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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: May 14, 2020
Posted: May 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm
The Dark Future of Cyberpunk 2077 isn't a nice place to be. In fact, it's a minefield the uninitiated aren't likely to survive. Cyberpsychosis can turn your mild-mannered neighbour into a killing machine. Your thoughts could be stolen via hacking. Megacorporations own almost everything, including you. Basically? It's bad news. The key to avoiding a dirt nap is knowing your enemy. That's where the Cyberpunk Red: Jumpstart Kit comes in. It's a tabletop prequel to the video game that gives us our best look yet at the dangerous world of Cyberpunk.
To get you up to speed, we've gathered all the key info and Cyberpunk 2077 lore you need to know in this primer. That includes a dictionary of common terms you're sure to encounter in the game itself, not to mention a timeline to give you a sense of what's happening in the Cyberpunk universe. There's plenty to draw from; the series has been going since the 1980s and is arguably one of the best tabletop RPGs around.
Strap in - we've got a lot to cover.
Because the franchise has been around in one form or another since the 1980s, a Cyberpunk 2077 timeline is almost essential to unpick the story so far. There's almost 40 years of lore to absorb, after all. To bring you up to speed as quickly and easily as possible, we've pulled together an abridged version of Cyberpunk's rich background right here.
But before we dive into the Cyberpunk 2077 timeline, it's worth pointing out that this isn't supposed to be a possible 'version' of our future. Instead, it takes place in an alternate reality - Cyberpunk history diverges from our own in a few nasty ways. The Cyberpunk Red TRPG gives us a good overview of how (and when) things went wrong, so we've listed the most important events below.
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Exploring dystopian worlds resplendent with cybernetic enhancements and megacorporations, cyberpunk continues to evolve the more its science fiction-based future becomes reality. The following interactive interpretations of the subgenre draw upon a wealth of insight, whether it be in human relation, technological prowess, or even video game development. It is not so much the story or even the characters, so much as it is the world that marks the best cyberpunk games of all time.
In the wait for the postponed release of Cyberpunk 2077, these games are the best way to quell that ever-growing appetite for cyberpunk. Otherwise, escape through other options, from the best VR games to the most satisfying 2020 indie experiences.
Before the now-iconic Silent Hills playable teaserand Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima followed up Metal Gear with a cyberpunk classic, called Snatcher. Upon its 1988 release, despite limited sales, the graphic adventure garnered an immediate cult following. The narrative follows an amnesiac who joins an agency hunting Snatchers, or robots killing and taking the place of humans. With its semi-open world, coupled with thought-provoking themes and novel visual elements, Snatcher remains a benchmark in science fiction gaming and a must-play Kojima title.
Like Neuromancer by William Gibson, Philip K. Dicks Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a pivotal novel in the expansion of the cyberpunk subgenre. Its Hollywood rendition, Blade Runner, would go on to become even more renowned, evolving into the face of cyberpunk and influencing many years worth of media in its likeness. Though it may not be remembered as well as the novel or film, Virgin Interactives Blade Runner, released in 1997, captured a similar essence as its predecessors. Rather than replicate Ridley Scotts work, Westwood Studios instead told a story that intersected with the original, following Ray McCoy on a quest to destroy the last remaining replicants. Blade Runner stands among the best cyberpunk games of all time for granting fans an interactive experience within its remarkable world, now the inspiration for various cyberpunk offshoots.
Made all the more enigmatic from spiritual successors, like Deus Ex and BioShock, 1994s System Shock opened the doors on interactive cyberpunk and horror. The gameplay of System Shock alone was an innovative step forward in the industry, dropping players into the 3D environment of a space station in the year 2072. Reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the story of System Shock is led by an unspecified hacker in an attempt to thwart an evil computer system, known as SHODAN. A remake of the famed original is currently being developed by Nightdive Studios for release sometime this year.
For an isometric strategy game, Syndicate proved itself to be an outlier with a cyberpunk story and gameplay elements that set it apart from all the rest. It was released in 1993 by EA and garnered immediate success. The player assumes control of a corporation with the goal of global dominance through the aid of taxation and cybernetically enhanced operatives. Once a country is taken over by these pawns, the player can accrue money through taxation, but only if they are vigilant. If a country is pressured for too much, the citizenry may start a coup. Surviving assassination attempts via government agents or rival syndicates is also a key component of the game. Syndicate not only sparked various expansions, but also a sequel and reboot.
Without a doubt one of the greatest video games of all time, packing an emotional punch at every turn in its expansive narrative and exploration of a world riddled with tyranny, Final Fantasy VIIis exemplary of Japanese cyberpunk. The 1997 original PlayStation experience emulates Akira in many ways, showcasing the evil megacorporation of Shinra hoarding the planets last remaining sustainable resource. Cloud, the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, is unwittingly flung into class warfare, going up against not only Shinra but the potentially world-shattering Sephiroth. The recently released Final Fantasy VII Remake is a testament to the greatness of its predecessor, giving only a tiny glimpse into the epic cyberpunk adventures of Avalanche and their fight to save the planet.
Deus Ex was a critical success upon its 2000 release, spawning several re-releases, PC mods, sequels, and prequels that would inevitably cement it as a video game series with unreplicable stature in the industry. The initial title tracks JC Denton, a United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent with nanotech augmentation, which ranges from 18 different in-game options. A central mechanic in Deus Ex is player choice, allowing players a multitude of varied avenues for mission completion. What makes the cyberpunk title stand out most is its heavy-hitting narrative based in an alternate history, wherein real-world conspiracy theories are fact. With six titles in the series, the last of which was seen via 2016s Mankind Divided, Deus Ex is due for a welcome return.
Simon Parkin of The Guardian says it best: its a clich that invites clichs: sprawling, neon-lit, Blade Runner-esque. Still, over-familiarity with the aesthetic does little to blunt the fierce appeal of Cloudpunks game world. Released mere weeks ago, Cloudpunk offers players a chance to visit a true cyberpunk world as an immigrant named Rania. The player is tasked to pick up and drop off packages at the behest of the Cloudpunk delivery service. The various adventures across the city, which is outlined by crisscrossing vehicles and high-rises, is what makes a seemingly laborious playthrough the hallmark of Cloudpunk. Not only is the games world mesmerizing, but its cyberpunk-laden story is compelling. The more Rania traverses the innards of the futuristic city, the darker Cloudpunk becomes.
Based in the city of Cloudbank, a well-known singer by the name of Red acquires a powerful sword, called the Transistor, following a botched assassination on her life. Through the help of robotic commandos, known as the Process, the malignant Camerata stops at nothing to hunt down Red and retrieve the lost artifact. Transistor, despite being an isometric RPG, still enjoys greatness through a wondrous narrative uplifted by an even more evocative soundtrack. The game was nominated for many accolades, inevitably walking away with IGNs Best Art Graphics and the D.I.C.E. Sprite Award in 2015. Due to its subversion of the more commonplace cyberpunk themes, Transistor remains among the best in the subgenre.
Inciting new ways of thinking about world traversal and surface lighting in video game development, Mirrors Edge gave cyberpunk new vibrancy. The action-adventure platformer, which was developed by EA DICE and published by EA in 2008, takes place in a dystopian near-future city, wherein a totalitarian and militaristic government reigns supreme. The player controls Faith Connors, one of many runners, navigating her across rooftops and ventilation shafts with their own varying degrees of impediments. Rather than explore a dark noir and neon-tinged world like others among the best cyberpunk games, Mirrors Edge instead focuses on minimalist and luminous environments that serve as the players only savior.
Bloober Team, known for horrors like Layers of Fear and Blair Witch, delivered a simultaneously terrifying and intriguing experience with 2017s Observer. In the year 2084, following a digital pandemic that wiped out large swaths of the globe, a megacorporation rules over Poland using detectives, known as Observers. After a cryptic phone call from his long-lost son, Daniel Lazarski uses his investigative prowess to find and hopefully save his only child, yet inevitably finds himself spiraling into damnation. The cyberpunk horror is getting a next-gen facelift with additional content available later this year upon the debut of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
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When Cyberpunk 2077 releases via the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, PC, and Google Stadia, it will transport players to Night City, a megalopolis where people are equally obsessed with three things: power, glamour, and body modifications. It's a major urban area, home of many gangs and organizations fighting for power and influence. And of course, players will come across and interact with all of these different factions.
Using the game's official Instagram account, Polish developer CD Projekt Red previewed the various gangs and factions players will come across during the game. From a blindly violent group that uses ultra testosterone and animal supplements to a faction that defends sex workers, Night City is full of different groups. Some hide behind their ideals. Others are simply bad news. And a few of them are pure evil.
Below, you can read more about the game's various gangs and factions, which include the 6th Street, Voodoo Boys, Tiger Claws, Totentanz Club, Valentinos, The Mox, and the Animals.
At the moment of publishing, it's unclear if there are more gangs and factions in the game, but for now, this is all CD Projekt Red has revealed.
Cyberpunk 2077 is set to release worldwide on September 17 via the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia. It's also in development for PS5 and Xbox Series X.
For more news, rumors, leaks, and all other types of coverage on the game, be sure to check out all of our past and most recent articles pertaining to the game by clicking right here.
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After months of minimal news following its reveal last year, Ghostrunner finally received a free demo, giving fans a clearer idea of what's in store.
