Monday, July 14, 2003

Revived Affair with Anime

Anime has been an on-and-off part of my life since post-college in 1992, when I started hanging out with De La Salle’s resident gaming group ROUGH. Back then, there weren’t a whole lot of otaku compared to today, so the appreciation of manga and anime was more on a groupie level. (The anime I’m referring to doesn’t include the big-robot anime of the 80s.)

I was enjoying the OAVs of Megazone 1 and 2, Project A-Ko, Ninja Scroll, Creature City and Urutsokidoji, and I loved the amount of variety and depth anime offered compared to its American counterparts. But because I had moved on to the corporate world and theater, the level of my exposure to anime dipped to almost none.

Thanks to the current gang, especially Vin Simbulan and Angel Ace creator Marco Dimaano, I’ve been able to find greater access to anime. I’ve already seen Read Or Die, Ghost In A Shell, Crying Freeman, and parts of Vampire D, as well as an episode or two of Vandread and RahXephon. Yesterday I watched the first two hilarious episodes of Louie the Rune Soldier, and all these have brought me back to that time ten years ago when anime first captured my fancy.

What astounds me about anime is the creators’ ability to take the gamut of real-world references and incorporate the Japanese sensibilities into the storytelling, and yet have been able to capture the imagination of worldwide audiences. To me, they have mastered the art form, taking animation to levels that the West have been trying to emulate. The astounding work of Japanese animators on the Animatrix shorts prove this.

The Philippines, despite its reservoir of talent, sadly is hindered not only by financial constraints, but also that elusive Filipino identity that can place a stamp on a piece of animation work. Remember that Ibong Adarna full-length animated feature? It definitely shows that, intentions notwithstanding, that we still have ways to go.

Pop Gun War
Farel Dalrymple
Dark Horse Comics

Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War is a quirky-jerky piece set in New York, putting together a host of equally quirky-jerky characters structurally interconnected by an Afro-American boy who could fly. One could argue that this surrealist 150+ pager passes as a long vignette more than a proper story. The urban magical realism depicted mostly in hypertextual imagery encourages readers to accept it for what it is, weirdness and all, while at the same time hints repeatedly at the importance of being true to oneself in a world that demands conformity. The text on the back cover describes Pop Gun War as, among other things, Dalrymple’s “love letter to the city he calls home.” I guess I’ll appreciate the work more if I knew what life is like in New York.

Learning To Read

My four year-old niece Andee is visibly making efforts to learn how to read. It’s fascinating to see how this once drooling ball of life has grown so fast. She’s already attending preschool, and her teachers have noted how fast she learns compared to her classmates. She also has a keen eye for color, and her once blotchy crayon work on coloring books are beginning to reveal more precision.

Cousin Angela had the surprise of her life yesterday while she and Andee were watching TV. Her attention was diverted when she heard Andee say, “Poh – tah,” sending my cousin’s eyebrow flying to Neptune. Unsure that she heard right, Angela kept her eyes on the niece, who for a second time mouthed the controversial word.

“Poh – tah…”

“Sa’n mo natutunan ‘yan?” Angela snapped, to which my niece turned to her with innocent eyes.

“Sa tsitsirya,” answered Andee, holding up her small bag of potato chips.

She was trying to read the label.

Angela smiled that “awww…” smile, and corrected my niece with a kiss. “It’s poh-tay-tow.”

Poh-tay-tow… poh-tah-tow… however you fancy. But never poh-tah.

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Tonight I’m having a very important meeting. And its importance I cannot emphasize enough. Another one should take place within the week. I will share the results of these meetings later in the month or early August. Wish us a mothe rload of luck.

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