Monday 22 February 2016

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

(時をかける少女 Toki o Kakeru Shōjo)

As I sit here rewatching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for the bagullionth time, I find myself pondering yet again, 'Why haven't I ever talked about this on United by Glue?'

There isn't a good reason, and most of the actual reason is that my experience of it predates the blog, which as far as reasons go isn't really a good reason. It's bad.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is very good. Very, very good. It is a very good anime film that I think a lot of people have seen, but probably more should have seen. And should see it have they not.

Unlike Summer Wars (which is a comparison that will make more sense in a few paragraphs time), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is exactly what it says it is. That's what it's about.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Falling Through Time

See the picture? I mean she looks a lot like she's falling right there, but you're going to have to take my word for it.

I'm going to be straight with you. She is falling right there in the picture. She leaps and then she falls. She is also god awful at landings. Leap, fall, crash. That's the process.

Regardless, it's not a poetic way of talking about having to suddenly grow up or anything like, which is what I thought it might be before I saw it. It might be somewhere, but not here. Here it is pretty literal.

What it is is a sort of science fiction, high school, comedy about friendship, and romance, and bullying, and family, academia, and some baseball too I guess. There's also some pudding that gets a lot of play too. That drew me in. I love pudding. There is a bit where she time travels so that she can re-eat the pudding. That's when it got super real for me.

I'd do that.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time having lunch

That picture is not the pudding scene, but I didn't get a picture when I was watching it, so I just put one in with some juice. I think it's juice. Unlike the pudding it is more of a bit part foodstuff.

Really, really, and as is so often the case these days, the science fiction elements aren't really there to serve themselves, but to serve the other elements of the story, which is good, because it is essentially all those other things that make the story.

In a really sort of, but kind of of not really at all way it is sort of, but kind of not really like a more positive Doniie Darko. But not really. But also sort of. Things are definitely more straight forward than Donnie Darko. They explain pretty much everything. Nearly everything.

Look, it's not at all like Donnie Darko. I don't know why I brought it up.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time with her friends
The characters are all the archetypes that you sort of expect in a high school anything sort of story, but it is all very charmingly told, and the situation is pretty different to what you might've seen before in other things.

The dude, if there was to be only one, who is behind this is Mamoru Hosoda, who has made a bit of a name for himself of late with his high quality, charming adventures into invisible elements of the real world is also responsible for Summer Wars, which I have spoken about here at The Glue, and Wolf Children, which I definitely will. He also has The Boy and The Beast which is on the horizon, but might have crested it.

I should check.

Yeah, no, it's still on the approach.

But... ah.... hey, look out for that. It's probably going to be pretty darn good. In the meantime though, go and have a look at The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, because it's good. Pretty darn good.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time getting dinked
There is also a book from all the way back in 1967, which has been adapted some 10 times, but this film is a sequel of sorts, because it's also still an adaptation of the original book while at the same time being a sequel. Because who said they can't do that? Not me. They've done it. It's too late now. if you did have a problem, there's nothing you can do. You could write a letter.

If you are interested in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which you should be, you can get it in all the regular places that one gets these sorts of things. I mean, Madman and iTumes are where I tend to get this sort of thing, so you can go there I suppose.

I'll try and get that Wolf Children review out sometime soon for you too. I think a lot of people will like that one too. I'll put links here somewhere when it happens.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Yet Another Astro Boy

Astro Boy Reboot
I grew up on Astro Boy, and my mum sort of grew up on Astro boy too. But different ones. This is because they keep making them. I've said before that they keep wheeling the little guy out to see how the new generation will take him every couple of decades or so, and that is an apt assessment of the way it's been handled.

Anyway. They made it again in 2003, and Astro Boy, in its third go round, is a well animated, science fiction, adventure cartoon. It's much of the same sort of thing as both the 1963 and 1980 cartoons. It's Astro Boy. Like, proper Astro Boy. Not like that 2009 3D, CGI movie that is not Astro Boy. It isn't. It feels wrong.

Have you seen it?


That's mean. It tried to be Astro Boy, bless its little rocket socks. It put on the underpants and it went flying high in the sky, and all that jazz, but it just didn't really get there. To the Astro Boy place. It got to the sky. I mean, I think it did. Where does the sky start?

Anyway, the one that is is because it's got most of the old stuff from the first two series with some more focussed storytelling in the major story arcs, and a more deliberately dark tone.

I say that it's more deliberate, because both the preceding series are pretty dark. There was a lot of death, and Astro frequently came out the other side of an episode feeling like no one really won. But they were also more playful and optimistic than the new series. Call it seesawing. Call it tonal diversity. Either way, the new one is more consistent in what it wants to be (unless you watch it in Japanese, in which case it still is, only less so).

It's also slicker. That's probably its main selling point over the other two. It's a slick 50 episode action-adventure cartoon with prejudice, robots, and all that atomic age Pinocchio guff that we get out of bed for.

It's a good thing they did this. Plugging the little, robot guy back in and polishing him up every 20 years or so for another go round is going to be how we mark the generations in eras to come. He's good for us with all his butt machine guns and finger lasers.

Oh, B-T-dubs, did I mention that they're making a new one?

Yeah, that's what that whole Astro Boy Reboot thing was at the top of the post. Did you think that the thing I was just talking about was the reboot? No, that is not the case.

Anyhoo, apparently, someone didn't get the memo, and they're getting him out o' the drawer (P.S. punned the hell out of that) sooner than they meant to. I mean, he's not due for another 7 years, and they go and do this:

Now, there is a lot of implication that my little buddy, Astro, be living it up in some sort of digital environment, where he himself may be a a digital thing, or an avatar of the more modern vernacular.

