Beginnings

[Cartoon] The Legend of Korra (2013) Beginnings - Adventure, Fantasy

I found that this story was quite different and interesting like other people have posted already. So the creators can make a somewhat decent story and character development… just not for Korra huh…

Well anyway, I still have some issues with this story…

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[E-Drama] Once Upon a Time (2011) ABC Network
 I recently watched this series which was recommended to me and I thought it felt like a guilty pleasure to watch. Although the drama, magic and a dash of mystery is enough to be entertaining, there are a lot of problematic elements including: POC killing, white saviors, sexist, abusive relationships, confusing character development,  pointless plot (S02), 2 dimensional good vs evil and other things. there’s just so many things I would like to say but it would take too long!
The story centers around the Snow White universe where the evil queen Casts a curse which transports the fairy tale creatures into our non-magical world where they must live with no memory of their former lives until the saviour comes to break the curse.
This story premise is a rip off of the Fables comic book series but catered to the Disney fairy tale universe. I found that the comic does really better in suspenseful and interwoven plot while developing many different characters where as OUAT thrives on just character drama. The show has a pretty narrow scope, where it tries to reimagine fairy tales to revolve around the snow white verse (Snow White Centric? why?). Since the first season finished and the mystery behind the irl fairy tale character curse is done, the show has resorted to do more epic conflicts of world ending scenarios/family feud crisis. I can see it becoming repetitive.
Snow/Charming/Emma/Henry/all is going to die/kidnapped/be in trouble/lost/separated —> save her/him/them/all (with fighting and romance on the side).
I find that when their whole town is at stake, suddenly, it seems like the plot shrinks the population to just Snow White characters (+red+granny+jiminy+rumple+belle) despite the claim of a town full of fairy tale characters. 
I find at times that OUAT is too simplistic in terms of good versus evil, or doing the right thing which I find totally idealistic and contradictory for an adult show.  It’s owned by ABC which is owned by Disney so not surprisingly, it still holds on to rigid idealistic tendencies that is tied to the disney franchises; not to mention the company has major issues of diversity and it’s politically charged ideologies to begin with.
People Of Colour
Why is it, that a fantasy fairy tale fusion show cannot create good stories including people of colour? Not only that, the few that appear are subjected to subservient roles or are killed off (with the exception of Regina). The number one reason would be that the show relies heavily on the Disney verse and, well most of the stories they choose to tell are white centric. But that’s no excuse? still doesn’t explain why the small percentage of POC in the stories get the short end of the stick? Still doesn’t explain why in a fantasy world, writers can’t come up with POC characters with stories worth telling?
I also find it unbelievable that the show tries to portray their world without racism but ironically fully imply it with the way it is shown and written.  I’m talking about Mulan’s origin story in the show which took place in a surrealistic/prop/exotic/appropriated Asian fairy tale village. When Mulan’s identity was revealed, it was very noticeable how other characters including the villains do not mention her race or her culture at all. In fact the entire show tries to avoid that conversation. There is a quote that I hear white people say; ”I don’t see race”. That is what this show, ABC, and Disney is saying. In other words because they don’t see race, they don’t talk about it, there is no racism. This is in itself a problematic/deluded stance but in contrast to what the characters are “not saying”, we are seeing something else. Low and behold, the fairy tale world was not all as white as it is always assumed. There was an Asian realm (I think?) and yet apparently, the show stars white people to play substantial characters in the plot; white characters who have the freedom and privilege to quest in such a foreign/exotic/appropriated land unhindered. The setting itself is a throwaway prop. Now what are they saying about race? Maybe that white people/culture in particular are the most important stories to tell? Maybe that they do recognize that there is in fact  different races and culture in which they feel they have the right to include, exclude and appropriate without any proper research, respect, or consequence? Maybe that they do see race and they are blind to the fact that they treat different races unequally compared to white culture?
The show would rather handle gender issues than racial issues by specifically pointing out surface level gender stereotypes (where bell/mulan is underestimated due to their gender) with the conclusion that this is false. This was something positive but, even towards gender issues, the show relies on the idea that if they show strong fighting-capable women then they’ve done their job (which is far from the truth). It feels like the creators just gave these female characters these powers rather than them earning it themselves through character development.
The exclusion and limited opportunities of POC in the show makes it quite obvious that there are still racial/gender inequalities in show business and they are still in denial about it.
