November 29, 2018, Midwest Furfest, 1731 hours,
I write to you, my love as I enter hour two along the snaking way. My bladder aches for release of the carbonated beverage I bought from the far overpriced convention center vending machine. The legs keeping me aloft wobble, reminding me that the days I worked in retail that had adapted me to long stretches on my feet were long in my past. Those along with me pine for acceptance into the gathering which we placed reservations for. But as those ahead go into the adjacent room I cannot tell how much further our journey shall be. The company and conversation of my colleagues keeps us going, but for the first time we may be coming to the realization that there may be some unintended consequences for the growth of our eccentric rabble.
In the meanwhile, my mind wanders. I wonder if what if anything can be done to resolve our plight. Perhaps someone, someday, will write an article providing some solutions. But until that day, here I stand.
Hope to see you when this is through,
Worry not DarkFox7912, this article goes out to you.
Well, I managed to keep the number of superhero movies way down from last year, just one instead of five, and that's only because there was a late entrant.
Perhaps it was me, but I sensed a smidgen of negativity towards my review of Avengers: Infinity War. Like, just featuring Rocket Raccoon on the poster (he's in there somewhere, I'm sure) just wasn't enough for some of you. To be fair, if Infinity War ends up winning the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, as billion dollar box office blockbusters from Disney are known to do, well, that would be both bad and also probably completely my fault, so preemptive apologies if it does!
Now I'm reviewing another Marvel movie with a supporting character who's totally furry, but that's about it. In this case, it's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and that character is Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (voiced by John Mulaney), an anthropomorphic spider (bitten by a radioactive pig, see). On one hand, despite being a part of a much larger cast, I feel Rocket got a slightly bigger role in his movie. He has his own subplot with a bit of an arc to it, while Peter Porker is basically just another member of the team; the movie's focus is on other teammates.
On the other hand, Spider-Ham is part of a much smaller ensemble, so though his role is smaller, his screentime is bigger, and though the movie focuses more on the three versions of Spider-Man that are the most "normal" (Miles Morales, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy) rather than the "gimmicky" characters (Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham), Spider-Ham gets the most attention of that trio, being the last of the three to leave and the one who gets the stand-out action beat (as well as being just a scene-stealer in general).
And on the gripping hand, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is just a way better movie than Avengers: Infinity War.
Like the Pokémon games, the Super Smash Bros. series has had many releases, adding a few bells and whistles as well as a handful of new characters every console generation or so. Also like the Pokémon games, the new releases have a solid enough base that they're still almost always worth checking out. And also also like the Pokémon games, the Super Smash Bros. series has Pokémon in it.
Our fandom had been waiting for a Sunday night to watch CNN, a moment of truth.
A year earlier, Anthro Northwest sprung a surprise documentary film crew onto its attendees. It immediately caused an uproar online. There was much debate and drama around it, and then things were silent.
The film crew belonged to Lisa Ling and her new flagship show for CNN, This is Life with Lisa Ling. An episodic documentary program to highlight some of the oddities in our humble society. I, like many furs I'm sure, had never heard of the show nor seen it. It felt like we were in for another nasty media portrayal.
Closer to the airdate, we discovered that our subculture was going to be the show's season finale. Pressure's on, right?
This is a triple movie review! Three animated films for kids from 2017, all of them originally French, that have been dubbed into English (or soon will be): The Jungle Bunch, Sahara, and The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales. The last one is the best by far, but isn't available in English yet. Coming soon!
The Jungle Bunch
Original title: Les as de la jungle (literally "The Aces of the Jungle"; here's the trailer). When my nephew was little, I took him to see the Thomas and the Magic Railroad movie, because he loved the whole Thomas The Tank Engine thing. I knew it was a franchise with loads of characters, and the movie relied on familiarity. I know I watched it, but to this day, I have no memory of it.
