Tag Archives: 1980s Anime

Through Older Lenses: Cosmos Pink Shock (1986)

cosmos

It’s the year 2206, and a bright pink spacecraft has made an unauthorized launch from Pluto Space Base #17, and is sporting its hyper rocket engines with intense haste. As authorities seek to control, and perhaps even down the runaway craft, a crucial baseball drama is unfolding. With perhaps the Tigers’ 200+ year losing streak at an end, their winning play is thwarted as the troublesome pink streak fouls up the game, rendering a mob of spacefaring fans ready, and eager to destroy the speeding interloper. Not even the denizens of Macross, or Yamato can stop this intergalactic bullet from causing all amounts of nuisance to all in her path. Seriously, she’s a real pain.

Such is the life of headband wearing, pendant-sporting Micchi, pilot of the Pink Shock. Her mission is not very complicated. And it isn’t concerned with your space wars, your losing streak, your culture. She’s having none of it. She’s seventeen years old, and speeds on for love. And not you, nor any militaristic regime can do anything to stop her from reclaiming it.

How is this hard for your to understand?

OVAs in the 1980s are pretty much a wasteland of VHS nonsense, often highlighted by your random Bubblegum Crises, or Megazone 23s, and offer very little in the way of viable historical context. Even in Japan’s anime on home video heyday, these were the shelf stocker equivalent to today’s Asylum Pictures release. They were a dime a dozen, and often made on the quick and cheap. New studios opening, and new studios closing. It was a new market, and something rife with mental images of airborne yen signs just itching for a slice of this new home entertainment pie. So why in the world do we want to talk about 1986’s Cosmos Pink Shock?

Quite frankly, because despite everything in it that is typical, there is also a potent, and perhaps even frightening sliver of prophecy embedded within. From the wet-wafer thin nature of the aforementioned “plot”, there is both a reverence for the era’s legendary love of space war tales, as well as the burgeoning of that now all too worn concept of moé. The show makes every effort imaginable to play into the fetish, and does everything possible to justify its existence. In fact, the entire point of Cosmos Pink Shock, is just that: “Space Wars are annoying, this is the era of the cute girl-STEP OFF.” It has no compunctions saying that the space heroes of the past will have to make way for all the petulant cuteness, as if the show itself were Noah’s dream of a flooded planet, and we had to prepare for the inevitable.

It even goes so far as to introduce a possible foil in the form of woman hating, Gatsupi. A handsome ball of noble whom the ladies like for his looks, but are constantly rebuffed by his declaration of disinterest. Even when the assumption is that of a slashfic narrative, he contends this isn’t the case. Yes, even fangirls of the 1980s were quick to assume this guy to be prime fantasy material. But this Sho Hayami-voiced character holds within a simple reason for his standoffish ways. Perhaps leave it to the newly captured Micchi, to weave her tale of woe, thereby thaw Gatsupi’s frozen heart?

You see, Micchi’s one true love, a boy she was fond of at AGE 4, was abducted by a UFO during the night of the matsuri. Yes. And noone seemed to remember who he was, nor was motivated at all to find him. So naturally, she stowed away on a space shuttle in hopes of finding him. Again. How is this not getting through? Are you just being stubborn?

Looking back at it now, it feels like this was a sentiment that had long been festering until it finally saw a ray of legitimacy with the original Superdimension Fortress Macross series. And from that point on, it became standard practice to keep that element as an integral part of the space war genre. That is until the conditions were right. Cosmos Pink Shock feels like a light handed back slap against the decade preceding it in all its need for hard edged militarism and samurai propriety. Featuring some neat character design work by the always terrific Toshihiro Hirano (of Fight! Iczer One & Vampire Princess Miyu fame), and some impressive animation direction by Keisuke Matsumoto & Yasuo Hasegawa, there is some visual charm happening here. Especially worthy of note are the scenes involving hardsuit armor and even a robot baseball game. There is much to see as mere distraction in Cosmos, that many may see as your typical benign japan toon, but there is just enough moxy, and outright raspberrying to all things Gundam and Yamato, to make it into something of a manifesto. A harbinger of the future.

