Category Archives: Jessica Pahutski

History of Early Anime

by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Ever since the late 1990s, anime has been an international entertainment powerhouse. Older people can remember a time when titles like “Robotech” and “Star Blazers” graced TV screens in a heavily-edited and localized state. Going back even further brings beloved classics such as “Speed Racer” and an obscure theatrical release called “Magic Boy”. But what are the origins? Was there an “anime industry” before the 60s?
Records of foreign animations shown in Japan go back to about 1910. The first piece of Japanese animation is shrouded in mystery. Found with a collection of old projectors in 2005, “Katsudō Shashin” (“Moving Picture”) dates from at least 1912. Only 3 seconds in length, this stenciled work shows a boy writing the title in kanji right-to-left before removing his hat and bowing to the audience. No one knows who created it or why, with theories ranging from it being a fragment of a lost short to a company logo.
By 1917, the seeds of the industry had sprouted. Dozens of silent shorts were shown in theaters, such as the four-minute-long “Namakura Gatana” (“The Dull Sword”). Discovered in an antique shop 90 years after its creation, this used cutout animation (a relative of stop-motion) to tell of a samurai buying the titular blunt sword. Short subjects on folktales were also quite popular and numerous. Many of these early works were destroyed in the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, making “Namakura”’s survival nothing short of miraculous.
Sound film emerged in the West in 1927, with Japan catching up about four years later. “Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka” (“Within the World of Power and Women”), a short film of unknown length, was the first talkie anime ever made. Even though it had a star-studded cast of stage actors, no copy is known to exist. What we know of the plot is as follows: The main character is a man with an overbearing wife. He has an affair with a typist, which his spouse finds out about when he talks in his sleep. One member of Chikara to Onna’s animation team would go on to make another milestone motion picture.
Made in 1945 to boost morale in evacuated children, “Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei” (“Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors”) is thought to be the first feature-length anime film, clocking in at 74 minutes. A sequel to 1943’s “Momotaro’s Sea Eagles”, “Divine Sea Warriors” follows a group of anthropomorphic animal soldiers and their human commander as they take over a British-held island in the Pacific. Mitsuyo Seo, forced by the government to make propaganda, wanted to spread hope for peace once the fighting ended. The film, believed to have been lost or confiscated during postwar occupation, resurfaced in 1983 through a negative print.

Voice of the Outsider: Pokemon Sun

by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Coming home from school on Friday, November 18, I intended to play the heck out of my newly-delivered copy of Pokemon Moon after nearly a year of waiting. Opening the box, putting the cartridge into my old 3DS and discovering a new world. Choosing Rowlet to start with was a given as I had become obsessed with the thing for no apparent reason. The problem is I could not do so right off the bat. 20 minutes that felt like 40 passed before said selection happened. Little did I know this would only be a sign of things to come.
My neophobic side wanted to quit right after sitting through all that, but I kept at it, for about an hour before torching my save file and quarantining myself in a corner of woe. After my conscience gave me a pep talk before bed, I restarted the next morning. Such traditions and determination being broken would become a theme of the ordeal. When I had to experience the tutorial and cutscenes again, I started using a “refilling popcorn” joke and wrote a scathing poem about the wait time. Within two days, a shiny “Battle Royal Dome” came to my attention. Following the standard how-to fight, I tried going in again. To my shock, every AI had overleveled monsters and unobtainable items. Not surprisingly, I swore off doing that ever again after being slaughtered two or three times.
Despite what had happened so far, I loved some aspects. For example, nicknaming all of my main monsters after ragtime singers helped dull the pain. Some NPC designs had me going wild as well. A new feature entitled “Festival Plaza” started out great until I realized some of its mechanics were game-breaking or just plain stupid. However, another addition, “Poke Pelago”, fared much better. It too had a broken part here and there, but was not nearly as painful, eventual Rowlet infestation aside.
By Thanksgiving, I was far enough along in the game to get to the character that started my rise from the ashes back in September. Looking up the main antagonist’s party while soundly defeating her helped reignite that feeling for a short while. Within weeks, I had reached the final dungeon, home of the “Elite Four”. Even though this dungeon was quite easy, the idea of the boss rush broke me. Almost all of them could be taken out by one or two of my mains and the final guy didn’t seem worth battling yet. Eventually, days turned into weeks and “Not yet” slowly became “Not on your life”. I had also long given up on getting Sun and playing as the other PC as I usually did.
To distract myself during and after this acceptance of awful period, I took up Rowlet farming. Using my Talonflame “Nora” (originally “Anna”) as a speed incubator, boxes and boxes of coconut owls served as a coping mechanism. About 50 gameplay hours logged and at least a tenth spent on hatching eggs. It was just as ridiculous as it sounds. Over time, more subtle flaws had sprung up regarding the villain, glitches, and Wi-Fi distribution. These, combined with revelations about the post-game, did spark a fire, just not a positive one. Every once in a while, I pick it up to check on/update Pelago, but it’s always tainted by the mess it became.

