Hand Drawn Animation vs Computer Animation

If you’re an animation fan (like me), you probably understand that animation is a medium (not a genre!) and it has many different sub-mediums. You might also get into a lot of debates/rants about which sub-medium is better: hand drawn/2D animation, or computer animation.

For decades, hand drawn animation was pretty much the only profitable and popular form of animation, until the mid 1990s, with the rise of Pixar. Coupled with the declining success of Disney and the oversaturation of crappy Disney knockoffs, people were becoming less enthused about traditional animation and much more impressed with the growing potential of computer animation. Now, traditional animation is no longer profitable at the American box office and computer animation is all the rage.

If you ask me (and I’m probably going to get flack for this), I actually do prefer computer animation…when it’s done right. While I don’t have a lot of respect for crappy CGI animation that could’ve easily been done in Flash, good, detailed CGI animation can really push the boundaries of what the medium is capable of, and take audiences to worlds that 2D animation simply can’t do.

Not to knock on hand drawn animation of course. While 2D animation can be crappy, there are some truly beautiful hand drawn animations out there and are deservedly classics. Would I like hand drawn features to make a comeback in theaters?

Well, part of me would say  yes, but now, it’s hard.

See, there are a lot of so called animation fans who will gladly put 2D animation on a pedestal but will actively shit on computer animation, calling it crap just because of its medium (or because of the CGI clunkers, ignoring the CGI artworks), and deride it for being inherently ugly or ‘too detailed’ and just generally say it sucks. People tend to act like snobs when professing how hand drawn animation is somehow inherently better than CGI. Any hand drawn animation movie, even if its terrible or mediocre, is better than modern CGI films just because it’s ‘old’ and ‘2D’.

Why does it bother me?

Well, aside for the fact that these people aren’t making a lot of effort into helping make hand drawn animation popular and profitable again, I feel like they’re being seriously disrespectful to the people who work on CGI animated films. While, again, some CGI films are crappy, a lot of them have a lot of heart, soul, and effort put into them, from the finest detail to the character movement to the world building. And you spit in their face and tell them “I don’t need so many eyelashes in my films?”

As you can see, it’s hard to get into the ‘bring back 2D animation’ mindset when it actively antagonizes the other sub-medium I’ve grown to love so much. They’re both art (when done right). So why does this attitude still persist?

Well, I’m going to continue to appreciate good animated films no matter their medium. Animation barely gets respect as is; we shouldn’t add fuel to the fire and pit certain types of animation against each other.

Moana Voice Cast Announcement

So Disney has FINALLY released more info on the cast and characters of Moana. About time! But I still think they’re hiding a few things.

In addition to Moana and Maui, we now know that Hei Hei the rooster has been changed from being aggressive to dim witted and is voiced by Alan Tudyk (whose roles are getting progressively weirder, but hey, he has the range!). Tudyk is also supposed to play two other characters that haven’t been announced. Moana’s grandmother Tala is voiced by Rachel House, and she has BOTH her parents (holy shit!), Tui and Sina, voiced by Temuera Morrison and Nicole Scherzinger respectively. There are also the coconut pirates (with no announced voices) and a villainous, monstrous, yet comical crab named Tamatoa, voiced by Jemaine Clement. Pua the pig is silent.

For some reason, they haven’t said who exactly Philippa Soo plays. She’s a pretty big name, I can’t image she’d only get a minor, nameless role. But most importantly, what about that living island/lava woman? I’m pretty sure she’s a major character, and I think she’s supposed to be the real villain. I’m sorry, but I really don’t buy the fact that Tamatoa is the MAIN villain. Considering Disney’s recent streak, the important thing to note is that the villain is NEVER who you think it’s going to be. I’m pretty sure Tamatoa is going to be a decoy antagonist to make room for the REAL villain. Besides, an angry lava island woman is much more threatening and awesome.

I might be wrong, but I think Disney’s hiding the actual plot of the movie because I keep hearing different information that seems to contradict each other. In the trailer we see Maui with his fish hook, but apparently he’s lost it and is trying to get it back from the crab? Is the hook we see him with a non-magical replacement? I’m confused. There are also other plot details that don’t make a lot of sense. Hopefully it will all come together soon.

