Sunday, August 30, 2009
Dangan Runner, his first film, is the simplest to explain -- three men are chasing each other, on foot, for the entire movie. Pretty much the entire thing is constructed of their respective reactions to things they all three pass. Enjoyable, but definitely a low budget stunt, and more of a promise than a success.
Postman Blues followed, and is still his finest film. A black comedy about a simple postman mistaken for a serial killer by the police, it cross cuts between events as the appear to the postman, and how they appear to the police, manufacturing humor from Sabu's fascination with coincidence and misunderstanding.
Unlucky Monkey is the only one of his films released in the US, as far as I know...and I only know because I randomly found it on the shelf a year ago. Animeigo has released a number of titles that really deserve to be seen, and has simply not managed to get any buzz going on them. Unlucky Monkey is certainly worth picking up, but it was also my least favorite of Sabu's early films; I can't specifically remember why, but I think it just didn't pay off as well. Despite the US release, I can't even find a trailer on Youtube.
Monday was the first one that actually grabbed any international press. This time, Tsutsumi Shin'ichi plays an ordinary salaryman waking up in a hotel room with no memory of the night before. As he ransacks his pockets, slowly piecing together the events, he realizes the police surrounding the building are there for him. It also has the best trailer by far.
Drive was Sabu's final collaboration with Tsutsumi Shin'ichi, and their biggest hit. Tsutsumi had been a stage actor who rarely made movies, but he pretty much used Drive as a springboard into film, and has become one of the more reliable leading men in Japanese film. Drive's success owed a lot to Shibasaki Kou, who had filmed her small role in this just before Battle Royale made her a star. But in many ways it represents the culmination of the themes that ran through all of Sabu's early films. Tsutsumi plays an uptight salaryman in love with a girl he's never spoken to; when three bank robbers jump into his car and order him to follow their driver, who's made off with the cash, he does so...but never above the speed limit.
Sabu seems to have had trouble adjusting to Tsutsumi's departure. Blessing Bell was an interesting movie, with Teramachi Susumu walking for a really long time in one direction, then running back the other way, encountering each of the same places in a different light, but more of an experiment than an actual movie, and one that dragged considerably in the early going.
Hard Luck Hero is a project I'm sure he would rather forget, a vanity picture for a boy band that has a few Sabu trademarks, but with no leads who can act, and a script clearly knocked up in no time at all, it was an unwatchable mess.
He's made three films since, but the only one I've even seen coverage of was his most recent film, a literary adaption. I can't tell if there's no buzz because his slump has continued, or because there's just not enough people really paying attention to Japanese film.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Shit, I'm loving this arc. What did I like about these two episodes? Randomness, reversals, and one-upping are abound. Grandpa Kabuto has several scenes. There's lots of barrel-chested, desperate shouting. Zeus' giant green arm is amazing. The flashbacks are extremely badass. Nishikiori has one explosively badass moment, in addition to some more subdued character-developing ones. The animation is at the best it's been in this series. These episodes were so sensational that the lull preceding it seems like a distant memory. Imagawa has been saving his punches for an absolute flurry. Thank you Imagawa. I don't remember the last time I was excited for a subsequent episode.
On a separate note, another commercial for Cencoroll has been released. I love the rave-y music they've used so far. I'm looking forward to the soundtrack as much as the thing itself.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The dub is beautiful done; were it not for a few obvious greetings and utterly arbitrary honorifics, you'd think it was always in English. The two kids get a bit shrill at times, but we had actual five year olds in the theater to compare them to, and they came off well. (These kids were never inappropriately vocal, and one of them happily declared this the best movie ever, so we're cool.)
I do advise you to leave before the end credits song slides horrifyingly into a techno remix from hell - zombie Disney couldn't resist rising from the grave to assfuck Miyazaki's movie at the last possible second.
While I doubt Miyazaki will ever be able to surpass Porco Rosso, I do have to say the scene with Ponyo running along the backs of the giant fish as the kid's mom drives frantically along the winding road is possibly the finest thing he's ever directed.
And in other news, this is why I love the Internet.
It's brief and not particularly shocking, but a quick little read with at least one interesting/amusing/vague metaphor:
At the time I founded Ikki, my boss said, ‘For Spirits, you have to see the ocean to see the audience and readers, and so capture the needs of the audience, but for Ikki you have to see the spring where the river originates,’ meaning that you have to look at the creators and then capture the creators’ passion. You know, don’t look at readers, but start from the creators. So that’s probably the key point, the focal point of Ikki and that’s really the uniqueness of Ikki: it focuses on the passion of the creators.Worth checking out for the couple minutes it takes to read.
