Tiap Detik adalah Kitsch

Judul entri kali ini adalah sebuah permainan kata.

Di depan permainan kata tersebut, namun, saya yakin terdapat hal yang lebih menarik perhatian. Meski saya juga menyadari bahwa telah terlambat setengah tahun untuk menuliskan dan menerbitkan ulasan ini. Namun sejak pertama saya membaca komik tersebutsaya telah memutuskan untuk mengulasnya. Setelah berkelut dengan satu dan banyak hal, termasuk beragam penundaan, saya berhasil menepati keputusan tersebut. Walau memang sudah sangat terlambat.

Ulasan ini mungkin akan terasa pahit. Namun dengan latar belakang yang saya utarakan dalam paragraf pertama saya rasa telah tergambar bagaimana kritik yang akan saya jabarkan sesungguhnya adalah sebuah apresiasi. Kritik tersebut mungkin memang dipengaruhi oleh kesadaran emosional saya serta bias yang terbawa oleh saya sebagai pengkarya itu sendiri. Namun melewati enam bulan untuk pergi dan kembali serta menulis ulasanpanjang adalah sebuah apresiasi. Saya harap itu dapat diterima sebagai sebuah kebanggaan bahwa betapa pun saya tidak mengenakkan dalam ulasan ini hal itu adalah pembuktian bahwa karya tersebut telah berkerak di kepala saya. Sesungguhnya saya sudah tidak lagi peduli dengan karya tersebut dan bagaimana akan dibawa ke depan namun kepedulian saya terhadap karya tersebut sebagai sebuah karya adalah sesuatu yang lain.

Sebelum memasuki ulasan mohon pertimbangkan sekali lagi, apabila Anda (pembaca) merasa tidak siap membaca ulasan yang panjang silakan lupakan entri ini. Saya akan memoderasi setiap komentar yang masuk dan saya tidak berjanji akan menanggapi keseluruhannya. Akan ada beberapa hal yang saya potong dalam pembahasan untuk menjaga fokus. Saya akan berusaha terbuka andai ada yang berpendapat lain terhadap karya ini dan hendak beradu argumentasi. Namun saya tidak akan mengindahkan komentar flame maupun troll dari fan yang tersakiti. Anda boleh tersakiti namun jangan jadikan itu alasan untuk menyakiti orang lain.

Jika Anda siap membaca sebuah tulisan panjang silakan lanjutkan.

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Here’s a piece on “Star Wars”

It’s been more than a week since the release of what can we consider as the mammoth of this generation. Wait, I’m talking too big. Anyway, it’s been more than a week since the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and I’m lucky enough to have two screenings in two days. Fortunately I enjoyed it and even more fortunate is that means that I can savor the film even more with consecutive screenings like that. Although I can talk more about that later.

I’m gonna talk about Star Wars. Let’s jump it off from the latest iteration, “The Force Awakens” by JJ Abrams. Simply said, I liked it. Even before it was released I already have hope from the directors. Also truth to be told I’m relatively new to the franchise. I’ve watched the prequel trilogy around mid-00’s. I’ve watched “A New Hope” and “Return of the Jedi” not long after that, and days before the release of the latest iteration I’ve spent my time catching up with the whole original trilogy back-to-back. The reason why I had hope with Abrams is because I liked how he handles the Star Trek reboot, how it convinced me to enjoy the Star Trek franchise.

I relates myself more as a Trekkies than Star Wars fanboy honestly. Which I have reasons to do so but let’s not talk about that now. As that is besides the point—and my favourite space opera franchise is Mass Effect, for similar reason to Trek.

So “The Force Awakens” is great. Star Wars as a franchise is great. It has this rich and ever expanding universe (although we suppose much of the expanded universe are now deemed non canonical after the release of TFA). Within that massive universe lies a rich mythos and characters from the familiar Skywalkers to the notorious Jar Jar Binks, or even any non-movie characters that I could not name. One non-movie character I’m familiar is the Starkiller from “The Force Unleashed” video game, which is actually my entry point to the franchise. To me that is still my favourite Star Wars product I ever enjoyed.

