SIONR: Anime Cheese in the Wrong Place

I’ve spoken at length about how I hate modern anime.  There are so many shows being made now, and they all pretty much universally suck.  The glory days of anime are long behind it, in my eyes.  Call me a hipster (I’m starting to accept that in some ways I kind of am one), but I think anime was destroyed by its own success.  Once it gained mainstream popularity (or at least infinitely more mainstream than it used to be), or rather became part of geek culture, it all went downhill from there.  The truly great anime from not that long ago became something that they wanted to recapture, but the problem is that animation studios are having to push out commercially successful shows with higher budgets and shorter production time.  It’s put terrible strain on animation studios and their employees that I genuinely feel sad about.

Wow that was a digression, wasn’t it.  My point is, I don’t think much of modern anime.  But my gay girly-mate has this new series that she is all over, and since FUNimation does this thing where they will simultaneously release dubs and subs at the same time (I refuse to watch subs anime.  I can watch subtitled foreign films all day, but I genuinely refuse to do so with anime.  So if the dub sucks, I’m done), she has forced me to partake in this series with her.  Won’t say what it is.  It’s one of her guilty pleasures, and that’s all I’m going to say.  I swear, the girl is punishing me for something.  Can’t think of what.

This series isn’t bad on a technical level.  The animation is actually pretty great.  It has this nice realistic aesthetic that I am kind of digging.  The perk of modern animation being glossy and realistic is that it gives series a quality of feeling true to life that old-school anime never really had without insane detail.  Now proper shading and less expressive faces give environments and character designs something that feels true to life.  Like this is someone you can get to know in the real world.  The best friend character is my favorite so far.

But the design of these characters being less over the top and toned down expressively means that when this series has some of the cheese that anime is known for, it stands out to me in a bad way.  A very bad way.  You have a character whose entire visual design is not at all bombastic suddenly going into a ridiculous expression that feels so out of place given the art style.  Every time it happens it feels kind of wrong.  I genuinely don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.

Let me give you a way to look at this that is more relatable.  You like Quentin Tarantino, right?  Of course you do.  Well imagine for a second that in Reservoir Dogs it cut to some scenery-chewing villain doing a song number.  Or if the characters with their perfect dialogue and delivery started suddenly going really over the top at the drop of a hat, only to then go back to their perfectly done dialogue again without acknowledging that at all.  Would that not catch your attention in a bad way?  It would me.

I have had a thousand people tell me that I over-analyze stuff, so if you’re going to come at me with that, don’t.  Trust me, I already know.  It just really weirds me out to have stuff like that going on when the scene is being played fairly straight.  And this series does.  It plays everything completely straight until you cut to some cheese right the fuck out of nowhere.  I will admit that my girly-mate’s series is starting to grow on me just because these characters are relatable in a good way.  At least the best friend is.  I love this chick.  Her commentary on the events transpiring around her is just the best.  This girl is basically me as a female.  Standing on the sidelines of the madness and then commenting on what she sees in a way that cuts all the bullshit out.

But like I said, this may just be me.  So what about you?  Am I on to something here, or am I totally off-base.  Maybe I can give this to you a different way – imagine in Cowboy Bebop if Spike suddenly did that silly crying face.  Or if Jet Black and the suddenly revelation face where his eyes go all huge and white.  Would that not bother you?  It’s so tonally dissident from everything else.  I don’t know.  If you are going to go with a more laid-back tone, that’s totally fine.  Hell, I dig it.  But go the distance with that.  If you want to show a character being shocked at learning something, you can do that with realistic expression.  If you want to have a motif, stick with it.  That’s all I’m saying.

Until next time, a quote,

“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean Luc Godard

Peace out,

Maverick

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My Romantic Movie Night

Just got done watching Garden of Words.  The animation in that film is absolutely stunning.  It is a visual masterpiece.  Thought about doing a review of it, but I figured that I haven’t written anything of substance on this page in a while.  Honestly haven’t had much that inspires me to write about.  I could write about Trump’s latest idiocy, but that’s done by the entire fucking media.  To be fair, he doesn’t make it hard.  How are people saying that America didn’t elect its first female President?  Sure looks that way to me.  We elected an oversized teenage girl into the Presidency.  The glass ceiling has been broken!