With all the hype surroundingCyberpunk 2077, some might have lost sight of another cyberpunk game in the works. IfGhostrunnerwasn't on your radar before, it should be now. Ghostrunneris an upcoming first-person action hack-and-slash game set in an dystopian cyberpunk universe that's being developed by One More Level.The game was first revealed in a trailerlast year which promised fast-paced and high-adrenaline combat. Since then, we've only gotten mere glimpses of the game through screenshots, videos and rare demos at conferences such as PAX.
To say that the information regarding the gametrickled out slowlyis an understatement. However, that all changed on May 6 when the developers released a public demo on PC, available until May 13. With this sudden wealth of information, let's take a look at what we know about the game so far and what we can expect from its full release.
Related:Cyberpunk 2077: Trailer, Story, Gameplay, Release Date and News (So Far)
In terms of story, there's a lot that's up in the air. The only things we know for certaincome from theGhostrunnerofficial website. According to the website, the worldis in a sorry dystopian state where life doesn't amount to much and death is always close by. However, it also hints that the world was not always this bleak and miserable.It refers to an "apocalypse" thatruineda once shining civilization. Even more mysterious is the presence of a tower that "houses the survivors of the apocalypse."
As the main character, players are tasked with ascending the tower and figuring out the truth about what really happened to the world. Thistask is complicated by the fact that there are many foes adamant on hunting the player down for the augmentations and technology underneath their skin. From the cinematic trailer, we can also assume that the game will feature some kind of boss battle encounter with that Dr. Octopus-esque person. Thankfully for the player, the main character is far from a push-over.
Related:Wait, Does Animal Crossing Take Place in a Post-Apocalyptic World?
InGhostrunner, players take control of an augmented living weaponcapable of things beyond the scope of a normal human. Imagine if you took the cybernetic ninja, Genji, fromOverwatchand gave him the supernatural abilities from theDishonoredseries. The result of that concoction would be theGhostrunnerprotagonist.
From what we've seen in the demo, players are able to wall-run, use a grappling hook to get onto platforms, bisect foes in one clean sword swing, deflect bullets, dash, slow time and slide their way to victory. And this was all just from the demo. In the full game, it wouldn't be surprising if players could upgrade preexisting abilities or install new software to learn new skills. For example, it would be incredibly useful if playerswere able to unlock infrared sight to see enemies through walls. All of these abilities are necessary to survive in Ghostrunner, as combat can end in the blink of an eye.
Related:Microsoft Is Really Pushing 'Smart Delivery' - Here's What It Is
Ghostrunner's gameplayrequires players to move fast andthinkfaster. Much like Mirror's Edge andDishonored, there are a lot of movement mechanics in the game, all of which players must master in order to have a chance at surviving.This is clear from the demo in whichplayers have to dodge bullets, wall run, slow time and jump all within milliseconds of each other. Movement is essential because players are only equipped with a katana,a weapon that is only effective when you're close to an enemy. There's no time to rest because, if you stop, you're going to get perforated by the trigger happy enemies.
Obviously, the gameencourages players to move fast, and this is further underlined by the way death works. Inmost games, death is followed by a loading screen and areturn to acheckpoint, butGhostrunnertakestheHotline Miami approach.Players respawn immediately after death with little to no wait time. With one simple button press, players are back in the game, free to try again. This system helps keep the break-neck pace of the game consistent.
Overall, Ghostrunnerlooks to be a promising cyberpunk action game. With all the current mechanics and the possible addition of more, Ghostrunner might just be a big hit. Currently, there's no official release date, but it's slatedto come to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in2020, so keep an eye out.
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Philip Hou is based in Portland, Oregon. He has been playing video games since his fingers were capable of holding a SNES controller. Philip is also a huge fan of fighting games, particularly those from Arc System Works. Other than playing video games, Philip enjoys drawing, hanging out with friends, and working on his "Youtube career".
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Despite marketing itself as an RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 is an immersive sim, a genre that has often gone overlooked despite critical acclaim.
The immersive sim as a genre has been foundational to the advancement of modern video games, emphasizing player choice, creative decision making and interactive worlds. Yet it is also a genrethat has historically sunk studios and offered little in the way of profit or mainstream success for those who make them. However, despite masquerading as an RPG,Cyberpunk 2077'simminentrelease hasonce again providedthe immersive sim with an opportunity to expand its appeal to a much wider audience.
For over two decades, game developers have attempted to make the immersive sim a mainstream genre. But despite their continued efforts, it seems as if the genre has forever relegated its appeal to a niche audience due to the relative complexity of the moment-to-moment gameplay that is characteristic of immersive sims. Though games like PreyortheDeus Ex series have put a spotlight on immersive sims and have received endless critical praise, neither hasbeen particularly financial success for their respective studios. Developed in the early 1990s during a time of great experimentation and creative freedom in the industry, from the very beginning, the immersive sim seems to have survived despite itself.
