Netflix, via their sci-fi-focus NX account, has announced that they’ll be streaming the latest installment in the Ghost in the Shell universe, titled Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, in 2020. This follows the three Ghost in the Shell: Arise movies that Netflix began streaming several years ago.
No plot details have been released, but given that this is Ghost in the Shell we’re talking about, prepare yourself for plenty of both philosophizing and cyberpunk action. The series will apparently have two seasons, with Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex) directing one and Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) directing the other.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 will be presented in 3DCG à la several other Netflix animé titles, including Blame!, the Godzilla movies, and the upcoming Ultraman series (while comes out next year and will also be directed by Kenji Kamiyama. And if the above Kuvshinov Ilya artwork is any indication of the new series’ style, it’ll be a pretty interesting look for Ghost in the Shell.
And here we go… Marvel has dropped the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to this year’s Avengers: Infinity War and the final movie the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three.
Endgame finds the remaining Avengers scrabbling to figure out what to do after Thanos successfully annihilates half of all life in the universe. Needless to say, they all look pretty grim… especially Hawkeye, who has ditched his trademark bow and arrows for something along the lines of his Ronin alter ego.
As usual, io9 has posted a thorough breakdown of the trailer’s details, including the significance of Ant-Man’s arrival at Avengers HQ at the trailer’s end.
Avengers: Endgame arrives on April 26, 2019. And if it ends the way that it should, with Captain America sent back in time and reunited with Peggy Carter (sorry, Agent Sousa), then I will probably bawl like a child in the theatre.
The Faint (aka Nebraska’s most famous synth-pop band) have announced a new album: Egowerk, which will be released by Saddle Creek Records on March 15, 2019. The album is a “deep-dive into themes on modern society, the internet, and ego — specifically social media and its dark effects.” Egowerk’s first single is “Child Asleep” and it’s quite the banger; watch the trippy, disorienting video above.
If you were a kid during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, then this will probably be pure nostalgia-bait: Anne Helen Petersen writes about the “pure and deeply dorky joys” of PBS’ Square One.
Square One, which was created by the Children’s Television Workshop and aired across the nation on PBS from 1987 to 1992, wasn’t as long-running as Sesame Street or Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and has never been the same kind of ubiquitous cultural touchstone. But like the best children’s television, it implanted itself — and its attitude — into millions of children’s minds. That attitude was pretty simple: Math is weird, and cool, and filled with secrets, and fun. I loved Square One then, and I love it now, because it took math — something most kids are conditioned to think is boring, and confusing — and used it to teach me that knowledge, and curiosity, will always be cool.
I loved Square One, and especially its math-inspired crime serial Mathnet, back in the day. And yes, I did have a crush on Kate Monday (though my true childhood PBS love was 3−2−1 Contact’s Debra Shapiro).
Fans of krautrock-influenced retro-synth-lounge pop and Situationist philosophy, rejoice! After a long hiatus, Stereolab has announced an extensive reissue campaign. Throughout 2019, the band will reissue seven studio albums, including Transient Random-Noise Bursts (1993), Dots and Loops (1997), and Margerine Eclipse (2004).
What’s more, the band is teasing a return to the live stage, though no dates or shows have been announced. The last time Stereolab performed on stage was back in 2009; afterwards, the band’s members pursued other projects including Cavern of Anti-Matter, Little Tornados, and the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble.
After raving so much about the new season of Doctor Who and its first female Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker), we quickly fell behind on the exploits of the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions. In fact, we only just watched the third episode, titled “Rosa,” this week.
When I first read that The Doctor would be encountering civil rights icon Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, I was a little… concerned. While Doctor Who has never shied away from tackling social issues, it’s not exactly the most subtle of shows. While that lack of subtlety is often part of its charm, would having the Doctor and her companions help ensure that history proceeds correctly — that Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, thus sparking the American civil rights movement — somehow cheapen or make light of a pivotal moment in history?
“Rosa” does get a little heavy-handed at times; for example, playing Andra Day’s “Rise Up” during Parks’ protest and arrest seemed a little on-the-nose, like a blatant attempt to ensure that viewers were feeling the right emotions during the scene. But overall, it was a really strong episode, blending just the right amounts of humor, drama, and pathos in an engaging story about the evils of racism, and the need for good people to stand up to face it (or stay seated, as the case may be).
Some other random thoughts:
- The Doctor’s little exchanges about her possibly being Banksy were the episode’s funniest and most delightful scenes, and injected a welcome bit of whimsy in an otherwise heavy episode (see the next point).
- You knew the stakes were real as soon as the Doctor’s companion Ryan, who is black, got punched by a white guy after Ryan tried to do a good deed (returning a glove that the man’s wife had dropped). The whole episode seemed to hold its breath in the scene, and the assault was as shocking an act of violence as any I’ve seen in a Doctor Who episode.
- The episode did a great job of evoking a sense of oppression, whether it was the way the patrons in the “whites only” restaurant stared at Ryan and Yasmin (who was assumed to be Mexican) or the police officer that followed the Doctor’s troupe. Here’s how well it worked: I became genuinely concerned for Ryan when it became clear he’d have to walk back home by himself at night. I kept expecting to see a scene where he’s being chased by an angry mob.
- One scene that could’ve been heavy-handed but actually wasn’t is when Ryan and Yasmin discuss how far the world has come since the ‘50s, and how much progress remains to be made. What could’ve been a scene where characters pontificate about stuff that viewers need to know — i.e., the opposite of “show, don’t tell” — works, mainly because I Ryan and Yasmin are such engaging characters in their own right.
- On a sidenote, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan and Yasmin’s friendship evolves beyond mere friendship. If and when that happens, I am here for it. (But please, no spoilers — we’re still quite a ways behind.)
- The episode’s most powerful moment occurs when Graham, the Doctor’s third companion (and Ryan’s step-grandfather), realizes that, in order for history to proceed correctly, he has to be the white person for whom Rosa Parks has to give up her seat. His look of panic at having to essentially be a figurehead of institutionalized racism and his anguished plea to the Doctor (“I don’t want to be part of this”) were heartbreaking.
- I suspect we’ll see Krasko, the time-travelling white supremacist who sought to prevent Parks’ courageous protest, again. The way in which he was dispatched seemed too clean and perfunctory. Also, it was a nice change of pace that his villainous master plan didn’t involve killing Parks outright — he couldn’t, for reasons explained in the episode — but rather, simply trying to nudge history in a different direction.
I don’t know if “Rosa” ranks with the very best of Doctor Who (e.g., “Blink,” “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead,” “Vincent and the Doctor,” “The Girl Who Waited”) but it was definitely a very solid and enjoyable episode. Furthermore, it showed that the new season can pack an emotional wallop just as well as previous ones, and that it can address heavy issues without sacrificing too much of what makes Doctor Who so enjoyable in the first place.
The new deal will grant Hulu a first look at U.S. streaming video-on-demand rights to future animé series produced and released by Funimation beginning in 2019, and will make Hulu and Funimation the co-exclusive première destinations to certain new subtitled animé hits day and date with the worldwide première in Japan. It also broadens Hulu and Funimation’s previously-existing agreement and will make both Hulu and Funimation the co-exclusive U.S. première homes to dozens of highly-anticipated, new animé titles each year.
Funimation’s catalog includes over 600 titles, such as Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, Goblin Slayer, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, Last Exile, Project Blue Earth SOS, Haibane Renmei, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Presumably, all of these titles will become available to Hulu subscribers.
Forbes’ Rob Salkowitz sees the partnership as a direct response to Netflix’s recent, and massive, investments in animé:
Last year it looked like Netflix had locked up an under-appreciated niche in the pop culture space, Japanese-style animation (animé), by bankrolling more than a dozen new series and original movies, as well as bringing hits from the Asian market to North American audiences. But Hulu has now launched a major counter-offensive, inking a first-look deal with Sony-owned animé powerhouse Funimation to distribute new licensed and produced titles starting in 2019. This is the largest agreement the streamer has made for animé programming to date.
While the ROI here is impossible to determine yet, especially considering the expense involved in producing animé, there are business reasons for investing in animé:
Animation in general and animé in particular are important battlefields in the escalating competition between streaming services, even though they don’t command the money and attention of the big scripted live-action original series. Shows like My Hero Academia, last year’s breakout hit about a high school for super-powered kids, may not register with the older, male-leaning comics and superhero audience in the US, but they are huge hits globally and attract a much younger, more demographically diverse fan base. Their organic social media footprint is gigantic, and they activate fans who inhabit hard-to-reach social platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat.