Mulan
I am pissed off at how they handled Mulan’s character. They have stripped away her entire personality and agency. They gave her a quote from the original disney movie (which wasn’t even her line): “heed my order and you might survive.” (Shang)
When we are introduced to her, she is following prince Phillip on a mission to rescue Aurora. For some unexplained reason, other than the fact that she is a soldier ergo she must take orders from Phillip (a prince). She helps him on his quest and watches his horrific romantic scenes. As if she didn’t have a life before helping Beauty or  Phillip. Mulan’s only purpose in this show seems to be for supporting the white protagonists. Every opportunity where she could possibly shine, the writers make her screw up, just so the white characters can get the lime light:
When the reaper appeared, it knocked Mulan out of battle in order for Prince Phillip to resume his status as knight in shining armour role alone.
When Phillip was gone… for some reason Mulan decides It is her responsibility to look after Aurora on behalf of him because she is so delicate unlike herself?
When Snow and Emma come along Mulan nominates them to be the leader of their group (WTF?).
When hunting the “Yao Guai” Mulan apparently requires Belle’s self-proclaimed book smarts (in I am assuming Chinese Lit??)(WTH a white person is better at being Chinese than a Chinese person?) to search for the beast.
Belle defeats the the “Yao Guai” because coincidentally, Mulan suffered a minor injury preventing her from doing it herself.
Mulan doesn’t speak much and when she does, she is like a military snob. It is like some sort of misguided attempt to make her a “strong” female figure who is like a gender swapped version of a guy with no emotion.
I am currently in disbelief that Disney created the animated Mulan film.
Regina
She’s evil, no she’s nice, no she’s a desperate mother, no she is a daughter desperate for love. Her character is all over the place and her actions come off as not only a stereotypical irrational “woman” but also a walking racial stereotype.
Regina’s backstory and motivation is ridiculously hinged on her inability to get past the second stage of grief (anger) since her tragedy happened.  I find the show completely lacks in showing how that tragedy completely changed her character of one extreme to the next and this absolute, one dimensional blame towards Snow (even more so than towards her manipulative mother). There were many times where she has a change of heart or shows different emotions but, she continually makes contradictory decisions bringing her right back to the cruel villain archetype mold. Frustrating to watch. 
Snow White
She is like the Captain America of Disney. At times she is the pure hearted, goodie-goodie, annoyingly positive and like a Disney princess. At other times action hero and somewhat preachy and has a smarmy character. I don’t think the show does a great job at reconciling the two personalities.  ugh.
REGINA HENRY SWAN
This has got to be the messed up, dysfunctional love triangle ever. I would say that Henry is a pretty cruel son, and yet the plot places him as the object of affection by both biological and adopted mothers. He goes off finds his real mom and throughout the series, bashes his adopted mom for being evil, saying he hates her, schemes to take her down and eventually abandons his adopted mother and moves in with his biological mother/family. By the second season, Regina is eating out of Henry’s palm in order for him to come to accept and love her. He places conditions for his love for her and holds himself hostage for her compliance. He would rather stay with Emma, for some unexplained reason; the person who abandoned him and who still has no parental rights (yet she still demands her rights to him). Both mothers are abysmal; both being over controlling and possessive but I really pity Regina as the series goes on. Emma keeps on overly/presumptuously asserting her mothership of Henry like she knows what is best for him; stealing him away from Regina who not only raised him but has legal custody. I find it weird that this sounds like a romantic relationship or that Henry is like a possession. Wouldn’t it be weird if Henry turns into a devil instead of the saviour? LOL. This isn’t supernatural right?
Anyway, Lots to talk about!
[E-Movie] The Croods (2013) family, comedy, adventure
Okay, so the trailers really mislead me but It was a very good movie with interesting cavemen humour and family wholesome goodness. I loved how the circle of life was used well to display weird yet cute creatures eating each other; the croods included.
The story centers around a cave people family named the Croods. Their lifestyle is all about surviving and that meant hiding in caves for the most part and staying away from the unknown. Their lives change when the daughter, Eep meets Guy who foresees the calamity of the continents drifting apart. They all eventually go on a journey of discovery.
What mislead me was how the trailers made me believe Eep was the main character because she is the only character shown. She is doing all sorts of stuff, taking risks. I thought wow, to have a true female lead in a big animation movie; yeah, a little disappointed.
I would have to say that the main character in this movie was Grug (the father). The story focuses on him having the most difficulty adapting on this journey. He is not only set in his ways, he also competes for his daughters affection. So really, Eep was more of of a supporting character/plot device to further reshape and massage the father’s ego.
[J-Drama] TV Asahi - Nobunaga no Chef (2013) - cooking, drama
Hey, just finished this drama aaaaaaaaaaand I think it is okay. I would only recommend watching if you had nothing better to do. I generally love cooking shows so when I watch this I find the cooking experience this show offers is interesting but it lacks in drama. it doesn’t compare to other shows like “cooking master boy” and the like. The time traveling aspect gives interesting challenges but I don’t think this concept was utilized as well as “Jin”.
