December 12th, 2010

Kill It With Fire

There's Something To Be Said For NOT Giving The Audience What They Want

There are certain things that you see them and feel like less of a human being for seeing them.  Some things so violate your sense of decency, you shudder at the thought of the people you are sharing a planet with.

If you want a one stop shop of WTF, there's a web site called jlist.  They import Japanese stuff for American otaku.  This includes dating simulators, scantily clad action figures, and the ever-popular Hello Kitty vibrator (yes, it really exists).  There are quite a few things that will make you want to fill your bathtub with vodka and lie in it for a few hours.  And apparently they are selling a DVD series that will truly make you despair.

Keep in mind, I love anime.  For the most part.  Lately, with the emphasis on hypersexualizing and/or really cliche plots (if I see one more romcom with a shy guy surrounded by beautiful women, I'm gonna throw up), it seems a weird sort of dance is happening with producers and consumers of anime.  The sexual aspect has become more focused.  ADVision used to include it's "patented Jiggle Counter," which popped up on your screen as you watched American anime they licensed every time fanservice appeared.  Producers are too anxious to create this stuff as it brings in fans and cash.  Consumers are anxious to buy it because it's what they see anime as.  Frankly, if it weren't for Studio Ghibli or Inuyasha or other quality anime productions, I probably would have given up on it by now.  Hell, I'll take the pointless fights of Dragonball Z over this stuff!  The very things Koshi Rikdo made fun of with Excel Saga (still one of the greatest series in my book) and Puni Puni Poemy are no longer considered excesses to make fun of, they are Standard Operating Procedure.

Which is what makes this so disturbing.

The first stop on our guided tour of Hell is Training With Hinako.  Remember the workout videos I goofed on in Stress Puppy, where Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, one of the Kardashians, and them made exercise videos that no one really expected the viewers to exercise to?  This is that same principal in anime form.  Hinako is clearly intended to be a loli.  She has a giant stuffed toy penguin she is constantly snuggling, the large eyes and position on the head suggest someone underage, she has a high, tinkly little girl voice, but she has HUGE tits.  She is ostensibly leading the viewer in a exercise routine, but most of it is shot from a suggestive angle with lots of giggling, then cutting to cool down scenes like Hinako lying in her bed, shorts partially undone, and gasping for air.

Okay, that's pretty disturbing, right?  No, you only THINK you're disturbed.  These guys are just getting warmed up!  The "sequel" is Sleeping With Hinako.  It's not quite what you are thinking, it's not like those "Virtual" discs Vivid makes.  You are literally spending 45 minutes watching this little girl sleep from various angles, or mumble cutesy innocent things that would have Chris Hansen inviting you to take a seat right over there.  That's it.  Just sleeping.  It's like a training video for pedophilic stalkers or that scene in Twilight.  And it reuses more animation frames than Filmation did in its entire existence.  It's like the animators know how boring this is, because they change to angles that are not physically possible for the camera in the dimensions of that room or just showing other stuff like the clock or her desk or...

(I don't know what it says about me, but when she starts playfully biting her pillow, all I could think of was the joke about the guy who dreams he's eating a marshmallow and wakes up to find his pillow is missing.  I don't think that's the reaction they were aiming for.)

It does give a dream sequence about halfway through that only takes about twenty seconds.  Shortly after that, she wakes up to sing the viewer a lullaby.  Uh, are her parents aware that she is singing a lullaby to some guy watching her sleep in her bedroom?  Then another dream sequence where she weighs herself.  Unfortunately, the next bit, where she falls out of bed then crawls over to the viewer for a kiss, will have you diving for the fast forward button like you are trying to take a grenade to save the platoon.  There's a midnight trip to the fridge, another nightmare where she weighs herself and thinks she's getting fat, and the fastest sunrise you'll ever see.  At the end, she checks to see if you're awake.  Well, given how boring this is, that is a rational question.  Well, sort of at the end.  There are three different endings.  The last one, she mentions she'll be in trouble if she misses work (SHE HAS A JOB?!?).

I wonder about the production.  For example, the voice actress.  Did she do the sleep breathing in one take for 45 minutes?  Did they just get a clip and loop it like a club DJ?  How much did she get?  Did she use The Method ("What's my motivation?"  "You don't want to know.")?  How about the animators?  All that money, all those years attending art school and apprenticing, just to be lead on this ("Mom?  Dad?  This is what your college education has produced.")?

In the early days of the home video market, when people had to choose between VHS and Beta, there was a tape called "Video Friend" with a guy just talking to the camera like he was your buddy.  Technology advances.  People do not.
Peter G

What Do You Want To Watch Tonight?

Okay, I've done a lot of bitching about anime.  I think it's time for me to at least list some that I do like or did like, just to establish that I ain't just hatin'.

AKIRA -- 'Nuff said.

