Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby charliepanayi » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:09 pm UTC

The new film from Laika (Coraline, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls). It's original! It has great reviews! And nobody has gone to see it it seems in its opening weekend in the US. Can't think why Hollywood isn't fussed about doing more original ideas. Anyone here seen it at least?

Looking forward to it when it's out here next month anyway.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Lucrece » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:45 pm UTC

charliepanayi wrote:The new film from Laika (Coraline, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls). It's original! It has great reviews! And nobody has gone to see it it seems in its opening weekend in the US. Can't think why Hollywood isn't fussed about doing more original ideas. Anyone here seen it at least?

Looking forward to it when it's out here next month anyway.



Unfortunately it didn't get advertised too well, mostly because Laika is still an up and coming studio that is small compared to Pixar et al.

Which is a pity because Laika movies are criminally underrated, and they certainly deserve more attention than drivel such as Secret Life of Pets.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:36 pm UTC

On the one hand, it looks really cool, and Laika does good things. On the other hand, I'm really bothered the movie is explicitly set in Japan and Japanese culture, and other than George Takei (and a very few other voice actors in minor roles), no one involved is actually Japanese.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Flumble » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:47 pm UTC

I'm more bothered by the mixed reactions I find regarding the atmosphere —some say it's darker than Coraline, some say it's the opposite.
...and I'm definitely in for a darker-than-Coraline stop-motion feature film with a great story. If it's any less dark, they'd better compensate with even better visuals than Coraline. :twisted:

Let's hope I can convince some people to join me to the cinema next weekend —it won't be out for another 2 days in this part of the world. I've never seen a Laika film on the big screen (actually, only Coraline, on a 15" screen) and, assuming it's on par with their other films, I won't be waiting for the illegal torrent home release.

charliepanayi wrote:Can't think why Hollywood isn't fussed about doing more original ideas.

Smaller audience and more risk, the same as in basically all other business.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby ConMan » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:05 pm UTC

I know nothing about this film except what I saw from the trailer, in which I spent much of it going "That background song is familiar, what is it?" and then once the next trailer had started suddenly "It's an atmospheric orchestral version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'" and now I really want to see it.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:50 am UTC

That trailer basically sold me on seeing the movie. I was slightly disappointed that the song is only used for the end credits, but it wasn't the only thing in the trailer that hooked me, and luckily, the movie followed through on its other promises.

I've had my eye on Laika for a while, I really like their visual style and that they tend to do darker animated work. But up until Kubo, they never really had a project that interested me, so I've only really had trailers and 'behind the scenes' type videos to go on. Finally seeing one of their feature length works, I'm impressed.

The pacing was a little weird, it seemed to lag in parts and the ending felt rushed, but not bad, overall it hung together well, the writing was good, and it was very pretty.

I'm not sure how it compares tonally to Coraline, but it was fairly light most of the time. When it got dark though, it got got pretty dark. I suspect that whether people think it is darker or lighter than Coraline depends on how they view the ending.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:27 pm UTC

Saw it yesterday. I'm still kind of annoyed there's such a limited amount of Japanese involvement in the movie... However, it is definitely gorgeous, and there's nothing that looks like it. As for the story, I found it very strange. There isn't a clear message (which is fine), but there are some pretty inexplicable things that kind of come out of nowhere, and there's also some reveals that are way too obvious. The movie has a great premise, but the execution of the story doesn't make much sense. Also, I'm not a parent, but it seemed like it would be very scary for some kids.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby natraj » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:03 pm UTC

i just got done seeing it and i'm very glad i did. one of the 'big' reveals was pretty blatantly telegraphed and not actually a reveal at all, it seemed hella obvious to me and the friend i was watching with pretty much the whole time but that didn't actually detract from our enjoyment of the story at all. also it kind of got me right in the heartstrings i was having Many Tears at the end. a+ would see again.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:39 am UTC

My only complaint about the story was that the dues ex machina ending was based around

Spoiler:
Kubo realizing the power of others, not the power within himself. I get that thematically this makes sense as he is arguing against becoming a dispassionate immortal, but as a human child, there's never been any conflict regarding his need to remember this. Ultimately he seemed too passive a protagonist with too frequent random rescues feeding the storyline for my taste, but, meh, it was still gorgeous and wonderful.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby charliepanayi » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:58 pm UTC

I thought it was excellent, visually stunning and quite touching in places. They did swipe a few of the main plot points from their own earlier film Coraline though!

