Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Don't Let the Picture Fool You, This IS a New Post!

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #10 & #11

I've been feeling a little deflated lately. UNBC's Reading Break, which should have been relaxing, instead turned out to be a waste of time. There were things I was supposed to do, things I could have done, which I simply didn't do. I could have marked assignments, or studied for the Japanese midterm I had on the Monday immediately following the break and which I didn't feel terribly prepared for. But no. The only thing I managed to get done was to write a post summarising my physics paper, and judging by the lack of comments, either no-one's read it yet or no-one's really interested.

It's not just reading break, either. You may have heard that I got into a car accident a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that's what threw me off my stride. I know that my once very high marks in Japanese have begun to slide since the accident. Another possibility is that being summarily rejected from JET has had more of an affect on me than I thought. In any event, whatever the cause of this malaise, it's starting to affect my Sailor Moon writing. Despite all my ideas and ambitions and despite all the support I've seen so far, I'm beginning to worry that what I end up producing will be just a pure piece of crap.

The state I'm in is I really need to get myself out of. It's probably been two weeks since my last Sailor Moon post. If you are still checking in, I appreciate it. To show how much I appreciate it, this post contains not one, but two reasons why I, possibly, just maybe, should write the Sailor Moon movie. What's more is that these two reasons are actually pretty strongly linked to each other-- the one doesn't really make full sense without the other. So, from a narrative standpoint, it's good to outline these two reasons simultaneously.

So, without further ado. . .

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #10: Destroying a Better World. . . Through SCIENCE!

Queen Beryl, Metallia, the Shittenou, and the Dark Kingdom are vital elements of the Sailor Moon mythos. After all, it was at their hands that the Moon Kingdom fell-- they are, really, the very reason Sailor Moon and the other senshi came to be in the first place. They were Sailor Moon's very first enemy, the only enemy to appear in every incarnation (Manga, Anime, Stage, and PGSM) of the story, and are to the Sailor Moon franchise what Lex Luthor is to the Superman franchise.

So just imagine if, in the Sailor Moon movie. . . they were no-where to be found.

And imagine moreover that it wasn't just the fans of Sailor Moon counting on these villains being in the movie, but many of the characters themselves. If you've already read the script excerpt I posted, you know that Luna was already told that she was sent into the future to fight the Dark Kingdom. As it turns out, there was one more person who expected things to unfold a certain way. . . but we'll get to that later. For now, though, let's just focus on the villain I've chosen for my movie. . .

Dr. Tomoe.

Why Dr. Tomoe?

One reason is that the Mad Scientist has become a vastly underused cliche in recent years, and when it is used these days it's typically for the purposes of parody (Dr. Insano, etc.). Some might attribute this to the Mad Scientist becoming a discredited trope. I, however, believe that the Mad Scientist has, in fact, surpassed a critical threshold of triteness and, in doing so, has become something totally original and fresh again, kinda like zombies in early 2000's. It only needs one visionary movie to harness its true potential.

Another reason is that Sailor Moon S, the anime series which featured Dr. Tomoe as its villain, is widely considered to be the creative peak of the Sailor Moon anime. Many attribute its artistic success to Dr. Tomoe and his team of evil super-powered lab techs known as the Death-Busters. From that most infallible source, Wikipedia:
Sailor Moon S is considered one of the darkest story lines in the series, partly due to the villains' ultimate goal of destroying, rather than conquering, all life in the world, as well as ethical themes of sacrifice.
Of course, lesbian senshi don't hurt matters any, but still. . .

The third reason: This guy is awesome. Check it out:

Need more proof?

I'm not sure what attracts me more: the dark, foggy underground lab (which, among other things, is a far more tangible hideout than the Dark Kingdom); the string-section accompaniment in the background (my sister, who's studying classical music, would probably know the correct term for what I'm trying to describe); the idea of actually manufacturing monsters (through SCIENCE!) rather than just summoning them; or the man himself, at once hilariously over-the-top and kind of frightening, thanks to a constantly shrouded face that reveals only the unnatural glare of his spectacles and his hideous inhuman grin.

But when it comes right down to it, quite honestly, the main reason for choosing Dr. Tomoe is that I am fucking sick of the Dark Kingdom. I said already that every incarnation has already featured them as villains, and at this point I'm pretty sure that not even a Heath Ledger-as-Joker style re-imagining could make them interesting.

