The Problem with Anime Live Action Portrayals

 

(Okay full disclosure before we get going, I know a lot of people don’t consider Avatar to be Anime, however in many aspects, I think it is close enough in many aspects. Stylistically, it is very similar to things like Studio Ghibli and other mediums.)

If it wasn’t plainly obvious, I love anime! Cowboy Beebop, Battleship Yamato, Trigun, Naruto, Ruroni Kenshin, Fairy Tail, the list goes on. However there seems to be a major problem when transitioning these stories from animation to live action. For some reason, everyone assumes that the entire cast should be Asian. Any time a character that is perceived to be Asian or any other race  is portrayed by someone who is white, is often referred to as being ‘white washed’.

Frankly, given that the same standard does not apply in the other direction (Nick Fury, Dark Tower, etc.) I will not use that term as I consider it racist. Personally, I’ve always been of the mindset that if someone is a good fit for a role, can accurately portray the character’s personality, and respect the original source, then I really don’t care what race the actor is.

If someone came to me saying that they wanted to do a live-action Drakin, and portray Raiya as Japanese, I be excited to see what they come up with.

Anyway, onto the topic at hand…

So why do people, ironically mostly western audiences, expect live action movies based on anime to be portrayed by all Asians? Well often times it’s because Anime is such a huge part of Japanese culture, other times because people believe that Asian actors are under represented, and so on.

The argument on the other side is that a lot of anime characters actually look very Eurocentric and… that’s arguable. Put into context, part of the reason anime characters look fair-skinned with large eyes can be traced back to Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy. The original series helped bring anime into global recognition. Tezuka was a fan of, and highly inspired by the style and designs of Walt Disney. He liked the large eyes and incorporated them into his character designs. Because so many series draw their style from this original work, large eyes became predominant over many series to come. However, where western audiences see western characters, those same characters are seen as Japanese by their audiences from Japan. To me, this isn’t a failure of the design, it’s actually a plus. That these characters are designed in such a way where their race is left ambiguous, people can see them however they want.

Now, does that mean that many of these roles should be portrayed by more Asian people? In some cases… yes I agree if you’re going for visual accuracy, but I think in these need to be taken on a case by case basis and analyzed instead of just painting with a broad brush. Let’s take a look at two examples…

Example 1 M. Night Shyamalan’s (Sigh) The Last Airbender…

Here we see an absolute mess of characters that are arguably miscast. Let’s go down the list one by one of the various portrayals.

The Waterbenders (Katara and Sokka)…

Airbender_El_Ultimo_Guerrero-Cartel

This is arguably one of the worst portrayals in the movie, if we’re going by the rules that people should be portrayed by a perceived race… I would say that Katara and Sokka should be portrayed by someone who could pass as an Inuit if not by an actual Inuit, respectively:

Airbender_El_Ultimo_Guerrero-Cartel

Next let’s look at the Earth Benders…

Earth-Kingdom-Warriors-avatar-the-last-airbender-1272230-500-333

vs.

(Hehe, sorry… the Devil made me do it!)

So I think most people argue that in this case, the portrayal is accurate. Though… I don’t know, you could make the case for Siberian Russian here as well, if not strictly going by their clothing and buildings. However, this one was fine for more people, so we’ll leave it at that.

The Fire Benders…

Airbender_El_Ultimo_Guerrero-Cartel.jpg

vs.

Airbender.jpg

Okay, obviously these characters are poorly portrayed all around, but I would argue that doesn’t have… as much to do with their races as it does the actual people chosen. I’m sorry, but he looks NOTHING like Uncle Iroh and didn’t even come close to getting his personality right…

As for the racial issue… yes the architecture of the Fire Kingdom does look… arguably Chinese, you could make the case that, given the climate of India and the Middle East, they would be closer to what a ‘Fire Nation’ would look like. So while the portrayal is terrible, I think using people of Middle Eastern descent for the Fire Nation is a… fairly interesting take. I could see it working… just not like this.

Finally… Aang…

(See the Title Image)

Arguably this is the best portrayal in the movie. I have no issue with Aang being a white kid and I really think, visually, Noah Ringer was actually a really good choice for the role. Feel free to disagree, but you can’t deny that he looks the part.


