This week’s review is on Shinkai’s second short film, 星の声 Hoshi No Koe known in english as Voices of a Distant Star. This 25 minute short was actually one of the first films I had watched by Shinkai before I knew about Shinkai. Released in 2002, I don't think it is an exaggeration that
This week’s review is on Shinkai’s second short film, 星の声 Hoshi No Koe known in english as Voices of a Distant Star.
This 25 minute short was actually one of the first films I had watched by Shinkai before I knew about Shinkai. Released in 2002, I don’t think it is an exaggeration that it is one of the most recognised films of Shinkai by anime fans in the west.
Voices of a Distant Star is a short story about two middle school friends who are separated by time and space. Mikako the female protagonist of this tale is selected by the United Nations army to fight intergalactic threats to Earth and to go on an expedition across their solar system. Noboru, our male protagonist is left back on earth to live a normal life but has difficulty in moving on.
Voices of a Distant Star had quite solid themes such as loneliness, distance, longing and time. It all played out well especially in Noboru becoming an adult longing for his childhood with his middle school crush. When things were much more simple. Becoming an adult myself I could easily connect to the growing delay of messages he was receiving from Mikako. One minute you are constantly around someone, the next you are simply messaging them everyday, everyday turns into every other day and before you know it 5 years down the line you are messaging them “Long time no speak”. So much has changed about them and in their lives while for you it feels like you haven’t and nothing has changed.
The idea of being able to communicate by the heart through a common item was a great tool in this story and using the mobile phone as a method for communication has greater importance in 2016 than over a decade ago, because at least 90% of our communication is done through our mobile phones, even though we have advanced in other ways such as video messaging, social media etc. Noboru hangs delay onto his old cellphone in order to receive messages from Mikako and Mikako hangs onto hers because it is the only things that connects her to earth.
While the story has its sweet moments there are plenty and I mean plenty of nonsensical parts to it. Such as why would Noboru be stubborn and choose to not love someone else because of a crush he had on a 15 year old girl whose relationship he had with her lasted as long as his time in middle school? This is probably the most infuriating part of the storyline as it is human nature to change your mind and/or display impatience. Also, I am glad that the film could poke a bit of fun at itself at the ridiculousness of a 15 year old girl being chosen by the UN to go on a planetary expedition all of a sudden because she got good grades and was good at sports. Noboru’s comment, “ It seems, somehow, kind of like a stupid story.” hit the nail on the head and it was nice enough for Shinkai to acknowledge this through one of his characters.
I can’t get rid of the feeling that maybe the story would have been more believable if it had taken place just as they were finishing high school or college. Then you would have had this history between the Noboru and Mikako that would have lasted years and in turn would have been more meaningful. But at the age of 15, you’ve barely started your life. But lets ignore the story long enough to appreciate the design.
I wasn’t too crazy about the character designs, at times it looked awkward and unrefined, something that didn’t happen with She and Her Cat. Because of this you can very easily notice that this film has AGED. However, the strengths lied within the set design and the wondrous settings the movie took place in. While the locations on earth were limited and that 30%-40% of the film took place within the vacuum of space; When the film did venture to new terrain, it really was a sight for the eyes.
This time Shinkai didn’t perform a one man juggle but he did work on it as director, writer and co-producer. Shinkai’s landscapes are wonderfully fantasy like and it only becomes more stunning as you go through his body of work. Trust me it only gets more amazing from this point onwards.
The animation was a mixture of 2D and 3D. With the mecha and planets being made via 3D software called lightwave and everything else using after effects and photoshop on a power Mac G4- A POWER MAC G4. Unfortunately this is one throwback I would have been too young to remember. The character animation can feel stunted and awkward at times so it does make the 3D feel even more out of place despite how cool it is, but it is forgivable as an earlier work.
I complained about it in the review for She and Her Cat and I will complain about it again… can the text messages disappear anymore faster?! These huge long winding pieces of text hardly get a couple of seconds of screen time and so much of the story is in their messages . There is nothing spectacular about the character animation that I can talk in depth about and there’s nothing too bad about it that distracted me from the story being told, so it makes a pass.
