Friday, July 20, 2018

Treat or Tripe? | Miraculous




All pix via Pinterest

Now that we live in town and are out from under that crazy bandwidth cap, I’ve finally been able to check out a show I’ve been curious about for quite a while now (hurrah for YouTube). I started seeing pictures and fan-art for the French-Korean TV show Miraculous (also called Miraculous Ladybug) on Kendra’s Pinterest feed and quickly fell down the rabbit-hole of the Ladybug fandom. And now I finally know what all the hype is about (well, mostly...).

This is different than my previous “Treat or Tripe?” posts, as it deals with a series as a whole, not just one movie. And since it would be too tedious for words to analyze every episode separately, I’m just going to give my general impressions of the show. I’m assuming anyone reading this has already seen it, but in case you haven’t, be aware that beyond here be spoilers.

Overall, I like it. While it’s not as “deep” as Pixar or even some of Disney’s latest flicks, Miraculous does have some positive messages, and even a bit of food for thought if you scratch under the surface fluff (especially in Season One). Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about it, due to some rumors about some of the secondary characters...but having watched the show, it seems like you’d have to read A LOT into things to see it, and I doubt the target audience (7-12-year-olds, I believe) would even think along those lines. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, and I ain’t tellin’.) Of course, the fandom doesn’t consist mainly of grade-schoolers. Many teens and twenty-somethings enjoy the show, too.

Anton Argentos:
And one thirty-something. XD
You guys are so adorable. I love this show, and I was born in 1985. Do the math. ;-)

<_< Thank you for airing the family laundry.

*Wink*

(Save it for Isabella, Silver One. Now scat; I have a post to write.)

*Trots off to find Isabella*

Oy.
/HIJACK
The infamous "Love Square" of Miraculous :-P
Of course, I heard all about the infamous “Love Square” and wondered if my overly-romantic inner self could survive da feelz...but I find I’m not as into it as I thought I would be (well, not until “Glacinator,” but even still...). 
After watching the Origins episodes (which I saw after four or five regular episodes ’cos I figured the rest of the show would make more sense if I knew how it all began), I found myself rooting for Adrien to find friends after (we assume) a lifetime of isolation from other kids (except Chloé, ugh). Friends, not romance. Yet.
One of my favorite moments on the show--this lonely, isolated boy goes to public school to make some friends, and he gets his wish. :D (Be patient, Marinette, and enjoy the honor of being his friend for now. Love will come at just the right time. Don't put the noodles in until the water boils. ;-) )I can sympathize with Marinette’s unrequited crush on Adrien (or is it? >:-)), but I found myself wishing she’d realize what an awesome thing it is to be Adrien’s friend. Wishing she’d cool her jets, hold her horses, pull back a little, and just enjoy the friendship for a while. 
Be patient and trust that love will come when the time is right (after all, these kids are only FOURTEEN, so it’s not like they’re going to get married anytime soon). As Master Fu said, wait until the water boils to put the noodles in. ;-)


 (Speaking of which....)
One thing that I find unique and interesting about this show is the ancient Chinese twist. Being something of a jewelry artist, I love the fact that the superpowers come from magical jewelry. Probably not an original idea, but a fun one—especially since it looks like many of them represent the various animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Some might argue that the show is subtly pushing the Eastern/New Age philosophy, but I prefer to look at it mostly as mythology or urban fantasy.

If anyone were to ask me who’s my favorite character on the show, I’d have to say Adrien/Cat Noir (yes, I know it’s technically Chat Noir, but they say Cat on the English dub, so there you are. Why they didn’t go ahead and call him Black Cat in the English version, I’ll never know).
Adrien
 Adrien is such a gentleman, really. I especially love the fact that he’s not afraid to call Chloé out when she’s being mean (encouraging her to try and act better), or as Cat Noir, tell Ladybug when she’s being unreasonable, yet he does it without harsh accusations or yelling. Also, he has a strong sense of chivalry and fair play. I like that he takes fencing lessons, plays classical piano, and knows how to waltz (mind you, these were probably at his dad’s insistence, but on the whole, Adrien seems to enjoy them, and they are a part of who he is). All that to say, I love the slightly old-fashioned gentleman vibe this boy has, and how he makes it look “cool” rather than...well, old-fashioned. :-P As Cat Noir, he’s reckless and a notorious punster, but there’s still a bit of the chivalrous gentleman there...it’s just more playful than when he’s Adrien. Kitty is also a bit of a flirt and tries too hard to impress Ladybug...which of course just endears him to his fans all the more. (And on a personal note, I see a lot of my boy Anton in this Cat....)
LadyNoir in one picture. LOL
















Don’t get me wrong; I like Marinette, too. She’s cute and perky, creative and caring, helpful and supportive, and I love that she enjoys both fashion design and video games. A nice balance between “girly” and “nerdy.” I just find myself leaning more towards Adrien/Cat Noir.

