Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia

December 24, 2008 at 10:04 am (Animation Review, Opinion) (, )

On December 19, 2008, I went to the Red Carpet Premiere of Dayo. I was so looking forward to watching this movie. And my overall impression is, it’s good. People should go watch it. It’s enjoyable, it has endearing characters, and the music is absolutely beautiful. Is it world class quality? Well, the movie’s not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. Definitely, we’re getting there. Dayo’s almost there.

And so here are my observations:

REASONS TO WATCH THE FILM

Characters
Forget watching it just because it’s the first fully digital Filipino animation. This movie is enjoyable and should be watched with the purpose of being entertained. Bubuy, the 11-year old hero of the film, is the type of character that worms his way quite close to your heart. One of the best things about this film, in my opinion, is its characters. They are well-developed and well-thought of. They have quirks. And when you watch them, you get the feeling that when they were being created, the writers weren’t just making them for the sake of producing a Filipino animated film.

//*Start Spoiler Alert!//

Story
Another good point about this movie is you see things that can intrigue you. You see a girl in the photograph. But Bubuy claims she wasn’t his mother. And they left it at that. Intrigue! In another part, Lola claims Lolo was very fast when he was young. Just like a horse. Hm hm! What does that mean? Makes one think Lolo has tikbalang blood. Intrigue! Because of these, one would see that the story is bigger than the movie. This is a good thing, because one must remember, the film is merely a medium. What you’re telling is the story.

//*End Spoiler Alert//

The Music
The one thing I would give an A+ to Dayo for, is the music. “Lipad” is a beautiful song, and Leah Salonga is a wonderful singer. Plus, the score was great! And the timing of the music, and the choice of the music, and the feel of the music, they all just clicked with Dayo. Really wonderful. Really beautiful. Definitely their strongest point.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Compositing
One of the things in the movie that is a little weak is their compositing. They haven’t quite nailed the art of combining 3D, 2D and pictures seamlessly just yet. Great compositing means it becomes difficult to tell which is 3D, 2D or picture; or at least it is combined in such a way that it blends well with one another. Though the lighting and the camera angles are okay, the difference between the three forms is still quite big. But hey, not even Disney got it perfect the first time they combined 3d and 2d. Nothing to be discouraged about, but something to look into for improvement.

Consistency of Intricacy
Like I said in an earlier post, Dayo’s backgrounds are sometimes more intricate than the foreground. Yes, in animation, definitely the foreground is supposed to be simpler than the background. But not to the point where it would look like the background team put more effort in their work than the foreground team. If you want the background realistic, then your foreground has to be quite realistic, too. Maybe not as many levels of shading, but more creases maybe, and a little more detail.  You want a more comical look to your characters, lessen the detail on the backgrounds just a tad. What happened with Dayo is many of their backgrounds look like something out of a Hayao Miyazaki film, then their foreground looks like it was taken from a Tender Juicy hotdog ad. And the backgrounds themselves are of different level of detail, too. The school is a lot less detailed than Elementalia.

Cut Scenes and Animation
I’m going to have to watch the movie again to give my full comments on this, but the cuts change so fast, it’s a little distracting. And while the animation is okay, it’s still not very consistent. You could still clearly see parts with smooth animation, and parts that are a little choppy.

ALL IN ALL

All in all, I would recommend watching the movie. The things I talked about above in “Room for Improvement” are exactly that. Just things to improve upon. Not things that would condemn Dayo as a flop. Like I said, Dayo is fun, it has a nice story, and it has great music. Congratulations to everyone who was part of the production of the film! I enjoyed it.

ON A SIDE NOTE

During the ending credits, when I saw how many different studios from all over the country helped in coming up with Dayo, it reminded me of the first animated short we did in college. It was an 11-minute animation where we pitted our teachers against each other, Celebrity Death Match-style. The animation itself wasn’t great, but we had an interesting story going. And it was probably the only group project where everyone really participated. There were challenges along the way, definitely. We even forgot to include the sound when we were rendering the movie on the day of the presentation (and we didn’t have time to re-render it). But after everything, once we finally presented the movie, the sense of fulfillment was so great we felt it was all worth it, and that the short was a masterpiece.