Related: Cyberpunk 2077: Trailer, Story, Gameplay, Release Date And News (So Far)
When immersive sims first emerged onto the scene in their earliest incarnations la theSystem Shockgames, their gameplay advancements and innovations wereso monumental that gamers of the time were left with few other points of reference to describe this new genre. Most playersdisregarded these early games as poor Doom and Half-Life clones respectively.
Though these games received critical acclaim at the time and continue to be hailed as progenitors of immersive sim design philosophy, both titles failed commercially during their initial releases. This is partially due to mishandled marketing, but also a lack of understanding or interest on the part of the gaming audience.
Unfortunately for fans and developers of immersive sims, the continued lack of mainstream interest inthe genrehas been a continued trend over the last twenty years. Despite receiving somewhat of a resurrection during the last decade, with multiple Bioshock, Dishonoredand Deus Ex games having been released, none of these modern immersive sims have turned enough of a profit toencourage developersto make the genre a staple of modern game releases.
Related: Shadowrun: Why You Should Try The Beloved Cyberpunk Tabletop RPG
In fact, the only times an immersive sim has reached mass appeal is when the emergent gameplay systems and action-RPG mechanics have been streamlined to the point of near nonexistence.This is the case withthe Bioshock franchise, which (while having elements of the immersive sim) still plays far more like a traditional first-person shooter.
However, with the release ofCyberpunk 2077 right around the corner, the potential for a real, complex immersive simfinally reaching the mainstream is here. While the past eight years of marketing hype forCyberpunk has put an emphasis on its history as a tabletop RPG and the incredible potential for unique role-playing scenarios within the game world, it becomes ever more clear that CD Projekt RED's latest game is less of a regular RPG, but is instead the most complex, detailed immersive sim that gamers have ever seen.
Related:Four Indie Games to Keep You Hyped for Cyberpunk: 2077
During an E3 2019 interview with YouTube personality, YongYea, a quests director on theCyberpunk development team was quoted as saying, "We paid lots of attention in adding this level of non-linearity in terms of gameplay...We've put a lot of attention and focus on giving the player the freedom to play the game the way they would want it to be played." Clearly, CD Projekt RED has been hard at work ensuring that their latest game is full to the brim with player choice and emergent gameplay. These are hallmarks of the immersive sim, as arefirst-person sneaking, hacking and shooting gameplay trifecta.
With that said, ifCyberpunk 2077manages to live up to its immense hype and become the summer blockbuster it is shaping up to be, the potential for more games to take advantage of the immersive sim design philosophy will be bigger than ever before. Regardless of Cyberpunk 2077's success, or lack thereof, there will likely still be immersive simsreleased from time to time. However, if it is not a financial hit, it could spell disaster for other immersive sims in development, such as System Shock 3 and theSystem Shock Remake, and make it unlikely that the genre will ever make the leap to the mainstream.
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Kurt Larson is a writer, filmmaker, musician, and avid gamer living life in the ever rainy municipality of Portland, Oregon. Kurt is a video game features writer for cbr.com, the arts and entertainment editor at the Advocate newspaper, lead editor of Venture magazine, film critic, and general purpose ideas guy. When he's not busy putting virtual pen to paper, Kurt enjoys composing original music for guitar and bass, tinkering with computers and electronics, and binging YouTube, among other things.
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The provocative 80s movement, studded with the neon-slick works of Sogo Ishii, Shinya Tsukamoto, and Shozin Fukui, paved the way for a new filmic wave in Japan
In the mid-80s, the Japanese film industry was at an all-time low. Several of the major studios had gone bankrupt, and the ones that remained had either focused their attentions to softcore pornography or suspended production entirely in favour of distributing Hollywood imports. Even the most well-established directors struggled to secure funding. And independent cinema just wasnt economically viable.
The Japanese cyberpunk movement was a product of this filmographic impotence, and a total rejection of the traditions of Japanese cinema that had preceded it. The period dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, the samurai epics of Akira Kurosawa, and even the documentary-style yakuza dramas of Kinji Fukasaku had no place in a 1980s Japan that was experiencing a world-renowned technological revolution. Instead, a new generation of filmmakers with a critical view of the hyper-modern world were picking up video cameras as a means to attack the countrys shifting identity, creating wild dystopias that foreshadowed the economic crash that would hit Japan in the 90s.
Throughout the 80s, this provocative school of filmmaking was helmed by three renegade directors: Sogo Ishii andShinya Tsukamoto, film students at Tokyos Nihon University, and Shozin Fukui, a one-time crew member for each. But the short-lived cyberpunk movement was effectively over in Japan as soon as it emerged from the underground. When Tsukamotos avant-garde explosionTetsuo: Iron Manunexpectedly scooped the Best Film Award at Romes FantaFestival in 1989, it single-handedly revived international interest in Japanese filmmaking. The films success prompted serious investment in the countrys V-Cinema indie filmmaking system, laying the path for a new wave of filmmakers to thrive in the 90s.
