Today, we at Toy-TMA bid farewell to the fond memories of 2011 and look forward to a whole new year on the horizon. 2012, Year of Democratic elections, Disaster predictions, and the Dragon (gotta love the dragon). Will the year be dramatically dangerous, or disappointingly dismal? I don’t know. But in the mean time, it seems only fitting to begin our year with a list of New Year’s Resolutions. But instead of listing my personal goals and ambitions only to feel disappointed in myself at the end of the year, I am going to take certain people and companies in the entertainment industry (be it movies, TV, games, comics, etc.) and make the resolutions for them. That way, if any of these resolutions don’t pan out by the end of the year, I don’t have to blame myself. Just others for not listening to me.
Now to start this, we need a big fish to put on the hot seat, and I know just the one.
Disney: Bring Back Animation
Disney, I’m sure you’re having fun with all your Live Action Fairy Tale Remakes, Tron reboots, Pirates sequels, CGI Chihuahuas, and the fact that you get to call the biggest superhero film of the year one of your movies because you now own Marvel, apparently, but for the love of Fantasia stop killing the hearts of all the [now grown up]children that willingly gave you their hearts in the first place so that you could build your empire to what it is now! What hurt the most was how you tricked me into wholeheartedly believing you were finally back on track two years ago with The Princess and the Frog. I loved that film. And then you showed me a teaser for your next project, Repunzel, and it looked awesome. Then out of the blue, it turned into Tangled, a derivative wannabe-Dreamworks-film that wasn’t nearly as good as Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon, releasing earlier that same year. Then you sort of did try to make a comeback last summer, but it was in the form of a Winnie the Pooh revival, which you obviously didn’t intend anyone to see in the first place, seeing as you released it the same freakin’ weekend as the last freakin’ Harry Potter movie, as if you were too freakin’ embarrassed you made it in the first place so you didn’t bother giving it a release date where it could make so much as a splash of publicity.
To get to the point, Disney, return to form, and make us another hand-drawn animated hit already! I don’t care if The Princess and the Frog didn’t make as much money as you wanted it too. The people who saw it and liked it really really liked it, and if you kept up that throwback style in your recent films (i.e. kept Tangled’s original art concept, followed by another animated movie last year that WASN’T an old school revival and DEFINITELY NOT releasing side by side Harry Potter 8) more people would eventually have caught wind of the trend and these movies would be making so much more in the long run. Am I making any sense at all?
Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t force the only Computer Animation studio under your belt who knows what the Hades they’re doing to make sequels of their weakest movies just because they happen to be the most marketable.
Funimation: Bring One Piece Unto the People
You know what I’m sick of? That One Piece, the worldwide greatest and bestselling Anime of the current generation, isn’t even playing on any network, standard or cable, in American Television. Meanwhile you have shows like Naruto and Bleach, which do the exact same thing this show does but not as well (while replacing Pirates with Ninjas or Samurai Grim Reapers respectively), and they have 200+ episodes each fully available for instant stream on Netflix. WTF Funimation? You even have an entire cable network where all you show is Anime you licensed, yet you can’t find anywhere in your busy schedule of rerunning Samurai 7, Claymore, and Shikabane Hime over and over again to give One Piece one decent slot of the week? The only way Americans can watch One Piece legally now is by either scavenging for the very rare very expensive DVD collections, or through your website, which would be fine if you had every single current episode available, but you don’t because you only have a chunk of the beginning of the series, a chunk of the end of the series, with a ton of mid way sections simply not available, not to mention your online video player is of the lowest quality. I want to support this series properly, but I’m stuck having to pirate my anime about pirates from pirate torrents, whom, by the way, also happen to be infinitely better translators than you. [Pranger’s Note: Oh snaps! You just been told Funimation!]
Oh, what’s that? You guys finally got the license to dub Season 4? Awesome, now you’ll only be five seasons and 300 episodes behind the Japanese run of the show, congratulations. Of course, none of it will matter unless you make One Piece available stateside to begin with. Here are two simple things you can do: First, spare a single half-hour slot of the week on your TV network for the show, and not some throwaway one either but a good one, like Friday evenings. Second, put at least the first two seasons on Netflix for instant streaming. I want to recommend this show to people and give it more viewers, but I can’t because there is no accessible way to watch this show. Change that Funimation. I’m counting on you.
One more thing. While you guys are busy dubbing Season 4 as we speak (ideally), please please get new refreshing voice talent to play each of the CP9 agents. Seriously, these are some of the strongest and most iconic villains the Strawhat Pirates will ever face, and they deserve justice. I’m sick of hearing the same 20 voice actors you use for side characters being recycled over and over and over again.
Parker and Stone: More Musicals Please
Any of you seen The Book of Mormon yet? Of course you haven’t. It’s been sold out on Broadway every showing since its incarnation, though you may have heard the music and Holy Crap it may very well be the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. I already have a handful of Theatre friends agreeing to all go see the show together when it goes on tour.
