Tag Archives: Animation

Puparia is Incredible

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Because most of my time recently has been spent at work, doing school, or in crippling self doubt, it has been pretty hard to watch any anime adjacent YouTube as of late. Ok, well, actually that is a lie because I still watch a ton of YouTube, but video essays and anime videos have not been in my content diet as much. However, when I do watch that kind of content, there are a few people that I consistently enjoy.

One of those few is Super Eyepatch Wolf. Not only does he consistently deliver high quality videos, his video series “My Favorite Things” always highlights a range of obscure media. This brings me to the topic of today’s video, “Puparia,” a three-minute animation done by Japanese animator Shingo Tamagawa.

Shingo Tamagawa

Tamagawa himself has a very interesting story. After dropping out of graduate school, he rushed into the animation industry in Japan. Tamagawa knew create animation was what he wanted to do since he was a kid, and so decided that this was the best path towards that end. However, after being in the industry for five years, he began to realize that creating endlessly without much purpose would eventually make him hate drawing and animation entirely. Thus, for a year and a half he did nothing. No drawing, no animating. Then, after this Hiatus, he began working on “Puparia,” using Studio Sunrise’s office in exchange for helping them on a number of projects. Three years later, he released it on his YouTube channel, and it has since gained over 1.8 Million views.

Advertisements
Advertisements

What is “Puparia?”

This is kind of a difficult question to answer, but one thing it is not is boring. Though the animation is only three minutes long, there is a lot going on that is worth talking about.

For starters, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Tamagawa made a point to hand draw the entire work, which definitely made producing it a lot harder, but ultimately gives it even more of the abstract feeling that it seems he was going for. This can be seen in a number of places throughout the work, whether it is the opening pan through a strange color pattern, or the infinite rooms that are colored by similarly off-putting color scheme and design. While it is pretty likely that something similar could have been produced through digital animation, the look and feel of cell-animation here is reminiscent of older works such as “Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind” and other early Ghibli works.

“Puparia” does not have any dialogue, at least not spoken, and the only incorporated audio element is a song composed by Steve Reich “MALLET QUARTET: 1 FAST.” Now, I am not particularly well educated when it comes to composition, but the title here seems pretty ironic as it relates to the music itself, because it is not really that fast. The music is actually fairly mid-tempo, and I think that also injects a bit of meaning into the work as well. Additionally, the music does not change much throughout its run time.

The characters of “Puparia” are probably the strangest element of the whole thing. Each scene of the animation, up until the very last one, serves as sort of Vignette, all with a common theme of sorts. The imagery of Pupa and Larvae is found in pretty much all of the scenes, from a girl sitting next to a strange animal in the forest, to a half-naked young man attempting to open a door, only to see a giant insect running towards him. This imagery appears to intensify throughout the work, as the final scene shows a person looking back on a large crowd of people, with the crowd looking back to him, almost asking for an answer to a larger question.

What Does It Mean?

That larger question is, well, complicated. That is to say that it feels as though a lot of what “Puparia” is trying to represent is a larger question of purpose, which ultimately ends up being a personal choice. People reach certain points in their life where they are forced to make decisions that will inevitably effect them for a long time, potentially forever. However, this does not just apply to individuals. Many countries and societies are at a point now where there are lot of important questions that need to be answered about how they want to orient themselves around certain issues.

It is hard not to look at this piece through the perspective of COVID, but even pre-pandemic these questions were being raised. Much like in “Puparia,” there comes a point where indecision will no longer be acceptable. People are looking for answers, and they will find them one way or another, but what answers they find and how they find them are vitally important for the future of our culture, society, and politics.


Had you seen “Puparia” before reading this? How do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Steven Universe Pilot Episode is…Strange

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Its been a while since I’ve watched anything “Steven Universe” related, and considering the fact that school has kept me from being able to do the longer, more in-depth posts that I would eventually like to return to, I figured now would be a good time to return to the series. Today, I decided to check out the only episode of the series that I never got a chance to experience: its pilot.

The story of the pilot follows Steven and the Crystal Gems after the Gems get back from a mission, bringing home a mysterious item. Despite Steven begging the Gems to let him come on one of their missions, even singing the now widely known main theme of the show, “We are the Crystal Gems,” they tell him that he is too young and that it would be dangerous. Amethyst then gives Steven some money and the mysterious item to go buy donuts with. Steven goes to buy the donuts only to realize that the mysterious item he was given allowed him to travel back in time and make comebacks to lars, at which point an Alien comes to retrieve the item. As the alien defeats both the gems and Steven, he must use the device to go back in time and start the fight over, which ends up saving them all.

