Over the past couple weeks, my cousin has been staying with me, and because there is only so much “going outside and doing things” that I can handle, I eventually asked her, “Hey, want to watch this cool show called Orphan Black?” Fortunately for me, she said sure. We ended up marathoning all three seasons and I got to spend more time inside where there was air conditioning.
Pros of watching the show with my cousin: Got to drag another person into the Orphan Black fandom Cons of watching the show with my cousin: Could never tell her that I wanted Cosima to date me instead of Delphine
However, marathoning the entire show over two weeks showed me an interesting Orphan Black problem. The four main clones—Sarah, Alison, Cosima, and Helena—have always had very set roles, and they’ve stuck to them continuously over the seasons. Sarah is the wild one, Alison is the soccer mom, Cosima is the geek monkey, and Helena is the tortured assassin cinnamon roll. Their roles are much more than just their professions—in a show filled with look-alikes, said roles are also a way to differentiate them from each other. Character doing some ill-thought-out grifting? That’s Sarah. Character being science-y? That’s Cosima. And on and on. Yet forcing each clone to stick to set personality traits and professions also has the adverse effect of negating any possible character development, as well as being oddly repetitive for such an original show. So why not… change things around?
Spoilers for all three seasons of Orphan Black below.
When I was a teenager, a friend of mine suggested watching Princess Tutu. I briefly looked up images, and they gave me a typical shoujo vibe. I was very skeptical that I’d enjoy it, especially since it had to do with ballet and I had no interest in dance, but I finished it anyway since it was highly recommended. The anime started slow, but by the end I couldn’t wait to see the grand finale. Even with my lack of interest in ballet, it showed a surprising level of depth that I wasn’t expecting. The heroine focuses on how to deal with emotional distress, in the healthiest and most optimistic way possible. I found myself getting invested in each and every character and their well-being. Princess Tutu is a strong character who saves people without resorting to violence. As someone who focuses on character development, I was ecstatic to see that Princess Tutu and the main cast are given different roles than you’d expect, and the lessons they reflect real emotional challenges in life that people struggle with. It’s become a classic to me, and I can’t wait to share it with you and other people too!
There’s something about December that makes me reflect on life. As I spend holiday time with family and the new year rolls around, I wonder just how much I’ve changed. Am I any wiser? Have I done anything to make my life better for myself, or anyone else? Am I okay with the way my life is now?
Recently I re-read the graphic novel Lost At Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and I took a moment to appreciate the kind of coming of age story it is. It doesn’t play the main character as some naive person going on some glorious quest to save the world. Instead, it shows a young woman coming to grips with her life. She’s hit a point where she questions what makes her happy, and how that’s changed in the present. It goes over the kind of thoughts people have growing up but never really talk about, because they’re either considered awkward or embarrassing. This comic encourages people to be open about their emotions and doesn’t color it as purely a feminine problem. It shows that everyone has these thoughts, whether they be as simple as “I’m getting old” to an existential crisis.
As much as I like Gurren Lagann, it’s kind of hard to relate to….
I have watched every episode of Once Upon A Time since its premiere in 2011. My view of the show started well, but has been declining since the second season. From bland plot twists to poor character development, my faith in the show is practically non-existent now. Despite that, I watch it in good faith, hoping the show will be as unique and memorable as it was when it started. Then I saw this image circling the internet.
At the end of Season 3, we do see someone who looks like Elsa walking toward Storybrooke, but the show has made it perfectly clear that she is indeed Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Not only that, but they are using even more characters from Disney films and stories (like Fantasia for instance). I was outraged after the first episode of Season 3, but decided to give the show the benefit of the doubt. Surely they wouldn’t bank on the fact that Frozen is so popular that it’d help ratings (regardless of how much work was done with the plot). Now, nine episodes in, I can honestly say the writers didn’t expect to cheat their way into better ratings. They did a nice job tying these two worlds together, along with answering any questions you might have had about Anna’s and Elsa’s past and future. Not only that, but they continue to develop the characters from their original cast.
There are a lot of awesome things on deviantART. While browsing about a year ago, I kept finding fanart of these four characters. Naturally, I looked up what they were from and found out they are the main characters of a show called RWBY (pronounced “ruby”). When I first started watching the series, I thought the writers were going to abuse the fact most of the main characters are female and oversexualize them. To my relief, they don’t. The characters are treated like human beings, and they’re respected for their fighting prowess. Even when the characters seem to be modeled from female archetypes! Not only that, but the writers avoid using the nice guy trope, or in this case how no decent guy ever gets a date. The character progression is well done, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where this series goes!