To the people responsible for Dayo: well done!

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The Sorry State of the Philippine Komiks Industry

November 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm (Opinion) (, , )

During the Komikon, the guys of Culture Crash got reunited and answered some questions for their fans. For a lot of us at the Komikon, that made our day. I love Culture Crash. I don’t care what anybody says. Sayang lang, the stories may never be finished. One of the questions raised was what their reaction was to a certain criticism. They were using the anime style, and were therefore branded as not Filipino.

James Palabay answered it well, but it got me thinking. Not about styles. But about how people liked to bring down other people who threatened or had the potential to be better than them. It was not only Alanguilan’s comment on Culture Crash’s art. My sister bought “Trese” during the Komikon. It’s a comic book from Visual Print Enterprise and Alamat that features a detective story with a Philippine Mythology twist. I loved it! But my friends, who were also aspiring comic artists, only said that the art was nothing great.

Let’s face it. Komiks is not a lucrative business in the Philippines. But this is, I think, because of a few problems in the people in the industry. If we adress these problems, I think the Komiks Industry has a chance. I could be wrong but this is what I think. And I say this not just to people out there, but to myself, as well.

1.) COLONNIAL MENTALITY – Let’s face it. Most of us, especially the upper class, think foreign is better. And we’ll argue, “Eh, it’s true. What we make locally are crappy.” I, myself, am guilty of this. Most of the local comics I see around I ignore. Why? Because deep inside, I feel like they’re all just Japanese wannabees. (But I shouldn’t talk. My style’s also anime) Who’s at fault here? The buyer who doesn’t want to buy, or the wannabee comic creator? BOTH!

Solution: Make better quality work, and give the local works a chance by becoming a fan of at least three local komiks.

For the comic creators, I personally find nothing wrong if one wants to write about something other than Filipino Myths. If a creator wants to make a comic that’s set in Japan, I have no problem with that. What I have a problem is, is the creator who makes comics about a place he hardly knows about. Just because one watches anime doesn’t make one an expert in Japan. They insert Japanese phrases in their comic book. But the usage isn’t correct! Yes, the creator knows the meaning. But does he know the formal and informal way of speaking and when to use them? Research! Kaoru Mori, the creator of the manga, Emma, wrote about England and about maids. She’s into the maid fettish thing in Japan? Probably, considering she has more than one comic book about maids. But she didn’t just write about the Japanese’s romantic idea of maids. She researched about the time period, the events of that period, the social structure of that period. And what she came up with, in my opinion, is a very well-researched and well-thought of book that has depth and can be appreciated by people other than just those with a maid fettish.

For the readers, it’s hard to break the thinking that local is poorly made, especially when it has been true before. But there are companies nowadays who are trying. And there is good content out there. They just have to be given a chance. We have to change our thinking that a local comic book is not worth my P50. We buy foreign comics that cost thousands of pesos, but we won’t buy our own? It sounds like we’re deliberately killing our industry! Besides, as my mom says, if someone took the time to write something, then we should take the time to read it. Time is a precious commodity, whether it’s an American, a Japanese, or a Filipino who uses it.

2.) CRAB MENTALITY – We like pulling people down, especially when they’re starting to go up (And we’ll never admit it openly that they’re going up). When my friends and I were talking after the Komikon, their reaction towards the other comic groups was like, “They’re not that good. They didn’t even sell much.”

Solution: If you’re not close with the creator, ignore the bad, praise the good. If you’re quite close, give suggestions to improve the bad (without saying, “You suck!” and adding, “Don’t get offended but,” in the beginning doesn’t make it ok) and don’t forget to praise the good (the ego of a creator is a beast. It has to be fed constantly). And if you’re the creator, learn to take criticisms graciously.

Friendly competition is good. As long as you keep it friendly. As some of you may know, my two friends and I put up a poll for our free online komiks (PLUG: Go to www.komikasi.com for FREE COMICS!). The story with the highest votes by the end of the year will come out first. And this is friendly competition. I get to see their work and compare them to mine. Then I can see that Martin has great details, and Jon has great anatomy. And I go, hmm, I should add more details to mine, and fix my anatomy so the quality of my comics would be better. They do the same, they look at the other two’s work and improve theirs. And we tell each other how we can improve our works, share techniques, and not get angry when there’s something that has to be fixed.