The History of Censorship in Filmmaking

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by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Everyone has seen movie previews and commercials that end with “rated G/PG/PG-13/R” or “this film is not yet rated”. Whether an indie darling or summer blockbuster, every movie has a different set of warnings attached to it. However, only one rating existed for cinema made between 1934 and 1968: Accepted by censor office.
As with every new form of entertainment, calls to cut down on film content are as old as the medium itself. Maine passed a law about content in 1897 following the release of a recorded boxing match. Hardly anyone paid attention to said law even at the time and it remained unenforced. Chicago became the first city to have its own censor board in 1907. In 1915, the Supreme Court decided that film was a business and not an art. This would be used to justify future actions.
Several celebrity scandals rocked the industry in the early 1920’s. Murder trials, mysterious deaths and drug overdoses caused an uproar among conservatives and rural communities. After all, if those on screen have such unacceptable standards of living, how will those watching them act? Former Postmaster General William Hays came forward with a list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” for filmmakers to follow. However, this list seemed more like a suggestion than an order to conform.
By 1933, the combination of outrage from the National Legion of Decency and threats of government intervention led to the creation of a more forceful set of rules effective July 1st, 1934. The Motion Picture Production Code (also called the Hays Code) forbid things like sympathetic portrayal of criminals and drug use to prevent films “that will lower the moral standards of those who see it.” Some of these were a product of their time, such as when Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong was considered for a lead role in the 1937 adaptation of “The Good Earth”. Due to a ban on interracial relationships, the Hays Office rejected her because her would-be co-star was white.
Many modern-day classics like The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and Snow White went under these rules. Wartime productions, except those intended for troops overseas or claimed to be educational, could not show risqué behavior or excessive violence. With the rise of television in the early 50’s, the industry struggled to find an audience, not helped by the emergence of imported entertainment. The NLD and the New York state censor board decried part of an Italian film entitled “The Miracle” as sacrilegious. This eventually led to a lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court: Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson, also known as the “Miracle Decision”, which ended with overturning a previous ruling (1915). Preventing film distribution/viewing was also said to be in violation of the First Amendment. It was the first huge blow to the Code, but not the last.
As the 50’s moved into the 60’s, more and more directors challenged restrictions set up a generation before with increasing success. Subjects believed to be sinful in 1934 were considered acceptable in society by 1964. While not as powerful as it once was, the Code limped on. After 1965’s Freedman v. Maryland Supreme Court ruling ended its ability to ban films, then-President of the Motion Picture Association of America Jack Valenti officially pulled the plug in 1968. His replacement system of G, GP (later changed to PG; PG-13 added in 1984), R, and X (X was replaced with NC-17 in the ‘80s) is still used today.

