This Week In Disney

This has been a bit of a roller coaster of a week for Disney fans. So of course, I might as well reflect on it.

THE BIG HERO 6 SERIES

Series delay

(Source)

Big Hero 6: The Series was originally supposed to be released in the US and Canada in March, but now that is not the case. In fact, the creators have absolutely no idea when it will start airing over here, other than the fact that when it does, there will be a lot of episodes ready to go. I can’t find it on the Twitter feed (but someone had screencapped it before), but apparently there’s a new ‘programming strategy’ in effect that’s delaying all the Disney TV shows.

This is very frustrating and part of the reason why my enthusiasm for the show has dropped. Having to wait SO LONG for new episodes only for them to come out just okay has really soured my feelings for the show. But more than anything, it shows that Big Hero 6 is not going to get the proper continuation it deserves with all the delays and hiatuses. Why do you think so many people would rather have a sequel?

But this is not really a new phenomena. Disney has always been crap with their treatment of TV shows. They tend to air shows at really crappy timeslots; the Tangled Series, which originally aired at a reasonable time on Sunday evenings, was suddenly switched to Saturday at 8am, when most people (kids and adults) would rather sleep in. The second season for Gravity Falls struggled to get off the ground, and the rarely give their shows, even the really popular ones, a proper DVD release (it took TEN YEARS for the second half of the second season of Gargoyles to come out on DVD). And of course so many of their other shows are still on hiatus (just look at the Ducktales Reboot).

What makes this weird is that apparently the show is airing early in Europe. Both the UK and Continental Europe are getting a LOT of hype for the show, with early access to shorts and even some of the episodes! I’m not sure if they’re run by different people there, or if Disney really wants to get the European market.

I’m not sure why the treatment of TV shows is so shoddy. If I had to guess, it might be because Disney doesn’t think the shows are as profitable or will have lasting value like their movies do. It’s hard to tell, but at some point, if they want to continue making shows and letting people watch them, they just need to start streaming them instead. They’re planning on launching a streaming network to rival Netflix in 2019, so they better use it to showcase ALL of their shows. It’s the least they could do. At any rate, the series isn’t really going to do the first BH6 movie justice at this point. Hopefully there will be some really good episodes to make up for the wait times.

WRECK IT RALPH 2 TEASER DROPS

FINALLY we get a clip of what to expect from Disney’s next movie and THIS IS SO EXCITING! I was initially worried they’d just post a very brief scene that wouldn’t even make it into the movie, but nope, we actually get to see Ralph and Vanellope traverse the world of the Internet!

So far, so good. The characters are in character, the animation is PHENOMENAL, and it even manages to have some dark humor that works (and don’t worry, Rich Moore confirmed that the bunny is okay). I can already tell there’s going to be a lot of social commentary about how we use the Internet along with the jokes (notice how the game the little girl plays has absolutely no educational value). I have faith Rich Moore can pull it off.

My only complaint is that they haven’t shown Yesss yet. I really want to know what she looks like and get an idea of what role she plays in the story.

But still, I’m excited as hell. The wait is going to hurt!

ELSA GETS A GIRLFRIEND (?)

Since Disney cannot let Frozen go (pun intended), there’s going to be a sequel, probably in 2019. Yay?

Well, the latest buzz on the Internet is that Elsa might get a girlfriend!…sort of. According to director Jennifer Lee, she loves the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend momentum and how much Elsa means to LGBTQ audiences, and that she and her crew are very conscientious about it…but won’t confirm or deny anything. All she could say, in the vaguest way possible, that they’ll have to see what happens. (Source).

It would definitely be HUGE if Elsa got a female love interest, but I doubt Disney’s actually going to pull it off. They seem to be making progress with LGBTQ characters in television, but in movies, not so much. The hyped up Gay Lefou in the Beauty and the Beast remake is never openly said to be gay and dances with a man for about two seconds. I don’t know if Disney’s going to risk losing audiences for their biggest cashcow by explicitly giving Elsa a love interest or even saying that she’s lesbian or bisexual. If they DO I’ll be pleasantly surprised and give Frozen another chance, but, again, I have doubts. They’re more likely to just leave her single. I just hope they don’t give her a male love interest because that will add insult to injury. But we’ll see.

And finally, on February 27, Coco Day was celebrated at the Los Angeles City Hall! I don’t have much to say about it, other than holy shit this is probably the most important movie Disney and Pixar have made in a long time. Start HERE, and then look up more videos!

