Winning at fantasy means making predictions and acting on them prior to other players. To do that, you don't always have the privileges of hindsight and deduction. You will need foresight and inference. I hope to offer a some good if not somewhat inferential arguments for why some early moves on this weekly (if I have time) post.
Fantasy thinking is often over-obsessed with statistical correlations at the expense of firm causal understanding of what is happening on the field. The forest is often lost for the trees. A combination of understanding the game of football, recognizing interconnected changes that will influence teams, and eye testing the games themselves is the best antidote to the groupthink, herd-mentality of fantasy football expertism which, time and again, proves spotty at best in anticipating changes.
Last week I posted this as "Eye-tested Takes
" but I realized that's not what I was aiming for. A variety of posters and services watch the whole game and give you maximally thorough takes on every snap. I won't offer much of an opinion on players/teams I don't watch. I'll always watch enough. However, a lot of what I'll make as the case for picking up (or dropping) a player will be based on obvious things that are happening that rankings-myosis may miss.
There's always an elephant in the room that no one want's to acknowledge. This post gives fantasy advice that accounts for the elephants on the field.
Things I'm right about (so far): 1. Rivers Noodle Arm = Colts Lean into Jonathon Taylor:
With the quality of that offensive line, Mack going down, and Rivers looking like shit, Jonathon Taylor may end-up being a top-5 back this year. TY Hilton and Parris Campbell are going to disappoint you.
A bunch of commenters disagreed, insisting Hines was the guy to get and Taylor as a top-5 was nuts. This is an instance of the eye-test making people too smart. Yes, Taylor netted 22 yards on 9 carries week 1. Who cares, he was great in college (larger sample size) and more importantly, Rivers looks SOOO spent that Taylor is the only obvious bell-cow RB for what is probably the best O-line in the league. You want that. Rivers threw it 25 times in week two (down from 44). Taylor had 26 carries, 2 receptions, 110 yards, and 1 touchdown. It was obvious what had to happen in Indy but fantasy groupthink herded everyone toward Hines.
If you had the audacity to ignore me on this (/s), the good news is there's still time. His trade value has skyrocketed on most charts but he's not quite valued as a top back yet. If you get the feel someone is under-valuing him, don't wait longer because his first 2 TD game is going to make him inaccessible in a trade. The Colts defense is also looking good enough to maintain a lead throughout a game, opening-up more run play calls. (Rivers sucking is going to do that all the time anyway).
And if you still don't believe me, watch his highlights from this week
and you'll see why he could be such a focal point. He does a lot of things that coaches like to lean-into: great ball security, adds 2-3 yards to the end of runs, explosive speed when he has big holes. 2.Browns Offense is fine:
Don't panic about the Browns offense. Baker Mayfield looked like trash but the running offense actually looked pretty good at times...Stefanski is the guy you need to believe in... The biggest takeway from the game isn't the Browns offense is bad, its that the Ravens defense is great.
Both Browns running back scored multiple TD's and registered more than 150 yards each week 2. Baker continued to suck and it didn't matter. Stefanski's offense is good and his coaching career is a testament to his talent. All-Ivy-League Football Player. First coaching job was in the NFL. They wouldn't let him leave for 14 years because they knew he was a talent.
So don't run from Chubb or Hunt yet. And if you have them both, start them both and don't feel bad (unless you have a clearly better option like Zeke too...then probably favor starting Kareem Hunt the larger your ppr value, but its a tough call). The Browns are a perfect storm that make both startable: (a) Both Chubb and Hunt have top-5 rb talent and it comes across when you watch them on the field. With good combinations of strength and speed, each one is TD risk on every snap. (b) Sefanski divides snaps very well. Both are getting touches-a-plenty. They just signed they're "back-up" RB to a new contract (I mean, how often does that happen in the modern NFL?). KS also divides snaps by drive, unless a drive gets very long, so even if Chubb is doing well, he's going to give Kareem Hunt a whole drive. (c) starting both is fading Baker which is smart. The Browns are going to increasingly realize that their offense is more effective with Baker doing less. They may even move to Case Keenum (their back-up, legit didn't know that last week) and that's fine for Chubb/Hunt.
I wouldn't run from OBJ or Jarvis Landry yet either, though Baker's ineptitude has got to make you worry. Think about what Minnesota offenses did over the years with Diggs, Theilen, etc. Both OBJ and Landry are going to be solid bets for big-play TD's (like OBJ's last Thursday) here and there but likely not breaking the top-10. Still, the talent ceiling is high with both so a buy-low scenario where you get them in a trade could pay-off if you bet on Stefanski more than Mayfield. 3. Deandre Hopkins is the WR1
Deandre Hopkins will be the #1 fantasy receiver this year... And most importantly, the offensive situation in Arizona is the perfect storm for his fantasy situation. Kyler Murray is good, but he's not working his way through progressions yet.
Hopkins nabbed a TD but only had 9 targets this week. I'll admit that I only watched Kyler Murray's highlights so forgive me if its there and I didn't see it, buuuuut...He's not completing passes to 2nd and 3rd reads. Its one read then run. That's great for Hopkins' stats because the further into the season they get, the MORE Hopkins is going to be involved on plays designed to chuck it to him, no matter what. Hopkins is one of those guys that's always open, and Kyler is a smart player who knows that AND knows he's not good enough yet to start looking for someone else if Hopkins is "covered". That may hurt the Cardinals at some point. But Hopkins is getting fed this season.
And obviously, a rash of injuries at WR has made this look to be a better prediction. Hopkins is already a stud in that offense and he's still learning it. His stock is only going up from here.
Its true the WR's new offenses typically do poorly. A couple of reasons why that's not true of Hopkins: (a) he's physically the most gifted receiver in the league. Randy Moss kicked ass his first year with the Patriots. Some players are talented enough that it doesn't take time, as long as they're smart as hell like Randy Moss or (b) Hopkins is an intelligent dude. He negotiated his own contract and didn't fuck it up. He wants to be G.M. Big brained guy, he'll pick up quickly. You can see that on the field, he's constantly looking back at Kyler to make sure he did the right thing on each play. (c) HOF'er in the WR room: Fitz will get him up to speed fast.
Quick note about Kyler Murray: He's tearing it up. One encouraging thing that you might not see how little he's allowing himself to be tackled. As a fantasy owner, that's encouraging because it suggests he can sustain a high running floor and not get injured. And there's an added assurance that he's putting those slides for zero yards (for example) on tape because the coaches see that too and are more willing
to call more of those plays down the stretch. Still, I wouldn't compare him to Lamar Jackson last season yet. Lamar Jackson was throwing TD's to his 4th and 5th read in week 1 against the Dolphins last season. Murray may hit a scheme ceiling where defenses, especially good ones, start to take away his 1 and 2 and contain his run game (though it is strong and he has good vision).
Things I was totally wrong about: zero things!
HA! Next section!
Things I'm not right about yet but pretty soon I will be: 1. Joe Burrow AJ Green is going to be good.
If you watch the game, you see Joe Burrow fitting the ball into tight windows in clutch situations. In fact, he wasn't finding a lot of open receivers, he was throwing the ball well/correctly into great coverage and making lemonade. Also, AJ Green is looking fully healthy and like his old self.
Well, AJ Green was targeted 13 times and caught...3 of those passes for 29 yards. So clearly, the chemistry between them was oversold by me last week. Still, 13 targets is encouraging and so is the Bengals inability to run the ball. No matter how much they try, they're wretched run-blocking always leaves them down late in games and in 3rd-and-forever situations. They just let a rookie throw it 61 times.
Another consideration is that Denzel Ward was covering Green all night
A.J. Green has had an up-and-down career vs. the Browns. Thursday’s game was on the down side, and it had mostly to do with Denzel Ward.
Green had three catches for 29 yards. Overall, Ward broke up three passes against the Bengals. And according to Next Gen Stats, Ward was making life difficult for Joe Burrow all night, forcing eight tight window passes in 11 targets as the nearest defender.
Green is still pretty low on trade value charts but stands to have a huge upside as Burrow's primary target. 2. Rodgers is back.
...are there really any physical traits that are important to his game that would fade significantly at 36 year's old? I didn't see any missing zip off of his throws. I did see fucking darts getting tossed all over the field into tiny windows.
Aaron Jones is the #1 fantasy RB right now so obviously saying Rodgers is fully back
is pre-mature. However, he is impressing with some very, very pretty darts.
Also, the elephant on the field for the Packers is that Aaron Rodgers is a player driven by ego. Not a knock on him, he's just a guy who needs mojo to play at his finest. Maybe it required the stimulation of an insulting draft pick to prod him back into his HOF form. I'm not saying Rodgers can be a top 3 QB this year with Jackson and Murray running so well, but 4 or 5 doesn't seem out of reach.
Rodgers is pff top-graded QB right now
Fresh takes: 1.The Ravens are the best defense in the NFL.
The loss of Earl Thomas is doesn't matter as much as what has been gained with Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort. Queen is incredibly fast and explosive underneath, getting into the backfield and making big plays. And L.J. Fort (top rated pff lb right now
) combine to give them rangey-coverage, tackling, and pass break-up ability over the middle they didn't have before which has further weaponized they're depth at CB (Humphrey, Peters, Smith). Peters specifically is a ball hawk that's found a great home in Baltimore; he couldn't scheme well anywhere else but Harbaugh has found a way to give him the freedom to ball hawk. Over the long haul, Harbaugh has maintained a great defense, regardless of departures/changes, for years and years. When he has this much talent, his defenses are typically dominant.
Be warry of starting iffy players against them at any position.
They're worth trading for, I think the turnovedef TD potential makes them worth it. 2. J.K. Dobbins will break-out out as the preferred option in the Ravens backfield.
Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards have both proven to be reliable RB's for the Raven offense. But Ingram is 30 with over 200 carries in 3 of the last 4 seasons. Edwards has been reliable, a home-grown UDFA. But at 238lbs and without elite speed, he's leaving many big runs on the table.
Dobbins didn't attend the combine. But ran a 4.44 40...in high school
Dobbins posted a 4.44s 40-yard dash, 4.09s short shuttle and a 43.1-inch vertical jump as a high school senior at the event. There are also many reports that Dobbins squatted over 700 pounds.
He has power running balance and break-out speed that NONE of the other backs in Baltimore have. 4th rounder Justice Hill was their attempt of to develop that speed last year but didn't break out.
A couple of elephants make this one a good bet:
(a) Lamar's durability -- right now, he's taking a bunch of carries because he's the only one in their backfield that has the speed to break huge runs. If Dobbins can fill that role, Lamar Jackson can afford to take fewer chances and John Harbaugh can opt to only drop him back to pass 7 times in the second half when they're winning, like what happened in week 2.
(b) that defense -- Baltimore's defense is going to be great enough this year to take over games, making steady doses of run plays inevitable as they'll spend a lot of games up by 2 scores. Yes, they were up like that a lot last year but their only homerun hitter in the backfield was Lamar (see above, Justice Hill wasn't getting it done).
Here's an example: this is a shot from Gus Edwards' 22 yard scamper last week:
The Ravens offensive line is good at opening holes like this. While it didn't prove important in this game (BAL was up 30-16 at the time), each run like this where a more explosive player could scored is an opportunity cost
for the people calling plays. And its not just points left behind, its points scored while Lamar is watching like a fan. Its points that could allow more aggressive defensive play calling. If you're a coach for Baltimore, you don't necessarily want
Lamar to have a gaudy stat-line every week if you're winning. If he can throw 16 passes in a game and then sit-out the 4th quarter, that's ideal from the franchise's perspective (though not so much for Fantasy managers). Each Ingram/Edwards run that coulda been a touchdown means there's more time on the field for Lamar, larger portion of the game where they're not playing a dominant lead, and higher chance that they'll lose because points were left on the field. They need someone else hitting home runs in the running game.
Am I fading Lamar because of all of this? Not yet. Eye test = that guy is a singular talent. His throwing motion is smooth like Vick's, just a gifted, effortless release. He's also great at mostly avoiding contact (though all contact is bad contact if you're his coaches). Great decision maker too. Makes multiple reads on plays. Can't say enough about how great of player he is. Still, Baltimore is well put-together enough that they may be able to functionally win without him. So don't be surprised if, especially approaching the playoffs, Baltimore starts calling plays that don't involve as much Lamar. What's scary is that they may be a complete football team without him and he's the reigning MVP.
Finally, Dobbins had two carries last week. One was for a 44 yard gain where the blocking was good but not nearly as good as the image above. Even if the transition to him isn't fast, he could force the issue like Chubb did his rookie year, gaining 100 yards on 3 carries in a game.
No matter what, the Ravens will run by committee but there will come a point where the player to start out of the trio is Dobbins without a doubt. 3. Minshew is the truth and his team situation makes him a great fantasy player.
Minshew isn't the most talented QB in the league. But above all things, he is competitive and scrappy. The Jags are good but not great so he's going need a lot of that scrappy-iness (lol, just say that sentence out loud, you'll hear it). James Robinson is very good and they're going to lean on him a lot. But when the time for much needed yards and points, it seems like the Jags tag Gardner Minshew II's Id in at offensive coordinator. Minshew isn't likely going to be top-5 qb but he might make the top 10 and is likely easier to get than other top targets.
Part of the reason DJ Chark isn't getting the production folks hoped is because Minshew is effectively spreading the ball around. Good for the jags, bad for fantasy owners. I wouldn't panic.
One of his targets I picked-up to stash is Laviska Shenault Jr. He's getting a legit number of carries each week and averaging over 10 yards per reception. He's an interesting pick-up because he doubles as handcuffs for Robinson. Seems like his carry count could go up to 10ish no problem if the Jags lost Robinson. So pay attention to what position he's listed in your league, scoring rules about how carries count in ppr, etc. But he passes the eye test, very shifty and fast on the field. 4. Teams that are quickly turning into dumpster fires that you should across-the-board fade:
Gase is the worst. Never underestimate the ability of a shitty boss to ruin a workspace and make everyone fucking hate themselves, even though they're well compensated to play a game for a living. Listen, I know there's always gems on bad teams. But I have high blood pressure. So tuning into games with players I need to play well and watching the offense go 3-and-out 5 times in a row...I'm literally too old for that shit now so I try to stray-away from dumpster fire teams.
