Empty Spaces and the Post-Something Worlds of Moebius

Posted in anime, cinema, music with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by reccaphoenix

Famed French comics artist Moebius (Jean Giraud), who elevated comics to a high art, wrote Arzach in 1975.  It tells the story of a lone silent man flying around a post-something world of ancient technology atop a pterodactyl.  I have not read Arzach, but I saw many images from it at a Moebius exhibit in the Kyoto Manga Museum.  Ever since then, I have discovered multiple connections (intentional or not) to Moebius’ empty post-something landscape.

source: wikipedia

First of all, a real connection exists between Arzach and Hayao Miyazaki‘s manga (and later movie) Nausicäa of the Valley of Wind.  The manga version of Nausicäa highly resembles French comics far more than conventional Japanese manga.  It has similar motifs of post-disaster decay, a future world, emptiness, and flying, along with the “ancient technology” feel.  Miyazaki has even cited Moebius as an influence on this work.

squiggly tentacle grass in Arzach

Nausicäa walks on squiggly "grass" made of Ohm tentacles

And lastly, the arbitrary connection – Yes’s album Fragile. The cover and interior artwork by Roger Dean evokes a similar feeling, and even features an “ancient technology” flying machine.

Fragile by Yes (source: wikipedia)

Arzach flying

interior artwork of Fragile

Nausicäa in the desert

2nd interior artwork of Fragile

Nausicäa in the toxic forest (note background)

Nausicäa's greenhouse

The music itself as well contributes to the feeling of an empty landscape.  “Roundabout,” while its lyrics are hard to decipher, seems to tell of love in hardship, and “South Side of the Sky” features wind sound effects and mentions snowstorms and other natural hazards. The harmonies and vocals in many of the songs also hint at something ancient.  Furthermore, the electronic elements and beats resemble Nausicäa‘s soundtrack.

Nausicäa: Ohmu to Boso

Fragile: Heart of the Sunrise

Fragile: Cans and Brahms

Nausicäa: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa

Fragile: Roundabout

I highly recommend listening to Fragile in its entirety; it’s a superb album by one of the founding bands of British progressive rock and features some killer bass work and Rick Wakeman’s fantastic synthesizer riffs.

The airships on the back cover of Fragile even bring to mind the airships in Nausicäa.

back cover of Fragile

Nausicäa flies to an airship

Unfortunately, this connection fails to indicate the direct influence of Moebius, as the album was completed 4 years before Arzach.  I suppose, though, that one can cite 1970s fantasy and sci-fi artwork (think Heavy Metal magazine, etc.) as the common influence on both works, though.  And as for the Nausicäa connection… who knows what Joe Hisaishi was listening to when he composed the film’s soundtrack?

-Recca 2/17/11

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So It Goes – QI

Posted in shameless parody, so it goes, television with tags , , , on November 15, 2010 by reccaphoenix

This installment of “So It Goes,” our maybe-popular summary-parody series, tackles the sensationally clever and humorous quiz programme Q.I., hosted by the lovely and sticky and gorgeous Stephen Fry.  This is another of my favorites that I thoroughly enjoy, but can’t resist parodying.

So It Goes – Q.I.

A vaguely Jamaican-synth-elevator-muzak theme song is accompanied by some vaguely unexciting graphics.

Massive applause as we enter THE QI STUDIO!

Stephen Fry: Goooooooooooooooooo

this goes on for several minutes…

Stephen: …ooooooooooooooooooooood Evening! Good Evening! Good Evening!  And welcome to Q.I.!  Today’s episode is all about…..JAUTOMOBILES!

Erm….Stephen….I believe that starts with an “A”…..but we are in Series “J,” after all.

And it’s not the job of the italics to provide comment.  Do continue. ^^;;

Stephen: And today as our guests we have the lovely Jo Brand!

Jo has a smug look on her face.

Stephen: The not-British Rich Hall!

Rich looks vaguely angry.

Stephen: Bill Bailey!

Bill gives the camera a wry look.

Stephen: and…..Alan Davies.

Alan looks goofy.

Stephen: So, now that I have introduced all of you and everyone has laughed at Alan’s novelty buzzer noise, let’s begin.  Why do we not drive on the right side of the road in Britain?

A picture of an old man in a quaint British car driving along the road appears on the backdrop screens.

Alan: The Blue Whale!

Jo: My husband tried driving on the wrong side of the road once.  And then he still complained about me not hoovering the room the right way…

Rich: Because you’re wrong.

