Butterfly Soup: Not Your Average Visual Novel

butterfly soup

Group project summary, by leader Bria Moore

Butterfly Soup is a visual novel that stars four 9th grade girls who join their high school baseball team. Or in the eloquent words of Brianna Lei, the developer, Butterfly Soup is “A visual novel about gay asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.” Furthermore, it is a tale of self-discovery, growth, and finding love. Romance is a central component of the story, though comedy is thoroughly embedded as well.

The four main protagonists are Diya, Min-seo, Noelle, and Akarsha. Diya is socially awkward and an exceptionally talented baseball player. Min-seo, also known as Min, has a short fuse and will not hesitate to cause bodily harm to get what she wants. She is only sweet to Diya. Noelle is a strait-laced and studious girl who is consistently pressured by her parents to succeed. Akarsha is an eccentric goofball who loves to ask ridiculously random questions just for attention. Other less prominent characters in the game are Jin-seo (also known as Jin), Hayden, Chryssa, and Liz. Jin is Min’s twin brother, Hayden is a childhood friend, and Chryssa and Liz are the leaders of the baseball team.

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Anonymity: An Analysis of Stranger Comes to Town 

Stranger

by Brendan Boustany, Joalda Morancy, Katerina Stefanescu, Shahrez Aziz, and Zach Cogan

Brendan

I would say that the film is a documentary, in a similar way that Waltz with Bashir is. Both stories rework nonfiction events into artistic images. Still, the stories of the characters remain entirely intact. The artistic style does not interfere with Goss’s goals in terms of the story that she is trying to tell. If anything, her decision to use video game images was simply an artistic choice to emphasize the themes of the film. The strong narrative voice is compelling enough without many visual distractions, so the sparing CGI images do not interfere with the interviews about coming to this country as visual reenactments might. Most importantly, the anonymity that this visual style allows may have been crucial to attaining these interviews. 

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Paris is Burning – Assertive Stance and Construction

Assertions Made in Title Cards 

by Mimi Taylor

In the essay “When is a Documentary?: Documentary As a Mode of Reception” Dirk Eitzen lays out the argument that “what distinguishes documentaries, and nonfiction in general, from fiction” is whether it makes sense to ask the question “Might it be lying?” (89). To support his argument he draws on semiotician Sol Worth’s essay “Pictures Can’t Say Ain’t,” where Worth makes the argument that pictures cannot lie (Eitzen 89). Eitzen extends this argument to “everything in movies that does not have the character of an express metatextual caption or label” (91). According to Eitzen, movies merely represent “a space, action, or event” (91), and “project a world” (91), until some “metatextual caption or label,” usually in the form of a framing device, asserts meaning. In the case of Paris is Burning sometimes the “metatextual caption or label” is a literal label, in the form of a title card.

Paris is Burning imposes meaning on the projected worlds of the movie through these title cards. For instance, early on in the film this title card is shown:

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Paris is Burning as a historical document through the eyes of Judith Butler and Erving Goffman

by Junyoung Choi, Gabriela Horwath, Tomas Pacheco, Alan Countess, and Wyn Veiga

Introduction (Junyoung)

Jennie Livingston’s 1991 documentary Paris is Burning explores the nooks and crannies of Harlem, painting vividly the ball culture’s cultural importance in celebrating the drag style and hitherto marginalized gender norms through the transgender families and their flamboyant fashion shows. 

Observing the endeavors of New York’s ball culture through the lens Livingston has picked out, both writers Judith Butler and Erving Goffman would likely concur that personal and group identities are reinforced socially through dramatic performances, but would fall short of agreeing on whether there truly is an internal core being expressed. However, if the two theorists sat down and spoke to reach a conclusion, they would most likely agree that the many different categories in the balls helped most people participate in the performative act and present their parts while making explicit the rather flexible nature of gender. Finally, both scholars would also be astonished and disturbed by the growing impact of one’s exposure to the media’s mundane normalized social expectations.

