Halloween is in just 2 days!
This week for our Top 5, Afronauts presents the Best Movies to Watch for Halloween!
Magical Bun Bun
October is National Pizza Month!
#5 - Papa Murphy's
I wasn't introduced to Papa Murphy's until I came out to California in the 2010's. To be fair, it wasn't the chain we know today until the mid-90's and didn't start to become widely available until the mid-2000's. What I like about Papa Murphy's are their unique combo selections! Their Chicken Bacon Artichoke, Herb Chicken Mediterranean, and Tuscan Chicken Sausage pizzas are all delicious and hard to match anywhere else! The one aspect a lot of people complain about is the fact that you have to take it home and bake it yourself, but that doesn't bother me. I like the fresh-warm-out-of-the-oven taste! It's just not a pizza for on-the-go or the really busy times in life. It also is a bit pricier than a lot of other chains, but I personally feel that "you get what you pay for". I also enjoy that they're always coming out with new and different food selections, but always keep the best sellers their buyers have come to love. I never feel like I have to worry about them not having my favorite combos.
#4 - Pieology
The trend of customized pizza places have died down, but one has always stuck out to me and has stuck around: Pieology! I love the choices of toppings and cheeses, and they never skimp. One of these popped up where close to my home about 7 years ago and it's always been a top fast food pizza for me ever since! Personally, I don't think any other "make your own pizza" shop compares to this one and I think that's why a lot of them haven't lastest over the years. I can and will eat the entire pie from this place by myself in one sitting, so you'll have to get your own!
#3 - Hungry Howie's
This selection might be a bit biased, because I grew up with this chain. This is literally my childhood pizzeria! What makes them one of the best chains around is their crust! It is so buttery and yummy! Hungry Howie's is a Michigan business and you can find them all over the state! They're well loved by Michiganders, but over the last 20 years they have spread over down through the east side of the USA and you can now find them in the occasional West Coast city. Besides their pizza, fans also love their Howie Bread!
#2 - iSlice
East Bay, California, CA, USA
I lived in California for over 5 years before I found decent pizza. Before iSlice moved into the Bay Area, I relied solely on chain pizza restaurants where I knew I could get a decent slice. Then along came iSlice and they brought the closest option I have yet to find for New York pizza on the West Coast!
#1 - Little Vincent's
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
It's really hard to find bad pizza in New York. I haven't found a place yet, but one pizzeria that really stands out to me is Little Vincent's in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY. Not only is the pizza good and they serve Pepsi (nothing is worse than having to wash down your pizza with Coke), but they have the Cold Slice. What is it? -This particular slice is made like a normal cheese pizza, except they pile the mozzarella cheese on after baking and serve the cheese cold! It reminds me of the pizza Lunchables I use to eat as a child and I love it! If you're looking for a good pizza place on Long Island, definitely check this one out!
#5 - Unos
Uno's is #5, because if I had to pick a chain pizza it would be Unos. They give you the most authentic slice. I've been to Italy, but they don't do pizza like America; they do flatbread, really. Pizza is an American product. So, Uno, to me, the best chain/fast food pizza. Not only that, but they have other good food there as well.
#4 - iSlice
East Bay, California, CA, USA
Living out here in Cali - there really is not a lot of great pizza restaurants that are like New York style pizza, but iSlice definitely hits it on the mark. Their cheese and pepperoni is just like what I would get back in New York, so I love it! The only thing that keeps them from being ranked higher is the fact that they call a pineapple pizza a "Long Island Pizza" and that's atrocious! Other, than that, I love it.
#3 - Famous Rays
NYC, NY, USA
I love Famous Rays in NYC! Famous Rays represents "New York City pizza" to me. Almost any pizza shop you go to in NYC you're going to get great pizza and you might ask yourself later, "What was the name of that shop?" -it doesn't matter! Almost everywhere you go in NYC you're going to get great pizza, unless you go into a pizza place by an outsider who just moved there and is trying to make money off of our staple. So, Famous Ramous Rays represents NYC pizza to me.
#2 - Bella Napoli
Suffolk, VA, USA
Bella Napoli is really good pizza! It's New York style pizza and it was really great to find that when I was living in Virginia. The best part about them is that they make an XL size, which is a 24 inch pie, and it's really rare to find a place that makes pizza that large.
