I seem to be full of these lists lately. At least they’re keeping me writing. Again, I’ve decided to completely junk a previous list rather than revise it.
Posted in fragments of culture, pop culture and its discontents, Uncategorized
Tagged 2001: A Space Odyssey, Aliens, Dr. Strangelove, Movies, Pinocchio, Spirited Away, The Red Shoes, The Secret of NIMH, The Thing, Top Ten, Watership Down
I’d never seen Disney’s 1973 animated film Robin Hood before. Theoretically it could have been playing in the background at some point during my childhood, but I don’t have any memories of it that can’t be explained by way of pop-cultural osmosis. Nevertheless, I went into it with some preconceptions: the first being that, as a rule, 70s Disney sucks; the second that, as furry trash, I’m supposed to adore this movie, as this is supposedly the flick that irrevocably warped many young, impressionable minds, single-handedly creating the first wave of furries – or so the story goes. And feeling like I ‘should’ like something on account of my belonging to a particular group rather than on account of its aesthetic merits makes me more suspicious and critical than normal (see also: the Christian film market). Even a critical darling like Zootopia wound up being merely ok in my books.
In spite of that I rather enjoyed Robin Hood.
In spite of giving Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun top billing in my recent top 20 books list, I’ve long put off reading the other two series set in the same universe: The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun. But, for whatever reason I was inspired to pick up the former, and have recently finished the first volume, Nightside of the Long Sun.
Nightside is an unusual book by Wolfe’s standards – his standard first-person unreliable narrator has been replaced by a more omniscient third-person one, and it’s lacking much of the feel that each chapter is a literary puzzle to be unraveled. The result is that it’s a much more straightforward, conventional read than most of his books, although the setting remains rather obliquely described.
So I designed a space princess. It was only a matter of time, really. I don’t have a name for her yet, but now I have become part of a long tradition going all the way back to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, and forward all the way to (in some interpretations) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
Which makes this into a sort of multiple-fandom milestone for me. Which got me thinking about fandoms in general.
Legend of Mana is a weird game. It comes out of what was, in retrospect, a pretty neat era in developer Squaresoft’s history: the unprecedented success of Final Fantasy VII gave them the capital to do whatever they wanted, and they decided to throw a lot of it at all these eccentric, experimental titles that filled the spaces in between subsequent Final Fantasies (and even Final Fantasy VIII wound up being an oddball by series standards).
Sure, a lot of them – Legend of Mana included – were a hot mess, but they were the sort of mess that could be deeply affecting if you were willing to engage with it on its own terms.
My third post at Beneath The Tangles is up. I give Suikoden II a bit of a moral analysis (in case you haven’t heard me talk about that series enough).
Incidentally, it also may be the most catechetical thing I’ve yet written – watch those moral theology classes at work!
Where to begin? For the past 17 years I’ve heard people rave about Suikoden II as one of the best games they’ve ever played, claims that became increasingly difficult to believe as time went on. Particularly in light of the ridiculous $100+ prices the increasingly rare copies were fetching. It seemed more likely that it would be one of those good games which a lot of people played when they were young and impressionable, with the ensuing nostalgia gradually elevating it to the status of unquestionable masterpiece.
But against all odds it is indeed a masterpiece, even if it is also in some respects more flawed than its predecessor. I thought I had seen almost all you could do with the traditional JRPG formula, yet Suikoden II kept catching me off guard, taking itself in bold, unexpected directions. There were moments when I audibly gasped.
My experience with comics and manga is pretty spotty: outside of childhood staples like Calvin and Hobbes and the more famous stuff like Sandman and Watchmen, I’m pretty unread. Enough so to find myself bewildered by the two occasions I’ve visited TCAF.
When I was a university sophomore, I took a class on graphic novels that I was pretty excited for. But it turned out to be one of my first experiences of how academia can suck the joy out of any potentially fun activity, and it has taken immense effort to not loathe by proxy the books that were on the syllabus.
And the less we speak of superhero comics, the better.
But it’s a medium I’d like to be better versed in, and picking up drawing again has provided more of that impetus.
Which brings me to Usagi Yojimbo.