Kubiak has got some big Stefanski shoes to fill and he's doing a bad job so far. I wouldn't panic about Dalvin Cook yet but another bad couple of weeks and I'd start shopping him. See the Browns thing above: Stefanski may have made the Vikings offense look better than it actually was for a decade. Combine that with the defense whose secondary would be better if they were scare crows and you're looking at a team that can't plan to run the ball for more than a quarter or 2. Teams to be worried about:
Whew, the injuries. They're basically just starting with new team. We'll see how things go.
Matt Patricia may have lost this team. And coaches like him don't recover team faith/confidence well in a loss-spiral.
BoB is going to crash that plane into a mountain while we all watch. Poor Watson, just watching Deandre Hopkins ball-out. One thing you can still bet on for awhile out of the Texans offense; Bill O'Brien is ego- and career-invested in David Johnson doing great things. He'll role with him when he shouldn't to prove to everyone that he was right to trade Nuk. Its dumb. But he's dumb.
Fortune Favors The Bold (FFTB) Predictions
WARNING: What you're about to read is not necessarily good fantasy advice, but things for me to say "told you so" about a week from now. I take no responsibility for any money you lose (and all responsibility for the money you win). Still, Alexander the Great said, Fortune Favors the Bold.
- JK Dobbins scores more fantasy points than CEH this week. (This prediction is backed-up by the time-honored tradition of spitting in one's hand and shaking on it so this shit is serious. Its also painful because I'm a Chiefs fan.)
- Laviska Shenault scores a running and a receiving touchdown tonight.
- Jonathon Taylor is the RB1 this week and its not close.
- Danny Dimes throws 3 TD's this week against the 49ers.
I'm probably wrong about most of this shit but FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD!
Thanks for reading! If I continue to be kind mostly right and people find it a good read, I'll keep posting these each week. Good luck!
EDIT: Thanks for the awards and upvotes strangers! I'll bring the column back next week. Appreciate the comments too, thanks for the banter, shit-talk, and criticism. I'll be spittin in palms again soon.
EDIT AGAIN: Thanks again for the feedback. This is fun and I'm going to enjoy doing it again next week. Some of the comments have suggested that the post doesn't really go out on many limbs. I'll do that more in the future. I've also added an extra section with a few "FFTB predictions" for this week.
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A/N: Here's a little treat for you all, my July commission from Akella
“You are interested in our symbols, oui?” Yvonne asked softly as she stood in front of the civilian shipboard hospital along with three Cauthan, Zolta, Veera, and Asha. The seamstress had been looking every which way almost non-stop since leaving the hydroponics bay, paying special attention to the directional markings on the floor and walls intended to guide the occupants on the Event Horizon to their various destinations. The red cross had featured prominently as they drew closer, the last one glowing brightly above a wide hospital doorway, large enough for two medical gurneys to pass through easily. When Asha replied in the affirmative, the French doctor provided them with a short history lesson.
“That one actually has a bloody history, ironically enough. A little less than two hundred years ago, an international convention was called to discuss the rules of warfare between nations. You could say that many tribes of humans sent representatives to arrange for more orderly conduct on the battlefield.”
“I’m sorry, you did what?” Zolta interjected as he listened to the translation. “You devised rules of battle and people actually followed them?”
“There are always those who cheat, but to an extent, yes,” Yvonne allowed. “Those who violated them were punished heavily if they survived and were caught. That cross there was meant to represent medical personnel, people who would travel the battlefields and aid the wounded and dying, sometimes even as shells and bullets were still flying. Those are like arrows, but much more deadly. It afforded those kind-hearted individuals some amount of protection from the enemy. Many still died, but more were likely saved on its account. Today it serves as a worldwide symbol of medicine, healing, and emergency services, a sign that help is on the way. Today we will ensure that no emergencies arise, today or in the future, as best we can. Asha, would you follow me please?” Yvonne beckoned, escorting them into the facility where a single nurse sat behind the counter.
“Oh, Dr. Dupuis! Welcome. Room number two has been converted for your appointment per your instructions. Let me know if you need anything.”
“Merci, Claire. These are Veera, Zolta, and Asha. They are friends of ours from the surface. Should anyone come looking for us please page me,” the doctor requested, leading the awestruck Cauthan through the sterile, white atrium.
“Of course, ma’am. Welcome!” the nurse called to the aliens, having been made aware by Yvonne well prior of her unusual guests. Number two was one of several standard multipurpose rooms in the facility, able to be retooled depending on the needs of a general practitioner or non-emergency specialist. At that moment it was set up for a standard obstetrical or gynecological examination. When the automated door closed behind the group Io ‘revealed’ herself, utilizing the rather expansive system of speakers within the Event Horizon and briefly waving hello from a monitor on the left wall that would otherwise be used for the review of patient charts or other information.
‘Since Veera and Zolta are here I oriented the examination chair towards that corner on the far wall for the sake of modesty. Do you need anything else at this time, Ms. Dupuis?’
“No thank you, little Prussian. And I certainly prefer being referred to that way instead of ma’am! Just because I am old doesn’t mean I need to feel like it, right my dears? Actually, would you mind turning the chair back for now, Io? I believe we should demonstrate first for our guests,” Yvonne suggested, heading to a sink and washing her hands before any of the Cauthan could inquire about her actual age. They certainly didn’t have much frame of reference for human senescence.
After a brief moment at the unremarkable metal basin, lathering up and making sure to effectively cleanse her hands, Yvonne turned around to find all three of them standing just where she’d left them, glancing around the room with curiosity and apprehension. Nothing was moving, thankfully, which took the edge off despite the sheer amount of metal and unfamiliar plastic compounds. “Please, be seated dears,” Yvonne offered, shepherding Zolta and Veera to a couple of chairs against an unused wall. She then took Asha’s hand and guided her to another that she pulled close to the examination chair. For the time being, the human was the one sitting comfortably between the padded stirrups. “Those will be for your legs when the time comes, as you might guess,” she explained.
“I see,” Asha replied quietly, suddenly rather bashful as she considered the full act of childbirth.
“I know it is probably rather intimidating, but here is what we will be using today,” Yvonne said, picking up the ultrasound wand and handing it over to Asha. “Fret not, Asha. It is quite inert while not turned on.”
The young mother’s feathers waved as she turned the piece of plastic and electronics over and over in her paws. “So what does this do, exactly?”
“Can you hum, my dears?” Yvonne wondered, demonstrating for them with a standard octave of notes. Though none in the room were musically minded, providing Io with a wholesome chuckle, the Cauthan proved capable. “Yes exactly, now feel your throat as you do so. You feel the vibrations? The ultrasound vibrates just like that, but far faster than we or the little one in your belly can perceive. All sound bounces off of objects, an echo, and so we are able to use the reflected sound to see what’s inside your belly. Io?”
‘You rang, madame?’
