Category: Webstuff

Hoshino – A Star Wars Story

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I’ve never been a massive Star Wars fan. That’s the kind of statement that’s treated like the black speech of Mordor by many. Whilst I’ll happily watch it when it’s inevitably on TV over the Christmas period I wasn’t one of the people rushing out to see The Force Awakens. When I did see it I wasn’t overly impressed. Having said that Rogue One looks considerably better on every level.

Then I stumbled upon Hoshino, a short film from director/producer/editor Stephen Vitale and writer Eric Carrasco. Hoshino tells the story of blind Jedi Ko Hoshino ,played by Anna Akanna, and her tutor Master Jaan-Xu played by Tim McKernan.

What really caught my eye about Vitale’s film was not only its polished production values and impressive looking FX work but its story. Hoshino takes the idea of the blind samurai, something most notably found in Japan’s Zatoichi films and then later in Western culture like American Zatoichi remake Blind Fury, Dare Devil’s Stick and even in long running beat ’em up game series Mortal Kombat’s Kenshi, and applies it to Star Wars in a brilliant way.

Despite a running time of just several minutes Hoshino works on various levels but especially as a tale of strength in the face of adversity. Also we should be in an age where a Jedi being a woman, a woman who isn’t white at that, shouldn’t be a notable thing but we’re not there culturally so it matters.

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For the Emperor

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Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 ,or 40K to fans, has always been an interesting fictional world, the setting for a tabletop war game created in the late 80’s, it’s become far more than that in the years since with other tabletop games, numerous computer games and books also set in the dystopian dark future.

The “grim dark” setting has humanity scattered across the galaxy in the far future of the 41st millenium, the Imperium of Man, a brutal theocratic regime which worships the immortal God-Emperor of mankind. Space Marines ,genetically engineered soldiers, are the Imperium’s elite soldiers fighting in a perpetual war with various other races across the galaxy as the Imperium teeters on the brink of collapse due to its own internal schisms.

These schisms are the result of the Emperor being betrayed by his most trusted son Warmaster Horus in what is referred to as the Horus Heresy, a galaxy spanning bitter civil war in 31st millenium. This war which lasted for several years,  resulting in the deaths of countless millions across numerous planets, culminated in the death of Warmaster Horus but not before he mortally injured the Emperor, leading him to his internment in the Golden Throne for eternity.

Although it should be noted that in the grim far future of the 41st millenium there’s a notable and distinct gender disparity in the armies of the 40K game and setting, this is something that’s been the subject of debate in articles like this one over the years. The table top game itself is somewhat notorious for being perceived as a boys club, something almost impenetrable and even hostile in its gender disparity as one girl fan explains here.

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Despite the aforementioned problems the setting of 40K would make for a great film. The reality of course being that it would never happen, any 40K film would require a budget in blockbuster territory which isn’t going to happen, until it did. Kind of.

Ultramarines appeared in 2010 an animated film set in the 40K world, this was everything fans had been waiting for. Only it wasn’t. Despite its impressive voice cast ,featuring Sean Pertwee and John Hurt amongst others, its animation was underwhelming and smacked of budget constraints. Fans hopefully, gleefully (and somewhat unrealistically) expecting a feature length 40K film in the vein of the Dawn of War II trailer which appeared in 2009 were rather disappointed with the results to say the least. Although it did have its moments where it rose above its failings like John Hurt’s Chaplin shouting “BURN HERETICS!” in a skirmish

Then an interesting thing happened, Erasmus Brosdau Senior 3D Artist, and later Art Director at Crytek started a blog featuring 3D models of ships and other things from the 40K universe. The project snowballed and Brosdau over time was joined by a small talented team all working away in their spare time. A trailer named “The Lord Inquisitor” appeared sometime later and promptly blew everyone away, selling the 40K universe and teasing a story in little over 2 minutes with better looking animation than seen in the Ultramarines film.

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The Inquisition is probably one of the most interesting things in the whole 40K setting, in simple terms they are the secret police of the Imperium and work outside the hierarchy of the Imperium. The Eisenhorn trilogy by writer Dan Abnett is an acclaimed fan favourite story about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn and remains a high point for 40K fiction over 10 years after its initial publication.

Flash forward a few years and another teaser trailer appeared named “Grey Knights” focussing on a different faction of the space marines to equal acclaim. One of the interesting and impressive things is Brosdau and his team have managed to produce such good offerings with nothing other than time invested in a labour of love.

Which leads to now, the 8 minute prologue to The Lord Inquisitor hit the internet on 28 August and has so far racked up over 900,000 views, gaining widespread acclaim from 40K fans who have been waiting decades for something of this calibre.

For more on The Lord Inquisitor go here.

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Video Essays, KaptainKristian and Batman The Animated Series

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For me Batman The Animated Series was and still is one of the best examples of an animated series.  Although it should be said the 90’s X-Men animated series did a hell of a better job of staying true to the spirit of the comics it was based on compared to Fox’s numerous live action films based on the same thing, even if it was unintentionally amusing at times.  For sheer impact and demonstrating exactly what a character is about the opening sequence of Batman The Animated Series, complete with orchestral theme, is flawless and masterful.  Everything about Batman The Animated Series slotted together perfectly like the pieces of jigsaw, the noir inspired animation style, the more adult tone and writing and the way it made the iconic villains more than just “bad guys” who were on the wrong side of a good versus bad fight. Most of all though it was the amazing voice cast, a voice cast so good that even now years later reading a Batman comic will make me hear Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil’s voices as Batman /Bruce Wayne and The Joker and let’s not forget introducing Harley Quinn to viewers and later comic readers .

Batman The Animated Series is the subject of the latest video essay by Youtuber KaptainKristian, someone who to me has rapidly become one of the best content creators on the site, producing video essays on the timeless magic of Calvin and Hobbes, the importance of colour and costumes in the X-Men and the craft behind Pixar’s hit films amongst others.

Over the span of just several minutes KaptainKristian explains the appeal, the craft and various other elements behind enduring facets of pop culture in well produced but impressively understated style. There’s a distinct talent for condensing subject matter down to its very core,  perfect for the time short. Watching these video essays will have you going to the bookstore or checking *insert website here* for the complete Calvin and Hobbes if you don’t already have it (because that’s exactly what I did), or looking at Pixar’s films a different way (and checking what you have in your collection) or wondering what the X-Men films would be like if they were actually written and made by people that were passionate about the comics they’re based on or why Batman The Animated Series isn’t on an extras loaded Blu-ray collection which it really deserves rather than being on some streaming service with all the other flotsam and jetsam.

If you like what you see check out KaptainKristian’s Patreon.

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Adult Wednesday Addams is sublime.

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Wednesday Addams the young daughter of Gomez and Morticia, originally created by cartoonist Charles Addams, is just one of the characters from comic strip The Addams Family and has become a pop culture icon. Memorably played by Lisa Loring in the original 60’s TV series and then by Christina Ricci for Barry Sonenfield’s 90’s films Wednesday’s macabre sense of humour and acerbic wit has earned her a legion of fans.

Writer and Actor Melissa Hunter has a new take on the character – Adult Wednesday Addams. The popular webseries finds an older Wednesday dealing with the problems of most young adults, finding an appartment, getting a job and learning to drive amongst other things. What makes this work is not only does it have great production values (even boasting credits music based on the memorable theme tune) the writing and acting from Hunter is both incredibly funny and utterly spot on with some on point direction from regular accomplice Mike Bernstein.

The webseries now in its second season after a more than successful crowdfunding campaign recently hit its zenith with an episode titled Wednesday vs. Catcallers which shows exactly how Wednesday deals with A-hole douchecanoes.

 

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