I didn’t really enjoy the original trilogy. Much more the prequel trilogy which is actually a special effect vaganza of the age but I can’t talk more. I want to focus more on the original trilogy. The one that started it all, “A New Hope”.

Originally it wasn’t titled that way. Also Lucas releases several edition after the original release. The movie itself earned its episode title after the first re-release if I recall correctly. As I said I didn’t really enjoy the movie. I’ve set my experience from my latest screenings which used the DVD version, which also means it’s the altered version where Han shot later and he had a talk with CGI Jabba by the Falcon hangar. I have no problem with the ugly CGI or the whole controversy regarding who shot first. It’s that I jst found the movie to be plainly uniteresting.

It sure does have a great set design, an engaging scene here and there, adorkable characters, memorable mascot character, Harrison Ford’s charisma, etcetera etcetera. The plot is fine, there’s no problem with it at all as it play safe with Campbell’s hero’s journey. Although we open much of the film through the lens of two droids before being hastily forcing a protagonist by the name of Luke Skywalker who lives with his relatives. After that the story goes as you know it. 

And just that.

One problem that made me feel like the film is uniteresting is because how the movie really goes by the number. By that I mean how it goes exactly what it supposed to be. Rather than a film that made me experience things it just goes like watching a snowball rolling down the hill. It sure goes even more interesting the more it get bigger but you know it will get bigger and you know it will only goes down from now. Also by going the number it reflects how it is exactly what is supposed to be, a pastiche. Coincidentally days before the release Slate publishes a fatty exposition on how Star Wars is a pastiche and an epitome of postmodernist film. A pastiche I can agree, but I won’t rush on saying the latter term. 

But let’s face the fact that Star Wars is indeed a pastiche. It’s not that a pastiche is a bad thing. A pastiche can be good and Star Wars is the example of it (while let’s say “Tiap Detik” is a really bad example of a pastiche). But being a good pastiche doesn’t equal an enjoyable movie in all. Watching it back then it might be good, until you realize you’re just watching a collage of several movies that came before it. But it’s been more than 30 years from its original release and the pastiche has peremeated much of our popular culture that it becomes ridiculous. Maybe it’s a mistake to measure the film by today’s standard but I found the film more ridiculous than great.

It just jump from one scene to another. One set piece to another, rushing the narratives of our young inexperienced hero. Brief exposition, laser shootings, conversations, climax, dogfighting (in space), the usual. And just that.

By the time I finished my marathon of original trilogy I found myself unsatisfied. I have to admit it is more of popcorn that fills up your thirst and nothing more. No lingering sense or whatsoever. I find myself questioning what makes the series so revered?

By that time I instinctively do a comparison. Still I can’t get the answer. Most likely this is the problem of taste. Then time goes and I went to the first screening the second day it was screened at theaters.

And it was good. I think it is better than the original trilogy, of course technological capability plays much of it success, just like the original then. Simply said, I love “The Force Awakens”. I like the characters, I like the narratives, I like the scenes, the dialogues, the directing. But at the same time it is still the same Star Wars movie I remember, it left me with nothing.

To point out how the movie throws many reference to its original series is a two-fold problems. It leaves the same taste as the original trilogy and so in the end it becomes a pastiche of a pastiche. Despite the lingering emptiness I felt after watching it the film still ends up enjoyable as I still enjoy my second screening the next day. Just as “A New Hope” goes rolling like a snowball TFA bears the same trait. But in its advantages the plot haven’t permeate our culture yet—but it will.

Perhaps the problem why I didn’t enjoy it—the original trilogy—is because that I’ve been exposed to its plot already. I’m already familiar with the plot from numerous parodies and reference made by other media that it familiarizes inside my head. It weaves the plot without even needing to watch the movie. So I was left with watching the technical aspects, the presentation of the plot. Which as a pastiche, won’t be as interesting if I already familiar with the references it refers to. One or two “Aha!” moment or a bit of chuckles might occurs but that’s it. Just as referential jokes won’t live up through the ages then the film as this also ages. Unfortunately it doesn’t age like wine.

Still it’s not that the original Star Wars is a bad movie. It is a good movie, groundbreaking even, not to mention the cultural impact it left until today. It’s just that the film was mediocre at best. And when a franchise has the main source of its canon (i.e. the  movies) as a weak product I don’t think it is a good for a franchise.

Refreshing Anarchism

It wasn’t a very good public lecture to be said. Been a while since I went to a public lecture held in a college ground so I wasn’t actually expecting much from it. In the end I’m still a tad bit disappointed. Nevertheless it’s still a nice refreshing experience.

To trace one statement from the Anderson’s lecture is how he find out that a decade ago anarchism is a bit falling behind. I have no words on this and this isn’t really the focus at all as we go on to the basic idea of anarchism as it understood by him. Going on the lecture went to how he is trying to reminds how anarchism is still, and perhaps will always be, prevalent in the political sphere. Although he doesn’t specificly state that an actual anarchy is needed now, especially in Indonesia.

 

“So what exactly is anarchism?”

In my attendance I also brought my own definition. And to be frank my own definiton stems from my introduction to Stirner. Meanwhile the lecture opens up with how anarchism stems from the political movement in post revolution France. Citing Proudhon as its author. Right from the start there’s this discourse of which anarchism is at play.

Thankfully in the beginning of the lecture an opening speech by one of the philosophy lecturer in the department introduces the distinction of anarchism in its own classes. In contrast of how the public often perceives anarchism as mere vandalism or criminalism. There’s this individual anarchism, pacifist anarchism, etc. Obviously the focus here is not the former, while the version of anarchism I brought IS the former.

I am willing to say that this individual anarchism and the political anarchism is a two differing entities itself. Individual anarchism leads to egoist anarchism—which may as well leads to criminalism but this is a different matter altogether—while the anarchism at this lecture focuses entirely on how it works in a social, or political, sphere…

…in fighting injustice.

We’ll come back to that later. There’s this interesting premise in this anarchism.

 

In Opposition to Nationalism

This is one idea I find worthwhile during the entire run of the lecture. As this is, what I may say, indeed stay true to the spirit of anarchism. The opposition of nationalism, or in longer extent the notion of nation itself—this is my own further interpretation.

I found this idea interesting because of reasons. One of them I’ve stated before and the other is if we brought this idea to the mainstream media. The actual event that is happening beyond our realization of what it means to be Indonesian. In contrast to juvenile bitching of one’s own country there’s this sense of profound nationalism that is, unfortunately, relies itself too much on the idea of nationalism itself.

Of course what is in problem with nationalism as stated in the lecture is when it turns into ultra-nationalism as done by the Nazis or early 2oth century Japanese. And thus why I pull the idea, deliberately in all its differences and whatsoever, into the contemporary of our mainstream popular media. As I myself pretty much more familiar with the scene. Also how I first found this nationalism disturbing is when I dwelve myself in it. It all begins with the buzzwords that is known as ‘local content’ in a media.

No, I won’t rant about it here.

But to put it simply there’s this form of nationalism in popular media that stems from such notion. Acknowledging how one’s own country has much more than other country and it leads to How I Love Indonesia. Is this good? No.

The problem with nationalism, in the lecture, is how it tends to focuses more  on the -ism, on the state, instead of the idea of justice. And, according to the lecture, anarchism supposed to fight injustice. This I can agree as it’s in harmony with my first reason. The tendency to focuses more on the -ism or the state manifests itself on how instead of fighting injustice and bringing social justice the movement then focuses more on ‘how it should be’  as I would say, how the nation should be, how the community should, how people should be. This, in cosequences, may lead to another authoritarianism, and this is what 20th century “bad” nationalism has done.

