Monday, August 18, 2008

5 Manga Movies We Want to See After Akira Blows Everyone's Mind

Just a temporal hop, skip and a jump away is 2009's live-action big screen version of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, but if the American adaptation of the manga/anime phenomenon that launched a thousand otaku is a smash success, what treasured classics of Japanese culture will Hollywood choose to to adapt next? Below the jump, we put on our robe and cultural raider hat and pick five golden temples of science-fiction manga and anime for studios to pillage and plunder.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Well, yeah. Big ass robots are pretty much a given, what with the success of Transformers. And while the mecha of SDMF don't transform into cool cars or panty vending machines, they have a secret weapon in the battle for big money franchises: this epic tale of war between humanity and an alien race was adapted as the first segment of the Robotech cartoon. That series, which ran in the U.S. in 1985, gave many Americans their first crucial taste of anime action filtered through a sweeping storyline. As if that wasn't enough, Super Dimension Fortress Macross features a love triangle between two military officers and a pop idol, enough twists and turns to put Battlestar Galactica to shame, and characters with big, big hair. Like, "hey, I could skydive onto that," big. Once he's through having his way with Watchmen, we want to see Zack Snyder take Super Dimension Fortress Macross and make it the big screen franchise of cheesy awesomeness most of us have been waiting for without even knowing it.

Parasyte: Hitoshi Iwaaki's manga is the strangely satisfying marriage of Spider-Man and Invasion of the Body Snatchers: a failed attempt by an alien invader to take over the brain of Shinichi Izumi has left it in control of his right hand, and teen and alien must form an uneasy alliance to avoid being found out by Shinichi's culture or killed by the aliens that have infiltrated it. Blending paranoia, frenzied fight scenes, and meditations on what it means to be human, Parasyte takes the most painful subtext of puberty—that your body has become something strange and not quite in your control, and now you're an outsider as a result—and serves it up as delicious, delicious crazy. (No wonder Del Rey's current adaptation is the second time the series has been brought to the USA.) Rumors abound that Jim Henson's studio and producer Don Murphy are already working to bring it to the big screen, but screw that noise: let Peter Jackson get his hands on the material, and make it as a bloody bookend to his adaptation of Alice Sebold's The Lonely Bones (and a loose companion piece to his classic Braindead (or Dead-Alive, as it's known over here)).

FLCL: An Original Video Animation (OVA) from 2000, FLCL has a lot in common with Akira: you've got people hollering and jumping off motorized two wheelers while strange growths shoot out of the foreheads of pained adolescents. But whereas Akira takes creator Katsuhiro Otomo's memories of growing up during the turbulent period of 1960s Japan and transmutes it into a serious sci-fi epic, FLCL stems from the shock contemporary culture can bring to a lonely kid growing up in a small town, whipping the story into a wild-eyed froth of rampaging robots, crazy vespa-riding women, and bass guitar centered fight scenes. Benjamin Button, Shmenjamin Shmutton: we want to see David Fincher in full-on Fight Club mode try to match the brio of this series' animated anarchy.

20th Century Boys: The toast of scanlators worldwide and a huge hit in its native Japan, 20th Century Boys is the most ambitious work Naoki Urasawa has undertaken, spanning more than forty years, dozens of characters, and twenty-two collected volumes. (His previous work, Monster, was no slouch either—a crime thriller set in Eastern Germany that reads like a cross between The Fugitive and Silence of the Lambs, Monster ran for six years and was collected in eighteen volumes.) While 20th Century Boys takes its name from a T. Rex song, its hook seems like a Stephen King novel on steroids: a group of old friends in the '90s try to figure out the link between a destructive cult leader and their forgotten childhood fantasies. Meanwhen, in 2014, a young woman tries to figure out what happened to them. While Lar von Trier has the chops to keep so many characters and so many stories moving along, he lacks the warmth and affection Urasawa brings to his characters. Let Best of Youth's Marco Tullio Giordana give it a shot—his five hour epic from 2003 covers a similarly vast swath of time.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Finally, if Hollywood is crazy enough to tackle such a groundbreaking classic as Akira, why not let it try other works of manga that've had an indisputable impact on the medium? Hayao Miyazaki may rule the world of Japanese animation now, but his anime adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, his own manga, was only able to cover approximately the first quarter of his tale. As long as Hollywood wants to bite off more than it can chew (for the profit to be garnered by pre-chewing material for the masses), why not have it mount a Lord of the Rings style cycle, covering the entire tale of a princess's adventures a thousand years after our modern-day civilization has destroyed itself. Epic battles, environmentalism, more opportunities for CGI than you can shake a fistful of sticks at—they'll eat up Nausicaä in the cineplexes, particularly if you get Alfonso Cuarón on board. Having directed such diverse work as Chldren of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Y Tu Mama Tambien, Cuarón's got the right amount of razzle-dazzle, hippie-dude humanism, and child-eyed wonder. To the extent such a thing can (or should be) attempted, Cuarón is the one to do it.