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Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal: Analyzing Unintentional Expressions of Art

IMG_1191

by Emily Nagler, Haina Lu, Meagan Johnson, Dylan Kanaan, and Frank Martin

I believe that the short Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal is, in fact, making an assertive claim about the world.  The major claim is that Graffiti Removal is a form of art.  It is comparable to the art of artists like Mark Rothko, or other, early to mid-20th century artists.  The film is attempting to claim that graffiti removal procedures have various styles and is a complex art form.  Anyone who removes graffiti is unaware of their artistic creations, but the film goes as far as to label the various “styles” of graffiti removal art.  They are removing art, but in turn creating art.  I will admit some of the graffiti removal examples do look like art that professional artists create.  The film treats the procedure of removing graffiti as art.  The removal of graffiti is a process completely by the city or the owner of whatever has graffiti on it.  The film treats what seems like a grunt work job the same as professionally painting.  – Frank Martin

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Does Hatoful Boyfriend’s absurdity add to its romantic comedy?

Group project summary, by leader Max Marcussen

Hatoful Boyfriend is, from the start, an absurd game. The premise of the game is that the player character, Hiyoko, is a human hunter-gatherer who’s been invited to the world’s best pigeon high school. Hiyoko interacts with professors, school doctors, fellow students, and a biker gang leader who’s also a parakeet, and tries to find love with a pigeon. But in spite of this absurd premise, Hatoful Boyfriend operates in much the same way most romantic comedies do. Many romantic comedy films involve absurd premises, like Sandra Bullock pretending she’s engaged to her subordinate Ryan Reynolds or business nemeses Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan by chance being best friends online. In most romantic comedies, absurdity doesn’t detract from narrative conflict, but instead ends up being what usually solves it. 

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Katawa Shoujo

Group project summary by group leader Victoria Keating

A common mistake about romance is that it is an easy genre to write. It’s simple you may think. Person meets person. They fall in love. They face adverse circumstances. Someone may even die. Love prevails in some way or another. As someone who is a sucker for a good romance, I would have to disagree. One requirement not mentioned was good characters. For a romance to be successful, the audience needs to have a reason to care about the characters. In some cases, we care because we can easily imagine ourselves as the main character. In other cases, we care about the characters because they have such good backgrounds and stories that we can’t help but be drawn in. Katawa Shoujo is a perfect example of how having good characters can carry a romance far.

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Atlantics as a Horror/Ghost Genre Film

by Zach Cogan, Dylan Kanaan, Gabriela Horwath, Shahrez Aziz, and Meagan Johnson

Though Atlantics sets itself up to be a more of  a mystery and a romance rather than a typical horror movie, its filmmaking styles, as well as its form, do include a lot of imagery, sounds, and tropes traditionally associated with the horror genre, which are broken down below.

The Ocean

One significant element of the film is the class struggle of the Sengelese people, a story of journeying to a foreign land to find menial labor. Prior to the young construction workers leaving for Italy, the audience is graced with a tender moment between Souleiman and Ada with the raging ocean in the background of the scene. The ocean does in fact play on the beauty and intimacy of the characters’ young love, but also create a sinister effect throughout the film. There is a numbness to the waves. The ocean is all-consuming, treacherous, and unpredictable–similar to the relationship between Ada and Souleiman. As seen below, the way the ocean is presented to us defines a lot of the tone in that section of the movie, with the ocean being at its darkest and most sinister in the middle portion of the movie, where the horror aspect is most prevalent. Yet, even when the film ventures into a commentary of class struggles, defining love, and fantasy, the ocean serves as a constant reminder of the mystery of one’s own existence Although we never see the wreck that claims so many lives, the churning waves seems to carry a mystical force or magical entity. This mood later serves the possession of the women, ultimately defining the film as a literal and metaphorical ghost story. 

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Atlantics (2019) and the Romance Genre

by Emily Nagler, Mimi Taylor, Brendan Boustany, Junyoung Choi, and Frank Martin

Something I noticed when watching Atlantics was how often faces, especially those of Ada and Soulemain, were obscured somehow. Sometimes this was because of the way the shot was framed, the lighting, or some other element of the mise-en-scène obscuring them. Here’s the first times we see Ada and Soulemain:

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