Rebellion is one of my favorite films. The animation is stunning, and the soundtrack continues to impress me, but what it’s most famous for is the ending. There’s a lot of debate as to what the ending meant to the audience, and what the ending should have been. I won’t spoil it now, but it’s very clear that the story was left open to continue the franchise.
ThePuella Magi Madoka Magicaseries started as a twelve-episode anime which was adapted into two films in 2012. The anime (and first two films) follow a young girl named Madoka Kaname. One day after school, she comes across a magical girl named Homura Akemi, who’s trying to kill a seemingly innocent creature named Kyubey. Kyubey tries to get Madoka to become a magical girl through a contract, but details about the repercussions of being a magical girl are left a mystery. Homura tries to stop Madoka from becoming a magical girl, despite her friends becoming ones themselves. The main purpose of a magical girl is to fight witches, who create labyrinths that attract humans and eventually kill them. The anime shows what serious side effects there are to being a magical girl, and the dire consequences of overusing your magic.
Rebellion was the third movie released, continuing the plot where the series left off. In Rebellion, we get to see how much Homura is willing to sacrifice, and how far she’s willing to go to get what she wants, for Madoka’s sake. She is arguably one of the only characters who is truly honest about her feelings and motivations, even if they have severe consequences.
This past semester I’ve been super busy—I’m a full-time student with two jobs and an internship—and since I don’t have time for much of anything anymore, I decided it was a good idea to start procrastinating what I need to get done by replaying Final Fantasy XIII. I never really went into a full review for the game, though I did talk about its sequel a while back. To recap what I’ve already said, FFXIII doesn’t have the best storytelling. The plot itself is fine and rather compelling, but it wasn’t told in the best way. Additionally, the game is very linear until Chapter 11—you are quite literally on a single path that you cannot deviate from for the first ten hours or so of gameplay, and you are also incapable of returning to earlier parts of that path once you’ve moved on—which a lot of people didn’t like, including me.
However, one thing that I really think this game excelled at, and which helps me forgive a lot of its shortcomings, is the character development. There are still problems in this regard—I like Lightning, but she’s still just a carbon-copy of Cloud from FFVII—but for the most part, I really enjoyed the characterization here. One character that I was particularly pleased with is Hope.
Finally, I discuss one of the most hotly contested cases of DiC’s editing: the final episode(s) of Classic Sailor Moon*.
Classic dealt with the Sailor Soldiers awakening as warriors, fighting the Dark Kingdom, and eventually facing the Dark Kingdom’s leader, Queen Beryl, head-on. In general, DiC’s story arc was the same. Yes, there were plenty of adjustments along the way, but the trajectory was roughly the same. In the finale of the season, however, DiC made some of their biggest edits which affect both plot and character development. First off, they erase significant character deaths. Later, an extensive battle is cut out. Additionally, the last stand-off with Queen Beryl is quite altered. Finally, the end of the series changes from a reincarnation story to one of memory loss.
As Ace and I have been going through these movies—some for the first time, some for a review—the trends and tropes that are specific to a particular director really start to stick out. For all intents and purposes, the more trope-y of the two directors is certainly Miyazaki, but again I feel as though that has more to do with his intended audience than his lack of creativity or inability to simply write a different story.
For a younger audience, it’s certainly easier to equate a message or a lesson with a certain set-up, and with so many of his films being about coming of age, Miyazaki had to have known that. Reading our previous review on Spirited Away, you’ll remember that I’m not particularly fond of the “everyone’s gotta be in love” trope and Ace’s peeve is the “strong females have short hair” trope (from the Princess Mononoke post); however the trope I’m going to discuss today is a little less overt and has much less to do with the perception of gender. Rather, it’s much more intertwined with the actual emotional state of growing up.
Usually, character-wise, the set-up of a Miyazaki coming of age film is laid out as follows: protagonist has lengthened exposure to one person (the friend/love interest) while strengthening familial bonds or creating bonds with their pseudo-family, then a smattering of secondary friends and acquaintances (with the ‘antagonist’ usually being a situation rather than an actual person). However, to add a dash of the fantastical even in a completely normal setting, and to set the tone of the protagonist’s maturity journey, Miyazaki employs a character that is readily found in many other forms of media: the animal sidekick.