A future that was barreling closer toward us.

Whether we wanted it..or not. Get out of the way.

cosmos2


Oh yes, and it features quite a nod to fans of the Hanshin Tigers, granting it a Kansai aura that must have been bubbling in lieu of their once rumored “cursed” state. A running gag that screams “you had to be there”, but is mildly chuckle-inducing regardless.

Through Older Lenses: Urban Square – Kohaku no Tsuigeki (1986)

 

“For years, I didn’t understand the concept of writer’s block. I was like, “what’s that?”, you know? And then I realized a few weeks ago, it was like, “Oh! That’s every day!”

-Jonathan Nolan
(Co-writer of The Dark Knight Trilogy & Creator Of Memento)

Pretty amusing to ever think that scribe, Kazunori Ito has ever experienced that oft-blamed phenomenon, but apparently it (along with a great love of 1980s Hollywood) was enough fuel for this rare, and infectious one-shot OVA from the very early days of EMOTION – IE,  Bandai Visual that places the writer amidst a whole mess of trouble. Ryo Matsumoto is a hapless screenwriter, who has been unable to get traction for his latest action opus, when he is witness to a murder on the street, and somehow finds himself in possession of some sensitive documents. And just like that, it’s a writer’s 1980s action fantasy wet dream as Ryo finds himself not only pursued by dangerous thugs who look bizarrely like a more Bruce Lee-like Kenshiro, but befriends a classic “cop-on-the edge”, and possibly finds enough time for love? Urban Square – Kohaku No Tsuigeki (AKA – In Pursuit Of Amber)is the kind of OVA that in its day would have made a fun addition to my localized collection in the day, but was likely considered not “anime” enough to sell here.

 
But personally speaking, there are enough things happening here that only anime could deliver.

 

So when we begin the film, Ryo is quickly established as a very young writer who seems to be hurting for a script sale. It’s apparently not going very well, which leads to him out in the rainy streets, where fate intervenes, forcing Ryo, and everyone else around him to live out a reality that is far more exciting than fiction. This is made even more complicated by the two-time chance meeting between Ryo and Yuki, a local art student with indirect connections to the envelope that has come into their possession. With both their lives instantly in danger, a burgeoning relationship might have to wait, as noone can be trusted. Thankfully, they find an unlikely ally in tough cop, Mochizuki. A grizzled detective with a seeming obsession with bringing down Goda Geese, a long untouchable criminal figure with an eye for art fraud. Classic “noir” tropes abound, Urban Square is less a parody of the more hard-boiled action genre of film that was before matters went full Schwarzenegger in the ensuing years.

 
Looking back at it now, 1986 seems like a banner year for anime in regards to their reverence for all things “American Action”. Where California Crisis established a grand love of all things Spielberg, Urban Square seems happy with being a fun little ode to the ever-reliable 80s cop thriller. From the cold blues of the city at night, to Akemi Takada’s classy character designs, the 55-minute OVA screams pre-Lethal Weapon police pot-boiler, complete with often weird jazz score. Most egregiously, the aforementioned grizzled detective, Mochizuki, is a dead ringer for a Sharkey’s Machine-era Burt Reynolds! Heck, while were on that, tow headed assassin, Henmi is a bit of a Moke clone himself. Hair breadth escapes, coincidences, and just plain heaven’s luck play a major part of the film’s disarming aura.

And his hair is perfect..

