Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eat Your Kimchi!

Hello Hello!

Alrighty, so some of you may know of the fabulous Korean culture themed Youtube channel "Eat Your Kimchi". The story of this channel is pretty cool. Basically, two young Canadians, Simon and Martina, went over to South Korea to teach English and, while over there, decided to make videos of the random Korean things they encountered (e.g. music, food, clothes etc.). Originally the videos were meant for friends and relatives so they could show their loved ones their Korean experience, but after sometime, their channel built up quite a large following and now they're weblebrities! But even more amazing is that Non-Koreans and Koreans alike, dig this channel and it is even viewed by Korean celebrities! Cool!!! So they got pretty famous in Korea too, and as a result they've been on all manner of popular TV shows and have rubbed elbows and interviewed all manner of Korean celebs! Man... I hope that happens to me!

Simon and Martina starting the Q&A (taken on my cellphone)
 But I digress... Why am I mentioning these folks? Well they are alumni of my university and recently they came to campus and did a Q&A! It was pretty interesting! As someone who is particularly interested in Korea and who has traveled there twice, it was really interesting get another Canadian perspective. But what surprised me was just how huge these guys are! SO MANY PEOPLE SHOWED UP FOR THE Q&A!

This is the lineup for their autographs! Unreal!
 Having my own video show that I am trying to popularize (West of Hollywood! YAY!) I asked them how they got so popular. They told me that they just stayed consistent and made the videos not to please anyone in particular, but because they enjoyed it! So I'm gonna be putting a bit more time into my own series as a result.

Signing autographs!
 Also check their site out if you like Korean stuff! It's good and they're quite entertaining and informative!

Even the English language South Korean TV station "Arirang Korea" was there! I dream of working for these guys!

 So if  you think you might be into this head on over to: http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/ and EAT YOUR KIMCHI!!!!!     

They actually made a video and I'm in it, somewhere... hehehe (I look really dorky though)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WOH: Fighter in the Wind

Yo!

So now that I'm done hating on anime I can talk about some other stuff, like my new West of Hollywood! This time its the not-so-well known Korean film Fighter in the Wind, check it out below!


Next one will be Project A featuring Jackie Chan, look forward to it! See ya'll soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

5 More Things I Hate About Anime

Okay! So, I wanna get off the topic of anime here so I'm gonna do all the rest of them in one shot so I can talk about some other stuff for a change! Cause this is supposed to be a frikin' East Asian stuff blog and anime is a pretty limited aspect of all that stuff so! Without further ado, the last 5 in express format!


 Silly English Names

This is Lelouch, he's mad cause his name sounds CRAZY!
 Alright! This one is fairly straight forward. In a lot of anime you have characters that are supposed to be "western" characters, i.e. not Japanese. Normally western people have names like, Bill or Robert or Alice or George or.. well you get the idea. But in anime western people often have ridiculous names that seem to have been invented by someone who has never seen a Western person in real life but heard a European dialect spoken once and imagined what western names must sound like based on that.

Some animes do use proper English names, but a lot of the time we get things like -
Hernz Higgins or Leon Scorps or Lelouch Lamperouge or Nunally vi Britannia or Silvee Shicklestein or WHATEVER. Point being, I never met anyone with the last name Scorps, or the first name Lelouch or Nunally and what does "vi" mean anyway!?

I think you get the picture, on with the next one!     
 

Women Who Act Like Little Girls

This one I've always found pretty weird and creepy. This usually happens in romantic animes in which the main character is usually a dude and socially incompetent. So this dude happens to meet some girl who looks like something like THIS!