#1 - Ginos
Manhasset, NY, USA
I had Gino's every day for lunch in high school growing up in Manhasset, New York. Once a student made it into 10th grade they could leave the school for lunch and Gino's was only a six minute walk. So, Gino's was everyday for me. Even on the weekends or after a party, everyone would go to Gino's. It's great pizza and the workers were really friendly. It's great pizza!
#5 - Millennium Pizza
Located in Inglewood, California: Cheap and delicious. I used to go to this pizza place all the time when I lived in the South Bay.
#4 - DiGiorno Croissant Pizza
Any Grocery Store: My secret addiction. The cheese one is too fire!
#3 - California Pizza Kitchen
BBQ Chicken Pizza, Everywhere: I'll buy the thin crust one from the grocery store when I'm hungry, but nothing beats this classic. I used to work for CPK in college and used to get this pizza all the time.
#2 - DeSano Pizza Bakery
Los Angeles, California: I don't eat pork or beef anymore, but the pepperoni + sausage at DeSano is unreal. The dough and fresh cheese, ambiance, this place is top tier!
#1 - Triple Beam Pizza
Los Angeles, California: This place cuts your pizza and weighs it! So many bomb flavors. There's always a line so be ready to wait!
All logos are copyright their respective companies and owners. Logos used are strictly for reference and have no monetary compensation or value. Images/pictures used are copyrighted to their owners and should not be used without the expressed permission of the owner. Images are used for reference only and are not being used for profit.
If you follow us on our Instagram account then you have already viewed our story on the upcoming collaboration by GLD and Marvel. If you're not following us, then I gotta ask: Why?, and also suggest you go over to our account a hit that follow button!
Now, You, might be asking: Who is GLD? -The GLD Shop self describes themselves as "Hip Hop Jewelry" and gained attention with people in the community such as Future, Snoop Dogg, and Wiz Khalifa sporting their merchandise. GLD currently has another partnership with the NBA and has gained a much wider audience from it. Most recently they were dubbed "the Nike of men's jewelry" by Forbes. Though it should be noted they do have women's jewelry for sale.
We're here to give you the scoop on their latest collaboration with Marvel! They currently have previewed 3 pieces of the collection: Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Captain America. We have officially PR images of the jewelry below-
The release date is not set, but it was stated they would release this sometime this month - May 2020. The price point will be between $79-$99 and it was stated by the company that they will be "affordable", as well as pieces made of "solid gold and precious stones".
We'd love to know which piece is your favorite and if you'll be picking any up. Leave your comments below! -Don't see your favorite? GLD currently has a selection of other characters you can vote for. The top 10 will be released first. Characters include: Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Gamora, Groot, Hulk, Hydra, Iron Man, Loki, Thanos, Thor, Venom, and Vision. Personally, we were hoping for a write in option so we could include characters like Miles Morales, Silk, Shuri, and Valkyrie. GLD is also having a giveaway for a solid gold Marvel pendant of your choice.
By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
We'll keep this review short and simple. Afronauts recently saw "The Angry Birds Movie 2" - they kept the title real simple - and we liked it better than the first! We think you should go see it and if you're an adult, you'll enjoy it, but if your still a child -maybe wait a few years. The movie was hilarious, but most of the humor is geared towards adults. Some of the scenes had us rolling with laughter, but afterwards we both commented on how they were "not for children". The movie doesn't quite reach Family Guy inappropriateness, but definitely borders the line and even crosses it at some point for what kids should and shouldn't see.
As for the actual plot, like the title- it was simple, yet effective. It should be noted that it is not necessary to see the first movie in the series in order to enjoy and follow along with this sequel; they do a good job and filling the audience in with what happened previously. The movie follows Red and his friends who team up with the Pigs from the first movie, to save both of their islands from a 3rd and mysterious ice island. We meet new characters, most notably, Silver (voiced by Rachel Bloom), who is Chuck's sister. The moral of the movie is about working together as a team and not being selfish, but they did a good job with showing plenty of each character and not just focusing on Red. In fact they did a great job of developing the female character in away society doesn't normally see. They also encouraged STEM education making it a good movie for pre-teens. There's even a secondary story line going on with the Hatchlings who are trying to recover some eggs. It is cute and eventually ties in with the main plot. We don't want to spoil anything, so just go see it! You'll be laughing and maybe even be inspired to become and engineer!