The two people responsible for this divine piece of theatrical genius are none other than South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. How’s that for a twist? My hope is that with the success of The Book of Mormon, that they continue in this business a bit longer and make more awesome musicals.
A friend of mine recommended The Book of Scientology as a sequel, and if I wasn’t so fearful of their lives by doing so, I’d second that in a heartbeat. In reality, these guys have probably the biggest imaginations in the world, and if they can come up with another clever idea that wont earn them another hundred thousand death threats, I say go for it.
Sony Pictures: Show Me The Lizard
So far, all the buzz on this summer’s upcoming Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, has me, more or less, underwhelmed. I know Andrew Garfield is a good actor and was awesome in The Social Network, but I just can’t stand seeing Peter Parker with Edward Cullen’s hair style. It also doesn’t help that every shot we’ve seen him in so far he has the same dark emo look on his face like he constantly has a picture of dead puppies ingrained in his head. It’s not the silly campy kind of angst that we got from Toby Maguire’s performance either; it’s just dull and depressing.
Though after nitpicking it for several months now, I’m willing to withhold any more judgment until I see the final product. After all, this film will finally give us the movie debut of The Lizard, one of Spider-Man’s oldest and most iconic antagonists. I am very curious to see how they pull him off. My hope is that he looks like the lizard from the classic 90’s cartoon that wore the torn up white lab coat, had a seven foot long tail that that could smash stone walls, and where he could speak, but very little, and only to people close enough to him where his humanity is able to temporarily take control.
And unlike the photo above, I want to see a full-blown reptilian head. It’s not suppose to look remotely human.
Beenox: Make The Amazing Spider-Man game Amazing
Spider-Man movies are just about the only instance when I will get excited about movie-tie-in games these days. This is thanks mostly in part to Spider-Man 2 The Movie The Game becoming just about the best Comic Book Superhero Sandbox Game to date. (Before any of you start screaming how much better Batman Arkham City is, yes, I’ll admit it has better combat, story, voice acting, visuals, mission variety, combat again, and just about every other element, but when it comes to free roaming, Spidey’s web swinging still takes the cake.)
Spider-Man games these days are under the supervision of a somewhat newer development team called Beenox, and I just so happen to have played both their two latest Spider-Man games. While I did miss the open world aspect of the previous games, 2010’s Shattered Dimension was a ton of fun. Great level design, simple but intriguing story, awesome voice work, and I was into the combat. 2011’s Edge of Time however, not so much. Rule Number #1 of making Spider-Man games: DO NOT set an entire Spider-Man game in a single building where every room looks exactly the same and is connected with narrow hallways. That was a horrible idea.
The Amazing Spider-Man game, however, looks like a different story. Given the teaser trailer we received during the Award show a few weeks ago, it looks like a return to form, by which I mean open world Manhattan. Beenox already has a pretty decent combat system. All they really need to focus on is creating enough to do in the sandbox and giving us a good variety of villain characters we may not have seen yet. While not a ton of detail about the game has been released, one enemy they have shown are these massive mechanical spider bots, which immediately make me think of the Spider Slayers from the 90’s cartoon, so you’ve got my interest there. Make this one a winner Beenox. Please.
Microsoft/Rare: Make Banjo-Kazooie 3
Okay, by now you all know me. I’m the Sony guy, not a Microsoft guy. I do not own a 360. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want the company to do well. I wish I could say that there are things on the 360 I desperately wish I could play, but honestly, I can’t. I have no desire to try the Kinect, and I am more than content not playing the most recent Halo and Gears of War titles. Besides that, everything else the 360 has of value can also be found on the PS3.
And yet, Microsoft has probably my second favorite game developer under their belt, Rare Software. When they announced a brand new Banjo-Kazooie game back in 2008, that was probably as envious as I have ever gotten of people who own the console. Of course, said game turned out to be Nuts&Bolts, and that envy quickly faded away as I started playing through Little Big Planet. As of now, Microsoft has Rare working on Kinect Sports titles, which honestly I think is a waste of their talent. This is the company that almost single-handedly created the golden age of 3D Platforming two generations ago. Compare that to what they’re doing now and it’s embarrassing.
Yeah, that’s right, I WANT to be jealous of my friends who own 360’s. Rare, you have the power to do that. Go back to the drawing board, write off Nuts&Bolts as a non-cannon spinoff, and make Banjo-Kazooie 3 properly. If not that, than how about a sequel to Conker’s Bad Fur Day? Or even Kameo Elements of Power, you know that 360 launch game that no one remembers except me? I bet if you made a sequel and advertised it well enough, that would help the original sell better.
Nintendo/Retro: Make a Sequel to DK Country Returns
Speaking of Rare, the franchise that introduced me to the company was Donkey Kong Country, a trilogy of some of the best looking 2D platformers on the Super Nintendo. Unfortunately when Rare got bought by Microsoft ten years ago, the Nintendo owned franchise had been long abandoned. Then in 2010, it was picked up by Nintendo’s American company, Retro Studios, who gave us Donkey Kong Country Returns.