Example 2:

The Controversial Casting from Ghost in the Shell:

ghost-in-the-shell-21

I know a lot of people took issue with this, saying that she clearly was supposed to be portrayed by an Asian woman… however… I don’t think so. Scarlett Johansson looks the part and I think did an amazing job in the role.

I also have to note that most of the criticism above comes from… ironically enough, western audiences. Yeah, odd though it may sound… Asian audiences, as well as the creators, actually liked Johansson’s portrayal.

So when it comes to mediums where one character appears as… or is implied by some, to be a certain race, do you need to find an actor to portray them properly?

Well… the answer is, it depends. If we’re talking about an Anime that actually takes place in an Asian country like Ruroni Kenshin, then every effort should be made to find a suitable Japanese actor… or at least an Asian who looks convincingly Japanese. Kenshin is a Japanese Samurai, thus it really wouldn’t make sense to have anyone else portray them.

However, when we’re talking about fantasy worlds, I think as long as the creator and the culture being portrayed largely doesn’t have an issue with it, then it’s not up to the audience at all.  As long as neither of those parties are offended, I really don’t see an issue. What’s more, they don’t need people to be offended on their behalf. They can speak up and object if they have a problem with it.

So… what does everyone think? Am I correct in saying that, excepting in specific examples, race shouldn’t be a determining factor in any role as long as the character can be accurately portrayed, or should it be taken more into consideration? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Total Drama: The Ridonculous Review

Oh… what does one say about this little gem of Canadian programming?

Imagine pairing Jay and Silent Bob,
spudandrock.JPG

Chris Farley and David Spade:
RRON.png

Bill and Ted
Donculous_RaceBig

part of the cast of Police Academy:
maxresdefault

Your wise-cracking father and his tennis partner:
total_drama__ridonculous_race_gerry_and_pete_by_tdlrhd-d946skj.png

and

The Stars of Beauty and the Bitch:
tomandjen

into teams and having them race for a prize of one million dollars…

You’d have about as hilarious a show as you could come up with!

I watched Total Dram Island/Action, the show this was spun from, when it was released on the Cartoon network so many years ago. It was funny and good for a laugh… and then I decided to let my kids watch it because I was getting annoyed with the stuff they typically had on. (Seriously, there’s only so many times you can watch ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ before it starts messing with your sanity!)

The plan backfired and my wife and I wound up watching it more than they did. Anyway, I had no idea that this show made it into a fourth or fifth season… let alone a spinoff.

Well we made it through the comical yet somewhat repetitive Total Drama series and then saw the Ridonculous Race. We’d really had enough and were ready to move on to something else, but decided to at least give the first episode a watch.

… It’s been a long time since I laughed that hard. Seriously, this is just one of those shows where once it starts, it just doesn’t stop! There is literally no relief of low point throughout the show. Whoever the writers were, they deserve a lot of credit. Creating a show that just constantly lands jokes over and over again until you’re laughing so hard that you can’t breathe… and then does it again with the next episode, cannot be easy.

Animation-wise, the show is stylized like its predecessor and somewhat basic, but I give that a pass as you can’t have it all. We weren’t going to get 3-D animation when clearly the show spent the majority of its money on writers, of which I have no complaints about.

Every team has their quirks, you wind up rooting for more then one (Unless its the skaters… did anyone really want to see them win?) and are saddened when they’re eliminated, but then there is always a team to replace them.

So honestly, if you are in need of a laugh, this show will GUARANTEED give you just what you need!!!

Here’s a little clip of one of my favorite episodes:

Enjoy and happy laughing!!!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Sorry, Identity Politics Doesn’t Sell

Ugh… I’d really hoped we were done with this. I really did.

I’ve already railed about why Spider Gwen is lackluster at best, despite every will in me in the world wanting to love it.

We’ve also seen how Sony and Paul Fieg’s insertion of gender politics into Ghostbusters ruined what could have otherwise been a marginally successful movie.

Comic book sales have sadly been dropping for the last 10 years or so and they’re not showing signs of going back up. Why is that?

