The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 95 | The Weekly Digression

Leaving Proof 95 | The Weekly Digression
Published on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 by

We’ve got an animation-heavy Digression this week with my (spoiler-free) thoughts on the leaked The Legend of Korra debut episode, a look back on the cult anime hit FLCL, musing on Teletoon’s Friday night broadcast of Fight Club, and I finally do a themed mixtape.

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One of the big animation stories last week was the leaking of the highly-anticipated The Legend of Korra series pilot (for the uninitiated, the show is a continuation of Nickelodeon’s breakout hit Avatar: The Last Airbender). I haven’t been following the online speculation as to the source of the leak too closely, but from what I understand, there’s some evidence of it being an “unofficially” sanctioned bit of guerrilla marketing, meant to generate viral buzz in the lead-up to the show’s official debut next month. Whatever the case, I’ve seen the pilot and I have to say, it is quite impressive, both from a technical animation and a story standpoint.

Lead character Korra is a strong, self-assured female protagonist with just enough youthful idealism and naivete to be convincing as the product of a cloistered, monastic upbringing. I’m really digging the character design: I like her muscled—but not bulky—physique: it only makes sense that she would have an athletic build from a lifetime of training in the martial arts, and her appearance is a welcome departure from the stick-armed heroines so common in action-adventure animation and comics. The setting and prop design take some getting used to coming from the largely pre-industrial aesthetic of Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Legend of Korra is set 70 years after the end of the original series). I’ve read some complaints about the late 19th century-inspired look of the technology and architecture but I think it follows a solid internal logic: keep in mind that the first phase of the Industrial Revolution took all of 100 years; in a fictional setting where select humans can systematically manipulate fire, water, earth, and air via martial arts, it’s easy to imagine industrialization proceeding at a much faster pace.

Anyway, it’s looking like another excellent show from Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, and if it’s even half as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender, I’m definitely going along for the ride.

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FLCL (read as “fooly cooly”) is a Gainax/Production I.G. co-production that originally aired in Japan in 2000 and has been credited by the people behind Avatar: The Last Airbender as a major influence in their approach to animation and direction. It’s an unusual show, even by contemporary anime standards, combining a story about a young adolescent male’s coming of age with alien/robot hijinks and wrapping it all up in surreal imagery and blunt sexual metaphors. It’s not the most accessible animated Japanese export, certain aspects of the show’s humour (particularly jokes that are based on Japanese homophones) and the character interactions resist easy translation into Western counterparts, but anybody who’s ever struggled with the confusion over the changes engendered by adolescence will find broad parallels with FLCL‘s bizarre treatment of twelve-year old Naota’s maturation.

In a move that I wish more studios and IP owners would emulate, FUNimation Entertainment has actually put up all six episodes of the cult hit show on their official Youtube channel, in both English-dubbed and subtitled versions (viewing episodes 5 and 6 will require you to log-in with either a Gmail account or a Youtube account, as they’re rated for Mature Audiences). It’s an interesting tack that combats online bootlegging while generating an ad-supported revenue stream from a niche property.

The AV Club‘s Steven Hyden has written concise reviews and analyses of the episodes, which should help first-time viewers unfamiliar with anime tropes make sense of the more offbeat and kooky aspects of the show.

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Channel-surfing late at night last Friday, I came upon Fight Club being broadcast on Teletoon (the Canadian equivalent of the Cartoon Network). It’s not unusual to see 18+ rated live-action films on Teletoon’s late Friday night programming block (I’m pretty sure they’ve shown The Matrix and 300 before), but it did feel somewhat strange and more than a little funny seeing the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk‘s nihilistic novel on what is nominally a “kid’s channel”, broken up by ads for Reebok trainers, Volkswagens, Proactiv anti-acne cream, and McDonald’s McBistro sandwiches. So much for “advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”

http://youtu.be/SQikHg_y0-A?t=40s

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I didn’t want to leave our playlist’s fate to the whims of the Shuffle Button Gods this week so today’s mixtape consists of ten house tracks that were playing on SomaFM‘s Beat Blender station while I worked on this article  (song titles link to corresponding video/audio, if available):

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2 Responses
    • Watched the first episode of Korra on Friday.  Liked it alot.  I never really watched Avatar.  I’d seen some episodes and I knew the story and characters, so I could see how this came from that.  Korra is a great character and I like how everyone knows she’s the Avatar at the start, she’s a public figure.  Can do some great storylines off that.

      • I haven’t actually seen the second half of the one-hour premiere, just the first half that was supposedly leaked. YTV (the basic cable Nickelodeon affiliate in Canada) hasn’t picked it up yet, but I’m sure they will, sooner than later.

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