Similarly, The Jungle Bunch is based on a lot of television episodes, plus an earlier movie or two. You don't need to have followed any of them to watch the 2017 movie, but it probably helps to connect with it more. Personally I didn't find the characters particularly deep, and they're not meant to be. I liked some of their designs more than others. It's a computer-animated film, and the animation and backgrounds came out well. Visually it looks very good!
The wolf is by far the most popular fursona species but, as a recent opinion piece in Deutsche Welle pointed out, they are not universally loved. In Germany, like many places in Europe, wolves were driven to extinction and it was only in 2000, after approximately 150 years, that wild wolves were born in Germany once again. Many people, particularly farmers, are worried about wolf attacks on their livestock – echoing our previous reporting of wolves in France– while others are concerned about the risk to humans. But this conflict is about more than wolves; the conversations about wolves are intertwined with much larger issues.
Discussions around wolves show both the fear of the wild and the human desire to eliminate all danger while seeing themselves not only as superior to other animals but, to use the Biblical terminology, granted dominion over them. This is seen in sentiments that even question the right of other animals, such as wolves, to exist in "our" world.
"Wolves do not fit into our civilization any longer," she said, adding that her fear of wolves means she no longer enjoys walking in the countryside.
Over time, more and more evidence has accumulated that, due these attitudes, we are responsible for a widespread decline in animal populations and species that leave us with a dangerously low level of biodiversity. This is termed the sixth extinction.
What started with a well intentioned creative spark by a furry to take a mass produced WalMart animal costume product and teach young ones how to express themselves in designs of their own creation turned into an unfortunate swarm of saltiness and virtue signaling by InfoWar fans.
The doors to this interaction was open when WalMart’s official twitter account responded to a furry expressing their desire to do a video on modding of their Maskimal products. Once the positive interaction of a corporation with the furs was made, the Joneses stepped in to voice their offense at the situation.
So last weekend I sat down and remembered that BoJack season 5 had released onto Netflix. Being relatively new to the platform I thought that meant one episode was released and would have slow releases over time. No, apparently it means that all the episodes are released and you can watch them all.
One or two episodes wouldn’t hurt, I noted on Saturday. By the time Sunday rolled around I had gone through the entire season and was a bit drained, but still the interactions and story arcs between the characters had kept me hooked and dragged me through the entire bender. I hadn’t recorded my weekly show so I decided to take the week off and not record.
I don’t have a problem, really.
But, the show isn’t for everyone. It uses comedy as a pointed look at the worst parts of how things are for those caught within a perpetual cycle of self-inflicted wounds brought on by less than optimal decision making. If you prefer your comedy with a higher proportion toward the happy face, and less toward the tragic and woeful one, then the show may not be for you. For those folks I’d recommend Buddy Thunderstruck if you haven’t seen that one before.
However, for those who like a cerebral comedy with flawed characters in a flawed world it is well worth the watch. For those of you who have watched it, or if you don’t plan on watching it so you don’t mind spoilers, please continue to read the rest of the article for my thoughts about the fifth season. But be wary, like the show the way I am reviewing this may get a bit ‘too real’ near the end.
Eurofurence 24 ran from 22 August to 26 August this year. It was the biggest one so far and a great opportunity to meet friends from all over and enjoy oneself. There were several panels, discussions and events which are worth noting. However, conventions are very personal experiences, so while I will focus on some larger themes, your own con experiences may vary. I have previously reported on Eurofurence 21 and Eurofurence 23.
As repeated media victims we furs are always on the lookout for furry references— good, bad or indifferent— on TV and elsewhere. There are two distinct styles in which our fandom is covered: bluntly by name, and more subtly. It’s easy to identify the former, but sometimes it’s more fun when they don’t use the 'F-word' to describe the group in which they are referencing in their content. In those instances, it seems more a stealthy shout-out for our animal-ears only, designed to fly over the head of anyone who doesn’t get it.
Today I wish to go over some of those moments in furry media that seem to hold general fandom idioms and how fun 'situational nuance' can be.