Voice of the Outsider: Pokemon Sun and Moon Reveals

by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Pokemon Sun and Moon might have come out last year, which is nothing to ignore. In hindsight, the latest installment in a 20-year-old franchise had a long and complicated prerelease cycle.
On February 26, 2016, rumors about a third game in the Kalos region were shattered upon the announcement of a “seventh generation” on sale later that year. I watched the reveal live on the bus to school that day and probably freaked out the people in front of me with barely-contained excitement. Overall, we knew the title and a rough release date narrowed down using three different press releases. At first, that was to be expected. On March 12, a Japanese magazine known as Corocoro promised news the following month.
What occurred with that following issue defies words. All it had was a bright white silhouette of the game box covers. Even when it claimed nothing could be made of this, fans quickly pointed to the rough outline of a lion’s mane and a bat’s wing. Overall, an absolute joke, only no one was laughing. This mess cheesed everyone right off, cultural dissonance or not. A once-vital resource of info on new games lost a chunk of its reputation in one day. It had been nearly two months since announcement and nothing had gone public aside from some mysterious trademark names.
On the morning of May 10, fans all over the world awoke to a coconut owl, fire kitten, and sea lion dominating the discussion. Rowlet, Litten and Popplio, respectively, immediately gained a following. Locations based on Hawaii added to the sudden emergence of useful info, with more promised on June 2. Wishes came true on those days and at the Electronic Entertainment Expo later that month. As June turned into July, it all would come crashing down for some.
I found out about the July 1 trailer’s content early, as the Japanese version had leaked online. Such an event would happen repeatedly later on to increasingly ridiculous results. When I saw there were no new characters or locations, everything went numb. Though deep down I liked most of those shown, the game did not feel earned or spread out evenly with people or places. Trailers came and went with the same result until August 1. For the first time since early June, something interesting happened. Four new characters and their locations came out at last. However, everything went back to “normal” soon afterwards. Disappointment continued for the rest of August and into the following month.
September 6 began like any other reveal day. The content of that reveal sparked a revival in interest for the game. New characters and plot info made my eyes light up at last. However, the specter of summer underreporting would spring up again just a week later. Corocoro revealed two “Ultra Beasts” on the 12th to some speculation and the next show was set for 6:00 on the 14th. While the Japanese version came out on time, the English one was completely AWOL. No less than forty minutes of repeatedly checking forums, fan sites and the official YouTube channel turned up nothing. Three hours later, the 41-second-long clip dropped with no explanation for its lateness.
After that speed bump sent me flying, exactly one month before the games hit shelves stateside, a downloadable demo went public. Despite the developer’s best efforts to block it, names and designs lay wide open in the source code. As an extra dose of irony, short clips at the end gave players a peek at previously unknown characters and locations. The rest of the month was much better than that, making all of it seem out of place. Partially because literally everything was out due to more hacking, I decided to order Moon off Amazon a week before November 18 rolled around. On that day, I found that overhype exists.

Voice of the Outsider: Professional Sports

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by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Although the 2016-17 NFL season is done and the Atlanta Falcons/New England Patriots’ win capped everything off, discussion of American sports shouldn’t stop there. Based on my geographic location, one might assume I’m a diehard Seattle Seahawks and Sounders fan. This isn’t entirely true for either and never really has been. The local pro teams and I have a complicated relationship.
Being just six at the time, I barely remember watching the Seahawks’ first appearance at the final game of that season. I’m almost certain I was more occupied watching the Puppy Bowl than anything on the big TV at my grandparents’ house. All I really know about it is that the refs messed up several times and let the Pittsburgh Steelers win the match. Between then and 2013/14, I was extremely cynical about the Seahawks in general. If they were facing any other team, I’d root for that team. If they won a game, I’d call it dumb luck.
Then February 2, 2014 happened. That day, my family and I were invited to watch the game at a family friend’s house. The Denver Broncos won the coin toss and the first play of the whole game set the mood: a near-complete obliteration by the Seahawks. This alone convinced me to lighten up on them after that, but I still don’t consider myself a real fan. However, I do believe the failed play at the end of Super Bowl 49 was idiotic and contributed to the apparent deification of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
I’ve been an on-and-off Sounders supporter for at least half of my life thanks to my grandmother. She’d have the games on TV all the time when my parents were at work. After she passed away in 2012, it was painful to even see commercials about them for a while. I found other hobbies and focused on those until the 2014 World Cup rolled around.
My love for that tournament initially came from my love for national anthems, but later changed to the sport as a whole. The Women’s World Cup the following year led to interest in England’s Premier League and the Olympic competition. When I heard the Sounders were on the fast track to the MLS Cup, it was like taking a time machine back to 2011. I tuned in to almost every game in the semifinals and the final against Toronto. When the pressure of the extra time got to me, I wandered around the house until penalty kicks started. Toronto’s sixth try comically failed almost as if the box itself didn’t want them to win and history was made in the National League.
I might not be an intra-national sports person, but if my parents are watching a game of any kind, I won’t hesitate to take a peek.