By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
As Marvel fans, of course, Afronauts jumped on to watch "Jessica Jones Season 3" on Netflix. This was not only the final season for the series, but also for all of the Marvel series on Netflix. Most of us know by now that Disney is launching their own subscription service on November-12 of this year, called: Disney Plus. The new subscription channel isn't just bringing us all of Disney and it's affiliates (i.e. Pixar) movies and content, but a bunch of new original shows as well. Most of the buzz is around the Marvel series that are linked directly to the movies and will star many of the actors from the theatrical releases, such as: Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), and Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier).
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT CONTINUE ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!
So, what about Jessica Jones 3? We really liked season 1, but felt season 2 was dragged out and pointless. Honestly, you don't even need to watch season 2 to follow season 3; the recap before you start #3 is enough and will save hours of your valuable time. Season 3 starts out with a lot of potential- The villain is quite clever; the series teases what could have been for the next Luke Cage season, had Disney not pulled the plug; Patricia "Patsy" Walker finally becomes Hellcat, although her Netflix version is very much different from her comic book version; and we're introduced to Erik Gelden, played by Benjamin Walker, and though he's also not like his comic book character, we liked the fresh take on a minor character.
Yet, the season finale finishes a bit weak. We garner that the writers were trying to set things up for the future and according to interviews, the Netflix Marvel team had no idea they were getting cancelled while they were in the process of making the last couple of series. So, to be fair, it wasn't a horrible ending given the circumstances. However, judging Season 3 on its own, we still have to say it could have been better. Things start to slide down hill for the show after they catch the villain, Gregory Salinger, played by Jeremy Bobb; It's at that point that Patricia starts her transformation as full blown Hellcat and it looks like they were trying to make her a villain. At least in this season she was. The direction they took Hellcat just seemed to be the wrong one. The series started to become a drama and pushed the "Patricia is wrong, Jessica is right" image. Netflix Marvel has always had this "discussion" and image of: What is right and wrong? How far is too far? To kill or not to kill? -We have no problem with that, but the way it was presented in this series finale was not believable with it's inconsistencies and hypocrisies.
Image used is for reference only and taken from Netflix in association with Marvel and Disney. Afronauts makes no claims to the creation or ownership.
By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
Agent Bunnie remembers seeing her first ever movie in theaters and it just so happens it was the original "Aladdin" animated feature by Disney! Jasmine became the "childhood princess" for her and Bunnie grew up collecting toys and dressing up as the iconic Arabian princess. So, when the live action version of Aladdin was announced by Disney, there was quite a bit of excitement here at Afronauts.
However, before Aladdin rolled out, Disney gave us live action versions of "Alice In Wonderland", "Sleeping Beauty" in the form of "Maleficent", "Cinderella", "The Junglebook", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Dumbo". The world has had plenty of opportunities to see Disney's vision of animation come to life and with the exception of Maleficent, these re-telling of the classic animations has Afronauts wondering: What is Disney's point in this trend? Besides trying to make money, obviously. Maleficent sticks out to us, because it's a movie that was quite different from the original Sleeping Beauty animation and is told from a completely different viewpoint; that of the villain. The rest of the movies, while little tweaks were made, it's primarily the same story that we've already taken in and there are some things that animation just simply does better than live action. In the live action Cinderella they had a ballroom dance scene with Cinderella and the Prince, but it definitely didn't capture the magic and serenity of the original animation and the same can be said for the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast or the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT CONTINUE ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!
With that said, we went into the theater to see Aladdin hoping for more then what Disney has given us previously with these live action movies. We can sum up our thoughts with: It's a good movie, but it's not great. Aladdin live action is still a re-telling of the animation, but it is nicely modified in its live action form. The musical scenes are not overly done and kept to a minimum, so as viewers we didn't feel overwhelmed or that feeling that it's not believable. The audience gets to see Jasmine as not just strong like in the animation, but also educated and smart. We even get more of the Genie character by Will Smith, as they seemed to have let him be more of a person than just Aladdin's sidekick in this version. Yet, when all is said and done, we left happy, but not overjoyed. Nothing new or innovative was given to us, and it was enough just for us to say- "At least they didn't ruin the story."