This Maymarks 40 years since the release of Sogo IshiisCrazy Thunder Road the film that started the entire movement, and therefore the revival of Japanese cinema as a whole. On its ruby anniversary, Dazed traces the history of Japanese cyberpunk through its three most important directors.
Sogo Ishiis upbringing in Hakata, Kyushu, a mecca for Japans burgeoning punk scene in the 70s, would shape his attitude towards filmmaking when he was a student in Tokyo. He often attended lectures solely to appropriate school equipment, and this delinquent attitude would be the crux of his success after his 1980 graduation project Crazy Thunder Road was unexpectedly bought by Toei Film Studio for release in theatres.
Crazy Thunder Road, the genesis of the Japanese cyberpunk movement, set early precedents for what would become essential tropes of the genre. A raw and chaotic biker movie set between desolate urban wreckage and the neon streets of Tokyo, its roaring engines, and vicious gang warfare was the Japanese embodiment of rollercoaster thrillers like Mad Max and The Warriors. Cast almost entirely by the spiky-haired, leather-strewn band members from his punk circle, Ishiis movie offered an ominous vision of a society in turmoil through hordes of armed thugs and erratic night-time brawls.
The visual and thematic similarities to Akira, the 1988 biker-punk sci-fi that would be considered the apotheosis of cyberpunk anime, are uncanny. And while the goblin-masked, metal-clawed acolytes of Crazy Thunder Road only hint to the themes of bodily metamorphosis that would follow, the films in-your-face camerawork and brash rockabilly soundtrack established a riotous template for cyberpunk to build on.
Ishii would expand his own blueprint two years later with Burst City, a chaotic action-punk-musical hybrid that catapults the bleak world of Crazy Thunder Road into a dark and cold dystopian future. From the opening shot, wherein a vehicle-mounted camera loudly tears through a cityscape at Mach speed, the film sets off like a rocket. It remains explosive right up until the climax a showdown between warring cops, gangsters and guitar-shredding punks amidst the smoke and rubble of a long-since decimated society.
Disorientating mosh pit footage spliced from concerts performed by films cast (peroxide-haired Tokyo punk bands The Stalin, The Roosters, and The Rockers) do plenty to interrupt the standard narrative format. And even the dilapidated, scrapheap world these characters live in feels palpable, not least due to the fact that the majority of the cast lived on set for the entire shoot. But perhaps the most important practice put to use in Burst City, would be Ishiis abundant use of undercranking.
A technique whereby film is initially shot at a lower speed and later manipulated in playback to create a hyper-kinetic visual effect, undercranking would serve as one of the stylistic cornerstones of cyberpunks expressionism. Alongside jagged jump cuts and jerky handheld camera, these methods would be adopted by one Shinya Tsukamoto, a freshman while Ishii was in his senior year at Nihon University who had already begun crafting his own subversive shorts.
The Phantom of Regular Size, the 18-minute, 8mm film that kicked off Tsukamotos career in 1986, was effectively a dummy run for what would be the defining film of Ishiis movement three years later. While the plot of Phantom is moot, the entire cast plus several of the shorts most vivid scenes would all re-appear in Tetsuo: Iron Man in 1989. Among the most notable is a sequence wherein a bespectacled salaryman is terrorised by a malformed woman in the Tokyo subway. The climactic image of a man with a roaring power drill bursting from his nether regions, meanwhile, would end up being one of the most defining images of the entire cyberpunk movement.
The Phantom of Regular Size also offered a first look at Tsukamotos vital evolution of Ishiis undercranking into what would become his signature shot. His hybrid stop-motion technique would create the appearance of a subject traversing an environment at impossible speed; an unnatural and jarring movement of characters and objects across a given scenography. In Tetsuo it is used to make seas of metallic cables and wires writhe like snakes, and to make the movements of the films tortured subject, a man who is gradually, excruciatingly transformed into metal, all the more unnerving.
Commonly referred to as the Japanese Eraserhead for its grainy 16mm black-and-chrome industrial setting and surreal, nightmarish atmosphere, Tetsuo: Iron Man takes the intense expressionism of its predecessors to their limit. It offers a world corrupted entirely by junkyard scrap, with the enduring sounds of television static and Chu Ishikawas relentless, chiming soundtrack mirroring the films singular theme explicitly. Your future is metal! offers the antagonist in one of the films few pieces of dialogue a statement that underpins the anarchic vision of the cyberpunk movement in totality.
Shot over a painstaking 18 months marred by crew walkouts, Tsukamotos crowning achievement is abrasive, disorientating, and violently sexual. But the merit of its inventiveness was enough to prompt not only a cathartic festival win in Rome, but also a distribution deal in the USA, and later Europe. Tetsuo was truly the zenith of the movement, a sensory overload that introduced the world to a renegade style of low-budget filmmaking in Japan. But it was also the death knell for live-action cyberpunk; a filmmaking kamikaze that left its successors in its mercurial wake.
