Anime, video games and science fiction
Is it Friday again? Working on projects such as Poverty & the Environment and Mardi Grist sure make the time fly by. As Dave has been doing a good job blogging about some of the usual suspects, I’d like to turn your attention to the, um, unusual ones.
Lights, Camera, Anime!
For those you unfamiliar with anime’s popularity in the U.S., consider this from an August Wired article:
… there are more than 3,100 anime DVD titles on shelves. By title, they account for nearly 7 percent of all DVDs. In 2005 alone, 473 anime DVDs have been released from 20 different publishers.
Anime also continues to make inroads on the airwaves, both network and cable. Kids’ programs like One Piece and Shaman King are some of the most popular on Fox’s after-school toon lineup. And more grown-up fare like InuYasha fills out Cartoon Network’s highly rated, late-night Adult Swim programming block.
“Things have never been better for anime fans in America,” said John Ledford, president of Houston-based ADV Films, which published 189 anime DVDs last year. “No matter what channel you look at — retail, broadcast or theatrical — more anime is available in more outlets than ever before.”
Now, Emily Gertz and I have covered anime a few times here in Gristmill and I’ve been meaning to write about Arjuna, a Japanese animated television show that explicitly deals with environmental themes:
High school, archery club, and boys were the things that filled Juna’s daily life. But when an accident leaves her clinging tenuously between life and death, fate intervenes as she becomes the sole witness to scenes of Earth’s destruction along with humanity’s reckless pollution of the sky, the Earth, and water. It is here in which Juna is given a new chance at life and bestowed the powers of the Earth, a power she must wield in order to stop an evil bent on Earth’s destruction.
For parents with teens who won’t get away from the television, a show that deals with pollution, organic agriculture, and nuclear energy might be up your alley.
When I wrote about “serious games” back in November, and their possible applications for the environmental movement, I neglected to mention Food Force, which is now the most popular free game for download on Yahoo! according to Wired:
With no guns to fire and no cars to steal, you would think that Food Force wouldn’t be a very popular video game in today’s market. But after it launched on Yahoo Games last spring, it quickly became the most popular free game on the site, racking up 1 million downloads over the first two months.
Created by the United Nations World Food Programme, Food Force is made up of six stages, each one built around a certain aspect of the emergency food program’s operations.
While I haven’t played the game yet, I plan to soon as it a relatively small download and it only takes 30 minutes to play. If Gristmillers have played, please share your reactions in comments. And I would be particularly interested in any ideas for environmentally themed video games.
Update [2006-2-18 11:12:43 by Chris Schults]: I don’t know where I got the small download bit. The download is 227MB.
Even More Nerdy
I’m currently in the middle of, and thoroughly enjoying, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s sci-fi trilogy Forever Hero. As I’m a fan of the blockquote, here is the story synopsis:
Thousands of years in the future, Earth is a desolate ruin. The first human ship to return in millennia discovers an abandoned wasteland inhabited only by a few degenerate or mutated human outcasts. But among them is a boy of immense native intelligence and determination who is captured, taken in, and educated, and disappears — to grow up to become the force behind a plan to make Earth flower again. He is, if not immortal, at least very long-lived, and he plans to build an independent power base out in the galaxy and force the galactic empire to devote centuries and immense resources to the restoration of the ecology of Earth.
So how did Earth become a “desolate ruin”? Take one guess. Nothing like working at Grist all day to then ride the bus home to read about the future we’re fighting to prevent.
While Modesitt’s separate Ecolitan series doesn’t deal with environmental themes as overtly as Forever Hero (though one might think otherwise from the title), I still recommend it, along with Forever Hero, to any other fellow science fiction geeks.