Disney will be releasing the live action Lion King and Maleficent later this year, and Mulan is set to be released in 2020 (if it doesn't get pushed back again). They also have 13 other titles in production set to come to theaters over the next handful of years; all of the live action films will be based on popular animations. We here at Afronauts hope they continue the Maleficent route with these films and would love to see less popular animated films get a re-do in live action, because if they're going to continue this trend they should be adding to the stories or making them better, and so far we're just seeing the same and it comes off very mediocre.
Overall Aladdin is a fun journey into one of our childhood classical storylands and in a Summer that isn't offering much other than sequels outside of Marvel's "Spiderman: Far From Home", it is worth seeing. Aladdin is still in theaters and doing well. It's set to be Will Smith's highest ever grossing film. It's a good movie for all ages and Will Smith will make you laugh, but don't go hoping for something better than the original.
Image used is for reference only and taken from Disney. Afronauts makes no claims to the creation or ownership.
Written By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT CONTINUE ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!
twoWe're going to keep this review short and simple. By now, just about every [adult] has gone to the theaters to see John Wick 3, and let's be honest- most of you didn't know it was called "Parabellum" until just now. Keanu Reeves has done an excellent job at making John Wick not only a memorable character, but also a name that we care only to hear when referencing this series. So much so, that everybody seems to only know this movie as "John Wick 3" and some even skip the number altogether!
Afronauts has watched the first 2 movies, and while we were impressed with the 1st one and we generally liked the 2nd, we were left wondering if they could even make a 3rd that lived up to the hype and improve the story already set in motion. While John Wick 3 has already grossed more than the first two movies and has set a 4th film in motion already, while receiving mostly positive reviews, we here at Afronauts were not thrilled with it. Everyone we have talked to loved this film and gave it praise; It is the general public we most closely give our attention to, but we just can't agree. - Why? - Overall, the film lacked a story line that improved the line of films and why make more if they're not going to add to something?
The movie follows John Wick, of course, but this time he's being hunted by everyone who wants a bounty in exchange for his life. The movie jumps right into action from the last one and you would think that would mean we're going to get to some really good material straight out the gate, but it never actually comes. John Wick eventually leaves NYC and meets up with Hallie Berry's character, and the entire scene with her could have been cut out and we would still have the same movie. Then he goes to the desert to find the man who is in charge of this whole assassin's organization. He loses a finger, but is told he can be reinstated simply by killing his friend and the man who put the bounty on his head in the first place, Winston. And we had to ask ourselves again, why was this in the movie? Seemed quite pointless.
So, we find John Wick back in NYC, but now Winston is in the same position as Mr.Wick and the two join forces to stand against the assassin guild known as the High Table. It's a shoot out, followed by a one-on-one, and then there's a bit of surprise when Winston turns on John to regain his position at the NYC Continental. It ends with the Bowery King, played by Laurence Fishbourne, who has also been exiled from the High Table, recovering John Wick and leaves us believing the two of them will join forces in the 4th installment.
We already felt the series slipping down slope in the second movie, and this one actually slid pretty far down. Even the secondary story line with The Adjudicator, played by Asia Kate Dillon, is flat. She goes around from place to place "punishing" anyone who helped John Wick or failed to kill him when they could have, even before he was announced "excommunicado", which is really just her slicing them a bit with a knife and/or removing them from the High Table and in the end she essential does nothing to end Mr.Wick. The antagonist in the second movie, Santino D'Antonio, was at least a badass who outsmarted John Wick in the end. The main adversary, Zero, in this movie has a good sense of humor, but overall comes up short and a bit cheesy. The hunter in the previous installment play by Ruby Rose and known as "Ares" was much more suspenseful and clever. To top it off, the bounty amount didn't even seem high enough for the supposed high stake situation.
The best of the movie can be summed up as: Artistic Fight Scenes. The choreography and action scenes are top notch and they definitely went all out and put their best efforts into giving us creative and in some parts even elegant action. We can't argue with the praise given for that. Yet, that's not enough for us here at Afronauts to give praise to this film as a whole.
Like we mentioned before, John Wick 4 has already been announced with a release date of May 21, 2021. Afronauts will probably see it, but we won't be in a rush. Let us know your thoughts on John Wick 3 and the series altogether! Are you excited for the next installment? John Wick 3 is still in theaters if you haven't watched it, but unless you like action we would suggest you skip it.
