How much we have in common…

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COPYCAT

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French Villainous Name:
L ‘imposter
Real Name:
Théo Barbot
Root Cause of Transformation:
Chat Noir
Item of Transformation:
Picture of Ladybug
Primary Goal:
To Have Ladybug’s Affections

Through Théo Barbot, we at last get a slight glean to the powers behind the Miraculous users Chat Noir and Ladybug in that he is quite clearly in love with our titular heroine. A titular heroine who is likely half his age though, to be fair to the man of many talents, as his later background roles would attest, he is likely seeing the same illusion that others do of Ladybug and Chat Noir. However, that is an example for a later, more prudent, akumatized victim.

During the events of an unveiling of a statue dedicated to Paris’ heroes, Chat Noir is the only one in attendance and takes quick notice of the sculptor’s obvious affections towards his feminine partner. Feeling foolishly jealous, Chat Noir makes it a point to hint that he and Ladybug are in a romantic relationship, something that Ladybug herself would no doubt have stated otherwise were she there. Unfortunately, she wasn’t and Chat Noir’s words hit straight through Théo’s heart, leading him a ripe and easy target for Papillon’s akuma, turning him into an exact replica of Chat Noir, a… sigh… a literal Copycat.

Copycat is equal parts undeniably weak and incredibly powerful insomuch that, as his name and appearance might imply, he is a picture-perfect duplicate of Chat Noir with all of his powers on the side. This of course leads me to once again question Papillon’s motives considering he literally recreated the flipping Black Cat Miraculous of Destruction.

I mean it was one thing to recreate Chat Noir’s staff and his Miraculous enhanced prowess, which is in turn catlike abilities conformed into a human form (agility, balance, strength, etc.) but Copycat goes a step further in proving that he, like Chat Noir, can access the power of destruction through the aptly named attack, Cataclysm.

However, much like Chat Noir, the use of Cataclysm is not without its own cost. For the real Chat Noir, he would eventually revert back to ordinary Adrien and the same would likely occur to Théo. I say likely because it is never proven outright and it is also highly likely that the use of Cataclysm, and by extension the Power of Destruction, would have ultimately destroyed the akuma possessing Théo.

Yet, despite his clear potential for absolute villainy, Théo’s root cause of transformation is his affection for Ladybug and his ire with Chat Noir. He makes it a point to try and tarnish Chat Noir’s name by stealing the Mona Lisa, which seems to me to be the only painting worth stealing in France given the sheer number of times people keep trying to make off with it. … Back on point though, Théo tries to tarnish Chat Noir’s name in an elaborate scheme to trick Ladybug into thinking he’s the real Chat Noir whilst also capturing Chat and making off with his Miraculous.

Given how easily Ladybug sees through the ploy, and the fact that said ploy was rather tame comparatively, it is because of this that I put Copycat down amongst the bottom tier though he’d be up at the top had he hated Chat Noir a lot more. Being labeled a thief can tarnish one’s name but one that can be easily wiped away but the blackened stain of murder or other horrific crimes… No matter whether one’s innocence is proven without a shadow of a doubt, that is a stigma that will never vanish with time.

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Looks like your out of time…!

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TIMEBREAKER

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French Villainous Name:
Chronogirl
Real Name:
Alix Kubdel
Root Cause of Transformation:
Chloé Bourgeois
Item of Transformation:
Rollerblades
Primary Goal:
To Save Her Family’s Ancestral Watch

Make no mistake, though Alix Kubdel is the shortest person in her class, she has proven to be the deadliest of all akumatized victims, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. Alix’s initial cause of her transformation lies in the accidental destruction of a watch that she received from her father for her birthday.

A watch that, he claims, has been passed down their family for generations but ultimately leaves us with many, many questions. First and foremost, why did he give the watch to Alix in the first place as she is not only his second child but his daughter to boot? True, his relationship with his son is later shown to be a bit… strained, but it just seems rather odd that he would skip over his eldest child in favor of the younger.

Second, and most importantly, what the heck is up with this watch?!

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Do you see that? That, right there, is a holographic image of a woman holding up a clock! In the words of Abridged Cell, where, why, how, I have so many questions! Alix’s dad is so blasé about it too, claiming that their ancestor was “ahead of his time,” which makes me want to rip my hair out in frustration because seriously, what the actual heck?! That’s straight up Doctor Who level of absurdity with time!

… Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… Alix, not wanting to see her watch damaged in her latest competition/race with her (not her boy)friend Kim, passes the watch to Alya to hold onto but the watch ends up playing a game of musical hands before it ultimately winds up in the hands of the worst of the worst, one Chloé Bourgeois who accidentally activates the watch and… rightfully… freaks out dropping it and watching, with the rest of the class, as Alix inadvertently destroys it by rollerblading over it.

Sensing her rage, Papillon sends an akuma to possess Alix’s rollerblades, transforming her into the super villain Timebreaker whose power is to travel back in time but only when she has the necessary amount of energy.

A moment while I step onto the soapbox again… Papillon. Buddy. Listen. I get that your kwami told you that the Miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir represent creation and destruction and that, together, they can make you a veritable god to which I respond with the eloquent question… Aren’t you one already!? For pity’s sake, you created a literal time runner. Admittedly, a majority of Papillon’s victims transform based firstly upon their object of transformation, their root cause of emotional turmoil, and lastly whatever means to enact their desire based on said emotional turmoil but seriously…

Stepping down from the soapbox, I had mentioned that Timebreaker needs fuel in order to traverse back in time. That fuel is, quite literally, the life force of other people whom she absorbs by “tagging” them and wiping them completely out of existence and she does so with a gusto to her entire class, even taking advantage of the kindness of the sweetest, most innocent, girl in her class without any regrets.