Favorite secondary characters would be Alya, Nino, Juleka, Nathaniel, Max, and Markov.
 
Alya Césaire
Everyone needs a BFF like Alya. I love how positive and confident she is, always encouraging Marinette even while teasing her. Totally on board to help Marinette declare her feelings for Adrien...no matter how ridiculous her plans for doing so (see “Gigantitan”—ooh-ha!).

Nino Lahife
Nino is kind of a laid-back version of Alya—positive, supportive of his buddy...just not as impulsive or pushy as Alya tends to be. And can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that Nino is the only person (so far) to be akumatized because of righteous anger (or rather, what began as righteous anger), i.e. being angry because his best friend was being treated unfairly? 

filing_images_6865a9e13eec.jpg (200×200)
(Ironically enough, it's hard to find
good pix of Juleka....)
 
I mainly like Juleka because her favorite color is obviously purple 😊...and because nobody ever seems to hear or understand what I’m saying half the time, either. *Grunt* Quiet-voiced folk, UNITE!!! (“Stop shouting....”) /RANT 
Plus I like Midnights.† ^.^
Smiling Nathanael!
Is it just me, or does the emblem on his shirt
look like the Rebel Alliance logo from Star Wars?
 
And Nathanael...I mean, come on, he’s a redhead. ;-) (Actually, I kinda chuckle gleefully to myself over how many Flames* there are on this show.) But more than that, he’s quiet, sensitive, and artistic. In other words, not your typical rough-and-tumble or “macho” boy. Hopefully he’ll get more screentime/character development in later seasons.

†Midnight(s) = Collective term for black- or dark-haired people.
* Flame(s) = Collective term for red-haired person or persons. Coined in early 2018 as an alternative to the derrogatory-sounding "redhead" and "carrot-top," and the inaccurate "ginger."
~Tom's Dictionary of Whacked-out Terms and Old Family Sayings

Max is the typical computer nerd/boy genius-cum-inventor, which I think is really cool (especially since his best friend seems to be Kim, the class jock). And Markov is hands-down the cutest. Robot. EVER!
Max and Markov (Robostus - Episode 6 - Season 2)
Also, shoutout to Miss (Mrs.?) Bustier for her positive, caring attitude towards her students, and her efforts to help them with their troubles, and get them to treat each other nicely. Not to mention protecting Marinette from the akuma and initially resisting Hawkmoth’s influence. You go, girl. No matter everyone in your class (even Chloé!) loves you so much.

My biggest beefs and personal caveats with the show:

  • The rock ’n’ roll background/credits music, and the recurring theme of rock/pop stars. ’Cos I grew up with strong musical convictions, and heavy back-beat/loud music in general disturbs me. THAT SAID, it doesn’t detract from the main story that much and is easy enough to filter out or mute altogether.
  • More than one Transformation scene in one (20-minute) episode. Yeah, it’s cool and flashy and all, but come on; we don’t need to see it every time Adrien and Marinette have to become Cat Noir and Ladybug. It slows down the plot. (To the show’s credit, there’s a lot less of this in the latter part of Season One and what there is of Season Two. In fact, sometimes we don’t even see Cat’s transformation, or it’s modified.)
  • THE LIES! Just once, I’d like to see a show about teen superheroes where the kids actually take their parents/guardians into their confidence, and the parents are wise enough to keep the secret, and be a powerful support and source of wisdom for their super-kid. In that vein, it’s kind of ironic that Marinette/Ladybug is portrayed as hating lies and liars (“Liars are losers”), yet she continually lies to everyone around her...and not just about her secret identity, either.
  • All the singing in the Christmas Special. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up on Disney flicks, so I’m not opposed to singing in movies and such...but Miraculous isn’t that kind of show, so the singing felt out of character. Even Plagg sang. Plagg! And my childhood died when Santa Claws did his little number....
    I think it would have been much better with half the singing, and Plagg pulling a Flynn Rider and snarking, “What’s with all the singing?” and Adrien replying, “It’s Christmas.” :-P But I’m not sorry I watched it, for reasons listed in the Favorite Moments section....
  • I JUST REALIZED recently that Hawkmoth’s signature color is purple! AURGH! Why is purple always a villain color?! They’d better reform this guy in later seasons, or else give his Miraculous to someone who will use it properly (and treat poor little Nooroo better *hugs Nooroo*).
  • While skin-tight “super-suits” seem to be par for the course with superhero flicks, I’ a wee bit uncomfortable with them. Cat Noir’s isn’t so bad, as his suit has things like shoulder-pads/epaulets, boots, and his belt/“tail” to break it up visually. I kinda wish Ladybug’s suit had similar details, rather than being basically a second skin. Sometimes I feel they’re subtly making Ladybug a little too...but maybe that’s just my overly analytical mind reading more adult content where it doesn’t belong again. :-P *Bad Tom*

Things I love about the show (in no particular order):

Marinette and her parentsMarinette comes from a two-parent family who love each other dearly and support and encourage one another. It’s obvious Tom Dupain and Sabine Cheng are devoted to one another, and that Marinette enjoys spending time with them (especially her video game-playing dad). A refreshing element for a kids’ show.

