Anime: Subbed or Dubbed

Ah, the ageless debate of subtitles vs dubbing over with native voice actors.  I have an opinion (shocker!).

I am going to focus on anime because I haven’t seen many/if any dubbed Bollywood or the like.  And I’m ignoring bad kung fu dubs.  Some of them are better for the cheesy words-don’t-match-mouth-moving (the soccer one comes to mind) and again, my depth isn’t so great.

Anime however, that I feel I have some “authority.”  I’ve seen more than 2.

My short opinion is that subtitles tend to be better, but dubbed versions are damn convenient.

My best example of this definitely shows in Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl. There is a single line in one episode where the dubbed version (when I first watch this is what I had available).  She said putting on the eye-patch that transforms her into an awesome warrior was like “a bad headache.”  My brother was around and had seen the subbed version and said, “Oh no, you need to see the Japanese.”  The more-direct translation was “like the worst menstrual cramps of my life.”

Oof.  As someone who’s had bad menstrual cramps most of my life – Yikes!  No wonder she doesn’t wanna!  It really changed the line.

And that tends to be true.  When anime is regionalized, sometimes vocals are changed either to better line up lip-movement or to handle “sensitive” issues.  American boys might have been exposed to cramps! Nope!  Just a headache.  Those are equal right???  You know, because a charlie-horse cramp in your gut is like the sore foot when you first walk around for an hour in new shoes…  Totally equivalent. *rolls eyes*

However, I am a busy person.  I like listening to TV shows (this is how I binge them) while cooking, cleaning, doing puzzles, playing video games, and other “around the house” sort of chores & hobbies.  I got through a bunch of a Parks & Rec season while sewing a skirt once.

So, honestly as much as I prefer the better dialog when it is subtitled, if I have the option there is a very good chance I’ll watch it dubbed.  Because I am “lazy” I guess and don’t want to just sit and stare at the words on the tv.  I want to be able to multitask.  Frankly, few anime take 100% attention and those that do, I gladly switch to subtitles.

So that’s my opinion.  I respect people who also say they prefer dubs so they can watch the art/anime instead of reading.  I don’t find that personally a problem, but there are times when there is a lot of action that I totally understand that annoyance.

Review: Trigun

I took vacation and re-watched Trigun for the bazillionth time.  It’s less than 10 hrs once you skip intros and credits on the episodes (26 episodes which run ~20m each). But this time, as with many things in my life I’ve been seeing things through a lens colored by the current world.  Even trying to avoid the news while off work (staying out of touch!), it filtered in from a hundred small sources. So I watched Vash the Stampede struggle in his world and grieved.

If you’ve never seen this late-90’s anime, you should.  This is one of the series I’ve recommended as a good introduction to anime.  It is funny and dark and fun all intermixed. It is long enough to help someone figure out if they can stand a longer-than-2-hour story arc but not the 10,000 episodes of something like Inyuasha.   It seems like just a light-hearted twist and then it interweaves these little hints of something “bigger” going on.  Then another hint.  And then a much bigger hint.  And if you aren’t sucked in by the time the second bigger-hint hits, you will be from then on!

There have been viewings where I found Vash beyond idealistic and annoying.  When I watched this in the last few months of my last job – when I was frustrated and hated my management… Vash drove me crazy.  But this time as I watch him… I adore him for the exact same reasons.  It’s easy to love idealism when life is easy, it can be frustrating when someone else is idealistic and you aren’t.  I’m now in a place where my lens is so dark with bad news – hanging onto idealism and hope is all the more important.  Vash’s pain and sadness leak through occasionally, but overall he fights for the light and love answers to life. I want to hang onto that.

Because this is a tv show, I can only review the over-arching plot. Individual espisodes are better or worse.  There is one episode that makes me bawl like a baby every damn time. I love that episode.  Love it so hard. I always just want to cuddle Milly.  God, I love Milly.  She is such a flat character so often, but she occasionally dips into a deeper bit and when she does – DAMN the feels.

The over-arching plot is what makes me want to go back and watch it.  I know at least once where I tried to pick out the “five important episodes” and ended up essentially watching the entire series twice because I kept going, “oh, I should have watched that one.” So when I decide to watch it, I just start with Episode 1 and I don’t remember ever regretting that choice.

I know I should “critique” Trigun and it isn’t perfect.  It’s cheesy and the animation isn’t flashy and the characters are kind of flat.  But honestly, even each of those things I’m as likely to defend as turn negative.  It’s fun. It tells a great story in a clear way and if you like sci-fi/western (*cough* Firefly *cough*) you should watch this.