But back to the film, it may have been a visual masterpiece, but I kind of hate it.  Hear me out – it all comes down to the ending.  There’s no resolution!  You have this scene where the underage kid reveals to the woman who he has bonded with when he finally figures out who she is that he’s in love with her.  She totally shoots him down.  It’s a harsh scene.  I felt so hard for that kid.  Throwing your heart out and then getting it thrown in your face is hard.  Then the adult woman who he admitted his feelings for realizes that she has feelings for him too and goes after the kid.  It’s a truly fantastic scene when they meet and the kid is all sad and angry and rails on her, only for her to run into his arms.  I love that scene.  It’s some truly amazing payoff and the voice acting is phenomenal.  It’s a testament to the people who made it.

Then she leaves!  The two are apart and that’s it.  Come on!  Now, I get that this would be a little weird, considering the fact that she’s 27 years old and he’s 15.  But better films have made this work.  Why have her leave?  Maybe have the two admitting how they feel but also acknowledging that they can’t be together because of the age gap and have them realizing that they will have to wait a little bit.  That’s an acknowledgement of reality while still having them looking to keep their feelings alive.  It would have been much more fulfilling if the film ended with her finding a life close to the person she loves, and having him giving her the shoes he had been making the whole film to her at the end.  Like a kind of promise.  Wouldn’t that have been more fulfilling?

See, here’s the thing about me – I’m a hardcore closet romantic.  When I watch FLCL, I feel a genuine tinge for the kid when he is falling for an older woman.  It’s funny, American media bitches about how the idea of a younger man dating an older woman is so frowned upon.  Japan certainly doesn’t shy away from an age difference with boys and women.  What’s more, they also make it respectable.  Sure, there is plenty of fan service for busty older women that young horny boys are into, but in both Garden of Words and FLCL, they play it as these women being genuine people with the boys discovering their romantic identity with them.  In both cases, it makes for some great scenes.  But while FLCL played it off that the kid falling for the older girl was a metaphor for him growing up and accepting who he is, Garden of Words played the romantic angle straight.  Which makes it that much more frustrating when the film ends on a sour note for no good fucking reason.

I really am bad about it.  When I watch the scene in Stein’s Gate when Christina and Okarin admit their feelings for each other, I judge that scene harshly as well.  It’s a great scene, but it could have been better.  For starters, the music in there is terrible.  It’s distractingly bad.  The scene would have been better served if there was no music at all.  Would have added to the emotional gravity as well, considering the fact that Okarin was about to let the woman he just admitted that he loves die.  Genuinely would have loved that scene more.  Also, get rid of the narration by Christina.  It added nothing.  Just quiet.  Have the rain be the biggest sound, with a few seconds for the audience to take in the cruel irony of what was happening with these two characters.

Anytime I see romantic scenes in stuff I like, I typically get all butterflies, while secretly seeing ways the scene could be better and really make me all warm and buttery about it.  Am I the only one?  No joke, someone in the comments, tell me if I am fucking crazy here.  So many great romantic scenes in movies are ruined because of bad details.  Used a lot of anime references.  What can I say, they tend to play romance a lot better than sappy love stories in American cinema.  That’s not to say that it isn’t done well in other mediums.  In the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel genuine heartbreak as Adele is first introduced to the truth about her sexuality with a classmate, only for her feelings to be totally crushed when she realizes it was just a one-off thing and not a sign of true attraction.  The tears on her face seemed genuine.

I guess it’s a sign of me getting older.  As the years on my birthday cake grow, and my time having been single grows, I feel more and more of it.  But no one who sees me in person will know that.  My cynicism is well-known to those who speak to me.  Groj knows, I’ve made no secret of it here.  Deep down, though, there is that part of me that secretly longs to have that moment where I meet a girl at a place I regularly go and then strike up a conversation and something grows between us.  A man can dream, right?  Granted, everyone goes to bars to meet people these days.  I go to bookstores and walks around my home.  Not a lot of places for romance.  But hey, it can happen, right?