What we shouldn’t do is bash the other groups. We mustn’t curse them or wish they’d do bad. (And as a writer/creator, you of all people should know the power of words). Instead, we should help each other up, for the sake of the Industry.

3.) THE FEAR OF THOUGHT – As the creator of Talecraft, I see this a lot. Many people here are afraid of thinking. They either see themselves as dumb, or think that the majority of the population is dumb. They would say, “Oh, that’s just for smart people.” Like as if most of them are not smart! Yes, the literacy rate is quite low here. But I think it’s brought about by how people see people! They don’t put any priority on education because they see it as something they won’t be good at anyway.

Creators are also sometimes lazy to create more complex stories. They always also think that people in the Philippines are generally too dumb to understand it. But we watch Matrix, don’t we? And it’s philosophical, and we analyze and appreciate it, don’t we?

Solution: Research. And don’t be afraid to think! This will help us make world-quality stories. Don’t assume that people are dumb. Because if you say they are, then they will be.

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Preview: Dayo

October 5, 2008 at 6:09 am (Animation Review) (, )

Dayo © Cutting Edge Production 2008

Dayo © Cutting Edge Production 2008

 On Ocotber 4, 2008, Cutting Edge Production gave a group of bloggers a tour of their facility in Makati, and gave them a sneak (and very bitin) preview of their upcoming animated movie, Dayo.

I must admit, when I saw Dayo the first time during a forum at Mag:Net Cafe earlier this year, I wasn’t that impressed. My first impression was, “Hey, they look like the drawings on our text books!” But after I saw clips of the movie recently, I must say my opinion of the animation changed (the main character still looks like the drawings on the text books, though. But then, I guess it isn’t so bad).

Dayo is a story about Bubuy, an 11-year old human, and Anna, a 14-year old vegetarian manananggal, in their quest to save Bubuy’s grandparents from mythological creatures in the world of Elementalia.

Now, the movie isn’t out yet, so my impressions here now might still change when I see the actual movie in December. But below are some of my observations and reactions to the movie trailer and clips I’ve seen so far.

STORY
According to Dayo’s director, Robert Quilao, it all boils down to the story. I agree to some extent. First time I heard about Dayo’s story, I thought, “it’s not bad.” It’s not too complicated, which is good since they’re targeting children, but it’s probably not fantastic, either. But then, when I read the synopsis recently, it got a bit more interesting. Bubuy’s grandparents claimed Bubuy’s parents died in a transportation accident. Hoho! Secrets. (although, transportation accident? Isn’t that like one of the oldest excuse for death in the book?) Then we’ll find out Bubuy is half-enkanto or something. Hehe. The folks at Cutting Edge said they’re planning a trilogy for Dayo. I think the story will be interesting for its intended audience. I have a feeling we won’t be disappointed.

CHARACTERS
Now, here is where I’m impressed. If you’ve read my review on Urduja, one of my main problems with the film was that the charcters, especially the main characters, didn’t have character! But in Dayo, the characters had quirks and interesting tidbits to them. Take Bubuy, for example. Ok, he’s a kid who’s being bullied at school. He lives with his grandparents, and he dreams of flying. Normal. But then listen to him talk. He’s innocent and tactless at the same time! Character! What about Anna? Aswang. Rebellious teenager, but not obnoxious. And a vegetarian! Don’t get me started on the tikbalang, Narsi. Vain narcissistic tikbalang voiced by Michael V. Need I go on?

Now, I know it’s all about the story for me, too, in the past. But after a while, I noticed that more than the story, people tend to fall in love more with the characters! If you’ve got endearing characters, interesting quirky characters, they tend to worm their way into your heart and stick there longer than just the story. I’m not saying the story’s not important. Oh, no, with no good story to play in, your characters are useless. Anyway, in terms of characters, I think Dayo got it. Good job, guys!

ANIMATION
When I toured the Cutting Edge Studio last October 4, and I saw their backgrounds, I was struck speechless. I mean, the detail of the pictures were like Hayao Miyazaki’s or some other big shot animation studio’s! They were great! They were beautiful! They were flawless!