So the main character hooks up with this chick, yet for some bizarre reason she seems to be confused by everything, as if she had been living underground for her whole life and only recently surfaced. She can't seem to do anything by herself and thus empowers her nerdy boyfriend when he is forced to perform even the most mundane tasks for her like tying her shoes. If you have watched anime regularly at any point in your life YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! And maybe she's 15 or maybe she's 25 but you wouldn't know cause she acts like she's 6! The annoying thing is that in many animes they try to play this sort of uber dependent relationship off as being cute or desirable. Well its not! It's creepy! Also, if you had a girlfriend like this for more than a week you would LOSE YOUR SHIT! GUARANTEED! So maybe your thinking, "but Alex maybe Japanese girls act like that." If this is what you think, go visit your nearest Japanese girl to become disillusioned. NEXT!


Useless Characters

Sakura from Naruto, she may look cool, but she was useless for much of the series.


 Many action animes have these. Basically you have the main character, whose a hero, or anti hero but is generally bad-ass. Then you have the hero's buddies who are also badass but not as badass as the hero. They all have their skills and powers which come in handy in battles and various other situations. Then you have the useless character or characters. These people serve no real purpose other than getting in the way of the badass characters or getting captured or killed. And the worst
thing is that their almost always a jerk about it, complaining about how much they suck or whatever, It's annoying!   




Badly Animated Action Scenes
Imagine if your fight scene was just this frame with sounds and camera movement... this actually happens in some lower quality animes. Kind of destroys the illusion doesn't it?

 This is strictly for action animes. You know when you have one of those animes where the characters look really cool and have crazy powers or abilities and you can't wait for them to scrap!? And then they do... and it sucks because there's no goddamn movement!? Well... yeah that sucks. When Japanese animation studios cut corners by literally reducing fight scenes to a bunch of still frames... it sucks! I think this the reason why my parents and other non-initiated tend to think Japanese animation is low-quality with the exception of Miazaki.


Extremely Slow Pacing

I've been powering up for 7 weeks! When can I shoot this F**king Kameamea already!!!

Watch Dragonball Z if you want to see a series in which a fight scene that would take something like 3 to10 minutes in real-time is stretched out to span 5 to 10 episodes... Oh wait, what's that? You don't want to? That's funny... NEITHER DO I! SNOOOOOOOOOORE... 

 Gratuitous Fan Service
  
This is something that I think really alienates anime from the uninitiated and makes anime fans look like a bunch of creepy pervs. Here's an example - lets say we have an action anime in which a female character is gonna be doing a lot of ass kicking. Well naturally she would be wearing a school uniform or some other outfit with a mini-skirt which ensures that every time she throws a kick her panty's are exposed for all to see right? riiiiiiight... 

An old-school example of the not-so-illusive panty shot.
 That's just one example but this sort of thing happens to female characters and ranges from panty shots to girls getting their clothes blown off for various reasons to all manner of stuff. Now I'm not part of any temperance union or anything, I don't wanna be a tight ass, but this stuff just happens so much in anime and half the time its pointless. I could understand the odd panty shot here and there as even in real life such things happen. But seriously, sometimes its so damn obvious and creepy. It doesn't help that it is often the result of a girl wearing a school uniform with a skirt which is way too short. The fact that she's wearing a school uniform in the first place probably means she's under-aged, which is pretty creepy if you think about the average age demographic for anime fans. I dunno, I just find it unnecessary and the fact that its sort of sneaky and not really overt just adds to the creepiness factor.               


Friday, November 11, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Anime: Chinese Bun Hair

Alright so I really gotta make these shorter or I will never get through them and there are a lot of other things I would like to talk about on here besides anime...

Strange title no?

What is Chinese bun hair you ask? For those of you who watch anime, you should know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. In anime it is extremely easy to pick out Chinese female characters because the all look like Chun Li from Street Fighter!

 Chun Li (Street Fighter Alpha) - she's got another bun on the other side too.