Of course typically it's not doing very well at the box office :(
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Lucrece » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:17 am UTC

charliepanayi wrote:I thought it was excellent, visually stunning and quite touching in places. They did swipe a few of the main plot points from their own earlier film Coraline though!

Of course typically it's not doing very well at the box office :(



It just doesn't have the advertising power of other studios, so it gets overlooked.

It says something when you see worthless trash like Bad Moms all over TV ads with more attendance than this movie.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby ConMan » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:08 am UTC

I saw it, loved it, am disappointed that it's already getting hard to find screenings around here because it makes it harder to recommend it to people. Plot developments were generally quite predictable, but you can't have everything.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Angua » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:42 am UTC

I saw it last night (by myself as the only person in the theatre). It was really good, but not a film I thought was great for watching alone at night on a full moon.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Jesse » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:12 am UTC

Lucrece wrote:
charliepanayi wrote:I thought it was excellent, visually stunning and quite touching in places. They did swipe a few of the main plot points from their own earlier film Coraline though!

Of course typically it's not doing very well at the box office :(



It just doesn't have the advertising power of other studios, so it gets overlooked.

It says something when you see worthless trash like Bad Moms all over TV ads with more attendance than this movie.


Bad Moms is an amazing film. Both hilarious & heartwarming in equal measures.

At the very least, in the UK, Kubo has had a shedload more visible advertising. It's had TV spots, pre-roll ads in cinemas, I've seen it on Twitch & YouTube, and on the side of busses.
Stop motion animation is a niche sell, though, and it's coming at the tail end of the summer holidays with most kids going back to school and parents shelling out a bunch of money already on the summer hols & uniforms, so niche is going to struggle.
Neither the trailer nor the studio has done a lot for me, either. Coraline was a poor adaptation of the source material that hasn't convinced me they know how to produce a story, and the trailer has nothing that makes it stand out as a story.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby somitomi » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:32 pm UTC

ConMan wrote:I know nothing about this film except what I saw from the trailer, in which I spent much of it going "That background song is familiar, what is it?" and then once the next trailer had started suddenly "It's an atmospheric orchestral version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'" and now I really want to see it.

That song cover sold the movie to me, and since then I've heard a couple favorable reviews as well. Sadly I didn't manage to see it, so I'll have to wait around for the DVD release or take the unlawful road. But I'd rather not, because that is why we can't have nice things.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby maybeagnostic » Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:46 am UTC

Saw it recently, thought it was pretty good but not quite as good as Paranorman. Specifically the ending didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story, almost like a bit of the movie was missing from right before the final confrontation? Anyway, if anyone liked Kubo but hasn't seen Paranorman, you should definitely check it out.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:56 am UTC

I really enjoyed the movie as a work of art and entertainment. The animation is a true technical and artistic triumph.

I cannot endorse the egregious whitewashing in the voice cast, and the overwhelming whiteness of the film crew. The director gave an extremely copout answer to a question about this in his NPR interview that boiled down to, "I'm a white boy who as luuuuuurved Japanese culture my whole life...so I can do whatever I want." That lessened my regard for the movie.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby EMTP » Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:40 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:I really enjoyed the movie as a work of art and entertainment. The animation is a true technical and artistic triumph.

I cannot endorse the egregious whitewashing in the voice cast, and the overwhelming whiteness of the film crew. The director gave an extremely copout answer to a question about this in his NPR interview that boiled down to, "I'm a white boy who as luuuuuurved Japanese culture my whole life...so I can do whatever I want." That lessened my regard for the movie.


Not everyone accepts the premise that "a white boy" has to answer for the cultural influences in his art. "Cultural appropriation" is a relatively new concept and, IMO, not an especially coherent or persuasive one. All fiction involves invoking something we're not, and all culture involves taking things from other places and times and fusing them with other things.

I enjoyed "Kubo" and was happy to see them nominated for two oscars. It's well deserved. There was a lot of sadness all through the movie…loss and pain FTW. But it was fantastically beautiful and dynamic and the characters were delightful.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:40 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:"Cultural appropriation" is a relatively new concept and, IMO, not an especially coherent or persuasive one.

