Recent Viewing: Pacific Rim

I have had several friends tell me since the Pacific Rim hit theaters that I needed to go and see it. They said that if anime was ever made into a movie, it was going to be this flick. It was some big statement to make, but I finally gave in and decided to check it out.


If you watched the trailer, it basically summed up the premise of the movie. The giant monsters called Kaiju are wreaking havoc on cities and it is up to man to pilot giant robots called Jaegers to take them on. Each Jaeger is composed of 2 pilots that need to merge minds in order to operate the robot. So the plot follows some of you standard mecha series/films plot points.

One of the knocks on the film when it first came out, and one of the positives for some people, were that they felt the film followed Neon Genesis Evangelion too closely. I recall both points from social media when the movie was out, which was one of the reasons I stayed away for a bit. The bipolar effect of the film was astounding. It seemed as if it was a love or hate movie.

I fall into neither tent in regards to the film. I thought there was some good things about it and also some turn offs. Let’s start with the positives.

From an art standpoint, I thought the film was great. The CG was awesome and I felt the kaiju were interesting, even if they didn’t appear a little dark in terms of color, which is really only an issue if you want to see more detail. It was nice to see actual creatures instead of other robots or humanoid type opponent.

The cities and environments were bright and vivid. Areas with neon lights and scenes with bright skies and even the memory scene were all fun sets. The bright color added a lot and made the scenes more interesting overall as well as providing a sense of character. Conversely, some of the scenes that took place in the water were less entertaining to me since I didn’t feel like there was a good sense of where things were since they were out in the open.

I felt the pacing of Pacific Rim was fair. It followed the traditional action movie of starting off with a big action sequence and and filling in story as it progressed. I like stories that do this, in my opinion it jump starts the process of making the audience care for a character.

Now onto the things I felt were a little lacking in the film. In my opinion the acting left quite a bit to be desired. Several of the characters seemed to be too over the top and there were several characters that seemed a little more cold and uninteresting in terms of tone and overall character. I didn’t really feel anything in particular to the main characters. There was a lack of something (maybe charisma?) in the main character that I couldn’t get full behind him at times. His character seemed a little bit too formulaic and the performance was a little flat. The characters that were over the top, I felt should possibly have been more reserved and a couple of the heroes of the story should have been the larger than life and in your face characters.

My other negative point also feeds off of the bipolar emotion the film invokes and that is some of the storyline points. It seems as if the formulaic points of the characters also made their way into the story, but not all. The montage of kaiju attacks at the start of the film explaining their origin and such I thought was great. I also thought the end of the film was unique, but I feel that other things in the middle were as a result of a formula. Like they had a great start and end but highjacked the middle of a typical mecha or action story. The world and characters should have been more open to an unconventional line. I don’t want to spoil any of the story in case you want to check out the film, but I would be interested in others points of view if you thought the story and such suffered from that or not.

I don’t want to really touch the topic of if the film “stole or borrowed” too much stuff from Neon Genesis Evangelion. In my opinion I didn’t feel like it really did. For all the things I heard I was expecting more things inspired by Evangelion but I didn’t see anything too obvious. The kaiju have different origins than the Angels in Evangelion, the mechs are different, the characters in Pacific Rim don’t suffer from all of the mental disorders as the characters in Evangelion do as well. The main characters do not cross over, the ages aren’t the same, even some of the genders aren’t the same. I saw no Misato or Rei characters in Pacific Rim. The mech designs I would say are more inspired by a Gundam franchise. While there were some similarities, I didn’t feel as if anything was ripping anything off.

Overall it was a solid film that I am sure I will rematch here and there. I haven’t checked out the special features yet though either. A second film is rumored to be in the script writing phase so it is unknown yet if a second film will be out. The US release didn’t do that well, but it did well overseas.

Japan Adventure Day 7

Day 7 was another travel day. We were leaving the countryside from our 3 day retreat of relaxing at the ryokan and enjoying the onsen and heading back to Tokyo. I had such a great time at the coastline that I decided that I was going to wake up and catch the first train back to the coastline and was going to meet up with the group at a train station outside of Tokyo. I wanted to explore and hike more for a few hours since there was such a large area and we were only there for a couple hours. I fell in love with that countryside over the course of 3 days.

The first train of the day started at around 5AM in the morning so I got up early and snuck out of the ryokan ninja style and made my way to the train station. The trains had a brief stop at another station where I was suppose to get off but failed to. So I had to take the train again and only lost a little bit of time before I made it down to the coast.

I was able to hike around the area for a few hours, it was very calm with almost no other travelers or hikers around. I did see a lot of fast and small bugs on a trail but I didn’t get a chance to take a picture to find out what they were.  That morning was a little wet and rainy, one of the few days it rained while we were there.