The score is touching and was composed by Tenma, who is a well known collaborator of Shinkai’s and composes gorgeous pieces of music for other works and anime I am familiar with. The aforementioned composer has composed music that really bring out the feelings of longing and it really suits Shinkai’s stories really well.
To conclude I actually much prefer She and Her Cat as a gateway to Shinkai, just because it really is impressive that he worked on that all on his own and proved that independent animation can make those all important breakthroughs. But saying that I still need to give credit where credit is due, as Voices of a Distant Star is the perfect set up to familiarise yourself with the themes and style of Shinkai that has trademarked him as the next Miyazaki. It will be here that his work only becomes more and more captivating as he plays around more with fantasy and space in his beautifully rendered films that not only captivate the eyes but also the heart and truly inspire just not a generation of animators but filmmakers as well.
Today felt pretty eventful to have Disney in to give a talk on their latest film Zootopia, in Europe it is called Zootropolis. You can imagine the confusion when I kept on switching between names without noticing. http://youtu.be/VCDQRy1od30 We had directors Byron Howard (Tangled, Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It-Ralph, The Simpsons) in
Today felt pretty eventful to have Disney in to give a talk on their latest film Zootopia, in Europe it is called Zootropolis. You can imagine the confusion when I kept on switching between names without noticing.
We had directors Byron Howard (Tangled, Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It-Ralph, The Simpsons) in for an hour to give us the nitty gritty on Disney’s latest film that will be available for theatrical release on 25th March.
Zootopia was inspired by the likes of Robin Hood and it gets its style from film noir minus the black and white. It was lovely to see how casually the directors joked around and engaged with everyone.
There was one lady there amongst the audience who caught my attention and she asked a question about how to stay inspired/creative/motivated.
I totally understood where she was coming from, since graduating I think I’ve applied towards Disney’s Graduate program twice with no luck and too many to count UK studios- design and otherwise to no avail. I can’t help but look at my work and understand why. And it is in freelancing you get bogged down even more.
There’s almost like a thick cloud of desperation amongst creative millennials in the UK like myself trying to get *permanent* work in house, and the task feels even more daunting as the promises and USPs of universities continue to fail us.
One could only hope to work with the Titans someday, so if any Disney employee comes across this post. How about opening another studio in London, pretty please?
As I gulp down this very disappointing Chai Latte from Starbucks; I haven’t given up improving and trying to walk into Mickey’s all well known Fantasia hat but I guess like the production process of any film, I may start off as one idea but through that might come a completely different idea that turns out to be the actual film.
She and Her Cat is an award winning independent production by the man dubbed as the next Miyazaki. She and Her Cat is a story told by the viewpoint of a young woman's cat and its relationship with her.Produced in 1999 over a 5 month period, this short has beautiful
She and Her Cat is an award winning independent production by the man dubbed as the next Miyazaki. She and Her Cat is a story told by the viewpoint of a young woman’s cat and its relationship with her.Produced in 1999 over a 5 month period, this short has beautiful animation that slips straight into your heart.
The grainy black and white are an artistic choice that works well with the almost poetic/narrative nature of the shots paired with the narration of the cat. Stills are complimented by artistic pans and it is very easy to see how much the work of Makoto inspired the lot over at Wong Fu Productions, a good example of this would be their film When Five Fell.
Though the animation is limited it is timed suitably and the artwork is heavily detailed to make up for it. The simplicity of the design of the cat is still pleasing to look at despite at first feeling like it was probably in the wrong type of film at first. But from the effects, to the layout of shots to the landscape design everything comes with such precision and attention to detail, It is really remarkable and Shinkai only continues to shine and amaze his viewers from this point onwards.
If you are wondering how does he make his hyper realistic backgrounds, Shinkai has noted that he takes real pictures of places and edits them with computer graphics, but when it came to the characters they are drawn to contrast their environment in design.
