This Week: Kyousougiga (2011), Kyousougiga (2012), Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show, and Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G.
Summer season is ending and I’m behind on several things I meant to get to on that front before Fall season hits, so everything else this week was shorts. Three of these can even be considered fieldwork practicums for the upcoming season, so this is actually a more topical post than this series usually is!
A short that takes all of the worst possible lessons from things like Dead Leaves, FLCL, SHAFT’s forays into visual design, etc. A ceaseless barrage of zany and wacky and off the wall and explosions and sound and color. It is absolutely terrified the viewer, for even a single possible second, may ever for any reason be bored.
The thing is though, when you pull a stunt like that and everything is supposed to have some kind of crazy-go-nuts impact, then in turn nothing does. There’s nothing to anchor anything to here, not a moment that can be strongly tonally juxtaposed to another to give something a defined weight or substance. As a result the design work got old fast, because it’s the lone card it has to play and it started just bouncing off of me after the first few minutes. It’s a first year university student flipping over a bunch of art supply tables in the studio and calling it their homework, with all the positives and negatives that entails.
Second verse, if ever so slightly better than the first.
The most interesting round in its chamber was the episode dealing with the idea of casting things away and where they go. But the production shoots itself in the foot by literally going “Don’t know / Don’t care.” There’s more variety in sound levels and attempts at narrative compared to the 2011 short, but it isn’t really interested in doing anything with its own setups. It’s that person who a lot of us tend to know who goes on about how “totally random” they are and who may then ramble a bit on the depth of living in the moment or whatever (and this is certainly a production that barely even wants to introduce its own characters), but in all reality they just aren’t as dynamically interesting as the mythology they try to build up about themselves.
Maybe the looming third attempt will improve itself further when it is a full TV show. But I’m less than enthused at the prospect of checking it out.
Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show (Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki)
This production is one I revisited after bringing it up elsewhere, and it’s still easily one of the hardest times I have ever had in trying to give a rating to something. Part of it is that I will never be able to view it in its rather specific intended presentation form: as a theatrical attraction at a genuine freakshow carnival.
It pulls a Mokoto Shinkai style Voices of a Distant Star effort a decade early, as it was hand made by Hiroshi Harada back in 1992 (and Midori is nearly 50 minutes compared to the roughly 25 in Voices!). It’s interesting he was driven to sink his life savings into this for five years out of how terrible and bland they viewed the anime industry to be at the time, and yet many of us likely look at that period of anime (late 1980’s, early 1990’s) with some degree of fondness.
It’s one of the extremely few anime I would securely place in the ero guro artistic genre in the 1930’s traditional sense without question. It has sex and gore, sure, but it is also not that (as ero guro is not merely gore porn or what have you). Its aim is more in the idea of presenting the malformed, the unnatural, and grotesqueness that comes from that sense of unease and narrative tragedy rather than “just” something like violent pornography.
The music was done by, of all people, J.A. Seazer, who brought us the Revolutionary Girl Utena soundtrack. This is the only other anime he’s worked on outside of that. Appropriately, the score is excellent in leading the viewer along through the various escapades of the narrative on screen. As an audio tour guide walking us through the piece, it’s really great work.
The content would be harsh for a lot of folks to stomach, no question. As a one man animation from two decades ago, it’s not slick looking, but I’m also of the camp that thinks getting grotesqueness on the screen requires a degree of ugliness to be effective. But it has a very definite cohesive style to it, and there’s some standout handiwork when it wants to be more sweeping in tone (trees, cherry blossoms, etc). The style works well both in keeping with the historical ero guro look, and getting that aesthetic to function as an animated work with sound and voice beyond mere still and silent frames. It would function entirely well as a part of its intended purpose of being the centerpiece of an attraction and installation, effectively an artistic display piece.
It’s not something one would ever show to their “What is anime?” inquiring family, but it is the kind of movie an art, film, or history professor would likely be keenly interested in.
Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G (Mokei Senshi Gunpla Builders Beginning G)
OK, so it’s a long toy commercial. But it does enough things to punch above its weight to reach an average little rating from me. It’s not terrible. Which, at the end of the day, is still way better than it has any right to be.
By using the “simulated fights via Gundam models” angle, it actually gives justification for why kids and teens are able to pilot these war machines. I appreciated how battle taunts basically end up taking the form of things like “Your Gundam sucks because the stickers for the eyes are crooked!” Oh buuurn.
Heck, there is a bear robot dubbed Bearguy who shoots lasers by playing a recorder and our Char expy rides around town on a white stallion. The production folks clearly knew this was all a bit out there, but it’s kind of endearing as a short little series about folks who like Gundam models and customizing them. It’s not deep, and I probably wouldn’t rewatch it again, but it got some cheeky smiles out of me.
Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime series I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.