Avalon was actually watchable, and I hear good things about the Tachigui films. Given how relentlessly boring his anime has been, maybe Oshii should stick to this kind of live action lunacy. He seems to have more fun with it.
I imagine it will have only a a faint resemblance to the original short:
Monday, August 24, 2009
Boy, does it kick off fantastically, though. Nishi jumps right into this one with a mythology that is instantly as fully realized as Muhyo's became, and grounds it all in a story of a boy discovering his true nature that works so ridiculously well it makes everyone else who tries that shit look hamfisted. He succeeds partly by refusing to write the emotions on the nose, partly by constantly undercutting them (the Rock and Roll librarian who gives them key information could undercut fucking anything) and partly by immediately twisting key emotional moments into something else entirely.
It chugs nicely along for a while with a neat urban fantasy vibe, and a few nicely timed fireworks to demonstrate Nishi's flair for spectacle.
But it starts to slip off the rails a little in the second volume. The story accelerates to the point where it just falls apart. You can see his editors pointing at the unspectacular poll results and forcing him to throw in things the story is not yet ready to handle. Things get way too big, way too fast, and the first arc's climax abruptly hits halfway through the second volume. And then it really gets bad.
I've been nursing a theory for a while that a surefire way to get a book canceled even if it is genuinely great is to have too much plot too fast. We saw this with Takei's follow up to Shaman King as well, and a lot of what makes the first volume of Bokke-san so ridiculously strong also makes it very hard for new readers to jump on board as their friends who actually enjoy trying new things recommend it. Muhyo's opening volumes are kind of obviously flawed, but the short story structure allowed him to keep accumulating fans of his fucked up creature design and the book's skewed world view, and kept the book afloat long enough to pull off the epic midsection. Bokke-san's more polished, mature delivery leaves only Nishi's die hard fans reading, and as he starts doing desperate shit like retconning an absent brother in as one of the previously introduced villains, he even lost those.
There's always a lesson to be learned in a canceled manga, but sometimes the only lesson is that people are stupid and don't deserve nice things. In this case, I think we can also say that Jump needs to learn to trust the few artists they have left who have original voices. Jump hasn't had a breakout hit in quite a while, and losing confidence in their second tier oddball books is not an encouraging sign for the overall quality of their line up.
I came into The Cove somewhat skeptical of the film, despite its positive critical reception. I’m a fan of documentaries that give voices to multiple sides of an argument. The Cove doesn’t even pretend to give the pretense of being balanced as it explores the dolphin killing in
In terms of Sig Ikki stuff, some new chapters have systematically popped up.
Chapter 2 of Dorohedoro left me somewhat disappointed after an interesting introduction, but it’s not surprising for manga to have throwaway chapters at the beginning while authors get warmed up. Works similarly for any medium.
I’m done with House of Five Leaves. I want to like the art, and indeed, the style is fairly distinctive, but there’s something off about the paneling that confuses and annoys me. More importantly, the writing just hasn’t really captured me. To use two vague words because I am a crappy writer myself who can’t specifically word anything, the writing is overly “muted” as opposed to “edgy.” Simply not really grabbing, though it is far from repulsive.
A new 4-panel manga, I am a Turtle, has popped up for the first time. I get the feeling it’s not really chuckle-funny in the way that the author wants it to be, but I do have a massive soft spot for turtles, so I’ll go ahead and say it’s cute and charming.
I’ll Give It My All...Tomorrow seems to be a keeper. It’s not overly optimistic, or abjectly pessimistic. Instead, it’s one of those rare things that’s really realist, carefully trekking through a tempered middle path that makes the protagonist as perceivable as the average underachieving guy down the street. At this point, despite having read only two chapters, I’m oddly confident that the author, Shunju Aono, won’t resort to cheap, Fuck My Life depths. Can’t wait for the first volume.
As if two volumes of Bakemonogatari and the Kizumonogatari prequel weren't enough proof, Nisioisin is always at his best when he's allowed to write whatever the hell he wants to. This volume is, in theory, focused on the elder of Araragi's two Fire Sisters, Karen, who always wears her school track suit, has become an exceptionally accomplished martial artist, and to Araragi's horror, is now taller than him. Hot headed, she is always ready to fight for someone in need...much like Araragi, although he refuses to admit it. She acts before she thinks, and this eventually gets her in trouble with the apparition of the week, a bee with a sting that infects with a terrible fever.
I say eventually because this happens fully halfway through the book. It opens with Araragi handcuffed to a post, and then proceeds to backtrack through the day as he attempts to figure out which of the many, many reasons Senjogahara would have decided such drastic measures were appropriate. All members of his harem get their chance to boldly cross lines he never quite crossed before.
One big question here involves the departure of Oshino Meme. It looks like his role is going to be filled by Shinobu. Despite not saying a word throughout Bakemonogatari, she abruptly begins speaking again here, her personality completely unchanged from Kizumonogatari. This is cheerily explained as her being bored, and Araragi consistently failing to buy enough Golden Chocolate at Mister Donuts.
There is an actual plot of some kind, which feels like an afterthought. The actual resolution to this plot comes in a brief conversation that essentially serves as an extended epilogue - the real climax to the book comes in the thirty page long fight scene between Karen and Araragi, as he tries to convince her to let him handle things. Fight scenes were initially one of the Nisioisin's biggest weaknesses; his ornate, roundabout style doesn't really lend itself to the direct precision required to effectively communicate action, and the pacing often shuddered to a half. If nothing else came out of Katanagatari, it seems to have at least helped him work through this issue; the fight in Nisemonogatari is long as hell, and involves quite a lot of seriously complicated descriptions of capoeira style bodies twisting through the air that I honestly couldn't be arsed to completely follow, but he managed to keep the tension going even with only a hazy grasp of the action, and for the first time, really managed to apply the structural confidence of his conversations to his action. It winds up being pretty powerful stuff.
Looking forward to the second volume.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
All in all, an unremarkable experience. It was a cute diversion with lots of pretty colors and fishies, but nothing I wouldn't have been worse off for missing. The English dub likely contributed to my lack of enjoyment. Some really stilted and wooden delivery from the voice actors. Frankie Jonas and Noah Cyrus, younger siblings of our favorite Disney Channel gremlins, give cringeworthy and ear-grating performances. I love Tina Fey, but her performance was also god-awful and inconsistent. The one saving grace to the English cast is Liam Neeson, the one person who delivers his lines in a believable manner and seems to give a damn about his role.
Acting aside, the characters and plot didn't help either. Just a bit too simple and dumbed down for children for my tastes. I'll go ahead and spoil the ending the movie. For those of you who still want to see this, don't worry. There's nothing you can't see coming as long as you have the capacity for sentient thought. Anyway, the climax with the Earth facing certain destruction from a falling moon, ends with the protagonist kid, Sousuke, briefly swearing that he will love Ponyo whether she is fish or girl. The intended demographic of this film may be young, but you gotta have something more intense than that. Additionally, I admit I was bothered by the fact that the kid falls "in love" with a fish. Yeah, I know Ponyo ultimately turns into a girl, but Christ, she still used to be a fish. Love can go ahead and blast through many boundaries, but interspecies walls should not be one of them. Speaking of love, why the hell is Sousuke talking about loving somebody romantically for the rest of his life when he is only 5? Way to paint a realistic picture for kids. The more realistic relationship between Sousuke's mother and father is brushed aside far too quickly.
I feel like a child-hating bastard for saying this, but I wish I spent my money for Inglorious Basterds instead. Less adorable, but likely more entertaining. I may rewatch Ponyo when it gets issued on DVD just to see if the Japanese dub elevates the film.
Friday, August 21, 2009
But even in college I was heavily focused on Asian action of all kinds, and would have been annoyed that Eclipse never found a way to treat that stuff right. You know, the way Dragon Dynasty was until they decided to pee in our faces and stop including the original language tracks.
So it's pretty damn cool that they're doing a set of old Japanese noir flicks. Including a Seijun Suzuki. No idea whether these are worth catching or not, but hopefully we'll have someone on staff willing to take a chance and tell us how they are.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It involves an awesome flying car.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Was everything I hoped for. This blows everything else I've seen this year out of the water. One of those things that I just can't write that much about because I enjoyed it so much. A number of small touches here and there, whether it was having the aliens being labeled under "white" aliases like "Christopher Johnson" by the MNU, or having Wikus, the protagonist, be able to perfectly comprehend the alien language but not understand a lick of a Nigerian dialect, or even having the aliens being gypped by Nigerian scams, just made the film seem so...real and raw for lack of better, more specific words. Some, particularly Roger Ebert, have complained about a rather "disappointing" third act that involves a lot of "standard shoot-out action," but I could not disagree more about that. The action is fucking badass, adding a dimension of viscerality and fist-pumping fun that makes this film all the more captivating and memorable. Go see this thing as soon as possible.
