Round the Sphere

The rich mingles with the rich and famous. When’s the last time you paid $37100 for dinner? It is Yoshiki and for a cause so I guess that’s somewhat reasonable.

MLM, this is for you. Nine traits for women to flock to you like bees to a hive! But 70s rock n roll? I would think that would be a huge turn off. But really, these lists are so silly it’s not even funny. Attraction is a PERSONAL thing. I bet I can find a woman for each of these items that consider it a turn off.

I would love to work for Nintendo. And totally agree about revealing sales figures. Investors do not blindly invest. Smart ones don’t anyways.

Whoever wrote this must be a Ghost In the Shell fan. How many do you agree with?

An abundance of Tezuka’s work are now on Youtube in several languages and counting! I like how it’s not available in Japan (even if I understand why).

Megumi Hayashibara! She will be a voice actress in the anime adaptation of a banned manga from forty years ago.

Round the Sphere

Absolutely no comment. (VERY NSFW)

Again, no comment. (NSFW)

But I think I’d like to throw some more of my two cents into this. Because, let’s face it, I have a lot of pennies in my basement that need to go somewhere.

Those pennies are gold.

The Senkaku Islands belong to us; Sola Aoi belongs to the world!

Er. What? Anyways…. why is it that people would goto such lengths over land? Why can’t we all get along? And if I may “paraphrase”, the Senkaku Islands belong to earth; Sola Aoi belongs to no one.

As usual, directors never talk about their current projects. Not even to someone like Toshio Suzuki.

Calling all aspiring artists. Deadline for submission to Polymanga 2012 is November 1.

Vote for New York people~

Through Older Lenses: Wicked City (Yoju Toshi, 1987)

 

The wedges forged between us is at the very core of conflict, the very thing that often is the source of artistic inspiration. And whether the conflict itself is something that succeeds in pulling us into a particular work or not, remains in the ever aware eye. Something many a modern fan seems to overlook, is that moment, that spark that happens. Ones capable of igniting the right conflux of emotions and ideas that somehow work like a magic elixir upon the faculties. There may even be a dangerous, forbidden quality about it that makes the whole experience troubling to the touch, yet on the whole irresistible. So upon looking back twenty-five years, and considering the first full-length directorial work by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, it is with frequent surprise that it is a conflict that continues to provoke & thrill.

 

Produced by a young Studio MADHOUSE, and initially intended to be a short OVA production, Kawajiri made his adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s tale into a thing of dark, psychosexual beauty, punctuated with just enough moxie and depth to make it far more than a merely atmospheric masculine fantasy. Set in an alternate Japan, wherein a long-standing treaty between humanity, and beings from a dimension of shape-shifters is ready for a much needed reassessment. This non-aggression pact of sorts has been a tenuous one for several generations, so when tough guy/ladies man & top guard, Taki Renzaburo is tasked with protecting an ages old psychic for the good of the treaty renewal. Makie, his mysterious otherworldly partner is practically a beacon for an endless night of intrigue and sexual terror as radicals attempt to not only foil the coming ceremony, but  to seemingly torment her for her own sympathies for unification. As mentioned, this is a story that was initially meant to be rendered as a short, but became much more when Kawajiri saw potential in such a world. Beyond the veneer of what many might consider to be merely a production bordering on hentai, the film presents not only some of the most iconic imagery from 1980s anime, but some unexpected thematic meat to chew on as well.
Not unlike the plot of Alien Nation, a science fiction buddy cop film released soon after, the core premise tinkers with race relations while staying true to a classic 1980s movie formula.

