Friday, September 30, 2016

The Top Ten Best Written Disney Characters

Starting on the villains team, Megara is no damsel in distress. Her job is to lure Hercules into the clutches of the Lord of the Dead, but ends up falling in love with the hero. Most interesting of all is how she ended up working for Hades in the first place: she bargained her soul for her boyfriend to come back to life only for him to ditch her for another woman. This gives her depth not a lot of Disney characters have, since she's not after true love but is actively trying to avoid falling in love altogether. She just wants her soul back but falls in love anyway.

Jessica Rabbit
The wife of Roger Rabbit, Jessica is the epitome of the femme fatale. She's dangerous, mysterious, and up until the third act you never know who's side she's really on. In the end though, she's a devoted wife willing to go above and beyond to keep her beloved safe. Don't let her figure fool you, she's not bad, she's just drawn that way.

The source material for the hunchback was extremely complex as are most characters written by Victor Hugo. Quasimodo makes it relatively unscathed into the movie as the film's outcast heart, showing both his incredible loneliness yet fear of the outside world masterfully throughout the film. While the Disney version gave the audience far more of a happy ending then the novel ever did, it didn't hold back from not giving Quasimodo a love interest in the end, instead making his reward the acceptance the people of Paris as well as the acceptance of himself. This was a perfect way to end a kids friendly Hunchback of Notre Dame film, so long as we ignore the sequel.

Mother Gothel
Villain complexity in Disney is rarely a thing, since the villain is mainly there to keep the story going, but we do get an extra layer of character from Gothel. Her motivation is to keep Rapunzel enslaved, and she does this not by bars or guards but by using mothers guilt. She is the shadowy side of the good mother seen in the few Disney films where the mother isn't dead, and this makes her a far more effective villain since no matter how good a person's mother is, we've all felt the mother's guilt trip at one point or another.

By far the youngest entry on the list, Lilo is the kid we all wished we were. She's into weird stuff, from giving a fish a peanut butter sandwich to using voodoo on her friends when they mistreat her, and thus is probably the only person who could've seen the good in the alien monster Stitch. The interesting thing about her is her conflict between her own weird view of the world and wanting to be accepted by the world she doesn't fit into, which makes her to anyone who is into the weird but gets sick of being laughed out of the room or having nobody understanding them.

Before Aladdin we really didn't have a lot of complex male characters in Disney movies. Robin Hood was just a hero, and most of the princes had less lines than the supporting characters. We had the Beast, and he was pretty good, but Aladdin was better. He's a con artist. He cheats people into getting what he wants, not because he's evil but because that's what he does to survive. Lying isn't the only tool he has on his belt, but he thinks it is. He has to learn that there's more to himself than meets the eye, and that makes for the fantastic character arc we get in the film.

Big Hero 6 is packed with fun characters, but Hiro is the most human, especially after Todashi's death. He's heartbroken, angry, and generally confused, as a child would be when dealing with death. He even nearly turns Baymax into a killer robot to go after the guy who was responsible for his brother's death. This film has a better grasp of the grieving process than the entire Batman cannon.

I mentioned earlier that Beast was a good character, but I think the better character here is Belle, the soft spoken outcast from the village. Some people may argue against this, citing Stockholm Syndrome as her main motivation for loving the Beast, to which I have to respectfully disagree. When given the chance to leave, Belle leaves. She only goes back when he's in physical trouble from her idiot stalker. Either way, Belle is smart, well-read, and doesn't compromise for no man. She's not even looking for a man, she just wants a life outside her podunk French village, which makes sense that the Mormon version of this movie had her living in Provo.

Another misunderstood princess, I'd say that she's one of the stronger female princesses we've ever had, Anna included. Ariel knows exactly what she wants and will do whatever she can to get it. While she ends up doing it for a man, its established that she wanted to be a human long before she saw Eric, he just happens to be an extra prize. Ariel even manages to get so close to kissing Eric and thus completing the spell so she'll have legs that Ursula gets frustrated at one point and has to change her own plans. Ariel even has a couple kills under her mer-belt when she axes Ursula's sidekicks, making her not only one of the more complex princesses but one of the few with actual blood on her hands.

It's nice to see the love interests of princesses be something other than princes, and indeed seeing them even get the occasional line. Kristoff is interesting because he's the opposite of your average prince without being a villain or a criminal. He's just a guy, just a blue collar worker with a reindeer and a sled. He never tries to be something else to impress anyone or feel that bad about being who he is. While most of his traits are played for laughs, he's far more like someone you'd actually know then most love interests in any movie.

What characters do you find well written?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Disneyland on the Cheap!

Hay all!
Disneyland is notorious for being the happiest place on earth and one of the most expensive. If you're on your way to the park but don't want to go through your entire bank account to do so, here are some tips to do Disneyland without doing in your wallet.

1. Tickets
Discount tickets aren't really a thing, unless you can get a military discount or have small children. However if you're plan beforehand you can plan ahead to make it easier on the bank account. Park Hopper tickets allow you to go from Disneyland to California Adventures as many times as you want in a day, which is great if you're only going to be in the park for a single day. If you're going over several days though, single park tickets can be cheaper. If you know you're going at least three times in a year, get the season pass. It'll pay for itself before you know it. Lastly, if you're looking at doing something more than just the Mouse's House, get the City Pass. It allows three days in Disneyland as well as a day in Universal and a day in Sea World.

2. Food
One of the best things about Disneyland is that they let you bring food into the park. Before you go in, supply up at the local Target or Walmart with trail mix and sandwich material. While waiting in line, munch on something healthy to keep your appetite in check. Some places in Disneyland have decent prices compared to outside the park, including a Subway in the French quarter. Plan at least one big meal in the park though, because the food is fantastic.

3. Souvenirs
You can't swing a Goofy doll in Disneyland without hitting a place to buy Disney related merchandise. Before you go into the park, have either a couple characters or items in mind and stick to that. Same tip goes for Comic Con. Right outside of Disneyland park is a mall full of Disney stuff at any price you need. These rules may be harder to apply to little kids who want everything in reach, but it can provide a perfect time to teach responsibility and how money works.

Got any other tips for doing Disney on the cheap?


Monday, September 19, 2016

Digimon Adventure Tri: "Reunion"

Last week I went with my brother and a couple of his friends to a Fathom Events showing of Digimon Adventure Tri: Part 1, Reunion. I knew this 15th Anniversary event was happening (heck, I’d already watched part one and two on Hulu) but it was a different experience watching it dubbed. So today I’m going to review “Reunion”.

The Digimon and the Digi-Destined return!
Digimon Adventure Tri happens 3 years after the battle between the Digi-Destined and MaloMyotismon. It’s been over a year since the Digi-Destined have seen their partners, because of the gate being closed. However, distortions have arisen that have let infected Digimon into the Real World, so the original eight Digimon partners make their way to the real world to help their human friends. The destruction and danger in the Real World makes it hard for Tai to be willing to fight, but with some “gentle persuasion” from Matt he gets into the battle to stop Alphamon from destroying a new Digi-Destined Meiko. In the final battle of “Reunion”, MetalGarurumon and WarGreymon DNA digivolve into Omnimon to fight off Alphamon, who escapes back into a portal.

Being a hardcore Digimon fan as a kid (and having rewatched each season in the last several months—I’m nearly done Season 5), this was a great addition to the show I watched a child. Original voice actors returned for many of the Digimon and Digi-Destined, including Tai, Agumon, Gabumon, Sora, Izzy, Tentomon, Mimi, Palmon, Gomamon, and Patamon. Granted, they could have recasted the voice actors just fine, like with Matt and Joe, but having the original voice actors made it even better.

One critique about “Reunion” is the slow start. My brother pointed this out, that while it was still worth seeing, it was slow. We got only a couple main battles. Everything else was standing around, slow, character-based action (or lack of action). Granted, my brother didn’t know at the time that it was part one of three; he was expecting one movie and that’s it. Seeing this movie as a third of the overall story makes it a little easier to handle. Still, it was slow. Even just the moments leading up to Tai coming back into the battle and getting Agumon to digivolve were painfully long.

On that note, I think many people at the theater went in with the wrong idea. When the show ended suddenly at the end of the battle with Alphamon, I saw several people (including my brother) who were confused. If you watch it later, keep in mind that it’s three parts. I’ve watched part two in Japanese (with English subtitles) and it’s similar as well. It’s not the typical Digimon action that we grew up with. It’s more character based and we’re looking at a lot of growth over the three 90-minute movies.

I was very glad that they didn’t retcon Digimon Season 2. Since Season 2 was less popular than the first season (and since the build-up showed no indication of including Davis, Yolei, Cody, or Ken) I was worried that they’d try to replace season 2 with this. However, as is evident with the small clips of Davis, Cody, Yolei, and Ken disappearing and also TK and Kari having their D-3s, this series does indeed happen after Season 2, after the defeat of MaloMyotismon.

Finally, one thing I found interesting with Tai in “Reunion” was his reaction to all of the destruction. His aversion to fighting and the media’s frustration with the good Digimon reminded me of “Captain America: Civil War” and the vigilante lawsuit in “Daredevil Season 2”. There’s destruction and danger as a result of the heroes saving as many people as they can. Fortunately, we didn’t see any human deaths as a result of the fights in Digimon Tri, but the possibility of human beings getting hurt in the fight was addressed and it was one of Tai’s primary concerns.