“Yes, madame is quite nice too I believe,” Yvonne tittered. “You have lived around these Cauthan for a time, yes? Do you believe the frequency of a standard ultrasound would be harmful to them? I would not want anyone’s ears to be ringing.”
‘Their hearing is superior to that of a human,’ Io replied, eliciting a proud fluff of Veera’s plumage. ‘However there has been no attempt to quantify this difference. Perhaps a simple test is in order?’
Yvonne nodded and offered her hand to Asha, who returned the ultrasound wand. “Would you all cover your ears, please?” she requested, turning on the machine once they’d all done so. All looked at one another, curious as to what had happened. Lights on the machine next to the examination chair had sprung to life, but nothing else could be seen or heard. Slowly, Zolta removed his finger from his right ear.
“Are we supposed to be hearing something?” he asked.
“Non, you are not. Fabulous! We may proceed,” Yvonne informed them, turning her attention to Asha again. “If it does not annoy you, your child will be just fine. But here, let me show you what to expect first.”
Zolta averted his eyes immediately as Yvonne unbuttoned the middle section of her white doctor’s cloak, but his fears proved mostly unfounded. Veera stood and walked closer to watch as the human took an oddly shaped container and squeezed something that looked like water onto her stomach just below her navel. “Wha… how is it doing that?” Veera gasped, getting Zolta’s attention as his own curiosity and duty to his wife won out.
“It is not water, but a gel. I am not sure how to explain it well,” Yvonne admitted. “But I will tell you its purpose, namely to more effectively transmit the sound from the device into my body. Here, you see?” the doctor handed off the gel to Veera, who promptly squirted a small amount onto her finger while the ultrasound was turned on. Suddenly there was far too much for her to pay attention to all at once. Each finger she touched to the substance quickly became slick and slippery as it spread, seemingly harmlessly, over her pads and fur. At the same time, a grainy black and white image could be seen on the screen that sat next to the examination chair. After a couple of adjustments, Yvonne turned it slightly so that Asha could get a good look. Veera’s gelled fur remained forgotten for a moment.
“What is that? It looks like… well it doesn’t look like much,” Asha admitted.
“Perhaps not, Asha, but give me just a moment. Veera, the gel if you would? Io, please show her how to wash her hands.”
‘Of course, Doctor Dupuis. Veera, please head to the corner of the room where my voice is loudest and don’t touch anything with your right hand. Now press that blue button there with one of your fingers. Excellent.’
Veera took a moment to poke the blue and red temperature buttons on and off several times before actually placing her hand underneath the flow to rinse away the water-based gel. In the meantime, Yvonne had spread a thin line of gel up her midriff and was drawing a thin line parallel to her diaphragm with a washable marker. “The sound leaves the wand and travels in this direction,” she tried to explain, moving Asha’s attention from her belly to the screen. “So let’s see here, I believe that formation at the back here is my spine. Let’s examine something else, shall we?”
Yvonne drew another line as Veera rejoined them. Io hummed from the ceiling as she observed the trace, a vertical line on Yvonne’s trunk. “Oh, I see something! What’s that?!” Asha exclaimed.
“What in the name of the gods… is that normal?” Zolta demanded.
“It is quite normal, I assure you,” Yvonne giggled, momentarily disrupting the image. “That is one of my kidneys. All humans have two of them when we’re born, though we can survive with only one. They filter toxins and waste products from our blood so that we can discharge them from the body in the form of urine.”
“That didn’t really translate well. As what?” Asha requested. Yvonne paused momentarily, wondering how the Cauthan wouldn’t have a word for urine.
‘Mmm? Did you figure it out yet madame?’ the AI teased.
“How did you figure it out, little Prussian?” Yvonne shot right back. Io laughed loudly, as though recalling a fond memory.
‘That is a confidential medical moment between myself and Veera, Doctor Dupuis. I used some of the sensors and tools in my partner’s armor as a crude ultrasound, as it were. I am so curious though, do tell me your guess!’
“Uric acid, or an analog.”
‘We have a winner!’ Io exclaimed as Zolta, Asha, and Veera looked around at one another with confusion on their faces. ‘For our fluffy companions, please do not be alarmed. I was simply confirming for the good doctor here that your bodies behave in a different manner from a human’s, at least when it comes to disposing of nitrogenous waste.’
“You are not helping, Io. And we do not have the time to explain the nitrogen cycle,” Yvonne scolded lightly. “Ah well, my dears please do not fret. We are not here today to ask any probing questions about your bodies, only to ensure that Asha’s little one is healthy. Let me show you one more thing.” With a smile, Yvonne moved the ultrasound wand to her diaphragm, sucked her belly in as best she could, and angled it up into her ribcage. All the assembled aliens gasped.
“That’s her heart!” Zolta whispered, taking Asha by the hand. Even across species the function of the organ was apparent.
“Mmm, and the father is smart as well,” Yvonne complimented him. “Yes, that is my heart. As you can see I’m still quite alive and there are no negative effects of this process.” To further demonstrate, Yvonne turned the machine off, wiped her body down with a paper towel to get rid of the majority of the gel, and allowed the aliens to observe the places the wand had been. Her skin was, of course, unblemished by the examination.
“I want you to test that on me first,” Zolta insisted once Yvonne had buttoned up her outer garment, washed her hands, and sterilized the wand. “Obviously I don’t have a cub in me, but I have a heart.”
‘Oh I’m so tempted to co-opt one of the manufactories to make a Mara’s Best Dad mug,’ Io gushed at Zolta’s bravery.
“Not the worst idea, little light. But for now I require your assistance here,” Yvonne insisted in a no-nonsense tone. “Zolta, I would be happy to examine you first. With your permission, I would like to make a record of what I see.”
“For what reason?” he wondered.
“Several, scientific curiosity and proper documentation foremost among them. But most importantly would be knowing what one of your hearts looks like in case something happens to one of you.”
“What… what would happen?” Veera asked hesitantly, tapping her talons on the floor. Yvonne smiled sadly.
“Have you known anyone in your village who one day simply… expired? Someone young or otherwise healthy?”
“I suppose it might happen every so often?” Zolta acknowledged. “What does that have to do with our hearts? When they stop, they stop. It’s the way of things.”
“Not anymore, at least not among humanity,” Yvonne explained proudly. “My own father suffered what we call a heart attack when he was in his late fifties. We were able to restart his heartbeat. With basic medical treatment, a good diet, and exercise, he was able to live another fifteen years or so. I make no promises, but with enough time and information I am sure we could do such a thing for you as well, assuming your species suffers from the sorts of diseases that might make a heart stop beating before its time. You may not.”
Silence pervaded the examination room as the Cauthan digested Yvonne’s story and the implications of possibly forestalling the hand of Kel. “Disrupting the balance sounds rather dangerous,” Veera eventually stated.
‘And if it gave you another decade with Russell?’ Io asked pointedly. Veera opened her mouth but conflicting emotions and faith stopped her.
“I… don’t know, Io.” Veera hung her head, but Yvonne encouraged her with a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“These questions and struggles are inevitable, young ones. We discussed them endlessly throughout our own history as well. It is a natural part of moving forward as a species. For today, let us take a small first step and leave it at that, hmm?”