Still, I know that the Dark Kingdom, the lynchpin of Sailor Moon's back story, cannot be simply brushed aside. Their absence has consequences. That's where Reason #11 comes in. . . but first, a little back story. Yes, it does involve more politics, but hopefully the treatment in the film will be subtle enough not to bother most people. For your consideration:

Souichi Tomoe was born in Chiba prefecture in 1920. It is known that during his childhood he showed a remarkable scientific aptitude. Though displaying promise in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and enginieering, among other fields, Tomoe focussed his attention primarily on medicine. He entered Tokyo Imperial University's medical program in 1936, but records on Tomoe's activities are unclear until after the end of World War II. Only two things are known for certain: one was that he lost his right eye during the war, and the other was that he had a family, wife Keiko Tomoe and daughter Hotaru Tomoe, both of whom were dead before war's end. A few rumours have come and gone throughout the years regarding just what Tomoe was doing during the war. Some rumours place him in Shanghai, others in Manchuria, and still others in Germany. Some suggest that his family was killed when a lightning strike cause an explosion in Tomoe's laboratory, while others suggest that a Chinese underground resistance group planted a bomb. The one thing the rumours have in common is a gruesome depiction of Tomoe's medical research.

Despite a (very suspicious) lack of evidence to support the them, the rumours haunted Tomoe long after the war ended. The post-war period found Tomoe at his intellectual peak. He made numerous seminal advances in genetics, and it's believed by some that he might have unravelled the structure of DNA long before Crick and Watson. . . were it not for the fact that he was unable to attend a crucial conference in England; it was hard enough for Japanese citizens to travel abroad at the time, and even harder for suspected, if unproven, war criminals. Thus was set the pattern that would be followed by Tomoe throughout his career. For every genuine success-- whether the establishment of a science-centred academy/think tank, Mugen Gakuen, or yet another in a string of groundbreaking discoveries-- his past always ensured a setback-- the small but vocal groups of protesters that followed him to public events, the perpetual denial of what many thought was a guaranteed Nobel prize.

One would expect bitterness to have worn the man down, yet at 92 years old he looks like man 30 years younger. The resistance Tomoe encountered throughout his life certainly frustrated him, yet it has never really embittered him, not exactly. Maybe a better way of putting it is that, if bitterness does lie within his soul, it is driven by more than mere professional envy. There has always been a zeal to the man, one that cannot be explained by the usual brands of scientific ambition; everyone who knows him senses he is on a mission. Just what that mission is, no-one knows.

No-one, that is, except Tomoe, and even then Tomoe, for all his drive, has sometimes had his doubts. It wasn't just his wife, or his daughter, or his eye, that he lost in that laboratory explosion somewhere in China-- he lost his sense of what the world was. In the aftermath of that explosion Tomoe was visited by. . . something, at once vague and more clear than anything he had ever known. Tomoe might have confused for it for a religious experience, an encounter with God, were it not for certain peculiarties. The thing, which for reasons known only to him he named "the Pharaoh," made fantastic promises-- to give him life, to give back his daughter, to give him knowledge.

And so Tomoe emerged from the flames of his lab, with his burnt, comatose daughter in his arms and, he believed, the eye of the Pharaoh where his own eye used to be. He navigated the tumultuous world of occupied Japan, offering his knowledge to whomever Tomoe felt could help him. He continued his research, making discoveries no-one would have believed possible-- most of which he kept to himself. It was though these freakish discoveries that Tomoe knew his encounter with the Pharaoh was not some near-death delusion. And yet, even as he used his knowledge to create fantastic and fearsome creatures, strange devices, and even a group of attractive humanoid assistants-- all the while keeping his still comatose daughter alive-- he spent the next decades never sure of why the Pharaoh came to him that day. He continuously sensed the Pharaoh's presence, a presense so potent it sometimes drove him mad, and yet he could never seem to fully satisfy the Pharaoh's wishes.

Then, in the early nineties, a new development arose, one which, at last, seemed to point to his ultimate goal. . .

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #11: Codename: Sailor V

It was sometime in 1991 when a thirteen year old schoolgirl named Minako Aino discovered that she's a superhero. With her talking feline mentor Artemis at her side, the police (and eager press) on her tail, and a evil force seemingly all around her, Mianko became the pretty sailor suited soldier of love and justice, Sailor V. Minako didn't pick the name herself-- the press gave her that nickname-- but she liked it. After a few months of fighting crime and subduing evil, buried memories resurfaced in Minako's mind, and her true purpose was revealed. She is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior from a kingdom destroyed by an evil force-- an evil force which, like her, has returned from the dead. Minako also learns that she will soon be joined by other reincarnated warriors, as well as the princess of the ancient kingdom. Together, they will destroy this new evil once and for all. The evil force, known as the Dark Kingdom, did indeed come. . .