But a lot of it wouldn’t be as much fun, if it didn’t have itself a likeable guide through this odyssey of familiar. This is where Ryo fits in more than fine enough as a guy who has seen all of this done on screen, and can’t believe that the real deal is in no way any more imaginative. The closest things to ability he has on his side are his movie cliche knowledge, and pure dopey spunk, which becomes a fuel for many surprises throughout. Like many writers, he’d sooner not write about his own life. But when the reality is this good, and with friends caught up in everything, perhaps life can surpass art just this once. It doesn’t hurt that the new lady in his life is ideal in more ways than one. Yuki becomes that additional spark that makes this non-action hero into something so many outside of the original John McClane fail to be, tangible and likeable.

 
A few years later, John McTiernan’s The Last Action Hero attempted to subvert what the action genre had become over the years, to often middling to lesser results. Urban Square excels by strictly avoiding such cynicism, and playing matters as light and reverent. What could so easily be a simple parody, becomes an appropriately charming little piece of bubblegum noir. Director Akira Nishimori and Animation Head, Hideyuki Motohashi are clearly having a ball taking on the kinetics of western action, creating a surprisingly flowing visual narrative of hand-to-hand, gunfights, and vehicle chases one must see to appreciate. The tired, almost disdain-coated feel of Last Action Hero, is  a vibe that is completely absent in Urban Square, where all we have, is a big, charming ode to the salad years of an american cinematic pastime.

 
Inspiration does indeed sprout from the strangest places..

 


This is a title that has never experienced an American release, and has remained long out of print in Japan. But can be found by way of many of the old channels. Happy seeking!

Bridging The Gap: 30 Years Of Macross, 7 Hours Of Love

 

Taking a most unusual detour from its previous home at UCLA, I took a short trip from home to spend a few hours as part of american anime lover history celebrated 30 years of mecha, music, and love at Macrossworldcon 2012. This time, taking place deep in Arcadia (no, not that one), CA. , and within a modest-sized business & shopping center, virtually hidden from any manner of public view.  After badge pickup, and a colorful yet narrow walkway leading to the heart of the event, I found myself surrounded by a virtual cityscape of toys and items commemorating decades of the Macross franchise, from the original groundbreaking series, to the candy-heavy Frontier. UN S PACY heads from numerous generations and backgrounds convened in what remains a remnant of the anime con that once was..

 


We arrived just in time for a “Free Art Contest” where a group of talented sketch artists tried their hand at delivering a memorable Macross image with only two stipulations; A) Image must contain an audience-selected character from the franchise, and B) they only had ten minutes to make it so. (Sadly, my idea: An image of hapless Valkyrie pilot, Hayao Kakizaki–a character often characterized as a plate of steak, or a ball of flame, was never voted in.)

“Run For Your Life, Minmay!”

Couldn’t help myself from being knocked nostalgic, and also expressing deep excitement at the evolution of character and mecha goods on display. There were times when it felt like member-owned toys and items would never stop coming in to take residence on one of several counters set against the main event room’s walls. Was wonderful enough just to be in the presence of it.


But toys, raffles, and art aside, the major centerpiece of my trip occurred when beloved singer, songwriter (and inimitable voice of Lynn Minmay herself), Mari Iijima took to the main floor, and performed a short and potent set of songs. With Sunset Beach, and a haunting rendition of the legendary Ai Oboete Imasu Ka as the only Macross tracks, we were host to two of her personally written songs which were equally, if not more impressive. True to her ever-self-defining nature, the set was both emotionally charged, and wildly disarming.  (Fave track of the day, “Anatano Tame Ni Jibun No Tame Ni” offers up both a charm-filled sense of longing, and a dramatic sense of real knowing that was impressive. A stirring hint that her latest recorded effort, “Take A Picture Against The Light” may be her most deeply personal to date.)

 

 

So in all, my day in Arcadia was one filled with smiles, melancholy, and togetherness. A strange feeling again filled me as I stepped out of the venue, back into the real world that we all share, aware that I had just left a room of shared dreams and memories so many would never see. Perhaps just as well, as the event itself embraces something that is far too often missing from modern cons, a sense of unseen, yet solid community.

