Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three Films Make A Post: The First Monster Musical!

Darkside Blues (1994): Surely, you can't go wrong with an anime based on a manga written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, the guy who wrote the novels Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City are based on? Turns out that you really can't, at least in this particular case.

Although its plot is rather distractible and opaque, and it is prone to revolutionary kitsch, this anime concerning the emotional and political awakening of some inhabitants of Shinjuku, or to be more precise, Kabukicho, one of the last places on Earth not bought out by an evil multi-national corporation who now lords over its realm as a semi-benevolent dictatorship, is really quite something. It's filled to the brim with wonderfully bizarre details even in the least important corners of its universe, and it tends to do quite clever things with its details when you'd least expect it.

It's probably a bit too full of ideas and characters. There's enough fascinating stuff in Darkside Blues to fill one or two full seasons of an anime TV show, so it is at times actual work for a viewer to unpack everything that's going on. Not that I mind when a movie accepts that its audience doesn't consist only of people unable to use their brains.

Zeiram 2 (1994): Evil space thing Zeiram returns to Earth in a new, less impressive body for a rematch against galactic bounty hunter Iria (Yuko Moriyama) and her electrician friends (Yokijiro Hotaru and Kunihiro Ida). After some back and forth, everyone ends up in a parallel universe again, and a bit of fighting ensues.

Sounds exactly like the first movie, but plays out in a much less entertaining fashion. One reason for it is the rather draggy pacing of the whole affair. The annoying humour to Iria fighting a guy in a rubber suit ratio is skewed in the wrong direction. Even Amemiya's monster design is just not as good as it was in the first movie. There are still moments when the film becomes excellent silly fun (just watch Iria go all Mary Poppins on us!), and the last twenty minutes are pretty swell, but Zeiram 2 contains just too much unnecessary baggage to come close to its predecessor.

Genocyber (1993): There is a reason why the name Koichi Ohata strikes fear into the hearts of even the more hardened friends of anime from the 80s and 90s, and that reason is M.D. Geist, possibly one of the worst examples of the form ever made - and if you know worse ones, please don't tell me. Ohata's later attempt at lobotomy through anime, Genocyber, is not much better than his anti-classic. Throw a bunch of ideas "borrowed" from a dozen better anime into a pot, add footage of children dying in sprays of gore, and heat it with the help of random, confused storytelling, and voila, you have cooked yourself some Genocyber! I have to admit that some of the bio-mecha-demon transformations are somewhat awesome, but nothing would be awesome enough to slog through the rest of this crap.


No comments: