Fan film ‘Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope’ – two years in the making, but well worth the wait

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RocketNews 24:

A fan-made sequel to Dragon Ball Z has racked up 3 million views on YouTube, and sent fans into a frenzy of anticipation for the following episodes – if the rest of the series gets funded. The pilot episode of Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope is based on animated special ‘The History of Trunks’, a DBZ sequel that tells the story of (you guessed it!) the young warrior Trunks.

In the words of every fan ever: It’s better than ‘Dragonball Evolution’!” On the one hand, that’s not saying much, as Dragon Ball Evolution got spectacularly bad reviews. But on the other hand, when a fan-made film is better than one with a Hollywood budget, that’s certainly something to be proud of.

The short film, from creative team Robot Underdog, is entitled Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope, and took two years to make in fairly arduous-sounding conditions: in the words of writer Paris J. Lay, the principle scenes were filmed on location on top of a mountain.

The 13-minute short introduces Jack Wald as Trunks, and Anton Bex as Gohan. Android 17 is played by Tyler Tackett, and Android 18 by Amy Johnston.

Watch the pilot episode in full here:

 

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‘Big Hero 6′ shows that an Asian American cast can top the box office

Big Hero 6 stars (L to R): Hiro Hamada, Baymax & GoGo Tomago. Source: disney.wikia.com

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American:

 

This past weekend’s box office numbers are in, and Disney’s latest project Big Hero 6 stands soundly on top. This might not come as a big surprise, considering that Frozen-fever is still holding every auntie’s TV hostage – but the film still breaks ground, especially in the scope of Asian Americans in cinema. And Hollywood should take note.

 

Daneil Henney (left) and Ryan Potter (right), co-stars of Big Hero 6. Source: sanfransokyo-bae.tumblr.com (yes, that's a real URL)

Daniel Henney (left) and Ryan Potter (right), co-stars of Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is a robotic sci-fi tale that revolves around Hiro Hamada,  Disney’s first explicitly mixed-heritage protagonist. Hamada is voiced by Ryan Potter, who is of Japanese and Caucasian descent himself. In fact, the entire film is placed in a “Hapa environment” of sorts, set in San Fransokyo, an architectural and cultural hybrid of the cities the name references.

Casting Asian Americans isn’t new to Disney, whose Mulan in 1998 was voiced by Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong and George Takei, among others.  Still, the studio has been inconsistent when it comes to this matter – the lead role in Lilo & Stitch wasn’t voiced by a Hawaiian (or an Asian Pacific American, for that matter), and we’d have to go as far back as Aladdin or even The Jungle Book to locate another Disney animation starring characters from a broader Asian origin (let’s pretend the Siamese Cats from Lady and the Tramp never happened).

Among those mentioned films, the only voice actor of Asian descent was Lea Salonga for Princess Jasmine’s singing parts. So while Big Hero 6 is a fictitious metropolis which never reveals what country it’s actually in, its cultural mash-up of settings, characters and themes means it could very well be Disney’s first Asian/American film that actually stars Asian American actors.

Hollywood’s reputation for placing white actors in Asian roles is a tale as old as time – from Goku in Dragonball: Evolution to Aang in The Last Airbender, glossing over the past century of Asian roles in American film would show little progress since Paul Muni and Luise Rainer donned yellowface in 1937’s The Good Earth. The track record for animation hasn’t been fantastic either, with white actors playing the lead roles in both Avatar series’ and the English dubs for Dragonball Z and Pokemon (I just ruined my childhood going through those links, BTW. You’re welcome).

 

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’m not the only one who has been griped by this cinematic phenomenon. When 2010’s The Last Airbender revealed an all-white cast (minus Dev Patel as the villain, of course), it caused such an uproar that an entire website called Racebending was launched against the production, and multiple petitions continue to call for a reboot of the franchise. Director M. Night Shyamalan, who’s Indian American himself, seemed aloof about the matter, insisting that the diversity of the cast and crew was on par with the United Nations. Those who have tried to actually find logic in prioritizing white actors in these roles have eluded to Asian and Asian American actors having less audience appeal than white actors, despite the fact that these films have failed among critics and fans alike.

