OCP: May 2005

Samurai Champloo

"Some people die in the name of the sacrifice."

Samurai Champloo premiered on [adult swim] last Saturday. The boys from Williams Street promised that you wouldn't even have to like samurai stuff or anime; the show rocked that much. I wouldn't know, but I liked it anyway.

The show is stylized out the wing-wang[no pun intended]. Every line, though traditionally drawn, has the loose feel of Shinichiro Watanabe's 'Sketchyvision' which first appeared in Animatrix:Kid's Story. Then later in the Linkin Park video for "Breakin' the Habit". The animation itself is akin to the 'Tower of Fear' shorts with LeBron James made for Nike. The music is straight-up, old-school, hiphop. The opening theme song being sung by Fat Joe with Forces of Nature1, which is something of a first. Yes, an anime series being licensed with US music. Be shocked. Be even more shocked that it's actually appropriate. The hip-hop theme permeates the show to such an extent that some of the scene transitions are even presented as video remixes. During fight scenes, the camera goes all shaky cam, and a low key background beat comes up, like the rhythm of a rap song. Speaking of the fights: for a show that starts off with a disclaimer stating that it's a work of fiction and not an accurate historical portrayal, the swordfighting is some of the most realistic I've ever seen. Samurai weren't trained for speech-attack-block-attack-dodge-get-hit-use-special-technique-win2 swordfights. They were supposed to kill lightly- to non-armoured enemies as quickly as possible.

1. I think. I don't read Japaneese, and am writing this offline.
2. Ruroni Kenshin who?

Eragon, etc.

I've been rereading Christopher Paolini's Eragon over the past few days. Paolini's could contrat his sentences a little more, and his segues could use some work, but it's a good book. I've noticed some ten-pound hints that Paolini dropped. They're spoilered below. Feel free to reuse them if you give me credit and a link.

  • Gabatorix is Eragon's father.

    Now, before you start composing angry emails, think about this: we don't know who Eragon's mother conceived him by. We do know that the Forsworn would keep the existance of any child of theirs secret. We know that Galbatorix killed the kking of the Rider's with a flaming sword. We know that the first spell Eragon used was fire. We also know that the last spell he used in the book was also fire. Specifically, a flaming sword. More than just coincidence, dontcha think? Not to mention that the woman was named Selena, and Eragon doesn't know his mom's name. Her fate was described as 'bleak'. Even Eragon wonders if she's his mom.

  • Solembaum has met Eragon's mother.

    Agatha said only three people, ever, have been able to talk to the werecat besides her: A woman, a blind beggar, and Eragon. I don't have any evidence, but Galbatorix probably instructed her in some small magics, as Morzan did Murtagh's mother. Brom distinctly says anyone can communicate mentally with the proper training. I also suspect that the blind man is the Mourning Sage, but again, I've got nothing.

  • Eragon will marry Arya
    I shouldn't have to explain this one: Agatha's prophecy stated that Eragon would marry a lady of noble birth. We know virtually nothing about Arya: except that she was considered good enough to carry the egg. The woman Eragon will fall in love with is also "powerful, wise, and beautiful beyond compare." Technically, if Galbatorix is his father, Eragon is a prince.




May 7th

Let's see...USA broadcasts The Cell the same week that Psychonauts is released. Coincidence, my foot.

'The Cell' is an intresting, movie, in concept. Truth be told, I stopped watching it for the plot, and ended up watching it for seeing Jennifer Lopez in costumes, like a Barbie doll. See Casual Jen! See Goddess Jen! See BondageGothyangstywarriorVirginmary Jen! And all of them look hot! Especially Gothyangstywarriorchick Jen.

The plot itself was somewhat contrived, especially the final twist of the movie. But visually, the movie is well done. No one explains why a guy who's King of his own mind even needs servants. And I find it hard do believe that there was no way to save them both, or that a bullet can't break a glass pane, merely put a hole in it. I thought common sense would tell him to shoot the glass in the corner, where it's under the most pressure. Sheesh.

From what I've seen, Psychonauts is a fantastic game. X-Play pointed out that the game ignores the industry's obsession with realism, and focuses on stylization. Scott McCloud once said, in effects, that it's easier to empathize with stylized characters, as it is easy to project oneself onto them. On the Penny-Arcade forums, in a thread on art, someone refernced that principle, and remarked that there is a difference between the critiques of stylized work and realist work. I can't remember the exact difference, but I believe stylized work was said to be critiqued on colors and linework, while realist work got criticized on proportion and lighting.

May 10th

There is a trend among critics of videogames to say "If you take away X, Y is just another Z", where Z is the genre, Y is the game, and X is the defining characteristic of the game. For example, "if you take away the pretty graphics, epic story, great multiplayer, quality sound, and orchestral music, Halo is just another FPS." Most recently, this criticism has been levelled at Tim Schafer's Psychonauts. Wile the game has been getting near-universally great reviews, it's detractors claim that without the hilarious story, stylized art direction, incredible voice acting, and unique premise, the game is "just another platformer". By the time the listeners untangle to statement to find the logical fallacy it is built on, the critic is off somewhere, badmouthing the game to someone else. It's essentially saying that one has to remove elements just to find something bad, which is a clear indication of bias. I believe the fallacy specifically involves judging the whole by one of its parts. Those who use this fallacy will usually ignore parts which are of quality to focus on the flawed one[s]

The saddest part is that this one is almost impossible to spot without later analysis, so it usually slips through.