Waking Sleeping Beauty is a fascinating documentary highlighting the renaissance of Disney animation from 1984 and 1994. It goes in depth on how the perfect storm cam together to create amazing Disney films like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, and the Little Mermaid after it seemed like Disney animation was dying. The studio went from putting out box-office bombs to having Beauty and the Beast nominated for Best Picture by the Academy Awards. The film shows how the triumvirate of Roy Disney, Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg were all so instrumental in the success of these movies and how the tensions between them would eventually kill the renaissance as easily as they built it. The film uses archival footage, sketches, and caricatures from the artists of the time to ground the documentary in the period to great effect. It goes to show how luck plays just as much of a part in the creation of a great film as hard work does. Amazingly insightful and extremely well-executed. I think parallels could be made with the most recent rise and fall of anime as well for a clever soul out there.
What struck me as very unique about the story of Waking Sleeping Beauty is the focus on the artists, directors, musicians, and all other manners of the creation process rather than the infamous infighting between Roy, Michael, and Jeffery that has already been well-documented. This documentary goes deeper and really shows the hard-work of all those people who rarely made it into the newspaper. The way that it is cut together with only old footage much of which is very off the cuff like home movies (the only things that are new are some of the voiceovers) really helps it to feel grounded in reality and not like some glossy corporate highlights reel. What I found truly incredible about this 10 year journey was the proof of fate, that sometimes the right people come together at the right time and it can never be duplicated because the factors were so diverse. That isn’t to say that hard-work and dedication isn’t the most important part of this project, it’s central to what these animators especially went through to perfect these films, but there is a little bit of magic in these people getting together and making it all happen. Waking Sleeping Beauty is insightful, funny, moving, and may make you believe in Disney magic.
It seems like Fate/Stay Night TV Reproduction is based on the Wikipedia summary of Fate/Stay Night more than the game itself. It plays out like someone constantly hitting the fast forward button on the plot. The story is compressed so much from the visual novel to a 26 episode TV series then to two hour long episodes that it is incomprehensible to anyone that has not experienced some previous iteration of the franchise. In fact as out of character as it might seem I don’t think I could recommend this to anyone. Unless you need a refresher of the series everything goes by so quickly that anything newly added goes by unnoticed. Heck it is so rushed they can’t even spare the time to do all of Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works speech. Your best bet is just to watch the new opening in HD which is pretty sweet and call it a day.
I watched the latest Lupin III Special, The Last Job. This hour and half of anime includes the following: big-bosomed ninjas, car chases, a roaming band of kittens, explosions, ancient laser beams, a dog that can use smoke bombs, a psychopath with a deadly yo-yo, the mafia, the “death” of major character, a mutant bird-man, and history. It was entertaining, amusing, and fun…do you really need anything else from Lupin III?
I can easily picture how Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was created. When Tomino was forced to turn his idea for a 50 episode Gundam series into a single movie I am sure he was amazingly frustrated. So I assume that he just took the show notes for the TV series and adapted them directly into a movie script without any alternations overnight. The he got drunk on sake seconds afterward. Because that is exactly how Gundam F91 feels. I just sense that Tomino had these high points that he had written out like certain people changing sides, dieing, or discovering things. But he had them set up to be revealed over the course of a full length TV series. Now they just come off as a jumbled mess. Even more so than Tomino’s normal crazy. I will say that F91 is beautiful and the fight scenes are pretty sweet. It is a delightful piece of mecha porn but the movie is sort of a train wreck. Also Cecily Fairchild proves Gundam knows how to create attractive red headed pilots. This is a very good thing. If you are a Gundam fan it’s worth a look but everyone else should stay far far away. I wonder how much I will understand everything better after I read the Crossbone Gundam manga that supposedly explains quite a bit even if it is set after the movie.
While waiting for more Blade of the Immortal manga, I grabbed the novel The Legend of the Sword Demon. As per the author’s note in the back, the story is supposed to be a retelling and therefore doesn’t have to fit into the actual storyline. The story isn’t too far off the beaten path of what you’d expect from Blade of the Immortal though. We start with Rin and Manji’s first meeting and then follow them through a story about a monster of a swordsman who keeps showing up when Manji is fighting Itto-ryu guys. The story is well-written with fights that are vivid and tense plus the author has the personalities of the cast down. The one problem that arises with this book thanks to this new adversary is making Manji look a bit like a punk, this monster just keeps getting in his business! It’s like hey this fight is just getting interesting, oh wait now it is interrupted by demon beast! Also the ending fight is much more a highlight of how awesome (and he is oh so awesome) Magatsu is rather than Manji. The new pieces of art by Hiroki Samura are a welcome edition but I was a bit disappointed that the only new character, the Sword Demon, isn’t fully featured in any of them. The Legend of the Sword Demon is a quick, light read but may just make you want to read the manga even more.
We don’t have nearly enough mecha pictures so here is the F91: