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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Tales From Earthsea DVD_01 Tales from Earthsea. Anime DVD Review

Stay tuned for more.... Tales of Interest!

Publisher: Madman

Fri, 22 February 2008

Aussie_N6 by: Australian Ninja

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Tales from Earthsea is another fine anime feature film from Studio Ghibli. Past films such as Grave of the Fireflies and Only Yesterday were directed by Isao Takahata and films such as Spirited Away and Nausicaa were directed by Hayao Miyazaki. However this film was directed by Miyazaki's son Goro Miyazaki (formerly the curator of the Studio Ghibli museum).

Where previous Ghibli films were compelling journeys of excitement and discovery, comparable to works of (childrens) great literary fiction, Tales from Earthsea is merely entertaining. Moving at a leisurely pace, it proves overall not to be as immersing as other features, which is understandable and still impressive considering it was the work of a first time director.

Tales From Earthsea DVD_04
Who's a cheeky monkey then?
Borrowing a little synopsis action from the back cover:

In search of the cause of an enroaching catastrophe, the Archmage Sparrowhawk meets Arren, exiled Prince of Enland, in flight from a nameless Shadow. Coming to Hort town, a city known for its dangerous streets, they cross paths with Therru, an orphan girl. When Sparrowhawk learns that his rival, the wizard Cob, will attempt to open the door between the realms of the living and the dead, a struggle to avert the disaster begins.

The quality of the animation in Tales from Earthsea is rich, with characters full of life and extravagantly detailed backgrounds; a Ghibli trademark. The particular art style used, especially in character design is reminiscent of earlier Studio Ghibli works and pre-Ghibli animation such as Hols: The Norse Prince. The voice cast in both English and Japanese prove to be excellent choices, delivering the dialogue with heartfelt expression that lends emotional depth to the characters borrowed from Ursula K. Le Guin's epic fantasy novel series "Tales from Earthsea".

From Timothy Dalton's earthy baritone fatherly voicing of Sparrowhawk, Cheech Marin's work as a cheekily annoying henchman named Hare to Willem DeFoe's subtly eerie, discomforting voice as the evil wizard Cob, the voice talent bring the characters to life in a way that too few animated features bother with. In fact, many modern animated feature films slap together a cast based of whoever is most popular at the time, regardless of whether the have any actual acting ability or not.

Tales From Earthsea DVD_02
Studio Ghibli might as well trademark the words 'breathtakingly beautiful' for use in describing their films
Not so with Ghibli films, the voice talent is painstakingly chosen, and you are unlikely to hear a popular celebrity thrown in just for brand name recognisition. I'm digressing here, but I think Mike Judge (creator of Beavis and Butt-Head & King of the Hill) put it best when he said you should not remember a character in an animated film purely because of their celebrity voice. The character should stand on its own. Of course at the end of the day, people are going to remember Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny and Tom Hanks as Woody, but the point is that the character comes first, and in Studio Ghibli films you can be damn sure the character comes first, and any voice has to suit that role - thankfully you won't find any old idiot shoe-horned into the role for their celebrity fame, rather than their voice-acting ability.

Getting back to the film, the musical score and overall aesthetics further serve to bring the fantasy setting to life in a seriously dramatic fashion. The execution of the story and its pacing however is what lets down an overall excellent production. Make no mistake; Tales from Earthsea is still a cut-above most Japanese or Western animated features, regardless of who made them. Studio Ghibli usually does not fall into the 'one-dimensional' character trap, but it did come close with this film. Although what we may interpret as slow pacing, may be a deliberate directorial decision, or even a cultural difference, as Ghibli films are primarily made with a Japanese audience in mind.

As Goro Miyazaki's first directorial effort, Tales from Earthsea is a strong start and a very impressive debut film. I for one eagerly look forward to Goro Miyazaki directing another anime. But the question remains, is this film as good as other Ghibli productions? On a technical level yes but in execution, no. But judged by its own merits, Tales from Earthsea is a high-quality anime that is enjoyable to watch -and like other Ghibli films - is even more enjoyable upon repeat viewing.

Tales From Earthsea DVD_03
Let's hug it out bitch. (That was so wrong, but I blame Entourage)
The extra features in this two disk set include a twenty-minute+ talk with the Japanese voice cast and the director (with English subtitles). It offers some insights into the creative process, some occasional glimpses at concept art, and perhaps most intriguingly a little footage of a cast member exploring the Studio Ghibli museum, all in the NTV Earthsea Special and Behind the Microphone featurette . The packaging of the DVD comes in a delightful wrap around cover with a spectacular slipcase showcasing gorgeous artwork from the film. The designer's at Madman have really outdone themselves with this cover, it's easily as beautiful as the Howl's Moving Castle slipcover. For those inclined, I'd recommend watching the film in both English and Japanese to gain further insight into the characters, and be sure to listen to the song on the hill sung by Aoi Teshima as Therru.

I know this is an odd way to finish this review, but the people who do the subtitles for these films are talented bastards, and I salute you all (if you've ever watched Kung-fu film subtitles that are poorly translated and inappropriately placed om screen, you'll appreciate the high-quality of the subtitles on the Madman brand DVDs.

by: Australian Ninja

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More articles by Australian Ninja

An enjoyable film, high-quality production values, but the story is not quite up to the standard of previous films from this studio

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Q&A with Handy
Armageddon Expo '07 Report
Le Chevalier D'Eon V1. Anime DVD Review
Manifest '07 Report
Only Yesterday. Anime Review

Which of these animated shows is the funniest?
The Simpsons
South Park
Family Guy
King of the Hill
Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny etc.)
The Flintstones

ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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