Enter Big Hero 6, adapted from an obscure Marvel series about a Japanese counterpart to the Avengers. Unlike other Marvel titles like X-Men – which has an existing fanbase, or other Disney films like Maleficent – which is based on a childhood classic, Big Hero 6 relies on Disney’s promotion engine and, more importantly, its characters and storyline. Merely being a Disney film hasn’t always been a shoe-in (anyone watching The Rescuers: Down Under tonight?), but critics and audiences have been singing this one’s praises since it opened at the Tokyo International Film Festival late last month.

 

A night view of San Fransokyo, the make-believe home of the Big Hero 6. Source: disney.wikia.com

 

Debuting an awesome cartoon about Asians in the land known for cranking out awesome cartoons about Asians is a tough job for anyone, but Big Hero 6‘s ability to exhibit cultural tropes between America and Japan without being overly cheesy or offensive was impressive even to a cinema Grinch like me. Sure, I scoffed a bit at the pagoda-topped Golden Gate Bridge, but I also couldn’t help but feel validated to hear someone on the big screen say “red bean paste” as casually as one would say “hot dog.” The cast is diverse enough to make me suspect at least one member of the talent scout was a former member of the Third World Liberation Front – Potter, along with Daniel Henney, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Génesis Rodríguez make T.J. Miller and Scott Adsit’s roles the only two not filled by an actor of color.

 

"Big Hero 6" © 2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

I must say that I left the film with a bittersweet feeling, as I was disappointed when I didn’t see any Asian American names in the credits among the top-level crew – this is a testament to the fact that much progress is yet to be made. But where Big Hero 6 does succeed is that it actually tried what many of us knew would work all along – make characters that reflect the audience, and hire actors who reflect those characters. So if anyone else in Hollywood is still wondering if our audiences are ready to see more Asian Pacific Americans in the big screen, I’ll leave you with yet another box office dominator:

therock

 

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Which live-action anime adaptations are the worst? Japanese fans weigh in…

Otaku USA Magazine:

While the top spot for this one is kind of a no-brainer, fans in Japan have taken to the MyNavi Student website to vote on which live-action anime adaptations were the biggest failures. Out of 599 people, the majority of the votes went to Dragonball Evolution, and you can see what else made the pile of shame in the list below.

Folks who helped the much-maligned Dragonball Evolution reach the top spot blamed its failure on the following: “There were almost no elements from the original story,” “The characters and story were a mess,” and “The leaping Kamehameha.”

Or maybe it was this…

The full list:

  1. Dragonball Evolution
  2. Gatchaman 
  3. Devilman
  4. NANA 
  5. Fist of the North Star 
  6. Sazae-san
  7. Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikouen-mae Hashutsujo
  8. Casshern 
  9. Rookies 
  10. Yatterman 
  11. Space Battleship Yamato 
  12. Black Butler 

Check out this link:

Which live-action anime adaptations are the worst?

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J-Pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki engaged to UCLA Medical student

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The official fan club of Ayumi Hamasaki announced on Friday that the 35-year-old singer is engaged to a 25-year-old male medical student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She added to her fans, “As my partner is an ordinary student, I would be very happy if you could watch over us quietly.

The couple had gotten engaged on Thursday. According to a source linked to Hamasaki, she is not pregnant. The two had met during the New Year’s holidays through a friend, and began dating around spring.

Hamasaki had told fans that she had married Manuel Schwarz, an Austrian actor living in America, in Las Vegas on January 1, 2011 (about four months after meeting him). However, she announced a year later in January 2012 that she had gotten divorced. Hamasaki had not registered her marriage with Schwarz in Japan, so her upcoming marriage with the medical student would be considered her first in Japan.

Hamasaki is also writing and singing the “Pray” theme song for Buddha 2: Tezuka Osamu no Buddha ~Owarinaki Tabi~, the second film in the planned trilogy based on the late Osamu Tezuka‘s Buddha manga. It will be Hamasaki’s first theme song for an anime film since her “No More Words” song for Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time in 2001, and only her seventh theme song for any film, live-action or anime.

Hamasaki contributed theme songs to the Inuyasha television anime series, the live-action film SHINOBI – Heart Under Blade, and the live-action Dragonball: Evolution film.

She played Yuri Sakazaki in the original anime video Art of Fighting (Battle Spirits Ryuko no Ken), and her “Connected” song inspired an animated music video

Check out this link:

J-Pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki engaged to UCLA Medical student