What about all of you?  What romantic scenes from stuff (I swear, if someone says The Notebook I’m gonna virtually smack you.  That movie is fucking terrible) have made you all warm and buttery inside?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I love you.  I can’t help it.  Yukino, I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” – Takao Akizuki, The Garden of Words

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Death Note (2017)

Fuck this movie.  Fuck this fucking movie right up its ass.  This is the worst.  The absolute worst.  How terrible the live-action Japanese versions were should have been a big clue as to why this film wasn’t going to work.  The insanely over-the-top nature of the anime does NOT translate well into film.  So when you combine that with TERRIBLE American writers and a director who clearly has no talent for directing, then you end up with this pile of shit.  Yet-another anime adaptation to add to the pile.  Can whoever posed the idea of Akira being adapted into American take a fucking clue from this?!  They’re all bad!  Every last American adaptation has sucked, without a SINGLE exception.  Just like every video game adaptation has sucked.  When will Hollywood learn?  Wait, this wasn’t Hollywood’s fuck-up.  This was Netflix’s fuck-up.  I don’t have streaming here, but a friend invited me over to see it, and holy shit, it’s bad.  I hate when things I love get turned into shitty adaptations, and this was no exception.  There is so much to talk about, so let’s get to it.

The plot goes that Light…Turner (fuck that name) has the Death Note given to him by Ryuk.  That’s right, instead of Ryuk being bored one day in Shinigami Land and sending the book to Earth not caring who picked it up, in this version he gives it to Light and implies that he is the chosen one.  One of the many ways they fuck over EVERY SINGLE character in this film.  But instead of seeing this book as a way for him to create a world dedicated to his own personal sense of justice and becoming a genocidal monster in the process, Light decides that he’s going to impress a girl!  That’s right, instead of his character being a genius whose sense of morality becomes a twisted nightmare, he’s a pathetic high school loser who wants it is implied is just being used.  More on that later.  Then we get a dumbed-down version of L who is going to stop him.  Who wins?  Do you care?  If you do, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Nothing in this movie is good, aside from Willem Dafoe’s voicework as Ryuk.  Speaking of, let’s go into how every single character is fucked over.  So many people are going to say “it’s an adaptation!  You shouldn’t compare it to the original!”  Yeah?  Well then change the fucking name!  Light is turned from a genius who decides he is going to become a God under the assumed name of Kira into a pathetic angst-y teenager who is almost-certainly being led around with no agency of his own.  Whether it be Mia (their terrible version of Misa), or Ryuk, he always seems to be on someone else’s leash.  Did the idiot who directed this even see the anime?  Fuck this movie.  Light is not some brilliant mastermind.  In the anime, he is a calculating genius, who makes every move according to a plot to best the greatest detective of all time.  Every relationship in his life is part of a calculation, along with everything he ever does.  Part of what makes him so compelling as a character is how his urge to become a god ends up destroying the lives of every single person he touches, and he by the end he laughs his ass off about it.  In the film, he’s a pathetic pawn being used by pretty much everyone around him.  All of the brilliance of the cat-and-mouse game between him and L is gone.

Oh, let’s talk about L.  Do I care that they made him black?  Not even a little.  What I care about is the fact that they made him so pathetic.  I guess the director saw how he is in the anime and took that to mean that he isn’t socially awkward in the extreme and on the autism spectrum.  In this film, they decide to him him so pathetic that he has to have a song played to him to fall asleep.  This version of the character is pathetic.  That’s the only word for it.  You never sense this genius mind clouding a sense of detachment, which makes him believing that he is making a connection with Light so tragic.  He believed he had found a friend, and at the very end he realizes that he was just being used by Light.  In his last moment, he looks into Light’s eyes and sees that it was all a lie, and him and his companion died for it.  There are plenty of ways this character could have been 1000X better and been black.  The color of his skin had NOTHING to do with how pathetic and stupid this character was.  If anything, this actor is very competent.  I bet with better writing, he could have sold this a lot better.

Then there’s Mia.  A spin on the Misa character from the anime, here they make her out to be something of a force acting on Light, compelling him to do bad things with the Death Note.  Because we can’t have any of the morally gray stuff from the anime.  Everything has to be clearly black and white.  Fuck this movie.  The fact that so much of what initially makes Light use the Death Note is to please her just irks me.  In the anime, she was an insane groupie of Kira.  She was in love with him and would do anything, absolutely anything to please him.  To the point that she cut her own lifespan in half to get the Shinigami eyes.  But in the end, she realizes that she was used, just like everyone else, and it’s implied that she kills herself.  Another of those relationships that were nothing but a tool to Light and nothing more.  Can’t have that morally gray stuff in the film.  Doesn’t help that this chick acted like she should be in a sitcom.  Ugh.