And then I saw the characters. Simple, but good design. They thought about it well, especially the second set of wings of the aswang. The colors were very Filipino, more on the brown shade. Simple and clean three-level shading.

Then you combine the two.

Warning! The foreground is not consistent with the background. The background is very detailed but the foreground is too simple. Now, if I had the skill to make backgrounds like they did, I naturally would like to show that off, too. But if I don’t have the patience to match those beautiful backgrounds with foregrounds that would do them justice, I think it would be better not to make the backgrounds that detailed.

The key to a good scene is consistency. I’ve been taught that again and again when I used to study in Japan. Draw everything in low-detail, they told us. Then in increments, increase the detail of the entire scene. That way, if you run out of time, when you submit your work, everything is consistent and your work will not look unfinished.

That’s the thing. If the quality of your background and your foreground are not consistent with each other, it might look unfinished. Like you spent so much time with the background that you didn’t have enough time to make the foreground as good as your background. Yes, I may not realize how difficult it is to animate a movie like this. And yes, you have to make the foreground a bit simpler so that it doesn’t get eaten up by the background. But in my opinion, just my opinion, a little more detail (like t-shirt prints, clothes design, hairstyle, or even a few accessories that go beyond just plain gold rings) would go a long way. Just my opinion.

MUSIC
Exectutive Producer of Dayo, Jessie Lasaten, showed us some clips of Dayo with music. Beautiful. And their choice of artists for the soundtrack: Lea Salonga, Joey Ayala, etc, is really good. And with an orchestra to play the score, I think this is going to be great!

DUBBING
Overall, the dubbing is alright… except for the children. Bubuy, particularly. There are scenes when he gets a little too shouty. The older characters are great, though.

OVERALL
All in all, though, I think Dayo is a great piece of work, and deserves all the support we can give. Dayo will be out in theaters in December 2008 under Cutting Edge Production. Watch out for it. I know I will. 🙂

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Ed’Rashtekaresket

September 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm (Character Review) ()

Deep Wizardry (1985)
By: Diane Duane

Who he is: Ed is the Master Shark. His role since early in time is to sing the part of the Pale One, the one who is to devour the sacrificed, in the Song to defeat Death and the Lone Power who seeks the destruction of the world.

Strength: He is the leader of the sharks. He has lived for a very long time. And well, he’s a shark. Doesn’t get much stronger than that. Though he is a shark, and his role in the Song is to eat the sacrifice, he does so in the belief and knowledge that by doing so, he is slowing down the destruction of the world.

Weakness: For a being as old as he is, he has seen his comrades die. He has this inner pain, but he handles it quite well. As Duane put it, “The wound in his voice had healed without a scar.”

What I like about him: The twist in his story. When one hears that this shark’s role is to devour a sacrificial whale, one can’t help think he is the villain in the story. But he believes in something. Again, here’s the contrast. Have you ever heard of a villain with a Faith? Yes, I’m sure you have. And in many stories, the character, usually a vigilante, misinterprets his belief. For Ed, however, there is no misinterpretation. He believes his devouring the sacrifice will slow down the death of the universe, and everyone else involved in the sacrifice also thinks so. And because he believes in what he does, it doesn’t stop him from willingly taking the place of the sacrifice in the end to make sure the Song is completed.

An excerpt from the book:
He stared at her as he arrowed toward her – the old indecipherable look. “Sprat,” he said, “when did I ever leave distress uncured?” And to her complete amazement, before Nita could move, he rammed her again, close to the head – leaving her too stunned to sing, tumbling and helpless in pain.
Through the ache, she heard Ed lift his voice in song. Nita’s song – the lines that, with the offered sacrifice, bind Death anew and put the Lone Power in Its place.

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Eugenides

September 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm (Character Review) (, )

The Thief (1996), The Queen of Attolia (2000), The King of Attolia (2006)
By: Megan Whalen Turner

Who he is: Eugenides is the Thief of Eddis. It’s a royal title. He is loyal to his cousin, Helen, the Queen of Eddis. He had gone to prison in the land of Sounis, fooled the Magus, and stolen an artifact called The Gift of Hamiathes to protect his Queen. But the person he really loves is Irene, the Queen of Attolia, who had been hunting him for a very long time. And when she caught up with him, she had his right hand cut off. Eugenides entered a depression for a while. But once he recovered, he stole the Queen of Attolia, married her, and ended up King of Attolia.

