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Looking, Looking (a.k.a. not to defend Twilight or anything, but…)

Posted in advertising, cinema, rants with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by reccaphoenix

I had to read Laura Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” recently.  It’s about a lot of things, but one big point it brings up deals with men and women in films and scopophilia (voyeuristic pleasure in “looking”).  It talks about how female characters are generally just a spectacle to be looked at, so male characters have to advance the plot.

Which got me thinking….

Why is it that there aren’t a lot of “displays” of male characters in films?  (Not that I’m for that or anything, this issue is just interesting to me as a film nerd).  It seems to me that many viewers get irritated by this kind of display of men when it does occur (although rarely).  Now, this could be because it usually happens in “chick flicks” or films like Troy with a sizable female (or perhaps gay male) target audience; many male viewers or those with actual taste dislike these kinds of films and so would be irritated by just one more stupid thing in the film.  Case in point – a recent internet reviewer’s take on the Twilight: New Moon trailer went something like this:

(The trailer shows a bunch of shirtless werewolves and vampires)

Reviewer: (angrily) Did I mention this film was directed by a woman?

Yeah, so what if it was?  Not to defend Twilight or anything (’cause it probably sucks) but why are you so angry with this, Internet Reviewer?  If it was women doing the stripping, would you feel the same way?
The scary thing is that I had a similar reaction.  This film seems to be about 80% what we in the anime fandom community call “fanservice,” or the insertion of gratuitous romantic-hinting, nudity, exposure, or other such things.  That kind of stuff is unnecessary; it may sell a film, but it’s gratuitous.  Fanservice has its place in the arsenal of tricks, though, and it happens.  But it seems to me that it is far more acceptable, even in supposedly-more-“artistic” films (like the recent Nine) to have women prancing about in lingerie, etc., than it is for male characters to do similar acts of fanservice.

I am a girl, yes, but I generally dislike films targeted towards me as a demographic.  I find their tactics of targeting me, as a woman, insulting for the most part.  Hollywood people, stop acting like all women like that kind of shit.  Make some decent Annie Hall-style romances instead.  And women, make better films.  About stuff other than relationships.  Seriously.  (Recent Oscar shout-out to Kathryn Bigelow, a.k.a. pretty much the only awesome female director since Leni Riefenstahl**)

But you know, it should be all right for male fanservice to happen alongside female fanservice, without reflecting on the filmmaker’s sexual preferences or gender. I don’t support it, but let’s be fair.  Next time you or someone you know gets mad about this kind of thing for EITHER gender, just ask yourself/them “would you feel the same way if it was the opposite sex?”

Jumping around again, I am guilty of gender bias, sadly.  I often complain about female filmmakers’ inability to make films about anything other than “f—ing relationships” or other girlie sh*t, but…. it’s okay for men to do this?  Well….yeah.  If they’re good at it.  Like, say, Woody Allen.  My sexism reveals itself. Le sigh.

I suppose what I should say to both genders is just “make good films.”  Yeah.  I’ll go with that.

Recca 3/11/10

**disclaimer: Nazis are not cool, but Leni was a great director despite her political views.


The REAL story behind the USA localization of “Astro Boy”

Posted in advertising, anime, future + scifi, japan, manga, television with tags , , on May 20, 2009 by reccaphoenix
Astro Boy or Mighty Atom? Or Tetsuwan Atomu?

Astro Boy or Mighty Atom? Or Tetsuwan Atomu?

Everyone loves Astro Boy.  He’s world-famous, lovable, and righteous.  What about Mighty Atom?  Or Tetsuwan Atomu?  Or 鉄腕アトム?  Those are his “real” names and their various translations and transliterations….but why did his name change when he was imported to the U.S.A.?

Well, the common myth is that “Mighty Atom” (1) had too strong a connection with “atomic bombs” and similar ideas, and/or (2) sounded too much like existing characters “Mighty Mouse” and “Atom Ant,” and was therefore changed to the unoffensive “Astro Boy.”  But recently, some ‘research’ of mine suggested otherwise….

For the English version, the producers, NBC Enterprises, settled on “Astro Boy” after discussions with producer Fred Ladd and representatives from NBC led them to the name. (The title “Mighty Atom” for an atomic powered robot, as “Astro Boy” was thought of back then, was considered too generic and not “catchy enough” a title for a program for American TV.)