It is only when she manages to tag Chat Noir, and thus reigns as the only akumatized victim to successfully kill one of our two titular heroes, that she gains enough power to traverse back in time but only by several minutes.

As I stated earlier, Timebreaker is the deadliest of the akumatized victims of Papillon because she, and she alone, has no qualms with killing people and especially those whom are close to her. Within moments of being transformed, she immediately targeted her classmates to fuel her temporal rollerblades in order to go back in time and stop the destruction of her family’s watch, which, I’m pretty sure, would have led to some sort of temporal paradox but that’s neither here nor there.

Make no mistake, while Timebreaker’s rage had been aimed at her friends and classmates, I do not doubt that she would have utilized anyone to power her rollerblades and given the fact that the average human life force was but a small spark compared to that of Miraculous wielders like Chat Noir… I’ve no doubt that the majority of Paris would have found itself with the fading forms of countless people.

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That’s a real weather girl…

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STORMY WEATHER

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French Villainous Name:
Climatika
Real Name:
Aurore Beauréal
Root Cause of Transformation:
Mireille Caquet
Item of Transformation:
Parasol
Primary Goal:
To Become a Weather Girl

At long last we get to a villain that is actually someone of note and is, hands down, amongst the top tier of akumatized victims of Papillon. Stormy Weather, or Climatika as she’s known in France, was originally an ordinary girl by name of Aurore Beauréal who was part of a competition to become the new weather girl of the television network KIDZ+.

A competition that, by admittance of the host of said competition consisted of over five thousand girls. Unfortunately, despite having a name, outfit, and frankly the stage presence necessary for the role, she lost by a significant margin to her competitor Mireille Caquet.

By the score, 82 to 18, by the jerk of an announcer that it was half-a-million votes.

I mean seriously, who says that to anyone especially someone that, by all rights, really should have won in the first place? From the blatantly obvious naming convention to go on, because seriously Aurore Beauréal? If that’s not a winning name for a weather girl… There’s also the fact that, between the two of them, Aurore took the competition more seriously.

Aside from the accessory and fashion style that fit to the role of being a weather girl, Aurore actually played to her audience as in she openly faced the camera, head held high and with a charming smile on her face whereas her competitor, Mireille, could hardly hold a glance.

That, and honestly, I felt that the competition was somewhat rigged in Mireille’s favor. Consdering that almost immediately following the announcement of her winning, billboards, banners, posters, and even freaking balloons all plastered with Mireille’s face appeared throughout Paris. No way would something like that had been mass produced and implemented without prior knowledge and considering that the votes were supposed to be done “live…”

Upon being transformed into Stormy Weather, the first thing that she did was to trap her competitor in an elevator behind a wall of impossibly thick ice before moving on to rampage across the city. Well, rampage insomuch that she damaged anything and everything that bore Mireille’s face and did not hesitate in unleashing gale force winds or creating massive domes of ice upon those whom clearly favored Mireille over herself.

Following this, it was Papillon himself who had Stormy Weather utilize her powers to pull an Elsa and trap the entirety of France in an eternal winter unless she, and by extension Papillon, receive the Miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir. This is no idle threat either as Stormy Weather shows off how utterly easy it is for her to manipulate the weather with little to no visible effort on her part through the use of her parasol.

She can create gale force winds strong enough to send people flying across several blocks while she herself remains untouched, fire bolts of lightning, create storms to encompass an entire country (or so she claimed as we only see the entirety of Paris feel the chill of her blizzard), and create ice that not only is nearly impossible to cut or melt but continues to grow in thickness and further decrease the ambient temperature.

While there is no doubt that Stormy Weather is amidst the top tier of akumatized victims of Papillon as far as overall powers and skills, I also believe her to be on the same tier as the Bubbler as far as overall mindset. Even with her enhanced jealousy and anger towards her loss in the weather girl competition, Aurore did not go out of her way to well and truly hurt anyone, even when she faced the very source of her ire head on and without anyone, our titular heroes included, there to stop her.

True, she did cause an extensive amount of property damage and caused incidental harm to those she trapped in her ice or hurled away with her wind, she did not try to kill them outright and as other, far deadlier, villains like Mr. Freeze have demonstrated, it’s far too easy for a villain, super or otherwise, to kill with complete negligence. Were she of a more deadlier mindset, and fully utilized the full scope of her potential, AKA more lightning less wind and ice, she could have easily overcome Ladybug and Chat Noir.

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Fantastic, dazzling performance…

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MR. PIGEON

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Real Name:
Xavier Ramier
Root Cause of Transformation:
Officer Roger Raincomprix
Item of Transformation:
Bird Whistle
Primary Goal:
To Feed His Pigeons in Peace

Now I know what you all are thinking. Mr. Pigeon? For serious? To that I can only answer with a somewhat resigned yes. Whilst the Bubbler may look and act somewhat childishly, he at least has the excuse of being an actual kid whereas Mr. Pigeon, or Xavier Ramier, has no such excuse going for his admittedly childish rampage of villainy.

For all the villains that are to follow, Xavier Ramier is the only one to not in any fashion be connected to Ladybug or Chat Noir insomuch that he is, quite literally, a wholly innocent bystander that Papillon no doubt picked at random as Chloé Bourgeois was quite tame in her usual behavior that day. Trust me, as these reviews progress, you’ll see how utterly miraculous such a thing actually is in this brat’s case but I digress.

