Shinichirō Watanabe, the renowned creator of Cowboy Bebop, was a big fan of The Matrix. And not just because the characters shared his appreciation for individuality and stylish sunglasses. The Matrix, 20 years old this month, changed cinema overnight — and just one year after Bebop premiered in Japan. Watanabe’s own postmodern masterpiece later became a monument for Western anime fans after Adult Swim aired the series in September 2001. Bebop was, like The Matrix, an anachronistic blend of styles and genres picked up by creators who possess a devoted appreciation for culture outside their native lands. So it made perfect sense for Watanabe to take part in the best thing to come out of The Matrix: 2003’s anthology film, The Animatrix. Released straight to DVD between The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix strung together nine shorts, all set in the world created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski. Directed by some of the most respected names in … [Read more...] about How Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichiro Watanabe reinvented The Matrix — twice
Dialogue between teacher and student
Collaboration — words working with images, writers working with artists, fantasy working with reality — is at the heart of comics. And there’s no shortage of big-name comic book creator couples out there, from the legendary Louise and Walt Simonson, and the artist duo of Michael and Laura Allred, to Elfquest creators Wendy and Richard Pini, and Harley Quinn’s Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. But this spring, there was just one comic book couple on our minds, perhaps because of a certain major blockbuster release: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. Between the two of them, DeConnick and Fraction have written some of the most critically acclaimed and wildly creative comics of the past decade. DeConnick revamped Carol Danvers into Captain Marvel, went on to blow the exploitation genre wide with Bitch Planet, and spun the Western into myth with Pretty Deadly; Fraction plumbed the depths of the potential of superhero stories with Hawkeye, meditated on … [Read more...] about Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction talk comics, careers, and working with your spouse
There is a phenomenon of culture that I’m not convinced has a name. Living in the UK, the vast, vast majority of the media I consume is from the US. And nearly always has been. While television was more localised, all my life the films and games (and indeed an awful lot of the TV) I’ve watched and played has not only come from America, but been set there, or created by people whose perception of life is based there. And, while we may share a decent proportion of a common language, we really are very different countries and indeed continents. The result of this being, the media I watch that comes from the US is in many senses alien, to the point where a film set in an American high school might as well be set on a spaceship for all the familiarity it will have to my own lived experiences. Which makes playing Forza Horizon 4 a really bloody weird thing. It’s… it’s British. Which is causing my double-takes to do double-takes. I’ve been to the US an … [Read more...] about Driving the uncanny valley: Forza Horizon 4 is befuddlingly British
In the wake of renewed debate about violence and video games, I suppose I should put that sociology degree to work and explain, roughly, the academic state of play. It’s worth noting that there’s next to nothing that supports what I like to call the “monkey-see-monkey-do” model of media influence. That is: a piece of media shows a violent act, and viewers/players go out and commit the same act. The heart of the debate in the social sciences is, instead, about “aggression.” And, indeed, in the words of the American Psychological Association, “all existing quantitative reviews of the violent video game literature have found a direct association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes.” But what, exactly, are “aggressive outcomes”? As I often tell students, the simplest words are the most devilish in science (consider how a sociologist might have to confront the idea of “love” and you’ll see … [Read more...] about Opinion: So what *does* the science say about games and violence?