Finally Netflixed Steamboy, Katsuhiro Otomo‘s stunning anime picture. I’m of two minds about it: It’s visually staggering. The London Exhibition, the sheer imagining of the visuals, the alternate reality, all overwhelming. But I couldn’t help feel as if there was something missing. According to Wikipedia, it’s the the most expensive full length Japanese animated movie ever made. After watching it, I felt a lot like I feel after watching a Tim Burton movie: artistically shellshocked, in awe of the vision and craft, but absolutely uninvested in the story and emotional center of the film.
What’s the deal with animation? Why can’t they figure it out? Gaiman, Sim, Miller and Moore(and many others) elevated comics, why can’t anyone but Pixar and early Disney make me give a shit? When the credits rolled after Wall-E, and that great Peter Gabriel song came on, I was moved. (Of course, I’m a HUGE PG mark, so that may’ve infected me.) Watch Lady and the Tramp; it’s unbelievably atmospheric and beautiful.
The point I’m trying to make is this: How come there can’t be animated adult narratives that don’t try and be all things to all people? An animated Sopranos? Something that pushes the envelope. This was even my complaint with Lord of the Rings: They just had to shoehorn that goddamned Arwen narrative in there, didn’t they? Had to add that trite romantic sublot. It didn’t work.
If I can agree that Tom Bombadil wouldn’t have worked in the film (and doesn’t really work in the novels), can’t we agree that no one gives a shit about Liv Tyler? And I like Liv Tyler as an actress. She did about as good as anyone could’ve done with an extraneous subplot. But Tolkein didn’t write it, and it sticks out like a gangrene thumb.
Like Carl, I’m watching The Wire. I’m on Season Three. Like the Sopranos, like Deadwood (still my favorite), it’s sublime, uncompromising, and a work of art. People love it. They rent it, they buy it. Although it didn’t get the audience it deserved on HBO, it will eventually get the audience through word-of-mouth rentals, downloads and DVD purchases. It will live on. It’s too good not to. What TV and Film execs always fail to realize is that when you swing from the heart, you always connect with someone. (How many people do you think actually are passionate owning Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD? On second thought, don’t answer that- I may not want to know.) All I’m asking is that someone make an animated film or series that doesn’t talk down to me, and challenges me the way the aforementioned series do.
Too much to ask? Probably. At least I’ll have South Park, which keeps going from strength to strength.