In my recent review of The Adventures of Peter Gray, I made a note that the book had furry characters which it termed furren. It is not something that I spent much time on but, in combination with some other reviews I've seen, it might be worth expanding a little.
During a review of Once Upon a Forest by The Nostalgia Critic, he noted that the children were called furlings. This lead him to ask, “Why is it fantasy films always have trouble just saying the word kids? It’s always furlings or younglings or Shia LaBeouf. Just call them what they are. Kids."
Similarly, in a review of Vampyr on Zero Puncuation, Yahtzee criticised using the terms ekons and skals for what were vampires and ghouls respectively.
Although to be fair to Vampyr, it does seem that ekon and skal are referring to specific subtypes of vampire. In such a case, it does make sense to use specific terms and it wouldn't be unlike the various vampire clans that feature in Vampire: The Masquerade.
The common issue that is brought up in all three reviews is the use of new word to describe something that already has a perfectly suitable word. Why is this done and is it a good thing to do?
The furry fandom has a problem. At least that is what is heard when you go onto Twitter, Youtube, or any other social media gathering on the internet these days. As the United States continues to have moments of harsh self reflection as to what their country and leadership represent, the frustrations of those in the fandom from the states has seemingly turned inward on itself.
Many are debating over free speech, its boundaries, and how it is under attack. There is one large article by Rakuen about it on this site, and another by the creator of Dreamkeepers on DogPatch Press. In addition, one particular furry comedian who has received heavy criticism as of late, 2 Gryphon, has decided to join the group of Alt-Furrys in posturing opposition to those that would oppose his views on what freedom of speech should entail.
However, my definition of exercising free speech is a bit different than most would see it. For to me, the meaning of exercising here is not the commonly defined physical exertion required to talk, but instead to expose and cast out the demons schakeling one’s soul and community in hopes of ousting it from the spirit and freeing them from those binds.
So in that sense, let’s strap in and prepare for the long and painstaking process of this exorcism of free speech and its relationship to furry fandom.
Following on from my review of Monster Mind, I metaphorically sat down with Argon Vile to discuss the game. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and consistency. Let's jump straight into it!
Rakuen: In the credits, you say Monster Mind was pretty much just done by you, although you took various assets from others. How long did it take to put everything together and what kept you motivated through it all?
Argon Vile: Development of Monster Mind began in January 2016 and finished in April 2018. When I first started the project, I tried to strike a balance between working on the game and working on my art. But after six months, I realized the scope of what I was creating, how long it would take. I decided to fully focus on the game, but I was still dissatisfied with the amount of progress I was making. I eventually adopted a motivational technique Jerry Seinfeld popularized, which is to take a physical wall calendar (being physical is important) and set a daily goal for yourself. My goal was to work on my game for one hour. Every day that I worked on my game, I would put an X on the calendar for that day. And eventually I would accumulate a string of five or 10 Xs in a row, and it would feel good. And that was my goal; don't break the chain.
Mary and the Witch's Flower (メアリと魔女の花 or Mary to Majo no Hana in Japanese) is the first feature-length film to be released by Studio Ponoc. The film was released in Japan in July 2017 and had a limited theatrical run in the United States in early 2018 prior to its home video release. It is based on the 1971 children's novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart (which I haven't read and cannot comment on how closely it follows). At a high level, the film could be described as a sort of Harry Potter meets Kiki's Delivery Service. Some anime fans have noted similarities to the anime series Little Witch Academia.
This is the third film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It is no coincidence that the art style of the film closely resembles the works of Studio Ghibli, as Yonebayashi had previously worked there and was director of The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There. Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and many others who worked on the film were also alumni of Studio Ghibli, which had largely disbanded its creative department following the release of Marnie in 2014. The characters of Mary, Madam Mumblechook, and Doctor Dee are voiced by Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent respectively in the English dub (Hana Sugisaki, Yuki Amami, and Fumio Kohinata respectively in the original Japanese).