 

 

For Further Investigation..

http://www.macrossworld.com/

http://www.marimusic.com/

Through Older Lenses: Gall Force: Eternal Story (1986)

Somewhere in the farthest unknown regions of deep space, an ages long war has raged on between the female humanoid Solnoid race, and the biomechanical threat known only as Paranoid. During a particularly heated space battle, the starship dubbed Star Leaf has found itself with a spunky, hotheaded fighter pilot as new crewmember mere minutes before being forced to undertake warp after orders are relayed to defend a much valued set of coordinates; the planet, Chaos. And yet despite evasive maneuvers, the mostly young crew of Solnoid officers are in for the shock of their lives when the Paranoid have set in motion a plan that not only threatens the future of all onboard, but of the future of both races combined. And thus is the broken down plotline of this feature length first outing for what became one of AIC’s most prolific franchises, Gall Force. Originally started as a 3D photo comic, Gall Force refined the best of both heavy ends of the 1980s otaku fantasy juggernaut by way of taking what could be seen as cute, chubby moe prototypes, and infusing them into a somewhat hard science fiction armor. What results is something that contemporary anime just doesn’t seem to have room for this side of Moretsu Pirates; a derivative, yet surprisingly well-executed mashup of western science fiction & space mecha melodrama. And this initial film released in the summer of 1986, and directed by Katsuhito Akiyama (Bubblegum Crisis) continues to remain a personal favorite despite its shortcomings.

 

For some time, I had long considered sharing a few words regarding this first go-round for the girls of GF, but had a real hard time trying to figure out an angle to work with as a work like this is rare in that for what it looks like to the casual observer, is a lot richer in detail than many might assume. One on hand, it does fulfill the “cute girls in space with guns and powered armor” one might expect from this era, but on another, it also takes the time within 88 minutes to establish the shared existence of these characters, as well as their mechanically inclined environs, and even language/typography. And to top it off, as the film rarely to never allows viewers to catch a breath once the title card bursts on the screen. There are no extended monologues, no overt platitudes on existence. These ladies are on a collision course with destiny, and there’s simply no time for such things. With a plot that borrows liberally from favorite films and novels (largely Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, which easily lends the gender choice an added amount of potentially controversial thematic depth), Eternal Story was scribed by the often underappreciated Sukehiro Tomita (Macross: DYRL), which grants the characters enough sci-fi geek cred in the dialogue and language. From an alien stowaway, to the death defying troubles they experience on the ship as well as outside, this is a fitting form for Japanese cinema of the time to do their own successful riff on classic space yarns. (Having recently reviewed the mind-blowingly odd Sayonara Jupiter recently- this is a most welcome argument for anime being the better way to go)

 

 

So as the story quickly unfolds, the crew of the Star Leaf led by cool-headed officers Eluza & Raby, now must contend with not only an invader on their ship, but a caustic but potentially dependable new crewmember, and possibly even their superiors in what culminates in an often shining example of how cool a gynocentric space adventure could be. Being faced with threats initially stemming from what seem to be outside forces, soon becomes one of greater concern when revelations (not to mention some terrible losses) spur forth an even more disturbing truth regarding the crew, and their central role in a plot to end a generations-spanning conflict. Having been perpetuated all this time via genetic engineering, the Solnoids have until now only known one universal method of reproduction to perpetuate their species. So when a shocking twist takes place in the film’s latter half, perhaps it only makes perfect sense that a remainder of the crew feels somewhat betrayed by those who would be their respected elders. And in between all the monster attacks, hair-breadth escapes, self-sacrifices, and hard suit & mecha battles (in space AND on land!), what we have here is something far more involved than merely a pastiche of Japan’s then fevered fascination with space war. It becomes a treatise on the nature of sexual roles, protracted conflict, and life’s ability to dodge even the most terrifying headshot by mere millimeters.