Released over seven years ago today in March 2013, It is clear that the pilot has a lot of elements that carried over to the early portions of the series. For starters, Steven’s design, as well as the general design of Beach City, seemed to have been decided on relatively early, as only a few minor changes Aesthetically seem to have been made between the pilot and the first season proper. It is also surprising to see that Lars and Saddie were both originally part of the picture as characters. However, considering how much they contribute in the early seasons of the show, and even the later ones, it makes sense.

Advertisements
Advertisements

There are also a lot of dramatic changes. Mainly, the Crystal Gems themselves. The character designs of Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl all look much more mature and realistic than their season one counterparts, almost gritty in their realism. This change also is not particularly surprising, as given the events of the series even in just the first season, it would make sense why they might tone down the realism in the animation.

Another very notable change seems to come in the brightness of the animation. Whereas Steven Universe’s first episode proper establishes the series bouncy and bright color scheme, the pilot appears noticeably darker, highlighted mainly by the orange hew of the sunset and the inside of their house, again reflecting a larger sense of realism that disappeared past the pilot.

The interior design of the beach house also changed a lot to make it feel bigger. In the pilot, the kitchen, couch, and teleportation device are all relatively close, and their appears to be no upstairs, where Steven’s room is located. On top of that, the back wall and the door to the Gem’s rooms look noticeably more ancient, reflecting more the age of the gems themselves rather than the modern look of beach city.

Overall, while the pilot was an enjoyable watch, it felt more like something straight out of the 90’s than anything related to the Steven Universe of today. Its heightened realism, though interesting, makes it a bit harder to watch when one has already seen all of the series proper. If you are a fan of the series and are curious about its origins, then check it out, otherwise its nothing worth seeking out.


Are there any other cartoon pilots I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

“Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture” is the Worst Film I Have Ever Seen. You Should Still Watch it.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Me watching this movie:

First off, I would just like to thank Tricoast Studios and Rock Salt Releasing from the onset for the chance to watch and review this movie. Any negative opinions I have about the film are no reflection upon them, as they just allowed me to watch the film for free. With that being said, man is this movie absolute trash.

For those unaware, which is probably most reading this, “Dollhouse” is a film which focuses on the fictional life of Junie Spoons, a child actor turned over-sexualized teen pop star and the ways that society silences her identity while profiting off it at the same time, especially when it comes to the music industry. The film presents the perspectives of others who were close to Junie during her rise to stardom, including her mom, former friend, a Junie Spoons “expert,” along with a few others. The film ends at the end of her career, where she goes completely insane from the stress of her life.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Junie Spoons

Initially, I went into the film with some pretty generous expectations. Surely this would be a good dissection of the ways in which women are culturally ignored about issues pertaining to women, right? Well, it was, at least for the first half.

The first half of the movie shows Junie’s come up as a Hollywood starlit. Even from the age of three Junie is depicted as having strings attached to her, showing how she is both literally controlled by her mom, but also figuratively held captive by both her mom and society as a whole. Junie’s first relationship is also arranged for her by a PR team, and when her first boyfriend Zachary Wilderness rapes her and releases the footage online, he is held to zero account for his action, meanwhile Junie is treated as a slut for engaging in sexual activity before marriage.

Not only is Junie treated like an object to be controlled, she also has virtually no control over what she says publicly. In all of her interviews as a kid, she is given a script by her PR team where she mostly appeals to god as a way of getting out of public scandal. A lot of this is meant to closely mirror the real life experiences of Brittany Spears and Lindsey Lohan, and it arguably does so to pretty good effect.

However, the film takes a pretty weird leap in logic when it addresses the subject of transgender people. During the film’s latter half, a man named Larry, who claims to be Junie Spoons biggest fan, gets surgery in order to look like her, and then essentially takes over her identity, with people referring to her as “trans Junie Spoons.” There is even a line that implies that people let trans Junie Spoons do what she wants so they don’t get taken to court.

It is at this point where the film loses a lot of credibility in its messaging. While the female experience in America has certainly been filled with hardship, discrimination, and outright erasure, the idea that a group of people who have had zero political and cultural power within the U.S. until very, very recently are somehow equally to blame for those same hardships is absolutely ridiculous on its surface. Furthermore, the idea that trans women are just men who want to be women, and thus can never really understand what it means to be a women is equally ridiculous, for the simple reason that most trans women are living that experience every day, are oftentimes more discriminated against because of it.

