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An Unexpected Review

This isn't something I necessarily want to write about and as a rule I tend to stay away from the negativity on my site. Especially given the cottage industry that has seemingly manifested itself over the last several years around being so. But here I am talking about a documentary that frankly while I think is well made from a composition and editing standpoint, from an informational one is not only light, it is outright lacking. My issue with this doc isn't its subject, I am a huge Kojima fan, I think MGS 2 is one of the finest examples of storytelling in games. But rather how it treats its subject. The deification of Hideo Kojima is something that even as a dedicated fan of the man and his work, I find to be a little disgusting if not at times out & out fetishistic. Again I respect the man I think his work will stand the test of time and in some ways already has more than almost any of his contemporaries. But I think with respect comes room for criticism and more importantly within the context of this documentary honest observation. Mr. Kojima deserves his flowers but the way this films handles his legacy you would think those producing the documentary merely read his wikipedia, said to themselves "well that konami section is a little too spicy" asked if Geoff Kieghly could provide them with a set list of questions and called up he and Kojima's shared contacts. I understand that from a pragmatic standpoint there were more than a few obstacles that may have prevented the specificity as to why his departure from Konami couldn't be covered in great detail, if at all. Along with the fact that I'm sure even if he could, it's something that Kojima would understandably rather move on from. But even so 60 minutes flat to cover someone as legendary in their industry as Hideo Kojima, is frankly, insane. It's also not like he hasn't covered his games in a public forum before, even recently after his very public split from his previous employer. Which I think is the biggest problem I have the documentary it somehow respects its subject too much whilst barely showing any respect for the industry he's in. I'm not kidding you when I say you could count the number of game developers who aren't Kojima or members of his team in this documentary on one hand and not risk running out of fingers. It may sound like I'm mad but I'm more disappointed. Was I expecting an expose? No. But I was expecting slightly more than the same level of surface level rigamarole that we've gotten from Mr. Kojima's conference appearances and interviews over the last five to ten years. I was expecting to hear more than a few anecdotes from friends and colleagues about what it's like to work with someone with his hands on approach. There was also the chance to at least address some of the controversies in his career i.e. the borderline to outright plagiarism of some of his early works, his issues working with translators on the first two MGS games, the public falling out with David Hayter and the somewhat notorious"Kojima Camps" which game reviewers were often pooled into when reviewing his works. Instead we got the likes of Grimes and a slew of other indie pop darlings whose contributions in this piece amount to little to nothing aside from the equivalent of that one friend who might be a little too enthusiastic about something "He's just so f'ing cool ya know"! The same goes for the opinions of the famous filmmakers featured, listen while I don't doubt the likes of Guillermo Del Toro, George Miller and Nicolas Winding Refen are earnest in their praise of Mr. Kojima's works, I sometimes wonder to what level. Especially when the best they have to offer after years of mutual admiration is still something to the effect of "he builds these really intricate worlds....". So if this documentary doesn't cover Hideo Kojima's career in great detail and it rarely features the opinions of those who have worked with or parallel to him, what does it do? Well in theory it gives an in depth look at development of Death Stranding & the startup of his new studio. However even in execution of that it fails. The footage of the behind the scenes is nothing we haven't really seen before and the insight provided is about the level he's provided elsewhere. Plus it spoils a major moment in the story. Again I don't like writing reviews like this, but when something is as fundamentally flawed as this is I do feel the need to point it out. So at risk of repeating myself much like many of the interviewees in "Connecting Worlds" I'll wrap this up by saying simply. Video games are art, they have been art for a long time, even in the days before the likes of Hideo Kojima rose to prominence. They will be so long after. While that statement does not diminish nor ignore the many tremendous contributions Mr. Kojima has given to the industry of gaming, it does put them in better context than anyone featured in this documentary is able to. Mythologizing a creator doesn't celebrate their work, it dehumanizes it and strips away any sense of accomplishment that makes them worth celebrating in the first place. And so to end on a somewhat positive note I'll say simply say, I hope that we someday get a more honest and comprehensive feature on the life and career of one Hideo Kojima, as he deserves as at least something better than the limp offering we have at the current. I'd also like to recommend some documentaries focusing on other prominent game, creators both of which are freely available to watch on Youtube as I write this "Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide" & "Memories of Kenji Eno". While both are not much longer than the runtime of "Connecting worlds" both do a much better job of highlighting the lives and careers of their subjects and in some ways benefit from the very things that detract from the subject of this review. The former demonstrates the value a game like "Gran Turismo" and its creator Kazunori Yamauchi has in the realm of the auto industry whilst also exploring how he transformed his racing hobby into a genre defining series. The latter is a deep dive into the career of Kenji Eno, his famous studio WARP and features anecdotes from his many friends and colleagues in the Japanese games industry. It confirms many of the famous tales told of Eno and his notorious antics whilst also providing a few more. While it in someways adds to the mythology surrounding his career and can even be guilty of the same rhetoric seen in "Connecting Worlds" . It also humanizes its subject and delves into the toll that his auteur approach to work took on him. I highly recommend both and I'll probably cover at least one of them sometime in the near future.

"Hideo Kojima Connecting Worlds" is available on Hulu in the United States and Disney+ elsewhere, I do not recommend it unless you are from another world and have no clue who Hideo Kojima is. Even still I could point you to a few better examples that do a better job of covering his career on Youtube. I will be back soon with a review of the 2009 film "Air Doll" which I'm already in the process of writing. See ya later.

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