Xavier Ramier’s cause of transformation into a supervillain was due entirely to the rather strict, and frankly over-the-top, actions of police officer Roger Raincomprix whom, upon seeing Ramier feeding the local pigeons at the park, again apparently, confiscates his bird food, kicks him out the park and warns him that he is also been banned from all other parks in Paris and that the rest of the police force is aware of who he is and will be on the look out for him.

Now, I do not doubt that there are rules and laws regarding feeding local wildlife in parks and other areas of recreation but seriously? Banned from every single park in the entirety of Paris? For feeding pigeons and with the reasoning that said pigeons will leave their waste everywhere? I just… They’re pigeons, that’s what they, and most people who see hold even a token of affection for them, do. Though, to be fair, Xavier Ramier’s affections might be a whole well’s worth given his familiarity with certain pigeons and they with him.

Upon being transformed in Mr. Pigeon, he gains a rather interesting power-set. Like the Bubbler, he becomes slightly above the average norm for human prowess but, also, becomes incredibly lightweight due mostly to the fact that he flies by way of whole flocks of pigeons carrying him around. With his whistle, Mr. Pigeon can control and enhance any and all pigeons in the entirety of Paris to a rather disturbing degree. The pigeons gain near human intelligence and can communicate with Mr. Pigeon and are given an absurd amount of resilience such as when a whole flock of them nearly pierce through a metal door. As it was, they left most of their bodies indented in the steel.

I kid you not, he can also command them to… ahem… bombard at will.

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Mr. Pigeon’s overall endgame was ridding the city of Paris of any and all officers of the law so that he may feed his pigeons without any concern. That… is quite possibly the most monumental waste of a villainous plan I’ve ever heard but then the man does love his pigeons so… Nope. It is still a stupid reason to become a pawn of Papillon and a much stupider plan of “vengeance” against those who “wronged” him.

Overall, Mr. Pigeon ranks at the bottom tier of akumatized victims of Papillon and far lower on the grand scheme of villainy. Aside from petty motives and childish revenge scheme, Mr. Pigeon is no melee fighter and his control over his pigeons, while absolute for the most part, fails whenever there happens to be food nearby in which case they will outright abandon and ignore him just to get that last speck of birdseed.

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No chores, no homework, no more nagging, just fun, fun, fun, fun!

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THE BUBBLER

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Real Name:
Nino Lahiffe
Root Cause of Transformation:
Gabriel Agreste
Item of Transformation:
Bubble Wand
Primary Goal:
Throw his best friend the best birthday party

The Bubbler… no matter how many times I say or write that name, it does not fail to make me question the validity of Papillon being a serious threat of any kind and for a multiple reasons. First and foremost, is the root cause of Nino Lahiffe’s transformation, that being the overall jerkiness that is Adrien Agreste’s father, Gabriel Agreste, who even at the best of circumstances can try the patience of the most kindhearted of individuals and whose controlling nature over his son is second to none in most modern works of fiction.

Upon approaching the man, in his own home no less, Nino tried for a fruitless bid at allowing Adrien to celebrate his birthday with a party. Gabriel’s answer was to not only rebuke Nino from ever entering his and Adrien’s home again but to declare him a bad influence over his son and forbade said son from ever interacting with Nino again.

Nino was soon transformed into the Bubbler via an akuma to a bubble wand, an object that he has not utilized since either for fear of the possibility of being akumatized again or simply for the awful memories the object would bring up. Though commanded by Papillon to find and attain the Miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir, the Bubbler’s chief goal was to throw the biggest party he could for his friend Adrien whilst simultaneously ridding Paris of every adult.

By trapping them in bubbles and sending them into space.

That is by no means an exaggeration either, that is quite literally what the Bubbler does for his opening act and the only reason that I can fathom for the adults not being killed outright just from oxygen deprivation is because even as a villain, Nino didn’t want the adults dead, just out of the way in the furthest sense possible.

Back to his endgame though, yeah, that’s well and truly all that the Bubbler, or rather Nino, wanted to accomplish and set out to do so at gunpoint, or rather bubble wand point as the case may be. Really, as far as overall endgames go amongst Papillon’s akumas, the Bubbler’s was equal parts stupidly tame and extremely lackluster as his “dearly invited” guests consisted of his and Adrien’s entire class and not the majority of kids in Paris. This in itself is incredibly disheartening in regards to the Bubbler’s villainous potential seeing what he is capable of.

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As the Bubbler, Nino could create bubbles that were night impossible to pop save for Chat Noir’s Cataclysm, which in itself is highly focused entropy AKA absolute destruction in a focused point. The purple ones that he used to capture and send every adult into space were able to swarm and specifically seek out his targets without any conscious control on his part. Red bubbles that can explode upon impact with varying degrees depending on size, and green bubbles that can swarm and combine together into a single massive bubble to trap tougher than the average human adversaries.

On his own, the Bubbler is slightly above the human norm in physical capabilities but all of his powers and abilities lie with his bubble wand. While he can leap amazing distances, he cannot fly or utilize a major his powers without his wand and can easily be taken down almost as soon as it leaves his hands.

On the overall hierarchy of akumas in Miraculous, I’d rate the Bubbler amongst the bottom tier though not outright at the bottom. In point of fact, I’d rank him at the door of mid-tier if his mindset were more villainous. Really, his powers and capabilities make him a very dangerous adversary to face but thanks in no small part to his own exaggerated immaturity and the need to buck against any kind of adult authority, including that of Papillon to a very minute degree, the Bubbler can and had been brought down rather easily all considering.

