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Win a ‘Big Hero 6′ Blu-ray by Telling Us Your Unconventional Superpower

Superheroes come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, and there probably isn’t a more eclectic group of crime fighters than the members of Big Hero 6. But what if you were part of the team? What would you bring to the table?

Here’s your chance to win a free copy of the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray: Collector’s Edition, which includes a DVD and Digital Copy. The disc includes the origin story of Big Hero 6, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and interviews with the animators who brought the film’s vibrant characters to life.

How to Enter the Giveaway

KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine want you to experience this movie for yourself, so we will be giving away eight copies of the Blu-ray to those who give the best answers to this question:

“If you could be a member of Big Hero 6, what would be your unconventional superpower?” 

* You can give your answer in the comment section below via Disqus, in the comment section of this article’s Facebook post or tweet at @KoreAm with the hashtag #balalala.

* Then, enter your email at our contest page to complete your registration. Your email will not be stored, nor will be used for any other purpose besides this contest.

* Winners will be chosen based on the creativity of their answer and will be notified through email.

For those of you who don’t win, don’t worry—you can still get all the Baymax you want by purchasing the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray, which is now on sale everywhere. We will be accepting contest submissions until Friday, March 6.

Rules and Disclaimers: Participants must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. Residents of Hawaii and Alaska are eligible for this contest. We value your privacy. Your personal information will be kept confidential and will never be shared with third parties. It will only be used for communications related to this contest.

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Featured image courtesy of Disney

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‘Big Hero 6′ Wins Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Although the 87th Academy Awards were criticized for being the “whitest” Oscars since 1998, Asian Americans held their breath and cheered as they watched Disney’s Big Hero 6 win Best Animated Feature on Sunday night.

Set in the fictional metropolis of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 tells the story of a hapa Asian American teen prodigy and his marshmallow-like robot, Baymax. The animated film not only features multicultural characters but also a multiracial cast, including the voices of Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney and Jamie Chung.

While casting Asian Americans in animated films is nothing new to Disney, it’s an open secret that Hollywood has a long history of casting Caucasian actors in Asian roles. This includes live action films, such as Dragonball: Evolution, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film adaptation.

So, when the envelope was opened and Big Hero 6 was named Best Animated Feature of 2015, Asian Americans took to Twitter to celebrate the film’s win and bring attention to Hollywood’s lack of diversity.

Big Hero 6 will release on DVD/Blu-ray on Feb. 24, 2015.

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Recommended Reading:

Voices of Asian American Talent Featured in Disney’s Big Hero 6” by KoreAm Journal

Big Hero 6 Animators Discuss Their Creative Process” by KoreAm Journal

[VIDEO] Audrey Magazine Interviews Daniel Henney & Ryan Potter” by Audrey Magazine

Film Review: Big Hero 6 Charms in Predictably Disney Fashion” by KoreAm Journal

Big Hero 6‘s Ryan Potter Discusses Playing Hiro, Why He Wants to Be Nightwing” by ComicBook.com

 

Featured image via Greek Fire/Twitter

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Daniel Henney Cast in ‘Criminal Minds’ Spin-off

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Daniel Henney has been cast in the upcoming spinoff of CBS’ popular American police-procedural series, Criminal Minds.

The untitled spin-off will center on FBI agent Jack Garrett, played by Gary Sinise, who leads a team of operatives that aids American citizens who find themselves in trouble overseas. Henney will be portraying expert profiler Matt Simmons, a charismatic family man and an army brat who grew up abroad. Deadline further describes him as “the kind of guy you would follow into battle, and his split second profiling skills honed on the battlefield make him a crucial part of the team.”

Other actors who have been confirmed to be a part of the cast includes Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn and The Walking Dead‘s Tyler James Williams.

Criminal Minds will debut the spin-off’s cast in a special episode during its 10th season. This will be the show’s second crack at a spinoff as it had previously aired Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior in February 2011. Due to low ratings, the spin-off was canceled just after 13 episodes. Let’s hope that the new series fares better than its predecessor.