Is it now?
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby doogly » Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:49 pm UTC

EMTP wrote: "Cultural appropriation" is a relatively new concept and, IMO, not an especially coherent or persuasive one.

I think the acronym you should be using is IMWO.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby EMTP » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:22 am UTC

doogly wrote:I think the acronym you should be using is IMWO.


Is that your WO on the matter? :lol: I actually have quite a bit of education/experience with this via two MAs, one in English Lit and the other in Literary & Cultural Theory.

Zohar wrote:
EMTP wrote:"Cultural appropriation" is a relatively new concept and, IMO, not an especially coherent or persuasive one.

Is it now?


Yep. You feel otherwise? Feel free to use your words.

Anyway, Kubo. Great movie. No Oscar, boo.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:42 pm UTC

I apologize, I thought the message was clear. I linked to a work of art that is 130 years old, that criticized fetishizing and blind adoption of a culture without understanding its context. People probably didn't use the term "Cultural appropriation" when referring to it (for one thing, Monet spoke primarily French), but the concept is the same.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Grop » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:13 pm UTC

I saw this movie lately (for free, in a plane). It was very good.

I would only complain that the humor lacks subtlty, for instance the funny grandma in the beginning is a stereotype of all cool American movie grandmas. (Also she doesn't feel like a Japanese character).

(I have nothing bad to say about Coraline).

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:04 am UTC

Just saw this movie on Netflix. Story is ok, but the animation and music is breathtaking. Bit annoyed at George Takei's overused "oh my", but that's just me.

As for the people involved being white, so what? Do you also complain about anime/manga taking place outside of Japan?

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:22 pm UTC

If it tries to represent a misrepresented and minority culture - yes?
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:57 am UTC

Zohar wrote:If it tries to represent a misrepresented and minority culture - yes?


The play between Japan and America is a rich and colorful history. Honestly, because of how much both sides borrow from each other, I honestly think the more stories that are shared the better.

And I'm not just talking about cringeworthy stuff like Powerpuff Girls -> Powerpuff Girls Z... but things like Dungeons And Dragons -> Record of Lodoss War + other Japanese interpretations of "Western Fantasy" (The Slayers, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, etc. etc.). I mean, there's really no problem for Marth (from Fire Emblem). He's clearly modeled with more Western-style clothes (with friends picked out of the stories without any regard to cultural sensitivity: ie his friend knights "Cain" and "Abel").

Cain and Abel are definitely not Japanese names FYI.

-------

Going back to Kubo specifically: the "Moon People" were so obviously the "Tale of Princess Kaguya". Its a very clear and well done interpretation IMO. They're the mystical, powerful moon people without emotions.

Now... I can agree that I prefer shows like say... Avatar, which use clearly Japanese people to represent the Japanese analog (Uncle Iro and whatnot). But I don't think that a Japanese actor has to play all Japanese or Japanese-ish roles.

Otherwise, I see them just as the countless number of Japanese-looking Anime-characters who wear armor, tunics and whatnot. They're Japanese people (or Japanese animated-people) playing a western role, often voiced by Japanese voices exclusively. That's... fine. It really is.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Angua » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:22 am UTC

Well, it would be nice for main POC roles to go to POC actors for big screen movies. Instead they keep going with the 'safe' option of casting an already known white actor for the role and going 'welp, not our fault there are no bigscreen POC names' when the only way to become a bigscreen name is to get cast in big roles.

You know, other than saying 'well you got x supporting roles in tv anime, get over it'.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:32 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Cain and Abel are definitely not Japanese names FYI.

Waaaahhhh?? Mind. Blown.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:20 pm UTC

You have to give credit to Star Trek TOS, which featured Asians more prominently than Firefly.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:27 am UTC

Angua wrote:Well, it would be nice for main POC roles to go to POC actors for big screen movies. Instead they keep going with the 'safe' option of casting an already known white actor for the role and going 'welp, not our fault there are no bigscreen POC names' when the only way to become a bigscreen name is to get cast in big roles.

You know, other than saying 'well you got x supporting roles in tv anime, get over it'.


Its probably more important for this sort of stuff to happen in live-action films than in voice-acting roles however.

