Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's the Real Point of the Entertainment Industry?

I realize that this post is of a wider scope than animation itself, but it's an important can of worms that somebody needs to open. Why are we paying money to imagine that we're doing something interesting when we're just playing with a piece of plastic, punching keys on a keyboard, or simply staring at a screen? What's the point of periodically deluding ourselves in worlds of fantasy when there's a perfectly good real world that's staring us in the face? We entertain ourselves with preconceived constructs, come up with new innovations for these constructs to better suit or delusions perpetuated by our perceptions of our environment, and animation cinema seems to be one of the forms of entertainment which goes furthest off the deep end.

Animation represents a fictional world that is thrust upon the audience in a way that allows the viewer to knowingly delude their self into believing that it is true and false at the same time. We know that we're seeing something contrived, but don't seem to care so long as it entertains us enough to wish that it were real. Doesn't it take time to adjust to this artificial reality and come back to normality afterwards? On top of that, there's the irony that what we're seeing is somehow based on our environment or we wouldn't be watching it and wouldn't have been made in the first place. When you start getting into the subject of obscure entertainment, the subject gets even more complex.

It's quite obvious that I'm deluding myself while watching animated films, but how does this relate to the entertainment industry as a whole? It's quite obvious, at least to me that in the United States, the desire for profit and other forms of self perpetuated illusions of contentment have overshadowed the desire to create unique films and that the simple minded greed is on both sides of the board, the consumers and the financially motivated entertainers. The self demeaning nature of our industry however, has spread around the world largely thanks to us, and now thanks to greed, artistry has developed where there was none and we've developed fancier and fancier ways of self delusion through animation. But are we really any more entertained than ever before? Since there's an industry selling entertainment, are we working for play?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Uproar in Heaven online with English subtitles

For those who've long waited patiently to see one of China's greatest animated features, it is now finally online with English subtitles on Crunchy Roll. I'll wait until later for a larger write up, but am I the only person who finds it rather odd that Nezha is a villain in this movie and the hero in Nezha Conquers the Dragon Kings? There seems to be a bit of inspiration from The Adventures of Prince Achmed, particularly with the style of the layered backgrounds, the shape shifting battle sequence, and the aura around Sun Wukong after the mountain crumbles which looks like the effects of Aladdin's lamp.

The link for Uproar in Heaven:

There's also the English dub of the later movie, Nezha on Youtube, though it has some major changes from the Chinese version. It's easy enough to find with a one word search.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chromophobia's Influence on Yellow Submarine

Last night I read a the biography of Raoul Servais on his website, and came across a claim that Chromophobia was an influence on Yellow Submarine. At first I brushed it off, thinking that the two weren't exactly similar, even if they did have some psychedelic themes in common. Then some of the obvious similarities sunk in between these two films, one short and one long, that had somehow eluded me beforehand. Before I go further into this discussion, see if you can find Chromophobia on You Tube, though I won't link to it as you may be visiting this blog from another country where the film is legally sold.

The first, most glaring similarity is that the basic plot is almost exactly the same. Horrible, evil, selfish, mean people invade a colorful land of happiness and content, turning it into a dreary land devoid of self expression. Through an inherent miracle, several unfamiliar figures save the land and its people by witty gags that supported current youth attitudes. If you look closely at the poses of The Beatles while they're saving Pepperland, you'll notice incredibly unsubtle similarities to the Flower Jester(s) from Chromophobia. Also, there's the little cute looking girl in Pepperland that is an obvious reference to the girl in Chromophobia who helps bring the town back to its colorful old life. Then there's the artist in Chromophobia who the Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine seems awfully similar to, including the gleeful laugh. Then there's the flowers appearing on villains, the depressed expressions on people's faces, the...

Granted, Yellow Submarine is enjoyed more for the music and bizarre visuals than for the plot. The characters are far more developed than those in Chromophobia, as it is a full length movie. There are some moderate tweaks to the basic storyline, and the characters most similar to the ones in Chromophobia are relatively minor. The Blue Meanies are much more interesting to me than the soldiers from Chromophobia. Well I'll cut myself off before I overanalyze everything, but the bottom line is that Yellow Submarine and Chromophobia are as comparable as The Thief and the Cobbler and Aladdin. I'll be back soon with another post when somebody starts reading this blog.