Henney recently voiced the character Tadashi on the Oscar-nominated animated film Big Hero 6, which will be available on DVD/Blu-ray on Feb. 24. His previous television credits include NCIS: Los Angeles, Revolution and Hawaii Five-0.

You can read KoreAm‘s March 2013 cover story on Daniel Henney here.

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Featured image via Romsquared.tumblr.com

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‘Big Hero 6′ Stirs Controversy in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Although Big Hero 6 hasn’t hit theaters in South Korea yet, the Disney animated film is already stirring online controversy for allegedly featuring images of the Japanese Rising Sun flag.

For those of you wondering why some South Koreans are upset over this specific detail, the Rising Sun is considered offensive in South Korea and is viewed as a symbol of Japanese imperialism during the early 20th century. While Japan has been using the flag for centuries and still incorporates it into their commercial products today, to many Koreans, the imagery is tantamount to the Swastika.

So, it’s not surprising that a few Korean netizens became angry after spotting alleged Rising Sun emblems in the Big Hero 6 trailer. Here are some of the screenshots that have been shared on Korean media sites:

wdp7vvcnvemfnkmfi28zEWmleRy12E7gwxxrorPhotos courtesy of Kotaku and Hitgall

In response to the controversy, Disney said, “There are no Rising Sun flags on display in the movie, nor was it the intention to suggest the Rising Sun flag.”

An early concept artwork, however, suggests that Disney did at some point include a flag that resembles the Rising Sun symbol in Hiro’s bedroom. To be fair, the original Big Hero 6 comic is more explicit in its Rising Sun imagery, and it’s likely that the concept artist was just drawing elements from the source material. Still, Disney made a good call scrapping the flag in its final cut.

zjkthpek1au9rtw1kajaConcept art of Hiro’s bedroom. Photo courtesy of Hitgall.

collage22Big Hero 6 comic book covers. Image courtesy of WDWNTScreen Shot 2015-01-19 at 10.58.13 PMImage courtesy of bluehoung617/deviantart

Apparently, Disney took extra measures to dilute its Japanese aesthetics for the South Korean audience.

Hiro and Tadashi, for example, had their names altered in the Korean version of the film, erasing all indications that they are of Japanese descent. While Hiro’s name was tweaked to “Hero,” Tadashi was renamed “Teddy.” The brothers’ Japanese surname “Hamada” was also changed to “Armada,” which is a pretty cool last name. Hero Armada definitely fits the superhero bill.

According to Kotaku, Disney also removed Japanese-language signs that were featured in the U.S. edition of the film. Below, you can see that the Japanese letters on the cat’s stomach have been switched to English for the South Korean release.

cp0fdwekiupmmaiwyop0Image courtesy of Extreme Movie

Another change Disney made for the Korean release was the title of the movie. The film was retitled Big Hero to avoid the impression of it being a sequel.

Interestingly enough, there’s a good number of Koreans who worked on Big Hero 6, including its character design supervisor, Sang-jin Kim; lead character designer, Shiyoon Kim; animator, Hyun-min Lee; and voice actors, Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney.

Big Hero 6 will premiere in South Korea on Jan. 21.

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LINK ATTACK: Oscar Noms, Eddie Huang, ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

The Whitest Oscars Since 1998: Why the ‘Selma’ Snubs Matter
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Eddie Huang on Watching His Memoir Become an ABC Sitcom

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 3.26.05 PM“Network television never offered the epic tale highlighting Asian America’s coming of age; they offered to put orange chicken on TV for 22 minutes a week instead of Salisbury steak,” Huang writes in his Vulture essay. “And I’ll eat it; I’ll even thank them, because if you’re high enough, orange chicken ain’t so bad.”

ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat Panel Gets Awkward
There were plenty of awkward and tense moments at the Fresh Off the Boat panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. One of those moments was when a TV reporter asked the cast: “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks. And I just love all that. Will I get to see that? Or will it be more Americanized?”

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The Low-Down on E-Cigarettes and Why It Affects Asian Americans
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Comedienne Margaret Cho speaks to CAAM about her upcoming TLC talk show, All About Sex, as well as Robin Williams, homelessness, self-love, All American Girl and  ABC’s new Asian American family sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat.