Writer Connor Lockie probably explained it best in his review of the film where he said “Junie’s story aims to highlight the way young women are stripped of their personhood in order to please the ruling forces of the patriarchy, but ironically commits an eradication of trans subjectivity from American independent cinema.”

Still, even if the film’s grotesque ideas about transgender people were not present, their would not be much worth salvaging. For starters, director Nicole Brending’s admittedly forward thinking ideas about women in Hollywood have already been illustrated to much greater affect in other places, without the extra layers of bigotry.

The puppets used for the film’s characters are also incredibly off-putting. Most of the characters are incredibly unattractive to look at, and the ones that are just look like boring barbie-doll figures.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Arguably the most egregious decision made is to hide all of these ideas behind the shield of “comedy.” It has become a tactic of many who want to engage in political dialogue but not be criticized for bad ideas to just simply call those bad ideas a joke. Now, it would be one thing if the film was actually funny, because at least then there would be some reasoning behind that decision. Unfortunately, it is just not. Most of the jokes fall incredibly flat, and this coming from someone who finds things way funnier at one in the morning and tired, which is exactly when I watched the film.

Still, despite all of the bad things about the film, I would still encourage those who care about issues like these to watch the film for one simple reason: understanding.

What makes bigoted arguments like the ones made in “Dollhouse” concerning are not that they are good, quite the opposite actually. It is that most people do not have the understanding to explain why the arguments are bad, and I think watching the film might actually give perspective on where TERFs are coming from when they make their arguments against transgender people. I would also recommend listening to this podcast Nicole Brending did with Rogin Kim, where she explains a lot of her creative decisions behind the movie, as well as addresses the initial backlash she got when the film released.

Overall, “Dollhouse” was a terrible movie experience. Its good ideas are totally soured by its bad ones, and its attempts to be funny. However, if you are interested in women’s issues and want to get a broader understanding of the different ideological stances within that space, this is a decent place to start, so check it out.


Have you all seen “Dollhouse?” Have a different opinion? Feel free to share it in the comments. If you all have not seen it and do want to watch it, it will be available on the following platforms on August 11th:

  • Amazon
  • InDemand
  • FlixFling
  • Fandango
  • Vudu
  • Vimeo on Demand

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Violence Voyager, Horror, and Bold Artistic Style

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

So, a little while ago on Twitter I hinted at having a cool project in the works:

Now, after a little bit of a buffer period, and having the time to sit down and watch it, I can finally talk about Violence Voyager, a strange and yet incredibly interesting horror animation film.

For the sake of immediate transparency, I will say that someone from the studio handling the movie’s distribution, Tricoast, did allow me to watch the movie for free in order to review Violence Voyager, so take that as you will. The film will be available for streaming on October 21st on these platforms:

  • Amazon
  • DirecTV
  • FlixFling
  • Vimeo on Demand
  • Vudu
  • Fandango
  • AT&T

Also, minor spoiler warning, cause for this movie its is kind of hard to avoid.

With that being said, though, Let’s get into the review.


It is not often I come across a media entity that intrigues me immediately, but Violence Voyager managed to do just that. At first, It was kind of hard to believe it was even real. However, as I did more research on the film I found out that it is plenty real, and it is a movie much more unique than most. Its approach to horror as well as storytelling more broadly is enough to get anyone interested, even from just the trailer.

The movie focuses Robert, aka “Bobby,” a boy from America who moves to a small village in Japan, where he meets Akkun, the friend he plays with the most. One day, the boys decide to make a journey over the mountain to another nearby village where there friend Takaki goes to school. While making their journey the two come across a strange amusement park in the woods, called Violence Voyager, and it is here where they learn that it might have been better to stay home, as soon they become trapped inside, while being hunted down by a strange alien.

It would frankly be an incomplete review without talking about the movie’s fascinating animation style. Known as “Geki-mation,” the film blends 2-D paper drawings and cutouts with 3-D special effects. Director and Writer Ujicha has employed the style before, most notably in his 2013 film The Burning Buddha Man. While the 2-D drawings encompass most of the film’s characters and backgrounds, the 3-D affects range from simple liquids representing blood and throw-up to actual fireworks being used to for explosions. The result is a film with a much more amateurish feel, but also a more uneasy one, which greatly amplifies the movie’s horror elements.