The Historic Day That Music Died

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by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

February 3rd, 1959 is a date that lives in rock and roll history for the worst possible reasons. Just before 1 AM CST that day, a small plane took off from an airfield in northern Iowa with four people on board: musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson. It was bound for the next stop on their tour, but never reached its destination. Nine hours later, another plane found the wreckage in a cornfield and police arrived at the scene. All passengers died on impact with three thrown from the fuselage. Peterson’s remains were found inside the twisted body of the aircraft.
The crash was the latest in a chain of miserable events that took place during the “Winter Dance Party” tour. Concert venues on the schedule were dozens or hundreds of miles apart across the Midwest and travel was a complete mess for all involved. Holly’s drummer had to be hospitalized with frostbite and replaced with one from another group (The Belmonts, led by Dion DiMucci). It was so cold outside that their bus’ heating system broke partway through the trip. Nobody was happy offstage and things were only going to get worse within days.
Holly and his band composed of bassist Waylon Jennings and guitarist Tommy Allsup were to board before Allsup did a coin toss with Valens over a spot on the plane and lost. Shortly before takeoff, Richardson, sick with the flu and of being on the freezing bus, asked Jennings for his seat. Jennings accepted, joking to Holly about the experience so far with “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Little did anyone know how haunting those words would be soon after.
News spread like wildfire as soon as the bodies were identified. In a rather unorthodox move, the fate of the plane was announced on TV and radio before family members of the victims were informed. The entire music industry was in shock over the loss of three of its greatest minds. In the ensuing panic, a venue in Minnesota intended to be part of the tour quickly had to find a group to fill in for those killed. 15-year-old Robert Velline of Fargo, North Dakota, along with some classmates and his brother, were that group.
Where three careers ended in tragedy, one would begin. Velline’s improvised band, the Shadows, were a success at the venue alongside the more experienced Belmonts. Within a few years, he would go on to have several solo hits including “Devil or Angel” in 1960 and “Rubber Ball” in 1961 and released an album in honor of Holly in 1963 under the stage name Bobby Vee. Performing right up until his retirement in 2011, Velline passed away in October 2016 from complications of Alzheimer’s. As for DiMucci, his just-blossoming musical prowess survived for several more years, with a solo album released in 2016.
Eddie Cochran, a close friend of Holly and Valens, recorded a tribute song just days later, “Three Stars”. Cochran would die in a car accident just a year later while on tour in the UK. In 1971, folk rock singer Don McLean wrote “American Pie” about the events of that day as he experienced them. It would go on to reach number one on the charts and become a standard of Americana.
One by one, every person directly involved with the crash left this world. Jennings passed in 2002, followed by the manager of the last concert’s venue in 2006 and the owner of the plane in 2016. After almost 58 years apart, Allsup finally joined his friends and bandmates on January 11, 2017, having kept the coin that saved his life to the end.
No one knows what music would be like if those three performers never boarded a flight into history, but just listening to a song by any of them is enough to get an idea of what could have been.

