Gunpla Builders Beginning G – This is Me Finally Drawing the Line in the Sand on Commercialized Content

Commercial anime are not uncommon in the history of the medium. Many games try to sell themselves through anime adaptations to varying results (looking at you Vampire Holmes!). I mean no modern day medium of cinematic entertainment these days can be devoid of it. Blockbuster films receive numerous ads for products that then must be placed within the film and sometimes it is more obvious than others (like Man of Steel). That isn’t a bad thing per se as these are more or less a necessity to help get these films and television shows made, yet that doesn’t hold them back from being fun pieces of entertainment for the most part. They don’t hinder our enjoyment regarding the work and while they may be noticeable in moments shouldn’t detract from the overall quality or come into play regarding the reception it should have.

That being said, some series or films are created for the sole purpose of selling merchandise with little to no merit to them at all. Look at what people are saying about the Emoji Movie that has recently come out. Yet I feel as if the Emoji Movie will fill up the public eye for a while so I decided to tackle the same idea with yet another piece of commercial entertainment (also I don’t want to put myself through that film). Gundam has become a phenomena over the years, and a lot of its sales comes from the gunpla kits it still produces with Bandai Namco. I mean it helped save the franchise from potential failure and is quite the intricate hobby, well models are intricate in general. All in all one does expect an anime or something along those lines to be made off the sport, and in fact three anime have. I know most people know about Gundam Build Fighters which was given a sequel only a year after its release in 2013, yet I am here to talk about the third work based off the Gunpla craze. The forgotten sibling known only as Gunpla Builders Beginning G, and we will see potentially if it manages to escape the crevasse that the Emoji Movie has sunken into or simply already be at the bottom waiting for the emojis to arrive.

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Mega Man X: The Day of Sigma – Does This Even Constitute as Fan Service?

So starting off this Mega Man X marathon is the anime special that supposedly details the events prior to the first game. Aptly named The Day of Sigma, this special was a warm welcome for a fan of the franchise like me. I mean we get to see the events that led us onto that bridge with the burning landscape behind us in the opening stage of Mega Man X. They are going to give us well needed background to Sigma and X’s battle and why it happens in the first place! This is all so exciting! Then I realized that it was the only thing like it, only one episode. There is no sequel series, nothing after it to give a fan more to bite into and it leaves us on a rooftop overlooking the mayhem below while Sigma laughs triumphantly. I began to wonder whether or not a special like this is really necessary to have if its brief existence can be explained in a few sentences.

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The Wind Rises – Fly High and Fly Higher Still

There is something to be said for Miyazaki as a filmmaker and as a director. That for all his works that feel distinctly Miyazaki, there has never been that one work where you could say “His soul beats off the screen!” His whimsy or feelings regarding flight and nature can be present, but never a sense of himself. That is not to say he doesn’t put every inch of his being into his work, his countless years of filmmaking is a testament to the man’s passion, yet this one film seems to be his poetry to the world of animation. His work of pure cinema in a sense, well more of a lax usage of the term, where visuals and storytelling go hand to hand. This is the one film that I can honestly say, “Miyazaki has finally made the film he has always wanted to make.” Every director has that one project that speaks to them as a master of their craft, no matter the director. Yet that very passion project some try to accomplish can fall along the wayside and they can be lost within their immense desire to tell the story they have always wanted to tell. Does The Wind Rises fall prey to Miyazaki’s very passion, or does it have enough lift to carry us to the clouds with him?

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The Cat Returns – The Embodiment of the Magic Studio Ghibli Possesses in Its Purest Form

The one and only rewatch I am forced to do during the Ghibli Week I have been doing, which is unfortunately going on longer than expected. I mean when you are watching anime with your family, sometimes not everything can go as planned. So I decided to personally rewatch one of the early works that I had fallen in love with when I was younger. The Cat Returns was my third foray into the magical world of Ghibli after My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away and the first Ghibli film I bought for my personal collection. The Cat Returns will always hold a special place in my heart, yet I decided when I was going to look at all the Ghibli films at some point to see them from a more critical lens. Hopefully it still holds up today about 10 years later, and yes it has been that long…and the more I dwell on that the older I feel. So does the Baron still have that kick in his step or will the endless swarm of cats put a damper on his dapper dandy deeds?

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From Up on Poppy Hill – Second Times the Charm

Ah the second film of Goro Miyazaki. I feel kind of bad that out of the two experience’s you can have with Goro as a director of a Ghibli film one of them is Tales from Earthsea. To not get a positive reception when starting out in the industry can be daunting for future projects. Especially when your own father didn’t necessarily think it was a good film or even that you should be given the film in the first place. To me there is baggage that I am expecting Goro to carry, but I am also hoping that this gives him the drive to make something great. From Up on Poppy Hill is the second film directed by Goro in the Ghibli library and unfortunately will be the last due to Ghibli not continuing. Tackling the post war era of Japan, Goro’s new film while shorter than the last one seems to be a more ambitious one moving away from the elements that his father usually uses in his films and try to find his own personal touch. The only thing is, does he find his stride with just his second film?

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Castle in the Sky – Getting Lost in the Clouds of Adventure

Castle in the Sky is probably the most straightforward Ghibli film I have watched so far in this marathon, and heavily reminds me of my feelings towards The Cat Returns. The whimsy and sense of adventure are ever present and the action ever entrancing. I mean a lot of films that heavily rely on the sense of pure entertainment to sell their film usually end up being a decent time at least yet never manage to be memorable. Movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Mummy (2017) and The Scorpion King really end up forgotten after you leave the theater unless you gain a deep distain for them for ruining a property you originally enjoy. It is a hard line to cross to make a film that aims to be an adventure film to stand the test of time without much to really look behind or a style to enjoy that differentiates itself. Castle in the Sky is Ghibli’s first film they ever created as an official studio, and at times it can look a bit noticeable. Yet as far as adventure films go will Castle in the Sky be merely a decently entertaining film forgotten after watching or a timeless story that reminds you of a simpler time?

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Princess Mononoke – Miyazaki’s Second Take at the Balancing of Nature vs Humanity

One of the more famed works of Studio Ghibli I have yet to see, Princess Mononoke has been toted around as a fantastical masterpiece by many. From the animation alone one can see why, with its breathtaking lore brought to life by striking visual imagery and colours. Miyazaki was on the top of his game animating this one, but what stood out to me was how similar it felt in message comparatively to Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. One could argue that this was Miyazaki’s second shot at the same story, which is weird since Nausicaa gained universal acclaim and Miyazaki has never had another film so similar to a previous one of his works. Having a royal try to restore balance between nature and humans. Different circumstances and scenario, but the same narrative structure of someone restoring the world back to normal. So does Princess Mononoke feel like just another retreading of one of his old ideas, or does it breathe life into something entirely its own?

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