Let’s talk about Ryuk.  Do you like Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin voice?  Well, he does okay with it here, so you can enjoy his vocal performance.  But here’s what pisses me off – in the anime, Ryuk isn’t on Light’s side.  He isn’t on anyone’s side.  When Light’s gambit is up, and he reaches out to Ryuk to help him, he outright says that he won’t.  Early on in the series, he helps Light out, not out of a sense of loyalty, but because he finds the game that’s going on interesting and realizes that if he doesn’t tell Light about the security cameras in his room, the game will end abruptly.  In the film, he’s painted as seeing Light as the chosen killer, and even compels him to do things.  Once-again, you can’t have all that morally gray stuff about Light seeing himself as a god and believing his genocidal rampage as a way to express that.  That might make audiences question who is the good guy.  We gotta see our protagonist as virtuous at all times.

Oh, and then there’s the book itself.  In the anime, Kira’s chosen method of killing is heart attacks.  There’s a reason – to show that these people are being killed and it’s him doing the killing.  It’s a way to spread the fear all over the world because no one knows who would be killed next.  In the movie, the vast majority of deaths are done through these Rube Goldberg machine ways of dying that REALLY make me think back to the Final Destination ways of dying.  It’s like the film wanted to show off the gore.  Funny, they want to have violent deaths, but no moral ambiguity.  The exact opposite of the show, which had very contained deaths, but a TON of moral ambiguity.  I guess someone assumed American audiences can’t handle that.  Fuck this movie.

As a fan of the anime, this film spits in the face of everything that made it great.  But let’s take that away.  Let’s pretend that the anime that this director halfheartedly riffed on never existed.  This film still sucks.  The performances are boring.  The motivations make no sense.  I’ll give that Light in the anime went from zero to Little Hitler in the span of a few moments.  But the series took the time to explain why he had this viewpoint.  Plus, there was the moral ambiguity of the battle between Light and L, where the body count gets higher and higher, and the audience is left wondering if either one is a truly good person.  In this film, the motivation is that Light is being manipulated by the people around him, with little agency of his own.  That’s boring!  Give me a reason to care why he’s so evil.  L is also a bad character, written to be so incapable of surviving on his own that he has to be taken care of.

I hate this movie, and can someone please make a note somewhere that American adaptation of anime don’t work so we can stop it, already?!

Final Verdict
2 out 10

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Anime Needs More Sex (the intimate kind, not porn)

You know what I hate about anime – modern anime.  There is so much shit.  I don’t even keep track of what comes out anymore because 99% of it is pure crap.  I can hear all the sad otaku now.  “You’re just one of those hipster anime fans who say they only like old stuff!”  “Lemme guess, you only like artsy anime?”  Please.  I’m looking at one of the most thematically uncomfortable anime on the planet right now – Koi Kaze.  Am I a hipster?  I guess.  I long for the days when anime was made by fantastic people and was willing to take some risks.  I miss the days of mecha anime.  No shit, what happened to that?  I haven’t heard about an interesting mecha series in forever.  I hear they are making a third season to Code Geass, and I’m like – why?  The plot was wrapped up pretty nicely.  There wasn’t a single loose end.  Brittania was destroyed.  Lelouch united the world in hating him.  He canonized Zero as a hero of the people.  The truth about Geass was now gone and everyone who had heard it was dead or had been forcibly put under Zero’s control.  Where does the plot go from here?  Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh, right, anime needs more sex too.  I’m not talking about porn.  I’m talking about intimacy.  I’m talking about intimate relationships between characters that has them doing the deed and making it not gratuitous but instead a look at the strength of their connection.  I am so tired of anime that treats any form of romantic expression as if it’s the most daring and insane thing ever.  Maybe it’s because almost all anime have a protagonist whose balls haven’t dropped yet.  At least not that you could tell.  So many relationships in so many anime could have been made better if we got to see some romantic expression in the form of intimacy between characters.

I can already hear the counterargument – “but Lucien, it’s about the thematic elements!  You can feel the connection but it doesn’t need to be shoved in your face!”  Sometimes, sure.  I mean, FLCL had a romantic connection between the main protagonist and his roommate.  He was romantically interested in her.  There even is an episode where him and her do the metaphorical deed.  You don’t see anything, but the theme at play with two people coming together and doing it is right there.  It works especially there because the protagonists is underage.  Seeing him actually pursuining his roomie romantically would have been weird.  But other series could use more of it.