Stirner proposed a more vague idea on this. But how vague it is reflects the more solid basis for what we should perceive as anarchism. An anarchism should mean an opposition to a system. When justice, and social justice in specific, turns itself into a system then anarchism should no longer play part in it.

This is where I decided to take part from the discourse over the lecture.

 

The Dumbing Down of Anarchism

Anarchism isn’t just about fighting injustice. It’s about fighting a system that, in nature, creates injustice. As injustice is an inevitable things that is bound to happen when there is a system. A governing agent will, in realization or not, oppress its governed community. Enforcing law is a form of oppression, law itself is a form of oppression. Giving oneself to law, or a system, is a ticket to oppress your own self.

A man should live only to itself. Anarchism should serve only itself. It may fights injustice when it sees fits but not fighting injustice as its job decription. That’s a human thing to do.

In case of an anarchism toppling down the system what would they do? A socialist would then continue rebuilding the system that maintains justice to the people. An anarchist would just go on. To then creates another system means that one is no longer an anarchist and there’s nothing wrong with that. You just cease to be an anarchist.

 

This is a note from attending Benedict Anderson’s Public Lecture on “Anarchism and Nationalism” (Indonesian, “Anarkisme dan Nasionalisme) in Faculty of Cultural Science of University of Indonesia, Depok, Thursday, 10 December 2015.

I have yet to read the book and so this is merely 2 cents on my attendance and its followup.

Quick Read: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s “The Strain”, and its TV series.

Depression aside.

I’ve spent the last few days passing through the 400-something pages of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s 2009 novel “The Strain”. The beginning of a trilogy which was followed by “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal”, catchy titles I must say. The reason I’ve spent my time treading through this horror novel is, of course, the serial premiering this season on its respective channel (FX if I should say). The same-titled “The Strain”, which was obviously based by those trilogy of novels (previously also adapted into a graphic novel).

Image provided by wikimedia.org

So where should I start. I’m not really thinking of reviewing the books thouroughly, nor do I want to compare it pieces by pieces with its adaptation. Considering a friend mentioned the latter I think I’ll go with that. Hopefully this’ll be a walk in the park. For a quick disclaimer, I’m not really into the horror genre although I enjoy some. As for the serial itself, which already ran 4 episodes as of the writing of this passage, I do quite enjoy it but still not in the degree to say it’s great or a must-watch. The 4th episode title explains the serial for in a nutshell, “It’s Not for Everyone”.

Last but not least, Spoiler alert for those who still cares about it. Read more…

“Ping Pong the Animation” and Spring 2014 Anime Overview

This joke character steals the spotlight somehow. I liked him and his development.

ヒーロ見参!ヒーロ見参!ヒーロ見参!

I’m not sure of how close to spoiler I’ve written here, so discretion is advised. Also, pardon the English.

At its core “Ping Pong the Animation” tells the story of a relationship between Hoshino Yutaka (Peco) and Tsukimoto Makoto (Smile). Yet the story didn’t fell into the usual shonen trope of boy’s doing fiery things with other boys (which sometimes mistranslated as something else), some may disagree with this. So perhaps I can say the story did indeed plays the usual fiery stuff of shonen although it overcomes itself and becomes something else. Masking the core of the relationship the story also presents the tale of a hero.

Among the spring entry I’ve invested my time into this is the only one that I managed to finish and in the end enjoy it. As I said earlier, the story becomes something else. It has become exceptional enough to hold me back in my seat until the last moment. Right from the surface, the visual style may already strikes as unusual. Yet it’s only the surface as its simply translates the original works, a manga authored by Matsumoto Taiyo. In the hand of Masaki Yuasa the peculiarity of its visual style becomes something else. It may be hard for the casual eyes because it is something else. I won’t go as far as saying it is a work of art or a breakthrough for the media but as a televised serial to be aired in the same season of, let’s say, “Mekakucity Actors” that goes with the usual SHAFT-esque visual style, the pecualiarity turns into a beautiful ugliness as the usual SHAFT aesthetics becomes another farce. This is the guy that works on “Yojohan Shinwa Taikei”, another anime with unusual visual that earns itself a Japanese Media Arts Festival awards.