 
So yes ALOT of Chinese female characters in anime sport the "double bun", but I honestly have no idea where this stereotype came from! How many Chinese people have you seen wearing their hair like this? Think back... OH! of course! Kung Fu period dramas! But wait a second... those take place in the PAST! Alright, so though I may be an East Asian studies major, I'm not really an expert on Chinese hairstyles. However, I would venture a guess that its been at least over a hundred years since this hair style was popular in China, and it seems that it was predominantly a children's hairstyle. Alright so, how come a good majority of the fully grown, modern, female Chinese characters in anime rock this hair style? Stereotyping! Yes I've said it! Anime has MAD stereotyping, but I think we tend to let it slide cause its made largely by Japanese people. Now I know Japan is mostly a mono-culture so this sort of ignorance is somewhat understandable. It's not so much that stereotyping in anime is especially evil, I mean, American and European animation feature tonnes of stereotyping as well. 

The problem with stereotypes is that they often have their roots in reality to some degree. For example let's take the statement "Indian people like curry". Well its fairly obvious that a lot of Indian people eat curry. When I go to India town in my city, it's the first thing I can smell. So by deductive reasoning, this place smells like curry -> Indian people live here -> Indian people must cook with curry -> Indian people must like curry! Thus we can see how some stereotypes are rooted in reality. However, anime is full of stereotypes that don't make any sense! 

Scene from Code Geass featuring "The Chinese Federation"

Let's look at this example from one of my favorite animes, Code Geass (this anime deals with the future fictional colonization of Japan by Great Britain, which is REEEAALLY interesting because Japan once tried to colonize Asia after the Japan-Russo war). On the right we have a rag-tag group of Japanese freedom fighters. They look pretty modern eh? On the left he have "The Chinese Federation", these people are supposed to represent China's governing body, in the future... BUH?! ARE THOSE EUNUCHS? ARE THOSE SOLDIERS CARRYING STAFFS? WHA? 

Yeah so, as we can see, in the future, China has stopped messing around with all that quazi-communist nonsense and has reverted back to a monarchy. China hasn't been a monarchy for over 80 years. It doesn't make sense! Now you might be saying "Big deal, its ONE anime!" But it's not, there are tonnes of animes that depict China as being this old, backward, monarchical society, run by scheming eunuchs and child emperors, even in modern times... It's DUMB! Remember that whole cultural revolution thing? Yeah, that happened! ...and it sucked! So anime, let's have some realistic representation!

There are tonnes of these bizarre stereotypes in anime. Some appear to be relatively harmless, but some are just ridiculous. If your making a fantasy anime I suppose it doesn't matter so much, but if your anime takes place in a real-world setting, your kind of sending a strange message to the viewer. There are some pretty gullible people out there who will believe that China really this traditional, feudal society, if you tell them.  And don't even get me started on the crazy Korean, South East Asian, American, and European stereotypes prevalent in anime. Cause if I did, this post would be 5 times as long! Anyway, its something to think about as you watch your favourite animes! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Anime: Sports Physics in Anime


 Hey guys! I’m back! This time we’re looking at anime sports physics, which, by and large, are RIDICULOUS! Again! If you are joining us for the first time… I really don’t hate all anime, I’m just venting about certain conventions that annoy me. So let’s dive right in!

A member of the Harlem Globetrotters working some real-life craziness on the net. 

 Okay… so generally I don’t watch sports anime all that much, and there is a good reason for that. See the reason I find sports interesting is because, within a sport, athletes are limited by rules and conventions which they MUST follow, lest they be disqualified from whichever game they are playing. Now, you have your athletes that don’t really stand out too much, they are probably pretty good, but they just follow the rules and play accordingly. Then you have STAR athletes who make the rules work for them!

What I mean is that, really famous athletes often have a specific playing style that peoples either fiend really impressive or really entertaining. Take the Harlem Globetrotters for example. If you have never heard of them (look them up on youtube for a good time!), they are basically a novelty basketball team from Harlem (New York City) who make a point of doing all manner of tricks while they play the game (such as spinning the ball on their fingers or shooting backwards). Win or lose, people love em, but the thing is they always play within the rules, and that’s what makes them so interesting (in my opinion). Regardless of the crazy passes or shots they do, they are still playing basketball. What does this have to do with anime?