Review: Pride & Prejudice

I love this book.  I have it in at least 3 different forms and always have it loaded on my table and/or phone.  It’s one of the rare books I keep around to pick up and put down regularly.

It isn’t a great love story.  Damn, I get mad about the women in the book and their manipulation and the toxic society they lived in that led to those machinations.  But it it is one my favorites nonetheless.  I love Jane, the sister who loves everyone and lives in her own idealized version of the world.  I love Charlotte, the ultimate pragmatist.  I even love Lydia, the sister who you love and dread.  And of course I love Elizabeth.  The woman who doesn’t want to compromise her ideals for pragmatism.  She wants love; even at the cost of fortune.  She isn’t willing to give into her society that says material wealth is the only option for her.

I would love to see the book where she never met (or at least never married) Darcy.  Maybe Darcy didn’t come with Bingley.  Maybe he went to his aunt’s and ended up getting married to Ms. DeBourgh.   Either way, Jane ends up with Bingley and Elizabeth ends up without Darcy.  What would she have become?

Anyway.  That’s a different story (pun!). What I want to discuss is actually the different TV & Movie versions.  I rewatched the Kiera Knighly (2005) recently and it just made me want to want the 1995 version (Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth).  I don’t think I will ever watch the 1940 version (Greer Garson) again but… “never say never.”  It might make a good girl’s night of drinking and roasting sometime.

The biggest reason I like the 1995 version best is the time they give to developing the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy.  In both of the theater-length versions it’s very forced when he proposes.  It feels out of the blue.  It feels weird and unnatural. I don’t think it’s just that Colin Firth is a good actor, but it’s also because he and Elizabeth had some good scenes where it was clear his attraction was building and she was missing all the clues.

It is rare a book modifies well to the big screen (adult books, kid books are easier) simply because of length.  Much less first-person-perspective books.  Thankfully, P&P isn’t first-person, BUT… it is dense.  The book is dense.  There is little description.  There is a lot of assumption about scene.  Almost everything is done through conversation.  It’s hard to condense that into a 2-ish-hour box.

The Ehle/Firth version is six hours and they still had to condense a few scenes from the book.

Hell, Lord of the Rings was over 9 hours long and still cut a LOT of shit out – and anyone who has READ LOTR knows it’s like 1/3 scene description.  Tolkien happily spent pages on trees.  Not even the talking/walking trees.

Just my opinion, but can we officially stop trying to turn books into crappy short versions?  We see tv series is a better medium.  Let’s do it right.

Writing: I want to write a TV Show

I have been re-listening to Ready Player One – and it has made me go from “dislike” to “UGH THE WORST” on the movie.  I have moved my dial from “well, you can tell it was “inspired by” to “were they even trying?!?” And I know, they probably had a ton of difficulty getting rights to stuff (stupid copyright holders probably being greedy, selfish, bastards).

But part of the problem is containing that scale into a movie.  I have been tumbling through my Plex list of movies and IMDB to see if I can think of a single movie that gives a scale to the universe that RPO should have had and honestly, the closest I get is Star Wars IV A New Hope, but that is journey movie – they have 3 major locations (Tattoine, Death Star/Alderaan, and Yavin) and they are SO DIFFERENT it helps.  Now, it might also be that I grew up so entangled in all three of the orignal movies my mind immediately includes all that information when I watch the first one.  I won’t say I can 100% I disassociate from them.

The Pilot episode would definitely be about Wade getting to the Tomb.  Episode 2 would be getting through the tomb & end as Art3mis comes in with drawn blade.  Episode 3 would be like 1/2 chat with Art3mis.

It would have to be more than Wade.  In my TV show, there would be a side plot that develops pretty early in Season 1 (probably episode ~4-5) of 3 sixers who hate IOI.  One would be indentured. One would be the “disaffected rich kid” (daddy works for IOI) who can’t win anyway ’cause of Daddy.  The third…. I haven’t decided.  Maybe just a smart-but-truly-socially-inept young girl who got conned into it and only after the contract was signed understood the true cost?  Maybe starts out as a “true blue” and gets disaffected later?

Anyway, I would build out the world of sixers with a “sympathetic inside team.”  Their plot lines would revolve around seeking some of the high-profile artifacts that show up at the end game – like the tablet the sixers use to find the 2nd key.  These three would be the ones that found it/acquired it.  Instead of just “buying” all these at auctions – sixers need to keep their skills up and these three do… They hate IOI, but it’s “work or worse” for all of them.

