Critical Examination: FLCL: Progressive and Terrible Anime Sequels

When I heard that a sequel was being made to one of my favorite anime, FLCL, you can imagine how skeptical I was.  A sequel?  Now?  The original series is almost two decades old.  Not to mention, what new ground could they possibly tread?  I was really confused about why this was being made, and the trailers for it didn’t help.  There was this itching sensation in the back of my mind that it was being made to cash in on nostalgia.  Another cash-grab anime.  That bothers me.  After having finally gotten to see it…fuck this series.

There’s a contention that has been going around the oldtaku community, and it’s one that I firmly agree with – anime will never be as good as it was roughly 10 to 15 years ago.  The glory days of this medium are long behind it, and modern anime is desperately trying to reclaim that glory.  Back then, there was a real sense of risk, and you had creative people doing things with no idea if they would work or not.  There were tons of passion projects from directors who loved this medium.  Now, we have glossy, safe, marketable garbage that is either PC to the point of boredom, or deliberately trying to cash in on the perv side of the medium.  That’s it.  The days of taking risks are long gone.

Another thing about modern anime is that they are now in this place where they want to make sequels to series that have long since passed or have no reason to continue.  Did you all know there is a third sequel to Code Geass?  I remember seeing that, and my first thought was – why?  What more could they possibly do with the plot?  It was over.  Lelouch had finally seen his plan of bringing about a peaceful world come to pass, and died in the process.  There is no good reason why the series would be back with him as a protagonist.  Britannia has been destroyed!  The knowledge of Geass is gone.  Only CC has it now.  Lelouch saw to that.  Everyone with direct knowledge of Geass has either been killed or brought under Zero’s control.  What else can they possibly do?

In all reality, it is going to be another cash-grab sequel, with none of the heart or charm of the original.  Much like, as I knew it would be, FLCL: Progressive.  This series sucked.  It absolutely sucked.  I think back to how much I love the original, and why I love it the way I do.  I think of how it was a passion project of a man who was the student of Hideyaki Anno, the creator of Evangelion.  He wanted to create something that was entirely different, take what he learned, but also let his creative team go buck-wild.  The fifth episode was directed by the same director who helmed Kill la Kill, so naturally it is action-packed and crazy.  There is a direct homage to South Park in one episode because that was a show the team was watching at the time.  The Pillows were featured because it was a band the show’s director liked and so he asked them if they would come and do the score.  Everything in the series was done to let the team go nuts and create a show entirely their own.  It was a passion project.  All the best series are, because a show without passion is a product trying to sell you something.

Meanwhile, what is the new series?  Well, it’s six episodes long.  Why?  Because the original!  It has The Pillows doing the music again.  Why?  Because the original!  Neat fact – it’s known in Japan that The Pillows have largely gone downhill, and it REALLY shows here.  The songs that are not retreads of stuff from the original series (the saddest thing in the world.  I mean, if you aren’t even going to be original, why not just use the original music?  With how hard this series banked on nostalgia, it might as well have used nothing but the original music) as mediocre and boring.  All the heart I could feel back in the day is gone.  There’s spastic animation.  Why?  Because the original!

What’s missing?  The heart.  FLCL was a series about growing up.  It had themes of youth, love, honesty, and yeah, sex.  The story of Naota and what happens when a crazy woman on a Vespa comes into his life is touching.  It takes me back to being that age and growing up.  Ironically enough, while I did watch this series as a kid, I loved it way more when I saw it as an adult.  Being able to watch the series with the hindsight of adulthood and think about my own journey to here makes it hit that much harder.  The plot isn’t especially deep, but it didn’t have to be.  This was a series about people and their growth over the course of the narrative.

The sequel, on the other hand, is loud, spastic, with mech combat and an animation style that couldn’t be more modern if it tried.  It can’t stand on its own.  This series works so hard to remind you about the original that it might as well beat you over the fucking head with it.  Anyone who wants to just watch this series as its own thing is wasted because it does callback after callback to the original.  Just so you know that this is why it’s here.  This series has no heart of its own.  It practically advertises that it only cares about cashing in on nostalgia.

There are so many terrible sequels to great anime.  The second season of both Darker Than Black and Psycho-Pass are great examples.  Both of those were just sequels made because they could.  All of the creative energy that made the first season great was all gone.  These were just coasting on name recognition until you didn’t care anymore.  There’s something to be said for knowing where to end a series.  Guess nobody told them that.  Oh, and they made a sequel to Steins;Gate.  It at least has the voices of the original.  But also none of the heart.

I’ve talked before about how Hollywood is out of ideas.  I’m starting to think that anime is too.  It’s gotten into the sequel cash-grab game.  Making things not because they want to, but because they think it will make them money on the die-hard audience.  That depresses me to no end.  FLCL: Progressive isn’t just bad.  It’s Disney sequel bad.  Hell, I would compare it to the very worst of the Disney sequel garbage.  If anything, just like the terrible remakes and reboots in Hollywood, it just makes me love the original so much more.  While I can feel the heart and passion that series had, this just is.  And that, more than anything, is why it sucks so bad.  A story that didn’t need to be told, without a single character you can actually care about, and a plot that is even less engaging than the original.  That’s how bad this is.