My only criticism would be the fast bursts between text. At times I felt it was much to fast to get a good read off and required pausing, which really messes with the flow of the whole viewing experience.
It is nice to hear that an animated series of the film is scheduled to start for March, however it won’t be in the hands of Shinkai.
The film really reminded me of a French art film and very easily fit the tropes of one, while never leaving its Japanese roots and the haiku nature of the short. The music was very simple and I didn’t notice it so much, but from what I have read it was the only thing that Shinkai didn’t do. It is from this point on that Shinkai establishes his unique style as an animator and might I add to that as a film maker.
To your outer space. Boarding. Departing- Joo Eun Oh My Venus quickly established that Shin Min Ah is really is a babe; fat or skinny. Oh. My. Venus. I have just recently finished the drama and the first thing that must be mentioned as the highlight of the drama, would be the chemistry between
To your outer space. Boarding. Departing- Joo Eun
Oh My Venus quickly established that Shin Min Ah is really is a babe; fat or skinny.
Oh. My. Venus. I have just recently finished the drama and the first thing that must be mentioned as the highlight of the drama, would be the chemistry between So Ji Sub and Shin Min Ah. It has to be one of the most natural on-screen relationships since watching It’s Ok, That’s Love. While a certain arc in their relationship was set unrealistically ( I will be getting to that shortly), it is forgivable due to the eye candy of a couple they are. Between the positive message to get fit for your healths sake and turning into a ball of goo over the main leads romance; Oh My Venus really achieved what it set out to do; be an entertaining story about love and fitness. While it tried to add into the mix a twisted tale of chaebol heirs; which I felt it failed miserably at, I have to say it had achieved a few home runs for its humour and for being a simple romcom.
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Story and Cast
17 Years ago, in the town of Daegu, South Korea. A school bus is speeding through, inside high school boys get into a frenzy as soon at the name “Kang Joo Eun”. 90’s Korean music blares as the boys clamour tightly together at the windows to see, the one and only Daegu’s Venus Kang Joo Eun– Envied by Women and adored by boys everywhere. Joo Eun, an outspoken and committed character, isn’t just your typical pretty face but has her heart set on becoming a lawyer, and She really has a heart for justice and this is set in stone when we learn her ambition is to become lawyer. From what her present is telling us she has a very promising future, right? Fast forward to 2014, our Daegu Venus has become a lot less Venus and a bit more Edesia. While she has achieved her goal of becoming lawyer, she has managed to gain a lot of weight in those years and has been stuck in a 15 year relationship with her boyfriend, Woo-Shik.
When Woo-Shik officially breaks up with Joo-Eun on the night of their anniversary in order to date Joo-Eun’s former best friend Soo-Jin. Joo-Eun sets her mind on finding the legendary fitness guru John Kim, so she can return to her former glory as Daegu’s Venus.
John Kim is an heir to a lucrative business but ran away to the states to work as a fitness trainer for some of Hollywood’s elite. After a huge scandal breaks out about him and an American celebrity, he returns back to Korea under his real name Kim Young-Ho and as luck would have it he encounters Joo-Eun on several occasions helping her get out of awkward or sticky situations. Being unable to turn a blind eye to those in need; he agrees to help Joo-Eun and thus begins our leads warm and comfortable romance.
Going into the first five minutes of Oh My Venus, I couldn’t help but think of She was Pretty; it wasn’t until we got the big reveal of her weight gain that it managed to subvert my thoughts away from the similar set ups. Starting the series I was worried that I wouldn’t get into all that much; however I don’t know what it was about a chubby Shin Min Ah that changed my thoughts and shifted my pre-judgements about the show. I really liked Joo Eun as a character, she was pretty down to earth and quite tough around the edges. Most of all, she didn’t fit into the ‘one size fits all’ of a reason to lose weight. She admits that it was to get revenge and have her ex regret leaving her, it was because she started to crush on Mr.dripping-with-sexiness and wanted to be sexy too, it was also because it was a very conscious decision to improve her health after discovering she has thyroids. And because of these reasons, it really sold me into her character.
