Thursday, May 21, 2020

Review: Anime

Hello, this is the author, Monsieur, speaking. I don't tend to break character as a narrator too often on this blog and I like it that way, but I thought that just to update this blog a bit I could go for something more casual for once. I could have come up with a novel way to structure this review, no doubt, in some narrative and tricksy vaguely esoteric-sounding way, but that almost feels par for the course at this point. I also need my darkest powers in different places, different times, right now. So, let's just look at these animated pictures from Japan.

Why anime? Beats me. Maybe because I don't read a lot of books like Dan does. If this seems inconsistent with my usual content, gosh, a shame, truly.

ANGEL'S EGG (Tenshi no Tamago, 1985, Yoshitaka Amano and Mamoru Oshii)

Angel's Egg is distilled from the mysterious memories of animated films people have seen as children and have been stronglyimpacted by in their visual thinking, but cannot remember the name of, nor what it was about. Watching this film will always feel like you've found something that has been forgotten about and stowed away somewhere, despite the entirety of it being on youtube. In a way this is a very sad film, but that's what makes it so remarkable.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION (1995, Hideaki Anno at Studio Gainax)

I know. But still, I can't not mention it. That's why I'm doing this one early in, to get it out of the way, but not first, because I want the picture from Angel's Egg to show up as the thumbnail. I like Evangelion a lot, despite the criticisms that may be raised against it. When I saw it, there were a few moments where as a writer/creator I thought, oh, you can actually do that. Wild. 

The original episode 25-26 ending is, in my opinion, the most important one, regardless of how experimental it may be. You can watch End of Evangelion somewhere after. I have never seen the Rebuild movies, nor do I intend to.

PAPRIKA (2006, Satoshi Kon)

While Christopher Nolan's Inception is wearing Hollywood aviator shades indoors, Satoshi Kon's Paprika is wearing heart-shaped glasses. Paprika is a very fun and playful film, which is odd, because so much of its content is eerie and a little grotesque. The music by Susumu Hirasawa contributes a lot to this- the opening credits and their accompanying score have one thing they need to convey: miss Paprika is delightful. And wouldn't you know it, they're right.

FLCL (Fooly Cooly, Furi Kuri, 2003, Yōji Enokido and Kazuya Tsurumaki at Studio Gainax)

Fooly Cooly is juvenile, and that's not meant deridingly per se. It's just that there's no other way to put it: Fooly Cooly is the energy that fuels a teenager smugly making a sex joke just because it's naughty and exciting, while at the same time having little to no idea what they're talking about. Fooly Cooly is wacky as all hell and then some, but it also has a real tragic edge to it, because a lot of characters in it are actually kind of horrible people. This one's a good watch for an afternoon where you just want to see some wild stuff. I also think this show has the perfect title.

MUSHISHI (2005, Artland, from manga by Yuki Urushibara)

Mushishi possesses a naturally profound calm and serenity, despite its ghost story-like appearance if you were to only look at the topics and proceedings of it. In Mushishi, nobody is really at fault or has ill intentions, and it wouldn't be the same otherwise. There's nobody to be annoyed by or hate or ball your fist at in Mushishi, not even by the show's intention. There's only people that you can feel compassion for. That's what gives this series its unmistakable, deep sense of tranquility.

BLACK LAGOON (2006, Geneon Entertainment, from manga by Rei Hiroe)

Black lagoon is a slice of life show. Despite its clear opinion that guns, smoking, and Revy's butt are very cool and definitely need to be in most of the shots, it really does feel like that. The bullet hell sequences are pretty much par for the course, but the bits outside of that are what gives this show its distinct darkly humoristic character. The main run is good. The second volley shines in the bit with the assassins dogpiling a church. In the opening two-parter of Black Lagoon, the gang rams an attack helicopter with a speedboat.

LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA (2017, Yoh Yoshinari at Studio Trigger)

This is my favourite Studio Trigger show, having seen all of the big ones. Across the echoing vastness of space resounds a primal cry of love in the face of despair, and all shall know that it is: Yay. Witch Academia is so lovable. Go watch it, especially if you're sad.

EIZOUKEN ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (2020, Masaaki Yuasa at Science Saru, from manga by Sumito Ōwara)

When going into these reviews I decided not to review anything that Dan from Throne of Salt already had. This is the exception.

There's an expression people have that if a show is very good, it "saves anime." This couldn't be more apt, because anime is in constant need of saving from... itself. Eizouken is filled with wonder and imagination, but it's also very fun in a mundane kind of way, just from seeing the characters do what they do, be who they are, and get to be who they are. Eizouken is a series you can show to anyone. Because it's made for everyone. It only needs its sense of heart to sell itself. There's animated bits in Eizouken that are very imaginative and wonderful, yet I don't think it needs them. Eizouken is special, because it's normal.

Dan mentions that this show really understands what he and some other people I have talked to call The Moment, a lasting impression as a kid where you are first inspired to pursue your creativity. But you know what? I think the person I relate most to in terms of temperament in this show is Kanamori, the business-minded, demanding, managerial friend of the main set. And I don't think I have a The Moment. At least I don't remember it. When I see it happen in Eizouken no related memory of my own clicks in. There's no real central moment of inspiration at the core of my creative identity. There's no origin story episode. So when Dan et al. all seemed to instinctively understand what The Moment was, and I didn't, it left me feeling like a kind of hack. But that's pretty silly, isn't it?


  1. Eventually, i will get around to trying Mushishi again.

  2. Heh ... My wife and I really liked Mushishi so I guess we may be outliers. Rahxephon is NGE done with some compassion for the characters. But one of the shows I really liked was Morabito. That is a world I would like to play in.