 

While re-watching this recently, I was struck by just how much of this was so obviously a creative starting point that would lead to much of what would become Kawajiri’s most popular film, Jubei Ninpucho (aka Ninja Scroll), complete with plucky hero, capable heroine, and the disturbing trials that befall them on their respective quests. Many have argued that the acts often perpetrated against the female lead in these films leave little to consider, save to make them lesser characters by the finale. But in the case of Wicked City, the  use of sexual violence serves a larger purpose than merely a means to establish a sense of gender dominance, but rather it creates something of a nightmare scenario for Tokyo lothario, Taki. One that presents him not only with an equal but a means for him to consider his own place within a relationship more substantial than a one-nighter. It’s not enough that she be from a group of immigrant aliens , looking to further relations between themselves and humans, but that she be a smart, tough, resourceful woman, capable of holding her own in a troublesome situation. Whenever she is in distress, it is often a scenario often relegated toward humiliation. Par for the course for a lot of “adult” material of the day, unfortunately. But what turns it all on its head is a finale that on one level alters the female lead into something of a domesticated creature, and on another, empowers not only those looking to better understand their neighbors, but creates a powerful reminder of the gender scheme in general.

 
Atop of all this, comes the revelation that the film is strangely quasi-Catholic. You heard correct. Perhaps this speaks more to my upbringing than the film, but a great deal of Wicked City’s striking imagery, from the intense use of light and shadow, to the almost John Woo-esque fetishism for black and white suits, coupled with a finale in a chapel that cannot be overstated. (a lead villain is killed by a major symbol, no less!) In a very real way, this is the psychological assault that Hollywood was attempting roughly around the same time with Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction–only better. A calculated, and artistically impressive call for men to keep their pants zipped long enough to find the right girl. One with just enough experience and stoicism to create a potentially happy future. While time has certainly inched away from such sentiments in many places, it remains a fascinating memento of another time.

 
Still not convinced? How about Makie’s mysterious acquisition of a stylish (for the mid-1980s) white dress? Or even better, the tunnel-attack, and subsequent wrath of the frighteningly arachnoidal femme whom Taki had mistaken for a hot date at the start of the picture. Her web-shooting coming from no less than where his attentions were highly concentrated once upon a time. (Yes. Let that one stir around the brain pan just a little more.)

 
For whatever reason, Wicked City opts beyond the life of one with its collaborative solution for its denouement. While this may sound like something of a backhanded thing to remark about a Showa Era video made writ-large for a male audience, it is telling that Makie’s past becomes a prism which Taki must focus within in order to attain something resembling a tractable future. While a similar mechanic is indeed used in Jubei Ninpucho, the repercussions of it in this case carry far more symbolic weight. It seems ready to embrace prolonged cooperation, rather than simply living another day. And for such a piece that bursts at the seams with horror, and atmosphere, there’s a world of possibility at the heart of truly adult matters. Something anime can do more to offer in this day and age.

 

Natsuyuki Rendezvous final moment! Odeko fetish.

Finally, the final episode ended with soooo heart warming plot twist. Ahhh, this anime was so lovely. The best josei anime I’ve ever seen. Well, I’ve seen Sakamichi No Apollon, another josei anime, which was wonderful too, all about jazz. Continue reading Natsuyuki Rendezvous final moment! Odeko fetish.

Round the Sphere

Chicken or the egg? John Sato begs the question. I think it all depends on context.

This is really excellent reading in a Modest Proposal kind of way.

An encouraging step forward made by Thailand. You know you love peaches.

I have a date with Florence so it saddens me to miss the showing of Quartet! at the JICC. But if you’re not engaged, mark your calendar~ On a somewhat related note, how is it that Houston beat out DC for the Madoka movie -_-

For android users, the Anaru app, named after the character in Anohana, is apparently a malware that steals contact information.

All you need is love, right, oniichan? Imouto as chuuni.

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne (As Long As There’s Love, It Doesn’t Matter If He Is My Brother, Right!?) お兄ちゃんだけど愛さえあれば関係ないよねっ And for short, oni-ai.  Continue reading All you need is love, right, oniichan? Imouto as chuuni.