Soo Ji Sub’s portrayal of Young Ho was nothing less of a delight. From his dead pan moments to facing the monster in the closet, his performance was quite strong and though he was playing the role of a chaebol (something the story really could have done without); Young Ho most of all felt normal and lived the typical life you’d expect of a fitness trainer.
And it was this notmality that made the relationship between our two leads believable and entertaining.
It would be wrong of me to not mention Henry who plays the Korean American comic relief, Ji-Woong and Sung-Hoon who played as Jung-Sung and gave us a really compelling side story of him trying to reunite with his estranged mother.
Joo-Eun, Young-Ho, Jung-Sung and Ji-Woong were even stronger for some reason all together. They bounce off one another and it is so cute seeing all their shenanigans.
As entertaining as Oh My Venus was it didn’t go without any faults. It picked up and dropped plot points, addressed certain issues only to hastily solve them. The year gap between Joo-Eun and Young-Ho with one sided communication felt baffling. Then the relationship between Woo-Shik and Soo-Jin (second leads) could have been better handled; they were another drama that could have been explored but came across flat or ingenuine at times, especially when Soo-Jon learns that she may not be able to have children.
So much to do but so little time, and it is becoming an annoying reoccurrence when a drama like this gets over ambitious, in a bid to be different but I say if it was always going to be the typical Tom com it should own it instead of throwing chaebol twists.
There are a variety of upbeat music and ballads in the original soundtrack as necessary for a K-drama; what is a K-drama without the spanish guitar instrumental, the love song ballads and the upbeat pop song. I don’t necessarily have a favourite song but there are a select few I like more than others such as “It’s Me” and the main theme “Beautiful Lady”. It’s a bit of a shame the OST doesn’t boast for a large selection of songs by only having 8 tracks. It’s Ok, That’s Love as a 16 episode series too had a track listing of 17 songs, with all the instrumentals and third party songs included it has 50 tracks.
Oh my Venus is a nice filler after a day at work and you just want to laugh and awww without much thought. The performance between So Ji Sub and Shin Min Ah is something to really come along for, they very much deserved their KBS awards for their performances.
I give the series 3 out of 5 Dumbbells. While it scares an average rating, So Ji Sub and Shin Min Ah’s romance is something to to be witnessed.
Last week, I took a short trip to Bella Italia! It was a much needed break away from gloomy London and to sunny Rome. It was the first trip I had planned all on my own and my mother followed along! Rome was beautiful, with its warm buildings and exotic trees
Last week, I took a short trip to Bella Italia! It was a much needed break away from gloomy London and to sunny Rome. It was the first trip I had planned all on my own and my mother followed along! Rome was beautiful, with its warm buildings and exotic trees and also not so beautiful, the amount of graffiti and dog poop everywhere truly was something else! While I did enjoy a cuppa here and there, it would have been a mistake to not try out a cappuccino or two. Unfortunately, it was very sad that I didn’t get to try out a gelato, which I learned very last minute was Ice Cream. You can imagine I felt like an absolute dunce.Another challenge of being in a country you last when to at the age of 2, is the language barrier. At first it was completely nerve-wracking, I only spent a couple of days at a time familiarising myself with Italian but one thing that reassured me was how when you are in a situation where you don’t know a countries language, you instinctively begin to pick up words and phrases from native speakers that produce your intended result (survival Italian); or you do your best to find someone who speaks english which wasn’t hard to come by.
Can I also mention that St.Peter’s Basilica is remarkable. I was overwhelmed by the attention to detail and how big of a place it is.
Rome reminded me of when I was a kid; I’m old enough to admit now I was truly a nerd growing up. For hours I could read books on Ancient Rome and would jump between that and Egypt and Greece. So being at the colloseum was like a childhood wish being fulfilled.
There were quite a few things that I couldn’t tick off in my list, but I always take it as a sign that I will be returning one day. Maybe for a round trip across Europe?