Really? Haven’t I said it over and over again?

Okay… let me put it plainly…

PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE BEING PREACHED AT!!!

It is a fact. In almost every case whenever a movie, comic book, video game, etc. has come out and attempts to force an identity politics agenda in a blatant way, it tends not to do very well. 

But Jim, wasn’t X-Men all about that sort of thing? You seemed to like that.

True, but there is a difference. Stan Lee’s X-Men really did it the right way, they used metaphors and good story-writing to get the point across. They did not stand there and have their characters either break the 4th wall, or start randomly spewing identity politics in an almost out of character way.

Good examples include the Arrow calling himself a Social Justice Warrior, or an ancient Norse God having an opinion out of nowhere about what’s currently going on in Israel.

Okay… so from what I started to dig up, this all appears to have started with Joe Quesada did things like this with Spiderman’s ‘One More Day’ and to this day still hasn’t lived it down as far as I know.

Unfortunately this opened the floodgates to writers who are more interested in pushing an agenda than actually telling a good story.

The Mockingbird writing from what I understand is cringe-worth. It is patronizing your entire audience regardless of whether they agree with you or not.

Now do we all remember what happens when we start referring to the social justice calendar in dealing with people?

WE ELECT DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT!!!

Seriously, what happens when you tell geeks and their culture, which has been established for many decades, that they are sexist, racist, bigots, and your writing reflects your negative view of them?

Keeping in mind, these are people who are typically okay with changes in the universe as long as the writing is good…

They stop reading your comics.

I myself have personally sworn off Marvel comics almost entirely. I still read the Deadpool/Spiderman crossover because I find it hilarious, but even that seems to be handled with some kid gloves in many ways.

You’re pandering to groups with garbage writing that do not even read comics. It’s not just about agenda, though that is a huge part of it. It is also about horrible writing. In Marvel, that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Politics over story, agenda over enjoyment… and the fans are beginning to notice.

Unfortunately the writers don’t seem to get it as they’ve not only not stopped, they’ve doubled down. The person who created the comic in my feature image has referred to her detractors as misogynist bullies. Most say that if you don’t like the comic, don’t buy it.

Well Marvel… you win. We’re not buying it, but I have news for you, neither are the social justice/identity politics crowd. Why? Because the majority of them can’t be bothered with comics and tend to look down their noses at geek culture and the community it spawned.

I hope your happy.

Mark… Superheroes are not SJWs. They don’t immediately turn to violence or run to Tumblr crying when they don’t get their way. They’re not in favor racially exclusive (segregated) safe spaces or housing for people. They’re not promoting hate and intolerance under the guise of empowering whatever group of people they claim to stand for…

Go away? Don’t worry Mark, we are… that’s why comic sales are all but dead. Star Wars is the only thing saving you guys right now…

Anyway, everyone let me know what you think in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Visual Writing?

Hi Jim,

I’m having trouble writing a few of my characters. I have a picture in my head of how these people should look, but I’m having trouble translating that onto paper. Please help!

Thanks,
Mili


Hi Mili,

All right, the best thing you can do is make a visual of these characters. Do you have someone in mind that they are modeled after?
Let me give you an example… When I wrote Mary Kelly, I had an image in mind of what I wanted her to look like;
Red Hair,
Blue Eyes
Rather stereotypical Irish-esque ginger
A sharp jawline that gives off a someone ‘tough’ look regardless of her mood.

I had no idea who she looked like and started brainstorming who I would cast in her role.

My wife provided me a suggestion that was dead-on:

600full-rose-leslie

(Yes, yes, I know, she’s not Irish.)

Rose Leslie looked the part almost perfectly. So, with a little dramatic license, I described her as I would have described Leslie. Yes over time this changed and I made a few updates here and there, but that was my base.

See if you can pick it out:

“Even after discovering that she was there, she was impossible to see until she moved. The lack of lighting where she stood cloaked every feature except the curvature of her form. She was little more than a black figure, but as she moved, the nearby light shined on her features. She was slender with extremely fair skin and bright red hair that was long enough to reach below her shoulder blades, and was brushed back to stay out of her face. She had very light freckles that seemed to congregate on her cheekbones and nose just below her eyes. Despite her scowl, the edges of her lips were curved in a way that she almost always had a slight smile on her face. When her lips curled, they caused a small fold in the philtrum under her nose. She was strikingly pretty, even with a disgusted look on her face.”