Here’s the thing, I absolutely hated the Rahxephon movie, save for one truly stand-out part – where Kamina is absolutely losing it and Haruka decides to comfort him.  There is a moment of genuine intimacy where he decides that he can’t hold back, and so he actually does it with her.  They even have a conversation after having sex and you really feel the two bonding.  I love that.  How I wish that more anime was able to just have two characters lounging around after fucking and musing about whatever.  Sharing a sexual moment and bonding afterwards.  How many of us have actually been there?  Some of the best conversations I have had were with someone I was in bed with.  Or in the back of a girl’s car.  Wherever.

It’s becoming such an overused trope where every time a boy sees a girl in an anime that he is interested in or even dating in their underwear it is treated like the most scandalous thing.  Why?  I mean, if it’s some girl you aren’t dating, that makes some sense.  But when I see it done with characters who are couples, that drives me up on the wall.  What if she wants him to see her in her underwear?  Why do all the women in these series act like being seen in their fun clothes as such an insult?  If the guy is being a perv, absolutely.  If the dude just happened up on it, though, how is that on him?  I see all these beta males getting fucked up by the females all for seeing something completely on accident, often with them making apologies for their actions because they do feel ashamed for it.

I’m not saying that every series need to have characters fucking.  Since so much of anime is about teenagers, that is kinda weird.  But when I was watching the first (and only good) season of Darker Than Black, I got to thinking – wouldn’t it make more sense for these two characters actually liking each other if they were hooking up?  I mean, she’s a police officer, he’s a college student.  It would make sense if they went out and hooked up and maybe got to talking.  We are supposed to buy a relationship between them out of them going out and playing in the batting cages?  I don’t think so.  Call it my American sensibilities, but are we really going to say the Japanese don’t have any kind of casual sex culture?  Well, given that the population is starting to drop there and how the males of that culture are terrified of females, maybe.  Shit.  That’s grim.

Or like in Stein’s Gate, where you have Okarin and his companion making out.  It’s a great scene (aside from the TERRIBLE music in it.  It honestly would have been better without it), but I kinda would have liked to see maybe the two having a heart-to-heart after getting physical.  There was a running line up ’til then about both of them being virgins.  How touching would it have been if they lost their virginity to one-another, right before Okarin has to sacrifice her to save his best friend?  I can see them just laying in bed, with that witty dialogue between the two about the cruel nature of life and how they have this one chance to bridge the gap between them and must savor it forever.  There is some subtle implication that that is what happened between the scene with them making out and later that evening as she is leaving, but I don’t know.  Kinda wanna know what those two talk about post-sex.  Bet it would be fascinating.

My point is can we have some more mature relationships, and get to see some of that be expressed?  I don’t want it to be obscene.  Unless that is being used to make a point.  Like a couple who has a very untethered and violent relationship.  Kind of the Joker and Harley sort of deal.  That could be interesting.  But can we not treat every kiss or seeing of a female in underwear like it is the end of the world?  I cannot wait to see the comments I get about how I am insulting Japanese culture or some dumb thing.

Until next time, a quote,

“Intimacy brings understanding.  And passion is nice wherever you can find it.” – Yeoman Kelly Chambers, Mass Effect 2

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Wolf Children

wolf-childrenI honestly should have reviewed this movie on Mother’s Day.  It is the most fitting time of year for it.  Alas, I ordered this movie now, and it arrived when it did.  If there was ever a film that will make you appreciate your mother more than this, I can’t honestly think of it.  Especially if she was a single mother.  Of course, it is from the visionary director of Summer Wars, a movie that made a big family feel like real people.  It is not only my favorite film by Mamoro Hasoda, but also one of my favorite films of all time.  While this isn’t as good as that, it is still a feel-good film that will touch your heart.  Take my word for it.

Just like Summer Wars, this is a film that combines surreal elements with very realistic family ones.  It tells the story of a girl who meets a boy.  The two fall in love, but the boy has a secret.  One that he passes on to their very special children.  But then he is gone, and now the mother is on her own to raise these two pups and try to maintain a normal life.  What follows is the tale of her very, very difficult life with these two young ones.  Not a complicated story, but it is ALL in the execution.

Talking about the animation in this film is a complete waste of time.  Anime films are almost-uniformly beautiful, and this one is no exception.  It is a gorgeous film to look at and every shot is near-perfect.  The voice-acting is top-notch as well.  The stand-out role is the mother.  I just love how subdued her performance is.  All of her best moments are subtle, and you have to be paying attention to find them.  Like where she is with her daughter and just has a line about wishing their father had taught her how to deal with things.  It’s powerful because it conveys how powerless and lonely she feels, having to stay away from all life except that of her two special children.  But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t fantastic.