Strength: He is a very good thief. He can steal things from earrings and artifacts, to kingdoms and hearts. He can endure prison and torture and sickness, and still end up getting the job done. It’s not a bad thing to be in his god’s favor, either. Keeps him from falling off rooftops. He is intelligent and very skilled. He can bring down a Baron’s house while seeming to do nothing.

Weakness: He is afraid of the Queen of Attolia. He has this fear of going blind.

What I like about him: Again, there’s the contrast. He is very much in love with the Queen of Attolia, but at the same time, he is very much afraid of her. It pulls at your heartstrings. Again, there’s the imperfect great one. This time, the character has a fear. He can get anything he sets his mind to. The problem is, what he wants so badly is also what he fears so much. When he was King of Attolia, he was homesick. He would be caught sitting before a window, staring towards the direction of Eddis with tears streaming down his face. He hates being King but he dares not express it openly for fear it would be taken from him, or rather the Queen be taken from him. And the last thing he wants to do would be to leave the Queen alone in a palace full of betrayal and distrust.

Also, in many stories, the characters overcome their obstacles quite easily. But for Eugenides, it wasn’t that easy. When the Queen had his hand cut off, he was depressed. He felt that he had become useless. He thought that his gods had betrayed him. His character is more human. Not all of us can withstand misfortunes without breaking down. And it’s nice to see this in fiction, too.

And you can’t help like a person who is so good at what he does. And Eugenides is very good, whether it’s at stealing things or running a kingdom.

And now one of my favorite parts of the King of Attolia:
“You were jealous… of Dite?”
The king, the master of the fates of men, before their eyes was reduced to a man, very young himself, and in love. Picking again at the coverlet, he answered, with his eyes cast down, “Wildly.”

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Wizard Howl

September 29, 2008 at 12:16 pm (Character Review) ()

Howl’s Moving Castle (1986), Castle in the Air (1990)
By: Diana Wynne Jones

Who he is: Howell Jenkins, or Wizard Howl as he is known in the land of Ingary, is a powerful and very vain man. He values his privacy, and so spreads rumors about himself to insure it. He is said to eat the hearts of beautiful young women. At first glance, you would think he cared for nothing but his appearance, but he is actually a kind and compassionate man, concerned about the people around him.

Strength: He’s great at what he does. He came from Wales. But after studying magic, he came to Ingary to become one of the greatest wizards of that land. He pretends that he doesn’t care, that he is more concerned with his looks than anything else. But he does care about those around him. He entered into a contract with his fire demon, Calcifer, to save the demon. He inquired about Sophie, his bespelled housekeeper, although it seemed he was just out courting someone. And even though it seemed that Howl was trying to shirk from responsibilities, he was actually out looking for his missing friend and the Prince. He just doesn’t like people to think he is.

Weakness: He is vain. Very vain. And he whines a lot. He wants attention and whines when he doesn’t get it. If that doesn’t work, he emits green slime to make sure you don’t ignore him ever again. Howl does tend to be self-centered at times.

What I like about him: He is vain. Very vain. And he whines a lot. While I probably will have no patience for a man like that in real life, in a book, it’s quite interesting to see. When we make characters, we usually make them so perfect. Or too flawed. I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies/series where characters have everything. They are the most good-looking, richest, luckiest, most intelligent, and most popular people alive. That’s good but it gets annoying. How come they have everything? Sometimes, it also goes to the other extreme. They are the unluckiest people alive. Their fathers beat them, their mothers die before their eyes, they get molested, they get framed, their only best friend dies, and basically they’re the most unfortunate people that ever walked the Earth.

It’s nice to see someone powerful have a character flaw. I’m not talking about a troubled past. I’m talking about a personality quirk. I’m talking about successful businessmen who bathe their pet pigs to de-stressify. Or the most popular football players whose guilty pleasure is reading Harlequin Romance pocketbooks.