Do not forget that, had he so desired, he’d have quite literally spaced each and every adult in the entirety of Paris long before Chat Noir or Ladybug could arrive to stop him and, even if they had, there was nothing to prevent the Bubbler from popping his own bubbles and dropping his hostages.

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A Miraculous New Year

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For a long while there has been a recently created animated series that, for lack of a better word, has been nothing short of its namesake of being utterly miraculous. Miraculous: The Tales of Ladybug & Chat Noir or as it’s known in America as Miraculous Ladybug, which in itself I feel is rather degrading to the co-hero of the series, is an animated series whose villains are one of the most unique I’ve ever come across and not because each and every one of them is distinct in power, motivation, and overall endgame.

It is because each and every one of them is a victim. An almost literal slave to the will of the true antagonist of the series Papillon, or Hawk Moth as he’s known in America, who is a fellow Miraculous user much like Ladybug and Chat Noir. However, whereas Ladybug’s powers revolve around astonishingly good luck and creation and Chat Noir’s horrendously bad luck and destruction, Papillon’s allows for the creation of akumas, butterfly-like creatures that seek out people with intense negative emotions and bestow upon them powers to rival those of our titular heroes.

Thus my latest series of reviews until such time as the latest updates to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks are revealed in greater detail, I shall be reviewing the super villains of Miraculous. These reviews will focus firstly on the root cause of their transformation, their abilities, and their overall endgame aside from Papillon’s usual demands of attaining the Miraculouses of Ladybug and Chat Noir. With that said, let us begin with an… interesting… villain of the series.

Let’s take a tour around the…

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The second half of Epcot, which generally opens roughly two or so hours after the first half opens though this has been subject to change in a variety of ways, the World Showcase is arguably the most popular section of the park itself. For those who want to tour the world in a single afternoon, I’m afraid you will not find such here because frankly speaking, it is almost impossible to see the entirety of the World Showcase without going at absurd speeds. While not everyone major country is located here, those that are do not fail to delight guests in some fashion or another.

MEXICO
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The only self-contained pavilion in the World Showcase, Mexico’s entrance plays host to a gallery of artwork called “Animales Fantásticos,” which in itself features a lot of sculptured pieces of animal carvings that, frankly, are rather astonishing to behold. Beyond the gallery lies the interior of Mexico which features its sole ride, The Grand Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros. The ride, like a majority of other attractions scattered across the World Showcase, is primarily an advertisement ride of sorts for its respected country but is still a nice relaxing boat ride away from the oppressive Florida sun and offers quite a few unique sights of Mexico.

The shops located in Mexico are little stands that offer a variety of gifts from clothing, to musical instruments, to animal wood carvings. Its primary restaurant, San Angel Inn Restaurante, overlooks the lagoon of the ride with a stunning backdrop of another ancient temple and is actually the sibling restaurant to another of the same name that has been in operation in Mexico since 1692. As of this post, the only character to meet in Mexico is Donald Duck in his Three Caballeros attire.

NORWAY
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Designed to look like a quaint Norwegian village complete with a highly detailed Stave church, Norway’s architecture is based on four distinct styles found in its native land: Setesdal, Bergen, Oslo, and Ålesund. The primary restaurant Akershus features a hot and cold buffet alongside character dining with various Disney Princesses and, like in Mexico, is a sibling to another of its same name in Norway. The shops in Norway are decorated with large wooden trolls, and I do mean actual trolls not like those seen in Frozen, and sell a lot of clothing, candy, and statuettes of ancient Norse gods and trolls.

Its ride, formerly known as Maelstrom, has been revamped into Frozen Ever After where guests go through a quick tour of Arendelle from the humble castle to the troll knoll to Elsa’s illustrious ice palace. This ride has one of the most advanced animatronics I have ever seen and, had I not known otherwise, I’d have thought that Elsa and Anna were being portrayed by actual people. Speaking of the queen and princess, they, and on ocassion Olaf and some vikings, can be found here. More specifically for the royal duo at the Royal Sommerhaus.

CHINA
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China… ah, now here’s a pavilion that never fails to draw my breath away. From the replica of the Temple of Heaven, which hosts the entrance to its sole attraction of Reflections of China, a circular 360° film exploring China’s history and amazing scenery, it holds a museum containing several Chinese artifacts including recreations of the Terracotta Army. The shops in China sell a variety of items including parasols, puppets, housewares, tea sets, wall prints, silk robes, porcelain goods, just to name a few. I personally enjoy perusing through the items that feature the Chinese Zodiac.

The China pavilion hosts two places to dine, the Nine Dragons restaurant that features full-service gourmet food and the counter-service Lotus Blossom Cafe that serves the more commonly recognized American-Chinese cuisine. Not going to lie, the egg rolls at the Lotus Blossom Cafe are to die for. Mushu, Mulan in her various guises, and Shang from the film Mulan can be found here.

GERMANY
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Germany, my ancestral home, at least on my mother’s side of the family, is a pavilion that caters to the old and the young alike though with two entirely different ways. For adults, Germany hosts the Biergarten, a buffet restaurant that celebrates Oktoberfest all year round and features Schnitzel, strudel, and actual German beer, or so my grandfather would always attest. It hosts live entertainment and the drinks are served in one liter steins.

The shops at Germany sell a variety of German goods, including dolls, cuckoo clocks, those little animal figurines that are always so ridiculously detailed/expensive, and stein glasses of all sorts. There’s even a store dedicated to selling Christmas merchandise.