Voice of the Outsider: Popular Music

by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Unlike most teens, I couldn’t give less of a hoot about the pop music scene of the New Tens. Most songs sound the same to me, just with a different person recording it and slight rearrangements in key. I can count the number of current singers I don’t dislike on one hand and still have fingers left over. When it comes to the Billboard Hot 100, being able to name the first few songs to ever hit number one is pretty much the best I can do without needing to look something up. For those who don’t know, the Hot 100 started keeping track of song popularity in August 1958. Virtually all my knowledge of who’s on top of the charts today drops off completely after 2013, with rare exceptions. All of this has been going on for as long as I can remember.
I grew up on classical music and video game soundtracks, with some 60’s rock sprinkled in here and there. The only “modern” songs I heard were on the bus to and from school, and I hated pretty much all of them. The noise and words were like getting continuously elbowed by someone in three-minute intervals. Every day for four long years I was exposed to what was popular to most people around my age. However, there were a couple I could at least try to get through without internally heaving. Those few kept me going if I was unable to distract myself in other ways. Adding on to that, the “Moral Guardian” part of me sharply refused to give the more edgy acts any positive acknowledgement.
This cycle repeated right through middle school (when I’d fake playing the songs in pep band) up until fourth quarter of freshman year. Sometime that May, I stumbled upon a genre that fit: jazz. The backdrop of many a Roaring 20’s or Great Depression film clicked with me in a way I never really knew before. In a matter of weeks, old favorites like Rachmaninoff, Kondo and Totaka became a distant second priority to newcomers such as Fitzgerald, Selvin and Kasagi. YouTube channels like Pax41 and MusicProf78 were (and still are) frequent destinations, to the point that I was informed of the passing of at least one popular singer from the early 50’s by the latter. This craze would last until midway into summer vacation, where pre-Beatlemania rock and roll caught my eye in a similar manner.
After two years of 20’s, 30’s and 50’s tunes, things both newer and even older caught my attention: ragtime, Jonathan Coulton, and Leslie Fish. The turn of the century became just as cool to me as Internet-based rock and filk would soon after. With rag, I generally avoid the less politically-correct stuff or listen to the instrumentals. The well-enunciated voices of singers like Billy Murray and legendary rhythms of composers such as Scott Joplin, combined with the previous jazz, rock and folk obsessions, have created my own personal music scene that works. I don’t need to be “hip” and “with it” when it comes to music; I just listen to what I like.

History of the First Animated Film

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by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

When you hear “first fully-animated feature-length film”, what do you think of? Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, of course! That was the first one ever, right? Wrong. Snow White was not the first feature-length (greater than 40 min.) fully-animated film released in theaters. It wasn’t even the first with sound, though it was the earliest with color and the first done in cels. What were the true ur-examples of feature-length animation?
The concept of animated shorts predates films by a number of years. Feature-length projects began in Argentina in 1917 with Italian-born cartoonist Quirino Cristiani’s El Apostol (The Apostle). A satirical film about the then-President of Argentina, Hipolito Yrigoyen, El Apostol was made using cutout animation (2D puppets with movable parts) and was praised for its biting commentary by those who saw it. Unfortunately, the only known copy was lost in warehouse fire in 1926. All that survives is concept art, newspaper reviews, and a picture of a scale model of Buenos Aires that was set on fire in one of if not the only live-action scene.
Thus, the title of first surviving animated feature goes to Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed). Produced in Germany by Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger and released in 1926, this fantasy film was done primarily in silhouette animation. Thread was used to move the limbs and heads and some sequences used oil and sand. All told, the film took three years to complete as every individual frame had to be photographed. Production also included the first multiplane camera, beating Disney to that technical achievement by almost a decade. Like all films from before 1927, Adventures of Prince Achmed was silent.
A fully-animated film with sound, Peludopolis was released in Argentina in 1931. Another political satire made by Cristiani in the same style as his previous work, Peludopolis had a slightly more complicated backstory than its predecessor. Partway into the film’s production, President Yrigoyen was removed from power in a military coup, leading to several changes in the plot. Sound was synchronized using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process as opposed to the increasingly common sound-on-film. Sadly, it suffered the same fate as El Apostol, with all known prints having been destroyed in two separate fires in 1957 and 1961. Decades after their release, a making-of documentary was unearthed, showing how Cristiani’s films were done in detail.
Though it beat Peludopolis to completion by a year, Ladislas Starevich’s stop-motion, fully-animated Le Roman de Renard (The Tale of the Fox) had production troubles that prevented it from being the first fully-animated feature with sound released to theaters. Namely that the original French soundtrack couldn’t be synced up with the film for unknown reasons. After seven years, a German soundtrack was added and Tale of the Fox hit the big screen in Berlin just eight months before Snow White’s premiere in the US. A few years after that, a new French soundtrack was done and the film was finally released in its home country.