I been in a musical-state-of-mind lately. After coming back from an exhilarating Sunday at Lollapalooza, I've gone through my two hard drives' worth of tracks I've randomly
Additionally, I checked today to make sure that The Pillows haven't released anything new, because they're so damn prolific. Indeed, no albums with exclusively new material have been released, but two twentieth Anniversary albums were recently put out, titled Once upon a time in the pillows, and Rock Stock & Too Smoking the pillows that equally draw from their entire career, including their older, pre-1997 stuff that often goes unmentioned here by their Stateside fans. These two collections themselves don't amount to anything much. One thing I've always found about The Pillows is the all-around strength of their albums from song to song. These two collections are but a trivial sampling of some of their singles. Frankly, no "Greatest Hits" collection can do The Pillows justice, because you just gotta listen to all of their albums to get a full experience. However, what Once Upon and Rock Stock mark is absolutely huge. The Pillows have been together for twenty years since their inception in 1989. Twenty fucking years, a stretch that is not marred by a single temporary breakup or hiatus. And not only have they been able to enviably stay together for so long, they've been consistent the whole way through. I'm not saying that everything they turn out is always balls-to-the-walls awesome, now. In my opinion, they've never been able to match their brilliant output from 1998 to 1999. My Foot is flanked on either side by some less than imperative albums. But, they've never turned out anything truly substandard. Yes, their sound may stay stagnant at times, and the criticism that they do some "recycling" is valid, but every single one of their albums, without fail, has left me in a cheery, optimistic mood by the end of a listen. So long live The Pillows. I'm truly happy they exist, and I hope I get to see them live once before the day I die.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The basic idea - Firo and Ennis on their honeymoon aboard a ship with the great grandkids of Jacuzzi Splot and Vino, while Elmer and the other surviving immortals are on a different ship going the other way as terrorists take over both ships - sounds awesome. Indeed, the first volume, Bullet Garden, is a blast - the movie loving chatty mask wearing villains, the Banderas style bad ass gunman, the hilarious goth-loli with a worryingly dark backstory...all great additions, and the the leader of the kids from the original novels framing sequence getting retconned as Jacuzzi's descendant while Vino and Chane are handily replaced by their own great-grandkids, a psychotic child star and her nearly mute stunt actor brother...not really all the far off the original characters, but still promising.
Blood Sabbath, however, is a nightmare.
The leader of the masked men is bad enough - a kid magician, he's Hughie and Monica's descendant, and trying to get revenge on Hughie who he believes killed Monica. Narita never once manages to make it remotely convincing that this is actually what happened, and without us buying that, his character is just obnoxious and emo. He's somewhat balanced by the awesome muscle bound crazy woman who talks like a dirty old man.
The book runs into serious trouble when it tries to bring the religion Elmer was rescued from out of a footnote in his back history and into a role as the central villains of the book. The idea of a religion that worships the pain of abused children and hauls around a group of blindfolded, handcuffed children chanting the writs of their order as they listen to the sounds of their own screams is a BIT too fucking dark for ANY book, and spending the first THREE HUNDRED FUCKING PAGES almost entirely on exhaustively explaining this shit to the hapless undercover woman they've brainwashed and 'married' to the cult leader basically is simply unfathomable. Why did he think this shit would work? Why didn't any of his editors stop him?
Possible scheduling. These two volumes came out just as the anime was ending, and by his own admission the second volume was originally supposed to be TWO volumes, which probably explains why three of the four hundred pages are devoted to meandering unfocused set up and then it abruptly lurches into a cliffnotes clipshow version of the climax, completely destroying the effect of any and all twists and neutering all the new characters added to the first volume, who now get only token, unsatisfying pay offs that entirely get lost in the horrible shuffle.