They would also get to have “personal avatars” and I think one of them (maybe the third poorly defined character) would have a romantic relationship with H – at first hoping to use H to find shit out and then realized H is amazing and she can’t imagine not being in love with him (her). Kind of a truth to pansexuals of “I don’t care what your gender is – I love YOU” towards the end.  They would have to meet on the final battlefield and the poor sixer chick knows who H is but H doesn’t know it’s her…. oh it would be beautiful tension!

I understand that not all IP’s were willing to get in on a movie – but maybe if they could be a shown a script that shows the depth and beauty of how their specific IP will be loved and honored…

I know, I’m all kinds of adorably naive about greed and whatnot.  Maybe HBO will pick me up and buy the TV rights…. We know they can do special effects right!

Review (SPOILERS) Ready Player One [Movie]

I can’t review Ready Player One without spoilers.  I might be able to, but I’d have to go watch the trailer a bunch to make sure what I talk about is only from the trailer.  Oh, but can I assume people HAVE read a book that’s been out for 7 years?  I generally have a ~1yr policy on not spoiling books so….  (1 year from when you learned about the book is my general rule.)

So you have fair warning: I will be spoiling both book and movie if you haven’t consumed them yet… well, stop reading or don’t complain. I’ve done what I can to make sure everything that might preview on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere has given you time to go “noooo, no spoilers!”

I have been avoiding other reviews so everything I say is my own.

I suspected from the trailer, but I have to say I think it’s disappointing that they (a) left out the whole D&D part of the book and (b)if he was in any kind of formal school that was…. ignored? Edited out? It was world building I wished they had included.

know they had to trim things to make it into a viable move-length format but…. but since RPGs is my area of geekery (I loved how that played out in the book) I don’t like that it was completely cut out.  I feel like they managed to keep video games, movies & music – but roleplaying got cut completely.  I didn’t even see some good WOW references or EverQuest (and maybe I just missed them).  The closest was a troll but I didn’t see anything that screamed “RPGS” in it.

So putting that aside, I would say that as a movie inspired by the book; it’s good.  As a movie based on the book it lacks some of the depth the book had.  Not surprising, Ready Player One was told in first person and converting that to third person limited is damn difficult.  And on that front, I think this might be the best conversion from 1st person book to movie I’ve seen.

That said, it still loses some of the… urgency that Wade experienced in the book. I felt like he was less invested in hating IOI and more invested in his own comfort.  In the book it’s clear from page 3 or so that IOI is despised and even if Wade doesn’t feel he has the power to stop them; he would if he could. That was not evident in the movie.  I wish they would have minimized the romance with Art3mis rather than minimize the personality and motivations of the protagonist.

Which leads to the fact they minimized his role in general. I don’t know how I feel about this one. On the one hand I feel like Art3mis/Samantha was a much more interesting character and more plot-driving. I kind of love that she was the one to stick out the danger of IOI’s headquarters. BUT the romance element was… frankly, I felt like it was forced.  I just felt like they kept pushing the “kiss the girl” thing which wasn’t as true in the book.  At least my memory of the book it felt like they formed a friendship and he had a crush on her before he met her – but after meeting her he found the friendship as important as potential romance.

My other beef is minimizing the international nature of the world. I feel like it got set in OK and stayed there.  Everyone was just magically there; I kept wanting the scene where H comes to “rescue” him and I hated that WADE didn’t call H.  If I step away from the book, it’s fine and makes sense.  But definitely, the classic stands, “The book was better.”

I will watch it again when it comes out on DVD.  I will try to distance myself more so I can watch it without wanting to see the book on the screen.

Review: A Wrinkle In Time (movie) Spoiler Free

I have cried during more movies in the past 12 months than I think I have the rest of my life.  A Wrinkle In Time did it to me again.

loved this movie for so many reasons.  I loved Meg and Charles Wallace.  I thought both of them were so well crafted, you didn’t need to read the books to understand them (I think, of course it’s impossible for me to be sure).  I thought the Mrs.’s were superb and even though it’s not exactly how I pictured them, it’s exactly how I could have pictured them.

Madeline L’Engle is one of my all-time favorite authors; like so many others I grew up on this book and loved it.  When I felt like an outcast, I looked around for my Charles Wallaces & Calvins in my life.  When I looked for them, I often found them waiting for me with open arms; and this movie captured that love and acceptance and patience… perfectly.