(taken from the “Astro Boy” article on wikipedia)

So, it was really just a question of what was catchy, I suppose.  When you think about it, poor Leo the lion went through something similar.  Leo is such a stereotypical lion name in Western countries, while “Kimba” sounds exotic and African.  What sounds more rare and exciting than “Kimba the White Lion”?  I guess “Jungle Emperor Leo” just doesn’t have that “kid show” ring to it, now that I think about it.

Things have changed quite a bit from the “old days,” where localizers often went to great lengths to make sure a show didn’t appear “Japanese” in any way.  Even as recently as when I was a little girl watching Sailor Moon, I remember that all the signs were painted over to have English on them and all the characters’ names were changed to “English” ones.  In recent years, however, dubbers and localizers have responded to changes in audience and the audience’s increased knowledge of/interest in Japanese culture and anime and minimalized changes.

Greetings from Tezuka World Kyoto!

Posted in advertising, anime, cinema, fun stuff to do, japan, manga, merchandise, osamu tezuka, reviews/opinions on April 8, 2009 by reccaphoenix

Hullo from my new home, Japan.  And sorry for the huge lapse in posting, I’ve been here and there and everywhere doing all kinds of more important things.

Honestly, it’s not as awesome as you’re thinking.  BUT there’s one awesome thing about living here and being able to read Japanese (albeit with much dictionary usage) – Tezuka manga for cheap!  And lots of Tezuka merchandise!  And Tezuka-related attractions, such as Tezuka Osamu World Kyoto, located in Kyoto Station next to the Granvia Hotel.  What is it like?  I’ll tell you.  And show you.  To the best of my ability, anyway – some of the photos are so-so.

Stepping off the bus and up to the train station, I noticed some awesome posters and figures-with-arrows pointing the way to Tezuka World (click images for fullsize)



Leo again!

....and a whole bunch of obscure and famous charas, too!

After following these signs, I finally arrived at the front entrance of Tezuka World!  It’s hard to see in the photo, but the signs outside the building are actually 3-D hologram type graphics.

Tezuka World entrance

And then…I went inside…. and saw some awesome life-size figures of Black Jack, Sapphire, Leo, and Astro Boy, as well as an awesome mural with tons of Tezuka characters on it.

The 4 life-size photo-op figures.

BJ skulking around with Sapphire next to an awesome mural.

Then, I went to the main attraction – the store. I spent almost an hour looking at tons and tons of merchandise, some of it exclusive to Kyoto Tezuka World, and ended up buying some, which you can see here (along with the Tezuka-related results of my separate manga shopping trip).

some flyers from Tezuka World, 2 Dororo mangas, an Astro Boy pencil case and pencil board, Pinoco folder, 3-eyed one manga, ticket from Tezuka World theater, and a Hinotori Kyoto pen.

But back to Tezuka World…

The other main attraction is the “Anime Theater,” where you can watch a short movie on a flatscreen TV in a dark “theater” decorated with images from many different Tezuka works.  The movie tickets are on sale in the store, and the movie plays on the :05 and :35 of every hour.  The programme changes every month.  The cost is 200 Yen (about 2 U.S. dollars) for an adult.  The programme names and schedule are listed on the flyers they have near the entrance with Sharaku on them (there’s one in the photo of the stuff I bought).  The ticket also lets you use the “Mini Library,” which has comfy seats and a huge selection of Tezuka manga to read (in Japanese, of course).

According to the flyer, the programme for April is supposed to be “Black Jack and Jungle Emperor Leo” but it’s “in planning” right now, so that’s probably why they showed the December programme, “The Secret of Astro’s Birth,” on the day I was there.  I thought I’d record my impressions of the film, even though chances are that you wouldn’t see the same one if you decided to go to Tezuka World Kyoto.

Anime Theater Programme: “The Secret of Astro’s Birth”

The film starts out with a *mysterious figure* (that anyone acquainted with the series could identify as Dr. Tenma) breaking into a science lab.  Flashbacks, etc. inform us that he is stealing a mobile laboratory spaceship to work on some project.  Ochanomizu tries to stop him, but is shoved into something and locked up.  Later, he and the authorities try to hunt down and stop Tenma, who is on his way to Mars (working on his experiment along the way).  Flashbacks show us Tobio (Tenma’s son) in the days leading up to his accident, and give us an idea of Tenma’s relationship with him.  As any idiot could guess, Tenma’s “project” is the creation of Astro Boy.  Chase scenes, high tension “drama,” etc. follow, leading up to the inevitable – Tenma is caught and must return to earth, but he is allowed to finish working on Astro.  Standard Astro birth scene follows.