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Survey Shows TV Is Still Main News Source

Fewer Americans are reading newspapers -- they are getting their news online instead -- but television remains the leading source of news in the country, according to the Pew Research Center's biannual survey on news-consumption habits.

Younger people tend to get more of their news on the Internet, while older people use traditional media such as television and newspapers, said the survey, released Sunday.

Pew said the results show an increasing shift toward online news consumption, but that there is now a sizable group of more engaged, sophisticated and well-off people that use both traditional and online sources to get news.

The Pew researchers referred to these people as integrators, and say they account for 23% of those surveyed, spending the most time with the news on a typical day.

"Like Web-oriented news consumers, integrators are affluent and highly educated. However, they are older, on average, than those who consider the Internet their main source of news," the survey said.

Pew found that 46% of those polled have a "heavy reliance" on TV for news at all times of the day. This group is the oldest, with a median age of 52.

The group that relies most on the Internet for news is the youngest, at a median age of 35. It is also the smallest, at 13% of those polled. Fewer than half of them watch TV news on a regular basis. Eighty percent of this group has a college education and they are twice as likely to read an online newspaper as a printed version.

Pew found consumers of online news tend to be more educated than those who get their news from traditional sources, with 44% of college graduates saying they read news online every day. Just 11% of those who topped out with a high-school education go online for news.

The survey polled 3,615 people 18 years old or older by telephone from April 30 to June 1, and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press

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Holy Catchphrase, Batman: 16 Famous Catchphrases in TV History

Every TV show wants one, but few achieve it: a catchphrase. The best ones not only propel their show into the limelight, but eventually take a life of their own, sometimes getting into the dictionary, sometimes even electing a president. Here are the stories behind some of TV's most famous catchphrases:


From: The Simpsons (1989- )

Here's the Story: Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, came up with Homer's signature line himself. "It was written into the script as a 'frustrated grunt,'" he explains, "And I thought of that old Laurel and Hardy character who had a grunt like 'D'owww.' Matt Groening (Simpsons creator) said 'Great, but shorten it.' ... No one thought it would become a catchphrase."

But it did - in a big way. The sitcom is seen by more than 60 million people in more than 60 countries. In 2001, "D'oh!" earned a spot in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Holy ______, Batman!

From: Batman (1966-68)

Here's the Story: Uttered by Robin (Burt Ward) whenever he was dumbfounded, this silly phrase helped make the show a hit ... and also led to its demise. During the first season, which aired two nights a week, Batman was fresh. ABC quickly realized that one of the things viewers loved was Robin's quirky lines, so they milked it for all it was worth. But by the end of the second season, the plots were all recycled and the "Holy whatever, Batman!" had lost its impact. It didn't do much for Burt Ward's career either; he was never able to get past the Boy Wonder image.

In the 1995 film Batman Forever, Chris O'Donnell's Robin gave a nod to this famous catchphrase in the following exchange with Val Kilmer's Batman: "Holy rusted metal, Batman!" exclaims Robin. "Huh?" asks Batman. "The island," explains Robin, "it's made out of rusted metal ... and holey ... you know." "Oh," says Batman dryly.

What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?

