The Art of Street Fighting- Street Fighter V Redbull Documentary

Street Fighter has been a phenomenon ever since Street Fighter II blew away the arcades in 1991. Since then it has grown into an incredibly popular franchise with a vibrant fighting community and international tournaments with prize money in the tens of thousands. The Art of Street Fighting is a Redbulll documentary that looks into the fight scene in Street Fighter V. In the words of Redbull:

Go inside the lives of the top Street Fighter V players as they prepare for the biggest fight of their lives. The stories of Xiao Hai, Daigo, Gamerbee, Tokido and Luffy show what it takes to make it to the hallowed grounds of Red Bull Kumite.

Anima- Short Film Review

Anima is the latest solo album from Thom Yorke, the lead singer and writer of Radiohead. I've heard the album and like it just fine, not being the biggest Yorke fan, but the accompanying 15 minute one reel short film accompanying the release is a revelation as it feels like an interpretive dance art installation piece.
The whole 3 act performance features the tracks Not the News, Traffic and Dawn Chorus and is a marvel with beautiful choreography by Damien Jalet, who also created the dance pieces (the best bits in my opinion) of the recent Suspiria film, cinematography by Darius Khondji (who shot Suspiria) and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who should need very little introduction.

In the film, Thom Yorke dances and cuts shapes through a dystopic looking London, full of automoton like people seeming to fall asleep but doing about about their daily grind in their somnanbulist state. He sees another passenger on the train, but she leaves a bag on the train when it reaches a platform and he goes on a Buster Keaton-esque journey to return it to her.
Along the way he battles though weird geometry, high walls and people blocking his way. There are homages to various silent films here in my opinion.
The section where sleepwalking people are crawling along the angled floor in time reminded me of a scene from Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis, where everyone works together in jarring motions to get the capitalist machine to work, its scary yet also strangely thrilling. In the final part, Yorke meets the lady he has been chasing and they dance together, holding each other together through herky-jerky movements before becoming more affectionate and intimate, this reminded me of capoeira.

The 3 part act can be interpreted in many ways but I think it represents our lives, the mundane, the frustrating and then those magical moments when we meet someone, only to wake up but with that glow of the memory.

Not many artists are as pioneering as Radiohead or Thom Yorke about the way they distribute and promote their music without seeming like sellouts or it seeming cynical or gimmicky. Whilst not the biggest Radiohead or Yorke fan, I do appreciate what they do and this new short film feels quite special; it reminds me of the world exclusive music video releases which had the world sitting in front of the telly as you weren't sure if and when you'd ever see it again, it feels like an event and in this day and age of streaming 24 media that's an astonishing thing.

The cinematography is stunning!

The cinematography is stunning!

Paper Twin Peaks Intro

The internet is a weird and wonderful place. Often it is the bastion of cult series and fan favourites and so it is with Twin Peaks, which, even though it only ran for two seasons over 25 years ago, has had a long tail… mainly due to online fandom. So much so, that it led to the 2017 revival Twin Peaks: The Return.

Some beautiful mad man or woman has recreated the entire introduction of Twin Peaks in paper. It’s a joy to see and is sure to please the soul!

Dove Self-Esteem Project x Steven Universe: Social Media

Dove and Cartoon Network are working together on the Dove Self-esteem project, one that asks people to live their best lives but not always sell the 'I’m living my best life’ through filtered and posed content. It’s a good message as social media isn't bad, it can be positive but it can consume people and make them worry to much about how they look, what they are putting out there etc. The message conveyed is to just be yourself and social media can be a great way to stay connected and present yourself in the world, just don't forget to put the phone away now and then and talk to people. I see it too much at school, work, parks and pretty much everywhere. It would be great to see more people challenge themselves to be more present and not become isolated by the very means which are supposed to keep us connected.

Costume Quest Season 1 Part 1 Animated Show: Series Review

Costume Quest is the animated show based on the popular indie games from 2010 and 2014. It has taken many years to get the animated treatment but boy is it a treat.

The story concerns four children; Wren, the strong headed girl, Reynold, her nervous and scared-cat twin, Everett, the confident young boy, and Lucy, the shy, quiet girl, who battle against the dark forces of the nougat eating monsters that lurk in their sleepy village of Auburn Pines. To help them in their quest they use a variety of magical costumes that have transformative powers.

This set up is quite neat and each episode revolves around the group using different costumes to overcome obstacles and develop as friends.

Even though it seems to be set in modern times with mobile phones, the Internet and meme references, the whole show is bathed in the glow of 80s nostalgia. The humour is gentle and sweet and the purposely 'Charlie Brown'-esque voice work lend it that lovable naiveté that endears those jankily voiced animated short to our hearts, and so it is with this. The young voice cast is strong and deliver their lines with suitable characterisation and emotion.