AS IF THIS WAS NOT BAD ENOUGH, the mother fucking epilogue tries to pull some sort of fucking M. Night twist and resurrect the motherfucker who tortured Chez all those years and who Chez supposedly ATE...but who Szilard ALSO apparently ate, and who is all through this book working for the masked men AND the cult AND fucking orchestrating the entire thing like a fucking puppet master JUST TO FUCKING WITH PEOPLE.
He clearly has ambitious plans to spin this plotline out into several other epoch hopping novels, and I suddenly have absolutely no faith in his ability to do so.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Anyway, KILL is a pretty good read, and an interesting contrast to Sky Crawlers' version of expendable soldiery. Whereas Oshii's Kannami only seems to be repeating the same day, Sakurazaka's Kiriya is in a more literal rerun.
I hesitate to say too much about the plot, because frankly, it's not that original. It wears its influences on its sleeve, and if you have even a passing interest in SF lit you'll probably share a bit of Kiriya's deja vu (in fact, this book's power-armored infantry and Western-named, green-eyed ethnic Japanese made me realize how much the generic anime future owes to Heinlein).
Where it shines is in the execution. This book is meticulously well-crafted, in an Alan Moore kinda way-- Sakurazaka has a knack for introducing an idea, wringing just the right amount of juice out of it, then kicking it loose and changing the game with another one. Kiriya is also a very easy guy to like, which is much appreciated if I'm going to be reading almost 200 pages of his internal monologue. Of course, part of the credit must go to the translator, the mighty Alexander O. Smith (and an apparently uncredited Joseph Reeder), once again showing why he's one of the best in the biz.
Bottom line, it's good breezy pulp, vividly written and engrossing. I had a great time.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Exhibit A: Senjogahara's house is a set, with cut away walls to film through. METAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPOCALYPTIC.
Exhibit B: Ordinary conversations are underscored by a series of metaphorically surrealistic stock imagery. Why exactly the world is filled with identical cars that have the old kanji for 5 on the side of them I do not know, but the pacing and rhythm with which these elements are included is extremely Ikuhara. (Although I could do with less live action elements.)
Exhibit C: The threat of domestic violence is never very far away.
On an unrelated note:
This bit of violence was ridiculous (and by ridiculous I mean AWESOME) in motion, but when I went to capture a frame of it I discovered that she has literally punched all the way through his skull. This is not particularly Utena-esque, but it is worth cackling about.
One of the things I've always appreciated about Imagawa is his ability to maintain an air of whimsicality amidst apparent seriousness. He doesn't take things too seriously, but doesn't resort to cheese that can compromise badassery. Episodes 17 and 18 are vintage Imagawa in that regard. Giggles and fist pumps aplenty.
Episode 17 begins with Koji and Nishikiori's pursuit of an escaped Kedora and Dr. Hell and friends' attempt to quell Duke Gorgon. Duke Gorgon prompts a gigantic Greek column to shoot out of the earth, but then meets a quick and easy demise, promising however that he will return. The Kedora escapes into the column, prompting some gigantic roots to sprout out of the column and rush into the power plant. A lot of unfortunate workers are crushed. Koji and Nishikiori unexpectedly join forces with Dr. Hell to find and destroy the Kedora. Baron Ashura is sent to help them out. Upon entering the column, they find that the Kedora has hidden itself in an alternate-reality dream world replicating the past. The Kedora hopes to buy itself enough time to launch the column and itself into space.
By the end of episode 18, Baron Ashura has come away with some great character development, Duke Gorgon dies once more, some other key characters are killed in the process, and Zeus and Hades clash in a dazzling titanic battle that is the absolute highlight of the two episodes, which features Zeus doing his own rendition of the Rocket Punch.
Indeed, episodes 17 and 18 are neither short on activity nor entertainment. Unfortunately, despite the fun, there was still some disappointment to be had. First, these episodes do have their moments of nice-looking action, but it's obvious that production values are being limited by an anemic budget. The animation is horribly inconsistent, especially when it comes to matters of scale. Mazinger Z can approach the size of a mechanical beast in one scene, and then be small enough to stand as a tiny speck on a Mycenean warrior's shoulder the next. In terms of plot, I was really disappointed at how early and non-epically some of the characters died after the setup they'd been given. Then again, who knows. This is Imagawa after all, and he may very well be bringing these characters back in great fanfare later on. Or he may just have something else up his sleeve that will once more make me eat my words. Perhaps we can expect a possible entrance from Poseidon?
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
As if the remake by itself was not bad enough news.