This has been a really awesome week for fandom in general (Overwatch announced a new hero!) but this is going to keep Disney fans satisfied for awhile. I’m definitely looking forward to where the company will go for 2018.

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Why I’m Excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2, Less Excited for Big Hero 6: The Series

I love to analyze media. I love to challenge how people see things. I look to look at things from a different point of view. And I have no problems not being completely satisfied with everything that comes out and wanting more. So if I come across as hypercritical, it’s not because I’m constantly looking for something to hate. It’s because I believe everything should have high standards and be quality entertainment. It’s important to think critically about what you love and consume.

So with that in mind, because of how GOOD Big Hero 6 was, I set my expectations very high for the upcoming series and unfortunately, it did not meet them. I was able to see both Baymax Returns and an episode released for UK audiences (that of course the Internet managed to spread around the world) and I just didn’t like them.

Being as critical as I am, I couldn’t help but point out how ridiculous some of the plot elements were (so there are 80’s dancers in San Fransokyo who can control electricity like it’s nothing?) and how the overall tone and themes made it clear that it was meant more for kids. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad, of course kids should have a show like this, but it proves to me I’m no longer the target audience and that the show is more of a fun, separate thing from the movie. (Remember, the creators made the show with the deliberate intention of generating hype for a sequel, which means that the show itself is not the actual sequel.)

I know the animation gets dragged a lot but I don’t really mind it too much (though there are times when it gets really stiff). What baffles me the most is that the design team took inspiration from 101 Dalmatians for the style. What the hell does that movie have to do with Big Hero 6? It’s way too angular and pointy for the first movie’s soft, round style.

But for me, the biggest reason why I cannot get into the show is because I HATE all the new characters. HATE.

Professor Granville, the replacement for Professor Callaghan at Hiro’s school, is one of those ‘tough but fair’ teachers that thinks being harsh on students is the best way for them to succeed. As someone who has had to deal with that type of person, I can say, no, we do not succeed when you are a hardass to us. Seeing her in the vicinity of one of my most beloved characters made me really uncomfortable. Fred has an 11 year old rival named Richardson Mole who creeps on Gogo (eww) and has a whole basement where he has games like Whack-a-Fred and video games that involve shooting at or beating up Fred. Again, that made me SUPER uncomfortable to see one of my fave characters like that.

Worst of all, there’s a new character called Karmi who is incredibly rude to Hiro (but is creepily obsessed with his superhero alter ego) that I’m supposed to sympathize because apparently she doesn’t have a support system in place. I don’t mind flawed characters, but when the first thing she does is talk about how Hiro is pathetic for liking Baymax because he’s not alive, I have absolutely no interest seeing her become Hiro’s friend.

See, Big Hero 6 is my ultimate comfort movie and the characters in it bring me so much joy. Seeing them have to deal repeatedly with characters who are bullies honestly hurts to watch. I know that may sound weird but as someone who has been bullied and identifies with these characters, that’s too much for me to handle. So, unfortunately, I cannot watch the show while it airs. I don’t even understand WHY all the new recurring characters need to be jerks when they’re already dealing with supervillains!

So yeah, it really sucks, but I cannot get excited for the show as much as I wanted to. Yet despite my feeling of dread and concern, I’m still excited as hell for Wreck-It Ralph 2. Why is that?

Well, I think I’m more confident in Wreck-It Ralph 2 because it’s a legit sequel made by the same production company (so we know it will be for everyone, not just kids) and made by the same people. Rich Moore wanted to make a sequel since pretty much when the first movie came out, so you know that he’ll be telling the story he wants to tell instead of handing it to totally new people. So I’m more comfortable knowing who is making the sequel.

And while I don’t like the new characters for the BH6 series I’m actually excited for a new character in the WIR sequel, Yesss. We don’t know much about her but from what I’ve heard from people who went to the D23 Expo, she’s probably Ralph’s love interest and not an absolute jerk.

See, having all new characters in the BH6 series seems a little superfluous since the first movie already had so many characters. I understand having the new teacher, but why do we need a character like Karmi when we need to develop the relationships between each member of the team first? Wreck-It Ralph has more room for a new character, and it would be interesting to see how a character from the Internet gets along with old video game characters.

The idea of Yesss being Ralph’s love interest is actually appropriate. Ralph has been really lonely for the thirty years of his existence and has been told that he’s ugly and worthless and bad. So, having a love interest that finds him desirable is kind of important. It would also be a realistic way to add an interesting conflict to the story: what happens when Ralph realizes he finds himself being romantically involved with someone, and how will Vanellope take it?