As of this post, there is no ride to be found in Germany though it was priginally intend to host a boat ride along the Rhine river that was to focus on German folklore similar to Norway’s, now former, Maelstrom, the planned attraction failed when  funding was not met and the space has since been made into a storage facility for floats, workshop, and cast member rehearsal space. Snow White and her seven dwarf friends can all be found here.

ITALY
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Featuring Venetian, Florentine, and Roman architecture, Italy hosts a recreation of St. Mark’s Campanile bell tower and a replica of the Doge’s Palace alongside other hallmarks of Italian artwork and architecture. Musicians, clowns, and acting troupes often appear at the central piazza throughout the day and its shops are most notable in their wares of candy, wine, imported ceramics, and blown glass.

Much like Germany, Ital was intended to host its share of attractions. One was to be a gondola dark ride and the other an exploration of Roman ruins. It wasn’t until 2010 with the addition of the Via Napoli restaurant that Italy’s empty space was at last filled. Speaking of the food, when they say its authentic Neapolitan cuisine, they mean it. The water used to make the dough for the pizzas are imported all the way from Pennsylvania and the ovens are all wood burning ones to pay tribute to the three still active volcanoes in Italty. In point of fact, each of these three ovens are sculpted to possess the face of the god that their corresponding volcano is named for. Geppetto, Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket have been known to make appearances here.

THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE
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So named for its sole attraction, the American Adventure is a lone building, much like Mexico, designed in the Colonial style of architecture. The lobby is a massive square room that has an oval shaped area in the middle for the Voices of Liberty, an eight member a cappella , to perform. The lobby area also hosts various historical pieces of American history such as the different versions of the American flag, paintings of life, and quotations from many famous American figures.

The attraction itself is an animatronic showing of American history across the years and is hosted, primarily, by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The attraction’s biggest winning moment though is in its song “Golden Dream” that features a series of clips from American history and many historical moments or figures that are recognized almost instantly by all who watch it. The Liberty Inn restaurant features the classical American fast foods of burgers, hotdogs, and other such assortments while the Heritage Manor Gifts features a lot of trinkets that pertain to American history in some manner. There are no set characters for America and those that appear are random at best though it has been noted that Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, dressed in their patriotic finest, do make an appearance on the Fourth of July.

JAPAN
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Hands down my favorite of the country pavilions, and one that my wallet tends to dread the most, the Japan pavilion features an actual torii, pagoda (as seen above), and a replica of a Japanese castle that frequently hosts a variety of displays of Japanese culture, most recently anime.

While it does not host an actual attraction, there has been many that have been considered. One such attraction was an indoor roller coaster akin to the Matterhorn Bobsleds of Disneyland, which since has become the Expedition Everest attraction in the Animal Kingdom theme park. Another was to feature, and I kid you not, freaking Godzilla. Why, oh why, that did not come to fruition, I will forever lament…

Still there are two chief sources of entertainment to be found in Japan. The first, Matsuriza, is a live performance of Taiko drummers and traditional storytellers at the pagoda. The second, Miyuki, is so named for the candy artist Miyuki whose craft involves shaping very soft, but also very hot dough, into intricate shapes and designs. To date, there are only fifteen people who are considered masters of this craft and Miyuki is the only woman amongst them.

The Mitsukoshi department store rightfully earns its name and is one of two existing stores in all of America. Its wares include clothing, bonsai trees, jewelry, books, manga and anime items, and all manner of toys simplistic and complex. For any fan of Japan, this is your store but be warned, all that you’ll find in your wallet afterwards is a gaping hole. As of this post, no Disney characters can be found in Japan though rumors abound of a certain hero team possibly making an appearance in the future…

MOROCCO
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Designed to look like an atypical Moroccan city, the Morocco pavilion is the only pavilion in the World Showcase to have the country’s government aid in its design. No joke, King Hassan II himself sent Moroccan artisans to design and create the many mosaics found in this pavilion and because of the Islamic beliefs on the content of art, these mosaics contain no representations of people in them.

The Fes House is designed to represent the typical Moroccan home and many live plants, including citrus trees, date palms, and olive trees, can be found here. The restaurants here also serve the traditional Moroccan fare including roast lamb, and the shops specialize in rugs, leather goods, and traditional clothing. Aladdin and Jasmine can both be found here.

FRANCE
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Designed to look like a Parisian neighborhood not far from the illustrious Eiffel Tower, France hosts the sole attraction “Impressions de France” which is a film that shows that beauty that is France though I make a fair warning, while the sights are a thing to see the musical score of this film can be a bit too relaxing to keep one awake throughout the show.

The shops in France are most notable in selling perfumes and other goods that can only be found in the country itself and the cuisine… oh man, if you thought the buffet in Germany was a belt buster, you have not seen the delicious delights that is French cuisine, most notably in its deserts. As of this post, Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and surprisingly Marie from The Aristocats have been known to make appearances here.

UNITED KINGDOM
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Designed to look like the atypical British village, the United Kingdom plays hosts to the band British Revolution who perform many famous rock covers from such bands as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, just to name a few. Its primary restaurant, the Rose & Crown Pub is everything its name might imply and has had the recent addition of bangers and mash, as well as fish and chips added to its menu.

The shops at the United Kingdom feature a lot of varying merchandise such as teas, toys, books, and clothing, most notably those pertaining to the Beatles, Paddington Bear, Doctor Who, and more besides. There is one store in particular that features a lot of fine art statues of dragons that took all of my will power not to buy out. Well that and the fact that the Japan pavilion had long since emptied me of coin and bills. There’s even a store dedicated to the research and history behind one’s last name that, admittedly, doesn’t do much for those whose ancestry did not make a home on such soil.