Fuck you Warner. Fuck you for shitting all over Bruce Lee's grave.
I was going to refrain from making another post and go to bed quietly, but now I'm up in arms.
It's going to be called "Awaken the Dragon." And it's supposed to be a "noir-ish" reboot. Who the fuck gave this project the go-ahead? The writer, some nincompoop named Kurt Sutter, has the balls to say that "This will be more ‘Raging Bull’ than ‘Crouching Tiger’ in its viciousness,” in regards to the project.
Again, why Rain for the love of God? Great, not a white guy, but at least get somebody with a lick of martial arts experience.
Christ, I hope I wake up tomorrow and find that this was a prank.
Until then, motherfucking shit.
Like any breakup, getting rid of the mementos brought everything back to mind, and thinking about it, sheer cast size can't be the real problem; Eyeshield 21 has even more recurring characters, literally enough to fill a football stadium, most of whom vanish for several volumes at a time, and I never have problems keeping them straight-- in fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of one I don't even like. I have to put this down to Riichiro Inagaki just having better writing chops. Bleach ventured into more conceptually challenging material than "students play football; win", but ultimately overreached Tite Kubo's ability to tell that story. Eyeshield's massive cast has basically one character trait apiece (Hiruma is an extortionist, Taki is a doof), but each of them is tuned to express that trait with maximum efficiency, right on the edge of annoyance, and the narrative's focus jumps around often enough to prevent them from going over that edge, just in time to remind you why you liked the next character in line. It's really amazing; on paper it sounds like it should be the most cliched, cynical writing-by-the-numbers hack job ever, and it kind of is, but somehow it all just WORKS.
Of course, this probably wouldn't reach that level without Yusuke Murata on art, who is the Clark Kent of manga artists, constantly deploying superhuman skills and making it all look so easy you barely even notice. Every single one of his character designs could be the star of some other series, and the art effortlessly flips between cartoony caricature and heroic action, complementing and illuminating the writing the way every good comic should but too few actually do. Forget football-- Eyeshield 21 is easily the best superhero comic book being published today, and if Stan Lee were paying attention he'd have hooked up with Murata instead of Takei.
So, uh, go read Eyeshield 21. It really just is that good.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
What a weird sounding phrase.
Anyway, another batch of first chapters has been uploaded in the last few days. This crop consists of Afterschool Charisma, House of Five Leaves, Kingyo Used Books, and Tokyo Flow Chart.
There's some cute, clean artwork, but the concept is far too cooky for my liking. It's a take on the familiar elite, segregated high school academy formula, with the students all supposedly being clones of famous historical figures, like Napoleon, Freud, and Madam Curie, even fucking Clone Kennedy. Then there's some random "ordinary" Japanese kid named Shiro who's thrown into the mix as the protagonist. Having only read so much, I have no solid idea as to the direction in which this series is heading. As I try to look past the concept, I see traces of seriousness, with the talk about free will, destiny, and what not. Uh oh. Even if this does turn out to be a comedy though, I'm still going to have trouble swallowing this. There's just something disgraceful about associating those prominent figures that have had such a huge impact on history to these flustered high-school kids featured in the manga.
House of Five Leaves-
Another samurai/ronin story about a bodyguard who makes a contract and must protect somebody. The twist is that this time, the bodyguard is protecting a criminal outlaw and his operations. I liked how, instead of being a badass, the yojimbo in this story is a timid, modest individual who's just trying to stay afloat in tough financial times and find a job that can prevent him from starving. I was somewhat irked then when I found out that this painfully normal person has Inherent Fighting Talent. Again, I liked the atypical art with its gaunty, alien-looking characters, but overall, Five Leaves wasn't a very captivating read.
Kingyo Used Books-
The standalone episodic narratives revolve around a used manga bookstore that gets people in tune with their soul with the power of nostalgia and memory. First story is about this nondescript man who comes to the titular store, Kingyo Used Books, to get rid of his manga collection. However, at an evening middle-school reunion party, he meets all of his old buddies, who start reminiscing about manga, tear up, and get all chummy as they talk about stuff they read when they were little kids. Then in his happy drunken state, he leads the entire party to Kingyo (which is miraculously still open at that hour), where everybody temporarily forgets the pains of adulthood and employment to buy manga. Not horrible, but just too simple and sappy for my tastes, if the first chapter is any indication. Or I'm too damn cynical. I kept on waiting for a panel to pop up showing that the store had abruptly gone out of business. Is it even possible for a used book store to stay in business nowadays, much less operate on a 24/7 schedule?
