Monday, August 24, 2009

Random Notes again (The Cove + More Sig Ikki impressions)

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 Japan. It’s ruthlessly one-sided, never ceasing to press its audience to question the humanity of the dolphin-slaughtering fishermen. The thing doesn’t even faze from approaching racism when leveling its critique against the Japanese whaling industry. The editing is blatantly manipulative and dastardly. Some dirty B-roll is used, particularly when trying to lend characterizations to certain people. Yet despite coming in skeptical and aware of possible underhanded, manipulative techniques from the filmmakers, I still ate all of this shit up. The filmmakers know that it’s hard to hate on dolphins with their naturally cute looks, and they absolutely exploit that with numerous numerous shots that really get you to empathize with the plight of the poor creatures. Honestly, I’m even hard-pressed to call this thing a documentary. It’s more like a movie that just happens to use some “real” footage. And it’s a good thing in this case. With a group of likeable protagonists in the activists that seek to capture the footage at Taiji, an accumulation of antagonists that we come to despise through all too effective usage of B-roll, and an engrossing plot reminiscent of espionage and spy films, it’s not hard to become emotionally invested. Simply a effective piece. The Cove worked well enough that I canceled my plans to eat sushi for dinner.

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.


  1. The updates occur every Thursday.

    I actually like Dorohedoro's second chapter more than the first, as the latter felt too much like distanced exposition at times.

    Probably will stick with House of Five Leaves until its first volume before dropping it.

    The turtle manga is beyond redemption, and I'm suurprised that I'm enjoying I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow.

  2. Don't think of The Cove as a hate movie on Japan-- Japanese people don't know this is happening. Rather, it's a tale of small town violence hushed up by the national police and media.

  3. I didn't. It just gets borderline racist at times. When they had that guy bring up antiquated Japanese imperialist attitudes, I thought to myself, "Really?"

  4. Hate to comment without knowledge of the context, but the imperialist, right wing, Nanking denying Nationalists are EXACTLY the people defending the reprehensible whaling industry as part of Japanese tradition. I imagine it was EXTREMELY relevant.

  5. To give you the context, there was this part where they continued to question the motivations driving the Japanese whaling industry. The comment came fairly out of the blue with little direct relation to what was talked about before. Some British guy just came on and said, "Blah, you know what, I think that these guys are ignoring logic and doing this because of their Imperialist traditions and they want to spite the West." If what you said about the Nationalists defending the whaling industry was mentioned, the comment would have been far more relevant, but that in itself just seemed like a throw-in to reinforce hateful attitudes. While the film did interview Japanese people later on in order to show that not everybody was for whaling in Japan, some of the things they did took advantage of inherent human racism. I'm not saying it was a turn-off. On the contrary, it was extremely effective.

  6. I just don't see how referencing an existing political ideology counts as racism.

  7. It's not overt racism, but it helps engender racist attitudes, along with a number of other things featured in the film. There are a number of scenes that prod us to question the humanity and intelligence of the Japanese fishermen.