And, I'm not saying I don't want this, because I do. I want all the Astro Boys. Except the one that I mentioned not wanting earlier. That, I don't want.

But, I guess I'm concerned at the direction they're taking, and I don't really understand yet if they're wheeling out a new Astro Boy or whether they're just wheeling out the brand for a thing that isn't really Astro Boy.

This may or may not be a thing that I want. I mean, perhaps they're trying to appeal to a modern audience with all them computers, and gigabytes, and the like, but robots are just around the corner. They're soon, but not yet.

Does their lack of immediacy make them unappealing to children? I mean robots were nowhere in sight when I was one of those, but they appealed the shit out of me.

Still do.

Regardless, it looks pretty, and I'll probably be watching it.

Astro Boy Reboot Cityscape

Thursday 18 February 2016


If you know what Akira is then you might be wondering 'more what?'

More of the already epic 2000+ page manga that was written and illustrated by one guy? No, his hands still haven't recovered since the mid-nineties.

Are they making a followup film that abridges the second half of the manga similar to what the first film did for the first half? No. That isn't happening either.

Am I talking about the live action version that has spent more time on production hiatus than than Duke Nukem Forever?

I am not.

What I am talking about is that at a recent comic festival in France, Katsuhiro Otomo (who is the dude that is the one that made it) said after being asked about the future of Akira that they were considering an anime television series.

Now the question was asked in French and then answered in Japanese, so there might be some translation issues all up and in this.

Also, worth noting that we didn't clarify who 'they' were. There was also no real discussion of who would be making it, how long it would run, how faithful or thorough it would be, or when it might happen, because the whole statement is just up there in that other paragraph.

But, look, hey! Let's get a little excited. Akira!

Akira is an interesting duck. The role it played in popularising anime in the western consciousness is unparalleled. If you speak English and you enjoy anime as anime, then this was the catalyst for the culture that exists today that lets that happen.

Anime was popular before Akira, but it was popular as children's television. Shows like the Astro Boys, RobotechStarblazers, and so many others played a similar role in western culture before Akira as things like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon did after it.

There were also anime films that were available and watched prior to Akira. That happened. I'm not saying that that isn't a thing. It is.

Also, when I say 'Western', I specially mean 'English Speaking' because I'm a small minded, anglocentric cultural invader. I've said so before. The French and Italians were onto all this sooner. Germans too maybe. Who knows? They probably know. Some of them.

But Akira, or really it should be AKIRA, for us in the English speaking world was our first real 'look at this shit they're making in Japan' moment. And we did. Look. It was incredible. I mean it still is incredible. If you watch it now, it's still visually stunning.

Even on VHS it was stunning. Sound, visuals, everything.

AKIRA still stands as an example of something that live action just couldn't do. I mean, it probably can now, but when you look at it, and the beauty of animation, would you want it too.

I don't. I just don't want that. It's so beautiful. Such an exquisite thing.

I only hope that this anime series that is under consideration is as beautiful. I mean, could it be? Could they just take the film as a base and make more of it?

Not really, because the film doesn't follow the plot. Some scenes are amalgams of ones from the manga. Some are brand new shortcuts to get the plot done in 2 hours.

You could take some of it, but more what I'm wondering is if the film will act as a template for the series in terms of the way it looks. That's what I want.

It should be what we all want.

Friday 12 February 2016

Deadpool is really Deadpooly

So, I saw me some Deadpool, and I think its good. Really good. It is the Citizen Kane of faithfulness to the spirit of its source material, which, granted, is a very specific sort of Citizen Kane, but it's pretty awesome in that regard.

Some of you may remember the last time that Ryan Reynolds sort of played Deadpool, but didn't really, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He played Wade Wilson, who is Deadpool, but someone else played him when he was actually being Deadpool, but then they never called him Deadpool, and he didn't act like Deadpool, and wasn't really Deadpool, so you could be forgiven for missing that whole thing. Probably congratulated too. It was terrible.

This time around Ryan Reynolds basically just plays himself the whole time, which is more or less just Deadpool. Kind of like that time Tom Cruise played the totally narcissistic vampire who preys on people like cattle in Interview with a Vampire.

Deadpool isn't just a little self aware, it trades deep on the current value of the cultural currency of comic book films. It also references the shit out of a ton of other stuff. There is something in there for everyone. Even superhero penises, for those of you who've been hanging out since The Watchmen.

It's also very violent, and very funny (but probably not for everyone), and it has a lot of little rewards in it for people who like comic books, and like the films that are based on comic books. You probably don't even need to like comic books that much. Of the people that I saw it with, only two of us seemed to have more than a passing understanding of who Deadpool is, and I don't know that you need more than that.

Even the X-Men that appear in the film, few as they may be, which is two, which is very few considering how many of those guys there are, are fucking beautiful to behold. I already prefer these guys to the ones in the other films.

Colossus not only gets the most screen time he's ever had, but he also gets the most faithful and engaging portrayal yet.

And Negasonic Teenage Warhead! Sweet mother of Lucifer! While being nothing like her comic book appearances, she's un-fricken-believably awesome! I hope they keep her around.

Their appearance and really heavy characterisation bodes well for all the X-Men films, which have been sort of all over the place, but mostly humdrum, which this film is not.

This is the first time I've watched an X-Men film and not thought that I would be more likely to recommend the 1990s' X-Men The Animated Series. You shouldn't really think of it as an X-Men film though. It doesn't really feel like one. Not like the other ones they've made.

You should probably see this movie. Take a gander. You might like it.