It is often hard to judge children as characters in media, because kids usually have different ranges of emotions compared to their adult counterparts, but despite not being particularly interesting main characters, Bobby and Akkun also were not bad either. In fact, as far as main characters in horror go, Bobby is actually quite unique, in that he does not succumb the madness of the situation like many other characters do, and as such he provides a more sober view of what most would consider a terrifying situation.

Akkun on the other hand, is a bit more steriotypical. He mainly serves as the generic worrywart who still ends up dying anyway. More importantly, though, he serves as an introduction to old-man Lucky Monkey, a character who becomes much more important in the later half of the film. Toike, the man who greets the two boys at the entrance of Violence Voyager, becomes the movie’s main antagonist, and is a pretty good one at that. While initially coming off as one-dimensional and obvious, he grows to be a much more relatable and compelling character later on, even despite his grotesque actions. Takashi, the alien who abducts the boys, also becomes an important part of the film’s plot. The rest of Violence Voyager’s cast is either not as important, not on screen long enough, or too important to talk about without more spoilers.

One of the places where I think the film does slip-up a bit is in its voice acting. For reference, I watched the show in its English dub, and so I cannot comment on the Japanese voice acting with much confidence. Something that was present across the entire movie was voice actors talking over each other even when the subject matter of the scene did not necessitate it. Now, it could be that this was a purposeful, stylistic choice that plays into its more amateur feel, but it still felt largely unnecessary.

Another part of the voice acting that I think potentially hurt the film was the delivery of a lot of lines. A good example of this comes in Derek Petropolis, the voice of Bobby’s father, who, despite his character being in many different situations which would facilitate different tones of delivery, continued to speak in a more monotone voice. This came through in many, if not all, of the characters in Violence Voyager. Again, it is hard to tell if this was a purposeful stylistic choice, or just a mistake they just did not feel like fixing.

This is not to say the talent of the voice actors did not shine at all though, because when they did do a good job, it was enjoyable. It was also delightful to hear a familiar voice in the form of Xanthe Huynh, whose has voiced characters from a variety of different anime and video game franchises.

Despite its strange style, the horror elements of the movie do well in creating a scary atmosphere, and do so without the reliance on jump scares that many horror franchises, movie, anime or otherwise, have often come to lean on consistently. I mentioned before that the mix of live action effects with 2-D animation enhanced the horror elements a lot, and I meant it. There were many moments where a streak of blood or vomit across the page induced a pretty visceral reaction, whether intentional or not.

All in All, despite a few minor quibbles I have with how certain elements of the production played out, I found this to be an incredibly entertaining film. While it is not something that looks appealing to everyone at first glance, and certainly should not be watched by kids, its unique brand of animation and horror is enough to make it a great film if you’re in mood to watch something much different than the norm.


If you all are reading this after the film has been released, then what did you all think? Let me know in the comments below. I know Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews also talked about the film on his blog, so I’ll leave a link to his post as well.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 16: Anime with the Best Animation

Hello, Anifriends

So, one of the things that I feel like I take for granted when talking about a show is animation. I think a lot of people will sort of arbitrarily judge the animation of a show when reviewing a show just to talk about it, and I am definitely guilty of this. I just wanted to preface today’s challenge by saying that I am by no means any real judge on quality animation. But…if I had to pick a show with the best animation…

img_0268-1

Fate/Zero

Fate Zero

I honestly don’t know how else to prove this other than saying just go watch the show, which you should really do anyway.

Although, I guess when saying an anime has the best animation, that does not necessarily have to be referring to its overall quality. Best could also mean most fitting of the shows overall theme and tone. In that regard, I would say that Fate/Zero does a pretty good job too. The darker color palette more than delivers in setting a creepy background, fitting for a battle filled with plenty of questionable moral people.

The Darker palette also helps illuminate some of the more impressive visual effects the show has to offer. For example, the servant’s weapons. The way that Lancer’s Gae Bulg glows a crimson red, and the way that Excalibur lights up for Saber when the two are fighting really shows an insane level of detail that went into the show’s production.

Also, I don’t really think this that controversial of an opinion, but Fate/Zero has hands down some of the best looking C.G. in anime. Not that I am an expert in that department either, but it definitely blends in better than most of the shows that were using C.G. around the same time.


Which anime do you think has the best animation? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!