So the story is about a chef, Ken who mysteriously winds up in the past without any recollection of his past except his expertise in cooking, an image of mysterious woman and a vague Idea that he came from the future. his cooking skills gets noticed by Nobunaga and ends up working for him, overcoming challenges and cooking wondrous food.
The strongest point of the series is that all of the food is made in real life! meaning its not exaggerated fantasy-like food. Hey, maybe even I can make it too…. well anyway, it is fun to see how Ken copes with the limited resources he has in a primitive era like making butter from scratch and stuff.The whole mystery about time travel and character development was rather disappointing. You still won’t know how this time travel thing started in the end.
At the beginning, it is a little odd how Ken jumps into cooking at level 100. Right off the bat he is the best cook there is, simply because of his culinary training from the future and some genius inspirations. I find it very problematic when the main character can solve all of their problems with a thinking face, showing no thinking process. Ken also whips out custom, unique meals every time he cooks and of course makes no mistakes which makes him like, 25 year old genius (too good to be true)?
The actor for Ken doesn’t seem to show much emotion at all (How boring). he has a catch-phrase: “come on, sengoku cuisine!” every time he starts cooking, which I thought weird. 
Nobunaga on the other hand was really likeable. At first he seems all cold but by the end of the series, you can see his fun and kind nature underneath his harsh face. The actor was great! There was a memorable table flipping scene.
Natsu is a female blacksmith that befriends and helps Ken on his journey. She was a legitimate smith! That is interesting enough to create a spin off series but… you know… she’s mostly there to support our chef <3 and the romance plot. I mean how can they just waste this character by having her run errands rather than proving her value with her own trade?! and not to mention it’s a rare line of work for women in that time period. she does get to use her skills to craft a spear for one of the high ranking soldiers but… do we really know if it was because of her awesome skills or because she was the only smith around?
The female ninja… I feel had no impact in the story. she is tough and there is a hint of a tragic backstory and sacrifices she makes to survive this time period. So I guess she is pretty okay in contrast with the two other girls in the show. She doesn’t talk much and wearing unusually eye catching costume (some “liberties” were taken in the adaptation). she’s also kinda falls in love with Ken so… wow, ken has a harem.
Our other female character is Youko, a pastry chef from the future who seems to know Ken. You could say that both Youko and Ken were in the same situation at the beginning in the story however they ended up in vastly different positions in the end. Ken who almost got killed at the beginning, became a respected, autonomous and admired chef of Nobunaga. Youko on the other hand almost got raped, then became a puppet/slave; coerced by the (high status) monk who saved her. She has her skill and knowledge but is such a spineless weakling. Her pastry chef profession is shown to be inferior to Ken’s versatile culinary skills by the contrast of success the characters get (and the fact that ken can pull off pastries as well as said pastry chef). What’s even worse is that there is no development for Youko’s story to support the decisions/actions she makes even if you interpret her actions as either simple minded or manipulative. Heck, she doesn’t even say much at all.
I believe that this story shows how deeply entrenched beliefs about traditional gender roles are in Japan. It sends the message that the women of today, when faced with the same obstacles as a man is: unsuccessful, unable to adapt, incapable, spineless, weak, dependent, and worthless unless to further support a man. It suggests that the view of women from the past is not so much different from the view of modern day women, having common traits of weakness and helplessness. Finally it also sends the message that the stories of heroism and ingenuity only worth telling are male ones.
I would say the message is totally depressing, but I can still enjoy the series. It does manage to at least avoid insulting the female gender unlike other shows out there (I’m talking about those ditzy, klutzy, stupid female side kicks). at least there’s that….
[Anime] Fall 2012
It was a season with a surprising amount of shoujo (3) most of which I am currently reading!
Kamisama Hajimemashita
I love the fantasy element of this shoujo. I liked the romance but I wish there was more of an emphasis on spiritual training, exorcisms, action, adventure as well. Nanami’s character is similar to Tooru from Fruuba but less ditzy so it is touching when she helps others but it is also a limited nurturing female type of character.
Tonari no Kaibutsukun
There was a big fuss over one line haru says (“I’ll rape you”) which rubbed many people the wrong way. Truthfully, when I read it the first time I did not give much thought to it (violence is violence and is of course not okay). It is not representative of the whole story and is not a big part of the show. The story has better character development than the other shoujo this season I think (although may not be perfect).
There are way more anime that exploit women’s bodies more consistently; contributing to the objectification, harassment and violence against women yet it is a-OK for most anime watchers.
Suki-tte Iina yo
I like the romance in this series and how it focuses on high school body image and self esteem. Sometimes though it is not a perfect picture of healthy relationships but well, what can you do?
Robotic Notes
truthfully, I only watched a few episodes and so far it seems like a shounen series like Medabots. I like how the girl is so into it because that is like how I was when I was younger. I hope they don’t turn her into a sexy gamer creature or catch her with her pants down or smt.