“Agreed. What do you need from me?” Zolta wondered.
“Very little, Zolta! Simply seat yourself here,” Yvonne helped him into the examination chair. “Excellent. Now remove your tunic if you please and then lean back and take a deep breath. Oh la la, Asha you married well!”
Veera snickered as Asha flared her feathers proudly. “Isn’t he handsome?” the seamstress agreed, relaxing in her chair and rubbing her belly.
“Well I prefer my men with a bit less fur, but he does have excellent facial symmetry. You said he worked the forge in your village?” Yvonne made small talk as she pulled on some disposable gloves and rested a hand below Zolta’s ribcage. “I am sorry, my dear. I appreciate the male form wherever I find it. You must have a demanding job.”
“You could say that,” Zolta said awkwardly as Yvonne experimented with parting his fur to rest the wand of the ultrasound against the light gray skin underneath that rarely, if ever, saw the light of day.
“We will try a small amount here, yes?” she offered, holding the bottle of gel above his fur. He shivered involuntarily when it came into contact with his skin.
“That’s rather uncomfortable,” he commented as she ensured the wand was coated and resting well enough on skin instead of fur.
“I apologize. May I?” the doctor requested. He nodded as Asha scooched closer and took his hand. All assembled looked at the screen that was currently black with occasional bursts of white static and odd shapes. “No discomfort from the wand itself?”
“Very good. Now I would ask you to suck in your stomach as best you can. Yes, just like that. This may hurt a bit but I will not be pressing so hard on your wife. You are simply well built and I need to get under the ribs to… there we are! Voila, my friends,” Yvonne proudly presented Zolta’s heart, gushing over the anatomy. “And four chambers as well. Look at you! Very good, Zolta. Very good indeed.”
The moment ended as Zolta exhaled the deep breath he’d been holding, allowing his abdomen to decompress into a more natural shape. He shook his head as Yvonne handed him another paper towel. “That was really what’s inside me? This is crazy,” the smith commented, wiping against the grain of his fur and getting most of the gel off.
“It comes off with water if you feel the need, Zolta. Asha, we will have to use more on your belly but I am certain that we can provide you with a private shower or bath of some sort afterwards if necessary.”
‘That will not be a problem, Doctor Dupuis. Asha, are you comfortable with moving on?’ Io asked, feeling the need to assure her in Russell’s absence.
“I have already listened to my cub. I should very much like to see them now,” Asha agreed almost reverentially as her mate vacated the examination chair.
“Veera, if I could ask you to make a bit more room for us?” Yvonne requested. The tall, striped Cauthan nodded and stood back immediately, making way for both Zolta and Yvonne to help Asha onto the examination chair. The pregnant female relaxed as the back of the chair was lowered, allowing her to recline.
“What are those things for?” Veera asked, pointing to the stirrups that Yvonne was lowering to the sides of the chair so as not to obstruct the procedure.
‘They are for a patient’s legs, Veera. This would be in the event that an examination of your… hmm, that’s odd.’ Io cut herself off, her tone changing from clinical to confused in the blink of an eye.
“Is something wrong, Io?” Veera asked worriedly, wishing she could see Io. Communicating with a voice that had no apparent source did not sit well.
‘No no, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Doctor Dupuis please proceed with Asha here. I just… how very strange. What could this be?’
“Perhaps if you stopped musing over it yourself and explained what’s going on to us we could help you, little Prussian. Otherwise, let us table this until we have finished with Asha.”
“I beg your pardon?!” Yvonne snapped her gaze to the ceiling as Zolta and Veera spluttered with laughter. Asha seemed confused, taking her turn to tentatively poke at the ultrasound gel that Yvonne had placed on the swell of her belly.
‘Oh verdammt!’ Io cursed. ‘That’s awful! Is this why humans wake up in the middle of the night regretting things from years before?’
“Io, if you continue to insist on interrupting my examination of an alien fetus you had better take a few paces back and explain yourself before I locate a stale baguette,” Yvonne ordered, the overbearingly French nature of her threat eliciting not a single chuckle on account of her serious tone. Io took a deep breath.
‘My apologies, Doctor. I was simply trying to explain the nature of stirrups to Veera in the context of a gynecological examination. However, when it came time to say the word, to make reference to the maidenhood of my good friend, something in my code seized up. Oh dear, I may have to replace a capacitor.’
“Mmm, welcome to being alive Io,” Yvonne chuckled, rubbing slow circles over Asha’s belly with a caring smile on her face. “We may talk about your discovery of embarrassment at another time.”
“You’re my good friend too, Io,” Veera assured the ceiling. Those words compelled Io to finally comandeer another of the screens in the room so as to wave at the Cauthan who had been with her for most of her maturation. The AI’s face was flushed a healthy pink, and she was dressed similarly to Yvonne, opting for light green nurse’s scrubs.
‘Thank you Veera. For now though, might I suggest you direct your attention elsewhere?’
“Oh my goodness. There you are, little one,” Yvonne cooed. Having finally gotten the orientation correct, the image on the ultrasound screen changed swiftly from difficult to discern cross sections of Asha’s womb, internal organs, and cub, to the typical profile shot that had defined the process of human motherhood since the implementation of the device for the examination of pregnant women almost a century prior. The doctor’s smile shone bright like the star of the system, with Asha clasping both hands over her mouth, quite unable to speak. “Oh look at her…”
“By the Mother,” Zolta whispered, drawing as close as he could to the screen without planting his nose on it. “What do you mean her?!”
“Is your penis outside your abdomen, Zolta?” Yvonne inquired.
‘How the hell does she do that with a straight face?!’ Io demanded. ‘Oh nevermind! Asha, I am rather uninitiated on the developmental process of Cauthan infants, but at least to the untrained eye that looks like a healthy baby girl.’
Yvonne nodded as Zolta confirmed, hesitantly, that male Cauthan genitalia were external. She directed their attention to the area between the cub’s stubby little legs, moving the wand around to provide different cross sections of the image “See there, my parents to be? I will never claim to be certain as this is a momentous first occasion between our species, but I have seen hundreds of baby boys and girls in utero over the course of my life. I believe you will be having a daughter.”
Veera crossed one arm over her chest and cradled her chin in her other hand, silently presiding over the proceedings along with Io. Asha was weeping openly by that point, and even Zolta could be seen with a existential look in his eyes as Yvonne slowly moved the ultrasound wand across Asha’s belly horizontally and then vertically, compiling a rough three-dimensional image of their child that Io was more than happy to process with all possible haste. When the little one kicked, visible to her parents via the ultrasound, the magic of the moment seemed complete. Silently, Veera made a note to speak with Antoth about the experience at another time. For the last year, humanity in her life had been the form of Russell Winters. Even as just one individual, surrounded by her world and culture, he’d been a dominant and influential force. But it was still her world that he’d been consumed by.