The awesomeness that is Gary Coleman: [YouTube clip]

From: Diff'rent Strokes (1978-86)

Here's the Story: Gary Coleman's snub-nosed delivery helped keep Diff'rent Strokes going for eight years. After the show's demise, the struggling Coleman began using it at public appearances and in TV cameos to help keep his career afloat. But in recent years he's grown so sick of the line - and the TV business in general - that he's vowed never to say it again.

Sock it to me!

From the end of the show: [YouTube Link]

From: Laugh-In (1968-73)

Here's the Story: The phrase came from pop music (Aretha Franklin's Respect). But the popular variety show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In turned it into a mindless slapstick sketch ... and repeated it week after week. Here's how it worked: An unsuspecting person (usually Judy Carne) would be tricked into saying "Sock it to me!" Then he or she was either hit by pies, drenched with water, or dropped through a trap door. Viewers loved it; they knew what was coming every time, and they still loved it. It quickly became an "in" thing to get socked.

This catchphrase was more than popular - it may have altered history: On September 16, 1968, presidential candidate Richard Nixon appeared on the show. HE was set up in the standard fashion but surprised everyone by changing the command into a question: "Sock it to ME?" It did wonders for Nixon's staid, humorless image, and may have helped propel him into the Oval Office.

Beam me up, Scotty

From: Star Trek (1966-69)

Here's the Story: Although Captain Kirk (William Shatner) never actually said this exact phrase (the closest version he came was on the Star Trek animated series: "Beam us up, Scotty"), it has somehow been transported everywhere - feature films, advertisements, and even bumper stickers ("Beam me up, Scotty - there's no intelligent life down here") Sometimes it even finds its way into the news: when 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide in 1997, expecting to leave their bodies and join with a spaceship, the press dubbed them the "Beam Me Up Scotty" cult.


Fonzie "jumping the shark" [YouTube Link]

From: Happy Days (1974-84)

Here's the Story: Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) was not originally intended to be the "cool" character; Potsie was. The Fonz was added as a "bad influence" to give the show more of an edge. But Winkler's hip-yet-sensitive portrayal, along with his trademark leather jacket, thumbs up, and "Ayyyyy" had such screen presence that ABC started working him into more and more storylines, making sure he got at least one "Ayyyyy" in each episode. By 1977 Winkler's billing had gone from closing credits to fifth, and finally to second. When Ron Howard left the show in 1980, Winkler was given top billing. ABC almost retitled the show Fonzie's Happy Days.

Blast From the Past: Check out the scene in Pulp Fiction where the hit-man Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) is trying to calm down the diner robbers he's terrorizing: "Let's all be good little Fonzies. And what was Fonzie like?" he asks. One of them sheepishly answers, "Coo-ol." "Correctamundo!" says Jackson.

Two thumbs up

How do they get along behind the scenes? Here's Siskel and Ebert uncensored: [YouTube Link]

From: Sneak Previews (1975-80), renamed At the Movies (1980-)

Here's the Story: "Thumbs up" has been a symbol of approval since Roman times. But "two thumbs up" means a whole lot more to the movie industry. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, film critics for rival Chicago newspapers, worked together for 24 years before Siskel's death in 1999. Their opposite tastes in movies assured moviegoers that if both of these guys liked the movie, chances are you would too. Filmmakers also took note of the growing popularity of the phrase; they watched the show each week, hoping their latest project would get two thumbs up. If so, it was plastered all over movie ads. Why? Because "two thumbs up" means big box office. If not ... well, have you ever seen a movie advertised that got "one thumb up"?

De plane! De plane!

From: Fantasy Island (1978-84)

Here's the Story: At the beginning of each episode, the vertically-challenged Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) shouted this phrase to alert his boss, Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), that "de plane" was coming. The phrase did so much for Fantasy Island that in 1983 Villechaize asked for the same salary as Montalban. Instead, he was fired. Ratings dropped off dramatically and the show was cancelled after the following season. In 1992 Villechaize turned up in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial asking for "De plain! De plain!" donuts.