So that’s your first option, find someone who matches what your character looks like and write them. That’s the way I’ve written a few of mine.

Another option, if you have some artistic talent, you can always sketch out what you have in mind for a character and then describe the character you’ve drawn out:
Xaph

So those are basically the two ways that I can offer. They say a picture is worth a thousand words… so then make a picture. Now you’ve got your thousand words to describe that person.

Hope this helps!

Thanks!
Jim

 

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Can video games be considered art?

It’s a tough question to answer. Certainly in this day and age they are not considered ‘high-art’ but when programming backgrounds and beautiful scenery, its hard not to consider them as such.

Let’s consider Skyrim for a moment… someone (me) goes through hours upon hours coding, re-texturing, and updating the graphical properties of the game, using some mods he downloaded and some that he created on his own to create scenery that is on par if not superior to new releases. Could the imagery he comes up with be considered art?

Let me give you a few examples to look at:

Given the extreme detail and the amount of hard work that goes into such things, no two modded Skyrims are exactly the same. Could imagery like this not be considered art?

I think it can, and eventually video game designers will soon be considered the artists that they deserve to be, but I’ll open it up to the floor.

Readers, would you consider this art?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Lady Mechanika Review!

Lady Mechanika is a creator-owned comic book series by Joe Benitez, inspired by the steampunk genre. “Steampunk” is all about re-imagining history, usually combining the elegance of the Victorian Era with more advanced science fiction technology.

The tabloids dubbed her “Lady Mechanika“, the sole survivor of a mad scientist’s horrific experiments which left her with mechanical limbs. Having no memory of her captivity or her former life, Mechanika eventually built a new life for herself as a private detective, using her unique abilities to solve cases the police couldn’t or wouldn’t handle. But she never stopped searching for the answers to her own past.

Set in turn of the century England, a time when magic and superstition clashed with new scientific discoveries and inventions, Lady Mechanika is about a young woman’s search for her own identity as she solves other mysteries involving science and the supernatural.

-Benitez Productions


I’m going to start off by saying that I typically go straight for comic books that I’m familiar with. It’s always the big ones for Marvel and DC that we all know and love. Occasionally, I’ll check out another book that someone has told me about over time, but usually I’m not the browsing type. I may change that…
Upon entering my local comic shop, I was looking at a few of the older DC comics that came out. On the newer release shelf something caught my eye… (Pictured above) Lady Mechanika The Tablet of Destinies, caught my eye. I love super detailed art work… and have been a HUGE fan of anything steampunk ever since I was first introduced to Studio Ghibli’s movies. I love the style and always enjoyed stories surrounding such universes.

I picked up the book and flipped through it… I was honestly impressed. In most cases, the artwork on the cover is a lot better than what is actually inside the comic. I don’t know why that is, but there’s almost always a quality image on the cover, with the interior being almost completely different…
00a_LMTPB.jpg
As you can see, the artwork is beyond dazzling. You could easily and justifiably use almost any of these images as the cover of one of their books. You can honestly see that these indie comics are a labor of love for the people who make them.

On to the story, honestly, I would say that this is a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes, set in Steampunk Europe of the 19th Century. Lady Mechanika at times has that very stoic, unshakable temperament that we see from Holmes, but she is haunted by a past that won’t go away. I won’t give away much here, but we do see her haunted by her past, which is a mystery she is trying to unfold while solving other cases as well.

Unlike most comics, this isn’t a serial that goes on and on like most comics. It’s divided into several mini series (Again… like the Holmes novels). Each one is a different case and a different story, all of which are tied together by Mechanika’s past, which she is trying to solve;
The Demon of Satan’s Alley
The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse
The Tablet of Destinies
The Lost Boys of West Abbey 
La Dama De La Muerte

Each of these series is usually between 2-6 issues. Unfortunately, this also means that there is a brief period between production where no comic is released. Usually this spans a few months before the next set comes out. Given the detail and the amount of work that goes into the comics, I fully get why, but its hard for those of us who love these stories.