The lesson here – don’t make a sequel if you don’t fucking care!

Until next time, a quote,

“Let’s be honest – soon all anybody is gonna know about ‘Ghostbusters’ is the original.  This will be forgotten.” – Rich Evans

Peace out,

Maverick

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Hollywood Needs to Stop Making Remakes

I am so bored with movies these days.  Between the endless sequels, and the unending reboots and remakes, why should I go to the theaters when I can just as easily not watch those films at home?  Not even going to see the next Star Wars.  Finally got around to watching Rogue One.  It sucked.  It was boring.  I’ll admit that it made the Rebels kind of look like terrorists, which is how I always saw them so that worked out nicely, but the rest was boring.  Everyone tells me that Episode VII was so awesome.  You know what I see when I saw that film?  I’ll tell you – a really poorly hidden remake of the original film.  That’s it.  It’s a remake of the first film, but with a chick.  I am not impressed.

Which brings me to my latest bit of news that I saw – the Baywatch film has flopped.  What a shock.  When I saw the ads for this movie, I was genuinely confused.  I never even watched the show, but I remember what the draw for it was back in the day – Pamela Anderson and her really big tits bouncing in swimsuits along with Carmen Electra.  It wasn’t that hard.  To be able to remake this concept should be simple.  Granted, in today’s politically correct charged society, I do wonder if people would gravitate toward a film with hot women and big tits in swimsuits, but I bet it would still sell well.  However, that isn’t what they did, is it?  No, instead we got some kind of buddy-comedy with The Rock and some other fuck who I don’t really know or care who they are.  Wait, what?  I saw only one ad with hot women and they didn’t exactly have huge tits bouncing.  Why is there no bouncing?  Where are the big boobs?  In that moment, I realized what had happened.

The Hollywood machine got its claws into that film, and it became the latest in the series of poor decisions that they have made when remaking something to not even give the slightest of fucks about what the draw was to the source material.  Instead they have to make it some bullshit that trades simply in name recognition.  Because hey, why not sweep the bottom of the barrel?  To be fair, that was pretty much what the show was.  It was porn without the porn.  Hot bouncing tits under the skimpy clothes.  The shoe was to give guys boners.  Sure, there were some hot dudes in there too just to get the ladies all moistened, but we all remember the ads.  This was for the lowest common denominator.  But the series was aware of that.  There was no question about it.  Same way Magic Mike was about the lowest common female denominator.

Hollywood has this habit lately of taking properties with name recognition and deciding to remake or reboot it while not even beginning to remember what drew people to it in the first place.  For example – did you see that the remake of Jumanji is coming out in the next year or so?  Oh boy.  The poster for it looks retarded beyond belief, and it’s another film that The Rock can add his name to that is stupid in the extreme, but it’s happening.  Another CG orgy that will totally miss the practical effects which help cover the original film’s terrible animations that have not aged well at all.  Not to mention it shits on Robin Williams’ legacy when he was at his peak.  But Hollywood clearly doesn’t care about that.  They are remaking The Crow, after all.  A classic superhero film that Brandon Lee gave his life for.  The lasting piece of his legacy.  I refuse to see that movie.  Period.  I will not give Hollywood money for spitting on the death of a man who tried to do something amazing.  Especially after they ruined the sequel to the film – City of Angels.  Take a look at the link I attached.  The story of a truly great film that will never be just hurts me inside.

What can we learn about all these remakes and reboots?  First – Hollywood is out of ideas.  Instead of making original content to give to the masses, they give the same recycled bullshit that they know will make a shit-ton of money.  Since the masses clearly as stupid as fuck, they will see whatever new superhero film it is.  Not me.  After one of the staff at DC came out and said that the Wonder Woman film wasn’t going to be any better than Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad, I won’t even be Netflixing that shit.  20th Century Fox decided to take a risk with two R-rated superhero films that actually did justice to their source material.  Both of which were incredible films.  Both of which were sleeper hits that brought in massive critical and widespread acclaim.  Part of me hopes that Disney will take notice and hand some of their properties off to their subsidiary studios under their umbrella and make a few with their properties.  That’s how they were able to distribute Princess Mononoke, even though it was a VERY violent Miyazaki film.  I doubt it will happen, but a man can dream.  At the very least Disney knows when to begin to step back from superhero films after Infinity War is done.  Props to that.  The MCU had a good run, now it can have a legacy.