Resistance is futile

We all know the Borg from Star Trek, so here's Bill Gates as a Borg instead: [YouTube Link]

From: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94)
Here's the Story: This line actually made its television debut on the British TV serial Dr. Who. Its more recent use by the Borg, aliens out to assimilate humans, made it a household phrase. It has even became a response to the growing power of corporations and governments. A political cartoon in the late 1990s showed a Borged-out Bill Gates declaring, "We are Microsoft. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." And now a new bumper sticker is showing up that says, "Resistance is not futile."

Book 'em, Danno!

From: Hawaii Five-O (1968-80)

Here's the Story: Even though Hawaii Five-O ran for 12 years, more people today remember this catchphrase than the show itself. When he caught the bad guy, detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) would smugly utter this line to his assistant Danny "Danno" Williams (James MacArthur).

To say the catchphrase is part of pop culture is an understatement: a 2002 Internet search found more than 1,000 entries for "Book 'em, Danno!"

Yadda Yadda Yadda

From: Seinfeld (1990-98)

Here's the Story: The phrase has been around since the 1940s; but then it showed up on Seinfeld in the 1990s and yadda yadda yadda, now it's in the dictionary.

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Here's the commercial featuring Mrs. Fletcher's famous catchphrase: [YouTube Link]

From: TV commercials selling LifeCall personal emergency response system in the 1980s.

Here's the Story: Advertisers also try to come up with catchy catchphrases (remember the "Where's the beef?" lady from the Wendy's ads?) The "I've fallen ..." plea, however, was never intended to be catchy - or funny. But somehow it outlasted the company that advertised it (bankrupt) and the woman who said it (died). More than a decade after its debut, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" is still being used by comedians from Jay Leno to Carrot Top.

Oh my God, They Killed Kenny!

From: South Park (1997- )

Here's the Story: A bigger part of what made South Park a hit was the tasteless but innovative routine of killing off the same character in nearly every episode. Asked why, the show's creator Trey Parker and Matt Stone admitted, "We just like to kill him ... And we really like the line 'Oh my God, they killed Kenny!'" A few years later, Stone retracted: "We got sick of figuring out ways to kill him ... It was funny the first 38 or 40 times we did it. Then it turned into, 'OK, how can we kill him now?'" So in December 2001 they killed Kenny for good ... but the phrase lives on.


From: The Flintstones (1960-66)

Here's the Story: Just like Homer's "D'oh!" this one came from the man who voiced the character, Alan Reed. Flintstones co-creator Joe Barbera tells the story: "In a recording session, Alan said, 'Hey Joe, where it says "yahoo," can I say "yabba-dabba-doo?"' I said yeah. God knows where he got it, but it was one of those terrific phrases." Reed later said that it came from his mother, who used to say, "A little dab'll do ya."

Just The Facts, Ma'am

From: Dragnet (1952-59/1967-70)

Here's the Story: Sergeant Joe Friday's (Jack Webb) deadpan delivery made this statement famous ... sort of. He actually never said it. Friday's line was "All we want are the facts, Ma'am." Satirist Stan Freberg spoofed the popular show on a 1953 record called "St. George and the Dragonet," which featured the line: "I just want to get the facts, Ma'am." The record sold more than two million copies, and Freberg's line - not Webb's - became synonymous with the show. According to Freberg: "Jack Webb told me, 'Thanks for pushing us into the number one spot,' because after my record came out, within three weeks, he was number one."

Let's get ready to ... (something that rhymes with 'mumble' but starts with an 'R').

From: Sports announcer Michael Buffer

Here's the Story: This one wins out over many other famous TV sports sayings because of the controversy it created. After hearing others imitating his famous battle cry, Michael Buffer and his brother Bruce decided to trademark it, a decision that made them both millionaires. Michael now charges $15,000 to $30,000 just to show up, say it, and leave. But if you feel like yelling the "rumble" phrase out loud, do it quietly; the Buffer brothers will sue the pants off of you if you say it at an event without paying them. (They even sued Ollie North.) Why such big safeguards on such a trite saying? "It's probably the most famous phrase said by a human being in history," Michael explains.