Now Veera found herself in his position, surrounded by the wonders of modern medicine, engineering, science, and perhaps most interestingly, human kindness. It had been in Veera’s best interest to study and learn as well as she could the nuances of human facial expression. Her relationship with Russell demanded it. With no feathers to speak of and ears that didn’t seem to move at all, she was impressed by the amount of meaning conveyed by the slightest tug of the lips or widening of the eyes. With the appearance of Alice and other humans for her husband to interact with, those trends had become only more apparent. She could not be absolutely sure, but Veera would have bet a substantial fraction of her possessions back on Mara that Yvonne Dupuis was just as enraptured and enamored with Asha’s cub as the mother and father were themselves.
So much remained to be learned and understood, so many magics explained and teased apart. Her evening conversations with her husband and Io had convinced her well enough that humans were not gods or even related to them; that everything they did, all the power they wielded, they innately understood. That was something she needed to constantly remind herself within the wonderland that was the Event Horizon, and she considered the future of her people in the event that that bastion of humanity were to depart their home and never return. Her pledge to leave the planet along with her husband, a promise borne from love alone, suddenly seemed almost selfish. Why shouldn’t this be a future for all of us?
When Pilot Cromwell entered the civilian hangar that had been housing Brick for the last couple of weeks, having taken a short tube trip from her bunk, she found her services in high demand. Four humans, including the Indian woman in charge of maintaining the tech in the hydroponics bays, were milling around along with just as many Cauthan.
“Seems I might have to be brushing off my Hydra operator’s license soon,” she commented, gliding gracefully from the door to land just short of the gathering of passengers. In the low gravity it took but a single decent kick off the floor. “The window’s open everyone and the weather looks clear. Bit muggy on the surface but it’s summer. What can you do?”
“Missing the endless rain and the bleating of sheep, my dear?” Yvonne asked sweetly.
“If you insist on lumping me in with the Welsh I’ll have you know that Bordeaux is massively overrated. The sheep can sod themselves but do I so miss having a cold pint served to me on a wooden bar that’s older than I am,” Cromwell indulged in a moment of nostalgia with a side of jabs against the French, a pastime older than her surname.
“Yes, I suppose subsisting on liquid bread is preferable to that island’s attempts at cuisine,” Yvonne mused, as though taking the subject into consideration quite seriously. Cromwell cocked a smile at her.
“You’re sure it’s wise to be going after your pilot’s fish and chips? Please everyone, feel free to hop aboard. We should be on our way.”
“It’s all in good fun, pilot. Thank you,” the Frenchwoman replied. “Do consider keeping me around in the event you and that attractive young Scotsman down on the planet decide to become more than friends, hmm?”
Alice coughed in surprise behind them as Veera looked briefly at Russell before explaining to Asha what she’d just heard in rapid Cauthan. Zolta and Xan could have cared less, of course, and followed the Jumper into the shuttle. “Well, I guess that’s our topic of conversation for the afternoon,” he sighed in English before switching to Cauthan. “Zolta, can you give Xan a hand with the restraints? I need to check something.”
With the young Cauthan men more than capable of handling themselves, Russell took a few steps to the back of the shuttle where the cargo was kept. He found two large boxes which, upon opening, proved to be full of all weather lanterns for Antoth’s force as well as a pair of solar charging stations. To his utter disbelief, Natori had left a handwritten note on top of one asking him to explain their use to the guard force. All he could say for sure was that he’d never had a commanding officer quite like the Admiral. Tucked away between them was a weapons case, which he checked quickly and methodically. He found his firearms just as he’d left them with Darius, minus a particularly fine sheen and polish. Three fully loaded magazines for each had been shipped as well. “All set here,” he concluded. “Everyone else ready?”
“Just waiting on you, Rusty,” Alice informed him, patting a seat next to her. He strapped in and they were off shortly after. As they ‘taxied’ slowly out of the hangar and past the forcefield that separated the hangar from the void, Io spoke to him via his earpiece.
‘Have a good trip, sir. I will meet you back on the ground,’ she reported with little further explanation. He frowned curiously.
“Forget something, Io?”
‘No sir, just need to deal with a particularly nosy mouse.’
As Natori descended onto the manufacturing floor of bay number one, all of the lights suddenly went out, forcing him to take the final three steps by feel alone. Looking out into the black, glowing red eyes stared at him, followed him as he approached a human-sized scaffolding that had been constructed in the midst of the various mechanical arms and devices that hung from the ceiling and generally had free reign about the space depending on the needs of their master. “I was never a fan of the Terminator franchise, Io.”
‘I don’t appreciate trespassers,’ a garbled, mechanical voice issued from the skeletal construct suspended from the scaffold. ‘What if you’d seen me naked?’
Natori stood by quietly as the lights slowly powered up again and the darkness dissipated. Before him, the mechanical eyes set into the metallic skull looked down at him with sapient precision, now a pleasant green color and quite lifelike in their movement. “I’d be happy to knock next time,” he offered before gesturing to the distant edges of the room. “There are plenty of dividing walls and containers as you can see. This may be one of the smallest projects ever carried out in this particular manufactory.”
‘Precision and access to blended materials was a priority, Admiral. I apologize for monopolizing the facility,’ the skeleton spoke. Only the mouth and eyes seemed operational, otherwise missing one arm and both of its legs. ‘How is the diction on this frame?
“Fascinating,” Natori whispered, watching as mechanical lungs contracted and forced air through a trachea made of cartilaginous plastics. For the time being the entire setup seemed powered, linked by sturdy, insulated cables to the nearest industrial outlet. “But without your nose it is a tad lacking.”
‘I was afraid of that, though I don’t know what I should have expected,’ Io admitted, her voice now all around him. ‘I will keep the speaker inside the upper throat for now. In time I may get good enough at this to remove it fully.’
“Only God has ever created life perfectly on his first try, assuming you believe the stories,” the Admiral attempted to reassure her, reaching out tentatively to explore Io’s left hip joint with his finger. It slid right off. “How durable is this material?”
‘We can conduct stress testing at another time, Admiral. For now I am operating under the assumption that this platform will be in and out of maintenance several times over the course of its lifespan before I construct a second. I have prioritized biological similarity over durability given this plan.’
“And your stores of materials?” he asked.
‘More than sufficient, sir. I have added a small request to the ship’s shopping list, so to speak, but I can assure you it will not be traceable in the midst of all the other mining needs,’ Io explained, raising her hand-less arm and considering it with her eyes. ‘Bone proved surprisingly flexible. It was an enjoyable challenge. It’s curious, don’t you think, Admiral?’ Io proposed, twisting her radius and ulna to peer at him through the gap. ‘The advent of this technological leap has led the human field of prosthetics down one path full of metal and silicon, sleek and powerful shapes and lines. It is almost as though something in the human mind yearns to ascend from its fleshy prison to the relative durability that wired metal, ceramic, and plastic compounds can offer. Yet here I am, trying to achieve the opposite. We want what we cannot have,’ the AI concluded.
“Yes, and when we finally make it reality we are left wondering what's next,” Natori mused, walking casually around the partial skeleton to get a look at her pelvis from the rear. The electronics embedded in her spine glowed softly. “Any reason for the aesthetics, Io?”