Shozin Fukui had offered some of the most hyperactive examples of the cyberpunk oeuvre in the years that preceded Tetsuo. The three-minute black-and-grey attack-on-a-stranger Scourge of Blood features some of the most exhilarating examples of editing in a canon of intensely cut films, while Gerorisuto, a grainy snapshot of a possessed woman on a train would demonstrate Fukuis passion for guerilla filmmaking. Caterpillar, a 1988 short film made while Fukui was working as an assistant director on Tetsuo, would recycle the same sets used in Tsukamotos film. It was his final exercise in perfecting cyberpunks stop-motion, shakycam manifesto before moving into full-length cinema.
But by the time Fukui got round to directing his own feature-length cyberpunk film, Tetsuo had already served the double-edged strike that simultaneously legitimised and upended the movement. It is for this reason that Fukuis 1991 film 942 Pinocchio (also known as Screams of Blasphemy), while of great enough quality to be screened at Rotterdam Film Festival and to receive a US video release, remains criminally under-seen in the West.
A loose, twisted translation of the classic Disney story, 924 Pinocchio finds a lobotomised sex slave cyborg abandoned in a hallucinogenic neo-Tokyo with no concept of his identity. Adopted by a similarly ostracised woman named Himiko, he learns to speak, and even to love, before a strange power is awakened with him that leads him to a bloody showdown with both his adopted mother-lover and his creator.
Set in a vividly-coloured 2064, the future setting of 964 Pinocchio is a departure from the cold, desolate worlds of Fukuis contemporaries. Blue skies, bustling streets, and an ethereal electronic soundtrack offer an almost utopian spirit to this tangible sci-fi world. But the tragic Pinocchio is destined never to fit in, as illustrated in the films most distinguished sequence: in a fit of despair, the cyborg runs screaming through the streets of Tokyo, the camera neurotically cutting and jerking as thousands of horrified real-life onlookers look on.
Through its developed narrative and revised aesthetic, 964 Pinocchio offered a natural progression for the cyberpunk genre, without disposing of the hurricane filmmaking style that made it so intoxicating. But it would take Fukui five years to deliver his next film, a perverse and unpalatable number would ultimately represent a nail in the coffin for the original cyberpunk movement.
Set entirely in a crude, industrial laboratory called The Unit (a clear reference to Japans notorious Unit 731, an experimental research unit responsible for some of WW2s most heinous war crimes), Rubbers Lover is a nightmarish exercise in sadism, torture, and BDSM that concludes the cyberpunk movement in a disturbing fashion. While as stylistically emphatic as its prestigious precursors, it pushes the boundaries of taste far beyond what had previously been attempted, foreshadowing the rise of extreme Asian cinema and splatter horror films like Ringu and Audition at the turn of the century.
Filmed in black-and-white from all manner of disorientating angles, Rubbers Lover deserves credit for delivering some of the most creative and striking images of Fukuis catalogue. One scene, wherein a patient is secured to a hospital bed by wired metal headgear, foreshadows the designs used in The Matrix by several years. The spinning eyeballs that flicker on a wall of computer monitors in the background, meanwhile, feel like they are plucked straight from A Clockwork Orange. But despite such artistic flair, the film virtually borders on avant-garde snuff. Scenes of prolonged and violent sexual assault, shot in intrusive and unforgiving close-up, push the boundaries of taste and make for particularly uncomfortable viewing.
A closing scene featuring reels of celluloid video film falling from the ceiling appears to signpost the demise of live-action cyberpunk in 1996. With director Takeshi Kitano winning the prestigious Golden Lion award at Venice the following year for poignant crime drama Hana-bi it was all but confirmed that a different kind of Japanese cinema was now in vogue.
By the turn of the century, cyberpunk had been relegated to the memory of Japans thriving indie filmmaking community, now headed by the likes of Hideo Nakata, Takashi Miike, and Takeshi Kitano. After Rubbers Lover, Shozin Fukui wouldnt return to filmmaking in any capacity for another ten years. Tsukamoto, the cyberpunk director, basically abandoned the movement after the release of Tetsuo and its diminished 1991 sequel-remake (2009 threequel Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, being the only exception). Ishii, though, would return to the genre for one final hoo-rah in 2001 with Electric Dragon 80.000V, a 55-minute pet project that served as a love-letter to the movement he had spawned two decades prior.