In short, this was a canon prequel to Astro’s story.  It was a little heavy on the “suspense drama,” seriousness, and emotional flashbacks in my opinion.  Come on, this is Astro Boy we’re talking about here.  Not gekiga.  The animation, done in the style of the “new Astro” of the 2000’s, is a bit shiny for my tastes.  Part of what I love about Tezuka is the simplicity of his designs, which doesn’t always translate well into the hyper-detailed modern anime style.  Anyway, it was worthwhile entertainment for 2 bucks and it WAS Tezuka….but if this wasn’t in the venue it was in, I wouldn’t really recommend it except to die-hard Astro fans, though they might be more disappointed than the average viewer, now that I think about it.

Anyway, that’s my take on Tezuka Osamu World Kyoto, and I hope it was worth your time.

Mystery Date! OoOoooOoo~~

Posted in advertising, comix, mod, shameless parody, television, video with tags , , on June 13, 2008 by reccaphoenix

This is a real commercial for a real board game from 1965, “Mystery Date.”

If you ask me, those girls look a little too young to be going on any date at all, much less a “mystery date.”

An updated version was made in 1972 (to replace all those squares with dudes of the longer-haired vest-wearing variety, I bet). It kept getting updated, adding multicultural boys and other stuff. “Mystery Date 2000,” which I remember, had a fake phone where the dude would call you or something.

And here’s the obligatory shameless parody (click to view fullsize):

gee I hope I don\'t end up with Mick Jagger!

The photographer is the main character from Blow-Up, notorious for his treatment of women. John Entwhistle was the extremely talented bassist for the Who. And yeah, I do play bass (and I prob’ly would steal Entwhistle’s bass).

Time & Place

Posted in advertising, artwork, cinema, clockwork orange, kitsch on March 29, 2008 by reccaphoenix

I just watched Helvetica, (I highly recommend it for anyone remotely interested in any aspect of design) and it really got me thinking about some of the more “invisible” factors that give away what decade something comes from. So I did a markup sheet of some “Reccalux™” (my “movie studio”) logo/ad things. I would love to hear your suggestions and comments. The ’60s one was hard to do, and the font, Timepiece, is actually from the ’70s (it was used for the title of A Clockwork Orange).

I didn’t really do any research, though. I feel like I should’ve.

(click for full size)
’60s modernist/early ’90s/’70s modernist/’50s commercial art styles (an attempt)
©2008 by Recca Phoenix

Antonioni’s “Blow-Up” cited in Amerie music video

Posted in advertising, cinema, mod, music, shameless parody, video with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2008 by reccaphoenix

Blow-Up is my favorite movie of ALL TIME. Like all great movies, there’s always a case or two of people paying tribute to, or just plain copying it. So, for those of you who have also seen this awesome film, check out this music video for Amerie‘s song “Take Control”:

Note the use of “cutout” lettering, used in the title sequence of Blow-Up.

The scenes with the fashion photographer are very much like those in Blow-Up, especially the backgrounds. There is even a “close your eyes” segment.

Amerie taking the “Senator” to the park to assassinate him echoes the park scene in Blow-Up (visually, at least), and so does Amerie’s retrieval of the incriminating film reel.

Here is the park scene from Blow-Up:

and here is the trailer for the film.

So….yeah, they over-simplify everything in the Amerie video, but to tell you the truth, I was happy just to see that someone remembers this film and can throw it back into pop culture, even if only some 1-odd% of the MTV audience even KNOWS what film is being referenced.

New Mod Film “Flawless”

Posted in advertising, cinema, mod, video with tags , , , , on February 14, 2008 by reccaphoenix

modreccaI heard about Flawless, a new jewel heist movie that’s coming out soon, and was quite excited 🙂 , seeing as how it’s set in London in 1960!

A little before the mod period, but still very stylish and modern 😉

Here’s another connection to mod that isn’t so apparent – Michael Caine, who plays the old janitor in this movie, was in a famous mod film called Alfie, remade in ’07 with Jude Law.  He’s known for not trying to hide his working-class accent (even though that’s exactly what he did in his first big film, Zulu, where he played a pretentious officer).

I like heist movies (my favorite is Rififi) so I think this should be a pretty awesome film.