Of course, I probably wouldn’t like Howl if he wasn’t compassionate. He can be self-centered as long as deep inside, he’ll still care. No one really wants a self-centered hero who is 100% self-centered.

One of my favorite lines in the book would be:
“Help me, someone! I’m dying from neglect up here!”

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Sir Percy Blakeney

September 29, 2008 at 11:02 am (Character Review) ()

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905), El Dorado (1913), Sir Percy Leads the Band (1936)
By: Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Who he is: Sir Percival Blakeney is the most fashionable man in London. While he is a friend of the Prince, he is considered a bit dull-witted and the greatest fop of the time. But what people don’t know is that Sir Percy is none other than the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, the leader of a band of Englishmen who risk their lives saving condemned aristocrats during the Reign of Terror from being led to the guillotine.

Strength: Aside from being physically strong, his will and endurance are also very strong. He can endure torture in the hands of the new Republic and still keep his keen wit. He is a master of disguise, his dandy facade being one of them. Deep inside, he cares greatly for human life, and puts great value on honor. His men are fiercely loyal to him, as he is to his men even at times when betrayal seems imminent.

Weakness: He may seem unaffected. And he may say his saving lives is just a sport, but we all know he’s just saying that. It is all a front to hide the true man underneath. The only one person who seems able to break this image of Percy is his wife, Marguerite. For a time, they were estranged due to certain issues linking Marguerite to the death of an aristocrat. But even then, Percy loved Marguerite very dearly.

What I like about him: Loyalty is a trait I value. And the loyalty of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s League to their Chief, and his loyalty to them, was something I loved very much. Trusting someone completely is hard, especially in this day and age when there’s always something in it for the other person. There’s always an ulterior motive. And loyalties tend to gravitate to the person who has more money to give. Then again, that type of loyalty isn’t loyalty, now is it?

As followers, we tend to want some control over our lives and actions. But in Percy’s case, his League follows him to the letter without knowing exactly what’s going to happen. And as leaders, we tend to junk followers at the first sign of disobedience. In Percy’s case, he will go through the plan expecting you to follow him despite your show of a tendency to disobey him. He will show you that he trusts you up to the last minute when you actually do betray him. And when that happens, he won’t scold you, saying that it is your life and it’s up to you how much worth you put in it. He’ll save you anyway. And your remorse for being disloyal to your Chief, who was loyal to you up to the end, will be the thing that brings you back to him.

You also can’t help liking a character with wit and skill. He had been stealing aristocrats from under the Republic’s noses for a long time, and he had been fooling the ton of London that he was nothing but a stupid fop. That’s skill and wit, and I like skill and wit.

Also, Percy’s contrast of being the sleepy-eyed unaffected dandy with the inane laugh, as well as the passionate man who was hopelessly in love with his wife, was a very good puller. There’s nothing like a good heart-wrencher to complete a hero’s profile. To illustrate what I mean, take this excerpt from The Scarlet Pimpernel:

Had she but turned back then, and looked out once more on to the rose-lit garden, she would have seen that which would have made her own sufferings seem but light and easy to bear–a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and his own despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her light footsteps had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand had rested last.

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Urduja

September 29, 2008 at 11:00 am (Animation Review) (, , )

When my sister asked me to go and watch the movie Urduja with her this morning, I wasn’t too hot on going. But as this was the first Filipino animated movie to come out since Ibong Adarna, and I wanted to know how we were doing now, I decided to go. I do tend to be biased at times, especially when it comes to comics and animation. But before the movie, I told myself I would give Urduja a try. I would not pre-judge the movie (as I was already starting to do when I watched the trailer).

My impression: Not bad. It’s a good try. First of all, I take my hats off to them for actually finishing to make it. It’s more than what many animation groups can say (myself and my group included). There are, of course, areas that could still be improved.

STORY
The movie has nothing to do with the story of Urduja as we’ve known her. In the folklore version of the tale, Urduja was ugly. She fell in love with a foreign scholar but, because of how she looked, she had to ask the aid of a witch to make her beautiful. There are several versions to the folklore (not surprising since it’s oral tradition) but basically that’s the story. If we take in the historical account of Urduja, she was the datumbini of their tribe. She was tough. She was “one of the boys.” Then one day, an explorer by the name of Ibn Batute came upon what we now know as Pangasinan and was fascinated with this tough woman leader who was so interested in the spices and stories he brought, and who vowed she would invade India (I think it was India). Talking about personality, Urduja was supposed to be strong. That’s what makes her Urduja! She wasn’t like that in the movie. They may as well have called her Duri and it wouldn’t have mattered.