RahXephon: Ten Years Later

 

 

And so an unprecedented little thing came to a satisfying conclusion ten years ago today. Even when it was by no means a runaway hit, as a TV anime, it was the kind of high romantic/artistic response many just didn’t see coming. In a year where former Patlabor mecha designer, Yukata Izibuchi is undertaking the mother of all anime remakes with the cross-media event, Yamato 2199, it might be great to also celebrate his first foray into anime direction, RahXephon– A series many seem to have forgotten, but in many ways put a nice, eloquent bow on a most interesting run of experimental (and occasionally broken down mid- process) shows that began with Shin Seiki Evangelion. Taking pages from Yusha Raideen & Megazone 23, RahXephon told the tale of 17-year old Ayato Kamina, and his travels beyond the confines of his once-thought-to-be comfortable life, and into a larger world (literally). Sharing many of the tropes of the ever-reliable “boy fights alien threat with pop’s robot” plot, the series is also very notable for taking many narrative cul-de-sacs, and is more interested in the lives of its characters than merely mecha fighting. It was a series with a large pedigree behind it, and yet was far more novel-like in minutae, and elegant in presentation.

 
With Ayato suddenly thrust out of the world of Tokyo Jupiter, he is soon acquainted by a number of individuals claiming to be part of a paramilitary initiative combatting alien invaders known as the Mu. This shocks our protagonist, as he had long thought the world nearly completely depopulated, and Japan one of the remaining nesting grounds for humanity. And in his shock, many within his previous life are suddenly suspect as the new world he is beginning to understand seems primed to strike at the bizarre sphere now surrounding what was once Tokyo itself. Alongside operative, Haruka Shitow, and various others, Ayato must come to grips not only with his “destined” place as the operator of a mysterious mechanical god, but of those he loves left behind within Tokyo Jupiter. An often beautiful, and beguiling mixture of eastern and western myths, and a paen to human expression, Izibuchi’s collaboration with writers, Chiaki Konaka and Yoji Enokido remains something of a last remnant of TV anime’s previous generation.

 
During, and immediately after its initial run in 2002, it was more than easy to see why so many viewers would have dismissed it despite its ambitions. Firstly, as previously mentioned, Evangelion had only ended a few short year before, and was easily the first thing that came to the minds of many upon first glance of this series. Second, it was presented with an unusual color and line palette that was unusual, even when anime budgets were suddenly beginning to rise after years of decline. And third, for a mecha drama, it certainly lived up to the “drama” part of it’s general label. There was indeed a dedicated following on both sides of the Pacific, but it in no way came close to what many would consider a runaway success- cable TV runs, or no.

 
But beneath the similarities between RahXephon, and the aforementioned television phenom, lies something that while casual anime fans might not catch, tends to hit others square in the heart; an artistic response with a lot on its mind about Anno’s final analysis. What comes together in RahXephon, is something of a directly converse retort by way of revealing the value of acquiantance. Togetherness & diversity versus self-imposed isolation, and additional themes of a collective need for inspiration play heavily throughout. There is a certain pluralism that acts as a mirror, thereby offering up the reasons why certain works find themselves capable of transcendence. And it also (personally speaking) remains a television series capable of inspiring a sense of awe.

 
So did Izibuchi succeed in what he initially set out to do with RahXephon? Yes, and no. Anime has been playing matters almost wholly safe for the last several years. And even as certain shows flirt with becoming more than mere product, it’s been a long time since any series has been able to reach well beyond the familiar to tell a uniquely human tale. More often than not, the best shows of the last several years have been either too remote, or too knowing of their inspirations to reach that raw barrier. Even Izibuchi has had to do a straight-up remake. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t still possible to deliver both the ability to absorb, and provoke discussion.

 

Mahō-shōjo to bimajo (hot witch), new genre

Mahō-shōjo (魔法少女) is puella magi. And majo (魔女) is a witch. According to Kyubey, a maho-shojo inevitably turns into a majo as her final destination. That is the curse. Yes, majo is witch, evil woman, demonic woman, that tries to annihilate the world. So, they need to be destroyed. Yes, once they get old, no more shōjo, they become undesirable.

Old = ugly + useless + unproductive + unreproductive + unscrupulous.

This equation holds true to an extend that they are so many derogatory terms for old women, obatarian (monstrous old lady), obasan (old miss), babā (old hag), especially for those ill-mannered ones who lost womanhood, which is also parodied in Humanity Has Declined. Even the Tokyo Gov. Ishihara said, “ババアは不要。Babās are undesirable.”