I’m still excited for this movie at any rate. Even if the story isn’t that great, the music, visuals, and characters should be more than worth the wait.

Junkrat and Roadhog are Mentally Ill

One of my fave things about Overwatch is that it shows how, no matter who you are, you are capable of being powerful and awesome and worthy of being a playable character. It’s one of the many reasons why this game is such a huge hit.

Two of the game’s most popular characters are Junkrat and Roadhog (especially Junkrat). As you can see, Junkrat is an amputee and Roadhog is very heavyset, yet that doesn’t stop them from being fun to play as. While they were originally created as grimy, dangerous criminals, they often come across more as lovable rascals.

While fandom debates which character interpretation is more accurate, I think people forget something very crucial about both characters: they’re both mentally ill.

We all know that Junkrat is a little, well, mad, and very obsessed with explosives (and can forget rather important things and not be totally alarmed when he remembers it), but why is he like it? From his official character bio:

The attack on the Australian omnium’s fusion core forever altered the landscape of the Outback. After the detonation, the area was transformed into a harsh, irradiated wasteland, littered with debris and the twisted fragments of the ruined facility, and unlivable to most.

But there were some who survived. Calling themselves the Junkers, they scavenged the husk of the omnium and formed a lawless, cutthroat society in its shadow. Junkrat was one of them, eking out a living reclaiming metal and components from the ruins. Like many others, he was affected by the lingering radiation. This touch of madness made him ideal for handling dangerous explosives, a love which he turned into an obsession.

I feel like people forget this important detail. Junkrat is suffering from brain damage because of radiation.

As for Roadhog, he was at least partially responsible for this happening. He literally “watched as his home became an apocalyptic wasteland, and he was forever changed”. Now he barely speaks, always wears a mask, and has essentially abandoned his old self to become his new identity. The implication here is that he is suffering from immense guilt and trauma, which suffered a devastating blow to his mental health and sanity.

So when we discuss whether these characters, it isn’t a matter of “they’re evil, dangerous criminals who just happen to be charming” or “they’re lovable goons who just happen to be able to kick your ass”, they’re literally sick, can’t make the best decisions, and need help.

I find it a little odd how fandom goes on and on about the need for mentally ill characters, when we have two characters who are blatantly mentally ill, no one talks about it. They appreciate them, sure, but they don’t acknowledge the fact that they’re not mentally well. Maybe they needed to have anxiety and depression?

Now I’m not saying they’re the ONLY characters who are mentally ill. I mean Reinhardt suffers from delusions (he’s described as being a Don Quixote type and quite literally imagined dragons in the form of his opponents), possibly from old age and from having fought in the war for so long, Widowmaker is literally brainwashed, Genji suffered (and possibly still does) from body image issues, Ana has PTSD, and it’s possible that the reason why Tracer is so hyper all the time is because she’s suppressing her own depression after having nearly died. (Symmetra is autistic, but that is not a mental illness, and I think most fans are aware of that and remember that when talking about her.) They all deserve to have their mental problems acknowledged, and I’m kind of shocked that’s not the case.

I’m very happy these characters are popular at any rate. I’m especially happy that Junkrat and Roadhog are mentally ill/disabled characters who are allowed to be likable and fun (and not just dangerous and evil). At the same time, when we discuss these characters, we need to remember that their brains are not wired the same way as most people, which explains why they are what they are, and how that can or should be resolved.

The Newest ‘Moana’ Trailer is Out and it’s ADORABLE

Look at this. I have no words. It’s just too adorable and precious for words.

From what I can gleam from this:

-It’s footage from the English version of the movie (despite being a Japanese trailer), and you can hear a quick snippet of Moana’s father’s voice.

-So far we still don’t have any footage of Moana actually speaking. I wonder if they’re trying to hype up Auli’i Cravalho’s voice?

-The water has this look and feel of a classic cartoon character, like the carpet from Aladdin, almost. I’m really interested in how the ocean will play a role in this movie, and why it has such an important connection with Moana.