The art style remains true to the game and the colour pallete is all browns, orange, dark reds and dusky colours, which gives the show a feeling of warmth which is strangely comforting.

The music is slow jazz and quite folksy sounding, which kind of reminds me of Over The Garden Wall, which is not a bad thing at all!

So far, only 7 episodes have been released and with each being about 25 minutes long, with more promised at Halloween. Whilst it is a short, breezy watch don't think of it as a silly kids show, as although it is primarily aimed at children at 4-11 years of age, the story does develop and there are moments where characters go through personal growth.

The whole show is a wonderful throwback to some of the cartoons of my youth and whilst not exceptional, the show is definitely worth a watch!

Evangelion Now Streaming on Netflix

Netflix is now streaming the Neon Genesis Evangelion series as well as three of the movies, The End of Evangelion and Death (true) 2. The Japanese vocal track remains but the English voice cast has been redubbed and the ending these song, 'Fly Me To the Moon' by either Claire Little or Yoko Takahashi has been replaced with a piano instrumental instead of an original Evangelion composition instead.
Despite all this Evangelion remains a high watermark and its influence on manga and anime cannot be overstated. A whole cottage industry popped up after it hit the big time and it had a long tail. If you haven't seen it, you really do need to as it is one of the most interesting exciting and introspective anime of all time. For fans of the show, you know the drill... Watch it, fixate on the various threads and research the key terms and concepts, contemplate the meaning of existence... then watch a YouTube video of someone explaining what was actually happening! This is huge as I remember spending hours in the library looking up the Dead Sea Scrolls, Lilith, Angels, Sephiroth Tree of Life and Robert Browning quotes. Now with YouTube, someone has done all the hard work so it won’t be such a mind-scramble! Anyways, it’s streaming online now so enjoy!

Panzer Dragoon Coming to Switch

I am super excited that the Nintendo Direct today announced that they would be releasing Panzer Dragoon on the Nintendo Switch this winter. I’ve only played Panzer Dragoon Orta on the OG XBox but loved it. I have the Panzer Dragoon soundtrack as I heard it years ago on YouTube whilst marking books and bought the vinyl when it was released by DataDiscs a couple of years ago. I can’t wait to finally play the game!

In the words of Nintendo:

A new, remade version of the Panzer Dragoon game – true to the original, with improved graphics and controls, that suit modern gaming standards! On a far, lone planet, you encounter two dragons awaken from the ancient times. Armed with a deadly gun from the past, and the guidance of your armored blue dragon, you must fulfill your destiny and keep the Prototype Dragon from reaching the Tower or die trying. Panzer Dragon: Remake comes to Nintendo Switch this Winter!

His Dark Materials HBO Series Trailer Drops

With Game of Thrones ending soon it seems like HBO is really chucking money at shows to get its next big hit. A couple of weeks ago we got the Watchmen trailer and earlier today they released the His Dark Materials one. I’m a huge fan of the trilogy and have been for many years. In fact, way back in 2013, when I was creating an influence map the series featured quite prominently.

Anjum Razaq Influence Map

I look forward to seeing the show and hope it keeps more in line with the book series, blasphemy and all.

New Watchmen HBO Trailer Drops

Watchmen is one of the most important graphic novels of all time and whilst the 2009 film adaptation did an okay job of transferring the complex comic to the screen, it didn’t quite succeed in my opinion. Now HBO is having another bite of the Watchmen cherry with an all-star cast series adaptation. The trailer had me intrigued and I’m sure Alan Moore vitriolic. Well, we’ll soon find out if it’s any good but considering HBO’s impressive output, I wouldn’t count against it.

Yuzo Koshiro on Composing for Streets of Rage, Techno and Programming

Yuzo Koshiro, the composer behind the Streets of Rage games, was a pioneer when bringing the sounds of the clubs into games. The Streets of Rage soundtracks are amongst the most highly regarded of the 16-bit era and rightly so. Whilst The Orb, The Prodigy and Orbital were getting into the charts, Koshiro was applying the music styling of the genre into his soundtracks.

I have all three Streets of Rage soundtracks on vinyl and they are awesome!

I have all three Streets of Rage soundtracks on vinyl and they are awesome!

In an interview for Red Bull Music Academy, Koshiro discussed the early days of his career, how he and Motohiro Kawashima sought inspiration in nightclubs for Streets of Rage and why he never let limitations stop him from pushing forward. At nearly an hour and an half it’s an informative and interesting in-depth discussion about a very singular creator.

She-Ra Season 2 Trailer

The new trailer for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season 2 has just dropped and I am excited. The first series was solid in my opinion and, even though it faced some backlash from some quarters, I’m pleased it is getting a second series. The release date is 26th April and I look forward to watching it and writing a review! For those who are curious, I reviewed the first series so check out the link.