Holiday Tree Show Raises Money for Children’s Hospital

by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

Right around this time of year, many families look for the perfect festive decorations to put in their home, although they have children with serious health problems and can’t find the time or the money to buy any. To help these families, several “Festival of Trees” events are held to raise money for pediatric medical facilities.
Usually held in a convention center or other large room, the Festival shows off dozens of decorated trees and wreaths with themes based around things like classic Christmas movies and sports teams. After a few days’ showings, an auction takes place with the proceeds going to local hospitals. The fundraiser started in Salt Lake City in 1970 and has spread to at least 20 separate locations in the US and one in Canada.
Organized by MultiCare since the early 90’s and held in the first week of December at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $30,000,000 for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in 30 years. According to the official website, over 15,000 people attended last year alone. Along with the usual public days, MultiCare employees, their families, and volunteers can tour the grounds early.
Over 800 volunteers put in dozens of hours to make it happen and it shows. Live music and occasional video presentations about the history of the event add to the feeling of cheer that surrounds the venue. Though it can be easily assumed that each 8-foot tree would cost an arm and a leg to buy in a store or at an auction, no monetary amount can compare with the atmosphere of charity that can be felt just wandering from one end of the exhibition room to the other.

The voice of the outsider: Moving-up day

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by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor

It’s everyone’s least favorite time of the year. The time when kids from all walks of life head back to the place called “high school”. The few out there who like it have a lot of friends, are into popular media, or just have that outgoing “social butterfly” personality. Those who are not quite at the top of the food chain are mostly okay with returning to academia and those who couldn’t care less about the “popular” trends let things play out for a bit before deciding whether or not the year will go well for them. I am one of the latter.
There might be a few reasons for this. I didn’t really have any friends until 8th grade and I follow most of the school rules to the letter. In one instance, I got into a friendly argument with a teacher about whether the shoulder strap-width requirement was three fingers (as it was in middle school and I use anyway as a precaution) or two. It could be because I have Asperger’s Syndrome (now ASD), so rules and expectations are really important and socialization is really hard. I’ve never been into the trends in any way, shape, or form and just recently started lightening up on some of them. Though those in charge of Moving Up Day didn’t seem to take that into consideration.
High school started out about as well as can be expected for an anxiety-ridden asocial Aspie teen suddenly being taken out of their favorite class and thrust through a line of cheering, screaming strangers into a gym-shaped box of madness. That is, not very. Though finding what few friends I had quickly was fortunate, the commotion was ultimately too much to handle. A counselor from my school took note of this and showed me the way to “Student Services”. This unfamiliar room would serve as a place of solace for at least an hour before the designated lunch time began. It would not be the last time the location would be used for this purpose.
I can’t remember if I was with people I knew, but I refused to eat out of stress. After a very long half-hour, the school tours started. By “tours”, I mean that the guides showed us where each hallway started, laughed to themselves and moved on without giving any details whatsoever. Fun. The line of people at the beginning told me more about the school than the tour people did. That wasn’t the end of the experience, though.
Sometime after that, the students were led into the “PAC” for a presentation. Not unlike the assembly in the gym, I found either a counselor or a teacher, explained the situation and stayed out in the commons for the remainder of the day. The most hellish day of my school life up to that point was finally over. Though I gave a vague recap at first, I didn’t let my parents know just how bad it was until partway into freshman year. When school actually began, I would find out that not every last-minute change is for the worse…