Mushi-Shi Live Action

Still having trouble with Scrapped Princess deliveries, I bumped up the Mushi-Shi live action DVD. FUNimation has also titled it as Bugmaster, which is a pretty literal translation, though not exactly accurate. As I (think I) mentioned before in my anime review, the mushi are not strictly insects even though they often take on an insect-like appearance; they are life spirits. The film is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Metropolis, Steamboy), which should say a lot about its quality.

The handsome Jo Odagiri (Shinobi: Heart Under Blade) stars are Ginko, a traveling Mushi Master. The basic plot does not differ from the anime (I can't speak for the manga, but I would assume the same, for the basics at least), and indeed a few instances are woven into the film, including the sound eating mushi, the man trying to capture a rainbow, and the young girl who seals an ancient mushi by writing down the stories told to her by traveling Mushi Masters. The film also explores Ginko's past, so keep that in mind before you decide to watch it. His past, and the circumstances surrounding it, make up a good portion of the film; but Ginko's origin isn't explored in the anime until episode 12, and the girl who writes about mushi appears in episode 20. The film goes beyond what is in the anime however, and Ginko's past comes full circle. It's a fairly complete story from beginning to end (as opposed to just being a random chunk of the story as a whole).

The movie is very well made. There's almost an old fashioned look to it, like a thin film laid across the screen. The costumes and scenery are lovely. Everything fits, and the special effects are well done. The Ginko in the film is a bit different from anime Ginko. Anime Ginko is pretty laid back; live action Ginko is more quiet and very traditional and respectful in his mannerisms. Not to say it's a totally different character, or that anime Ginko is loud and rude; I just think anime Ginko is a little bit more lively. Regardless, Odagiri does an excellent job. Though I do miss the constant cigarette hanging from his lips. Live action Ginko smokes a pipe every now and then, though it's never explained what it is that he's smoking (if you remember from my previous review, it's a special herb that helps keep mushi away).

The film is good about explaining what the mushi are, what they're doing, and how Ginko is handling them. At least until the end when he starts dealing with things that aren't really explained, and some questionable character motivations (from other characters). Overall it's a fantastic transfer into a live action medium.

Now, I can't make a lot of comments on FUNimation's English voice over for the film, because I never watch live action movies in anything other than their original language. It just feels ridiculous and unnatural. I did listen to enough of it (meaning I skipped to a scene where he talked a lot and listened for a couple minutes) to notice that they brought in Travis Willingham to voice Ginko again, which is helpful. In the little bit of the English voice over that I listened to, I got the distinct impression that they were doing animation voice over, not live action voice over. Maybe to some people there isn't a difference, but when I'm watching real people and hearing anime styled voices...that just doesn't work for me, and frankly it was a little silly.

Anyway, watch it, it's a lovely movie.


Tokyopop Dismay

I had hoped to have Scrapped Princess ready to review today, but due to some very annoying shipping issues, it's very slow going. It's the same issue I had the first time I tried to watch the series, but I got one disc further along this time. Here's hoping that "short wait" tag on my Netflix list will go away quickly so I can finish it up.

I DID get the live action version of Mushi-Shi in the mail, but haven't watched it yet. I'll probably watch it later today, and may review it for next week.

So today will just be a rant day. Though I am seeking some advice. I got some extra birthday money in, and I'm looking at the purchase of one of the following three things. I can get them all for about the same price ($35), so that's not an issue. Which is the problem. Here are my options: Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino box set, which is out right now. Nostalgia for the DS, which comes out at the end of October. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 for the DS, which comes out at the end of September. I'm leaning towards Gunslinger Girl right now because it's easier for me to buy that for myself (though I will be ordering it, so I'll have to pay shipping too, which will make it run about $40) than to ask for it as a gift later on. The DS games are ideal Christmas gifts since they're lower in price and easier to find, though I am a little concerned about the availability of a smaller title like Nostalgia by the time Christmas comes around. Decisions, decisions.

Moving on.... I've been very disappointed with the quality of Tokyopop's manga lately. It's completely unacceptable to be asked to pay $11 for something filled with so many careless errors. Fortunately the only TP manga titles I read now are Natsuki Takaya books (they seem to have a monopoly on her works). Both series are short, and nearly over. Other than Return to Labyrinth (which isn't very good, but I got suckered in by my love for the film), which has one volume left, and the novels for Twelve Kingdoms, I won't be reading any other TP titles. They have nothing I'm interested in. Viz has better titles, better quality, and is still a dollar or two cheaper (depending on the title) than TP books. Yen press has been getting some good titles too. Tokyopop used to be a monster in the manga publishing business, but they seem to really be struggling now, and it's not just the economy.

I'll wrap up with a nice little rant to Tokyopop, which covers why I, and many others, are so frustrated with them lately.

Dear Tokyopop,
Why is your editing department one of the worst I've ever seen? Spliced frames and dialog, backward pages, poor grammar, misspellings, mixed dialog, incorrect names. The mistakes are far too frequent. You raised your prices across the board, but you lowered the quality of your paper (to some see-through crap [TP has recently stated they found some new, better paper, but they have not used it yet so we'll see later if this improves the quality...or raises the price]), and the quality of your work has gotten worse. This is not how business works. Yes, the economy is bad, yes everyone is struggling to make money. But lowering quality and raising prices do not go together. It's a slap in the face to the people who spend money on your books. They don't have to; it's so easy to find this stuff for free. But we decide to spend the money on professional quality, and support the industry.

So where is our professional quality? Why is every volume I pick up riddled with mistakes? The recent volume of Tsubasa: Those With Wings is an excellent example. See-through paper, a misplaced page, inconsistent spelling of character names and locations (both between volumes and within the same volume), dialog bubbles spoken by incorrect characters, poor sentence structure. These are not 1,000 page novels here. Is it too much to ask for some simple proof reading? My eyes catch every mistake, and every mistake breaks the flow of the story - every poorly structured sentence that I have to re-write in my head, and every incorrect bubble that I have to study in confusion to figure out which character the dialog actually belongs to. A few is acceptable, and even expected. When it's all over every volume you publish, that's a problem.

~ Your Frustrated Consumers

Oh yeah, in other news, Disney has purchased Marvel Comics. I haven't decided how I feel about this yet. The "thing" to say right now is "Oh, there will be Marvel characters in the next Kingdom Hearts!" But...I don't really want that, to be honest. Hopefully the only thing they'll bother to do with the company is fire Joey Q, and then keep their mitts off everything else.