Cowboy Bebop and other anime shows

Cowboy Bebop is a classic anime show from the late 90s which introduced so many in the West to the genre. There have been rumors of a live action feature film for about a decade with Keanu Reeves as Spike Spiegel but there is more exciting news as Netflix has announced that they will be airing a live action television series based on the show.

The announcement said that there will be ten episodes. Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the anime, will serve as a consultant. This seems like good news but I’m not sure we’ve got to see something from this production before casting opinions. However, this wasn’t the only news from Netflix about anime. This isn’t the biggest news as Netflix is adding a bunch of other anime including Evangelion in 2019. Netflix is slowly becoming a go to place for Anime and this is a great thing for just about everyone.

Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (1986)

Luputa: Castle in the Sky or Castle in the Sky in the United States is the very first Studio Ghibli film from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. Now sure there are multiple ways to watch the film in Japanese with subtitle on, or one of the two different English dubbed versions. I tend to prefer watching these films in Japanese with subtitles. Spoilers to follow

This is a real unique story as it is about a world were airships are a thing, we begin on an airship and meet most of the main characters Sheeta, a young girl has been kidnapped/abducted by government agent Muska, they are attacked by Captain Dola and her sons (They are pirates) who want Sheeta’s crystal amulet. During this struggle, Sheeta tries to escape but falls from the airship but she is slowed by a mysterious power within the amulet which floats her down to earth protecting her.  Sheeta is discovered by Pazu who sees girl floating down into the mine where he works. Pazu brings Sheeta inside and when she awakes in the morning looking around his home she sees a picture of Laputa, Pazu explains that it is  floating city in the sky that his father took a picture of. Eventually the government and pirates are on the scene trying to capture Sheeta and her amulet. Panzu and Sheeta escape into town and after being followed out of town via rail. They stumble into a mine and meet up with Panzu’s friend and local eccentric Uncle Pomme, the mine is where the ‘volucite’ (Aetherium) crystal amulet which Sheeta wears we learn that this material is what kept the floating cities floating.

After leaving the mine Sheeta tells Panzu her name Lucita Toel Ul Laputa, they are captured by Muska and brought to a fortress where they have a giant robot that had fallen from Lupita and is broken, Muska threatens Panzu’s life for Sheeta to help Muska, Muska offers money to Panzu to leave and forget about Luputa. Panzu returns home and is greeted by Dola and her sons.  Sheeta activates the amulet it awakens the robot and points toward Luputa. Eventually they all end up on Luputa and we all learn that Muska is actually Romuska Palo Ul Laputa another in line for the throne of Luputa. Muska want to use it for violence. However the whole film can be summerized with just one line in the confrontation scene Sheet remembering a song from her home that explains why they left Luputa “Take root in the ground, live in harmony with the wind, plant your seeds in the winter, and rejoice with the birds in the coming of spring.” No matter how many weapons you have, no matter how great your technology might be, the world cannot live without love.”

This is the key to everything in life let us not forget this the World cannot live without love. It was a great movie and should be watch by everyone at least once. The message is short and sweet it offers some complex ideas as well and human nature and how we should live. It seems like all of Studio Ghibli films are great as well as those by the great Hayao Miyazaki so pick anyone up and continue exploring Japanese animation.

Best Animated Movies of the 21st Century

Well, IndieWire is going all out and clearly defining what the greatest animated movies of the whole 21st century is and we aren’t even close to the end of the century. Sure it is nice to look back and recommend some films from the past years but call it the best films of the past decade or something like that. There are several films that you’d expect to be on the list but there are a couple that I’ve never heard of.  Sure several films deserve to be on the list but others seem like a weird choice to be on the list. It hits several winners of the Animated Feature Oscar, from one of the first, Spirited Away to Toy Story 3. Then there are others which never heard of like Paprika, Sita Sings the Blues and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It was nice to see that about eight were not made in America and only four were from the Disney/Pixar brand. However there are some film that should have been on this list like Kubo and the Two Strings and others that shouldn’t have been on the list Finding Nemo or The Lego Movie sure they are good films but are overrated films. Sure this list come two year after IndieWire published a list of the 25 Best Animated Films of the 21st Century, and several of the films on this list aren’t on this newer list. By and large across the board it seems like everyone agrees that Studio Ghibli’s film Spirited Away is the best of all the animated films so far.

The Boondocks

This comic strip/television series has a special place the strip began when I started high school and the show started while I was in college. Now a decade after the strip ended and two years since the end of the show. It focused on The Freeman Family; Robert (a Tuskegee Airman and Civil Rights activist), and his grandchildren Huey(a 10 year old revolutionary) and Riley(an 8 year old enthralled with gangsta culture); as they adjust to living in the suburbs after moving from Chicago.  I wonder how they would be facing the environment that we currently live in with so many innocent young blacks getting killed by police officers and the whole Black Lives Matter movement as well as the descent of the political system to a point we haven’t seen in years. If you never watched the show or read the strip give it a look and perhaps change your preconceived notions about who Black people are and what they can do. This goes both ways the White American as well as Black American need to realize that they need to be more than a stereotype of their culture.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

So growing up I watched some Voltron, it wasn’t all the episodes since the original series was over before I could watch television.  It was watched over the years in syndication or whatever. When I heard Netflix was going to reboot the series I thought it would be something interesting to see again.