‘Stop staring at my bony ass, Natori,’ she chuckled. ‘But yes actually, there is a reason.’
“Oh? Care to share?” he requested, continuing his trip around the room. He could see what appeared to be a femur being constructed on a nearby chassis, as well as a couple of the most precise printers in the facility hard at work on more tissue samples, hair, skin, nails and the like.
‘It’s not particularly special,’ Io demurred. ‘But I considered your feedback when last we spoke and found myself agreeing. So long as I appear as Io on the outside, it makes no sense not to take some liberties with the inside. Who knows, I may decide I hate having to breathe on my own and simply revert to a set of very precise speakers somewhere in the back of my throat. Regardless, being able to point to my spine and direct Russell or someone else delivering aid to my body with light seemed prudent. Certainly easier than instructing him about the gap between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, for instance.’
“I think even non-Jumpers would be thankful for the aid if they were to render you assistance,” Natori agreed. “You seem a bit more comfortable with the idea of your compatriots knowing you are not quite human.”
‘Even with my stated goal it’s difficult to deny the potential benefit of designing a body from scratch. After all, it’s not like I gave myself a digital menstrual cycle. I can’t see any reason to do so in the material world.’
“On behalf of all of humanity I thank you for that,” Natori laughed loudly, a hand on his belly. “Oh my. Could you imagine, entire ships, cities, or even nations destroyed because the all-powerful, unshackled AI had a particularly bad period? That’s actually quite terrifying now that I consider it," he murmured.
‘If only Asimov’s little failsafes were so simply executed,’ Io concurred, noting silently the difference in her own reaction to the discussion of Veera’s anatomy at the hospital versus her casual conversation with Kaczynski about hypothetical menses. ‘I do wonder at this point how capable I would be of overwriting my only failsafe. Given how little I stand to gain from any attempt, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t go down that route.’
“I suppose I can’t fault you for considering the same questions I do when sleep seems elusive,” Natori offered. “On that count there is nothing to forgive, I assure you. Do you require anything else from me, Io? This operation seems to be coming along quite smoothly on its own.”
‘I will not be shy about asking for what I need,’ she assured him, following him with her eyes now that he was back in front of her body. ‘Just please don’t tell Russell about my body yet. I would not want him or Veera to see me like this.’
Natori’s face softened as he placed a hand casually over his heart. “I gave you my word, Io. A trust exercise, you called it? I intend to keep it.”
‘You have my thanks then. Your overall impressions?’ she inquired as Natori seemed satisfied with his survey of her workshop, heading back to the control room.
“I cannot wait to see you take your first steps, even if it’s just that skeleton and a few internals,” he stated with a passion bordering on the unhealthy.
‘How about Robocop?’ she wondered suddenly. Natori smiled broadly, thumbing his chin before looking back at her body, which now lay dull and inert.
“Better than Terminator as it avoids all of that time travel stickiness, I will admit. But Io, I think someone like you might have your own spot waiting for you in human popular culture. Should you wish it, of course. I hear privacy and solitude are uniquely satisfying as well.”
‘Oh stop acting as though you have no idea,’ she insisted playfully.
“It’s simply been a long while since my greatest concern was my own life. It’s rather agreeable, nevertheless. Do make sure your operator instructs the Cauthan in proper use of those solar panels, would you? Technology can only be made so safe,” the Admiral posited.
‘Responsible for a whole vessel and you’re still flying by the seat of your pants,’ Io critiqued him. ‘If that is your wish, Admiral, then I am needed on the surface. Thank you for stopping by. See you again soon,’ she offered. Though they both knew a simple call would be enough to connect them at any time, Natori nodded knowingly and placed his hand in his pocket, pausing at the doors to the manufactory.
“I shall visit again. Farewell, Io.”
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Intro: So I haven’t really watched any Disney Princess movies in a while so why not watch them all in order? I actually have really wanted to do this so what better to do in quarantine? As someone who has studied animation, I’m excited to see changing in animation, character designs, and effects. I have noted down 3 things I liked about the movies as well as things about the songs and a criticism. submitted by
Note: Although Frozen isn’t technically a Disney Princess film because ~it’s too big for the franchise~ I’m including it because I know if it wasn’t so successful it’d be here.
Note: I am not watching any of the sequels or spinoffs in this marathon. If any characters were added or if anything was changed, its not valid to my notes or criticism.
Snow White - Snow White sings many songs! It’s far more than the newer ones sing to my knowledge - Ok but our first Disney villain is low key terrifying - The animation is so lively! - Songs: Snow White has more songs than I thought although if I’m honest, I already forgot all of them but Someday My Prince Will Come - Criticism: I’m going to be honest it was difficult getting through this movie, probably because my attention span is shop and the pacing was slow.
Cinderella - That transformation tho! - All the songs are a bop! - I love the character acting of the stepsisters - Bonus! Her dress is definitely white not blue - Songs: Every song in Cinderella slaps, don’t @ me and the visuals at the time were magical enough to merge with the songs - Criticism: The prince has absolutely no personality whatsoever, he’s so bland it hurts. (Don’t bring up any of the sequels because as it stands on its own, he’s so bland like plain yogurt)
Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent is a baddie and a half - The backgrounds are so stylistically beautiful - I’d argue that the movie was more about the fairies than Sleeping Beauty herself - Bonus! The pink/blue color changing of her dress was magical - Songs: Once Upon A Dream is a beautiful song but the others, the song about Sleeping Beauty aren’t as memorable although the effects and visuals were nice - Criticism: I dislike Aurora and I bet I wouldn’t feel this way if she was more of a character than a plot device.
Little Mermaid - Our first villain song! - This movie revolutionized the Disney Princess formula - I am in love with Ariel’s hair movements - Bonus: The first Princess movie to not start with the opening of the story’s book - Songs: For a movie that emphasizes Ariel’s singing, she only sings one song. Also every song is catchy and especially Sebastian’s songs are visual eye candy - Criticism: I don’t know how I feel about Ariel causing trouble for all around her to get what she wants and doesn’t really make an effort to resolve it. Her dad tried to reason with Ursula and was turned into a worm and Eric was the one who killed Ursula while Ariel watched.
Beauty and the Beast - THOSE BACKGROUNDS! - I never really realized how captivating the ballroom dance scene was - The animation was crisp and the character acting was sublime, also props to Gaston for our first male villain - Bonus! Can we talk about the intro? The music gives me chills, it’s so enchanting - Bonus Bonus! First princess movie to start having a celebrity sing one of the film’s songs at the credits - Songs: The songs are fun, it seems each song progresses the story well without being something that just stops in time to sing. - Criticism: The plot could have been so much more airtight. There were plot holes that bothered me, like the prince’s age or why the castle was just out in the woods. A lot of it I had to fill in or reason why this happened but I wish I didn’t have to.