 

 

After many years of going back to this first film, one must admit that there are a few things worth considering in the narrative that could raise a few eyebrows. As mentioned before, the Solnoid crew of the Star Leaf are soon faced with a plot to end the war via a clandestine plan to combine both warring races, to the terrified reaction of those who make the bombshell discovery. And since these are a solely female race of beings who have only known cloning as their means of reproduction, one can imagine the reaction at the prospect of seeing what is ostensibly a baby male. But things get a little weird when the remaining crew members experience a collective series of dreams that all lead toward the new addition of a male version of their race into the gene pool. All to the tune of an all-too 1980s teen-pop song, the implication that these lifelong warrior types would go completely gooey for a phantom companion seems more than a little contradictory to the majority of the film. What was likely considered to be a narrative shorthand for implying what is to come of our central species by the end can easily be considered a dreadful oversimplification. The very idea that all these young ladies needed to feel at uncommon ease was some random male continues to be a dated thorn in my side. The story also finds itself a little out of steam come the arrival at Chaos. These along with the crew losing what was easily my favorite member by the end of the first half chock up my most egregious complaints.

 

And considering what became of AIC’s reputation years later, it’s also a bit of a sad thing to say that for an IP that received so much exposure in the US home video market, so many people continue to overlook just how ambitious this all was. Considering that the Gall Force metaseries predates the OVA classic, Bubblegum Crisis, and contains many of that iconic series’ original staff, one would surmise that this would have as much widespread notoriety among older school anime fans. And this is where a potentially controversial statement just might creep in; as much as this writer truly enjoys the adventures of the Knight Sabers, it’s Tomita’s script for Eternal Story that elevates the material beyond anything that came after. And with some truly iconic & diverse character design work by personal favorite, Kenichi Sonoda, some still great mechanical work by Hideki Kakinuma, and memorable synth music courtesy of Ishizo Seo, the overall feel of Gall Force’s initial outing is assured and exciting. The seven-member crew comprised of Eluza, Raby, Lufy, Pony, Catty, Remy & Patty somehow achieves a certain amount of diversity in their personalities and gestures. So rarely does it succumb to the pitfalls so many OVAs and shows of the time did, that it truly feels like a thoughtful one-shot. As for the follow-up OVAs, as cool as they are, they carry little of the promise and care of this primary chapter. For me, it remains something of a lost little gem that despite its release via Central Park Media during the salad days of anime on VHS, deserves more viewers, as well as more evaluation in the shadow of that bloated, disjointed musical that came after. In the case of that series, it was all about loving the idea of a great show, while with Eternal Story, we get the greatness AND the ideas. Because as the moving little coda implies; what has happened, can indeed happen again.

 

 

Fan Service As Pop Genius: Project A-ko

They aim to misbehave..

 

Superhuman action, mecha, galactic-scale collateral damage, and in-your-face fan service; as rote and perhaps expected as these elements are within the anime medium, it can be argued that there is a science to making it all work beyond the confines of the time in which it was made. Not unlike a well-timed comedic moment, or even a tightly constructed plot reveal, it is often more about execution, rather than originality. So when I make mention of a feature film originally meant to be an installment of the legendary “Cream Lemon” series of proto-H anime shorts, one may also be surprised to know just how important Yuji Moriyama & Kazuhiko Nishijima’s Project A-ko is to modern anime, as well as projects of the past which it lampoons with biting wit, and boundless energy. So when the sneaky minds at Discotek Media announced that they were planning to bring this title back to home video, one can only imagine my reaction.