. . . but not the other senshi. Minako made a valient and semi-successful effort to hold back the forces of the Dark Kingdom, managing to even defeat one of its generals, Zoicite. But she knew she could not defeat them alone. To make matters worse, another evil force emerged which, like the dark kingdom, was capable creating deadly, monstrous foes but, unlike the Dark Kingdom, possessed a certain scientific and technical sophistication, as well as a sense of pragmatism. Moreover, they seemed to have no interest in human energy (which the Dark Kingdom sought) nor any obvious ambitions of world conquest. In fact, this new unknown enemy seemed utterly at odds with the Dark Kingdom, whom they viewed as a threat.

Indeed, they seemed so threatened by the Dark Kingdom that they ultimately offered to make a deal with Sailor V: they would help her defeat the Dark Kingdom once and for all, if Sailor V agreed not to interfere in their future activities. Sailor V knew it was a Faustian bargain, but she had not yet found the other Senshi, and the Dark Kingdom posed the more immediate threat. She reluctantly accepted, and the Dark Kingdom was defeated once and for all. . .

And so as not to give too much way, I will leave it at that for now.


Izeas GT said...

So out of all this backstory you've thought up, how much do you really think could be fit in the screenplay? (For that matter, what runtime are we talking?)

Jeremy K. said...

Re: Izeas GT

I have a scene in mind where a lot of what I discuss here is explained, or at least implied (I know I'm walking a thin tightrope as far as the war crimes stuff is concerned). As well, I figure that little details (the rumours, etc.) can be sprinkled throughout the film.

Honestly, though, a big part of this experiment is precisely in trying to find how much of this story could really be included. I've never written a screenplay before, and for all the hubris involved in calling it "Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie," I really am just trying to teach myself what's involved in writing something of this scale (it also gives me a good reason to write on a regular basis).

As for the runtime, I'm thinking approximately two and half hours. . . not exactly a selling point, I know. Still, it hasn't been written yet, so I can't say for sure.

Thanks for the feedback!

Anonymous said...

I can see why you are sick of the Dark Kingdom. Indeed, they are the first villains Sailor Moon fights in every incarnation.

But... to remove them almost entirely? n.nU

What I am trying to say is that it would be nice to make them justice. Maybe you don´t like them, but perhaps many others do like them. And, after all, the Dark Kingdom is so intertwined with Sailor Moon´s begginings... Queen Beryl, for instance, and the Shitennou play a significant role in the story, not just as adversaries but sort of like windows to the past. Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion´s forbidden love will not come to be unless their past life is resolved. And they both must have a part in that, for that matter.

My opinion is that... you can´t just have them removed, metioning them every now and then. The Dark Kingom.... yeah, they want to rule earth, but they are also foils to Serenity and Endymion´s love, wich is the central point of the first arc of Sailor Moon.

And yes they are part of the key to this "past life", wich is important if we are dealing here with a guy thats trying to discover who he is and why is he having those nightmares. And not just Tuxedo Mask, but the girls as well.

I have said it before: I like your ideas. I consider them so bold. And, don´t worry, I still like them. I am just pointing out why I believe the Dark Kingdom blends in better than Dr. Tomoe with the overall theme of Sailor Moon´s first arc and why I feel they are more important for the central characters than being just the "usual first baddies".

Its just an opinion. Perhaps you can find an awesome way to have the benefits that the Dark Kingdom brings to the story and to the central characters but this time from eerie Dr. Tomoe. That would be nice!

Keep up the good work! n.n

God bless!

Jeremy K. said...

Re: Anonymous

I completely understand where you're coming from. The Dark Kingdom are far more than just the "usual first baddies," for all the reasons you mentioned and more. Like I said, both characters within the story and the fans of Sailor Moon will be counting on these villains being the movie. I want the absence of the Dark Kingdom to be felt. I want the old school Sailor Moon fans to realize, "hey, something is not quite right here"-- hopefully in way that gets them interested the story and doesn't leave them thinking "Well, Hollywood/noob fanfic writer fucks it up again." Indeed, part of the reason I made this choice was that I, if I were to write the script, I'd want to give the old fans a new story to enjoy, and not just a remake of the old one. This was one of the things I liked about PGSM-- I'm just branching off from the original storyline at a far earlier point than PGSM did.

My apologies if this explanation is a little too cryptic. Hopefully as the series goes on it will become clear exactly why I'm doing things this way. There is a plan behind all of this.

Naomi said...

I appreciate this fresh take on the origins of the story. Even as a kid, I found the dark kingdom thing a little bit...hokey I guess. And you're right, I was interested to see you sort of bypass them, though I agree that they can't simply be ignored. Also, I love the mad scientist swing, because you're absolutely right in its so-uncool-it's-cool appeal.

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