[Cartoon] Young Justice
I just watched the first two episodes, and I am excited to see more. There is no doubt that it was androcentric with a plot that included 4 guys doing fantastic shit. The fifth female member joins when all of the action is done and she is like an outsider; an other. I hope she will be an awsome character in the future and there will be more female centered stories in the future though (I wouldn’t count on it). 
[Anime] 2012 Summer
Sword Art Online
I was hesitant to start this series because of all the lewd images I see on the net but I like the concept of the story (being stuck in a mmorpg). There isn’t any obscene fanservice so far but it is definitely androcentric. The characters (and plot) are very shallow and stereotypical but I am still interested to see what happens next.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous
a josei love triangle drama that is in the perpective of one of the guys. The girl is forward for a change. It’s sometimes awkward to watch but hey it’s one of a few anime that is not catered to guys.
Uta Koi
anthologies of poems (mostly about love). The stories are related to to the Karuta card game and gives a interpretation of the poems. I just watch this when I have time since each story is short.
[e-movie] Brave (2012) Drama
I just watched this and I just had to write about it. It was an entertaining movie with a lot of humour and a dash of action scenes. I did however have some problems with the simplicity and narrow scope of the plot, and somewhat shallow characters.
From looking at a few trailers, I thought the story would be about Merida getting into trouble as a result of her archery. Instead I got a teen rebellion domestic mother-daughter drama. There is nothing new or an interesting spin on this type of story that hasn’t been done before (brother bear, tangled). The conflict for the movie was about family drama around an arranged marriage… which is really too simple. I suppose marriage is a common issue in princess stories but if this movie was trying to impower women, it should broaden the story beyond marriage and domestic life.
Merida was suppose to be a stong female character maybe even femenist. I would say that she might have been if the plot wasn’t so limited. The movie gives her exceptional archery and survival skills that she gets to show off however, these skills are used only to prove to her mother what she is capable of.
Fate was a major aspect of the movie but it was used as an excuse to arbitrarily progress the story (will of wisps, enchantments).  Merida wanted to change her fate however she resorted to buying an enchantment to change her mother rather than taking her fate into her own hands. This makes her into a rather weak character which reinforces female and teen stereotypes. Why is this movie even called “Brave”? There was nothing really brave about… trying to fix wishful thinking that lead to disaster, more like you need to be responsible. She was also fighting her father and mordu without even needing to overcome any fears either.
The movie focused on the relationship of Merida and her mother. Other characters (family, suitors, non-existant friends) were treated as mere decoration. This severeley limits the development of Merida’s character as well as the whole cast and the quality of the movie. because she is most noteably defined by the relationship with her mother (which was also lacking) rather than with her friends, work, citizens, and other pursuits etc. After watching the movie, I did not find I was particularly attached to any character.
Merida and her mother’s conflict is caused by not understanding each other. The enchantment was suppose to indirectly bridge that gap by turning the mom into a bear. It is a common trope used to change perception of a character but it was not appropriate in this case (why a bear?!). As the movie goes on the pemanence of the change becomes  a more serious problem that is Merida’s fault. The message is: that it is bad for a child to want to be heard and the only way to do so is to threaten their mother’s life. I felt really bad for Merida for persecuting herself over this.
How was this Magical mix up resolved? It was very uncertain. It could have been when Merida fixed the tapestry she cut; or for apologizing to her mother for turning her into a bear; or apologizing for not being a responsible, grateful and filial daughter to begin with? Either way it was a very one sided resolution especially in the last moments.
Earlier the mother changed her mind about the arranged marriage just when her daughter made a speech about accepting it (to make a distraction). Mom then suggests that whoever can win her heart can marry her. This solution was vague and seriously mislead the suitors to believe it was another obstacle to overcome; they still had a chance. Doing so also does not automatically fix her relationship with her daughter.
When the mother was a bear, I saw scenes where mother and daughter discovered things they didn’t know before about each other. For example how skilled Merida is at archery and her survival skills and how the mother is silly when she is a bear (why a bear?!). From this they both decide to change their minds about the decisions they made initially. There was not much substance in this change because their motivations for doing so was superficial.
I did cry when Merida was blaming herself for causing harm to her mom and desperately trying to fix her mistake. The movie did well in convincing me of that however I don’t think the movie should expect that a happy ending was achieved after that. I would imagine that she would always remember this as something terrible she had done to her mother and would still blame herself for it for the rest of her life. After effects of these events could include inability to cope with future crisis, low self esteem, low confidence, persecution complex etc.
I was expecting a little more from Pixar, but I suppose the reason why this story was different from most other Pixar films was because Disney was involved and they wanted this movie to become a new disney classic.