I guess a legitimate Japanese person would give a more authentic Japanese accent, but the degree of an accent may hurt an animation (especially if the target audience isn't very familiar with the accent).
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Angua » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:40 am UTC

Worked fine in Moana.

Not sure where it was implied they had to have an accent just because they were POC.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby maybeagnostic » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:21 am UTC

Well, they are voice actors. If you can't tell their nationality by their speech, they aren't exactly representing anything unless the few people looking up photos of them counts as representing.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:14 pm UTC

Not to mention that voice may be more difficult than regular acting, as you have to be able to convey emotion and timing without being able to rely on providing visual cues yourself. So yes, all those voice acting roles are going to go to the experienced actors and voice actors.

It's also similar to why acting with a mask is more difficult.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:56 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Worked fine in Moana.

Not sure where it was implied they had to have an accent just because they were POC.


Weren't a lot of Moana voice actors actually Polynesian?

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is Samoan. Moana herself was played by someone with at least some Native Hawaiian blood. The Grandmother was Māori.

So actually... Disney managed to get basically a full Pacific Islander set for the majority of the cast. If anything, Moana was the kind of movie that Zohar (and others) wanted. The bunch of minorities who have that blood purely play the roles of the animated Polynesian people. Unfortunately, not every studio has that Disney money...
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:57 pm UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:Well, they are voice actors. If you can't tell their nationality by their speech, they aren't exactly representing anything unless the few people looking up photos of them counts as representing.
Photos are typically not a good way to determine someone's nationality. Try asking them, maybe? It tends to be more reliable.

Regardless, the point isn't to create a deeper level of verisimilitude -- the point is to give people a chance to be part of their own story. When you're telling someone else's story, you kind of owe it to them to give something back -- giving them a chance to help tell it themselves is... probably the very least you could do?
CorruptUser wrote:Not to mention that voice may be more difficult than regular acting, as you have to be able to convey emotion and timing without being able to rely on providing visual cues yourself. So yes, all those voice acting roles are going to go to the experienced actors and voice actors.
1) This is white-washing justification 101; "We can't hire group X because they don't have enough experience" -- maybe they don't have enough experience because you refuse to hire them? -- and 2) Seriously? You don't think there's any experienced English-speaking Japanese voice actors out there?

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:01 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
maybeagnostic wrote:Well, they are voice actors. If you can't tell their nationality by their speech, they aren't exactly representing anything unless the few people looking up photos of them counts as representing.
Photos are typically not a good way to determine someone's nationality. Try asking them, maybe? It tends to be more reliable.

Regardless, the point isn't to create a deeper level of verisimilitude -- the point is to give people a chance to be part of their own story. When you're telling someone else's story, you kind of owe it to them to give something back -- giving them a chance to help tell it themselves is... probably the very least you could do?


I'm not about to start criticizing Japanese anime for using Japanese voice actors for blonde-hair / blue eyed European Witches... in clearly a Western-style setting (the 100-year's War). I mean, I'll criticize various aspects of the show or anime culture (unnecessarily "ecchi" at times, etc. etc.) but that's different.

Its better for the Japanese to take the western stories, manipulate it to their will, and create something new and fresh from it. That's how art grows and develops. The Japanese certainly don't need to hire an American or a Frenchman each time they want to portray an American or French character. Seeing a story retold through foreign perspectives is intriguing in of itself.

-----

One of the top #1 anime right now is clearly a group of German Steam-punk engineers. "Jager" (the main character) is clearly a German name. The architecture of the entire town is German. In-universe, "Asians" are literally extinct aside from Mikassa (half-Asian). But everyone else is basically implied to be German.

The entire cast is of course played by Japanese voice actors. That's perfectly fine. I mean, the show has some stupid parts, and I wish that they'd just get to the fucking point already... but the show is fine for what it is.
Last edited by KnightExemplar on Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby Zohar » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:09 pm UTC

You keep saying if it happens in anime too then it's fine. I'm not sure you understand how:
1. We can debate about lack of diversity in western animation, and problematic representations in anime. Those things don't contradict, you know.
2. There are big differences a white culture appropriating Japanese culture, and Japanese culture doing a similar thing to white culture. There's also a difference between how this is perceived. I'm reminded of an article that basically came down to "Japanese people think Scarlett Johansson is fine as Major in GitS" and like, sure? Japanese people in Japan don't live in a culture that constantly marginalizes them. People of Japanese descent in the US do.
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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:15 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:I'm not about to start criticizing Japanese anime for using Japanese voice actors for blonde-hair / blue eyed European Witches... in clearly a Western-style setting (the 100-year's War).