By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
Afronauts attended FanimeCon 2019 in San Jose, California during Memorial Weekend. This is a tradition for us here at Afronauts. 2019 marked the 25th anniversary for Fanime! We'd like to congratulate them!
This years Fanime seemed very relaxed and chill, but also less crowded then the last few years. There were 3 other big cons running the same weekend, so perhaps others decided to go to those ones instead, but it was noticeably quieter and easier to maneuver -we're not complaining about the extra space, by the way! We also noticed less independent dealers there this year in the Dealer's Hall, but much more food options! Food vendors was definitely a much needed improvement for Fanime and it seems like this year they really tried. The last couple of years they have hosted a Steampunk addition in which if you could buy tickets to separately or attend with a Fanime badge, but this year it seemed to be missing and instead they had many more video game competitions. There seemed to be more emphasis on panels for diversity and discussion on improving Anime and calling out the negative aspects on anime, which we appreciated seeing.
If you attended FanimeCon, we'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions! What did you love? What did you not like? What would you like to see in the future for FanimeCon? If you didn't attend FanimeCon, tell us why!
Below are some great cosplayers we found at the convention! If you know who they are or that's you, please let us know so we can credit them/you and if they/you have a link let us know and we'll be happy to let people know where they can find you!
We spotted this beautiful Tinkerbell cosplayer in Artist Alley and had to ask for a pictures! We love everything about her handmade outfit, down to the details on her shoes!
Agent Afornaut spotted a kick-ass Shuri cosplayer from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Artist Alley!
Agent Bunnie found a unique (Pokemon) Vaporeon cosplayer in Artist Alley! This Renaissance Eeveelution even had a complete Vaporeon tail!
This is definitely one of the best cosplays we've ever spotted! Strictly, because it's not a character we see people cosplay often. We're fans of Adventure Time though and this Banana Guard is a thumbs up in our book!
Another cosplay we don't see often: Snorlax from Pokemon! We spotted this sleepy giant on our way out of the con!
We hope you enjoyed this blog post and if you have your own blog post about FanimeCon then please leave your link in the comments so we can check it out! Make sure to follow Agent Afronaut & Agent Bunnie on Instagram for quick and instant updates while we're at cons and other major events! We most likely will be at Crunchyroll Expo in August, which is also held in San Jose, California! We hope to see you there!
By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
We here at Afronauts are big fans of the mobile app: Pokemon Go. Honestly, we really weren't that into Pokemon until the app came out, but we have enjoyed it since the initial release and that has introduced us to the world of pocket monsters! Since playing the game we have really gotten to know the 'Mons and it was necessary to be successful in the game.
So, of course, upon hearing about the movie, "Detective Pikachu", we were definitely excited and anticipating the movie! We had a few doubts to be honest:
-How would it turnout with Ryan Reynold's voicing Pikachu?
-Would it be a cheesy rendition of the original animated movies?
-Which Pokemon would be involved? Typical and popular ones, or unique ones?
-How would they portray the Pokemon in our reality?
WARNING! READING ANY FURTHER WILL HAVE SPOILERS! DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS! - WE DO RECOMMEND SEEING THE FILM!
Official synopsis released by Warner Brothers:
The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry's former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City - a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world - they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
The movie eased a lot of our questions in a good way, but lacked in the creative side and thus made it really hard to have a movie we could believe in and get behind completely. Ryan Reynold's as Pikachu was good. Probably not his best role, but he did a great job at making us laugh and keeping up with the humor that was inserted throughout the movie. Was the humor cheesy and at times a bit predictable? -yes, but it was still cute and nothing profane. This was definitely a family-friendly movie. The audience was treated to a variety of Pokemon, including ones that aren't often featured such as Ludicolo, Snubbull, Licktung, and Psyduck. Psyduck really had a big role in the movie! In fact, Psyduck is responsible for much of the movie's jokes and even saves the day at one point! The movie also quickly answered how Pokemon and people came to live together in Ryme City; thanks to Howard Clifford who was able to create a place where both humans and Pokemon could co-exist. The movie does move swiftly from beginning to end, which was nice. Nothing felt rushed, but we get the point and to the end without having to suffer from over-explanations and empty scenes,
The aspect that we were concerned about - Would it be a cheesy rendition of the original animated movies? - can be answered with a: No, it was not. However! It wasn't completely without holes either. It was nice that the movie played off of the first ever animated movie to be in theaters, also known as "Pokemon The First Movie". We see that they have recaptured Mewtwo and it was Tim's dad Harry who was trying to help Mewtwo. Yet the movie lacked in a good ending to our big showdown and concluded rather cheaply. Our biggest issue with the movie was trying to really get behind it as a story. As Agent Afronaut says, "sometimes you just gotta hit the I Believe button", but even this movie has our buttons stumped. There are plenty of diehard Pokemon fans who have already written articles bashing the movie with lists of "why [insert situation] can't happen", and while we may not be professional Pokemon experts, we still were left baffled by a few things. Like, how did Lucy, Tim, and their Pokemon survive the Torterra forest? Not only was it phsyically impossible, but somehow Pikachu was the only one who truly was hurt from the shifting land and these 2 city folks did not seemed equipped or trained to be able to survive any of that. As mentioned before, there were some other holes in the story too, like how conveniently Mewtwo was able to just fix the whole city and separate the humans from their Pokemon, yet the R that was made from his own DNA actually did effect him, so how did that exactly work? Just try to hit your believe button, I guess.