Am I still nervous for the sequel? Of course I am. (I’m a little worried that the crossover material will draw attention away from the main characters.) But I’m more comfortable because I know it’s the same people with the same standards of storytelling rather than completely new people having to rework something for children’s television.

So far it looks like I’m not the only person who is ambivalent towards the BH6 series. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like EVERYTHING about the show. You can just be okay with it. You can like it without having to justify it. You can dislike it! You can absolutely want more!

And it’s okay to not like the new characters, especially Karmi. I’ve seen people on social media gushing over how she’s a precious bean and must be protected (which strikes me as completely artificial given how aggressive she is to Hiro) and that you’re sexist if you dislike her. I scoff at that notion.¬†While more representation for minority groups is important, you don’t have to like EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, especially if they’re assholes or underdeveloped. You can demand better. You can demand more female characters that have more development and are kinder while being assertive and not be a misogynist.

Furthermore, you don’t have to like every follow up product to something you love. You can admit when something is flawed or just okay. You can dislike some aspects of it, or not like it at all. You can demand better stories, better characters, and better representation.

Never settle for crap when you can have gold.

 

 

From Book to Film: Perfect Blue

If you’re an anime fan (or a fan of animation in general) you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the anime film Perfect Blue, directed by the late Satoshi Kon.

Image result for perfect blue poster

What you probably didn’t know was that the anime is actually an adaptation of a book: Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

Originally published in 1991 (the anime came out in 1997), the book was only picked up for an English translation and release this winter. It’s pretty short and simple to read, but man, what a read!

Recently I’ve had trouble reading actual books (that weren’t comics); I would pick up one book with interest only to abandon it later. But with this book, I could not put it down. It kept me hooked from start to finish. It was a genuine thriller, with a lot of twists and a smashing ending.

It is worth noting, however, that the book is actually quite different from the anime.

In the book, Mima does not switch careers from a pop idol to an actress; she stays an idol but decides to revamp her image. An unnamed male stalker does not like the idea of his seemingly pure, perfect, virginal idol becoming sexier and ‘tarnished’. He’ll go to any lengths to keep her the way she is. It’s a really chillingly accurate and scary depiction of an obsessed, misogynistic fan who views female celebrities as icons and not as real people, feeling entitled to them and not taking it well when they no longer fit his image, but takes it to a very, very, VERY extreme.

The book is actually pretty simple and straightforward. This is an instance of a film adaptation that actually adds MORE detail and layers rather than simplifying it. The film focuses less on the stalker and more on Mima and how the pressures of changing careers and how the world views her takes a toll on her mental health, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not. It’s not just a stalker she has to worry about; someone she thought she could trust turns on her as well.

I can definitely understand why the adaptation is not totally faithful to the book though. If it was, the film would be too short (probably only about an hour long) and WAAAY too gross (flaying is involved. That’s all I’m going to spoil). It also explores the messed up world of pop idols in further detail from the pop idol’s point of view.

While the movie is a definite work of art, there were a few things I actually did like better in the book. Mainly, the characters. While Mima has a bigger role in the movie, I find her more confident and assertive in the book. And I like how the people she works with genuinely care about her and want her to succeed, rather than exploit her. The movie also isn’t exactly the best depiction of mental health, either.

That said, I can absolutely enjoy both versions of the story. They serve as great companion pieces for each other. They both share the same premise: what happens when a seemingly ‘pure’ girl tries to sex up her image, and how people react to that.

If you like the premise but find the movie too hard to follow (I admit I got a little annoyed at parts), I recommend the book. If you’re interested in a scary, intense thriller, I also recommend the book. If you’re interested in exploring the mind of a stalker and predator that also humanizes the women he preys on, I recommend the book. Actually, I recommend the book to everyone. It helped reinvigorate my love of reading.

Just a few warnings: the book is suggested for ‘older teens’, but I think a mature rating is more appropriate. There’s a lot of graphic violence and sexuality. A child is killed at one point in the story, and another female character is raped and murdered (the rape is censored though). It’s not necessarily exploitative or meant to titillate readers, but it can be upsetting.

If you can get past that, the book is amazing and a great way to explore the world of Japanese storytelling beyond anime and manga. I hope to find more Japanese novels and short stories translated into English; maybe the success of this book can help.