Baseball time!
 Well as I’m sure you know, sports anime is about, well, sports! They often start out relatively realistically with the protagonist, an athlete and player of some sport, usually in high school, who is competing in some league to be the best! He or she competes against other high school students in his or her school and then moves on to regionals, and then provincials (if that isn’t the same thing…) and then nationals and then internationals and becomes more and more famous.

Let’s use Hockey (woo Canada!) as an example of a general breakdown of how sports anime works. The teen protagonist wants to be a badass hockey player, so he joins his or her’s high school hockey team. We see fun training segments, which are actually my favourite parts of sports anime, where the protagonist learns the fundamentals of how to be the best! Once they are ready, they play their first game, lose, feel bad, mope, train harder, win, and then play against a stronger team. This is generally how sports works in real life (in my experience), and how it works around the beginning of most sports animes. To me, these are often the most captivating parts of sports animes because their plausible.

Sam Dunk! Widely considered one of the best sports animes/manga.
 Later on however, as the teams they play get more and more skilled, the protagonist is getting better and better, winning excitingly close games that are realistic and full of tension, ya know, like real sports games. Then, just as things are getting really exciting, the crazy stuff starts happening.

At some point the protagonist will inevitably encounter a rival player who has some ridiculous skill - lets say, the power to hit the puck in such a way that is spins super fast, generating a whirlwind that pushes the gaolie aside and always secures a goal. Aright so already this is pretty unbelievable but maybe your like, “I guess this dude is an oddity and it will be interesting to see how the protagonist deals with this situation, within the conventions of hockey”. Yeah… well that WOULD be pretty frickin interesting WOULDN’T IT? But no, in anime the protagonist often has to learn some equally ridiculous counter measure to combat this mysterious skill. Here is where most sports anime loses me.

From this point on, the story deviates from a plausible story about some dude who wants to be a good hockey player to some sort of hockey-themed martial arts fantasy epic (I love martial arts by the way, but there’s a time and place!). Basically the protagonist encounters opponents with more and more implausible skills - let’s say something along the lines of shooting the puck in such a way that it spins so fast that the density of the puck actually increases to the point that the evaporating water droplets from the ice rink condense around the puck and turn it into a giant ice ball which collides with the goalie and nearly kills him! ...I kid you not, that kind of stuff happens ALL THE TIME in sports anime, especially as you get further along in a given series.

Hajime no Ippo! Though featuring ridiculous characters and situations, is exaggerated though actually fairly plausible in it's portrayal of boxing for the most part, as far as sports anime goes anyway. 
Here’s the problem for me. Sports have rules and conventions. I’m sure there is nothing in the hockey rulebook about giant ice balls, but its pretty damned safe to assume that if that ever occurred, they would probably stop the game and Interpol would probably arrest the dude who made the ice ball and run all manner of experiments on him to see if he was some sort of super human. In anime, however, everyone is just pretty surprised and the game keeps rolling.

At this point, the game ceases to resemble hockey. The rules and convention have been broken and continue to be as the techniques get more and more implausible. Rules and conventions make sports what they are, with these crazy techniques the original rules of the game are rendered obsolete! So I ask you, "what is the point in making an anime sport centered, if the sport your series is centered around turns into something that no longer resembles that sport?" It dosen’t really make any sense!

Why not just create a new sport and have the anime revolve around that?! You can have a compelling story that takes place within the rules of the game, you can even have special techniques, so long as they coincide with the rules of the sport. Sports movies and T.V. dramas do this ALL THE TIME. See, animes portray melodrama really well, so they could make it a million times more interesting with emotional investment and character development, while having the player lose sometimes, or learning some new skill that helps them out a bit, but instead they just make it crazy! But, we must not forget the most ridiculous aspect. 

The dudes from Prince of Tennis, a group of highschoolers who could beat the pants of any living pro.

