into retirement by the government were in fact test sacrifices to build the perfect super-proofed robot of doom. Vindictive, smart and with more than a healthy dose of deep-seeded, misguided hatred at the figure he once idolized, Syndrome’s dreams come crashing down ironically at the hand of his own perfected doomsday machine, and then perhaps even more profoundly, by Jack-Jack Parr, who represented the youngest of the new generation of heroes the man worked so hard to destroy once and for all.

As The Incredibles gets set to debut to a whole new generation of viewers, the original film has and will remain a timeless classic in the art of animation and filmmaking, and continue to be one of Pixar’s brightest films as time continues to move on. It’s exciting to see a revival of the franchise, but it’s also great to know why a sequel was so highly anticipated, and more than anything, that it was an incredible movie.

 


Animation Quality: This film looked great for 2004 and still looks good now. Since 3-D animation has tended to take exponential leaps since it began to be used in the early 90’s, this film looks remarkably good for something nearly 14 years old at the time of this writing. As you’d expect, Pixar’s films are eye candy, and this brings your convincingly into this compelling world, from the classic cityscape of comic books, to the middling feeling of 50’s-esque suburban planning, and even to the lush backdrop of a tropical island containing a diverse self-contained biome interwoven with the underbelly of Syndrome’s operation. 4.75/5 points.

Characterization: If it wasn’t obvious from the title, watching the film, or my thoughts above, this film is about the Incredibles family and the various personal challenges they work through during the film in order to come together and thwart Syndrome’s master plan.

Mr. Incredible, real name Bob Parr, is a man who pines for the glory days of his youthful prime as a hero before the government decided to push the idea of a hero society underground. (Ironically, this is essentially the opposite of the world established in the current anime My Hero Academia, but that’s another discussion entirely.) Stuck in a desk job at a big corporate insurance agency, he’d become an overweight, unhappy man who despite having a still intact sense of justice and heroism, is repressed from doing the one thing in his life that gave him meaning…while not always noticing the family who has grown with his waistline over the years. Still, Bob is a good family man, husband and father, and his best interests at heart intersect in his mind with what’s good for his family. That vision is challenged through the film though…Blessed with the power of super strength and enhanced agility/reflexes, his power on the battlefield is no joke.

Mrs. Incredible, real name Helen Parr, is Bob’s wife and the former pro hero Elastagirl, noted for her incredible stretching powers and elastic limbs that allowed her to contort her body into almost any shape and develop a unique melee style of combat. In retirement though, she’s a devoted mother and wife who wants the best for Bob, knowing the stress he’s enduring, and for her kids, who can be a handful between teenage Violet, Dash, and the youngest Parr, baby Jack-Jack. She too secretly misses being a hero, but she’s equally as willing to live in the role of a stay at home mother as she is Elastigirl. In her words, “she’s flexible.”

The kids don’t actually play huge roles compared to their mom and dad, but they do have significant moments and character growth that is all their own worth mentioning. Violet of course comes into her own as a young woman; while her invisibility power tends to be the one she favors, especially when timid, the confident Violet gains control over using her force fields properly, which prove even strong enough to (temporarily) hold off the full weight of the perfected Omnidroid in the final battle. Along with a change in personality comes the subtle but age-old symbolism of a change in how she wears her hair; formerly hanging in her face, it becomes pulled back, figuratively “opening” Violet up.

Dash is a little spitfire: a 10 year old with excess energy and the speed to match. He is proud of his speed superpower and wants to show it off, which causes him a lot of trouble from his mother, who simply wants the family to keep a low profile. Dash is finally unleashed upon Nomanisan Island, where he finally gets to run to his heart’s content…in life and death battles.

Jack-Jack is just the baby, but gets one uber-important role which was already mentioned. His major side plot is actually explored in the Pixar short film Jack-Jack Attack, which chronicles his time with Kari, a teenage babysitter Dash and Violet left their youngest brother with when they stowed away on the island mission. (If you’ve never seen it, it’s a hilarious little film.)

The other two major allies of the Incredibles are Frozone, real name Lucius Best, and Edna Mode, a top-flight fashion designer who specializes in hero suits (“No capes!”). Both are known for being quip machines in relation to how they are referenced in pop culture, but Frozone is Bob’s best friend and an important ally (as a hero who generates ice by freezing water particles in the air) and Edna literally creates the now- iconic hero outfits for the family. Add in that they’re voiced by Samuel L. Jackson and director Brad Bird himself, and both characters are a lot of fun.

 

Syndrome I spoke about at length already, but to reiterate: he’s an excellent memorable villain who has just the right motivation, infrastructure and smarts to feel like a properly viable threat, along with a cutthroat ruthlessness that is territory animated films don’t normally deal with. (I mean, the man wanted Mirage, his personal assistant, to shoot down a plane with a mom and her kids aboard because they entered his airspace…and then used it to crush Mr. I’s hope. Great writing stuff there.)  5/5 points.

 

 

Story Quality: The tale of Mr. Incredible’s heyday, fall, comeback attempt and redemption forms the main arc of the story, but this is a tale actually about the whole family and so it asks the question “what happens if I put the family dynamic into this repressed world of superheros and suburbia?” What’s even more innovative is that the family actually saving the day at the end is in reality a series of misadventures and improvising, from Mr. I’s misguided foray into thinking he needed redemption as a hero and a man while forgetting his family idolized him; Mrs. Incredible’s solid attempt to be the glue that binds the family together leading to an unlikely island rescue that involves the whole family unintentionally (save Jack-Jack); and Syndrome’s own hubris being his downfall in the midst of a clearly well-developed and complicated plot years in the making. There’s a lot more aspects to this film’s story than that, and darker elements as well too (hero test subjects, for one), which makes for a richly compelling film that insists you get something new out of it with each viewing. 5/5 points.

 

 

Themes: If it wasn’t obvious before, family, family, FAMILY! The Incredibles was able to actually turn this important, if rote topic, into something innovative and original; the classic American family re-imagined in a story of heroes and villainy that makes for high drama and great adventure, along with the wholesome message that can be imparted to younger viewers. Inside that basic overarching idea though, there was riffs on mid-life crises, the pressures of adolescent socialization, the idea of revenge gone too far and the mistakes of the past not being recognized until far later. Each time you watch the film, something new can spring into your mind (take the jab at corporate bureaucracy and the pressure of results over helping customers when Bob encounters his boss as one of those thoughts.) Not many films do that- and I’m not just talking about animated fare. 5/5 points.

 

 

Don’t Insult the Viewer: This film has all the jam-packed action and drama of a top-notch hero film without the crassness of some, and brings its own unique family dynamic to the picture. The score of this film is also jazzy heaven; it brings to life the atmosphere and storytelling of the film and remains a welcome listen to this day even as an OST. It’s a superb family experience that will find resonance with mostly everyone. 5/5 points.

 

Overall: 24.75/25 (99%). Do I think there’s such a thing as a “perfect movie?” In theory, yes, but The Incredibles will have to settle for being just one of the better films you’ll see, especially in its genre. It’s worth a revisit before the new film drops, and will continue to be re-watchable for years to come.