Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Satoshi Kon dies

From here.

Got a text about this a few minutes ago, and it still doesn't feel real. Don't know what to say...

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Policy: I Only Post About Series Beginning With U

So we all know Makoto Shinkai, right? Well, think of Kazuhiro "Romanov" Higa as his evil twin. They both have a rep as one-man anime studios, but Higa's muse leads him to ridiculous, rip-roaring pulp action instead of emo teenagers. His output may look like a PS2 cutscene (which is in no way an exaggeration; he worked on the two Gungrave games), but you can't fault him for sheer, demented charm.

I first heard of him from his unbelievably random English-language magical catgirl '70s gun-fu epic Catblue Dynamite, and he also did some kind of Dominion Tank Police reboot called TANK SWAT that I can't find ANYWHERE, but today let's chat about his earlier time travel adventure Urda.
The plot is insane. I'll just say it involves a bioroid space loli from NASA's warp drive project falling through a wormhole back to WWII, as long as you understand that this is just BEGINNING to scratch the surface of the awesome/dumb here. This is basically one plot twist after another, sandwiched by random ludicrous action scenes. It's only about half an hour long, and circumstantial evidence on the DVD leads me to believe it was originally webcast in five minute chunks, which does the already scrambled narrative no favors.

But if you're going to watch this, it's not going to be for the plot, it's going to be to see someone have a hand-to-hand rocket launcher fight with a Nazi cyclops on top of a speeding Jeep. Urda is not "good" in the conventional sense that refers to quality, originality, or cleverness, but it is "good" in a WHOO HA HA DID YOU SEE THAT way. The fun is in the actual animation, so it doesn't screencap too well, but if you liked any of the other stupid things I've posted about here, I recommend tossing this one on your Netflix queue.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Has it really been a decade since I last saw Revolutionary Girl Utena? Time to fix that.
Quick primer: Utena Tenjou is basically a good-natured shounen adventure protagonist hanging out in a boarding school melodrama. While going about her business of cutting through all the histrionic bullshit making everyone's life miserable, she falls into yet another genre, a fighting tournament to rescue a princess of sorts. Hmm... when I lay it out like that, I recall that Bryan Lee O'Malley has admitted to liking Nana, but I wonder if Scott Pilgrim isn't a little influenced by Utena too.

Either way, this is very much a sister show to Evangelion, exploring and exploding the tropes of its chosen genre (I'm particularly fond of the unusually literal version of the all-powerful student council). Utena usually wins her fights by refusing to play along with everyone else's drama and applying out-of-context solutions to the problems presented, and now that I think about it she only seems to fail when her enemies trick her into questioning her own judgement and thinking inside their boxes. Let's see if my memories are correct; so far I've only rewatched the first seven episodes, and Utena hasn't really started relying on her customary tactic of winning by exploiting the opponent's psychological flaws, or just cheating with the power of Dios. So far they're pretty much just establishing all the characters they will later tip over like dominoes. Well, episode 7 is one of my all-time favorites, but then I always was very fond of Juri.

I think I probably will rebuy the Right Stuf version, if only to be rid of CPM's horrible old policy of "we will give you one chapter stop every fifteen minutes and you will like it" (and the hardsubs on all the dueling songs). Of course, you shouldn't be skipping past anything anyway; the show has a lot of ritualistic elements (the shadow puppet Greek chorus, the fight songs and catharsis during battle, and and of course the ascent to the dueling arena and drawing of the Sword of Dios) and as far as I'm concerned sitting through the opening and ending is just another one. Besides, those songs are awesome.

If I end up rewatching the whole thing, maybe I'll finally write something about the alchemical symbology that seems to underpin the whole series (the Rose Bride being a dark girl dressed in red that everyone abhors but wants to possess is extremely suggestive). I wonder sometimes if Kunihiko Ikuhara did this deliberately or just backed into all this Jungian stuff by being his weird self (I never actually watched his Sailor Moon work so I can't say if it was any more blatant there), but he'd certainly never say even if you asked, saucy bitch that he is. It's a shame he never really did much else after the Utena movie.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Also, I give up

I'm officially enjoying this inane, insane show. I only wish I knew why the hell they only animated half an episode last week.

Even A Fortean Can Draw Anime

Presented more or less without comment.

Actually no, I do have one comment. How is it that Chiaki Konaka is somehow not attached to this project? I actually find it kind of hard to believe given that he seems to live and breathe Forteana.

Red Eagle

Remember Tears of the Black Tiger? Director has a new movie.