After I got my hiking in, I made my way back to the train station and met up with the group several stops down the line. Some of them were pretty surprised I woke up so early to go out hiking. As the train made its way closer to Tokyo, the rain started to subside and the sun started to peek through the clouds and shine.

Our first destination was to head to Odaiba. Odaiba was having a giant fireworks display that night, but Comiket was also going on. Comiket is a super huge comic convention. So needless to say there were thousands and thousands of people in the area and everywhere was extremely packed with people. We worked our way through the crowds at a mall and went shopping at the Shonen Jump store. I was hoping to score some Dragonball Z stuff, but it was mostly relegated to just some manga. The store was packed with One Piece and Naruto stuff.

Post-Shonen Jump store, a couple of us made our way to the Gundam Plaza to see the RX-78 gundam. Who doesn’t like giant robots? The Gundam activated and did its thing, after that it was on to an arcade. I played a few crane games and won myself some Pokemon from the machine. I am a sucker for toys that look cool, such as an Axew. Unfortunately, I ran out of 100 Yen coins and someone won 2 toys that I got close to winning from the machine. It’s all good though, they went to 2 little kids that were pretty stoked to get a toy that day. i think my favorite aspect of the arcades is that the crane games are completely winnable, lots of us won toys from machines. When you win at a machine people working at the arcades will announce it over the speakers in the arcade so others know that people are winning and on what machine.

After the arcade we grabbed some eats and headed to our tarp for fireworks. The fireworks display was solid and lasted well over an hour. The trains were packed leaving Odaiba.

As we approached our hotel again, some of us decided to sing some karaoke. We went to a karaoke bar and got a room that fit all 14 of us in and we proceeded to drink, sing and have a great time. Next weeks Japan adventure day is one of the sole reasons I went to Japan, stay tuned 😀

*(first image is of the sunrise outside of the ryokan, second is an image of the rainy day from my seat on the train, the third is a cool building I saw on the way to the coastline, the fourth is the Shonen Jump store and how packed it was that day, fifth is the Gundam Front, finally is the crowd that was there for fireworks that night).

Production Update 11 SGMS and Inspiration

Its that time of the week that production updates are to be discussed. The week has been a little bit of a whirlwind. I started the week being able to complete a couple drawings for the final scene. I also spent some time rehearsing and tweaking my presentation at the 2012 Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits (SGMS) conference. Outside of the conference I had some travel time in and also some freelance work to complete. So to be blunt and honest, I didn’t get a whole lot done in terms of production. Having said that, I did have a great time at SGMS, met a lot of very cool people, saw some new anime and finally I met Dai Sato and was able to ask him some questions that I had had and had developed over the conference ( I even got my picture taken with him 🙂 ).

So today’s production post is going to be hijacked with a short recap of the SGMS conference. For those of you that don’t know what SGMS is, it is a conference where presenters are allowed to present topics from animation, culture and manga from Japan.

I tend to try to present ideas and findings from an artistic standpoint. This year I shared my findings of not only the history of CGI in Japanese animation but also the use and techniques. The presentation went well and it meshed well with the other presenters in the panel. The presentation was inspired by my desire to combine 3D with 2D for the Cosmic Rage motion comic. Did you know CGI was shown in Japanese animation back in 1983? Now you know 😉

This year, just to name a few, I went to a panel that talked about pre and post 9-11 terrorism as reflected in the Gundam Franchise,  Rock Music as a Cultural motif in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (Which made me want to read the series), Vocaloid music and Hatsune Miku, and also a presentation on the politics of dismemberment in manga or more specifically Blade of the Immortal (another want to read now). Those are just a few of the ones I attended.

We also had anime screenings where we viewed some of the episodes that Dai Sato had written for such as Cowboy Bebop, Lupin the 3rd, Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Just think, that’s not including titles such as Wolf’s Rain or Eureka Seven. The second night we also viewed a J-drama and an animated feature called Brave Story.

There was also a fashion show on Saturday night as well. I attended my first one last year and it was amazing and made me wonder why my sister never took me to one before that. It really is a great way to see alternative fashion, but more importantly it inspires clothing design for characters and worlds that you may be creating. I have went to several fashion websites and clothing encyclopedias for several of the character’s clothing designs in Cosmic Rage.

The weekend closed with an amazing group panel which people asked questions regarding various aspects of culture, animation and manga. Topics included pitching ideas, cross studio collaboration, of course Japanese animation, kick starter projects, small collaborative projects and so much more.

This was my 3rd consecutive year attending SGMS and every year I continue to meet amazing new people, learn new things, gain more things to add to the “must watch/read list” but most importantly it inspires me to keep working on this project. The thought of quitting it has never crossed my mind. I enjoy working every second on this project and I can’t wait till I am able to complete a couple more things so I have things to take around and further reach audiences and grow the fan base. And who knows, maybe more artists will join in on the project as it grows and develops. Stay Tuned for another Japan Adventure Update later this week!