It also makes finding back issues hard. The runs are limited and for a popular series… that means higher prices on ebay as they get older. I could go on and on about these, but really, I don’t want to spoil anything. This is an incredible series. If you like mysteries, adventure, fantasy, and/or steampunk… yeah this is one series that is a must for your collection!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

No Permanent Death in Fantasy

This is something that has been irking me for some time now. It’s a recurrent theme in most fantasy fiction, in stories, comics, and in movies. No matter what happens in a fantasy universe, there is always a way to bring a character back. No matter what. If the character is popular, there will always be an incantation, or special portal, or some sort of God creature that can resurrect a dearly departed member of your cast.

This has been done over and over again. In Marvel, Jean Grey aka Phoenix, aka Marvel Girl has died multiple times, and multiple times been brought back by the Phoenix force. Superman’s death has been emulated and repeated many times, and even in other stories, characters die off only to be brought back a few stories later. Probably the most glaring example is Spock being brought back from his intense radiation burns in Star Trek 3.

People… please don’t do this. This is a trend that needs to stop. Why? Honestly because it takes all the weight out of death. In the first Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save her friends. It’s powerful, it causes ripples in the Marvel Universe, and was considered one of the best and most powerful stories in Marvel History…

Yeah… too bad it was completely undone a few years later by retconning the whole incident saying that Jean in fact had not been killed. It was the Phoenix in her form. The result of this was a previously well-liked superhero, Cyclops, having to suffer an extreme character assassination when he leaves his wife and baby to find Jean, it turns said wife who was also a well-liked character into a bad guy… and it left one hell of a mess on Marvel that has never been fully cleaned up. Perhaps the biggest crime here is that it took all the weight out of her original death and has continued to be diluted more and more with each time she’s resurrected.

The same can be said for Superman’s death or any other character in these universes. Any time in fantasy we see someone die, it never effects me anymore… not even in Game of Thrones. I just wait and see because it seems like very few deaths in Fantasy are ever permanent.

I’ve seen this attitude surrounding death in most fantasy worlds from readers and viewers alike. They don’t take it seriously and it has no lasting impact. Good story-writing makes you feel something for a character, it’s supposed to bring out emotions and make you react.

dark-disciple-cover-collage
Example (SPOILER ALERT!!!): in Christie Golden’s fantastic novel; Star Wars Dark Disciple, she writes about a character that I truly love; Asajj Ventress. I’ve watched her go from a ruthless killing Sith Apprentice to an honorable loner bounty hunter, and in this story, though she still flirts with the dark side, she’s as close to a Jedi as she ever gets. I can honestly say that when she dies, it’s unexpected… and yes, my eye surrendered a tear.

That is what is supposed to happen and it doesn’t anymore, which is too bad. These deaths are met with indifference.

Why does this happen?

Honestly, often it’s poor story writing where the writer has backed themselves into a corner or fan outcry over the character’s death.

(SPOILER ALERT!!)
But wait, YOU DID THIS! You brought Lia’na back in your novel, Gravestalker!!
10488089_813005665398863_7863809846744532663_n
Yes I did… I admit it. However, her death was never intended to be permanent. I killed her off so that one of my other characters would attempt to bring her back using ancient magic that he shouldn’t even be attempting and inadvertently triggers a zombie apocalypse as a result. I want to make this clear, her death was NEVER meant to be permanent. Even so, a part of me has regretted doing this.

So then isn’t it possible that a lot of these are doing the same thing?

In some cases, yes. I will acknowledge that a fake-out death is a good plot device if used properly. That’s not what I have a problem with. My problem is with characters that were clearly meant to remain dead, and even admitted so by their writers (Phoenix, Darth Maul), and those who continuously use the fake-out deaths to keep their stories going… even HISHE touched on this in their Captain America review:

Honestly, it’s just weak story-telling and really needs to stop. But that’s my opinion. Am I way off or dead on? Let me know below!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim