Month: June 2012

Princess Mononoke

Before Cameron’s Avatar: Princess Mononoke

“In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts who owed their allegiances to the Great Forest Spirit, for those were the days of gods and of demons…” – Introduction of Princess Mononoke I consider Princess Mononoke, a film by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, to be one of the best environmental movie in history. Inspired by the tumultuous Muromachi era in Japanese history, Princess Mononoke explores the relationship between humans and nature in all its complex and tragic facets. Unlike many other environmental films but like so many of Miyazaki’s works, Mononoke does away with clear-cut dichotomies of good and bad; characters act with understandable motivations. Most of them are capable of change and in some cases, even redemption. The film’s unusual conclusion stresses the need for acceptance, integration, and reconciliation, even in the face of horrifying, …

Ranu Raraku Murray Foote

Diamond’s Collapse: Twilight at Easter

I’ve always been drawn to islands. In his book The Islanders, author Christopher Priest wrote that islands gave “an underlying feeling of circularity, of coast, a limit to what you could achieve or where you might go” (p. 281). On a small enough island, one could grow to recognize every landmark, every beach, every peak, and become attached to the landscape in its entirety. There’s something attractive and alluring about being able to comprehend a place as a whole, in its entirety. I first learned about the history of Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui in high school. It remains a curiously strong memory: Someone had left behind a poorly photocopied and blurry article on the ground underneath a computer desk. Before that moment, I knew very little about Easter Island. I knew that it was very remote, that it was populated with large distinctive statues, and that aliens were somehow involved – all standard fare. But the article conveyed a far more interesting tale than extraterrestrial shenanigans; it spoke of an ingenious society …

The Man Who Planted Trees

L’homme qui plantait des arbres: The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees is one of my wife’s favourite stories. I was fortunate enough to see the Oscar-winning animated short film with her last year at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival; I was immediately swept away by the beauty of both movie and message. Although it is a work of fiction, The Man Who Planted Trees is a testament to one man’s ability to bring about hope and happiness for himself and to the world around him.

The Time Traveler, by artistatexit0

The Time Traveler, Another Found Object Story, by artistatexit0. While researching for my Pikmin piece, I was reminded of the stories from Artist at Exit 0 Riverblog. One of the most creative blogs I’ve had the pleasure to come across, the artist utilizes pieces of Styrofoam and other debris found along the riverbank to construct unforgettable characters and sculptures; a fantastical story is usually woven around those creations.  Like the Pikmin games, each blog post represents an exercise in creativity and speculation, always told with charm and whimsy while containing subtle commentary about our culture of consumption. This link below is one of my favourite entries: I invite you to check it out!

Nintendo's Pikmin

An Alien’s Perspective: Pikmin 1 and 2

I came across the first Pikmin in 2001. At the time, it was the newest video game created by celebrated videogame designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Responsible for some of the most successful gaming franchises of all time, Miyamoto is famous for drawing inspiration from his everyday life to create universally accessible gaming experiences. The Legend of Zelda franchise was inspired by his childhood exploration of the natural environments that surrounded his home. Nintendogs was dreamt up during interactions with his Shetland sheepdog. Wii Fit stemmed from his obsession to weigh himself daily. The Pikmin games have their roots in his fondness for gardening. Synopsis The main plot of the first game has Olimar, a tiny alien astronaut, crash-landing on an alien planet  that is very reminiscent of Earth. Being the size of a thimble, Olimar is in desperate need of assistance to recover the scattered engine parts of his damaged spaceship. He finds allies in indigenous creatures called “Pikmin”, cute plant-animal hybrids that behave like swarms of ants and come to regard Olimar as their leader. …