While I have my gripes about the plot (namely how the series’ central antagonists, the Kremlings, were completely absent), the game itself was a much welcomed treat. While it was an overall critical success, it wasn’t exactly the big holiday seller Nintendo was hoping for (debuting in 3rd place in Japan and 6th place in America). Despite that, I do hope Retro decides to stay with the franchise a bit longer. If they made a sequel with a much more in-depth plot that brought back the Kremlings and other side characters like Funky Kong, Candy Kong, and other classic animal characters besides just Rambi the Rhino, I’m sure it would do a ton better.
Currently, Retro Studios is working on a secret title for the Wii U that is, quote, “A project everyone wants us to do.” My best guess would be a statement like that most likely means it’s an HD Metroid Game, as it was the Prime Trilogy that made the company famous in the first place, and fans seem to generally like their work on the franchise. My hope, however, is that they really are sticking with DK for a while. Though I could be wrong on both counts.
Nickelodeon: Give Legend of Korra a freaking Release Date
We’re coming up to two years since the first announcement of The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra. The more I think about it, perhaps Mike and Bryan may have shown this ahead of schedule simply to wipe the bad taste the movie left in our mouths. (Yes, I am done trying to massage the idea that the movie wasn’t as bad as it really turned out to be, okay? Okay. Moving on.) While I definitely appreciate Nick releasing post finale comics while we wait (The Promise Part 1 comes out in February and Part 2 in June), and there was certainly a ton of information given on the series’ characters and plot threads in the last Comic Con, but they failed to give us that one thing we want more than any of that, which is a confirmation date.
Not long ago, there were some troubles with the opening segment of the show being leaked online, which the creators humbly requested to have taken off the fan sites. Normally I’d be on any leaked footage like a pack of rabid rabbitwolves (God knows I was during Book 3), but these days, I have learned to conserve my anticipation and wait for a proper reveal.
More than anything, I would choose being given a solid release date over any new footage during this years Comic Con. You know, because I got premiere parties to plan.
World: Don’t Die
Okay, so this technically doesn’t have anything to do with the entertainment industry, except for the fact that the media has had more than its fair share of fun poking at the 2012-Doomsday-Apocalypse-as-Predicted-by-the-Mayan-Prophecy marketing campaign. For those of you still thick enough to buy into this propaganda, please permit me to quote the following:
“The world is not coming to an end in 2012. The Mayan calendar does not have **** to say about 2012. It does not say the world is going to end. The Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar just sort of stops there. Other calendars from the same period and the same people have nothing of **** to say on the matter. It’s just bad new age numerology combined with a misreading of an old stone tablet.”
Dr. Punchy Wright____Idiotologist
And with that, I give the easiest resolution in my entire list: Planet Earth, do not die. When December 21st comes along this year, under no circumstances are you allowed to just start spontaneously combusting. In addition, for that one day, you are not allowed to have any encounters with asteroids, alien invasions, or nuclear wars. Don’t act like you have no effect on human behavior. You shape us more than you know.
But you know what, as important as it is for the planet to survive, it will mean absolutely nothing if a certain someone does not. And so for that, I have something even more important, and even easier, than the earth not dying, and that is…
Eiichiro Oda: Same thing
One Piece, the most popular manga in the world, has officially entered its 15th year of serialization, with a current count of 651 chapters. Oda sensei was a year younger than I am right now when he published Chapter one in 1997. That puts him roughly in his late 30’s now, which honestly isn’t that old at all. He could probably keep this up for another 15 years if he wants to, and whatever his further plans are, I wouldn’t stop him and make him go a quicker route even if I could.
The point is we are in an age where there are people passing away in Japan, and their tomb stones have written on them, “I wish I could have seen the ending of One Piece.” That alone is sad in more reasons than I care to count, but if Oda were the one to pass away, before any of us get to see Zoro surpass his rival and master Hawkeye, before Nami completes her map of the world, before Robin discovers the mystery behind the 100 year void in history, before Brook is reunited with Laboon, before Monkey D. Luffy defeats Blackbeard, finds One Piece, returns the straw hat back to Shanks, and finally becomes the King of the Pirates, THAT would indeed be the biggest tragedy to ever befall modern mythology.
I could continue to go on about the plot threads and loose ends I wish for Oda to cover over the next year, but at this point, I trust his judgment 100%. As long as he’s alive, both physically and motivationally, and keeps doing his job, (i.e. continues making One Piece, thus making me and millions of other fans across the globe happy in the process), then I’m happy. By the end of 2011, Oda managed to all but close up the Fishman Island Arc. With Luffy challenging Big Mam, one of the four Pirate Emperors, for the control of the undersea kingdom, it appears the journey across the New World has barely begun. The tide’s only gonna get rougher from here, so stay tuned.
And with that, I give you the 2012 New Years Resolutions that are too much awesome for their own good. Some may be a tall order, while others are practically no brainers, but I have high expectations for all of them, so off you all go. Your clock to reach these goals started… yesterday. Good luck.