The graphics in this movie were fantastic.  They really thought through the descriptions of what L’Engle wrote and what they wanted it to look like.  There were a bunch of times it bordered on cartoony, but not in the worst of ways – I accept it’s a kid’s movie and they don’t need to be realistic the way I would demand of something like Ready Player One (not the VR world, but their real world) or Avatar (*cough* failed *cough* oh sorry, I have been sick ya know…)

I didn’t like that they left out one of my favorite characters.  I don’t remember him/her/it perfectly but that obscurity of gender is why that is one of my favorite characters in the book.  That and he/she/it was one of the most accepting, gracious, and loving characters – which they tried to absorb somewhat into the Mrs’s but…. well it just isn’t the same.  I understand why they did it (trying to make a movie for kids under 10 you don’t want to introduce a new, weird character 3/4s of the way through….) but I was looking forward to seeing the interpretation of him/her/it on screen and I won’t lie… if I have to critique this is probably it.

I also was very disappointed they cut the twins.  There was an important element in the two boys being “adjusted” to their father’s disappearance while Meg & Charles Wallace sort of aren’t.  Or at least, they both feel excluded from that adjustment which adds an important juxtaposition to Meg’s continued rage & lashing out. It also means they won’t be able to make any of the sequels – the twins rise in their prominence in later books. Despite cutting the twins, I did love the messages of an inter-racial couple adopting kids.  The message that you can choose to love as well as “fall” in love.

I cried. I sniffled and snuffled and tears rolled helpless down my cheeks through so much of this movie.  Just like Blank Panther & Wonder Woman.  I am jealous of kids today who are getting to see movies with heroes & heroines that look like them. Hell, I would have just taken a heroine (and did – her name was Sailor Moon and she was still constantly having to be “rescued” by a damn man).

I want to live in the world where we aren’t color-blind, but we are color-kind. We don’t “ignore” color or race or heritage; but we treat those differences with curiosity and kindness.  Movies like this – big budget which celebrate (or at least don’t denigrate) minorities might just help us move towards that world.  Media – books, movie, music, art – can help people open their minds and their hearts. No longer are we limited to James Bond & Superman; now we can explore the plethora of possibilities…. and I am so excited I could – and did – cry.

We have a long way to go.  There are a lot of lessons on manners when you encounter someone “breaking taboo” we need to construct and accept across our culture(s) – but these movies; these glorious beautiful movies…. I can’t wait for more like them.

Review: Star Wars Last Jedi

I don’t know if I can avoid spoilers.  I am going to try.  But if you (like me) did everything you could (including avoiding interviews) so you could go into this movie with as little knowledge as possible – well, I might let slip something you didn’t want see.  Fair?  Good.

I would give it a 3/5.  Overall it was ok, I enjoyed it, but… BUT

My biggest critique is the length.  So they introduced a new character (Rose) who I like a LOT, but I feel like they added an entire segment to the movie which…. was really only there for us to get to know Rose.  And…. it made the movie feel long.  I honestly kind of wish they hadn’t had it.  It had some fun moments, but it made for weird pacing because it was trying to weave  3 sets of characters and (all) movies struggle anywhere above 2 groups of heroes.

The Rey & Luke segments were very well done – Mark Hamill is amazing.  Luke’s arc during this movie might be one of my favorite parts.  I like how the character struggles with his past – and they all but steal one of my life phrases!  Avoiding obvious spoilers – teacher me was quite happy.

There were some call-backs to Empire and even Jedi which were… decent.  Nothing too in-your-face and I enjoyed it.

enjoyed the movie.  I am still processing whether it felt like a Star Wars movie.  There was a lot more humor (as my husband said, it felt like they were trying to mimic some of Guardian‘s humor Correction: he told me that what he said is that it’s like they let Lucas try to make a Joss Whedon movie  – I stand by my memory that he compared it to Marvel).  I enjoyed most of it – and the porgs were NOT annoying.  I was expecting to hate them but they were in the movie just enough to be amusing – not annoying.

I will be honest, I don’t know that I will be as excited about “young han solo” as I might have been 10 years ago.  I think Star Wars in running into “long running game syndrom” – when RP’ers have been running the same game a long time eventually they get to the point where their characters are ridiculously powered and not much feels like a threat anymore.  Star Wars is reaching that for me – there were some scenes where it just felt like they wanted to “top” what they’d done before (Fast & Furious has gone there too…)

I think I am moving more towards “I’d like to see a different universe on screen” in fantasy, superhero, & sci-fi.  Star Wars is great, Marvel is fun – but what are the stories we aren’t getting to see because the directors and writers are getting stuck in these boxes?