What We’re Watching This Week 04/06/17

Rick and Morty

“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” Morty (a 14-year-old, by the way) speaks these words to his older sister, Summer, in the first season of the show, more than three years ago. The show’s off-the-cuff comedy is clever as all hell, but Rick and Morty’s calling card has always been its deep nihilism. A sitcom family is thrust against the backdrop of infinite worlds in infinite timelines through madcap dimension-hopping. And where other writers’ rooms might spiral out of control into the vastness of this premise, Rick and Morty repeatedly zeroes in on how small it makes the characters feel. This new episode features Inception-esque dream worlds, a gun that transfers one’s consciousness to another being, and a collapsing galactic government — so nothing far out of place for the show. The episode also dropped on April Fool’s Day, which honestly feels perfect. It veers towards where I think the show has been leisurely headed for two seasons: that the whole thing is just a sick joke. This could literally be the case; the episode might be a false start, or a different timeline — completely non-canon. But if not: Rick’s closing monologue to Morty is haunting, and while I don’t think I can swallow it, I truly wonder — if only for a minute — whether this show might actually not have a heart. -Noah Franklin


Casey Neistat


After taking a few months off from daily vlogs, youtube icon Casey Neistat is back! Although he was not one of the “daily vlog” pioneers, Neistat brought a new level of creativity and professionalism to the youtube culture. Neistat documents his New York City life through advanced camera shots, drone flyovers, and electric skateboard adventures; he uploads these as short films every single day! This high quality and high volume of output is unprecedented on youtube. If you aren’t already one of his nearly 7 million subscribers, you need to go check out his youtube channel right now. For starters search: “The $21,000 First Class Airplane Seat” on youtube. -Bryan Eng


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex


With the new film Ghost in the Shell hitting theaters last week, I thought I’d take the time to revisit some of the roots of the franchise, namely Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is the anime adaptation of the 1989 manga (Japanese comic) that aired 15 years ago. In the show, Motoko Kusanagi, a human cyborg super-cop, works tirelessly to solve various cyber crimes in a world where immortality is possible, cyber crime is rampant, and the definition of “human” is blurry. It’s a world in which a human soul can be uploaded into a cybernetic brain as a program, and passed down from robotic body to robotic body. The series provides a glimpse of a society in which humans and robots have become indistinguishable through artificial intelligence and human augmentation, a scenario that is seemingly unrealistic, but still plausible at the same time. After all, who knows where our world will be when 2030 (the setting of the show) comes to pass? Also, Kusanagi is a badass, plain and simple. This anime is included on almost every list of “Best Anime of All Time”, which means that you should stop reading this right now and go watch it. I’d recommend it to anyone, whether you’re a seasoned anime fan, or someone who has never seen any anime except that one episode of Pokemon you saw that one time. It didn’t catch the eye of American movie makers for nothing. -Kevin Chan

Tom Ska’s “asdfmovie” Series


It takes a lot of effort to look like you’re putting in no effort at all. Paradoxical, really, in an age where Internet fame is so impossible to master. Online content creators will spend hours editing drafts of their patter, adjusting their three-point lighting, and selling out for YouTube Red — and the resulting content can be nothing more than an impassioned rant or a couple of jokes made while gaming. What makes the Internet so enticing is similar to what draws many people to modern art: the voice in the back of your head saying “I could do that!” Recently, with the April Fool’s Day not-a-joke release of Tom Ska’s “asdfmovie 10,” I was reminded of how effort can hide behind nonsense. For the uninitiated, the decapitalized “asdfmovie” series is a collection of animated sketches, all under about 5 seconds in length, which range between absurdist anti-humor, exaggerated reactions, and cartoonish violence (aside from the white background and black outlines, the only color consistently used is, appropriately, red). It’s very juvenile humor, and one suspects that sketches are weighed on their potential mimetic qualities when included. But as mentioned, it takes effort to hold viewers in for ten episodes, and nearly ten years. The sketches are masterclasses in the setup, subversion, and payoff of jokes, comparable to their contemporaries “5secondfilms” for their rapid-fire style. They rely on audience expectations of comedy tropes, acting as comic stimulants rather than engaging atmospheric parody. It’s humor with no time to breathe, and just enough time to laugh. The series is proof that ‘random’ comedy doesn’t have to be mindless after all. [CW: gun violence, death, blood] -Zach Barr