Asian American Band Fights to Trademark Name “The Slants”

new-imageThe Slants, a six-member Asian American band from Portland, Ore., has been fighting to get their name approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for years. Now, the band plans to take their case to a federal court.

People of Chinese, Korean or Japanese Descent Needed for Psychology Study
The University of Chicago is currently seeking Asian immigrants, Asian international students, and children of Asian immigrants from China, Korea, or Japan to participate in a study about cultural beliefs and attitudes toward American mental health treatment. This study will be online and will take about 40 minutes to complete.

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A Korean Hallyu Threatens American Cultural Dominance
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Why Invading North Korea Would Be Insane
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Daniel Henney Talks Abut Dubbing for Movie ‘Big Hero 6′

Daniel-Henney-Big-Hero-6-e1421340569162“There are times when I get confused as to whether I’m a Hollywood actor or a Korean actor,” Daniel Henney says, laughing. “But I think of myself as a Korean actor. It was in Korea that I was able to gain acting experience and get to where I am today. I take a lot of pride in being a Korean actor.”

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‘Big Hero 6′ Animators Discuss Their Creative Process

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

It came as a surprise to many when Disney in 2013 announced plans to adapt Marvel’s Big Hero 6 into a 3D computer-animated film, it being the first animation project to spawn out of the studio’s acquisition of the comics publishing giant four years prior.

The crime-fighting series about a young robotics prodigy and his robot companion set in a futuristic city called San Fransokyo was considerably more obscure compared with other Marvel comics.

Yet when Big Hero 6 hit theaters in early November, adults and children alike fell in love with the characters. (Young protagonist Hiro Hamada is voiced by the half-Japanese American actor Ryan Potter, while Korean American actors Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney also lent their voices to the film.)

The visually stunning final product audiences got to see was thanks to imaginative Disney animators behind the scenes who helped translate the comic book characters to the big screen.

“Those little subtleties—[they’re] almost like a musical beat,” says Hyun-min Lee, 33, an animator for Big Hero 6 who worked primarily on scenes for Baymax, the polite and adorably clumsy blimp-like robot. “It’s about where you can hit those [notes] and really influence how people will read [a character]. It’s like an experiment almost, playing around with that subtle timing.”

BIG HERO 6A scene from Big Hero 6. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Both Lee, 33, and the lead character designer for Big Hero 6, Shiyoon Kim, 31, have been involved in some of Disney’s most successful animated features during the studio’s “neo-renaissance” period. Lee has animation credits for The Princess and the Frog (2009), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Winnie the Pooh (2011), last year’s Frozen, and the shorts Paperman and Feast. Kim joined Disney to work on Tangled (2010) and Paperman.

The Korean Americans, both alumni of the California Institute of the Arts, are just a few among a large team of animators at Disney linked to a period of creative resurgence that has introduced dynamic characters whose expression, movements and emotions give them personality and life.

Animation itself has come a long way since Disney’s first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released in 1937. Despite the advent of computer animation, said Lee and Kim in a joint interview, Disney’s studio remains faithful to detail since the hand-drawn days of yore, incorporating 2D animation along with 3D.

Both designers and animators need to flex their creative muscles, says Kim. For instance, in order to design Maximus, the sassy sword-wielding horse in Tangled, Kim observed different horse breeds at the equestrian center near Disney’ s Burbank, California studios before conceiving the initial designs for the character.

Kim faced a different kind of challenge when it came to the swashbuckling hero Flynn Rider from Tangled. “There was a lot of development [and] ideas on who this character was,” Kim tells KoreAm. “At the studio, the animators put all of their favorite, good-looking actors on a board. Everyone had their own opinion on what was good-looking.

“It was really interesting, because I think it’s a very subjective thing,” Kim adds. “I think where we landed was something appealing, and it fit right in with the story.”

FROZENHyun-min Lee works on images. Photo courtesy of Araya Diaz

For Lee, the challenge of working on Baymax was that the rotund character did not really have a face or many defining features. (The film reimagined the character as a round, white robot from a synthetic being who can transform into a fierce-looking green lizard, as he is portrayed in the comics.)

