Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Studio Ghibli Part 5

Howls Moving Castle

This was Miyazaki’s follow up to the hugely successful Spirited Away, so it had a lot to live up to. This one blends a lot of what he does, by Ghibli standards it’s a darker world but still with a lot more lightness than some. I think a major flaw in the film was how the character was Howl was introduced, from the way characters spoke of him it almost seemed like he was going to be an antagonist. Now the film does a lot of good things with some ambiguous characters, but it just seemed to me he was introduced poorly. There’s very much a fairy-tale vibe amongst this one. The film concerns a girl whom acts much older than her age, being transformed into an old woman, so she has to break the curse. There’s quite a lot going of story going on alongside this with a war going on. It does at times feel like it meshes a lot of elements from previous Ghibli efforts, but it does just enough unique things to distinguish itself. And the various elements manage to weave together and make for a very moving climax.

Princess Mononoke

One of the darker more adult stories from Miyazaki, this is certainly one of his epics. Themes he would revisit of a war going on while one of the main characters is cursed. Quite unusually for Ghibli the main character is a young adult male. It certainly gets quite dark and gritty at times. But certainly one of its great successes is having no truly evil characters. Even with some of the terrible goals the antagonists have, they’re not show to be truly evil people; they’re just misguided and have some of their own interests that they need to protect. It’s also very much a tale of man vs. nature that’s one of the strongest recurring themes among Ghibli films. This is one of their longest as well, so it certainly has a lot to say on the subject. The version I saw certainly suffered a bit with the translation, I don’t know of may have just been a synch issue with the file I had, but the dub was a little mistimed, and it seemed less had been spent on it than there sometimes be. I kept recognizing John Di Maggio’s voice for some of the incidental characters. It’s a certainly a large cast, so they may have needed to cut down a bit, but it doesn’t seem to be one of the dubs available. Anyway I’ve generally not been as keen on the longer epics that ghibli produce, and while this isn’t an exception, it’s one of the strongest.

Porco Rosso

Unusual for a Ghibli film in that it’s set during a specific time in history. Set during the interwar period, it concerns an ex World War 1 fighter pilot turned bounty hunter. Although in a more Ghibli spin, the titular character is someone who has been turned into a sort of hybrid pig-man. An idea sort of used again in Spirited Away. This does seem to be a reoccurring trope inspired by Japanese folklore. Although the reasons for him being cursed aren’t really explained and aren't really relevant. Through the film he teams up with Fio, his mechanics’ granddaughter who turns out to be a more than capable mechanic and assistant. And of course she inspires Porco to become more of a hero and have less jaded world view. It feels quite different for a Ghibli film as it’s a hybrid of having a real world setting, but it’s still an action-adventure story with some mild fantasy elements. It’s a little shorter and lighter than the average with some of the goofy humour that doesn’t usually seem to translate very well. It’s like a light-hearted Sunday afternoon film. It’s not Miyazaki’s most ambitious work, but it does what it does well.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dead Island Riptide: Special Misogynists Edition

So lessons apparently haven’t been learnt from the controversies of last year, such as the Hitman trailer. Deep Silver, the publishers of Dead Island believe this is an appropriate thing to give away with their special collector’s edition version of the game.

It's a painted statue of a bloodied woman's torso with large breasts. Even if I were a misogynist, this statue has no arse for me to objectify.

Look games publishers you can’t keep hocking shit like this and then wonder why it’s mostly men who play your games. It’s starting to seem a bit disingenuous. I mean if you actively do things that’ll put women off buying it; you can’t then later bring up your market research and say “Well we market it towards men because that’s who our audience is.” It’s that way because you made it that way.

It’s remarkable how far behind the games industry seems to be on these issues, still blundering about like a republican congressman. But then when has it ever been important to them to look at the outside world and see how things are changing. Would have been nice if 2013 had been a fresh start and we started to see some more positive progress but apparently not.

It’s been heartening to see that the overwhelming reaction to it has been negative, and Deep Silver are currently reconsidering it.

A lot of comments seem to suggest that deliberately sparking outrage is still positive publicity for them, but I’m not convinced it is. I’m not sure that anyone is going to buy this game that wouldn’t have already. It’s an odd state of mind when people object to others complaining about this. Its shit and it’s going to take people complaining about this every time something like this happens to stop it happening again. Hopefully the money wasted on commissioning these will at least cause the company to rethink this next time. I wonder if many of the statues have already produced, and what will happen to them if this does get pulled. It does bring up a rather bizarre image of a mass of torsos being pulped.

What’s so confusing is how the games industry consistently wants to alienate an entire gender with this. In fact it alienates most men as well, so really what is the point? They don’t seem to understand why what they’re doing is offensives and why it’s against their own interests.