Summer Wars was about family and staying connected.  Wolf Children is about community.  And the rest of the community are fantastic.  Just like the family in the other film, they all have their own personalities and getting to know them is part of the fun.  Plus, it helps show the growth of the mother as she comes to accept that there is a place in the world for her special family.  My favorite of the neighbors is the asshole old man.  He’s such a cliche, but man is it in how you execute it.  He’s such an asshole, but as you peel away the layers you find that there is a man with compassion like you’ve never seen.

Thing was, I never really got to know what this sort of life was like.  I grew up in a place where pretty much everyone around me was family.  For most of my childhood, I would go from one family member to the next.  My favorite one to hang with was my grandma.  Maybe that’s why I love Summer Wars so much.  But I have wondered what tight-knight communities are like.  When I get out of this state, perhaps I’ll find out.  City life is so damn lonely.  The jobs are here, but there’s no sense of belonging.  This city is such a poor place.  Jobs are here, but they don’t pay well, and poverty is rampant.  It sucks, and I honestly am growing to hate it more and more.  Once I am out of here, the goal is some little seaside community, hopefully on the west coast.  Man, there was a digression.

As I said, the biggest character you grow to like is the mother.  Everything about her character, from the animation to the voice acting portrays a woman trying so damn hard and having life often be very unkind to her and her tiny tag-alongs.  While we’re at it, let’s talk about the kids.  Child characters in anime often annoy.  And I’m not gonna lie, these kids do too.  But here’s the thing about these kids annoying me that other kids don’t – it’s because they feel like real kids.  And I don’t like children.  Don’t want any of my own, and it’s looking like I will get my wish on that end, since my personal life is a dead heap of broken dreams.  I actually dislike these characters because they feel like the kinds of kids who would be bothering me when I am hanging with the adults.  Kids like me.  It’s strange.  Maybe because I am a giant.  Yeah, I get the feeling that’s it.

All things considered, I do love this movie.  It isn’t one of my favorite anime films, but it is a movie that I can just put on to feel good with.  This movie will make you smile.  It will make you cry.  It will also make you want to call your mother and be nice to her.  Hopefully you all love it too.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Blood C and Evil Fictional Corporations

Not long ago, I got done watching an anime on YouTube that FUNimation put out.  It is a kind of unofficial sequel to that well-animated but plot-dull film Blood: The Last Vampire.  It was beautiful to look at, but boring as can be.  They made a series that is a kind of extension of it call Blood C.  A 12-episode event that is kind boring.  But I was bored and tired and lacking in things to do.  So I watched it.  To be honest, the series is actually rather aimless up until the very last episode.  There is an INSANE bit of exposition-dumping that happens when the evil villain is explaining his evil plot to the heroine who is very much powerless to stop him.  I’ll give the guy credit, he didn’t just monologue when he figures the hero can’t stop him.  He made sure that she would not be able to get into his way.  And to his credit as well, he succeeds.

No joke, the series goes out with him shooting her in the face and flying away on a helicopter.  But before that, there is a scene that should go down in anime history for being one the most pointlessly-violence sequences ever.  It’s kind of hard to look away.  It’s both insanely grotesque and absolutely nuts.  For no reason.  See, it all boiled down to something.  I guess this is a spoiler, so if the series actually means something to you, go watch it.  I doubt most of you know what it is, but still.

The villain had an entire secluded island used to stage a kind of Truman Show for the girl whose power he was trying to siphon off while he worked on a method to control the monsters that she was fighting. All of the people on the island were actors that he was paying.  The girl’s family, her classmates, and he was even taking on the role of her brother in order to feed her a material that would give her enough power to be able to fight the monsters.  All of this was done in order to perfect his plan to make a method of creating monsters that he can control and even turn his own people into.  It worked.  His method was completed.  Now the question was – what to do about the people on the island?  They knew why they were there, and more than a few were a legitimate threat to this guy if the truth ever got enough.  So, a secluded island, and he has monsters that are virtually-unstoppable that he can control.  What to do?  What do you think he did?

