L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Wed, 31 May 2000 07:16:17 -0500


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From: Salamangka <gaijin@i-manila.com.ph>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 6:42 PM
Subject: Re: OT Alan Moore comics (Re: [gundam] Gyan ancestors? was
Re: Gelgoog!)

> Not that sort...it's just that I can see the differences, and we're
> not talking about simple schwarzenneger stuff. What I mean is that
> there is a certain way to how western writers approach
> storytelling, and that is what I want to see.
>

I understand what you are saying, but the simple fact is that
American screen writers approach sci-fi from a totally different
perspective, that is incompatible with Gundam. There has never been a
serialized sci-fi property in America, that wasn't a different type
of mainstream show in sci-fi clothing (i.e Alien Nation=Heat of the
Night+Aliens, Battlestar Galactica=Dukes of Hazzard+Spaceships, Star
Trek:TNG= Thirtysomething+prosthetic foreheads). The reason for that
is because that is how the American tastes view Sci-Fi. There is no
way to reconcile American serial writing, with a story like Gundam.
You can't really pitch it by saying, "it's like ________ meets giant
robots," so it does not fit into the American video repertoire
nicely.

> I want western Sci-fi...that does not necessarily mean the soft
> stuff I see on TV. I want sci-fi as in written sci-fi. No
> warpdrives, but definitely a good basis in written sci-fi. Agreed,
> gundam is very much grounded in sci-fi, but then, I want to make it
> even more grounded...why not go all the way?
>

The first problem here is that hard science fiction just does not
transfer well to the screen. Many have attempted to get hard science
fiction to the screen, and there have been far more failures than
successes in American film. A tiny handful of British directors have
made a reasonable attempt at decent science fiction movies, but I can
only think of one or two American successes, and even those were
watered down with things like unnecessary and cumbersome love
stories, needless humor elements, or action adventure elements. The
second problem is that giant robots are innately counter to hard
science fiction. Without introducing something even more improbable
than warp drive, there is no scientific or strategic rationale for 15
meter tall samurai!

> LOL! I don't consider guns and roses or even using top40 songs as
> soundtrack material. I mean using rock and roll format as a basis
> for it. Why the big hooey about this? It has to be done with
> finesse, true. I didn't mean just to plug in any rock song. I get
> tired of the usual Violins and choir voices and synthesizers that
> one hears nowadays -- though escaflowne was brilliant in that
> regard.
>

OK, I misunderstood what you were saying. When I hear someone say
"Rock and Roll" I automatically assume they mean 4 piece band pop
music. The reason score composers tend toward classical
instrumentation, is because 112 finely tuned instruments, played by a
trained symphony tend to be a bit more capable at conveying emotion
than an electric accompanied by a drum set. Rock and Roll music
relies heavily on lyrics to convey its message. Lyrics can be very
distracting in emotional scenes. Orchestral music on the other hand,
communicates on a more abstract level, and since a show is supposed
to tell its story through dialog and action, rather than lyrics, it
is more fitting. This is why in most good movies, American or not,
rock music is mainly only used to set the stage, and held as a
background noise to establish the environment.

>
> Once again, you guys think I want the commercial stuff...NO! I've
> seen the best of what america can do, and I want that, not the
> cheesy stuff. Sheesh.

Here I have to say that I think you are just more sensitive to
Japanese stereotypes, than you are to American stereotypes. For
example Char is a more complex, fleshed out, and interesting nemesis
that any example I can think of in any American sci-fi show. The
typical American sci-fi nemesis is always cast in one of a very few
restrictive stereotypes, and frankly I can not think of a single
American show, off the top of my head, where the main nemesis
returned in a sequel as one of the headliner protagonists, only to
return later as an arch-nemesis.

> Stuff where you can see the aftermath, not just on the soldiers but
> on civilians -- more f91 and v and 0080 please. And you can see
> the real effects of war...yeah, teenage heroes and people who can
> kill a lot of others just to get to the real enemy. sheesh! it's
> a great teenage fantasy, being a teenager who can pilot a mobile
> suit, but if they want that, why not show also what it does to that
> nice angsty teenage mind?
>

I really don't get how you can say that Gundam is lacking in this
regard. Sure, there could be more, but I can not think of a single
serialized American drama of any genre that hammers home the effects
of war as consistently and relentlessly as Gundam. In fact to find
any serialized shows in the sci-fi genre that can even compete with
Gundam on this count, I have to look exclusively at Japanese shows.

> ever see an american film with the screen cut into two parts, with
> a meloframatic screaming face and the action itself done on the
> other half? what about seeing all speedlines and a guy
> spreadeagled in a shoot me manner before he clobbers the enemy? or
> maybe hyperexaggerated shots? sorry, but I'd like a bit less of
> that. because more often than not, it just heightens suspense
> while wasting a lot of screen time (and perhaps adds to recyclkable
> animated footage).
>

As far as whether or not I have seen the specific effects you
mention, I will not quibble over how often one of those devices makes
it's way into an animated series in America, because you seem to be
comparing American live action cinematography, with Japanese cartoon
framing and effects. Despite the indigenous visual language of the
respective nations, there is the huge difference between what looks
good through a camera, and what looks good on a cel. The simple fact
is that if you draw a cartoon as though you were shooting a live
action movie, the results would be extremely disappointing. You would
have entire scenes that made the later episodes of Evangelion look
like they were positively brimming with high quality animation.

On top of that, I think you are also not aware how full of
unrealistic and "canned" metaphors American film is. For example, in
an American film:

1: Anything that explodes must explode with an orange fireball, no
mater what that items actual level of flammability is, and no matter
what color the flames from said object should be.

2: It is essential that if an object is destroyed, is must
dramatically show that it has been destroyed based on its size and
type as follows, otherwise the audience will not be sure it has been
destroyed:

          A: All large objects explode (see 1)
          B: All household objects such as stoves, lawnmowers, and
              appliances must burst into orange flames.
          C: All small high-tech items suck as keypads, computers,
              and radios must emit sparks.
          D: All small items that crossover between both B and C such
as TVs and microwave ovens must first emit sparks, then burst into
orange flames.

3: Whenever people get scared or excited in a crowd situation, they
tend to throw papers about before tripping on a conspicuously level
floor and getting trampled.

4: The military always runs around going "hup, hup hup!" or more
recently "move, move, move!" while being accompanied by the sound of
jingling metal.

5: Guns can easily be fired indoors with no fear of deafening one's
self.

The point is that each country has its own visual way of expressing a
concept. To say that you want to see a more American style of
directing, is really just a way of saying "I wish they would use
clichés with which I am more comfortable."

> LOL!
>
> I want the best of what america has to offer, not the crap. Why
> can't you guys see what good came out of your own culture?

I certainly can see the good that came out of our culture, and am in
no way an asiaphile. I think that American live action movies are by
far some of the best live action movies made. However, I think that
America has little or nothing to offer the world in the way of advice
on how to handle either animation or science fiction series. I, quite
literally, have seen exactly 1 American animated movie that I liked
enough to watch more than once (not counting 3D efforts, as I think
that is a totally separate genre).

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