Characters from Alice in Wonderland, most notably Alice and the White Rabbit, as well as Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh make frequent appearances here throughout the day.

CANADA
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Like France and China, Canada features a film, aptly named O Canada!, that showcases the Canadian landscape. Admittedly, there was a bit of a scuffle to Canada’s history as, originally, Disney had wanted the Canadian government’s backing for this pavilion but they refused on grounds of how Canada was likely to be portrayed, with the stereotypical lumberjacks and all. Still, it has a fine place to dine in Le Cellier Steakhouse and its shops feature a lot of NHL merchandise alongside Christmas, plush toys, fine wines, and yes, delicious Canadian maple syrup. For reasons that I’ve yet to discover, only the animal characters from Pocahontas and Brother Bear can be found here on occasion.

To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome…

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Sometimes known as Epcot Center, EPCOT is the unrealized dream of Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a utopian city that would take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies and as such, would never be truly completed as it would always be introducing, testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. The city would have been circular with major businesses and commercial areas at its center with community buildings, such as schools and recreational areas, in the outer rims with homes lining the community proper.

Unfortunately, with Walt’s passing, the Walt Disney Company did not feel that they could implement his vision to its absolute fullest without his guidance, though they did make something of an attempt in the town of Celebration but that, in and of itself, is quite different from what EPCOT was initially planned to be.

The park itself is divided into two sections and it is the first section, Future World, that I will be discussing today. As its name might imply, Future World is, in essence, an expanded concept of Tomorrowland wherein many of the attractions feature the innovations of the future, and in some areas quite literally too. When EPCOT first opened, many of the pavilions, or attractions whichever you prefer, were created and funded by corporate sponsors such as Kraft for Living with the Land or Kodak for Journey into Imagination.

Though not plainly obvious, each pavilion symbolizes a concept of human innovation and were also granted its own distinctive emblem that symbolized in the early years of the park but have since faded into obscurity though many of them are still around to be spotted in the park proper.

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Spaceship Earth is the first attraction to see and enjoy for most visitors of the park and rightfully so. Like Cinderella’s Castle for the Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth is the symbol of EPCOT as a whole and is hands down the most informative, and inspirational, ride in the park itself. The concept of the ride is simple, communication. Specifically, the history of the spoken and written words from across the globe, from the cave paintings of ancient man to visual communication via cellular phones in the modern era. In point of fact, Spaceship Earth had fairly recently undergone a change in its “future” setting as many of the concepts that were then initially believed to have been far into the future are quite common today.

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As its name rightfully implies the Universe of Energy pavilion is all about energy from fossil fuels to solar. Sadly, this attraction is somewhat dated as its most recent update is now all of twenty years old and features, primarily, Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy as its hosts in a storyline that fits quite well in the 90’s but is a wee bit nonsensical by today’s standards. But in the end, who cares about any of that when you get to see some dinosaurs up close and personal?

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Mission: Space is rather self explanatory and a space travel motion simulation ride of no equal as stated by seasoned astronauts. The pavilion does offer two distinct versions of its motion simulation, a softer “green” version and more realistic “orange” but both do not cater to anyone who has even a smidge of claustrophobia so if you’re not a a fan of tight and enclosed spaces this is definitely not the ride for you. If not and you’ve yet to experience the thrill that is a mission to Mars, well buckle your safety straps tight kids because this is going to be one heck of a ride…

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One of my personal favorites in Future World, Test Track is the offspring of the former World of Motion pavilion and, somewhat, holds to its concept of motion insomuch that rather than focusing on the various means of transportation, Test Track is focused on the testing of vehicular transports. Original sponsored by General Motors, the Chevrolet update of Test Track has since offered something new, and surprisingly quite fun, to the experience of testing a motor vehicle. Prior to boarding their test car, guests can design their vehicle and throughout the ride itself see how said vehicle passes the various obstacles and can even chose to race their car against others after the ride itself. A small word of warning, though by no means an actual roller coaster, Test Track is one of the fastest rides in the park and can cause some serious illness to those prone to motion sickness.

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Formerly known as the Living Seas, The Seas with Nemo and Friends still maintains its creed of living with, and studying, oceanic life and the pavilion itself hosts three attractions. The first is the primary entryway into the pavilion itself where guests board “clamobiles” and journey to the Big Blue World that is the oceans by way of Marlin and Dory renacting several key scenes from the film Find Nemo. The second is the multitude of aquariums within the pavilion which has several unique sealife including, but not limited to, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and several varieties of fish. The last, and by far most popular, attraction is the live show of Turtle Talk with Crush wherein the titular Crush from Finding Nemo talks and interacts with guests. Much like the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor no show is exactly the same and I can guarantee you that you’ll find yourself laughing at least once in every performance.

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Much like the Seas, the Land is a pavilion that hosts multiple attractions within its walls and is also, at least in Future World, the chief place to dine with a vast variety of fresh foods and restaurants whose ingredients are, quite literally, grown in house. The first attraction, and admittedly one that is slightly dated, is The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable that features Timon, Puumba, and Simba from The Lion King telling the dangers and benefits of symbosis in nature and how even the tiniest of changes can have the largest of outcomes. The second, and easily most interesting attraction is Living with the Land, a boat tour of the various greenhouse and hydroponic facilities within the Land. Last, but certainly not least, is Soarin’ Around the World which has since changed from its earlier concept of hang-gliding across the sunny land of California to spanning the entire world.

