The Simpsons’ Halloween Special, Animation Tribute

– Oct. 20, 2014, S. Barton
The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror XXV ended with a surprising all star animation tribute. In it’s third installment, The Others, (a parody of the 2001 horror film staring, Nicole Kidman), The Simpsons clash with their original 1987 incarnations. America’s famous family got their start as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, before getting their own animated series in 1989.

As the story come to a close, Lisa then says,“I just had a worrisome thought: If there can be two incarnations of The Simpsons, why couldn’t some evil marketing entity produce millions of others?!”

Her fears are then realized, with a pop-culture reference of epic proportions; as multiple versions of The Simpsons’ line up to enter the family home.The creators of the show had a little fun as each version pays homage to a variety of animated films and series.

This included an assortment of anime references to: Pokemon (Maggie as Pikachu), Attack on Titan (Lisa as Misaka), Naruto (Bart as Naruto), Bleach (Marge as Rangiku), One Piece (Homer as Zoro), and Studio Ghibli’s, Spirited Away(Santa’s Little Helper as Haku). This isn’t the first time The Simpsons’ have referenced anime. In Married to the Blob,(Season 25, Episode 10), is entirely dedicated to Japanese pop-culture and US Comic-Con couture, it also included a special sequence to honor legendary Japanese animator/director, Hayao Miyazaki. (see article here)

In total, the ending pays tribute to: claymation, Anime, Adventure Time, South Park, Archer; a mini-tribute to french animator,Sylvain Chomet (Triplets of Bellevile, 2003). Last but not least, LEGO’s, Despicable Me, and finally, The Simpsons animal incarnation from Treehouse of Horror 13, The Island of Dr. Hibbert.

How many references did you spot?

Yoshiki + X Japan Return to NYC!

Yoshiki Panel3-ACW-1Oct 11, 2014- Sara Barton

Yoshiki and his band, X Japan, have returned to NYC making an appearance at New York Comic Con(NYCC) 2014 and later performing at Madison Square Garden. Fans have eagerly waited for the return of X Japan and the surprises that are in store at their NYCC panel.

We remember that iconic moment at New York Comic Con 2010 when a surprise guest appeared at Yoshiki’s panel. It was the legend himself, Stan Lee.  However, the reason this moment is cemented in NYCC history is due to an unexpected twist, as Stan Lee had joined Yoshiki to announce their creation of the comic book, Blood Red Dragon.

The big questions are: “What will Yoshiki and X Japan do next?” and “Will Stan Lee make an appearance?”

Yoshiki is a very talented musician whose career is the embodiment of surprise. Originally trained as a classical pianist, at age 10, Yoshiki’s life changed when he listened to a KISS album. He and his childhood friend, Toshi, decided to form a rock band and the rest is history. Yoshiki has often been referred to as, “The Bono of Japan”. Yoshiki is the drummer, pianist and songwriter, and is the face of X Japan.

X Japan fame and worldwide success has been equated to that of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Yoshiki’s many credits include composing songs for major events, such as: the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012, Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 10th-year anniversary celebration, and the 2005 World Expo in Japan. Yoshiki is also the first person to have a Hello Kitty doll named after him; it’s called Yoshikitty[i], (and my personal favorite, the album, Yoshiki Classical, collaboration with famed Grammy-winning producer, Sir George Martin.)

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Today, electricity was in the air as Yoshki  and X Japan walked into the NYCC panel room. Sadly, Stan Lee didn’t  make an appearance, but he left a video message sending his best wishes to fans, and closing with his trademark phrase, “Excelsior!”

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The audience was shown a sneak-peak of the comic, Blood Red Dragon; a comic version of Yoshiki, who has a superhero alter-ego that fights the forces of evil. Todd MacFarlane, creator of Spawn, beautifully brings the characters to life. It’s often been questioned as to why Yoshiki didn’t create a manga instead, but he loved the style of American comics and their spectacular colors, rather than manga which is generally in black & white[i].  A few lucky fans were given a paper copy of Blood Red Dragon.

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Yoshiki gracefully moderated the panel, as X-Japan reminisced about old times, and the loss of their original guitarist, Hide. When X Japan began to take Q & A from the audience, a fan asked if Yoshiki spoke other languages besides English and Japanese. He then playfully demonstrated his ability to say hello in multiple languages.

Yosihi Panel-CU ACW-1

The most touching moment is when Toshi, X Japan’s vocalist, mentioned it was his birthday. Yoshiki  then turned wished him a Happy Birthday. Toshi then said “I love you”, Yoshiki  replied, “I love you, always.”  Yoshiki  and Toshi have been friends for over 40 years. It was a heartwarming moment.

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After the panel, Anita and I attended the press conference. I asked Yoshiki what he thought the best moment in his career was. He replied performing at Madison Square Garden. I noticed that he had a splint on his wrist and I asked if he was ok. He reassured me and said that he was in good spirits.

We wish Yoshiki  a speedy recovery & Good Luck to X Japan at Madison Square Garden!

Photographer: Anita C. Wang

Guest Editor: Leigh Howard

Sources:

[i] ABC NEWS. “Amplified, X-Japan(extended) October. 11, 2010” YouTube, Oct. 11, 2014. Web.

[i] Keegan, Rebecca. “Yoshiki as ‘Blood Red Dragon': Todd McFarlane Makes Japanese Star a Hero.” Hero Complex. LA Times, 11 July 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2014. <http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/yoshiki-as-blood-red-dragon-todd-mcfarlane-makes-japanese-star-a-hero/&gt;.