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Errinundra's Beautiful Fighting Girl #133: Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi


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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:28 pm Reply with quote
@Errinundra

Quote:
the criminal gang involved, are out to "take the piss" by whatever means necessary.


This is not a US idiom, at least not anywhere I've lived. As a consequence it didn't occur to me that it was what they were doing. Thanks for the heads up.

The first follow up manga "The Phantom of the Audience" is a single chapter and was probably included in the first volume of the manga from Dark Horse as the last chapter. If you haven't read it yet, the second volume of the manga "Conflict One - No More Noise" is vastly different in tone from the first. I like it better than the first.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:31 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls index
****

"Taking the piss", ie mocking someone or something is, I've just learned, a Commonwealth expression. Clements and McCarthy make the connection in their encyclopaedia and I'm sure Jonathon Clements is English.

More importantly, do the Japanese have a similar expression? Masamune Shirow is notable for his visual puns - most of which go right by my non-Japanese understanding brain - so it is possible. But then, the anime plot isn't in the manga. Koichi Mashimo has a penchant for taking the piss, so who knows?

The manga edition I read has "The Phantom of the Audience", but not "Conflict One - No More Noise".

Comparing Black Magic, Appleseed and Dominion, I prefer Appleseed of the manga and Dominion Tank Police of the anime.


Last edited by Errinundra on Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:48 am Reply with quote
@Errinundra

Dominion Conflict 1 (No More Noise) is a whole separate volume at about 158 pages. It is more of a reboot than a continuation of the prior volume. Same main characters though, including Anna and Uni who join the Tank Police. Apparently Buaku left them behind when he escaped.

Phantom of the Audience was not included in the first printing of Dominion by Dark Horse. It was issued later as a single floppy comic. This one shot was not included in the subsequent Dominion Conflict 1 (No More Noise) trade paperback. That single floppy was really hard to find when I got into Shirow. Much later they issued a second edition of Dominion with Phantom of the Audience included.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:08 pm Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
...Apparently Buaku left them behind when he escaped...


Bit of a shame, that. Their peculiar loyalty and trust was a kind of sweet. It doesn't seem to fit.


Last edited by Errinundra on Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:18 am; edited 2 times in total
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:19 am Reply with quote
On the other hand they make the second volume (Conflict 1). Leona's reaction when she finds out she has to work with them is priceless.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:25 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #97: Shiko Kotobuki (aka C-ko) et al,



Project A-ko: Cinderella Rhapsody

Synopsis: Hoping to buy herself some fashionable clothes, Eiko Magami (aka A-ko) takes a job at a fast food outlet. When handsome motorcyclist Kei Yuki walks in he triggers a new burst of rivalry between Eiko and Biko Daitokuji (aka B-ko). Unhappily for them both, Kei only has eyes for C-ko, who, for her part, can't stand him for stealing A-ko's attention. All four are invited to a ball at the marooned alien spaceship, which has re-opened once more after being trashed in the previous instalment of the franchise. The spaceship - now a pleasure palace complete with restaurants, shopping malls, discos and theme parks - will become the flash point in a four-way love polygon. Will the prince get his Cinderella? Does Cinderella care? Will the "ugly stepsisters" get their just desserts? And, waiting in the wings in case trouble breaks out, is the city's volunteer defence force just itching for a rumble.

Production details:
Release date: 20 June 1988
Director / storyboard / character design / animation director: Yuji Moriyama
Studios: Fantasia & APPP
Screenplay: Tomoko Kawasaki
Episode director: Shoichi Masuo
Music: Hiromoto Tobisawa
Original story: Katsuhiko Nishijima, Kazumi Shirasaka and Yuji Moriyama
Art director: Satoshi Matsudaira
Mechanical design: Koichi Ohata


Top left: A-ko and C-ko.
Top right: A-ko and B-ko - the image is a lie.
Thereafter: A-ko plays dress up and realises she needs some money.


Comments: The by now oh-so-tired franchise brings us "Project A-ko the Rom-Com", an indifferently drawn and animated effort that attempts feebly to add a new ingredient to the recipe: a love polygon. A-ko loves Kei, the handsome motorcyclist; B-ko isn't sure whether she loves C-ko or Kei, so long as she gets what A-ko wants; Kei loves C-ko; while C-ko remains the only one with a constant heart. Sure, there's scope for plenty of absurd mayhem, but this 45 minute OAV never comes near the heights reached previously. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable? Was it too much to expect that "divine inspiration", could strike again? Not likely. This comes across to me as an exercise in wringing yet more profit from the reputation of the marvellous original. Miracles are never born from cynicism.