“Baymax was [both] the hardest and easiest [character to work on], because he’s so simple,” Lee says. “There’s a lot of subtlety that goes into his specific head angle, exactly when he blinks, [how] quickly he blinks, how many times he blinks. Does he cock his head to the side, or toward the front?”

By the time a character design reaches the animator’s desk, the storyboards are ready and the voice actors have recorded their lines, so it’s left to the animators to bring the film to life, a few seconds at a time.

“They sometimes let us be a little more free about coming up with the de- tails in the acting, which is kind of the fun part of it,” Lee says.

Of course, it’s not easy for animators to watch their own work; they are their own worst critics. “It’s extremely hard to watch the movie as it is, be- cause instead of the story and characters in the film, I see all the hard work that everyone put into this,” Kim says, of Big Hero 6. “I’m so very proud of them, and it’s a testament to the level of heart and passion that each individual has given to the film.”

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Big Hero 6 received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature film. The feature will become available on digital HD & 3D on Feb. 3, 2015. It will also become available to own on blu-ray, DVD, digital SD and On-Demand on Feb. 24, 2015.

This article was published in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the December/January issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

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‘Big Hero 6′ Receives Golden Globe Nomination

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Disney’s Big Hero 6 has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Animated Feature Film.

Inspired by a Marvel comic book miniseries, Big Hero 6 follows a team of brainiacs led by 14-year-old prodigy Hiro Hamada and his huggable marshmallow-like robot, Baymax. Following a tragedy, Hiro enlists the help of his high-tech friends to hunt down a masked villain and to decipher a sinister plot that could destroy the city of San Fransokyo.

Two Korean American actors voiced supporting characters in the animated film: Daniel Henney as Hiro’s older brother, Tadashi Hamada, and Jamie Chung as the adrenaline junkie, GoGo Tomago.

Other nominees for the best animated film includes The Lego MovieHow to Train Your Dragon 2The Book of Life and The Boxtrolls.

The 72nd Golden Globe Awards will be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and will air live on NBC at 5 p.m (PST) on Sunday, Jan. 11. You can view all the nominees and categories here.

Photo courtesy of Disney

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BIG HERO 6

Film Review: ‘Big Hero 6′ Charms in Predictably Disney Fashion

by GRACE KANG

Ripped straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics comes a dizzying blitzkrieg of robotic action and San Fransokyan lights, as Big Hero 6 illuminates the big screen on Nov. 7. But, while the 54th successor in the series of Walt Disney Animated Classics may borrow its title and majority of its cast from the Marvel miniseries, the film is only loosely based on the obscure comic books, which were set in Tokyo and centered on an entirely Japanese team of superheroes. For better or worse, the adapted tale, co-directed by Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt), bears the signature of Disney and all the storytelling gimmicks that come with it, and yet the finished product is definitely anything but a mere amalgamation of clichés.

This superhero adventure follows too-cool-for-“nerd-school” Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who at the ripe old age of 14 is a robotics prodigy with a penchant for illegal bot fighting. Hiro’s volatile mix of borderline criminal genius and teenage dirtbag attitude has big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) frequently leaping to the rescue on his Vespa. But as with many hero origin stories, our young protagonist can’t rely on the crutch of his protector forever. Tadashi takes his brother for a visit at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, whereupon the initially scornful Hiro becomes enamored with the stimulating, innovative environment, and especially of Tadashi’s mentor and robotics department head, Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell). It is there that he is also first introduced to Tadashi’s masterwork, health care robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), who looks like a hybridized incarnation of Totoro and the Michelin Man.

BIG HERO 6Big Hero 6 is set in the fictitious San Fransokyo, a melding of San Francisco and Tokyo.

Hiro’s character development hits the ground running as he becomes motivated for the first time in years to take on new and uncertain challenges starting with the SFIT showcase, an event where promising young scientists are evaluated for a shot at admission. Modeled on his old fighting robot, Hiro presents his microbots, minute metal pieces that, with the guidance of a neurotransmitter and extensive imagination, hold “limitless applications.” Though the invention awards Hiro both the limelight and acceptance to the program, the joy of achievement is short-lived when a sudden conflagration breaks out at the showcase, resulting in the explosion that claims the lives of Professor Callaghan and Tadashi, who rushes back into the building to save the professor.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, as Hiro is left grasping at the ashes of the life he had envisioned, Baymax is activated and makes it his personal mission to “improve” Hiro’s “emotional state.” This clumsy interaction leads to the discovery of an unclear but decidedly sinister plot involving the mass production of Hiro’s previously thought-to-have-been destroyed microbots, spearheaded by a shadowy individual whose identity is concealed behind a kabuki mask. The apprehension of this figure, who is later linked to the murder of his brother, drives Hiro on a reckless path for justice and vengeance.

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And though Baymax cuts an impressive bulk, here is where the rest of the team comes into action, as foils to Hiro’s journey, as well as each other’s. As friends of Tadashi and disciples of Professor Callaghan, each member of the team has a stake in the hunt for the masked villain. The ever impatient and stoic GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung) is the first to join figurative hands with Hiro in this mission, which impels the others—Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez), a vibrant sweetheart with a knack for concocting neon-hued explosions, Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), whose intelligence and sarcastic approach to thrilling heroics bears a fond resemblance to Nickelodeon predecessor Sokka (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and self-professed “science enthusiast” Fred (T.J. Miller), who aspires to become a fire-breathing lizard. This hodgepodge of quirks and temperaments adds up to a neat, Disney-stamped balance of clashes that always manage to soften into heartwarming resolution. And a large part of the film’s charm is owed to the vocal talents that roll seamlessly off the animated tongues of the cast, each actor in perfect symbiosis with his or her character.

But while Big Hero 6 boasts a visually tantalizing palette to match a charming core in the great bounds Disney can be counted on to advance in its animated features, there were places where it failed to break new ground and, in some areas, even stepped backward. It was a shame to see the writing play it safe by falling back on well-trod devices that have brought success when it comes to both Marvel universe action and Disney/Pixar “feels,” but it rang more like a well-loved neighbor and less like a whole new world of excitement. The plot strides from start to finish like a veteran actor on a stage, but in this production, the marks on the floor that shout, “Now stand here and say this,” are visible to those watching—which seems to become more and more noticeable with each step Disney takes into 3D computer animated films.

BIG HERO 6Left to right, three members of Big Hero 6’s team: GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez).

Diverging from the all-Japanese team from the original comic book series, Disney’s iteration of the Big Hero 6 team is racially varied. Several members—including the biracial lead character of Hiro, who is half Japanese—are presumably people of color, and that diversity was refreshing to see in a big studio animated film. But what’s disappointing is that there seems to be no acknowledgement of race, at least insofar as adding some depth to the characters’ backgrounds.

Nevertheless, Big Hero 6 is certain to win the audience over with a nonstop offense of some of the most likable characters the studio has presented within the last few years, and parents will likely be pleased to find that their kids are more receptive to moral lessons and health tips when they come from an adorably oversized robot.

BIG HERO 6
Hiro (Ryan Potter) and Baymax (Scott Adsit).

When Tadashi says of his creation, “He’s going to help a lot of people,” it creates a ripple effect, blurring the juxtaposition of Hiro, Tadashi and Baymax, and their roles as keeper and charge, caregiver and receiver, as well as the meaning of family, throughout the unfurling narrative. Although Disney and sister studio Pixar go heavy-handed with tug-on-your-heartstrings motifs that don’t always translate organically from screen to audience, Big Hero 6 and its interpretations of the different forms of family, from the brothers to single parent Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), the team and even a ginormous robot, present a simple and clean range of emotions to which viewers from all walks of life will be able to relate.

At the very least, the film is a must-see in theaters for the vicarious thrills when Baymax zooms over the exquisitely conceptualized San Fransokyo skyline. Overall the movie rolls along like an extended pilot for a series, not unlike the DC Animated Universe’s Justice League, and it appeared determined to set up distinct characters and a taste of the thriving franchise to come. By the film’s end, the audience is already anticipating the next chapter. To be continued next week, right? If only.

All images: © 2014 Disney

Here’s the trailer from Big Hero 6:

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