Alita Battle Angel (Movie Review)

When it comes to transforming anime or manga into live action films, it can lean in two ways: being an actually good movie or go horribly wrong. Every couple of years or so, we’ve been getting live actions adaptations that have gone wrong such as Netflix’s Death Note and thus being completely disappointed. Alita Battle Angel is an adaptation of the cyberpunk manga created by Yukito Kishiro. Ever since the trailer came out I had this small hope that this movie can be one of these adaptations that could actually be good and please the anime community.

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 Alita Battle Angel is a film directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron. In 2563, planet Earth has survived a war known as “The Fall.” There is a city floating above the earth in the sky, called Zalem, but beneath it, there is a city called Iron City. The story is about Alita (Rosa Zalasar) a cyborg that has been saved by the doctor Ido (Christopher Waltz) but she doesn’t recall who she is. Alita starts to uncover clues to her past but also finding out the secrets of Zalem and a mysterious scientist called Nova.

From the start of the movie, it looks like they put a lot of time and effort into creating this cyberpunk world. Giving us an aesthetically pleasing experience accompanied by good use of CGI. James Cameron had the rights for this film for a long time now and it certainly looks how much passion and love he had for this story by how the film was made. Paying homage to the main style of the manga with all the details that have been passed into the movie.

screen-shot-2018-05-07-at-2-53-55-pmRosa Zalasar has the main spotlight in the movie by giving us a good performance throughout the movie. Christopher Waltz also stands out with his role as Ido. But, they hired good actors such as Mahershala Ali by giving them small roles that were just there to move the plot of the story. Left me wishing they could have used him more in the film.

The movie certainly had some cheesy and cliche moments. The romance between Alita and the love interest Huge felt forced.  I just wasn’t invested in their relationship and when they had their tragic moments I just didn’t feel moved by it. Sure, it does make Alita more human but their love story didn’t work out for me.

Alita Battle Angel is a passion project that’s been transcribed into film. Even doe every adaptation suffer from minor changes, this movie sticks with the main story. Giving us a visual Syfy experience that anime fans would certainly enjoy.

I give this movie 3 / 5 cyborgs.

Alita Battle Angel trailer:

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Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san: An anime for book lovers

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in a bookstore? Well, Skull-Face bookseller Honda-San (Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san) shows you what it’s like to work in such an environment at the pace of 11 minutes. The concept is simple; It’s about a socially awkward Skull named Honda – san that works in a bookstore. He’s surrounded by his coworkers; a girl with a cat mask, jack-o-lantern head, armor mask, and the list goes on. Strange isn’t it? But by doing so, it gives this character quirky identities that somewhat work in this anime. making an exaggerated representation of real people.

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Each episode is a gag that so happens when they are surrounded by normal everyday scenarios around the workplace. Things like restocking books on the shelf, dealing with customers and their strange requests, service training and language barriers such as Brazilian tourist coming into a Japanese bookstore.

47278271_569118703535756_5636366061637992448_n.pngThe humor, other than being normal scenarios, are the funny references that they give throughout the episodes. Giving us a lot of anime and manga references. Even when the anime isn’t licensed to mention it; they only bleep out or distortion a letter so that the audience can still understand what they are talking about.

Skull-Face bookseller Honda-San is a little slice of life/comedy anime that shows you the life of retail workers. But it also presents you the business side of working on this industry. Such as dealing with the Japanese publishing companies, promotions, and the hardship of working on the distribution chain. It’s an anime that will entertain you with their quirky humor and will certainly put a smile in your face.

PS. Honda-San gives us a word of advice…

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{ Pictures and anime are by Crunchyroll }

 

Romanticism in Princess Mononoke

Romanticism is the birth of a new set of ideas; a mindset and a way of feeling it wasn’t a political movement, rather an artistic one. This movement began in Western Europe towards the end of the 18th century. Romanticism was born as a consequence of the rejection against the enlightenment: where the scientific and the Industrial Revolution began. The transition of handmade production passed to be made from machines; this includes the development of new machinery and factories such have the textile industry. Another consequence is the urbanization and the advances in the scientific field.  Romanticism is the reaction of a transition to the modern world; where we leave the old to and embrace the new.

Romanticism is mostly found in different types of artistry. From writers, philosophers, artist and even musicians hopped on the movement. All of them have one thing in common; the nostalgic feeling of wanting everything how it used to be: where back then simplicity was valued.

Romanticism was a movement for people to escape the harsh reality from back then. Romanticist, by rejecting enlightenment; they refused to adhere the concept of it, reason cannot explain everything. They value emotions such as happiness, sadness, terrors, rather than logic itself. Practitioners believe that your knowledge comes from the experiences of your everyday life, Where the art of contemplation is used for critical thinking. “The subject of contemplation is gradually produced” (William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads). Romanticist also had a deep respect for nature. They think that being one with nature can be more giving rather than studying and picking up a book. “Let nature be your teacher” (William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned). Lastly, Romanticist cherished individuality and the imagination of a person.

As Romanticism ends in the 19th century. There’s no doubt that this period in time has inspired many writers and artist. Even until now, you could see the influence of romanticism in this day and age. One of them that constantly uses this posture in his work and sparked my interest is Hayao Miyazaki.

Japanese director and company owner of Studios Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki has shown examples of interpretation of the Romantic Movement throughout his filmography. From his first film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the sky to The Wind Rises. All of them share a common theme; nature. But, out of all his film, Princess Mononoke is the prime example of romanticism in today’s work.

The Film Princess Mononoke is about prince Ashitaka after he saved his village from an angry god. Before the god died; he puts a curse on his arm. Now, Ashitaka, instructed by his elder, must go and travel to the westward to find a cure. He finds himself in Iron town, where the leader of the town, Lady Eboshi and the villagers are in a constant fight with forest spirits, gods and the daughter of the goddess Moro, San (Princess Mononoke).

Throughout the film, there are many depictions and symbolisms that show the concept and values of romanticism. For starters, the plot itself is about humans going to war with the spirits or the forest, when the ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal villagers use their guns against the gods of the forest. Also when the villagers take their goods or cut down their trees; the gods and spirits of the forest fight against them. Here, seeing the relationship between humans and nature. Where humans want to dissect the environment for their own selfish needs. “We murder to dissect” (William Wordsworth, The Tables turned)

In the film, Miyazaki’s hand drew scenery is very much appreciated throughout the whole movie; beautiful scenery of nature itself. He uses symbolism and colors to show the difference between a healthy forest and one touched and dissected by humans. Dark colors to show a sick forest. An example is the scene is when the villagers are crossing a path to get to their village and what you see around the characters is deforestation. When the film wants to show a healthy forest, the colors are vibrant and in a classic Miyazaki way, he ads tiny forest spirits (akudamas) to symbolize an untouched, healthy forest.

Another instance of romanticism in this movie is the over control of emotions. As I said, romanticist valued emotions rather than logic itself. Ashitaka, being cursed by a boar god that was consumed by the emotion of hatred. In addition, Ashitaka’s cursed hand has control over him because he is driven by hate. Making him, try to distract himself and feel other emotions that aren’t hate to slow down the curse from spreading in his whole body. In the movie, the goddess daughter, San is driven by the feeling of revenge and Okkoto (the blind boar god) was driven by pride. Showing how emotions controlled the characters actions.

One of the main characters, San can be considered as a representation of a person that follows the values of romanticism. San lives in the forest with the gods and knows how important nature is. She’s against Lady Eboshi’s actions which is using nature’s resources and exploiting them for her own good. This character presents nature fighting back against humans that deed out of nature. Meanwhile, Ashitaka is a character that’s being introduced to all does values and it’s new to it. Where throughout the movie he learns how to coexist with nature and at the same time learns a valuable lesson from nature itself.

Romanticism is a movement that has a deep respect for nature. They believe that the only way to learn is to live and accept nature. Princess Mononoke, in a very imaginative way, is a prime example of how humans and nature need to coexist.This film depicts the environment as a victim of the corruption of the industrialization and the ambitions of humans to control nature. Where in a classic Miyazaki way; turns nature way into an embodiment of living things such’s has spirts or goods. He makes nature a sole identity that acts and reacts like one. San, the goddess daughter, is character that symbolizes the essence of a persona that follows the romanticist spirit. With the help of Ashitaka, they founded a way where humans and nature can come together and submit to nature’s way. Just like romanticist believed, that the only way to truly learn is to give yourself to nature.

 

Bibliography:

[image: https://pandycake.tumblr.com/post/38660467974]

The movie “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki

Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia. “Romanticism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 6 Dec. 2017, www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism

Worthworth, William. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. 1800

Worthworth William. The Tables Turned. The Works of William Wordsworth. England, Wordsworth Editions, 1994, pp.481-482.