The audience laughs hysterically at Rich’s joke, while he sits there with the same angry expression, totally deadpan.

Stephen goes into a lengthy explanation of the answer.  All are amazed.

Stephen: Now, what animal….is larger than several large lorries?

Alan: The Blue Whale!

Wrong answer buzzers go off.

Audience laughs at Alan.

Alan: It had to be right this time, I thought….

Stephen once again corrects a succession of wrong answers with wit and grace.  All are amazed.

Jo: My husband was a lorry driver once…

Things continue in this vein for a good twenty minutes.

Stephen: Well, everyone, it’s time for the scores!

Stephen tallies up the scores somehow.  Alan places last.  Stephen provides a witty quote and the programme ends, everyone feeling satisfaction at having learned many quite interesting facts (no pun intended).

So It Goes – Jeeves and Wooster

Posted in shameless parody, so it goes, television with tags , , on October 25, 2010 by reccaphoenix

And now, a new series of humorous writings – “So It Goes.”  Each of these is a humorous treatment of how certain TV shows “always go”….and yes, my dry description here is killing the humor, I fear.  So I’ll get started.  And yes, I might do these in comic form someday, because text is boring.

So It Goes: Jeeves and Wooster

BERTIE WOOSTER, idle riche, is enjoying himself at his gentleman’s club.

Club Worker: Mr. Wooster, one of your rich and annoying female relatives is here to see you.

Bertie: I’m not here.

Club Worker: I already told her that.

Bertie meets with said relative.

Relative: Bertie, you have to fulfill a social obligation that will somehow impinge on your ridiculous amounts of free time.

Bertie: Never!

Relative: I’ll take some of your ridiculously large allowance if you don’t.

Bertie: I’ll do it then.

Bertie is at home in his bachelor pad.  He has just finished playing a jaunty novelty song on the piano.  Jeeves does not understand novelty songs.

Bertie: Jeeves, I have an ingenious plan to weasel out of my social obligation and/or solve a romantic problem of one or more of my good friends and cousins with unusual names.

Jeeves: Indeed, sir.

Bertie: Jeeves, you don’t approve?

Jeeves:……………..

Bertie:……………..

Jeeves: Very well, sir.

Bertie: Pack my bags!

Bertie and Jeeves have arrived at a stately country home, which will provide the setting for Bertie’s antics and failures.

Bertie has just embarrassed himself at dinner.

Bertie: What did I say that was wrong, Jeeves?  I thought I was very witty.

Jeeves: Indeed, sir.

Bertie: Well, nothing can interfere with my masterly plan which cannot possibly go wrong, seeing as it relies upon doing things in pitch-black darkness where I might mistake someone’s identity, and upon my having figured out exactly and precisely what everybody is thinking……

Jeeves: ……..Very good, sir.  Might I suggest instead that you do the much simpler thing and….

Jeeves outlines his much more sensible alternative.

Bertie: Don’t be silly, Jeeves.  My idea is foolproof.

Jeeves: Very good, sir.

Later that night, Bertie’s plan has spectacularly failed, yet Jeeves has come to his rescue somehow.  And everybody in the TV audience wonders how our young fool was saved.

Bertie: My God, Jeeves, how did you pull that one off?

Jeeves: Well, sir…..

Jeeves outlines his impeccably perfect plan for saving Bertie’s ass.

Bertie: I am so glad I hired you.

Jeeves: Indeed sir, perhaps I might perform some domestic chore for you?

Bertie: Go ahead.

-END-

This is actually one of my favorite shows.  I think the chemistry between Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is just unbeatable.  Nonetheless, the formula is fun to poke fun at 😀

My PERSONAL Tops of the Decade (TV, Film, Video Games and Music)

Posted in cinema, music, nostalgia, reviews/opinions, television on October 25, 2010 by reccaphoenix

It being 2010 now, everyone’s doing the whole retrospective thing.  I am SO unqualified to do this as a “best by some aesthetic standard” list, because I wasn’t really old enough to have a good critical eye/ear when the decade began, and because there’s just so much out there that I simply haven’t seen.  I’m just going to go with my personal favorites – the things I enjoy a lot, whether they’re “lasting greats” or not – of the noughties.  So no flaming.

And by the way, these lists were very hard to narrow down.  There were a lot that *nearly* made it (and probably would make it if I revised these lists) but I had to draw the line somewhere.  Unfortunately.

Best Films – doesn’t include re-releases, restorations, or sequels.  I’m only going with one from each major director/animation studio as well (because otherwise this list would be 60% Pixar films…)

  1. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (dir. Peter Weir, USA 2003) This movie has everything – great characters, AMAZING sound design and editing, great sets, a thrilling story, wonderful suspense, a beautiful soundtrack, and lots of great naval battles.  Every time I watch it, it gets better, and in my opinion it holds up as well as another historical epic, my #2 favorite movie of all time, Lawrence of Arabia.  God damn, this is a good movie.  Definitely my favorite to come out of this decade, no question.
  2. Ratatouille (Pixar, USA 2007) If I have to pick just one Pixar film for this top-10, then it has to be this one.  It has a great soundtrack, great dialogue, lots of fun and humor, and timelessly beautiful settings.  The sheer amount of detail and love put into this film is just astounding, and it’s a film that not only blew me away the first time I saw it, but actually got better with repeat viewings.  And I just love how the end credits are done in traditional animation – Pixar isn’t losing touch with their roots, that’s for sure.  Bravo for proving CGI animation worthy in my eyes, Pixar.
  3. Millenium Actress (dir. Satoshi Kon, Japan 2001) A great film that makes amazing use of both the film medium and the animated film medium, and one of the best and most interesting examples of “postmodernism” I’ve ever seen.  Most people prefer Kon’s other 2000s film Paprika, but this one speaks to me more as a film buff so I had to pick it over Paprika.  The film jumps through Japanese history, Japanese cinema history (and a bit of anime history too, one could argue), the history of the main character’s acting career, as well as the progress of her romantic pursuits.  It takes a lot of skill to tell so many story threads in one film without losing the audience.  Did I mention that the entire film is framed in a sort of meta-film documentary as well?  This is one impressive film, and if it sounds confusing – surprisingly, it’s not – it’s pretty easy to follow, although knowing about Japanese history and Japanese film helps.
  4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (dir. Peter Jackson, USA 2001) This, in my opinion, is a modern-day revival of the old epics of the ’50s and ’60s.  I have to give Peter Jackson and WETA a huge tip o’ the hat for using a lot of REAL stuff and not just reverting to CGI entirely, and for having the bollocks to knock out a generally faithful and highly entertaining adaptation of what is arguably the greatest fantasy series out there.  This film is just so…dense….with awesome and detail, kind of like the old Star Wars films, that it’s great to watch again and again.
  5. The Triplets of Belleville (dir. Sylvain Chomet, France/Belgium/UK/Canada 2003) A triumph of unconventional animation and retro style weirdness that one wouldn’t expect to find in this decade.  There’s almost no talking in this film, which is an achievement in itself.  It’s surreal, funny, crazy, and reminds me of political cartoons.  Plus, it has a great soundtrack, and some amusing stereotypes of French and American people.  The CGI may be a bit odd in parts, but the film is still pretty damn awesome.
  6. No Country For Old Men (dir. Cohen Bros., USA 2007) A modern-day suspense classic.  The acting and sound design are top-notch, and the story is riveting.  I think the reason they gave Javier Bardem’s character that silly haircut was to take the edge off his otherwise-terrifying character…and to prove that even someone with that haircut could be totally scary.  He’s an amazing actor.  But anyhow, since I can only pick one Cohen movie for my favorite of the decade, it’s this one.
  7. The Cat Returns and Spirited Away (Studio Ghibli, Japan 2002, 2001) It’s a tie between these two.  The Cat Returns didn’t get a very wide release, and I honestly like it just as much as Spirited Away (which DID get a huge release and tons of press – it was the first Ghibli film that a lot of Americans saw, thanks to Ghibli’s deal with Disney – although its Buena Vista affiliation generated some pretty lame English voice talent and translation, though it could be far worse).  Both of these films, and Ghibli films in general, are so beautiful, fun, and magical.  And both are thematically similar, dealing with a “real world” girl being transported into an alternate reality populated by non-humans.
  8. School of Rock (dir. Richard Linklater, USA 2003)
  9. Angel-A (dir. Luc Besson, France 2005)
  10. Amelie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France 2001)

*honourable mention: Casino Royale was just edged off the list – it deserves at least a shout-out if nothing else.  Also, I only just saw Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story which was utterly hilarious and also deserves a shout-out, as does The Princess and the Frog for getting back to what Disney does right, and Inglourious Basterds for being downright awesome, good old-fashioned Nazi-killin’ ultraviolent fun.*

Best Television Series – doesn’t include re-runs or “remixes” (ála Dragonball Kai).  No TV movies – only miniseries and series.  I’m being unfair here and including spinoffs and sequel series, if they occur separately and not just as extra seasons of the same show.

  1. Life on Mars (BBC, UK 2006-7)
  2. Top Gear (BBC, UK 2002-present)
  3. Ashes to Ashes (BBC, UK 2008-present)
  4. Cranford (BBC, UK 2007)
  5. South Park (Comedy Central, USA 1997-present)
  6. Samurai Jack (Cartoon Network, USA 2001-4)
  7. Flight of the Conchords (HBO, USA 2007-9)
  8. The Boondocks (Cartoon Network, USA 2005-present)
  9. Kino’s Journey (WOWOW, Japan 2003)
  10. Kingdom Hospital (ABC, USA 2004)

*honourable mention: Rome (it was pretty good but I never finished watching it, so I feel unqualified to judge it) and Doctor Who with David Tennant (because I’m a huge nerd)*

Best Video Games – doesn’t include re-releases of pre-2000 games unless they have been significantly altered. Only one game per franchise.

  1. Kingdom Hearts (Squaresoft, PS2, 2002)
  2. The Beatles: Rock Band (Harmonix, Wii/PS3/Xbox360, 2009)
  3. Black Jack Hinotori Hen (Sega, DS, 2007)
  4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS remake) (Capcom, DS, 2005)
  5. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Square Enix, DS, 2007)
  6. Devil May Cry (Capcom, PS2, 2001)
  7. BioShock (2K Games, PS3/Xbox360/Mac/PC, 2007)
  8. Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (Capcom, PS2, 2005)
  9. WarioWare: Twisted! (Nintendo, GBA, 2004)
  10. Dynasty Warriors 4 (Koei, PS2, 2003)

*honourable mentions: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance for GBA and King of Fighters 2000 for NeoGeo*

Is it just me or are “console exclusives” becoming increasingly rare these days?  Maybe it’s so the companies can make more money….

Best Albums – doesn’t include compilations or greatest hits collections, although I am counting remixes.  Only one album per artist.

  1. Guero (Beck, 2005)
  2. Love (The Beatles/George and Giles Martin, 2006)
  3. Employment (Kaiser Chiefs, 2005)
  4. Disney Bossa Nova (Various Artists, 2004)
  5. The Grey Album (DJ Danger Mouse [remixing Jay-Z and The Beatles], 2004)
  6. Friendly Fire (Sean Lennon, 2006)
  7. Demon Days (Gorillaz, 2005)
  8. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (Paul McCartney, 2005)
  9. Crescent (Gackt, 2003)
  10. 100 Days, 100 Nights (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, 2007)

(top comics/manga of the decade to come later, perhaps)

Sorry, guys – I never really finished working on this ages ago but I decided to just publish it anyway for the heck of it.  Hope you enjoy the fragment 😛

Review: What’s New Pussycat (1965)

Posted in animation, cinema, mod, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by reccaphoenix

What’s New Pussycat (1965, UK) 35mm, color, dir. Clive Donner & Richard Talmadge, written by Woody Allen

I’d been dying to see this one for a while.  I love Woody Allen’s films, my two favorite Peters (O’Toole and Sellers) are in this film, it’s from the ’60s, Tom Jones sings the theme, Burt Bacharach did the music, and Richard Williams (great animator) did the opening titles.  If you, like me, fell in love with Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia and wanted to see him in a film with some women, then….this is one for you.  At least it would be, if not for some major issues.  The many things I mentioned above make the film appealing on a cosmetic level but are not combined in the best way they could be.

This film concerns a great number of characters and love polygons, which I will try to sum up the best I can…showing one of the film’s weaknesses – too much going on.  But then again, it’s a kind of Continue reading

John Lennon Manga Ch. 2 UP!

Posted in site news/maintenance with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by reccaphoenix

John has a pretty awesome mum...

Hey, everybody!

After a long pause in translation activities, Chapter 2 of the Astro Boy John Lennon manga is up and running, fully translated for your viewing pleasure.

This chapter covers John’s life from elementary to middle school, and includes the epic moment where he discovers the magic of ROCK N’ ROLL for himself, courtesy of Elvis and pirate radio.

Enjoy!  Here’s the link.

Some silly comments:

-This artist really makes some people look much better than they did in real life (especially John and Yoko during their hippie period….)

-John has a pretty cool mum.

>>>Recca 6/13/10

“updated” cartoon Beatles

Posted in artwork, music, television with tags , on May 5, 2010 by reccaphoenix

A little experiment where I drew the late-period Beatles in the style of the Beatles TV cartoon.

click for fullsize