A black and white comic-book style caper about a pair of electrically-charged super-heroes in a near-future metropolis, Electric Dragon 80.000V is a blitz of super-charged filmmaking flair that lifts as many cyberpunk tropes as it can handle in its pristine runtime. Many scenes and characters feel satisfyingly familiar. Punk protagonist Dragon-Eye Morrison dwells in a metal-strewn warehouse, discharging the electricity that flows through him by plugging into his electric guitar and noisily letting loose in front of hundreds of bemused onlookers in the streets of Tokyo. Steel-masked antagonist Thunderbolt Buddha, meanwhile, looks as if hes been plucked directly from the thuggish ranks of one of Ishiis earliest projects. With a general lack of plot or dialogue, relentless staccato editing, and an armful of light-speed tracking shots, its a cyberpunk classic one generation removed.
Electric Dragon 80.000V debuted at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam in 2001 a feat unimaginable for a film of this style when Ishii started his filmmaking career. But its palpably high production values, untainted photography, and comic-influenced animation also represent a departure from the classic cyberpunk texts of the 80s and early 90s. And as the image of Thunderbolt Buddha tracking his rival via GPS on a modern desktop computer confirms, the breakdown of technology (and therefore society) has not taken place, after all; in 2001, Ishii and cos vision of the future was already outdated.
Somehow it seems almost fitting that, despite their cultural significance, many of these rebellious films remain underground obscurities, banished to the realm of out-of-print DVD copies, midnight art screenings, and foreign VHS imports. But the sonic boom of Japanese cyberpunk can still be heard in all kinds of creative cinema. Cyberpunk laid down the gauntlet for a new kind of filmmaking in the 80s and 90s one that revolutionised Japans industry and allowed it to become what it is today.
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Posted: at 6:07 pm
BY: HILARY PEARSON
One thing most of us have learnt during this pandemic: germs can spread as far as six feet when someone coughs or sneezes. They can land on surfaces, such as a doorknob, or in another persons eyes, nose, or mouth. Thats why social distancing guidelines state we should be standing six feet apart to limit the spread of the Corona virus.
For people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), social distancing has always been a way of life. Being close to others with the disease puts them at increased risk of getting and spreading dangerous germs and bacteria, a term referred to as crossinfection. Not only are these dangerous germs difficult to treat, but they can lead to worsening symptoms and faster decline in lung function for those with CF.
Thats why its important for people with CF to stay at least six feet away from others with CF and anyone with a cold, flu, or infection.
Ive listened to this audiobook, Five Feet Apart, a few times now.
Stella Grant a teen living with CF describes her experience living with chronic illness:
Counting out exact doses of multiple medications. Being extra careful to not forget one. Careful to not accidentally overdose. Careful to take them at the specified time. Missing out on social events due to a flare up of symptoms. Going to the hospital because of catching a cold. Were basically doctors by the age of twelve.
I feel this. All the work that goes into my fight with my disability. Chronic pain. Chronic fatigue. Chronic migraines. Chronic asthma. Memory loss. Aphasia. Photophobia. Phonophobia. Post concussion syndrome. Brain damage.
I cant begin to understand what CF individuals have to go through. I dont know their fight. But I can begin to connect with the things we feel. Like the isolation. The complicated relationships. The chronic everything.
Even if you dont have a chronic condition, I still recommend reading this book.
We are all fighting in this pandemic. We can all begin to relate to those who need to always keep social distancing in mind.
We can all begin to see each other.
Hilary is a Toronto-based non-fiction writer and UofT masters student. Hilary is recovering from TBI, PCS and spends much of her free time on FaceTime with Isla, her baby niece.
This post originally appeared on her Instagram, @halite_brain_beads
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Posted: at 6:07 pm
Buying quality merchandise when it's on sale is a stock market strategy used by some of the greatest investors in the world - including Warren Buffett. After theturmoil we've seen in 2020, there are signsthat stocks likeCF Industries Holdings Inc(NYQ:CF) could fit that bill. But how can you tell?
TheCF share price has moved by-37.3%over the past three months and its currently trading at24.59.
In volatile conditions,many investors are keen to buy what they think are cheap stocks- but this can be a mistake. It's importantknow the difference between a genuine bargain and a value trap - and often, the quality of the stock makes all the difference.
The good news is thatCF scores well against some important financial and technical measures.It's a large-cap share with strong exposure to twovery influential drivers of investment returns: high quality and a relatively cheap valuation.
To understand where that shows up,here's a closer look:
GET MORE DATA-DRIVEN INSIGHTS INTO NYQ:CF
Good quality stocks are loved by the market because they'remore likely to be solid, dependable businesses. Profitability is important, but so is the firm'sfinancial strength. A track record of improving finances is essential.
One of the stand out quality metrics forCFis that it passes8of the9 financial tests in the Piotroski F-Score. The F-Score is a world-class accounting-based checklist for findingstocks with an improving financial health trend. A good F-Score suggests that the company has strong signs ofquality.
While quality is important, no-one wants to overpay for a stock, so an appealingvaluation is vital too. With a weaker economy, earnings forecasts are unclear right across the market.But there are some valuation measures that can help, and one of them is the Earnings Yield.