So what does it mean when someone like myself who tends to dismiss most ouput that relies on so many of the aforementioned tropes, and gimmicks regards one title with an unending love and admiration reserved for Masterpiece Theatre material? Two simple words; Application and precedent. When looking back at everything this project brought to the forefront during the industry’s heyday, one can easily see that this was a film that could by no means be made today. Or even ten years ago for that matter. Truly an artifact of it’s time, and yet by way of sheer audacity, it remains something of a cult classic, even among fans of Japanese animation. But should you ever meet a fan, it is often the kind of fandom rivalling a dangerous crush. And possibly the prime reason for this is how much A-ko loves and adores the art of animation, and the possibilties of comics. It’s a wildly enthusiastic hug to all within the realms of fantasy- particularly pulp superhero & science fiction. And yet it does all of this without alienating potential converts. No easy task, as the film is chock full of some impressive anime & manga in-gags, as it careens wildly around a simple one-joke conceit that hardly disguises itself as a plot.

The ::sic:: PLOT:

 

At it’s very essence, Project A-ko is the tale of a schoolyard girl brawl gone horribly awry. It’s Eiko (A-ko) Magami’s first day in a new school during a whole new day in Graviton City. ( A happy-shiny megalopolis constructed over a crater forged by a devastating meteor impact years prior to our tale.) Along for the day’s first class is her definitively dim-witted best buddy Shiko (C-ko-ERGH..) Kotobuki. A short, blonde-haired, childlike creature decked with cuteness to spare, and blessed with all the charm of a bad ringtone in a movie theater.Their first day in class is in many ways hectic enough, but only becomes worse when the seemingly well-mannered model student, Biko Daitokuji finds herself entranced by the fire-alarm charms of C-ko. So she takes it upon herself to claim what she feels is rightfully hers, by way of any dirty trick that could be devised by the beautiful heiress. Unlucky for her is the revelation that the redheaded transfer student in A-ko, is endowed with….wait for it….superhuman strength, and incredible speed! It is within this bizarre quasi-love triangle that the show begins in earnest, and only exacerbates when it is discovered that a group of aliens are watching from above- in search of their lost princess, who may, or may not be who we think she is…But knowing just how defiantly the film wishes to play with things, it is pretty easy to figure out. But the REAL fun is when we as audience begin to ask the burning question…WHY? By why ask why, when the surprises don’t end there?  Can Graviton City survive?

 

One-step solutions.

 

Confessions Of A Near-20 Year Homeless Alien

From mistaken identities, to hand-to-hand girl-on-mecha action, to some incredibly staged action sequences, (Yes, even by today’s standards.)  the film continuously flirts with going completely off-the-rails insane, and yet, never loses the ability to decompress by laughing at itself. It fully knows what it is, and gets completely drunk on it by the finale as three parties seem primed to destroy virtually everything around them over something so patently absurd.

Now I won’t go into any detail regarding the many anime references littered throughout the film as it is well-cataloged all over the internet, but I will make mention of the wealth of talent involved- which is pretty astonishing. Names such as Toshiyuki Kubooka ( Giant Robo, Gunbuster, the Lunar game series), Atsuko Nakajima (Ranma 1/2, Trinity Blood), Kia Asamiya (Steam Detectives, Silent Mobius), as well as a personal favorite, Tsukasa Dokite (Dirty Pair) who’s main contribution to the piece remains, at least to me, one of the defining moments of the anime medium. A gag so wildly over the top hysterical, it demands keeping the remote close by. In fact, there are many “did I just see that?” moments in the film, it is hard to pick them all out on first viewing. In the days before CG-intervention, many of A-ko’s visual charms range from the charmingly simple, to the out-right bizarre.

Also worthy of note are the audio contributions made by the cast, as well as the unforgettable score by Ritchie Zito, and future J-pop darling, Joey Carbone (who went on to write several songs for Johnny’s Jimusho). The score is a pitch-perfect mixture of synth & rock from the Top Gun school of film scoring, which plays beautifully with the film’s vibrant primary colored universe. Featuring early vocal work by Michie Tomizawa (Linna in BGC & Rei in Sailor Moon) as the potentially savant C-ko, as well as Emi Shinohara, who went on to become Makoto in Sailor Moon as well. Her Biko is something of a cool spin on the Lex Luthor archetype which actually wins points for making her something of a sympathetic villain, even when it is clear that this is a young lady OBSESSED. When she sheds tears, assuming her role as villain in this predicament, one can’t help but jibe a little. And this is part of the secret weapon Project A-ko hides underneath its spectacle & unrestrained ambitiousness; a sort of sincerity regarding our two main battling archetypes. Without this, the whole gag wouldn’t work, and one can’t help but feel that this one character is worth all of this (even when perhaps the best thing for us all is to shuttle her off into deep space). The quarry means something to them, and it goes a long way(for the film at least- Can’t say the same for the OVAs made soon after).