The narrative is a bit tricky if it were to be seen with two protagonists. Much of the first half of the series seems to be more dedicated in developing Smile’s character while the second half shifts the spotlight towards Peco. In the end and final episode the story wraps their relationship neatly and as justly, although Smile’s resolution seems a bit more bitter for some people (like myself, but I kinda like it one way or another). A quick synopsis:

The story opens with Peco as a cocky but aspiring young boy aiming for olympic gold medal and Smile as his awkward companion with a talent. As the story goes Peco hit the wall and the spotlight turns into Smile which then slowly acknowledges his talent and has his talent flourished until he becomes the monster in opposite of the hero he once yearns for. It takes a hero to bring down the robot monster Smile has become, once again the spotlight turns to Peco as he finds his redemption. Once again he finds his passion and talent for table tennis.

What is a narrative without compelling characters? As we’ve already cover the surface of Peco and Smile earlier let’s shift towards the side characters. In the same fashion of any sport-themed story there’s bound to be a rival, an opponents from different classes. Here we’re presented with Kazama”Dragon” Ryuichi the star-player, Sakuma “Demon” Manabu the old friend–and rival, also Kong Wenge the Chinese player. Each with their own personalities and background stories. In between the development of Smile and Peco every side characters also got their own moments and, the buzzwords, character development. As the same case with Smile, not everyone is happy but the story still wraps neatly for each characters.

The beauty of its narrative comes down to the main characters development. The shift of focus is tricky but kinda works, we are presented with the cool, stern, skilled, but lacking motivation Smile in the beginning. While we saw Peco getting crushed of its aspiration of becoming the gold medalist. Bit by bit as Smile’s development becomes stuck there goes the beauty of telling two stories of two characters in intertwining narratives. Not to mention the hero and robot parable ran through the subtexts and imagery. What seems to be a single story about a talented young players with his cocky friends turns out to be the story of friendship between two talented players all along.

As this review reached its 500th words, I won’t say much about other technical things. Though I’d say the music kinda works well in the scene, it helps maintain the atmosphere during the match though I can’t really say when the atmosphere is a bit on the down side. Both the opening theme (“Tada Hitori” by Bakudan Johnny) and the ending song (“Bokura ni Tsuite” both versions by Merengue) matches perfectly with the tone of the serial. Also the opening and ending sequence are simply beautiful, the opening sequence for first three episodes are a bit spoiler-ish though.

To wrap it up:

The Good: Striking visuals and compelling narratives that transcends itself to be something more than a spirited tale of youngsters doing sports (that apparently played in a small table).

The Bad: The striking visual itself, it may be hard and unusual. Any other aspects also seems to be in the okay-zone for me.

The ‘other’: There’s a lot of sequential scene in which the screen turns into split-screen which is awesome sometimes but seems kinda lazy and tedious in other occasions.

 

卓球しようぜ、スマイル。

Perhaps one should try to table tennis after watching this.

To be fair, I should try mention some other serial I’ve invested my time into.

“Isshukan Friends” — Kinda like the atmosphere and the premise is interesting (really, for me). But the drama tends to get too heavy some times, which kinda bothers me. Still stuck at 4th episodes.

“Mekakucity Actors” — I’m a bit hyped by the promotionals early on, some friends recommended it (a lot). But as I mentioned earlier in the review the end product seems a bit farcey (the fabulous pose! the neck-snapping! the backdrop! I’m fed up with all that). The value isn’t that bad althought it may be a bit low by SHAFT standard but still okay. I enjoyed the casts–and the songs–but I guess I should invest myself more into the original material and the fandom before I can really enjoy it. To be honest I dropped it at 2nd episode although I’ve stole a glimpse whenever my friend plays the latter episodes, and I’ve seen the finale which is kinda good.