Tokyo Flow Chart-
What is this mess?
Overall, a disappointing set this time around, though I suppose I've been a bit spoiled by the preceding material.
(Off-topic burst of excitement - Something by Usamaru Furuya has been licensed?!)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
It was a fucking struggle, I tell ya. Getting through those episodes was more grueling than a workout, except a workout would've actually been helpful. What a goddamn waste of time. Despite all of its eminent audience acclaim, dazzling animation, and sky-surfing robots, my experience was derailed by the fact that Eureka 7 contains or has reminded of some of the cliches/devices/tendencies from the medium I abhor the most. These include:
A classic, tired attempt to elicit some laughs, or maybe even some pity for a particular character. Not funny. Just pathetic. Yes, people fantasize/daydream all the time while talking to themselves, but we usually notice it when somebody, especially when the person of interest we are fantasizing/daydreaming about moves right in front of us. I know animation, hell, film period, is a medium of exaggeration, and there's suspense of disbelief and all that crap, but with how often it's used, I've had enough of this "human awareness fail"-dependent humor.
Happens in anime like it does with kids. You see it coming from a mile away. It's telegraphed by every movement...and yet you can't stop it! Shit, people cry, but they stay silent a lot of the time too. It also would help if the voice actors didn't sound like whimpering goats every time they did it. Then again, I would sound like one too if I was told to cry on the spot for something I don't really care about. The Incredibly Forced Crying/Tearing Up moment is closely related to...
To write the perfectly generic Deeply Emotional moment, follow these steps:
1) Supporting character is mortally wounded after a Heroic Sacrificial Action.
2) Protagonist rushes to character's side.
3) Supporting character utters Last Words.
4) Supporting character coughs up blood and dies.
5) Protagonist remains in disbelief and begins crying.
6) Pan to the sky for the Visceral Scream of dead character's name.
Props to Kenji Kamiyama and his fellow writers for making fun of this pattern in the first season of Stand Alone Complex.
The end of Gurren Lagann's eighth episode is one of the more tolerable and effective death scenes that I've seen because the Last Words and Visceral Scream have been removed. Why can't other folks follow suit?
"I...I just don't understand anything anymore. Life...has become so confusing."
Awkward as hell. Doesn't help when the names are really strange. But hey, for all I know, maybe this is normal and I'm outta the loop. Enlighten me here.
Not endemic to anime by any means, but it appears all too often to rob our poor little 2-d constructs of more relevant and valuable dialog. I cannot count how many times in Eureka 7 people started going off about trapars, skyfish, and coral. Look, they're trippy and colorful and that's nice, but when the concepts are horribly inconsistent and can be surmounted by the Power of Love, there is no need for that much time to be spent on establishing them. Keep the concepts consistent, or better yet, keep it in the hard sci-fi world where this shit is actually paramount and belongs. The only anime "technobabble" I've genuinely found interesting, so interesting in fact that I hesitate use that ugly word in association, is from the Ghost in the Shell-verse.
I hope to dear god that these things eventually die out. What was once barely palatable has become vomit-inducing. In a nutshell,
P.S: If any of these have some more properly accepted names besides the random nonsensical jumbles I came up with, definitely let me know.
Cheerily awesome two films a month initial schedule quickly gives way to one a season; promises of never before seen quality soon turn out to be piss poor transfers and frequently unintelligible subtitles, but fuck it, you were putting out a bunch of movies that made a big impact on me for cheap, and I was happy to go back and collect them.
At least they were uncut and had the original language tracks, right?
Apparently not any more.
Finally got around to watching the DVD of Jet Li's THE ENFORCER (My Father is a Hero, possibly his best work) and...there's only the fucking shitty English dub they did several years back.
While I'm not surprised they'd suddenly stop bothering - Weinstein has film blood on his hands the way Kissinger does political - I am surprised to have discovered this on my own, several months after release.
Twitch, at the least, should have been in an uproar. But I guess nobody really gives a flying fuck about old kung fu movies, which is probably why they never get treated the way they should be.
I hate the world, and I'm going to bed.
By the way,
...I never cease to love Otomo's paneling.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I mean...it's just the teaser with one other bit cross cut.
So it would be just as enigmatic.
But I admire the way it flaunts it's obtuseness.