 

So when I make mention of precedence & application, it is merely in the context of history. Looking at decades of the evolution (or-de-evolution) of so-called “fan service”-centric anime, it seems that even many who worked on this film went on to television projects that inevitably succumed to the very thing that helped their work reach new creative highs. Much like the lightsaber, one of the striking minor elements in a film like this inevitably becomes the fodder for lesser shows like Agent Aika(which Moriyama also worked on) . A creator’s masterstroke sometimes becomes its own prison. When one looks back at A-ko, one might realize that a mere panty flash wasn’t what made the show stand out so much as where and how. The gag since then has become over-emphasized, and therefore becomes irrelevant & even boring.  So when it’s done here, it all feels like a part of a larger, wackier fabric. And executed with dare I call it, “class”. So when an industry relies on a gag executed so much better elsewhere, it comes off as tired, and dishonest. Whereas here, it comes off as an important image that goes along well with it’s playful XX-chromo power play. And as displayed by the entire work’s attention to action detail, complete with explosions, crumbling structures, and flying machinery, this is Michael Bay-level spectacle, except with an actual focus, and none of the infantile baggage- again, done 25 years ago.

Project A-ko by its very nature, is anime broken down to its most base components, packed with nitro-glycerin for blood, and shamelessness on its sleeve in its wanton reverence for otaku fantasies & lack of regard toward anything resembling conventional narrative. This is a penultimate example of a medium fully at the mercy of a mad group of artists in love with their work. An animator’s anime. All the wild takes, inside-gaggery, and hyperbolic action one expects- and yet in the realm of these seemingly stock-card thin characters, there is a life that veers well beyond the borders of the screen(and possibly bounces off into another universe). We’re talking a film that does for seifuku what 2001: A Space Odyssey does for viewers as David Bowman enters Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite. It is a laugh-wrenching amalgamation of genre-fantasy’s best and worst qualities, and yet it all continues to work its daffy magic 25 years later. And again, all before a certain recent Hollywood director ripped off visual cues from this film, whilst losing sight of the sly, feminine empowerment undercurrent that permeates it. While the intention may have been the opposite during the time of production, the final product is startlingly ahead of the curve.

It’s a title that I still love to spring on friends, and a title I always hate to see come to its finale. And it never finishes without leaving me feel energized, and hopeful for those times when pop art penetrates the stratosphere, and into pure crowd-pleaser territory.

For a short time there, it began to feel as though titles that some would consider dated, or even old-hat would stand an ant’s chance under the magnifying glass of anime industry armageddon. But to see Discotek Media take point, and bring back this beloved title harkens to something of a return to sanity in a landscape fraught with corpses of dead-on-arrival tv series, OVAs, and even feature films. All with tales of woe to share. And yet, A-ko is one of these strangely stalwart titles that no video collection can truly do without. So to see it back in the ether for possibly an entirely new generation to discover, it’s a heartening move. Make no mistake..A-ko’s back, and all is right with the world.

 

 

Discotek is a dvd distribution company that has quickly parallel-wired my mind when considering license choices. And as much of what adorns the new dvd release comes from the previous CPM releases of the film, it is still too sweet to see so many extras still available for what remains a criminally underdiscussed title in American anime fandom. Especially worth it for the amazing Yuji Moriyama commentary that fills in so many blanks regarding the chaotic production of this film. A must own.