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader.

Where else but in a Bathroom Reader could you learn how the banana peel changed history, how to predict the future by rolling the dice, how the Jivaro tribes shrunk heads, and the science behind love at first sight? Get ready to be thoroughly entertained while occupied on the throne. Uncle John rules the world of information and humor. It's simply Ahh-Inspiring!

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.

If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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Pandora On the Verge of Closing Shop

Written by Corvida

Pandora is an internet radio service that allows you to create your own radio station based on songs and artists that you like. While you can't necessarily pick and choose what you'll hear on the service, you can fine-tune your radio station's tastes by giving the songs that Pandora recommends a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Pandora on the iPhone is one of the best applications for streaming music and finding new tunes. So, what will the service's 1 million plus users do if Pandora pulls its own plug?

The Battle of Music

Founder Tim Westergren has stated that the service is approaching a "pull-the-plug kind of decision" for the service. Why is this happening? Last year, web radio giants were hit with outrageously ridiculous fees by a federal panel for every song that would be played on their stations. This caused a lot of services to either shutdown, or go through what Pandora has been experiencing for the past year. In doing so, it seems the financial problems the music industry has set out to create in order to win the constant battle between rights, piracy, and copyrighted music, are working.

Last Stand, Last Chance

Pandora's founder is waiting for a ray of light in a fight being led by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.). Berman is attempting to arrange a few last-minute deals between web radio stations and SoundExchange, the organization that represents artists and record companies that would reduce the the recent fees. However, Westergren isn't going to hold his breath for too long, stating that, "The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money." We don't blame you Tim.

What Will You Do?

There are plenty of petitions floating around the web to help the cause, but the law is the law and petitions may not help matters in this situation. We'd be saddened to see Pandora close its doors. While services like Last.FM aren't showing any of the same signs, we wonder if the same fate may be in the not-so-distant future for our other favorite music services. If it is, what will you do?

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30 Seconds to Mars Owes $30 Million to Virgin?

By Scott Thill

It's probably not as painful as having his arm chopped off in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, but it's still going to hurt. Because Virgin Records wants an arm and a leg from actor Jared Leto and his band 30 Seconds to Mars, for failure to deliver a new record on time. That's a seriously hefty parking ticket.

According to the Associated Press, Virgin sued Leto and crew on Friday for what can only be described as a cheeky number. $30 million from 30 Seconds? Classy.

The details of the band's tardiness have yet to be explained, but its past performance so far has been above-average for a major-label rock band with a movie star at the helm. Sure, its 2002 self-titled debut only sold 100,000 copies, but it's 2005 effort A Beautiful Lie went platinum, and the band was nominated for the usual MTV awards given to paparazzi rock.

After playing a steady stream of dates in 2007, 30 Seconds to Mars has reportedly been at work on the new effort, but evidently it's not moving fast enough for Virgin. Maybe it should book some time on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to speed things up? Probably won't make a difference: 30 Seconds to Mars is likely another casualty in the massive cost-saving merger with Capitol Records executed by EMI, whose major restructuring in 2007 was aimed at saving hundreds of millions a year.

Looks like we know where they're going to get $30 million of it.

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"Dark Knight" second-highest grossing movie of all time in N. America

Warner Bros' latest Batman movie is expected to become the second-highest grossing movie of all time in North America Saturday, a box office tracking firm predicts.

"The Dark Knight," the sixth installment of the comic book adaptation franchise released one month ago in U.S. and Canadian theaters, will zip past "Star Wars" at some point in the day, according to the Los Angeles-based firm Media By Number.

The film will eclipse the 461 million U.S. dollars earned by the George Lucas film at box offices since it was released in 1977,and re-released several times since then.

"The Dark Knight" moved into third place when it overtook "Shrek" and its 436.5 million dollars in receipts, and "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" with its 434.9 million dollars, earlier this month.

The highest-grossing movie of all time in North America, "Titanic," had a take of nearly 601 million dollars in the years after its release in 1997. It is also No.1 globally with a worldwide gross of 1.84 billion dollars.

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