ANIMATION
I can say it’s certainly better than Dragonlance the Animation (look it up. It was outsourced in India). You can still see which are 3D and which ones are not but their compositing is acceptable. Certainly better than many Filipino films I’ve seen. And there are scenes that really do look nice (particularly those with junks on the sea with the moon up). But their movements are still quite stiff, which really makes one wonder. They’re supposed to have done outsourcing work for the likes of Disney. I don’t know if they’re really not that good yet or they lowered the frame rate to save on frames.

And they keep cutting the point of impact! Someone throws an object, cut, next scene, the thing is already resting on the character’s head. It leaves people (well, me anyway) dissatisfied. There’s no umph! (not talking about “special something.” Talking about the expression you utter when you hit the ground) The point of impact makes that umph. It makes the viewers feel what is going on better. My sister thinks they didn’t know if they would put stars or bring up dust or what when the object makes an impact so, they probably decided not to show it na lang. I don’t know the true reason. But I think this is an important thing they should improve on in their future animated movies.

CHARACTERS
In the beginning, I kind of liked Limhang. Mahangin, a little naughty, a little witty… then he got a little too cheesy. But I guess he’s still ok. Mayumi and the animals tend to have more of a personality as compared to Urduja and Simakwel. And Urduja is supposed to be the main character. I could be wrong but they seem to have this concept that the main character has to be “safe.” Where are the quirks? They’re too predictable. Ok, so Urduja finds out Limhang is a pirate. What does she do? What every other heroine in the past does. She looks betrayed and runs away weeping. And Simakwel, he sees a competitor. What does he do? He cheats then sides with the enemy. Isn’t that so convenient?

PLOT
Aside from what I talked about in “Story” above, I think the plot is too predictable. It’s very formula. Girl is to wed guy. Girl falls in love with another guy. First guy gets jealous and teams up with the bad guys. Second guy is about to confess his true self but first guy beats him to it. Girl is devastated. Bad guy double crosses first guy. Eto lang e: What something new did the movie Urduja bring? Sometimes, we get so caught up into just being able to beat everyone else into making an animated movie that we forget to think about what sets our movie apart.

RESEMBLANCE TO DISNEY
Don’t stop me from saying this. It really does look like Disney. When the movie started and I saw the waterfall, it looked so much like Pocahontas. Besides, do our waterfalls look like that? Our waterfalls are more narrow. One side is usually covered with a rock face, quite close to the fall. Do we even have waterfalls that big in Pangasinan? And what’s with the blue necklace? And of all colors, they decided to stick to blue, which made the similarity more obvious! Limhang’s facial structure is like Shang’s. Wang reminds me of Ratcliffe. They got the talking animals from Disney, too, didn’t they? Well, I can let the square jaw and the animals pass, but the scene with the bird was soooo Tarzan! I mean, I could understand if they liked a certain aspect of Disney that they wanted to use as model. But to copy an actual scene and just change the characters in it! Come on! We can do better than that.

OTHER THINGS
Use effects sparingly. If you used a type of visual direction once (Urduja looking at her reflection and feeling sorry for herself, which is so “who is this girl I see…” by the way), I think it would be better not to use it again in the same movie (Limhang looking at his reflection and feeling sorry for himself). The text of the title could use a little work. It’s not powerful enough. Bevel and drop shadow are not the only effects you can use on a text.

And more research would be good. Both on the story of Urduja and the geography of Pangasinan.

All in all, though, I think it’s not too bad. Even if it seems like our animation industry still has so far to go, I think we’re going somewhere. Amidst the Disney of the movie, one could still see the Filipino-ness of it in characters like Mayumi and the animals. Slapstick and a bit crass but it’s there. And it’s always good to hear “Perlas ng Silangan” and to see the map of the Philippines in an animation. Wonder how Dayo would fare…

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