“Mahoka Koko no Rettosei” — This is the Tranformers-tier serial if we’re speaking of summer blockbuster I guess. Adapted from an already hit material by a seasoned studio it bounds to be….an anime, another anime. Truth to be told I may not really enjoyed it as it solely plays by the usual Light Novel tropes aimed towards teenagers and up. There’s hype which seems fine. I don’t really mind the Ta-stu-ya thing as I already distanced myself from the characters. I’m more interested in the universe the author is crafting. Also I would not, and never, mind Hayami Saori’s angelic voice as Miyuki, yes this is 110% preference and my obsessions towards her voice. Still stuck at 3rd episode if I’m not mistaken, might catch it up for Misao mostly.

“Sidonia no Kishi” — A bit disappointed as I’m comparing the CGI with Sanzigen’s “Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio” standard. The CGI are sluggish and the model isn’t intersting enough. The universe is kinda interesting with its dystopian feel. Only checked the pilot, haven’t had the urge to pick it up. Oh, I’ve heard Netflix picked it.

A bit curious with “Selector Infected WIXOSS” as I tried the pilot late in mid season. Tried “Captain Earth” but I guess mecha is still a bit too much for me. Also checked “Maho Shojo Taisen” and “Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san” for the short-anime, kinda intrigued by the former but the latter is a bit off. As the other I didn’t mention it means I haven’t checked it, there’s hype for “No Game No Life” or “Haikyuu” but not interested in whatsoever.

In the end it turns out to be a whole season overview. Sigh.

 

Beberapa Film yang Ingin Ditonton

Sudah lama sejak menulis di sini. Marilah tinggalkan saja segala keluh kesah dari satu tahun yang dilewatkan di blog ini dan lakukan apa yang bisa dilakukan: menulis. Ya, beberapa tulisan yang harusnya dikerjakan seperti skripsi misalnya. Sebelum itu dari satu tulisan di sini akan coba mulai memperbarui blog ini kembali. Tidak akan rutin, mungkin.

Tulisan sekembalinya di blog ini saya ingin menyebut beberapa film yang ingin saya tonton. Saya bukan penggemar film akut tapi menikmati film cukup menjadi obsesi penghibur tersendiri dalam upaya melarutkan diri dalam media yang ditonton. Pembahasan lebih mendetailnya akan saya abaikan saja dan langsung masuk ke dalam tujuan. Perlu diperhatikan saya belum menonton semua film yang akan saya sebutkan, maka dari itu judulnya “ingin ditonton”, tapi saya akan menyertakan beberapa poin menarik dari trailer dan ulasan yang membuat saya ingin menontonnya 😀

Kebanyakan film yang akan saya sebut adalah film-film yang relatif sulit diakses oleh saya. Apakah itu karena tidak, atau kecil kemungkinan, dirilis di layar lokal atau hambatan teknis untuk mengunduhnya bila harus demikian. Jadi jangan harap akan menemukan judul seperti The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug karena film seperti itu otomatis pasti saya akan menjajalnya.

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Catatan tentang Konservatisme, Kebebasan, Banci, dan Superhero

Kalau berapa hari ini heboh mengenai intoleransi di Indonesia. Coba saya berangkat dari sana untuk catatan kali ini. Ada serangkaian hal yang ingin saya tuliskan, meski baiknya saya tuliskan di dalam Microsoft Word saja. Rangkaian kejadian yang harusnya sudah saya tulis sejak satu bulan yang lalu tapi menyambung juga ke berapa tahun yang lalu, cakupannya hingga ujung semesta imajiner sekalian.

PERINGATAN: Tulisan ini relatif panjang.

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