Much is promised, but very little is delivered. The polygon could have been hilariously excruciating in the hands of a more capable writer or director. The three central female characters and the object of desire, Kei, have enough comic potential to carry one humiliation after another, if it's rapid fire and sufficiently ridiculous. Instead, A-ko merely simpers and whimpers, B-ko pouts, C-ko sulks, and Kei looks on cluelessly. The unfulfilled promise doesn't stop there. The limited animation betrays how restricted the budget must have been. Even the money shots use short cuts. The much anticipated showdown between the two fighting girls peters out into stares, grimaces and a cursory battle devoid of any physical contact. The most energetic sequence - the mobilisation of citizen defence units set to a reprise of one of the musical pieces from the original film - likewise goes nowhere. Everyone is left staring at the towering spaceship, wondering what might be going on.


Top: B-ko and her grand entrance to the ball.
Middle left: Object of desire, Kei. Right: B-ko's school gang play their part.
Bottom left: Yawara Inokuma and her grandfather from the manga Yawara! appear momentarily at A-ko's fast food outlet.
Bottom right: Magical girls and giant robots are but part of the citizen security force.


All is not lost. The OAV has things going for it. There are several clever ideas that are funny conceptually but too often fall flat in execution. For example, as part of the citizen mobilisation, a pool of water, slides to one side - a la Thunderbirds or Mazinger Z - to reveal a gigantic cavern below ground with a mother ship in the process of launching rocket planes that will shortly combine into a giant robot. The first gag is that who knew private citizens had built themselves such an elaborate structure, just in case? The second is that a fountain in the centre of the pool remains attached to the top of the mother ship. Like I said, funny in concept but hardly rolling on the floor stuff. Among the pluses can be counted the sepia-toned opening sequence where what I take to be the three main characters in adult form are playing pool in a bar. The scene has a sultry, seedy atmosphere quite unlike anything else in the OAV proper. Likewise the use of classical music in unexpected or inappropriate settings works well. Stand out is the famous opening adagio from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata accompanying a lesbian sex scene in a movie theatre. The movie is interrupted by an on-screen call to mobilisation from a bevy of naked teenage girls. And, of course, A-ko herself is a likeable character with her Buster Keaton / Jackie Chan clownish physicality and for whom things never work out as they should. (A-ko's dress up scene is a riff on Buster Keaton's medley of hats from Steamboat Bill, Jr.)

Rating: a generous so-so. The movie theatre sequence is emblematic of the OAV: a sort of coitus interruptus, all build up but a fizzer at the climax.
+: some clever / funny ideas, use of music, opening animation sequence, the citizen mobilisation sequence, A-ko
-: dull love polygon, prosaic artwork and limited animation, not funny enough for a comedy and not enough activity for an action anime, climax is a let down.

Resources
Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody, Discotek / Eastern Star
ANN
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:29 am; edited 4 times in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:12 am Reply with quote
Before I get onto the next anime in my grand survey, I want to bring to your attention an extended quote from Anime: A History. It is highly relevant to today's review and touches upon one of the motivating factors in the survey: to counter a possible Anglophone perception that the history of anime is punctuated by a small number of key releases that "revolutionised" the art form. A good illustration of this attitude can be seen in this web article that examines the very issue: A look at "The Four Revolutions of Anime". The cited four are Space Battleship Yamato, Mobile Suit Gundam, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Admittedly Lawrence Eng wrote this article in 2004 and is responding to an on-line discussion on the significance of the four. Eng concurs with the choices, acknowledges the influence of Osamu Tezuka, dismisses both Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki and suggests that Akira could be added to the list.

I think the basic premise is wrong. The history of anime is more complex and diverse than such a reductionist approach might suggest. More particularly, anime has evolved so far in the last sixteen years that the influence of those five titles (if I include Akira among them) is hardly discernible in anime produced in the last couple of years. The Toei magical girls of the 1960s and 70s are more easily observed nowadays in characters, narratives and themes. If the influence of the five lingers on today it is mainly through remakes (Evangelion and Space Battleship Yamato) or sequels (Gundam).

Here's the quote:

Jonathon Clements wrote:
The history of Japanese animation often assumes a teleological aspect, focused implicitly through the gaze of the foreign viewer, as if everything must somehow build towards the viewer’s first anime experience. One’s first anime, be it Akira or Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (2001, Spirited Away) or Naruto (2002), is framed as a moment of illumination, an end to anime prehistory, and all events before that moment are merely shadowy preparation – Megill (2007: 33) would call this an error of memory or tradition. Because of the sheer amount of Japanese animation available in translation, coverage of anime in languages other than Japanese favours the level of access, manifested as plot synopses, reviews or semiotic analyses. In academia and fan communities alike, it also tends to reflect viewers’ own aesthetic bias, and often a fan-centred tradition that valorises the companies with the strongest publicity or convention presence. It is notable, for example, that so much ink is spilled on the works of otaku-focused companies such as Production IG and Madhouse, whereas Tōei Animation (makers of One Piece, 1999), Studio Pierrot (makers of Naruto) and Oriental Light and Magic (makers of Pokémon) dwarf them in sales.