These are HIGHSCHOOLERS! These people are performing techniques which the GREATEST ATHLETES IN THE WORLD will never be able to do. It’s crazy! They didn’t call Wayne Gretzky the “great one” because he could hit the puck so hard that it broke into fragments that flew in impossible trajectories around the goalie to reform in the net to make a goal! NO! They called him that cause he was REALLY FRIGGIN GOOD AT HOCKEY!!!!!!

Have you watched high school sports? I mean its not bad, but it will never be as exciting as the pros! That’s why they don’t BROADCAST IT!!!! Now you might be asking “Oh Alex, why does everything need to be realistic with you? Don’t you have any imagination?!” Yes. Sure I do, but nearly every sports anime I’ve ever heard of works in this way. I'm asking for a bit of variety! You could make a really compelling anime about a normal sport, and just make the story and characters really good while focusing more on the real-world mechanics of the game, which are full of little tricks and hidden skills anyway! You might like it! But I think it's NUTS! So YEAH! Rant over.

By the way I would like to thank my buddy Chris Evensen for helping me with this list, he’s a Manga Guru of sorts, who has read like every manga EVER. Or something like that.       

Thursday, November 3, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Anime: Emo Protagonists

 A person characterized as being “emo” is often constantly depressed, has an inferiority complex, is anti-social and is constantly “hurting inside”. Now there are people in this world who are allowed to feel this way. For example, if your Dog has died, if you lost your job and your wife or husband left you, if you have survived a traumatizing experience, if you went off to successfully siege a castle and came back only to find that someone has set your lovely farming community on fire and skewered all your family members. However, we don’t usually use “emo” to describe someone with these problems. “Emo” people, are usually people who aren’t all that bad off, or just SERIOUSLY over reacting to some shitty situations in their lives. They’re the kind of people who, stereotypically ware dark clothes and say things like “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!” and shun the world. You know, the kind of person you want to slap in the face and say “NUT UP OR SHUT UP!”. Does this sound like the kind of person you want to have at your party? That, my friends, leads me to the second thing I “hate” about anime… EMO PROTAGONISTS!

"I saved the world twice, but I still don't give a shit about it." ("Cloud Strife" From Final Fantasy VII:Advent Children)

Anyone who watches anime knows that emo protagonists populate a lot of anime. The thing is its actually not too bad to have a few of these guys around, especially in contrast to more lively and laid back characters. I would even say that having emo supporting protagonists is not too bad. But oh boy, the worst is when their centre stage. When emos are the main characters they are often whiney, shunned by others, wimpy or, in the worse case, unconditionally loved by all! This is often dependent on which genre the anime is a part of. Emo main characters in action animes are pretty annoying. Basically the emo action convention works like this: some dude or dudette (usually a dude) who is probably in high school and not popular (usually because they SUCK at everything) are thrust into some sort of situation in which they are forced to save the world or something along those lines, against their will. The characters “normal lives” (i.e. before they became a reluctant hero) are often pitiful. They have zero self-esteem, are physically weak, constantly get picked on and lack any semblance of social skills (and lack any semblance of any skill really). So yes… they just suck. The story often has them in control of some newfound power, or giant robot, or some sort of thing that gives them some sort of ability of which they previously lacked (pretty easy when you HAVE NO ABILITIES!).This power is usually the only thing that can face some sort of horrible threat to the livelihood of the world and its inhabitants. The character uses his or her newfound powers to fight bad guys often channelling their pent up frustration or sadness or insecurity to release DESTRUCTIVE EMO BLASTS OF POWER, decimating their foes!  

