Dash of Samurai, Dash of Influence

After doing a bit of research on the '60s Japanese manga "Dororo" for my recent review of the live-action film, I stumbled across a great three-part video series on YouTube featuring the "color pilot" for a Doror television series. The artwork is splendid, showing a lot of depth in coloring and detail work. Since it's all in Japanese without English subtitles, it's difficult to follow if you haven't any grasp on the language. Seeing as how my knowledge base only goes as far as being able to, maybe, recognize and identify 6 or 7 out of 10 hiragana and katakana characters from a line-up, it was more of an exercise in soaking in the style of the cartoon while relying on the knowledge built from watching the live-action movie.

It's interesting to point out -- as I also did in my review -- that the lead character, Hyakkimaru, has a distinct similarity to Haohmaru of the Samurai Showdown video game series. For some reason, Dororo also echoes some memories that I have of reading Wendy and Richard Pini's comic series, ElfQuest.

Besides the hair and the muscular structures, each of them projects a certain fire through their eyes. In the cases of Dororo and Haohmaru, they even fight similarly (though, you won't see Dororo bouncing up and down in a fighting-game like stance). Sure, a lot of anime showcase wild-haired, attractive samurai who'd kick some rear for a Pepsi, but a more clear influence is obvious throughout. Are they carbons of each other? Of course not; they act and react independently of each other, squashing much sense of similarity once you start to soak in individually.

Artistic influence shadows the same kind of evolution that cultural change embodies. It's not lacking original ideas or trying to steal thunder from original creators. Instead, artists rely on their experiences like a lump of clay relies on the hands that give it shape on a pottery wheel. Even innovators to their genre like David Lynch exhibit clear influence to past works, such as his similarities to Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman's existential auras. To connect with thought across mediums, game producer and composer Akira Yamaoka of the eerie Silent Hill series relates the fact that his line of games are influenced by the work of David Lynch. It's all reciprocal.

"What'a really going to bake your noodle later on", as the Oracle says in one of the more tangible efforts at intrinsic concentration in the Wachowski's first Matrix film, is whether you consider the hand that crafted your influential entity to also be your influence.


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