However this deal ends up shaking out, I’m just excited that a whole new batch of streamers — Hulu crossed the 20 million subscriber mark earlier this year — will get to see criminally unheralded titles like Project Blue Earth SOS and Haibane Renmei.
Jason Snell loves reading comics on his iPad Pro:
[I]f there’s an ideal comic-reading iPad, it’s the new 11-inch model. That new aspect ratio, which is taller when held vertically, gives comics far more room to breathe. And the device is thin and light enough to be held comfortably with one hand while reading, which isn’t really the case with the larger model. I’m sticking with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the size increase on the smaller model makes it a much closer thing.
He also discusses several methods and services for reading comics, including Amazon’s Comixology, Marvel Unlimited, and Chunky Comic Reader.
I do most of my comic reading these days on my Kindle Fire HD. I’d love to read comics on an iPad and an iPad Pro would undoubtedly outclass my Kindle in nearly every way but my Kindle was only $50 as opposed to $300+ for a refurbished iPad, so I’m good with it.
Well, this is interesting: The Verge reports that Microsoft will be replacing their Edge browser with a new Chromium-based browser.
The software giant first introduced its Edge browser three years ago, with a redesign to replace Internet Explorer and modernize the default browsing experience to compete with Chrome and others. While the modern look and feel has paid off for Edge, the underlying browser engine (EdgeHTML) has struggled to keep up with Chromium. Microsoft is finally giving up and moving its default Windows 10 browser to Chromium.
The Verge understands Microsoft will announce its plans for a Chromium browser as soon as this week, in an effort to improve web compatibility for Windows. Windows Central first reported on these plans, which are codenamed Anaheim internally. We understand there has been a growing frustration inside Microsoft at Edge’s web compatibility issues, and businesses and consumers have been pushing the company to improve things.
On the one hand, I understand why Microsoft did this: Chrome has effectively won the latest round of the browser wars and Microsoft simply hasn’t been able to keep up with Chrome’s development, embrace of new technologies and standards, etc. As such, it makes a lot of business sense to use Chromium (the open source version of Google Chrome). On the other hand, competition is a good thing and it’s sad to see one less browser in the market. Soon, there will really only be three major browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Also, I find it fascinating that Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer once dominated the browser landscape in darker days, has admitted defeat in today’s browser market. Via
In light of Crunchyroll’s recent announcement of a new Blade Runner animé series, it seems only fitting to consider how much Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic has influenced Japanese animation.
There’s a long history of Blade Runner influencing animé, and I took it for granted that everybody just knew this stuff. It seemed so obvious, right? But this past weekend at Animé Weekend Atlanta, when I showed a packed ballroom a video consisting of the audio to the trailer of Blade Runner synced to video from two classic animé titles heavily influenced by it, barely anybody recognized what they were seeing on account that well, not many animé convention attendees have seen these titles (or Blade Runner, for that matter)! So, let’s keep it simple and go over some basics, shall we?
Parts of the article are obviously tongue-in-cheek — JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? really? — but if nothing else, I have this sudden urge to rewatch Bubblegum Crisis.
It’s official: Netflix has announced that they’re making a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop, one of the most beloved animé series of all time. Folks have been trying to make a live-action Cowboy Bebop for years now — Keanu Reeves was behind one such effort — but given Netflix’s investments in animé, this one seems a bit more likely to actually happen.
And to be perfectly honest, I can’t bring myself to care one way or the other. I really enjoyed Cowboy Bebop, and its blend of sci-fi, action, melodrama, kick-ass music, and quirky-yet-flawed protagonists deserves every bit of acclaim that it’s received since it first aired in 1998. As such, I suppose that I should either be up in arms that Netflix could potentially mistreat the show’s legacy or really excited to see a new spin on a cult classic.
And yet, regardless of whether Netflix’s series (which I’m sure I’ll check out if/when it’s released) is good or bad, I just don’t really care. Maybe I’m tired of the unceasing internet-fueled fan culture that rips people a new one for daring to tamper with a beloved original while simultaneously going crazy for any news or rumors. But I think it’s more likely that, to my mind, Cowboy Bebop is basically unassailable, and has been for 20 years.