Matt and Tai may never stop fighting, but they're always
there for each other. #friendshipgoals
Overall, it’s worth watching. I don’t know exactly what plans there are to release the dubbed version (I only barely heard about the Fathom Events airing at Comic Con), but the Japanese versions of part 1 “Reunion” and part 2 “Determination” are currently available on Hulu with English subtitles (part 3 will be released later this month, so I expect it’ll be on Hulu shortly after).

Did I mention brand-new Digivolution sequences?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Life Lessons from Digimon

I debuted my sixth cosplay a week and a half ago at Comic Con. Though I was kind of struggling with the anime hair, I felt pretty good about my cosplay as Matt Ishida from Digimon. I can’t say it was one of my most popular cosplays, but it was great to hear compliments from those who understood.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a fan of Digimon since I was little and despite its popularity lacking in comparison to Pokemon, Digimon had some deep storylines and wonderful character development, even in its worse seasons. So for today I want to share some lessons that I’ve learned from watching Digimon.

Anyone can be brave: Each season tends to have at least one smaller child that joins the group. In Season 1 that’s TK and Kari. Season 3 has Susie, Henry’s younger sister. In Season 4, Tommy gets pegged as the cry baby. Each of these children bring themselves to fighting, despite their fears. Taking the example of TK, he was easily the youngest of the group for most of the season, until Kari joined them. Early on he was the cry baby of the group. In “DigiBaby Boom” while TK is separated from the other kids by Devimon, he bursts into tears because he’s scared. Later in “Forget About It”, while separated from his brother, he is emotionally volatile, because he feels abandoned. However, as the story progresses, TK becomes braver. His bravery leads him to crossing the bay on Zudomon on “City Under Siege” and being a powerful force in defeating Myotismon (“Wizardmon’s Gift”), VenomMyotismon (“Prophecy”/”The Battle for Earth”), Puppetmon (“Playing Games”), and Piedmon (“Piedmon’s Last Jest”). He shows that despite his fears (which persist even until the end) he is able to stand up and fight the dark Digimon.

Sometimes you have to make the tough call and do what’s right: In the show there are various characters who refuse to fight and defeat Digimon, because of how much they value life, but in the end they’re forced to do so in order to save innocent lives. In Season 1, Mimi refuses to fight (“Playing Games”), in Season 2 Cody and Yolei refuse to destroy dark Digimon (“Dark Sun, Dark Spore”), and in Season 3 Henry refuses at first to even let Terriermon battle (“It Came From the Other Side”). However, each of these characters recognizes that fighting is imperative in order to save lives. With the example of Henry, because of the darker nature of the season, Digimon do not get reborn, like in the previous seasons. As a result, Henry is reluctant to let Terriermon fight, both to keep his friend safe and to avoid the loss of the opponent’s life. However, when an innocent child is put in danger, Henry has to make the hard decision to let Terriermon digivolve to Gargomon and fight (“Much Ado About Musyamon”).

Anyone can change: Every season I’ve watched has some enemy turned ally: Gatomon in Season 1, Ken and Wormmon in Season 2, Impmon and Lopmon in Season 3, Koichi in Season 4, and Keenan and Falcomon in Season 5. Ken’s transformation from Digimon Emperor to Digi-Destined is one of the major plot points of the season. Not understanding that Digimon were living beings, as opposed to video game characters, Ken made horrible mistakes in the Digital World. Even until the final battle of the season (“The Last Temptation of the Digi-Destined”), Ken struggled to forgive himself and let go of the terrors he caused as the Digimon Emperor, despite his good heart and his strong compassion.

There’s goodness in everyone: Similar to the previous point, it was brought out that some dark characters had good hearts, despite their actions. In Season 4, Koichi appears first as Duskmon (“From Dawn to Duskmon”) before it is revealed that he’s human (“Stuck in Sakkakumon With You”). The Spirits of Darkness that had been given to him by Cherubimon corrupted him and let his resentments take him over. However, after being freed (“Ne’er the Twins Shall Meet”) he’s given the purified Spirits. Though still of darkness, his pure heart makes him even stronger as Lowemon.

We choose our own destiny: Just like the principle of agency in the Gospel, Season 3 of Digimon touches on the concept that the future isn’t set. After Jeri’s partner Leomon dies, she begins to believe that her fate is to be miserable. However, during the fight with the D-Reaper in the Real World, Jeri and the other Tamers become convinced that misery and destruction are not inevitable (“Jeri Fights Back”). It’s because of this internal strength that the Tamers are able to defeat the D-Reaper and save both worlds.