In old time Japan, old women were dumped at oba-sute-yama (old women disposable mountain, i.e., landfill of old hags), which was evident in Narayama-Bushikou.  There wasn’t elderly care like today, no socialism or welfare to take care of them. So, aging was a death sentence to women.

But now, arafō (around 40 years old women) are getting fashionable and beautiful. They are called bimajo (美魔女). Yes, bi (beautiful) + majo (witch) = bimajo. So yes, instead of puella magi turning into something repulsive, puella magi to hot witch. That is the proof of Madoka’s salvation. She has changed the fate of mahō-shōjo.

I’m afraid that Himiko, the oldest recorded shaman queen in Japan, became a majo if what Kyubey said is true. But I think she was later saved by Madoka. Yes, my interpretation is that Madoka made her from a majo to a bimajo.

Yes, jukujo (熟女 “fully ripened woman”). And the jukujo of the jukujos is bimajo. Nowadays, a lot of young guys want to get laid with jukujos. But, for me, the ideal age of women is 17 years old, since I’m also 17 at heart. But, skin-wise, the early 20 is the best, yes, like Chichino, I mean Hibino from Kamisama Dolls, her white peach skin, the horniest skin I’ve ever been attracted to.

In Japan, there is National Bimajo Contest held every year. And the winner last year was Yamada Yoshiko. And alas, she is now 46 years old this year. Forty six! Unbelievable! Check for yourself!

I can’t believe she’s already in her mid 40s. And she is also the winner of suppin (face with no makeup). One thing that old women can never do is show their suppin in public, but Ms. Yamada confidently shows her raw face to TV camera! Just incredible. Maybe she’s done plastic surgery, but still the result is miraculous. Her plastic surgeon must be Black Jack. Or Madoka made her from just a majo to the exquisite bimajo.

Yes, there is an anime, Okusama Wa Mahō-shōjo. (奥様は魔法少女 “Wife is a puella magi”). Inoue Kikuko plays the main character, but she is 27 years old, the age far younger from bimajo. They should make an anime about bimajo. Yes, Okusama Wa Bimajo. (奥様は美魔女 “Wife is a bimajo”). Just like Puella Magi Madoka Magica reshuffled the entire puella magi genre, this will be the breakthrough. So, we demand the creation of a new genre: Bimajo genre!

Escape into the realms of Sailor Twain..

Not to confuse this title with either Sailor Moon or the author Mark Twain, however, Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson is a webcomic turned printed hardcover bound from First Second.

Twain is a Captain abroad a boat traveling on the Hudson. The boat is owned by Jacques and Lafayette Henri, a pair of French brothers. Jacques has passed away, Lafayette, the younger is a womanizing wastrel with six to seven girlfriends. One night Twain happens to save an injured mermaid from the river, and issues would arise that would shape this story. Saving and healing the mermaid does bring out a lot more conflicts than it appear. This is not The Little Mermaid, where there is a happy ending. In many sailor stories, mermaids have a more sinister purpose, similar to being a siren luring willing victims to a watery death. Now due to frontal nudity and obvious sexual context, this is not a book for kids but it is appropriate for older teens onward.

This story takes place around the Gilded Age of the Hudson River, near New York City. Since the timing is approximately from 1860-90’s, readers would read this and get treated with racial and gender issues being mentioned. Mark Siegal uses either charcoal on paper or pencil on paper. This gives the book a feeling of being smoky or dream like at some parts, but relates appropriately with the story that the author has conveyed.

Sailor Twain is compiled into a published book, but apparently this story is possibly not done yet, as the Siegal mentions in a blog update. There is a high probability that there is going to be a further look or follow up with characters mentioned in this book.

Sailor Twain is an adventure story that personally I felt concluded with a depressing ending. It was realistic though, given the choice that Twain has done. I may need to read more American type of stories like this to recommend a similar read alike, but what I see in Sailor Twain is slice of life mystery with a mythical aspect. After School Nightmare or parts of Mushishi might be a good thematic read alikes for Sailor Twain.