With all that said, we still think you should see the movie! Why? Well, besides it being a family movie, which are far and few between these days, the movie also delivers in an unexpected way!
If you're looking for a good time, whether you're a Pokemon fan or not, you'll enjoy this movie and we think you should see it! It's a good movie and rises above the normal genre of youth movies. Just have your Believe Buttons ready, and if it gets stuck or you find it hard to press in a couple of scenes, we understand, but it's nothing you can't move on from.
By: Agent Bunnie
Fathom Events hosted a special 2-day only screening of the anime movie: "Okko's Inn" in select theaters on April 22nd & 23rd. While Agent Afronaut was away in NYC, NY representing our parent organization, EDFU, I - Agent Bunnie - decided to venture out and see what this was all about.
Photo By Agent Bunnie taken at the Veranda Luxe Cinema.
Okko's Inn is not a new anime, but still fairly new that you may not have heard of it or watched it yet. I hadn't caught wind of it before going to the theaters to see it this April. It was initially released in June of 2018, so it's April theater debut was less than a year later here in America. It is based off of a series of books by Hiroko Reijo, who is a Japanese author. These books are not readily available in America, by the way. Before this movie was released, a manga series and a TV series followed -both of which I could not find in the America.
Synopsis (officially released by GKIDS):
After losing her parents in a car accident, Okko goes to live in the countryside with her grandmother, who runs a traditional Japanese inn built on top of an ancient spring said to have healing waters. While she goes about her chores and prepares to become the inn’s next caretaker, Okko discovers there are spirits who live there that only she can see – not scary ones, but welcoming ghosts who keep her company, play games and help her navigate her new environment. The inn’s motto is that it welcomes all and will reject none, and this is soon put to the test as a string of new guests challenge Okko’s ability to be a gracious host.
The latest feature from famed anime studio Madhouse and director Kitaro Kosaka, who was a key animator on numerous classic films at the venerable Studio Ghibli, seamlessly blends immersive, idyllic landscapes with the storybook charm of Okko’s beloved ghosts. Okko’s Inn delivers a rare ghost story that is firmly grounded in the trials and joys of humanity.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO COME INTO CONTACT WITH SPOILERS!
Official movie poster provided by GKID Films. Use is for information and entertainment only.
Given the brief description that you read above, I was a bit skeptical about this movie before going. So much so, that I read quite a few reviews of the movie before going. Most of the reviews gave it a fair rating at best, with the majority giving it a thumbs down -and that was almost enough to persuade me to stay at home and wait until it was shown at a fan con. Yet, something deep in me told me that I may get something out this movie if I'd just take the time to watch it and when the time came to go to the movie and I didn't have anything to do, I decided to go! And I'm really glad I did! - Oh, and I'll touch on those reviewer's criticisms later on.
The presentation from Fathom started out with a very candid intro from the director, which I found to be very personable and insightful. Kitaro Kosaka told his vision and direction of the film, as well as how it personally related to him.