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The last pavilion, Imagination!, is one that I have several mixed feelings towards. Initially known as Journey into Imagination, the ride featured the wise, almost Saint Nicholas like, Dreamfinder whose task is to find and collect all the wonderful things that can inspire one’s imagination and even demonstrates one such result in the form of Figment, a spirit of imagination.

However, in more recent years the ride has since gone from the fantastical to the somewhat scientific wherein Dr. Nigel Channing of the Imagination Institute, the same president who helped create the shenanigans that resulted in the former Honey I Shrunk The Audience attraction, tries to give us a guided tour through the five senses with constant interruptions by Figment. It is a fun ride, don’t get me wrong, but while it does strive to bring back that One Spark, it just doesn’t ignite with me as it once did not so long ago…

As to characters, there are quite a few to be found throughout Future World in various locations that include the traditional “Toon Town” gang of Mickey and Friends, Figment on his own or sometimes in the arms of his creator/best friend Dreamfinder, Joy & Sadness from Inside Out, and, most recently, Baymax from Big Hero 6.

The ocean is a friend of mine…

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MOANA WAIALIKI


Otherwise Known As:
Vaiana (In Some Countries)
Name Meaning: “Ocean”
Domain: Motunui
Premiered In: Moana (2016)
Voiced By: Auli’i Cravalho

Of all the Disney Princesses, official or not, Moana is by far the most distinct of them all. How distinct? Oh, let me count the ways… First and foremost, as one can rightly assume by her name above, Moana is the only official Disney Princess to have a last name as far as the film canon is concerned. True, characters like Vanellope and Elena have last names but Vanellope technically abdicates her throne for a presidency and Elena, for all her rising popularity is not technically a Disney Princess again, as far as the film canon is concerned.

More to the point, and by her own admittance, Moana does not consider herself a princess and rebukes any such thoughts to Maui, demigod of the wind and sea, straight to his face despite his own apparent evidence to the contrary. That being her style of clothing and the fact that she has an animal sidekick that in his eyes combined with her habit of singing on occasion makes her a princess.

However, contrary to the demigod’s evidence, I find myself agreeing with Moana. Personality wise, Moana is nothing at all like any Disney Princess that’s come before her. Though she is a teenager, being all of fourteen years old or so, there is no real “teenage rebellion” in any way, shape, or form.

While she is drawn to the sea, Moana does not let it become an obsession that leads her, and those closest to her. Heck, the only reason she initially goes out past the reef at all is to try and prove that there can be more fish, and thus more food, for her people and not because she simply wants to go out onto the ocean.

Though Moana does not shy away from her responsibilities as chief of her people and is not deterred by her father’s, or her people’s, actions towards her but is inspired by them and becomes a better leader for it. When her father showing her the stack of stones that each chief before them carried to the island of Motunui’s tallest mountain, she was not worried for the possibility that she might not live up to such a legacy but embraces it and overcomes it.

Even when her father, the still in charge chief, is standing right there next to her, villagers still go to Moana and seek her counsel in regards to the withering, if not outright infected looking, crops of coconuts.

What is truly one of the most defining aspects of Moana is that her story has not even the slightest bit of romance involved. True, the same could be argued for Merida but one must remember that a majority of the plot revolved around her unwilling engagement to any one of the three visiting clan heirs. Even Elsa, being technically a queen and thus exempt from inclusion, still has to deal with her sister’s far too over-the-top attitude in regards to true love and love-at-first-sight. That’s not to say that Moana has no love at all, far from it in fact.

It is her love of her home and her people that drives her, that inspires her, and what raises her to become the hero of her own story. From the very start of her journey, we are told that Moana is to find Maui and aid him in returning the Heart of Te Fiti that he had stolen all those centuries ago and thus doomed the world to a slowly eroding darkness. Even Moana herself believes herself to be nothing more than an aid to Maui and even then, not much of one as she, initially, had no experience in sailing, or wayfinding as it is properly named.

Initially until Maui himself taught her all that he knew of the art, though not willingly so as the Ocean took matters into its own… waves…? Yes, waves, and all but forced Maui into have to rely on Moana to at least reach the entrance to the Realm of Monsters in order to get his magical fish hook back from the clutches of Tamatoa.

But think about it, for just a moment… Moana is given the Heart of Te Fiti, chosen specifically by the ocean for the pure heart and courage she displayed as an infant, and look at what she accomplishes specifically throughout her story. She finds Maui and, with a little help from the ocean, gets him to help her put the heart back. She even goes so far as to outright deck him in the stomach with her oar and grabs him by the ear to loudly proclaim that he is not her hero.

I’m not going to lie Moana instantly went to being my personal Best Princess with that kind of gumption.

While one could say that Moana’s home island of Motunui is her domain, I do not believe that to be so. Aside from the fact that she, and by extension her people, are voyagers of the ocean and are more akin to nomads who make their homes wherever they may find them, I firmly believe that Moana does not find her island to be her domain.

While she cares greatly for her island home, which in itself is a tropical paradise that makes anyone even remotely familiar with the bitter hoarfrost and icy winds of winter weep with envy, Moana’s chief concern is first and foremost, her people. True, the island of Motunui will likely forever hold a special place in her heart.

Contrary to most Disney Princesses of the more recent eras, Moana has not one but two animal companions and neither of who are portrayed as being anything more than slightly above average animals. Or slightly… alright extremely less in the case of one. The first, a pig named Pua was initially supposed to be the defacto animal sidekick to Moana and still is insomuch that he is most distinctly Moana’s actual pet and not one that belongs to the village as a whole like Heihei the rooster.