Cuphead Coming to Switch

The Xbox One has not had the greatest of times this generation but one of its shining lights has been Cuphead, the old animation styled rock hard run and gun game. Well, I’m beyond excited to see the game has been announced for release on the Nintendo Switch on 18th April 2019. I’m definitely buying it and can’t wait to play it! For fans of old Fleischer and Disney animation this is a must.

The Public Information Films We'll Never Forget- BBC

Public Information Films were government funded mini movies which tackled the myriad of issues facing society over the time. The British government were true masters at creating small horror films that warned of imminent danger and scared the bejesus out of children, sitting in the hall with a rolled out tv/ video combo. Check out the BBC video that looks back kinda fondly, if that’s the term to use, at the films that informed and petrified us in equal measure.

The Public Information Films We'll Never Forget- ©BBC

What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

I’ve discovered a BBC short film (just under 5 mins) about Hauntology, the concept that there is a "nostalgia for lost futures." The term is a portmanteau of ‘haunt,’ meaning ‘to appear in a ghostly form’ and ‘-ology’ meaning ‘the study of the nature of being.’

Over the course of the video we see images of the past and projections of what the future could be like. Looking at the possible hopes and fears for the future left me feeling a bit depressed really and that is what hauntology does. Anyways, it’s a great video and worth a look!

What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

Why the World Fell in Love With Monument Valley

I frequently speak about how video games can be an art form. Not all games are art in my opinion but some titles just stand out and really push the debate beyond doubt... step up Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 by Ustwo.

In the Monument Valley games you manipulate Escher-style architecture and guide a silent princess through stunning vistas. In Monument Valley 2 you control a mother and daughter as they are seperated by the architecture. The journeys is relatively short (about 2 hours apiece) but memorable as each level is a masterpiece, a combination of stunning art and immaculate design (I’ve linked to two articles I’ve done below about the artistry in the gaming).

Red Bull Gaming have produced a short 10 minute documentary about what Ustwo is up to next and it looks intriguing. Now this is a video game studio I can get behind.

Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy Concert Returns to the Royal Albert Hall

The music of Final Fantasy, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has always been a video game fan favourite and even reached quite high in the Classic FM Music of the Year charts. Well, the Royal Albert Hall is hosting 2 evenings of the music from the games but with a very special guest indeed, RIKKI, the original vocalist from Final Fantasy X!

I probably won’t be going as I have a few school commitments but maybe you folks might enjoy it. Click the link below the image to go to the official Royal Albert Hall website to snap up tickets!

Crow: The Legend- PSVR Animation

As teachers and educators we like to immerse our children in topics to interest and excite them. With certain topics this is easy as we have to facilities and resources nearby to engage them, however with certain topics like History this can be difficult as the places we are discussing are often not within reach.

Whilst carrying out research about native North America I came across a free PSVR animation called Crow: The Legend, a story about the origin of seasons. In the words of the animation creators, Boabab Studios:

The carefree forest animals imagine spring will last forever. However, winter comes and the animals soon realize that their lives are in danger. What they need is a hero; what they need is Crow: The Legend.

The 20 minute or so animation is a beautiful VR experience and stars John Legend, Oprah Winfrey and many other famous actors. It is a brilliant stimulus for writing and I hope to use it when we do our North America topic next term.

Fern Gully Trading Cards Set Opened 26 Years Later

Whilst at a Comic-con I picked up a pack of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest trading cards. For those not in the know Fern Gully is a 1992 animated musical film about the Australian rainforest inhabited by fairies. Crysta, a fairy, accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak to the size of a fairy. Zak goes native and teams up with Crysta to rally the fairies and the animals of the rainforest to protect their home from the loggers and a malevolent pollution entity, Hexxus.

For people thinking that this premise sounds familiar, it is... think of Avatar crossed with Dances With Wolves and you get the idea.The film is not very memorable but does feature a pretty cool performance out of Robin Williams, pre- Aladdin.

Getting the cards was pretty awesome as they have survived being chucked for over 25 years and that is amazing. The cards themselves are alright but pretty basic, no gloss, no shinies and no activities but overall not too bad. They mostly contain stills from the film and character images. No muss, no fuss.

Huge Manga Exhibition at British Museum in 2019

I’ve been a HUGE manga fan for about 30 years now. Back when I got into it in the late 80s, manga and anime were not as prevalent as it is now in the West, so to see its emergence and cultural impact has been fascinating for me. In fact, my first ever blog post for this website in 2013 was an influence map:

The British Museum also recognises the influence of the artform on the world and is hosting its biggest ever exhibition from 23rd May to 26th August 2019. In their own words:

Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I hope to be going to the exhibition and will write a review, as usual.

LINK- British Museum Manga Exhibition Tickets

LINK- Good Grief, Charlie Brown Exhibition Review