I'd like to start the actual review by saying that I went on the day that the movie was shown in "dub" or the edition that had been re-voiced by English actors. One big criticism I had read about the film was that the English-dub was horrible and I will say it is not great, and in some parts it will make you cringe. The movie is much more than just simply about a little girl who loses her parents and then grieves, and that had me pleasantly surprised, but also very appreciative. It also emphasized how annoying the English version had been watered down, and that is all too common for Anime brought to America and it needs to stop. American markets want to push a "kids-only" label on this genre and many of these Anime stories are so intricate and deep. The theater I went to had mostly children and by the end of the movie, most of them were zoned out or crawling around on the floor. Anime is definitely not just cartoons.
Okko loses her parents very early in the movie, so the majority of the movie is about her living with her grandmother and adjusting to her new life. We quickly are introduced to the typical city girl that Tokyo-rasied Okko is and it takes her quite some time to adjust to the country-life. We also have the modern versus traditional ways thrown in here, as her grandmother dresses and operates in a traditional Japanese etiquette, but Okko has been raised and living in modern society. It was a predictable outline, but it was nice to see how Okko blended it all together and learned how to use city smarts with traditional practices to not only help customers and also grow as a person. I had read that the original author of the books did a lot of research and interviews when writing this book to really capture the ways of the original inns in Japan, and I feel it was really shown through this adaptation by Kitaro Kosaka.
The ghosts or spirits that Okko can see are limited. The summaries about the movie that I read made it seem like it was going to be a full on haunted house, but really it's just 2 ghosts and then a demon. One ghost is a boy named Uribo who has an attachment to her grandmother, because they were childhood friends. Uribo is still a boy, because his death came during childhood. The other is a little girl named Miyo that Okko sees at school when she has a confrontation with the school bully Matsuki Akino, aka Frilly Pink. It turns out that Miyo is actually the older sister of Matsuki and died before Matsuki was born. The demon comes into the story when Okko finds a bell and releases the demon who has been trapped inside. The take on the demon, who's name is Suzuki, was refreshing. In Western Culture we typically see demons as evil and malevolent, but the original Greek origin of the word literally just seems "spirit" and it wasn't until the anti-Pagan movement that the word "demon" had negative connotations attached to. Suzuki is definitely mischievous, but he means no harm and tries to do better when Okko requests so. Furthermore, he is used as a bridge between our world and the Spirit World. As the film progresses, Okko becomes happier and confident and the more she does the harder it is for her to be able to see and hear Uribo and Miyo. At one point, Okko feels so alone, because she cannot hear or see her ghost friends.
The climax comes at the end when Okko finally grieves. Her connection to the Spirit World help to shield her from this process until her job and the accident come together and she's forced to confront what happened; the man who crashed into her parents car and killed them is a man that she has worked diligently to please at the inn. It's and this breaking point that we see just how much Okko has grown and learned from her time at her grandmother's inn and her role as junior innkeeper, and she grieves in that moment and her parents assure her that she's alright and she can let them go.
I feel this is a good family movie and a movie for all ages, though the deeper meanings and more mature topics may be lost on young children. The movie will be appreciated more by those who have lost someone close to them. The negative reviews comparing this to Casper The Ghost and the likes were clearly people who don't understand the Anime genre and who went into the viewing with a limited mind. This is not your typical ghost story and it's really not about ghosts. The other most noted complaint I read about the movie were that Okko's actions and reactions didn't seem fitting for her age, but having experienced my own mother's passing a few years ago and watching our family of all ages have to deal with it too, I can tell you that I learned very well that everybody deals with death differently and everybody grieves differently, should they choose to grieve, because not everyone does. Lastly, for those who bashed this movie artistically, I would say that they were mostly missing the art of the storytelling which is done beautifully here. The movie comes full circle at the end, with Okko being able to accept the loss of her parents and is also able to assure the spirits that they can move on too, because Uribo knows now that Okko is there to help her grandmother and Okko is able to bridge Miyo with Matsuki. The same dance ceremony you see in the opening that she first sees with her parents, is the one that Okko performs herself along with Matsuki who has come to respect Okko now, and the spirits are there with her to assure they will see her again when they are reborn. Throughout the movie you see many people dealing with loss in many ways, from death to break-ups, and Okko is there learning from it all and if you let go of preconceived notions let the story guide you through, then you may learn too. If nothing else, you'll find comfort from it.
The movie isn't available for purchase yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon and it will be released July-2,2019. Some major retailers like Target and Best Buy are selling the movie too. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy!
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Afronauts is a collective dedicated to bringing exposure to and understanding of Indigenous Futurism in all its forms.