-BABY MOANA IS SO ADORABLE.

So yeah. I’m excited, as if I already weren’t. I hope we get another trailer (and more info) soon. If you’re at San Diego Comic Con, be sure to let us know what was revealed!

Leslie Jones, I am so sorry

I am so fucking angry. And hurt. And horrified.

It looks like hating the new Ghostbusters for having an all-female team wasn’t enough. Oh no. It looks like misogynoir and general antiblackness fuels their fires too. Huzzah!

On the alt-right site Breitbart.com (where all the scum of humanity flourish), Islamophohbic (and racist and sexist) writer Milo Yiannopoulos wrote a negative review of the movie, and went out of his way to attack Leslie Jones (who plays Patty Tolan) in particular, essentially calling her ugly and unappealing and saying everyone should be offended by her existening.

It only got worse. On Twitter, he essentially encouraged his fans (a lot of them legitimate white supremacists and KKK members) to go out and attack Leslie Jones, calling and comparing her to apes, saying she’s ugly, making fake tweets of her being offensive, and other hateful, misogynoiristic comments. And the worst part? Yiannopoulos has the gall to laugh in her face about it and saying she’s playing victim!

So, to anyone who tries to say that the hatred of Ghostbusters (which is a legitimately funny, exciting, and empowering movie) has absolutely nothing to do with bigotry and people who point it out are ‘idiots’, you are very much mistaken. It’s very fucking obvious that, with the rise of nationalism, misogyny and antiblackness within this year alone (thank you, Donald Trump), all the evil alt-right-wingers are crawling out of the woodwork like the worms they are are attacking Ghostbusters and Leslie Jones in particular with glee, and they know not a damn person is going to stop them. Not even Twitter, which has proven time and time again it is useless when it comes to stopping harassment.

I am so sorry, Leslie Jones. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. All for the crime of starring (and being awesome in) a movie that racist white fuckboys cannot handle. I am so sorry that you’re being driven off Twitter over this. I am so sorry.

To anyone reading this, don’t stay silent. Give Leslie Jones as much love and support as you can and tear the haters down. We should not be living in a world where bigotry can go unpunished.

 

Overwatch and Impressive Female Character Designs

Female character design in video games has always been a hot-button issue, so today I’m going to take the time to talk about examples of GOOD character design: that of Overwatch.

Currently, the game has nine female playable characters (including the upcoming Ana), with more almost certainly coming soon (I will either update this post accordingly or make a part 2). All of them, for the most part, are examples of female character design done RIGHT. They all have unique faces, body types, and costumes that fit their personality and gameplay. Let’s take a look at all of them individually. (All images from the Overwatch gamepedia. I’m also going to focus on their canon designs and not their alternative skins.)

PHARAH

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This is a great example of the ability to give a woman big, bulky, non-sexualized armour. It shows that she’s a force to be reckoned with and means business. The eagle motif shows that she fights for justice and bravery. The whole design shows that she has a military background and is proud of it. Overall, the design shows she is a soldier not here for your BS.

TRACER

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Tracer’s slender build, fitting clothes (with flats!), goggles and perky haircut show she is an agile, free-spirited, cheerful woman who knows how to use her powers to her advantage and befitting her occupation as an adventurer. You can tell she’s spunky and energetic and befitting of being the de facto mascot for an action game.

MEI

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When I first saw this character, my first thought was “Oh my god, she’s so cute!” And honestly? I’m so happy they made a heavier set female character who is also cute. You don’t see that a lot. Her lovely smile and gestures can tell you she’s earnest and enthusiastic about her passions (in her backstory, she writes about how her job may sound boring, but she does her best to make it entertaining). Of course her outfit perfectly fits her motif of having ice-based powers and skills, and I like how she’s not afraid to add a little more bulk to her already bulky body. In short, she loves ice and her body, and doesn’t care if anyone else doesn’t.

