Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Obscusion B-Side: "Getta Bloomin' Move On" for 50 Years: The Italian Job's Golden (Bullion) Anniversary

This month I finally achieved a dream I've had for a long while: Owning a Mini. While I know I'll be literally paying for that decision for the next few years (it was a great deal, at the very least), until I decide to get a different car, this decision just also happened to occur on a special year. You see, 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of The Italian Job, an iconic British heist film from 1969 directed by the late Peter Collinson & starring the incomparable Sir Michael Caine. My appreciation & fandom for the British Motor Corporation's iconic economy car, now owned & produced by BMW, came from this very film, which I was introduced to via its video game adaptation on the PlayStation from 2001, and was only reinforced when a Hollywood-produced remake came out in 2003. So, to celebrate both my own vehicular purchase as well as the original film's Golden Anniversary, join me as I go over the original 1969 film, the 2001 video game adaptation, the 2003 Hollywood remake, the video game adaptation of said remake, & finally the 2012 Bollywood remake of the remake!

So hurry up, mate; we don't wanna be late. And, by the way... How's your father?

The Italian Job from 1969 is one of those cases of a film under-performing (or outright bombing, in the case of the US), only to slowly gain a following & become an icon of British film making after the fact. In particular, director Peter Collinson sadly died in 1980 of lung cancer, at age 44, never getting to see the impact his fourth (& most iconic) film would have on the rest of the world. Michael Caine blames the film's tepid reception in the States on how it was advertised, particularly towards the infamously misleading poster that Paramount used, which made the film seem to be more focused on sex & the mafia, rather than it being the comedy that it really was; at the very least, it did get nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best English-Language Foreign Film". Over the past 30 years, however, the film has been referenced, paid homage to, & respected through various other works.

The third episode of the original 1985 MacGuyver series, "Thief of Budapest", features a car chase utilizing three Minis, meant to reference the film's iconic chase through Turin, Italy. In late 1990, a charity event named after the film started up, where people would run their cars from the UK to northern Italy & back, and became a yearly event that is still run to this day, having made over £2.5 million since it started, with all of it going to children's charities. In 1999, Welsh rock band Stereophonics released the song "Pick a Part That's New", with the music video parodying the film. In 2003, playwright Malachi Bogdanov wrote Bill Shakespeare's "The Italian Job", a play that told the film's plot using lines from Shakespeare. In 2005, Season 17 of The Simpsons had the episode "The Italian Bob", which made references to the film. For the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London, a famous scene from the film was paid homage to. Finally, the celebrate the 50th Anniversary this summer, Mini recreated some scenes from the film at its Oxford factory.

Still, this is about the movies & accompanying games, so how should we start? Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea...!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Theory Musing: The Heart, Mind, Body, & Soul of Shonen Manga

Last month I celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shonen Ace magazine, but 2019 also marks notable anniversaries for three other shonen manga magazines, all of which are much more relevant to the history & evolution of shonen manga to how we define it today. First, back on March 17, eternal friendly rival publishers Kodansha & Shogakukan celebrated the 60th Anniversary of their respective shonen manga magazines, Weekly Shonen Magazine & Weekly Shonen Sunday, which both launched in 1959; yes, they launched on the same exact day & year, because that's what rivals do. Then, on July 15, Akita Shoten celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its shonen manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Champion, which launched in 1969. Meanwhile, on July 11, Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, which launched in 1968, turned 51 years old. I bring these four magazines up primarily because I feel that they have since gone on to embody the four major aspects of shonen manga, in general. What are those aspects, you ask? Well, you should have read the title of this theory musing, but fine:

The Heart, Mind, Body, & Soul.

Trust me, putting Shonen Champion in the crotch
will make sense later on. I promise.

On a cursory glance, one might assume that all shonen manga, especially those of the more action-y ilk, are pretty much "all the same", but if you start digging deeper & really look at things, you'll notice that there are notable differences, especially between magazines. For a hypothetical example, if Jyoji Morikawa was to have tried debuting Hajime no Ippo in Shonen Sunday back in the 80s, it would have wound up completely different than what it actually is to this day in Shonen Magazine. For an real example, Masami Kurumada originally debuted Ring ni Kakero in Shonen Jump in the late 70s as a direct homage to Ashita no Joe, which ran in Shonen Magazine, but eventually realized that he'd have to change things up, not just to prove himself as more than simply an imitator but also because Jump started to prioritize other types of stories. The end result was him changing things from a more realistic portrayal of boxing into an over-the-top & super-powered style, inspired by prior Jump manga Astro Kyudan (a hyper-over-the-top baseball manga), which in turn resulted in Kurumada establishing a standard that most action manga in Jump still follow to this very day, i.e. the "Jump Style". So, to celebrate this year's (major) triple-anniversary, one Golden & two Diamond, allow me to ruminate why I feel that Shonen Sunday, Magazine, Champion, & Jump embody the Heart, Mind, Body, & Soul of shonen manga, respectively.