We’re stronger together: Just like Digimon often merge together to fight, like Omnimon in “Digimon: The Movie”, the DNA Digivolved Digimon in Season 2 (“United We Stand”/”Opposites Attract”/”Stone Soup”), the Bio-Merged Digimon in Season 3 (“Give a Little Bit”/”No Mon is an Island”/”Song of Sakuyamon”/”The D-Reaper’s Disguise”), and EmperorGreymon and MagnaGarurumon in Season 4 (“Takuya and Koji’s Evolution Revolution”), we are taught in the LDS Church that we are stronger together. In fact, that’s why we meet as Saints, to strengthen each other and to connect to a power greater than ourselves (D&C 6:32).

See life from another’s point of view: In Season 3 and Season 5, there are distinct storylines where Digimon invade Earth and do the wrong things for the right reasons. In Season 3, the Devas were trying to get back the power to save their world, which just happened to be inside Calumon. In Season 5, Merukimon sends Digimon to attack the Real World, because he felt like he was under attack, due to the Digital Gate being opened. However, it was a misunderstanding (for the most part) and it was only a small part of the human population (Kurata) who was a threat to the Digital World. Similarly, in our world, there are a lot of opposing voices, a lot of words on television and the internet, and many people yelling back and forth. Too often I get distracted by the things that don’t matter and I forget to try to understand people.

There are some other lessons from Digimon that I’ve thought of while rewatching it, but I’m going to save those ones for another post. If you grew up watching Digimon, let me know which character was your favorite and what you learned from them.

PS: The first part of Digimon Adventure Tri will be airing at select
theaters across the country this Thursday. Check Fathom Events for more
info. I'll do a review on it next week.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Keeping Comic Con Fresh

I hope everyone had fun at Salt Lake Comic Con. I had an interesting experience bringing some of my clients from work to Comic Con for the first time. This was my fourth Comic Con and as such going in I felt like there wasn't much for me to see or do. Been there, done that. However, since I was going for work, I was there anyway. It definitely got me thinking though about ways I can still have fun at Comic Con, despite having done it all. So here are some thoughts about keeping Comic Con fresh, even if you're a seasoned veteran.

Mormon Geeks at Comic Con
1.    Bring a friend: Bringing my guys to Comic Con, I got to see Comic Con brand new from their eyes. They got to meet celebrities and see cosplays for the first time. So if you need a refresher at why Comic Con is so cool, bring a friend who has never been before and feed off their enthusiasm.
2.    Check out Artist Alley: The artwork at Artist Alley is always changing. Even though I see some of the same artwork from Con to Con, I'll almost always see new stuff. Fair warning though: if you go to Artist Alley, have a budget, leave your credit card at home, only carry cash, etc. It's really easy to blow a lot of money at Artist Alley, so go with a strategy.
3.    Go people watching: Cosplay is always my favorite part of Comic Con. Costumes are always changing. After Civil War and Pokemon Go this year, I saw several Black Panthers and I saw an increase in Pokemon trainers. So with ever changing cosplays, there's always something new to see.
Apparently, I will never bring my family honor. xD
4.    Try cosplaying: If you've never cosplayed before, give it a shot. It's not as hard as I once thought and I've given pointers on how to keep it cheap. That's one thing I like about Comic Con, I've debuted a new costume each time I've done Comic Con. It keeps things interesting, because I never exactly know who will recognize me.
5.    Meet a celebrity: If there's someone who really draws you in, go meet them! Not all celebrities that come to Comic Con are as expensive as Chris Evans or Mark Hamill. Most of the celebrities I've met have been under $60. I'll typically budget for one photo op (though sometimes celebrities will also do a photo at autographs too).

I got to meet Jason David Frank at the press conference!
Go go Power Rangers!
6.    Attend a celebrity panel: Celebrity panels can be just amazing. It's fun to ask them a question and they have great stories to tell too. My favorite celebrity panels have been Mark Hamill, Peter Davison, and Sylvester McCoy.
7.    Attend other panels: Comic Con also has plenty of other panels on various subjects from the 50th Star Trek anniversary this year to cosplaying in a budget. They will typically have some podcasters, bloggers, authors, etc. to be on the panels for these. You won't get any spoilers on your favorite tv show, but you could get some new insights to your favorite character.
8.    Free photo ops: Comic Con has plenty of free photo ops that you can do, including the TARDIS, professional cosplayers, etc. They're fun and it's always interesting to see what I can put together.

Off to the DigiWorld via TARDIS
9.    Take pictures: If you see a cosplayer you like, ask to get a picture. Most cosplayers are fine with people taking pictures with or of them. I personally take it as a compliment whenever someone asks for my picture. It means I did a great job on my costume and that someone recognized my character.

Any other ways you like to keep Comic Con fresh? What keeps bringing you back each Con?

I found my doppelganger!