If Netflix’s remake is good — and I hope that it will be — there’s no way that it’ll outshine or replace Sunrise’s original work. Similarly, if Netflix’s remake turns out to be bad, Cowboy Bebop’s legacy and reputation — and extreme coolness — are animé canon by now, and will easily remain untarnished even as a lackluster remake fades from memory.
For a similar case, consider Hiroyuki Okiura’s Jin-Roh, which was recently remade as a live-action film titled Illang: The Wolf Brigade. Directed by Kim Ji-woon, Illang is a total snoozefest that, despite boasting some impressive action scenes and production values, fails to deliver on any dramatic or emotional level. What’s more, it tacks on a happy ending of sorts that completely misses the point of Jin-Roh’s original story. But the misguided Illang does nothing to Jin-Roh’s status at all, and I’ll still handily recommend Jin-Roh to those looking for an example of serious, mature animé.
When I posted my earlier tribute to Ricky Jay, I was remiss to not link to this excellent New Yorker profile of the famous magician, actor, and author. It’s full of fascinating and hugely entertaining stories and anecdotes. For example:
Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year’s Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron’s request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several dazzling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, “Come on, Ricky. Why don’t you do something truly amazing?”
Baron recalls that at that moment “the look in Ricky’s eyes was, like, ‘Mort — you have just fucked with the wrong person.’”
Jay told Mort to name a card, any card. Mort said, “The three of hearts.” After shuffling, Jay gripped the deck in the palm of his right hand and sprung it, cascading all fifty-two cards so that they travelled the length of the table and pelted an open wine bottle.
“O.K., Mort, what was your card again?”
“The three of hearts.”
“Look inside the bottle.”
Mort discovered, curled inside the neck, the three of hearts. The party broke up immediately.
There are numerous clips of Ricky Jay’s tricks and performances on YouTube, and they’re all mind-blowing. You could do worse than spending your afternoon watching a bunch of them.
I completely agree with Robin Rendle here:
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Bootstrap, or CSS-in-JS, or CSS Modules, or fancy design tools. But building our careers around the limitations of these tools is a minor tragedy. Front-end development is complex because design is complex. Transpiling our spoken language into HTML and CSS requires vim and nuance, and always will. That’s not going to be resolved by a tool but by diligent work over a long period of time.
I reckon HTML and CSS deserve better than to be processed, compiled, and spat out into the browser, whether that’s through some build process, app export, or gigantic framework library of stuff that we half understand. HTML and CSS are two languages that deserve our care and attention to detail. Writing them is a skill.
HTML and CSS are two of the building blocks of the web. Even if you’re generating them via some app, framework, or programmatic process, it’s still valuable to understand the nuances and intricacies of how they work. Trying to avoid “dirtying” your hands with them altogether is bad form for anyone who considers themselves a web developer.
There are many others far more qualified to speak about the life and legacy of famed magician and actor Ricky Jay, who died this week of natural causes. So instead, I’ll just share one of my favorite segments from his 1996 special, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants. Jay is so smooth here, his patter effortless and his sleight-of-hand and card manipulation absolutely flawless.
A good magician doesn’t make you feel bad or dumb when they fool you. Rather, they make you feel lucky, and dare I say, even blessed to experience being fooled so well. And even if you know how some of the fooling happens — if you know how some of the sleights are done — you can still appreciate the grace and skill on display. And grace and skill are two things that Ricky Jay had in great abundance, as typified by the above clip.
Writing for Bright Wall/Dark Room, Zach Budgor explores the philosophy underlying Hayao Miyazaki’s wonderful Castle in the Sky.
The ending of Castle in the Sky is a reflection of Miyazaki’s hardline anti-nuclear stance: no more, no less. Miyazaki was a child during World War II; his father built parts for Zero warplanes. The optimism inherent in Princess Mononoke’s ending, where even Lady Eboshi — the nominal villain — resolves to change her ways, is cloudier here. I can’t possibly unpack the psychic trauma inflicted by the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; its resonance can be felt in decades of Japanese art and popular culture. For Miyazaki, there is no middle ground.
Miyazaki folds this weighty material into one of his most exciting, action-heavy children’s movies; its breathless pacing — that push-pull between Ghibli’s animators and Miyazaki’s storyboards — also steers the film away from didacticism. The atomic metaphor enters late in the film, and it is put to rest just as quickly. Its resolution comes at the hands of children, because as adults, we have failed in our role as stewards of the future.