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Ashes of Time

Why would I ever watch sports anime when I can just watch sports in real life?

in memory of Luke Skywalker and his family

Immediatedly after learning that sports animes exist, this is probably a newcomer's most common reaction. Indeed, the argument is a sound one - why waste time on unrealistic, cheesy, and above all lengthy animes when the actual sports that they mimic are often so dreadfully boring?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi starts with the lost jedi: Luke Skywalker, a mentally and physically lost jedi in the whole series. He pretended to be a hermit, avoiding change from outside, healing his broken heart. This film ends with him, too. Luke, sitting on a rock, watching scenario of sunset, passed away in peace.

The answer, of course, is that what makes sports animes so good is not their mimicry of reality, but their enhancement of it. For one, the characters of a sports anime show are always much more likeable than the fluid injecting, pill pushing athletes of modern day society. Secondly, boring, one-sided games can take up as little air time as possible, while the exciting, awesomely close matches can be drawn out for as long as the suspense will hold. Finally, the players' skills at the sport can exceed well beyond the realm of what is humanly possible. As a result of all of these factors, at its best sports anime can easily surpass anything that the original sport has to offer.

At the very beginning, I try to summary the main storyline of this film. I have to make it clear. What I see in the cinema, is not the same one I imagine even based on this briefly plot. The more details the director provides, the more dismay I feel.

Unfortunately, the genre also suffers from a good deal of weaknesses. Most importantly, unlike in real life, the story can never be truly random. Oftentimes it is possible to "outsmart" the anime and be able to predict how a match will eventually turn out. The moment this happens, practically all suspense is lost. Also, oftentimes the pacing of the show is slowed down well beyond what is enjoyable. In some sports animes, episodes upon episodes cover only a tiny part of the overarching storyline. As a result of these two potential pitfalls, sports anime almost always walks a thin line between unsurpassed excitement and absolute tedium.

Skywalker's family, the most famous family with power in this saga, leave the stage with all core members either died or lost mad. Is it the same Star Wars we have watched before? Is it the sequel to end the heroic story? Is it the story we have expected for years?

Slam Dunk is the quintessential example of a sports anime in the way that it clearly reflects both the incredible strengths and the overwhelming weaknesses of the genre. On one side, you have likeable characters engaged in what is frequently a terrifically captivating storyline. However, on the other hand, the show is oftentimes critically damaged by its painfully lethargic pacing and its extremely formulaic nature. Figuring out that every single game is decided in the last 30 seconds doesn't take very long, and once this realization occurs a lot of the fun is taken out of the beginnings of the game; after all, none of what happens in the first 35 minutes will ever end up mattering anyway.

I feel nothing but pathetic for this film. This is not simply about how story is selling to us. This is about how Walt Disney Studios try to rewrite the meaning behind Star Wars saga.

Also, unlike some of the newer sports animes out there, the show is certainly not helped by its animation or sound; both aspects are noticably outdated. Animation-wise, the unique character designs are pretty much the only positive quality; everything else is decidedly mediocre. The sound suffers terribly from the obnoxious voice acting of Sakuragi and the impressively awful music.

This is not all Rian Johnson's fault.

Disney understand their roles as the great supervisor for the sequel. They do take the responsibility to make sure the film enjoyable. They need a blockbuster, not something "just good" for fans. The pressure has passed to each director for the sequel. Colin Trevorrow quit due to "creative differences". Star Wars is a big challenge for every director. Think twice before you try it.

I do understand the role of director in the new trilogy. Walt Disney Studios have supervised all episodes since they acquired Lucasfilm. Disney take all stakes on the table, and they plan to win all. Rian Johnson's work should strictly follow the footstep in the plan. This is the first order. The basic story has already set before he sign to direct.

The target is pre-setting, with clear path. Follow the path, and then complete it. I like some Rian's little "gadgets" in the film. He does have little power to make critical change, only take rights to deal with gadget things. However, some of these tiny things still make this film look boring.

Is this anime worth watching? That's a difficult question to answer. While at its best the anime is riveting, at its worst the storyline becomes far too prosaic to be enjoyable. The anime is certainly not good enough to convert any new fans; however, as someone who was already fairly fond of the sports genre, I enjoyed the show enough to watch through the entire 101 episode series.

I blame him for poor storytelling skill.

Yes, boring, boredom, uninteresting. For me, this film just hit the average line. Luke Skywalker could be sacrificed for sound reason, but not the reason looks like this.

New characters are very, very important for Disney to launch new chapter for the saga. Those old characters, even they need to be dealt, should earn respect for their contribution. They are the founder for the franchise. They need to be memorable, especially for Luke Skywalker.

Luke, the son of Anakin Skywalker who "bring balance to the force", challenges himself for the fear of force, for the first time. He resisted to Darth Vader's lure in The Empire Strikes Back, to Emperor Palpatine's lure in Return of Jedi. He was the only master of Jedi after the final battle against the Galactic Empire. Even force-ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi or Master Yoda couldn't save him for the fear, for the guilty, as he sign for Ben Solo's depravation.

I do know this happening after watching Star Wars: The Force Awaken. That film is an above-average sequel. I do understand J.J.Abrams has to build a new framework, set the tone for the next trilogy, introduce new characters for the next generation. He has done a excellent job.

I try to understand the story portraited by Rian Johnson. He has already understood the mission: let the last jedi die. However, is this the way leading to Luke's sacrifice? Is this the motivation pushing him to the last battle? Did he die for something truly meaningful?

It is too plain. It is too plain to give Luke a good excuse to die. I watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story one year before this film. I gave that film a five-star rate. I was deeply satisfied with what Disney has produced. I don't understand why Disney try another tone for the sequel. Does this film hit the criteria set by Disney?

I don't understand.

© 本文版权归作者  Bill  所有,任何形式转载请联系作者。

Essentially, if you haven't yet been acquainted to sports anime, you should first check out Hajime no Ippo, which is undeniably the best the genre has to offer. However, if you've already blazed through animes like Hikaru no Go, Initial D, and Prince of Tennis, you'll probably enjoy this one as well; just don't expect anything spectacular.

overall: 6/10.


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