Robotech -- I loved Macross, but only made it about halfway through Southern Cross when the store stopped carrying the tapes.  Southern Cross didn't grab me the way Macross did, anyway.  It had a scope and depth that SC didn't.

Star Blazers -- I think this was my first anime.  I had only seen a couple of episodes of Sandy Frank's Battle Of The Planets.  It was on while I was in school or off the air during the summer.  Star Blazers was on at 6:30 AM on channel 9 and I watched every episode until the first story arc wrapped.  The subsequent one, after Earth is saved, just wasn't the same.  I do recall the shock I felt with an episode dealing with a time flux -- I had never seen a bra in a cartoon before.  How that slipped by the parental watchdog groups, I'll never know.

Dirty Pair -- tried Flight 005 Conspiracy and thought it was great fun.  Adam Warren's comics were okay, but I'll take the Sunrise stuff over it any day.

Slayers -- This is how I described it to others -- "Record Of Lodus War" is Dungeons And Dragons.  Slayers is Dungeons And Dragons after you've had a few beers pumped into you.  Lina is the coolest, she's awesome.  Good stories, but the comedy bits were aces.

Pokemon -- At least, until relatively recently.  It just annoys me how someone with all the experience Ash has keeps forgetting what he's learned and gets smoked by first year trainers when he starts each journey.  The original story that followed the original game was excellent, and I could understand why Ash lost.  Most of his badges were rewards, not from proving his mettle as a trainer, so when Ritchie knocked him out, I got it.  Orange Islands showed a lot of advancement.  But after Johto, he just turned stupid when the writers needed him to.  I would rather see them either make Ash a gym leader and go from there or just move on to a new cast.  They really push things.

YuGiOh -- The first year story was great.  A little underdone, but great.  But with Battle City (Domino City), it started really straining to maintain its own logic.  The first story, how exactly did Kaiba's holographic generators know to put in a set of cards Pegasus had that had never been released?  I just rolled with it, because the story had momentum.  But after that, stories that could have been done in one show were stretched out to three.  I remember one episode that had a flashback to something that happened in that very episode -- not earlier in the story, in the installment I was watching.  The side trip into the Shadow Realm with Noah, which delayed the climax of an already overlong story arc, broke me.  And I really would have liked to have seen the Season 0.  There was a first year that only ran in Japan that was much darker and the card game was just a hobby of the other kids.  It was really cool, but no way it would make it in the 4Kids line-up.

Excel Saga/Puni Puni Poemy -- Just great stuff.  I love to laugh, and that had me laughing until I was crying.  Great, great stuff.

Sailor Moon -- Loved the first two years.  I started thinking things were going wrong when Lyta/Makoto's wardrobe expanded.  She was always the most practical dresser of the group because she didn't have a lot of money, but when she started styling, it just conflicted to much with what I knew about the character.  Still watched it and enjoyed it, but not with the same level as before.

Cardcaptor Sakura -- the first anime I felt was worth $30 a disc to buy.  Loved it loved it loved it.  I was amazed at how Li went from a total dickhead in my book to a great romantic hero by the middle of the second story.  I was disappointed when it ended with him just going back to China and the promise they'll see each other again.  So the movie was very satisfying for me.

Gall Force -- A very depressing series, but still gave it its all.  This was also why the ending of the new Battlestar Galactica hit me -- the ending has a lot in common with Gall Force's.  I don't think they were ripping GF off (I think it was just what they felt was a logical conclusion.  Coincidences in writing do happen), it just lessened the impact for me.

Ebichu -- One of my absolute favorites, a hilarious look at modern relationships that is just sooooooooo messed up.  Gainax gambled when they bought the manga rights, and they came up aces.

Kogepan -- Can be a very sad, melacholy series, but there's something uplifting about it, too.  I think everyone can identify with Kogepan on some level, of everyone else in the world being wanted and admired but they aren't.  Or so they think....

Wedding Peach -- Guilty pleasure, but since I'm a Sailor Moon fan, I'm figuring that doesn't surprise you.

Gunsmith Cats -- I would love to see more than just three episodes, Rally and Mini Mae are great.  One half hour show had more fun than most 2 hour action movies.

The Fuccons -- Technically, not anime, but it was so warped and surreal, I dug it.

Fruits Basket -- Another great one.

Chrono Crusade -- Whoa.  That was intriguing and great.

Blue Submarine No. 6 -- The imagery was great, the storyline a little undercooked but I got what they were doing.

Love Hina -- Maybe it's because I had so little exposure to harem anime at the time, but Love Hina was always fun for me to watch.

DiGi Carat -- Another fun one, I prefer the original series based on the Gamers stores, but the others are good, too.  Not bad, but Rabi puts it over the top for me.

Pretear -- See Wedding Peach.

Hmm...that's all I can think of in this one sitting, but hopefully, it shows that I actually do enjoy anime, I'm not just pissing and moaning here.