  • Friendship, teamwork, loyalty, and love are highly valued.
  • While Ladybug and Cat Noir do their share of fighting with the villains, instead of killing them (too heavy for a kids’ show, after all) or throwing them in jail, they deal with the root cause of their villainy and free them from Hawkmoth’s evil influence. I also love that Ladybug has the power to put things back to normal after the battle is over (how many times have they toppled the Eiffle Tower on this show?!). Our Heros’ main focus—besides saving Paris and capturing akumas—is helping people. Ladybug often gives the victims a word of affirmation or encouragement afterwards.
  • Marinette is willing to admit when she’s in the wrong and does her best to make it right.
  • The fact that Marinette’s circle of friends encompass so many types of people, yet they all enjoy doing things together and repeatedly support and stand of for each other.

Favorite moments:
  • Cat Noir jumping in front of Ladybug to protect her from Timebreaker. He basically died for his lady. (But of course he didn’t stay dead because...Temporal Mechanics. ;-))
  • Ladybug giving Cat chin-scritches (“Good job, Kitty!”)
  • Ladybug basically organizing a “garbage band” to sing Mylene’s favorite song to help de-akumatize her. (CAT NOIR: Seriously, “smelly wolf”?! [My thoughts exactly, Kitty, LOL]) And all her friends being willing to pitch in and save their friend.
  • Ladybug chasing Cat Noir and calling, “Here, Kitty-kitty-kitty!” LOL!
  • Cat Noir licking himself just like a real cat, after Ladybug dumped his hypnotized self in the Seine. Ooh-hah!
  • Basically any time Cat Noir does anything like a real cat. XD
  • Pretty much Hawkmoth’s entire interaction with “Gigantitan.” (Seriously, Hawkmoth? Did you really think it would work to akumatize a baby?!)
  • Hawkmoth’s “I have made a terrible mistake” moments when akumatizing little kids (or robots with the mentality of little kids, LOL).
  • Cat Noir’s solo in the Christmas Special. Seriously, this bit contains some of the deepest Adrien/Cat Noir character development on the show prior to Season Two. And somehow, putting his angst and loneliness into song made it that much stronger. (“Im alone, like a cat in the night!”) The first of several moments from that point on where I just wanted to give Kitty a big hug. And when his anger culminates into “I’ll take your symbol of Christmas and burn it to the ground!” I’m sitting there thinking, “No, Cat! Don’t do it—don’t do it!” at the same time wondering what would happen if a Miraculous holder used his powers for evil, even though he isn’t akumatized. Then suddenly—Mom.
    It’s evident he loved his mother and misses her terribly, but I think this scene also indicates that she loved Christmas and made it a special time for him and his father. In that one brief second, he realizes he can’t go through with it, because it would have dishonored his mother’s memory.
    And that, friends, is when Cat Noir became my favorite character on the show.
    😊
  • The “Balcony Scene.” Wow—now I know why this is such a fave in the fandom. So many feels here, and so cool to see “the sensitive side of Cat Noir” (to quote Tikki). I found it interesting that he’d seek out Marinette for comfort after his disappointment. My theory is that, by this time, he realizes how kind and supportive Marinette is, and feels comfortable talking to her.
  • Pretty much all of “Befana.” Such a fun episode all-round!
  • Hawkmoth pleading with Adrien to transform after Adrien jumps off a building. He’s obviously terrified he’s mistaken about his son being Cat Noir, and that he’ll lose him. Shows the guy actually does care about his son after all.
  • Gabriel and Adrien watching the movie with Mrs. Agreste in the leading role.
  • Gabriel playing a piano duet with Adrien. Makes me wonder if he’ll reform eventually....
  • Kim asking Ondine on a date. Maybe the dude finally got it through his noggin that Chloé isn’t worth his affections...?
  • The fact that Chloé still treasures her favorite toy from childhood...and based her personal style on it! (Seriously—the bear is yellow with rhinestone buttons for eyes and has a black-and-white-striped tummy! Compare it to Chloé’s outfit and see if I’m right. ;-))
  • Chloé’s confession near the end of “Zombizou.” Wow, serious character development there.
  • Nino staying with Alya, even though he knew she’d turn into a zombie any moment and infect him.
  • Cat Noir driving a bus. Because *of course* a fourteen-year-old knows how to drive. XD
  • Marinette’s “date” with Nathanael (OK, technically he was The Evillustrator at that point, but whatever). So stinkin’ cute.