The new series Legendary Defender changes it up quite a bit or at least the best I can remember and on top of that it’s really good. Sure it’s a Dream Works cartoon for kids but it is an entertaining show and it is likely that many 30-somethings and younger who watched the original Voltron or any of the spinoffs.  The series is composed of ten half hour episodes and it’s like an hour long pilot, the first episode, so it isn’t that long of a commitment to watch the whole thing. If you haven’t seen Voltron in years it is nice to come back to the giant robots once more, for those who have never seen any Voltron at all pick up the series and watch it.

News Round up

College basketball: The NCAA Basketball season is over The Blue Devils and Huskies took home the trophies. This was Duke’s fifth championship and UConn’s tenth Championship. Now that the season is over there has been a flurry of movement on the coaching front will these changes make a huge difference in the upcoming season it is far to early to make any predictions about next season although I’ve already read a CBS pre-pre season top 25 for basketball.

Star Wars:  This is something that we’ve heard of before but it has now been confirmed that the trailer for The Force Awakens will debut in a little over a week at the Star Wars Celebration. At the same event the first poster will be released as well. So it seems likely that the trailer will make it online around the same time. In other Star Wars news the films will finally be will finally be available digitally April 10. I don’t see how they can continue to sell the same 6 films in different packages and people are still wanting to buy them. I have most of the movies on DVD (episode 1 is still only on VHS) and haven’t gotten the Blu-ray yet but i am expecting some deals before the Christmas holiday on the original 6 films while the new one is in the theaters and I’m still holding out for the mega pack that includes Clone Wars, the microseries by Genndy Tartakovsky, along with the films.

Language: This is somewhat sad news that I have come upon the folks behind the Dictionary of American Regional English say that they are running out of money. The DARE is a unique reference book since it catalogs various phrases and word meaning from across the US and what they mean like in the DC area a slug is a term used to refer to an individual that is involved in a ride sharing system where the driver picks up passengers going to their location and is able to use the HOV lanes to get there faster.  It is a cool project and an ongoing one as well, but it looks like to be ending soon. I really hope that some rich generous individuals donates a bunch of money to them and it can last another 50 years  and perhaps even have a second edition of the multiple volume Dictionary.

Nebraska (2013), Snowpiercer (2013) and Kaze Tachinu (2013)

I watched an interesting selection of movie this past weekend, Nebraska, The Wind Rises, the latest from Studio Ghibli and Snowpiercer.

Nebraska is a cute film, it’s about a son, David (Will Forte) and father, Woody (Bruce Dern) reconnecting and going on a road trip. Woody got a letter in the mail saying that he won a million dollars and he starts walking from Montana to Nebraska to collect his winnings. Woody’s an old man and believes everything people tell him. After Woody tries to walk to Nebraska David breaks down and decides to drive him there instead at the objection of his mother (June Squibb). They make a detour at Woody’s hometown and everyone is impressed to hear about the winnings and go to Woody asking for some money since they helped support Woody’s family. The town eventually discovers that it’s a mail scam and Woody hasn’t won a thing. But Woody still want to go to Nebraska to collect his “prize'” If you haven’t gotten around to watching Nebraska get to it. It is a brilliant film and deals with something that we will all have to face one day the inevitability that one day each of our parents isn’t going to be there, and we should cherish the time we have with them. As Pope Francis said recently neglecting the elderly is a sin, we’ve got to cherish them. This can be watched on Netflix.

Snowpiercer is a strange movie. It’s a south Korean Science fiction film based on a french graphic novel. In the film in 2014 the world tries to counteract global warming with the ill conceived use of climate engineering. The sets off a new ice age and everyone who is not on the train has died so the world consists of the train. On the train there is a class stratification with the elites at the front and the poor in the tail, the Snowpiercer, the train’s name, is run by a perpetual motion engine that hasn’t stopped in over a decade. There is a revolt from the poor and they make there way up to the front. It’s an exciting film and if you like science fiction or action films it’s a good bet to watch it. This film made it on many Best films of 2014 lists and t can be watched on Netflix.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi who designed the Japanese Zero. It was an interesting film as I don’t know much about early aviation and watching the film I saw Japan transition from a paper and wood planes to metal plane. It also introduced me to the Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Caproni and he made some crazy planes. The story is partly fictionalized to make it mean more (the romance side) but it was a cool story. This is the latest film by Hayao Miyazaki and perhaps his last, I’m not quite sure about his retirement. One of the things that I really liked about the English dub of the film was that it didn’t take anything away from the film unlike something like Ponyo which Disney did a horrible job with casting the dub. If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli films you most likely already have see it

Akira (1988)

I am a huge fan of movies but like most people I have those areas where I know little about. Anime is one of them, sure I’ve seen a couple of film by Hayao Miyazaki and one or two others, but that it in terms of film. The same is true for series as well I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop, which many consider on of the best anime series ever, and FLCL, which is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. Please be advised there are most likely going to be spoilers below.