Originally, Heihei was going to be something rather like Flick from Pocahontas in that he’d be a rude, rash, and outright arrogant little snit of a bird if ever there was one before he ultimately became, and I quote one of the co-directors here, “the stupidest character in Disney Animation.” That… might be a bit understated but honestly, seeing is believing has never been more true in concern to the stupidity of a rooster…

As of the time of this post, Moana does not have either a “Palace Pet” nor a “official” royal get-up of any sort. If she does attain a Palace Pet, I’ve no doubt it’ll either be something that makes little to no sense for her to have, and yes I’m still upset that Ariel gets a freaking a cat because darn it she’s a mermaid for criminy’s sake, or will be right on the mark.

If I were a betting man, I’d say something to do with the ocean, either a turtle or perhaps a hermit crab. As to a royal get up… hopefully it will not go the way that Pocahontas and Mulan initially did and, if at all, will be similar to her ceremonial attire that was shown in the film proper.

A drab little crab once…

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TAMATOA

Premiered In: Moana (2016)
Voiced By: Jemaine Clement

Seeing as I had my own start by reviewing Disney Villains followed shortly by Disney Princesses before moving on to the films proper, I shall again follow that order with what has to be one of my favorite Disney Villains of… Hrm… Y’know, now that I think about it, has there really been an official name made for this most recent era of Disney films? Lemme check that real quick…

… Huh. Well, “officially” starting in 2009 with The Princess and the Frog, this era of Disney Animated Feature Films has been titled as the Revival Era, which I admittedly can’t disagree with entirely as the decade before was rather… lackluster save for a few diamonds in the rough. Still, with the hope that this is an era that’ll go for new lengths before leaping to newer heights, I myself shall refer to the more recent CGI films as the Disney Digital Era.

Stepping down from my little soapbox let me speak of the newest member of Disney villainy, the enormous crab of glimmer and glam, Tamatoa. Now, admittedly, Tamatoa is technically speaking not the primary antagonist of the film but the one whom is also not truly a villain in and of themselves either. Thus the role of actual in-film villain falls to Tamatoa though his is likely the most unique amongst all Disney Villains thus far, at least those in the feature films category.

To start with, Tamatoa does not have any form of lackeys to call his own, which in itself is not altogether unique. Shere Khan for example may have an applicable courtesy with his fellow Jungle Book villain Kaa but the snake is far from being the tiger’s sidekick. Likewise, and in more recent films, Mother Gothel may have conned the Stabbington Brothers into working with her but that’s all that there relationship was, a con.

More to the point though, Tamatoa doesn’t want, or need, lackeys to begin with because he, contrary to all Disney Villains past, has everything that he could ever want, or so he believes. Whereas most villains such as Scar or King Candy (AKA Turbo) had to take what was not rightfully theirs, or like Maleficent and Ursula acting out of vengeance for past wrongs, Tamatoa is a self-admitted hoarder of all things glim and glamorous and that is literally all that he claims to want.

By Maui’s own admittance, and from a few key lyrics in Tamatoa’s song that he sings with gusto upon Moana’s request despite suspecting it to be a distraction, which it is, we know that Tamatoa was at least inspired by the mortal-turned-demigod Maui. More specifically, Maui’s enchanted tattoos that appear on his skin whenever he achieves a great deed be it for good or for ill, including his own victory against the ginormous crab that resulted in the decapod losing a limb as a result.

Wanting to turn his own body into a work of art, Tamatoa had spent countless years finding and hoarding up every piece of gold and shiny treasure he could find and affix it to his shell with two pieces being beyond the weight of gold already resting upon Tamatoa’s back.

One such treasure was Maui’s magical fishhook, which had been lost centuries ago by the demigod, and could allow Maui to transform himself into a vast variety of animal forms and is both sharp and sturdy enough to cleave through molten rock. The other, less noticeable treasure brings a lot of questions to mind as to when this film takes place but there’s no denying the facts.

Somehow, someway, Tamatoa has found Genie’s lamp.

Moving on from that bomb of an easter egg, from start to finish for all of his scene in the film, Tamatoa is shown to be a unpredictable, and quite possibly insane, individual though this may be in part due to his own self-isolation from his fellow monsters. He can go from being murderous and menacing to comedic and, dare I say, outright cheeky at the drop of a hat. He also admits to eating anyone be they human, deities, and other creatures of the deep. He even admits to having eaten his own grandmother, which he admits took a week due to her enormous size.

… Now that mind sound incredibly disturbing, and frankly it really, really is, but one must remember that Tamatoa is, for the most part, a type of coconut crab, which are omnivorous and have been noted as scavenging the carcasses of their fellows. Heck, real coconut crabs have no known predators except humans, of course, and other coconut crabs! Then again, considering that coconut crabs can grow to be over three feet in length, that’s not that surprising…

Of all Disney Villains, Tamatoa is perhaps the most narcissistic of them all and yes I do include the likes of the Wicked Queen in that regard. He has a superiority complex that outsizes his own body and views anything that is not beautiful as being irrelevant and disposable.

However, despite all the treasures that he has accumulated and his proclamations of being the most beautiful thing there could ever be, there is an obvious desire for more from Tamatoa and it’s made all the more apparent by the film’s overarching message of identity, self-worth, and embracing the person you are on the inside. By the end of the film, Tamatoa is the only character to be shown to spurn this ideal and the consequence of it leaves him still stuck on his back alone and empty in the Realm of Monsters.

He even goes so far as to contemplate the uselessness of his treasure-laden shell and laments that if he were of a different name and possessing a certain manner of accent that people, that is to say the audience, would be more helpful towards him.