And a bunch more I’ve forgotten, but that’s enough. ;-P
I’m thinking of doing a couple more Miraculous-themed posts—one on my favorite and least-favorite episodes (the former of which will be hard, as most of them are pretty good), and perhaps a bit of fan-theory. If anyone’s interested, of course. No sense putting out all that effort if no one wants to read it, wot?

*EDIT* I was going to mention some Biblical/Christian parallels I saw in the show (which I'm sure were purely unintentional, as this is a secular show, after all)...but this fellow pretty much said most of what I had in mind, so check it out!

What are some of your favorite things about Miraculous? Any beefs? Shall I do some more MLB-related posts? If you haven’t seen the show yet, why not?

Friday, April 27, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 27: Song You Wish You Could Play

Träumerei (“Reverie”) by Robert Schumann. One of my favorite piano pieces! I tried to learn it many moons ago…but piano music is hard for me to read. And my hands are tiny. So I’ll just leave it to the professionals and enjoy listening….

Thursday, April 26, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 26: Song You Can Play on an Instrument

Having a music major for a mother (and a father who had latent-but-never-developed musical talent), I couldn’t very well escape having some musical talent myself. Which meant playing or singing with the family and/or various groups through the years.

My dad taught me the basics of how to play the soprano recorder when I was nine, and now I play all but the tenor and bass (tiny hands :-P). One of my favorite songs to play on the alto recorder is “Masters in This Hall,”* as I have a liking for Medieval/Renaissance music, and it’s one of the few pieces I can play by memory.

Several years ago, the community chorale we were in performed this song for our Christmas concert, at which time I learned it told the story of Jesus’ birth, making it one of my favorite lesser-known Christmas carols. 😊

* Note: This is not the arrangement we sang with the chorale, but it was the best I could find.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 25: Song that Makes You Laugh

To be honest, very little makes me actually LOL...but several things can at least elicit a smile or a chuckle, and “The Llama Song” is one of them. Many moons ago now, one of my cyber-friends and fellow message-board members (writing under the screenname of Crazed Celt) posted the link to this crazy video, and I was hooked. I think she also said their family had this as their answering machine message....

Ahh, fun times....

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 24: Song You Want Played at Your Funeral

While “Amazing Grace” and “It Is Well With My Soul” seem to be pretty standard for funerals/memorial services, and I’d definitely want the former at least...it occurred to me that I’d want to leave my grieving loved ones with a message of hope, and give them some food for thought.

Through Heaven’s Eyes” has always been one of my favorite songs (if not THE favorite) from Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt. Not only is the accompaniment fun and mysterious and stirring all at once, but the message of the song—that no one is insignificant or useless in the grand scheme of life, and that God uses different people in different ways—is incredibly uplifting. I want people who come to my funeral to remember that our time on Earth is temporary, so we should make the most of it while we can...and also to encourage them that anyone can be useful to God, if they’ll allow Him to work through them.

Which reminds me that I have a novel or twelve to finish before then.... ;-)

Monday, April 23, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 23: Song You Want Played at Your Wedding

Frankly, at this point in my life, the chances of my ever getting married are slim to none. If I ever had any admirers, I’ve long since driven them away with my weirdness and immaturity. And I’m still weird and immature.

JamieCiaran:
Lass, a truly Godly man—your anam chara*—would cherish your quirks. He wouldna’ be put off by your flaws, an’ he’d inspire ye to act more maturely.

Well, he’d have to be really special, that’s for sure.

Anyhow, on the off-chance God did bring the right fellow into my life, and he decided he could survive spending the rest of his with my crazy self…well, I’ve been feeling that “I See The Light” from Disney’s Rapunzel would be appropriate to play at our wedding. Cant’ say exactly why, but it just seems like it. *Shrug*

Along with “Eielweiss” from Disney’s The Sound of Music. Perfect for waltzing to! 😊



* Anam chara (ANN-um KAH-rah) = Irish Gaelic for “soul-mate”

Sunday, April 22, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 22: Song You Listen to When You’re Sad

Life is rough, especially for those of us with more sensitive, emotionally-driven personalities. When I find myself overwhelmed by this confusing, complicated, just-plain-skronky* mess known as Life, the soothing, intricate melodies of “Sicut Cervus” calm me down.

I learned this beautiful Latin song during my time with the local community chorale, and it's been an incredible blessing.

* Skronky = Difficult, uncooperative, a hassle.
~Tom’s Dictionary of Whacked-out Terms and Old Family Sayings