"I am the only one who can save the world...  I'm just so useless!" ("Shinji" from Evangelion)

 So you might be saying “But Alex! This is a convention that exists in all underdog stories! Why are you only ragging on anime?” This is a fair question my friends! The thing with most underdog stories is that the experience of wielding power and saving lives often changes the protagonist for the better. It gives them the confidence to join in with the world and become something truly great and admired. Well in anime, more often than not, the character just remains a frickin wimp forever! It’s like having powers just made him more acceptable somehow. He’s still an imbecile with an inferiority complex who is by and large useless and everyone just puts up with it cause they need him to “save the world”. Looking for an example? Evan-fricken-gelion! Yeah that’s right! I’m calling it out! This series is actually pretty good I have to say. But the main character is so FRIGGIN PATHETIC and emo, it pissed me off watching it. The worst thing? HE JUST STAYS THAT WAY! What sort of message is this sending? “Hey people! It’s okay if you suck at life; just remember, you’ll be the one with powers when SHIT GOES DOWN!” The worst thing for me though is, if the character is male, which is often the case, he has these women inexplicably falling in love with him. This happens in quite a few action animes in which, if you know anything about women, DOSEN’T MAKE ANY FRIGGIN SENSE! In these shows that meet the conditions I just stated, there is often a female character that is for some reason smitten by the main characters, brooding or anti-social or useless nature and seeks to “heal” his wounded heart or ego or whatever. Suffice it to say it often doesn’t work but they fall in love anyway. See, this is annoying to me cause in real life, if you are constantly, brooding, or anti-social or useless, people, especially members of the opposite sex, tend to either not notice you, or just AVOID YOU OUTRIGHT cause they think you weird or something. This brings us to the most implausible emo protagonist, the one that exists in the romance genre.

"All these girls love me cause I'm socially stunted!" (The cast from Love Hina)

 In the romance genre of anime this happens WAY more often and its implausible in romance animes that feature protagonists of either gender. First let’s look at dudes. Romance animes with dudes usually belong to the “harem” genre. “OH GEE! WHAT A FUNNY NAME? I WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS?!” These animes feature a male protagonist that often has a personality containing any combination of the following: insecurity, self consciousness, ugliness, stupidity, laziness, social ineptitude, blandness etc. Yeah seems like a real hunk eh? So its obviously no surprise when EVERY FEMALE CHARACTER (of all ages and “hotnesses”) IN THE FRICKIN SHOW FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM (like a personal harem)! Yeah… cause, ya know… most women like their men unable to function in society! Only, by and large, they don’t… they really, really don’t. This convention makes equally little sense in the female context as well. In romance animes where females are the main characters its the same sort of idea, minus the harem. The girl is usually emo, unconfident, stupid, clumsy, ugly, useless, socially inept, all that other stuff, etc., etc. and yet, the most handsome, proactive, talented, perfect, yadda, yadda, dude in school, or work, or whatever happens to spy her one day and think to himself “Gee! I’ve always wanted a girlfriend who is incapable of performing even the most rudimentary tasks! (such as walking on level ground while carrying something)” and asks her out. During the relationship of course the girl, being a self-conscious wreck, ends up being extremely clingy to her new handsome boyfriend and suspects him of infidelity at every turn (while continuing to be absolutely useless). But the boyfriend, being this benevolent guy, forgives her every time and just puts up with it. Ya know! Cause he’s nice and stuff! BULLSHIT!

Gatsu here was teleported to hell where all his friends were killed and/or raped in front of him, so he is certainly allowed to be emo. BUT HE'S NOT! (Gatsu, from Bersek) 

 So basically, my point is that emo protagonists in anime are annoying because their often portrayed as being desirable as mysterious hunks or romantic/intimate partners, or heroes much to the contrary of real life. By and large, people are generally attracted to proactive, positive, skilled and/or charismatic people, because (surprise, surprise) they’re good at stuff and people admire them and feel good around them! Nobody likes a whiner! In real life, most of these emo people are ignored or at worst shunned. Hey! I'm not saying I like it, I'm just stating the facts! It certainly sucks, but if you wanna be a cool hero who inspires others, or suave gentleman, deemed attractive by all the ladies ya gotta actually have some confidence be capable of actually DOING something! And emo characters are straight up annoying. They're always going on about how horrible their lives are when most of their problems are results of their own USELESSNESS! GO GET SOME SKILLS ALREADY! Now I understand that you can't make such simple assumptions about real people, I'm just speaking in the context of anime here.