Isao Takahata, eternal firefly

Isao Takahata passed away in April. His obituary at the Guardian reminds us of his seminal role in founding Studio Ghibli:

Takahata returned to feature directing with Chie the Brat (1981) and an adaptation of Kenji Miyazawa’s Gauche the Cellist (1982), while working as a producer on Miyazaki’s breakthrough animated version of his own manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984).

The film’s huge success led to the establishment of Studio Ghibli, the name, due to Miyazaki’s love of aviation, taken from an Italian second world war plane, with Takahata producing Miyazaki’s first work for the new enterprise, Castle in the Sky (1986).

Of course, his masterpiece was the partly autobiographical (!!!) Grave of the Fireflies, which was released as a double feature with Totoro, a sentence that still amazes me when I type it out. TOR recently had a must-read historical look at the intertwined history of Totoro and Fireflies, and the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster effect combining them must have had on audiences. Bonus, it intriduces a great theory that I am instantly adopting as headcanon:

So about that Camphor tree…In Grave, Seita lies to Setsuko about their mother’s death for a while, hoping to give her the news in a gentle way. She finds out anyway, and he tries to soften the blow by lying again, this time telling her that their mother is buried beneath a lovely Camphor tree, and that they’ll visit her after the war. (In reality, their mother’s ashes are in a box that Seita carries with him, and seems to lose, before the film ends.) Guess what kind of tree Totoro lives in? Yeah, it’s a Camphor. And Totoro just happens to be accompanied by a middle-sized Totoro, and a small Totoro. And the small Totoro just happens to be the one that attracts Mei’s attention in the first place.

So I’ve just decided that the Grave of the Fireflies characters were all reincarnated as Totoros. Big Totoro is Mother, the Middle Totoro, always the caretaker, forever collecting acorns for Baby, is clearly Seita, and Baby Totoro is Setsuko—the one who first befriends a little girl who’s the same age she was when she died.

And if I’ve just ruined My Neighbor Totoro for you I’m sorry, but how much better is Grave of the Fireflies now? If you watch the movie believing that they all get to be Totoros in the end, you might just get through it.

Thanos in Fortnite action in-game

The footage below is from my friend Chris, who managed to be Thanos in game – highly entertaining to see Thanos just wipe the floor with other players 🙂

The fun is probably over though – Thanos has already been nerfed.

Becoming Thanos

Death from Above

Chris is a class-A player and often gives out freebies to his subscribers – check it out on Twitch via his relatively subdued handle CaptainAw3som.

Yes, Neil Gaiman is still involved with American Gods, season 2

Gillian Anderson as Media

The Real Neil shows up on reddit himself to set the record straight:

I’m still part of the show and enthusiastic about it — I just did a rewrite on the first episode which starts filming this week. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green left, after disagreements over budget issues. (They wanted more than the 9 million an episode they had). Gillian Anderson was only signed up for one season. Kristen should be back the next time Easter is in the story.

Gillian Anderson was absolutely sublime. Her absence from season 2 will be a real loss. Glad we get more of Easter, at least – she was nothing like I imagined in the book, and on the whole I like the TV version better.

The Expanse returns on April 11

teaser from SyFy below – god I love this show, but i love the books even more. #WhatsFirefly?

Incidentally, I just finished (audiobook) of Persepolis Rising, which kicks off the new trilogy, and pulls a Star Wars timejump. This is as deep a well of excellence as Game of Thrones, except that the authors are actually writing the next novel, and the TV show is comfortably far behind 🙂

Amazon to Consider Phlebas

Deadline has the scoop:

EXCLUSIVE: Iain M. Banks’ classic sci-fi Culture book series is headed to television. Amazon Studios has acquired the global TV rights to the first novel in the series, Consider Phlebas, with Utopia creator Dennis Kelly set to pen the TV adaptation, Plan B Entertainment (World War Z Moonlight) slated to produce and the Estate of Iain Banks attached as executive producer. The book had been pursued by a number of top film and TV producers.

I think Player of Games would have been a more engaging entry – but I can see why Phlebas is getting first billing, what with the monsters and the trains and the big booms and all.