Earnings Yieldcompares a company's profit with itsmarket valuation (worked out by dividing itsoperating profit by its enterprise value). It gives you a total value of the stock (including its cash and debt), which makes it easier to comparedifferent stocks. As a percentage, the higher the Earnings Yield, the better value the share.
A rule of thumb for a reasonable Earnings Yield might be5%, and theEarnings Yield forCFis currently8.06%.
In summary, good quality and relatively cheap valuations are pointers to those stocks that aresome of themost appealing to contrarian value investors. It's among these shares that genuine mis-pricing can be found. Once the market recognises that these quality firms are on sale, those prices often rebound.
Finding good quality stocks at attractive prices is a strategy used by some of the world's most successful investors. If you want to find more shares that meet these rules, you can see a comprehensive list on Stockopedia's StockRanks page.
Posted: at 6:07 pm
KITCHENER -- Can you see your house from here?
The CF Snowbirds passed over Waterloo Region last week as part of Operation Inspiration, aiming to boost morale for Canadians across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After being delayed by a day because of visibility issues, the nine-plane formation passed over the region on Sunday, leaving their signature trail as they flew wing-to-wing.
If you saw the Snowbirds, there's a chance they could see you, too: video from the cockpit appears to show the jets as they made their pass over the region.
The Snowbirds are making their way across the country. By Thursday, they were passing over parts of Saskatchewan in their cross-country tour.
The team said their priority was to fly over hospitals and also residential areas.
"We prioritized the residential areas to make sure people could stay home and continue to social distance but also hopefully get a show from us," says Cpt. Joel Wilson.
Days later, the Waterloo Warbirds held their own flyovers to salute frontline workers, this time over Waterloo Region and Guelph.
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Is there a link between coronavirus and vitamin D deficiency? This startup just raised cash to find out – GeekWire
Posted: at 6:06 pm
Solius light therapy kiosks use a narrow spectrum of ultraviolet light that can stimulate the production of critical hormones and peptides, and increase vitamin D levels. (Solius Photo)
New research shows a potential correlation between severe vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 mortality rates. A Northwestern University study released last week found that patients from countries with high death rates had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients in countries with fewer mortalities.
Seattle-area startup Solius, which sells light therapy kiosks that can help people increase vitamin D levels, suddenly finds itself in a unique position amid the global pandemic.
The company today announced additional investment from Human Longevity Inc. as it explores how its technology could play a role in the fight against COVID-19 by strengthening the immune system and reducing the severity of the disease.
Further studies will be needed to validate this connection and we are working to engage in clinical trials that will prove the efficacy of our device on this devastating disease, said Solius CEO Bob Wise.
Researchers from Northwestern cautioned that vitamin D levels wont prevent contraction of COVID-19, but could make a difference in how the body fights the disease. They found a correlation between vitamin D levels and cytokine storm, a condition caused by an overactive immune system.
Cytokine storm can severely damage lungs and lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients, Ali Daneshkhah, a postdoctoral research associate at Northwestern, said in a press release. This is what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself. It is the complications from the misdirected fire from the immune system.
Another study from Anglia Ruskin University in the U.K. found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.
Some experts criticized the Northwestern study which has not been peer-reviewed for not controlling major confounding factors, among other reasons, Inverse reported.
Solius published its own white-paper this week about the impact of vitamin D on COVID-19. The company cited cytokine storms and studies that show vitamin D combating respiratory infections. It also quoted former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, who said in March that regular physical activity and adequate vitamin D levels probably have the most scientific evidence to increase resistance to COVID-19 infection.
Solius is working with leading phototherapy and vitamin D experts to develop and execute its own trials to study how the companys kiosks could treat and/or prevent COVID-19.
Foundational research strongly suggests a link between vitamin D and COVID-19 outcomes, Wise said. We look forward to adding to this body of research and investigating the impact our technology may have on supporting human health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Solius light therapy uses a narrow spectrum of ultraviolet light that can stimulate the production of critical hormones and peptides. In 2018 it started rolling out light therapy kiosksin Vancouver, B.C., that help users increase vitamin D levels.
The therapy is an alternative to vitamin D pills, a solution that Soliuspreviously told GeekWireisnt sufficient to address the problem of vitamin D deficiency.
An estimated 1 billion people worldwide have inadequate levels of vitamin D, according toHarvard University, and research shows that deficiency is a more pressing problem than once thought.
Wise said the company expects FDA approval for its kiosks next year.
We are excited to invest in SOLIUS as its mission is to provide the benefits of the sun without the harmful rays to unlock the healing powers of the human body, Wei-Wu He, executive chairman at HLI, said in a statement.
Solius has raised $18 million to date. The 7-year-old company has seven employees. Wise replaced former CEO Rick Hennessey, who relocated to Florida for family reasons.