Off the Cuff – Edition 23

By Eric Barrett

Comics, Cartoons, and all things related

*One of the things I like to do in this column is look at general themes that you can find in a particular genre of cartoons. I’ve talked about exponential growth problems as well as swearing before. I’ve even discussed redemption a bit in cartoons. Well I think I have one more to add to that list: Nobility of/in combat.

This is a theme that I think runs across a great number of anime/manga works, much more so than in any American cartoon/comic books. One of the shows that best exemplifies this is Rurouni Kenshin. This show follows the life of a samurai who used to be the leading soldier of the revolution. It was his job to kill high-value enemy targets. After the revolution he decides killing is not the right thing to do, but as luck would have it, he is forced to continually fight to protect the weak – but he won’t kill.

Most of the battles Kenshin faces deal, in one way or another, with those who use swords verse those who use guns and other “modern” weapons. There is a tension present between the two groups, with the implicit understanding that to use guns is less noble.

I think you see this play out even in “less serious” shows like Dragon Ball. Goku thrives on the challenge of one on one battle. He looks at combat as a way to prove his worth. And he shows contempt for those characters that use deceit or multiple fighters. Even the villains in this show want to fight by themselves.

There seems to be something cultural about fighting with nobility for these Japanese created characters. In contrast, Americans don’t seem to have any problem with using guns to fight one another. Most of our big time action stars always brought huge amounts of firepower to the battle. The motto was, “whatever it takes, as long as you win”. Which I think is in direct contrast to the “honor above victory” philosophy anime seems to take.

Part of me wonders if this has to do with the difference between Japanese samurai culture and American Wild West culture. I don’t really have an answer; I just think it’s an interesting difference between our two forms of entertainment.

*Wow, can you believe it, Constantine has earned over $70 million. I thought the movie was enjoyable – although fans of the comic book I think feel differently. But I never envisioned it taking in close to $100 million. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that $100 million was an “unapproachable” amount. Now it seems like every movie can get near that figure.

On that note, maybe it’s time I filmed my own movie!

*Also impressive, but I suppose not as surprising, is Sin City, which has pulled in a little over $50 million at the end of it’s second week. And here I was beginning to wonder if comic book movies were starting to die off in public enthusiasm. I guess it just goes to show that as long as the story is interesting and the movie entertaining, they can keep making comic book movies.

*Some of you may have read Craig Reade’s Still on the Shelf column about Flare. Well I just saw that starting with Flare #26, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other bookstores will be carrying that title at their stores.

*Has anyone else noticed the seeming merger between Cartoon Network and WB? I first noticed it many months ago when Cartoon Network started playing Yu-gi-oh. I didn’t really mind, because it wasn’t too bad of a show. But now they’ve added The Batman to their lineup. Now while I like that show, it only has a few episodes. Don’t you think it’s a bit early to be pushing it into syndication?

*I saw The Incredibles this weekend. What a fantastic movie. Unfortunately I had missed it while it was at the movie theaters, but I bought it once it came out on DVD. And I’m very glad I did. The movie provided lots of action, memorable characters, and good humor – all key parts to a successful movie. I highly recommend this flick to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

*The “Jack Jack Attack” bonus on the DVD is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself.

*And in case you are wondering, Jason Lee, the voice actor for the villain Syndrome says that Syndrome really is dead. In fact, Lee claims that Brad Bird (The Incredibles writer/director) “confirmed” that Syndrome was dead.

But since we’re all comic book fans here, I think we can safely say that no one stays dead forever in comics.

*I picked up Demon #2 this week and I fear I may be changing my mind about the title. Last week I mentioned that I was really looking forward to this book. However that was before I saw all of the violence in this issue. Now I’m not against violence per say, it’s just that it doesn’t “do anything for me”. So I’d probably just as soon have blood and guts implied instead of really there. Sure I understand that it’s “in character” for Etrigan to rip someone’s face off, but I just don’t really want to see it.

Now it’s obviously too early to start complaining about this title, but it is a cautionary note. Well see how it goes for the next few issues.

*Well that’s it for this week. Next week I should have a few thoughts on Sin City. I’ve decided to cave in and go out and try the movie. It may be in black and white, but I’ll try to enjoy it anyway! Besides, I know of people who have already gone and seen this movie twice. It’s my civic duty to you, my readers, that I watch this movie – maybe this way I can turn it into a business expense and deduct it from my taxes.

The opinions stated in here solely reflect the opinions of the author. If you would like to comment on some of the items in this article, please feel free to post in the forum or send an e-mail. All characters, titles, and etc. are owned and ©; their respective publishers and creators- the author and makes no claim towards them. This column is intended as an opinion piece only. Off the Cuff is ©; Eric Barrett. Please report any broken links!