Its better for the Japanese to take the western stories, manipulate it to their will, and create something new and fresh from it.
1) While I don't buy for a second that there isn't a significant number of experienced English-speaking Japanese voice actors, I would buy the notion that there isn't a significant number of experienced Japanese-speaking Anglo-Saxon voice actors, and 2) the whole point of what makes appropriating the stories of other people "bad" is that those stories are one of the few ways they can define their culture as separate from the cultures that have exploited and commercialized them.

On that note -- I don't actually know enough about the relationship between Japan and America to honestly say if this particular case is egregious (I have no opinion, I only posted in this thread to clarify in regards to the general point of telling other people's stories). It seems like Japan and America have a really weird relationship, both historically and culturally. Are Japanese-Americans concerned about this? If so, then I can see it; if not, then it's hard for me to care.

Something like Moana is far more cut-and-dry, though.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:26 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:1) This is white-washing justification 101; "We can't hire group X because they don't have enough experience" -- maybe they don't have enough experience because you refuse to hire them? -- and 2) Seriously? You don't think there's any experienced English-speaking Japanese voice actors out there?


1) Japanese-Americans make up less than half a percent of the population. So no, not that many.
2) Hollywood is almost based around nepotism, so again, not that many. THIS IS NOT A DEFENSE OF NEPOTISM
3) Ultimately, I don't really care about the gender/race of the voice actor as long as they are the best for the role. After all, there's far more work for female voice actors than male (e.g., Christine Cavanaugh), as boys aren't suited for boys' voices simply because puberty's a bitch.
4) However, I do get upset about whitewashing historical figures. For instance, the MIT card-counting team was virtually all Asian, but you wouldn't know it from the movie.

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Re: Kubo and the Two Strings

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:I'm not about to start criticizing Japanese anime for using Japanese voice actors for blonde-hair / blue eyed European Witches... in clearly a Western-style setting (the 100-year's War).

Its better for the Japanese to take the western stories, manipulate it to their will, and create something new and fresh from it.
1) While I don't buy for a second that there isn't a significant number of experienced English-speaking Japanese voice actors, I would buy the notion that there isn't a significant number of experienced Japanese-speaking Anglo-Saxon voice actors, and 2) the whole point of what makes appropriating the stories of other people "bad" is that those stories are one of the few ways they can define their culture as separate from the cultures that have exploited and commercialized them.

On that note -- I don't actually know enough about the relationship between Japan and America to honestly say if this particular case is egregious (I have no opinion, I only posted in this thread to clarify in regards to the general point of telling other people's stories). It seems like Japan and America have a really weird relationship, both historically and culturally. Are Japanese-Americans concerned about this? If so, then I can see it; if not, then it's hard for me to care.


Among Asians, the Japanese are looked upon most favorably by American culture. So a lot of the discussion here is kinda ridiculous from my viewpoint.

Live as a "lesser" Asian, like a Filipino. Filipinos would kill to have a big-name Hollywood cartoon and some recognition of our culture. The closest Hollywood callout to Filipino culture was the Filipino stick-fighting form that Jason Bourne used a couple of times. Japanese have Samurai Jack, Kubo and the Two Strings, Big Hiro Six, a whole slew of Anime culture... and a constant beat of "Japanese" roles and movies (47 Ronin). Hell, the only kinds of Asians that Americans seem to know about are either Japanese or Chinese. :-(

Call all those movies "whitewashing" or whatever. But its legitimately cool to be a Samurai or Ninja. That's the American White-culture accepting Japanese roles and wanting to be like them. That's the height of respect. Compare and contrast to my culture, and the difference is absolutely staggering. That's the reason why its fine. When white people want to pretend to be a Japanese Samurai, that's respectful of the culture.

In any case, when your culture actually is being used by other cultures in a favorable manner, its generally a good thing. Its far better than watching your culture slowly die off in the new country... that's for sure.
Last edited by KnightExemplar on Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:35 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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