And so it turns out I come out of half-hibernation to reflect upon a pair of interesting announcements to come out of Day One of this year’s TAF (Tokyo Anime Fair). It seems as if a number of souls out in animeland see it the right time to revisit a pair of old favorites. Favorites that even now, helped establish the anime medium as a global contender for thoughtful & amusing science fiction storytelling. And while both touch heavily upon a period of time that is especially close to my heart, one has me giddy with delight, while the other kind of plunks onto the tile like a neglected piece of fruit. And while both are far from either surprising, or potentially earth-shattering, I find them amusing enough to fuel a few brief paragraphs here at least.
The first of these two, comes courtesy of long defunct creatorship, HEADGEAR, whom have delivered upon recent rumblings to bring us back to “Late 1990s” Tokyo with a new PATLABOR live action project. Just in time for Maiden Japan‘s announcement today regarding the DVD re-release of this hard science fiction comedy favorite.
Personally speaking, I could not be more ecstatic. There was something inherently grounded within the world of the SV2, that could translate well in live action. Unlike most projects of this ilk, it’s a choice that makes great sense if one is versed in the world of the series and its memorable cast. Even when the show was at its zanier points, one of the biggest strengths of it all was the interplay between the cops, the higher-ups, and even the mechanics as they struggled to maintain civil peace against ever troubling techno-creep. If HEADGEAR and crew play their cards right, this could very well be on par with the best adaptations of its kind. The tone of it gels almost organically with how Japan makes their big films these days anyway.
And while they haven’t yet specified as to whether this means the project will in fact be a television series, special, or a feature film, original co-creator, Mamoru Oshii was among the few who were hinting at this project weeks ago.
Elated hardly covers it for me.
Then comes the announcement from Gainax..
I never thought it would ever see the light of day, but it looks like early Gainax is ready to come back in a big way with Aoki Uru (AKA Blue Uru), the spiritual follow-up to their prolific, original raison d’ etre, Royal Space Force (AKA Wings Of Honneamise). This is a project dating back to the late 1980s-early 1990s, when the G-folk were looking to expand the universe of their feature film milestone, roughly during the time between Nadia and Evangelion. Re-ensliting the talents of studio head, Hiroyuki Yamaga, and famed character designer, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the old copy once shared rough synopses of a more action-centric tale of a fighter pilot and his quest to rescue his girlfriend in a Streets Of Fire-inspired tale set in the Honneamise world of early space travel & flying machines. The announcement came ripping old memories from long thought forgotten chests of olde today, and to be completely frank, I’m not terribly sure if excitement is the first thing that comes to mind.
It’s simple if I just went ahead and laid it out like this; Age & zeitgeist often do not make for great bed buddies. In fact, more often than not, when a noted creator comes back to familiar territory, it is often a 70-30 proposition that it will not connect on the level that the original did. (One need only watch Prometheus for extended proof.) And while I am more than happy that some big names (and seeing Sadamoto take on something of this size again does make me grin ear to ear) are finally taking on something that does not involve a high school, or clueless teenagers, I cannot help but feel that this is another case of “way too late, man”. Royal Space Force, while not a blazing success upon its initial release, was done so in a time where experimentation was almost encouraged, and genuine alternate-world drama could in fact be made into a feature. A large part of that film’s success is mostly in its grandiosity, and almost tragic naiveté by a group of young animators who didn’t realize just how foolish their grand vision had become from an ambitious short, and a series of lush illustrations. Adding 25 years to this, and one cannot help but feel like this is also not going to have the reckless abandon that the world of Honneamise requires.
But who knows? Perhaps my concerns are for nothing, and Yamaga can finally find himself out of the dregs of projects past (Mahoromatic, anyone?), and back into a realm that best reflects his passions.
One day out of TAF already. Here’s hoping there are a few more squawks from the big wigs that can match these two, because it’s going to be hard to top.
(Popping in my Patlabor CDs while I wait..)