Anime Movie Review: A Silent Voice

Details: Also known as Koe no Katachi or The Shape of Voice. Originally released in 2016. About two hours long. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/28851/Koe_no_Katachi

A Silent Voice is a masterful movie that tells a relatively original story that works on multiple levels.

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Movie Review: Princess Mononoke (1997)

Details: Over two hours long. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

After watching When Marnie Was There and the disappointment that came with it, I decided to go back and watch some of the old Ghibli movies again. I started off with Princess Mononoke and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Princess Mononoke was released back in 1997. It seems to take place in feudal Japan (or further back) and tells the story of a young boy poisoned by a demon. The boy leaves his village to learn more about the affliction and meets a girl (Princess Mononoke) raised by the Wolf god.

The art is lovely as are most animation from Studio Ghibli. The music was fantastic with sweeping orchestral music. Although I prefer Japanese with English subtitles, I watched an English dub and found the voice acting just fine. It did not distract as English dubs often do and if you look it up on imdb.com, you’ll see a lot of familiar voices in the cast. I always appreciate when translations are done with competent or talented voice actors.

The film is told and structured like a fairy tale and has many themes running through the story. The primary theme is one about protecting the environment, which I think is a good message no matter your age. Might not be true if your the CEO of a company that mines, deforests, fracks, etc. Aside from the environmental theme, it is a magical story with talking animals, demons (Asian variety, not Western so more like monsters than biblical demons), princesses, and a heroic peace-seeking protagonist.

Of note is the violence. There is some limb tearing, blood letting, and decapitating going on. I’m sure there are more censored versions which omit those things if they concern you. However, keeping that kind of violence is part of the story in my opinion. The cruelty and danger humans pose to other humans and to the natural world are a core theme in this story. The protagonists constant effort to protect everyone reinforces the idea that a true hero desires to hurt no one. But the protagonist does inflict pain and this is because he is also human being. Despite his efforts, he is not an outside observer, but a participant. The violence helps express this conundrum.

Score: 7/10 It’s a good story and I think expresses a lot of good ideas to children. Whether you want to watch the original version or a censored version is up to you. I prefer to watch it in its entirety, but parents may feel otherwise.

TV Show Review: The Legend of Korra – All Seasons (2012-2014)

Details: Four seasons that aired on Nickelodeon. Starring Janet Varney, P.J. Byrne, and David Faustino. An animated, action adventure show.

Spoilers ahead.

So… how about that ending?

Overall the Legend of Korra was a great watch. Some of my friends think it was the best show on television… I respectfully disagree. It was a fun ride.

But the one thing that needs to be discussed is that ending… that ending. LESBIhonest… that ending was disappointing. At first, I wondered if it was my own prejudice or discrimination, or my perspective through the “hetero lens (thanks Bryce),” but after more thought, it wasn’t that. It was that it was such a half-assed relationship that was barely developed before being dropped on us. My problem wasn’t that there was some ambiguous sexuality suggested in a kid’s show (although that may be something to think about). It was the lazy writing that did not develop the relationship further.

Part of the blame goes to Nickelodeon, because… well they probably don’t allow that kind of thing on shows aimed at kids aged four through ten. Still, it’s lazy writing.

Additionally, I hate when writers use what I call the “Dawson’s Creek Effect.” This is essentially (because there are a limited number of characters and writers/producers do not want to introduce more characters) when every conceivable combination of romantic relationship is explored between every character because… people like romance. First Bolin, then Mako, then Asami. Tenzin was probably next. In my opinion, it’s cheap, lazy writing.

In any case. I enjoyed the series and as much as I disliked the ending, it was a beautiful image. If nothing else, this show caused me to google and learn what a “ship” is (it’s short for relationship).

Score: 7/10 Good show. Nothing else like it on (American) television. Great art. Could do with less Dawson’s Creek Effect, but that’s true of most teen/kid’s shows.

Movie Review: The Lego Movie (2014)

Details: Animated adventure film starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Ferrell among others. Run time is one hour and forty seconds.

Since this is my first movie review,  I should state how these reviews will go. I am only going to discuss the aspects of whatever I’m reviewing that were interesting to me. I am unlikely to cover every character and element of the plot in the film. Now let’s get to it.

Originally, I had very low expectations for the movie. It was difficult to imagine a Lego movie that portrayed any kind of meaningful story and was not just one big advertisement for Lego, similarly to how Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was a big advertisement for those little burgers/digestive-tract-self-destruct devices.

However, a friend raved about the film. Of note is that this friend hypes everything he remotely likes like Macho Man Randy Savage selling a Slim Jim. However, I figured if the movie was not completely terrible, it may be worth a watch.

So, me and two friends went to the movie. There was a Toys R Us on the other side of said theater in case the movie was so great we needed to buy some Legos afterwards.

Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. Frankly, it was exactly what I expected. It was as if someone with an Adderall addiction went off their medication and wrote the screenplay for this film. In other words, it was written to imitate a child’s perspective and it does this well.

There were many funny moments. Morgan Freeman’s performance was noteworthy. Although, I feel like I will love just about anything where I get to hear Morgan Freeman’s voice, i.e. the voice of God.

The funniest moments easily belong to Batman (played by Will Arnett). One scene that stays with me (*SPOILERS*) was when they flew Batman’s Batplane into the sunset, and someone comments that they are going to crash, to which Batman retorts, “Yeah, but it’ll look really cool.” They then fly through the sun leaving a bat shaped hole in the sun (*END SPOILERS*).

Ultimately, should you watch this movie? If you’ve ever owned Legos or if you have children, then yes. I watched the movie in the afternoon with an audience filled with kids.

Speaking of children, sometimes you forget how different adults are from children. In this case, the kids ignored all the parts I found funny and instead laughed at all the places I didn’t. They still seemed to enjoy themselves though.

Score: 7/10