The next thing we can learn is that truly amazing films are being passed over.  My favorite film of 2016 was a genuinely smart science fiction film called Arrival.  It was made by Denis Villeneuve, who made Sicario and Incendes.  Both of which were also incredible.  I am a little apprehensive about what the sequel to Blade Runner is going to be, but at least it is in the hands of a competent director.  That’s more than a lot of films can say.  How many films like Arrival are being passed over because they may not sell as much.  I just found out that there is an anime adaptation film being made that probably none of you has heard about it.  It is being personally financed by James Cameron, who has wanted to see a film adaptation of it made for 17 years!  That’s pretty hardcore.  It is already in production.  $200 million has been spent on it.  Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about?  I don’t blame you.  This film is so far under the radar to border on non-existence.  It’s being directed by Robert Rodriguez, and stars Michelle Rodriguez and Christoph Waltz, along with Jennifer Connolly and other big names.  Still don’t know?  It’s called Battle Angel.  A manga that James Cameron was in love with and as I said has been trying to make into a film for 17 years.  Maybe after how hard Ghost in the Shell flopped, they want to keep this under wraps.  Hard to say.

Lastly, the thing we can take away is that Hollywood is bleeding money.  After all, the best they can do is churn out films that are basically tailor-made to do well overseas.  Seems the Asian markets will eat up whatever crap we put out, so long as it has white people kicking ass.  All the SJWs talking about “white-washing” don’t mean much to the markets that have made films that outright sucked like the Transformers sequels into massive successes.  Goes to show – Anita Sarkeesian and her ilk don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.  Shocking, I know.

In the meantime, Hollywood needs to stop remaking movies.  I am hoping that with the failure of films like this and the failure of movies like Ghostbusters (2016), they are starting to see the tide on this crap turning.  Exploiting nostalgic name-recognition isn’t how you sell movies.  If anything, it just reminds cynics like me what we loved the originals so much.

Until next time, a quote,

“Work is making a living out of being bored.” – Karl Lagerfeld

Peace out,

Maverick

‘Frozen’ 2? Give Me a Break…

So, I am going to annoy some people here, but I am going to put something out there – I didn’t like Frozen.  I really didn’t.  I genuinely did not understand where all the vast amounts of love for the film came from.  People were going on and on about – “It breaks the Disney trope of the girl getting married at the end!” or “It tells girls that they don’t need a man to be happy!”  Okay, but it is still a princess story, right?  Yeah, never seen Disney do one of those before.  The plot went absolutely everywhere.  There were a TON of little plot-holes.  I just did NOT get why people loved it so much.  But then there is that one song, that every girl and their mother thought was amazing, and the fame for the movie is set.  The bank this movie made is awe-inspiring.

As Disney is want to do, they have decided that they are going to turn this franchise into the next money-maker for many years to come.  After all, that’s the only thing they care about.  Why do you think that they are doing ANOTHER sequel to Cars?  It’s so they can sell toys to little kids.  This film is going to sell cheap, bland, overdone music that is marketable.  In fact, that seems to be Disney’s guiding principle – marketing.  Everything they’ve made in the last five or so years has been safe and marketable.

Why do you think the Pirates of the Caribbean films went on so long?  Because the first film made a shit-ton of money and they wanted to milk it for all it was worth.  Why do you think that there are so many Marvel movies coming out?  Because they know that they will make a shit-ton of money.  The corporate model for Disney currently seems to be – if it can make a profit, run with it.  Let’s not take chances.  That seems to be the model for all of Hollywood, too.

It is very unpopular to say that Frozen is a bad movie.  But it is.  The characters are bland, the songs are forgettable (including “Let it Go”) and the plot goes all over the place and never settles on a single idea.  It isn’t the most terrible movie that I have seen, but if it weren’t for all the massive outpouring of love that the film is getting, I would have forgotten it by now.  Part of me is very confused as to where the love comes from.  Some people don’t even know why they like the film.  I actually get that, believe it or not.  I don’t know why I love the new Captain America film as much as I do, but I do have a lot of affinity for it.  Mysteries of the universe.

But yeah, this sequel is one of the few unnecessary sequels that people asked for.  This is one of those rare movies where you either love it to death or hate it completely.  I’ve found very few people in the middle.  And Disney is an evil monster that chooses to make movies based on how much money they can milk out of people.  Granted, all movies aspire to make money, but Disney has gotten to a point where they won’t even make movies unless there is money to be made.  Look at what has happened to Pixar.  Now they are doing nothing but sequels.

The reality is, however, that Disney’s model is unsustainable.  Much like AAA games and the lack of IPs.  There comes a point where you can’t milk a franchise for sequels anymore.  You have to give people new stuff.  After all, let’s be honest – the Marvel cinematic universe is a fad.  Eventually, people are going to walk away from that and move on to something new.  Given how Disney has plotted the entire franchise out, it seems that they are aware of this too, because they seem to be planning for it all to end at the Infinity War films.  That’s almost clever.

So, what do you all think?  Do you love Frozen to death and think that I’m an insufferable asshole for disliking it?  Or do you think that I’m right on the money.  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” -Frank Herbert

Peace out,

Maverick