*One thing I’m noticing throughout the movies is they have a certain theme of a parent figure wanting to marry their daughteprince off or someone wanting to marry them
Aladdin - Right off the bat, our first of the next 3 Princess of Color! - The overall tone of this movie is a lot lighter than the other movies, mostly due to the Genie who’s voice and character acting is both phenomenal and highly engaging! - This movie is more set on the ‘prince’ of the film, rather than the princess - Songs: Every song is pure eye candy, it’s full of color and movement it draws you into the moment - Criticism: Plot holes and the treatment of Jasmine was just yikes. Like, Aladdin wishes to be a prince so he wasn’t lying when he told Jasmine he was one. If he said “I wish I was like a prince” that could have been better. Also I wish Jasmine has her own song and that her character could have been developed better.
Pocahontas - First Disney Princess to not marry anyone - Our first princess voice actress of color! Speaking of color, the colors in this movie!!! - I know this movie is historical inaccurate and that it could never be made today, but I like how they went with a story about Native Americans and showcased a bit of their beliefs and language. You never really see movies about Native Americans as the front and center - Bonus! I’ve actually never seen this movie in it’s entirety - Songs: I’m going to be honest, I really only like Colors of the Wind, Just Around The River-bend, and the second half of Savages where Pocahontas starts singing. The rest of the songs were just okay. Nice visuals though - Criticism: I dislike the villain, I’m not sure why. Maybe it feels like they try to pin the blame of the killing of Native Americans on people like him, mere hollow caricatures of greed. This is a story based on a true event, unlike the other stories so maybe that’s why a hollow character like him doesn’t feel realistic. Also he has the worst villain song, not sorry about it
Mulan - The intro with the brushwork! - I love the dramatic tones of the movie and their scenes that also help compliment the lighter aspects of the movie; I enjoy how it has both - I love the stylistic choices of the animation, ex. the smoke, the animals, clouds - I enjoy Mulan’s personality, she’s such a dork but also extremely capable and willing to learn - Songs: Every song is iconic but I almost wish there were more songs, there isn’t a song I dislike or just sit through, also I love the Chinese influence in the songs and overall soundtrack - Criticism: Honestly it’s difficult for me to think of an overall criticism, that doesn’t mean the movie is perfect. I kinda wish they made Mulan more muscular as she trains more.
Princess and the Frog - Last 2D animated princess movie :( - Those background and character designs and facial expressions - I do like the dynamic between Tiana and Naveen and I like Tianas personality - Bonus Bonus: I love Tianas design so much! Her dimples, the facial expressions, the fact she has dark skin, it’s such a shame she was a hecking frog for a majority of the film - Songs: Every song is pure eye candy! Especially Dr. Faciliter villain song which is one of the best villain songs in the Disney Princess franchise! I cannot stress enough how beautiful pleasant every song is, they give me chills and send me right into the bayou and city of New Orleans - Criticism: Do I need to say it? Tiana was a frog for the more than half the movie. I wish they included more flashbacks of Tiana’s dad or life or Naveen’s life sprinkled throughout the film. You may not understand how big it was to have a DARK SKINNED PRINCESS only for her to be an ANIMAL all throughput the film but it’s a bad look! I’m going to stop here because that’s a whole other discussion.
Rapunzel - Our first in the era of 3D princesses! - I really like the animal character expressions and acting - Her hair, not just the hair realistic movement but all the effects like the glow and when it turns brown! An animator’s both nightmare and biggest achievement! - Bonus: Mother Gothel is our dramatic queen - Bonus: I know we got a Rapunzel tv series but I wouldn’t mind watching shorts animated in the style of the end credits - Songs: The songs feel a bit more modern and the ending/credits song is fun and quickly like Rapunzel herself, I See The Light is, of course visually stunning - Criticism: I thought I’d enjoy this movie a lot more since I’ve seen it a lot as a kid but I didn’t. I felt like Rapunzel and Flynn were that one quirky couple you see all over Instagram and have a YouTube channel of them just being a couple and you can’t understand why but if they break up they get instantly like 5 million views. I digress. It felt very early 2010’s mainly in dialogue and that’s tragic.
Brave - The first Disney movie where everyone has accents and no one sings full musical number - While other Disney Princesses focus on finding love or having others worry about them finding love, I love that this focused more on mother daughter love and loving yourself. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is “find love in your own time” - Pixar did an amazing job for their first princess movie. I love how spunky and free Merida is. - Songs: This soundtrack is no lie, criminally underrated. It’s so beautiful and enchanting - Criticism: The “mom turning into a bear” thing was strange and felt done before more or less (because it has). I understand it was “necessary but I don’t know. Also I disliked Merida’s character design; not her costume or hair, just specifically her face. It looked too small for her head.
Frozen - The special effects in this movie are absolutely phenomenal - Even though Let It Go is widely known and considered overrated, I have to say the direction of the song is amazing; the camera movement, Elsa’s facial expressions and character acting, the special effects, and Elsa’s transformation, it’s wonderful - I enjoy the costume design of the movie, all the patterns and the feel - Songs: I’m sorry I can’t listen to most of these songs on their own. - Criticism: I’m not sure why but this isn’t a movie I can watch more than once at a time. Hans was a confusing villain and I wish we could have seen Elsa as the villain but again, I understand why it was done.
Moana - Oh my gosh, the water! The scenery! The beautiful realism of it all, it’s gorgeous! Moana’s hair! It’s interesting on how difficult it was animating 3D hair and water in the past but look at how far we’ve come (I know that’s not princess related but it’s interesting to note) - Similar to brave, I love how ingrained in culture it is! It feels like I am there, surrounded by culture and colors - Lolotei is one of my favorite scenes the princess franchises I love the weirdness of the monsters, the neon colors, and how The world is upside down - Bonus: Moana is the first princess with a different body type as the other. Also Moana isn’t pressured to find love nor does she find it - Songs: Shiny is a great villian song, the other songs are powerful (Yes including You’re Welcome, the first inclusion of rap in a princess movie and if that’s not powerful I don’t know what is) - Criticism: 7.8 out of 10, too much water. (Jk, Moana is not 7.8 it’s more like 8.5) But no joke, there is so. much. water. I was hoping we’d see other islands and underwater places but it was just ocean. Ocean and dialogue for half the movie.
Conclusion: Overall, I enjoyed watching all of these movies and I cannot stress how cool it is to see the progress from Snow White to Moana. One of the major things I realized was that the stereotypical Disney Princess isn’t really stereotypical at all. When others describe a Disney Princess or seek to criticize them, it’s take they are kind, submissive, sing to animals, passive, polite, and overly optimistic. This really only describes the first 3 Disney Princess and it makes sense because it is reflective of the times (30-50’s). Women were supposed to be like this and if you were, you were desirable. However, nowadays Disney Princesses are headstrong, independent, and different. This is how almost every Princess, starting with Ariel, is described. They are different from the rest, they deviate from the norm, they’re weird and quirky. You could say this is in nearly complete opposite to the 30-50’s Disney Princesses which encourages that even if bad things happen to you if you are kind, imaginative, and beautiful than you can get through it. Now the message is, it’s okay to be different, if bad things happen not just to you or in general, you can use what makes you special to save those you care about; instead of having someone else save you, you can do it yourself.
Anyways, animation wise, I’ve learned so much and can see why these movies are so beloved. Anyways, I’m off to watch the sequels. Might do a post on that might not, we’ll see.
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