WIDOWMAKER

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This is the only design I’m a little skeptical towards. More than anything, while the skintight catsuit is appropriate for her job as an assassin, I feel like having a plunging neckline with no bra would be counterproductive when you kill people for a living. And it kind of fits into the ‘evil women are more sexual than the good female characters’ trope. However, one of Widowmaker’s main character traits is that she no longer has any sense of feeling or caring; thus, her costume could reflect the fact that she doesn’t particularly care about appearances or how well her outfit fits and is more concerned with carrying out her task. The blue skin and hair do a great job of designating her as mysterious, beautiful, but deadly and her special visor fits her spider motif.  Not the best design, but it does have its merits.

D.VA

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D. Va is the youngest character in the game, and the design shows her youthfulness without sexualizing her too much. The jumpsuit is appropriate befitting her role operating a MEKA suit, and the headphones and patterns on her face show her more playful side. I also love how she has her MEKA suit a bright pink, mixing femininity with deadliness. It shows that she’s a young, petite, feminine woman who is a combatant genius, which is awesome.

ZARYA

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Whoa, a big, muscular, scarred, butch woman who isn’t demonized! That’s incredible! This designs hows that she is a strong, proud woman who can believably deliver a powerful blow. You believe it when the game tells you she’s ‘one of the world’s strongest women’ and has been through war. She’s another lady who is proud of her body and isn’t afraid to show it.

ANA

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I raved about this character before, but basically, I love how she’s an older woman who has aged gracefully and can still fight. Her clothes and eyepatch show she has been through a lot in her life and has traversed the world in secret to do good. You can also tell that she’s Pharah’s mother without copy-pasting their faces and adding just a few tweaks.

MERCY

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This costume is simply magnificent. The angel motif fits her as a healer, it has enough armour, awesome wings, and overall has a very spectacular look. My only gripe is that the armour around her breasts is a little bit snug, but overall, she looks fantastic.

SYMMETRA

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And finally, my personal favourite, the lovely Symmetra. I think the important thing to note while talking about her design is that the character is very strongly implied to be autistic, and that could certainly factor in how she dresses (a lot of autistic people are sensitive to certain fabrics and textures and can’t wear certain things). The outfit is lightweight and predominantly blue, which fits her light motif, and I like the use the visible Bindi (which shows that she is indeed of Indian heritage). But of all, I love how she’s a beautiful dark-skinned woman. Light skin is seen as a more ‘desirable’ trait, and a huge problem in a lot of parts of the world (including India) is spreading the idea of light-skinned women being more beautiful (and sometimes more intelligent) than dark-skinned women, and even introducing skin-lightening cream. But Symmetra proves that dark-skinned women can be beautiful and intelligent, and while some aspects of this character (mainly the Devi/Goddess skins) may have its concerns, I think this aspect is truly great.

Overall, the key to good character design is to clue the audience in on a character’s personality, personal history, and purpose, as well as culture, and Overwatch uses it brilliantly here. A lot of pieces of media show that only certain types of women (young, thin, usually white, and always sexy, with a personal history with a man) are worth rooting for, but Overwatch shows that any woman can be beautiful and powerful, no matter their race, age, ability or body type, or backstory. And that’s why this game deserves to be popular and beloved, and probably will be for years to come.

Why Overwatch’s New Character is Revolutionary

The widely popular Overwatch is now starting to expand its roster, and the first new hero is a very remarkable one.

One of the main criticisms surrounding Overwatch is that all the female characters have to be, well, young. Men get to be old but the women don’t. It seems that Overwatch has listened to this criticism and provided an older woman, Ana (the mother of Pharah).

(image via Overwatch website. You can find more images and footage of her online.)

Why is this important? Because it’s one of the few portrayals of a woman in ANY piece of media that is allowed to age gracefully and still be powerful.

In a lot of media, if you’re not a young, nubile woman, you’re either an evil old hag, or a grandmother who doesn’t have much to offer. Very few movies and TV shows break this mold, and it’s almost unheard of for games to do such. But here comes Ana, who is a beautiful but still visibly older woman (with an eyepatch no less) who has a complex backstory and is a badass playable character with her own unique set of skills and is integral to her team.

The addition of this character is simply incredible and VERY important. I’m looking forward to all the other new characters to be introduced in the wonderful world of Overwatch.