First, he unleashes monsters to clean house with the students at the school that the girl who was his mark attended.  Then he rounds up all the people that are a threat to him.  Instead of giving them all a huge paycheck, he has his monsters rip them to pieces and eat them too.  Finally, since the girl herself is now a threat, he unleashes a monsters that, even if it doesn’t kill her, will stall her long enough for him to get clear.  Which just leaves the rest of town.  In the most gruesome scene that I’ve seen in a long town, the monsters go to work killing and eating people.  But that isn’t really the thing that gets my attention.  This falls into a larger issue that I have.

During this, the evil villain and the one actor that he kept alive, along with their security force, are driving out through the carnage.  They even turn the wipers on when blood and guts start collecting on the windshields of their cars.  Which leads me to thinking about something – why is it that in all fictional evil corporations, there doesn’t seem to be anyone with even a shred of empathy?  I mean, look at what happened with Umbrella in Resident Evil.  They create a zombie virus that can infect and destroy people, test it on real people, mutate countless people into monsters, and not one person was like, “so…should we maybe not do this?”  It was the same thing in Blood C.  They are just driving through carnage where you have scenes like one of the monsters chopping a person up by turning their hand into a giant butcher knife.  He’s cutting a person up like they’re a carrot, and nobody says a word.

Where do evil corporations get people who are that loyal?  It always takes me out of the moment when I see some evil genius who has a TON of people just working for them, not one of whom ever seems to second-guess the morality of what they’re doing.  I would have loved to have seen in some of the other cars in that evil guy’s motorcade driving through psycho genocide being like, “Bob, I’m just putting this out there, but this is kind of fucked up.  Just sayin’.”  My immersion always breaks when I get to see these instances.  Hell, at least with Syndrome in The Incredibles, it’s understood that a lot of what they do is contracting work making weapons for people.  At least they can claim that their work serves a purpose.  But with a company that just brutally massacres everyone, how does not one person question it?  I mean, you’d think it would get around the office that the boss is a psychopath who will butcher an entire island full of people to keep their secrets.

I don’t know.  Let me know you all’s thoughts in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Being a henchman is like getting a terminal illness.  All you can do is figure out your best option.” – Michael Swain

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Black Lagoon and Feminism

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I started this new job, and to be completely honest, there isn’t that much to talk about.  I’ve said my piece about the election this year.  It’s a farce, and I refuse to participate.  The whole thing is a joke, and the reality is that everything happening just proves that this country is doomed and pretending otherwise is just being dishonest.  But I thought I would write something about this new series that I have been watching.  I’ve made no secret how I think so much of modern anime is tepid garbage.  The worst thing to happen to anime was when it went mainstream.  Now it has to meet corporate standards of audience appeal, so most shows that could have something clever about them end up getting watered down to insane degrees.

Then I get shows like Black Lagoon.  This series is a marvel.  It feels like such a send-up to so many classic styles of both anime and film that have died so long ago.  It’s from studio Madhouse, who I hear has gone out of business.  Can someone confirm or deny that for me in the Comments?  I really want to know.  Because I have a theory about this series and how it “ended” which might go along with whether or not this place closed.  But I digress.  This series is just awesome.  Were it not for the fact that it has no ending, but just a point where it stops, then I would put it among my favorite anime.  The animation is awesome.  Sure, it’s got CG integration, but since the color palate is so bright and vibrant, you can easily miss it.

I think this series is so much fun.  It tells the story of the Lagoon Company, and the little family of complete criminals who occupy it, who our new protagonist, who comes to be known by the name Rock, is a part of after his ship gets attacked.  The series is basically a send-up to John Wu movies.  Every action sequence is so insane, hyper-violent, uses an absurd number of bullets, but you can’t help but love.  The characters are all so unique and their stories get flushed out in interesting ways.  However, my personal favorite, is Revy.

Rebecca “Revy” Lee is such an 80’s action hero.  She’s foul-mouthed in the extreme.  Her gunplay skills are borderline superhuman, and she is a complete badass virtually all the time who sees violence as her first, last, and only solution to problem-solving.  But more than just being badass, she’s also human.  This is why I have feminism in the title of this post.  Of course, feminists would think poorly of her character.  She wears a tanktop and short-shorts, with combat boots that are perpetually-untied.  The woman has zero fucks to give about how she looks.  Since she’s not ashamed of her body, the SJW crowd would NEVER see her as a likeable character.  Oh, and she’s hot.  But the series doesn’t play her that way.  They never shy away from her body, but the whole series treats how she looks as part of her attitude of zero fucks to give.  There’s a scene where she’s in her bed, in her tanktop and panties, musing about how hungover she is.  The series makes her sexuality seem like just some thing that’s attached to her.  Oh, and like all good 80’s action heroes, she smokes and drinks like the best of them.