So I finally made some time to sit and watch AKIRA, a film many consider the best anime ever, as it regularly make it into the top ten list. Akira begin with an explosion in 1988 which destroys Tokyo, this event brings about World War III. The film then skips forward 31 year to 2019, where Neo-Toyko has been built in Tokyo Bay next to the destroyed “old town” area and there are bike gangs roaming the street. The action begins with two of these gangs facing off The Capsules (Kaneda and Tetsuo) and The Clowns. While they are beating each other to a pulp there is an escaped child, we learn later on it is one of the Espers who are test subject in a secret government project.

This escaped child is running from the government and is the person who help him escape is shot dead by the military, So the child keeps on running and as luck would have it Tetsuo who is trying to get one of the last of the Clowns almost runs over the child but the child uses his psychokinesis/telekinetic and protects himself from the crash. The government arrives and recaptures the child and takes Tetsuo as well and they begin treating him as a test subject as well. A doctor who is overseeing the project notes that Tetsuo has similar brain waves or something to Akira. Tetsuo is given an accelerated drug rate as his abilities start to make him go crazy.

Lots of other things happen they finally reveal who Akira is he was a child like the other Espers but he was bisected and dissected that all that is left of him is in jars hidden in a cryogenic vault hidden under the Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Olympics which in the film take place in Tokyo.  It wonder if the IOC chose Tokyo just for this parallel, I highly doubt it but it is an interesting coincidence. Back in the film Tetsuo has gotten so strong that he awakens Akira and starts growing larger and larger, encompassing his girlfriend and Kaneda as well, Tetsuo has no control over this and the girlfriend gets squished and Kaneda escapes with the help of his laser gun. Akira and the other espers help contain Tetsuo and the film end with Tetsuo bring a big bang for some other universe in another dimension or something.

Now I’d say it was a difficult movie to follow perhaps if I watched it again I better understand it. However the film has been very influential on it seems like most movie that are coming out today  are set in this dark and gritty dystopian world. The film was interesting and had some great moments but it took me a while to actually get into the film. There has been talk for over a decade now that Hollywood would be making a live-action version of the film I will believe this rumor when I see it.

News Round up

Movies- It seems that Hayao Miyazaki may not be possibly retire after all. Now this could just be wishful hopes of a fan or quite reasonably the truth accordingly as past retirement have ended. This has happened around 7 to 10 times over the past 30 years. In fact even in interviews surrounding Miyazaki’s latest retirement there was still a glint that it was going to be non permanent. Let’s wait and see what happens it would be great if he does another film. I’m looking forward to seeing The Wind Rises but it would be great if there was another fanciful movie to come.

Religion- I also stumbled upon a post about Joseph Ratzinger (B16) predicting the Church in the year 2000 would be like. This was written in 69/70 while Ratzinger was teaching at University so he had some knowledge of where the church would be headed. I am not sure if this is really predicting the future or we are just seeing thing in the writing that have happened and therefore saying it is a prediction. It also helps that B16 was Pope and he guided the Church to where it was/is going. This is a unique read and suggest it to anyone.

Space- Two quick stories here the Antares resupply mission will include sending ants into space, this isn’t the first time that ants have traveled into space. This is a part of the science for everyone program where it brings science and stuff to the general public. This experiment also includes another ant farm on earth and they will be looking at the difference between ants in microgravity and on earth. It sounds like a cool experiment .

The other space story is an op-ed about Obama’s Legacy in Planetary Exploration. It goes into vivid detail about how the policies enacted by the Obama White House are hurting the position of the US as a leader in space. I hope that we can get a President soon that likes the space program the past couple have seemed to be hesitant about Space. Obama wanting to send robots instead of human just to be safe and Bush ended the shuttle program before we had a vehicle to replace it with.

News round up

In Film: Hayao Miyazaki has announced that he will retire. The co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director of many famous films like My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Castle In The Sky is planning to retire. At the age of 72 I think that this is a good idea. However Mr. Miyazki perviously retired in 1997 but came back with his most successful movie ever (Spirited Away). There is some speculation that he will just be retiring from directing movie and will continue to work on scripts and things like that. There is expected to be a news conference on this sometime soon in Tokyo.  Also the creators of Cowboy Bebop has teamed up again for a new series called Space Dandy and it looks really awesome.

In Religion: Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting on September 7. The Holy Father in the Angelus address on Sunday he said “I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.” In his address Francis reminds us of Pacem in Terris, one Encyclical I think everyone needs to read. This day of fasting and prayer is not a requirement but is a suggestion. With the violence escalating in Syria and around the world we should pray that this does not turn into another open ended military conflict headed by the United States.

In Sport: Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without the  help of a shark cage or swim fins. This is amazing as Diana Nyad has finally finished what she started 35 years ago swimming from Cuba to Florida. She swam for 53 hours beginning on Saturday and ending on Monday afternoon when she completed this historic 110 mile swim. At 64, it just goes to show that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

In Legal: It has been reported that Ariel Castro, the man who held three women captive in his Ohio home for a decade, hung himself Tuesday evening. On Sunday, Castro was sentences to life plus 1,000 years.  Now as much as it is nice to see this done it is tragic that it ended this way.