Anime Beyond Miyazaki II

First and foremost, I have to apologize for not writing anything in the two weeks. I have no idea why considering I’ve seen several new and old movie since then. Also, the reason I sometimes (read as: often) don’t write about the things I say I am in upcoming entries is mostly because the DVD that I borrowed from the library is scratched beyond hell and will not play in my DVD player.

This is the most anticipated sequel to the first entry. I’m surprised the first one was my most viewed, probably because Miyazaki is such a popular director or maybe it’s because I had pictures in that entry. Eh whatever.

The first anime I would like to talk about is the OVA (Original Video Animation) Cyber City Oedo 808 which is a 3 episode cyberpunk series centered in Tokyo about three criminals. This is probably the saddest thing I’ve seen in anime as far as potential wise. It’s not because the show is particularly bad, it’s pretty decent in actuality even if it looks really ’90s anime’ at this point. What saddens me about this OVA is the fact that there is so much potential yet they never made anything else with the series outside of a Japan only video game for the Playstation. The premise is brilliant: In the year 2808 criminals that have unique skill sets and sentenced absurdly long  amounts of time  are able to get years off their sentence if they work with the police in solving crimes. The twist comes in is that there is an explosive collar attached to each criminal, so if you try to escape, take it off, or don’t complete your mission in time you will be killed. Great incentive to do it right.

An essential watch for all people who want to vaguely knowledgeable of anime is Revolutionary Girl Utena. It is basically the equivalent of Neon Genesis Evangelion except it’s a deconstruction (and reconstruction) the magic girl genre as opposed to the mecha genre with NGE. To draw more parallels with NGE, the movie version of RGU takes everything about the series and completely inverts all the characters and condenses the entire series to roughly 100 minutes. Granted you could watch either or first considering the plot lines and characters aren’t bilateral in their depictions, but there will certain cues that make since if you watch the series first, which is only 39 episodes.

As for the actual movie, as it’s more readily in my mind at the moment, it could be described as ‘girl power’ fair. If you’re jaded like me, then that will most likely steer you instantly away from the movie and tv series. However that should not deter you because this is in fact a brilliant film about the awakening of several female characters  be it sexually or finally realizing their own self worth that isn’t directly attached to whom ever is their prince at the given moment. In comparison to the television series, the yuri (lesbian fiction genre) aspects of it are far more overt, it plays a crucial counterpoint in both though, so look beyond it as fan service.

One of my favorite recent anime series is Gunslinger Girl.  In GG it’s one of those rare moments when the use of the word ‘girl’ is actually referring to little girls rather than female adolescents or adult women. The series is about an Italian counter-terrorists organization that reprograms traumatized (rape, abuse, etc.) orphan girls into cyborg assassins. Mind you, while this does in fact sound over-the-top, the cyborg aspects of the girls is limited to say Captain America super hero power level. Meaning they just simply have amazing reflexes and stamina. It’s never specifically stated throughout the series why boys aren’t chosen over or in addition to girls considering at this age they are roughly physically and mentally. Given that women in general are perceived less of a threat than men, it does make for better cover to have a young girl (between the ages of 8-12 by the by) than having a young boy.

Getting to the series, the show doesn’t an over arching narrative  though character interactions and discomfort carry from each episode. Each girl is given a handler (that is the term used in the show, not mine) to train for and to whom she will be fiercely loyal to. It’s never addressed overtly whether or not it’s right or wrong to use children to murder people outside a brief conversation where one handler is sort of relenting the usage. And this is how the majority of the show is carried, with ambiguity. The series director Morio Asaka doesn’t force his views onto the viewer. Instead we must watch and decide for ourselves how uncomfortable this makes us. All we’re given are brief, and generally precise, moments of action where the kill is done as quickly and cleanly as it could by the young girls. This is intermingled with the girls interacted with each other or their handlers as who we see them as, little girls. They show discomfort about getting their first period, smile in ways that only children know how, they pout, they cry, they ferociously seek out approval from the only males in their lives, and some die.

And beyond that, what makes this series stick it is that it doesn’t look like every single other anime out there. It’s drawn in the real world with beautiful detail, the episode where they are in a museum stands out in my mind the most from the series.

On a lighter note, another knew anime that has blown me away was The Tatami Galaxy. It doesn’t look like anime like you expect anime to look. Instead of droning on about the series, I’ll just give you a brief synopsis and let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Note: I borrowed all the pictures from because he has them all the same size, and there’s nothing better than uniformity.

A second year student from the Kyoto University finds himself entrapped amid a plethora of unsatisfying possibilities to change his life. Accompanied by Ozu, his mischievous best friend, and Akashi, a stern engineering student, the nameless protagonist trudges through each path as he tries to grab the opportunity that seems to dangle right in front of his eyes.
When a college dropout stops for a late night bite at a mysterious ramen stand, he crosses paths with a self-proclaimed deity of matrimony. This bizarre meeting sends the young man hurtling through a horrifying flashback to his not-so-glorious college days when the influence of a cruel new friend turned him from a hopeless romantic into a mischievous “black cupid.”-

The final anime I would like to mention is, shock and awe, also new! It was recently released in Japan in 2010 and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release here in America this year. I haven’t seen it yet obviously, but it’s one of my more anticipated films just because of the look and the fact that they went to Katsuhiro Otomo levels of animation to get to the final product. It took 7 years and 100,000 handmade drawings to get made. What I love about the look is that it is so distinctly middle 90s in every single way. The character designs, the vehicle designs, the environment, the colors, the characters’ movements, hell even the plotline and music feel like the mid-90s! One significance being, is that it actually looks like it has the budget of modern day anime films! Below is the official site, as well as images.


About panamaenrique

Afro-Latino film lover in NYC. I love blues, jazz, soul, funk, and everything else under the sun. Any questions, comments, or concerns about anything I say, feel free to hit me up. My contact info is there and I'll be sure to give you a lengthy response about what I said and why I said it.
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