But unlike modern SJW-approved heroines, she’s not some perfect person.  She’s not just badass.  She’s human.  Through the whole series. the growth of her relationship with Rock begins to show cracks in her armor.  Revy is emotionally broken.  Her entire life has been about killing, and it has left her virtually without a conscience.  The times that Rock has been forcing her to face that part of herself, it brings out the very worst in her.  Repeatedly leading to violent confrontations with Rock and her threatening to kill him.  I hate how you have characters like Katniss Everdeen, who is totally perfect and completely strong and can do no wrong.  She has no huge, glaring flaws to overcome.  She’s just swell.  And I guarantee, if her and Revy ended up facing off, Revy would shoot that bow out of her hands with her Cutlasses, then blow her head off.  Good!  I cannot stand these Mar Sues that I’m seeing be the symbol for strong female characters.

For the days when a good character was shown to be a human being!  Human beings have problems!  A good character in a story has to overcome some part of themselves in order to grow and save the day.  Since Revy is an 80’s action hero, let’s take a look at my favorite 80’s action hero – John McClane.  When we see him in the first Die Hard, he isn’t just some badass.  He’s an estranged husband.  He’s afraid of flying.  He has no shoes.  He’s all the Nagatomi Plaza has, but he realizes that he’s going into this at a disadvantage.  That’s awesome!  That makes a compelling character.  Same with Revy.  She’s emotionally broken, and not particularly well-adjusted.  She purposely brings a guy into her life, who has her finding parts of her empathy that hadn’t existed in a long time.  She doesn’t always handle this well.  Doesn’t that sound a thousand times more interesting than Rey in the new Star Wars, whose biggest flaw is that she is afraid of being all heroic, for about five minutes?

Another thing I love about this series is how maturely the relationship between Revy and Rock is handled.  The first time they bond is when Revy is bragging about her drinking talents, and he comes back at her that he has had to work up the corporate ladder in Japan, so he has developed a drink tolerance that she is woefully underestimating.  Their standoff leads to a hilarious line as they demand to see who can take more.  There are some ups and downs between them, but it isn’t handled like how most anime does, with the guy being all shy and demure and not able to handle the closeness.  Here, the two are like actual adults.  He gives her shit, she gives him shit.  When he barges into her room to get her ass up when the boss demands it, and he isn’t all awkward to see her in her underwear.  Instead, he tells her to get her ass downstairs, because Dutch can’t afford to wait.  I love that!

But my favorite moment is after the two of them have it out in a cafe.  Revy is pointing a gun at Rock, and the two are going back-and-forth about their respective places in the world.  Revy doesn’t want to admit that she’s warming up to him, because then she’d have to admit that she has a caring side.  Her instincts tell her to fight, but he doesn’t run from her.  In a stunning display of courage, he stands his ground and forces her to be an adult about it.  This anime is so great in how it gives the finger to genre conventions.  Once all is said and done, her and Rock end up in the back of a police cruiser.  The cops agree to let them go, but they’ll have to go back to the station for a while.  One of the cops lights a smoke for Rock, with Revy then asking him for a light.  He tells her that the cop lit his smoke, so he doesn’t have one.  To which she replies that he does.  For a second, he’s confused, but then looks down and realizes what she means – his smoke.  Leaning over, he gets very close, and she touches her smoke to his, which lights it.  Ladies and gentlemen, a metaphorical kiss!  For a series lacking in any form of subtlety, that was awesome!  I genuinely loved that moment.  Too bad the series never builds on it.

My theory is that, if Madhouse closed, this series died because of it.  Which, by the way, sucks.  I hear there is a four or five episode OVA third season made, but that means nothing to me.  How I wish a show this awesome could have gone on.  Or at least ended in a way that wraps things up.  But nope.  Like some of the best anime, it died before its time.  Oh well.  It is still awesome. A whole series that’s a John Wu film.  Down with that!

Until next time, a quote,

“Don’t be silly. This is way more entertaining than Hollywood’s ever gonna be.” – Rebecca “Revy” Lee, Black Lagoon

Peace out,

Maverick