Many writers are often apt to imagine that anime has magically appeared out of nowhere in the late 1980s, unaware of the precedence of ‘hidden imports’ in overseas markets during the previous decades. All too often, it is assumed that reaction and reception to anime in the author’s homeland is a universal constant both there and in every other country, whereas, as Ernst Bloch once wrote, ‘not all people live in the same Now’ (Burke 2008: 24). Although there was a degree of transnational rationalisation in the globalised late 1990s and early 2000s, particularly after the introduction of the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) made simultaneous, or near-simultaneous multiple-language releases of the same object much more likely, the narrative of anime history before the DVD is widely different from territory to territory.


- Anime: A History, Palgrave Macmillan, Kindle edition.

Last thing before getting onto Akira. From time to time as the survey has progressed I've commented on how non-English speaking countries were more willing to air anime with female protagonists. A simple explanation had escaped me until this recent thread where RedSwirl makes the obvious point that, "English-speaking countries were already filling their TV schedules with Hollywood-produced material, and were thus less willing to dub foreign shows." Or subtitle them, for that matter. Continental Europe, Central and South America and the Middle East needed foreign programs to fill their television broadcast schedules, so adapting Japanese content would have been, in terms of expense or effort, little different from adapting English content. I am grateful that this has enabled me to watch otherwise unobtainable anime.

Beautiful Fighting Girl marginalia: Kei,



Akira

Synopsis: Kei is a member of an underground cell trying to bring down the ruling classes of (a very 1988 looking) Neo Tokyo in the aftermath of World War III and on the eve of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (well, they got the war wrong but how prescient was that Olympics prediction!). When her group attacks a shopping mall she catches the eye of delinquent motorcycle gang leader, Kaneda. He joins them in their infiltration of a government complex where human subjects with telekinetic powers - among them motorcycle gang member Tetsuo - are studied. Tetsuo uses his prodigious powers to escape and finds himself drawn to the partly constructed Olympic precinct where the remains of Akira, the most powerful of his telekinetic predecessors, are stored. As the resentful, maltreated Tetsuo's powers escalate to unearthly levels Kaneda, with Kei in tow, races to find him before he destroys the city.

Production details:
Release date: 16 July 1988
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo (manga artist who dabbled successfully in anime and whose directorial efforts include: The Order to Stop Construction segment of Labyrinth Tales, which was released in the West in the wake of Akira as Neo-Tokyo; the opening, ending and eponymous segments of Robot Carnival; the overall supervision of Memories and specifically the Cannon Fodder segment; Steamboy; the live-action movie version of Mushishi; and the Combustible segment of Short Peace)
Studio: TMS
Source material: the manga Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo, published in Weekly Young Magazine from 06 December 1982 to 11 June 1990.
Script: Izo Hashimoto and Katsuhiro Otomo
Music: Shoji Yamashiro
Character design: Takashi Nakamura (directed the Chicken Man and Red Neck segment of Robot Carnival; Catnapped! The Movie; A Tree of Palme; Fantastic Children; Shashinkan and Harmony)
Art director: Toshiharu Mizutani
Art: Hiroshi Ohno, Kazuo Ebisawa & Yuji Ikehata
Animation directors: Hiroaki Sato, Takashi Nakamura & Yoshio Takeuchi


Clockwise from top left: Is Tetsuo hallucinating? Or is he animating the toys?; Kaneda rescuing Kei;
Tetsuo body horror; his growing appendages assault Colonel Shikishima.


Comments: Having reviewed Akira in depth here my intention now is to note how my response to the film has evolved since then, discuss it in terms of its significance to the grand survey, then look at a couple of the female characters.

When I wrote the earlier review (April 2016) my exposure to Akira was via Madman's DVD release. Since then I've had the good fortune to see it in its original intended setting: a cinema. Thanks to the huge screen and quality audio at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the film's spectacle and visceral impact could be properly appreciated, easily compensating for its hyperbolic climax, unappealing characters and, paradoxically, confronting violence. (Can violence in film be justified by its aesthetic representation?) More recently I upgraded to Madman's Blu Ray version in anticipation of this review. The swaggering motorcycle sequences, Tetsuo's hallucinations while in captivity, and, above all, the mesmerising soundtrack can now be better experienced at home. I am still torn, however, between my appreciation of what the film achieves and my dislike of the content (reflecting my "aesthetic bias", to quote Clements again). Since 2016 I've upped my rating to good, but that hides how much I am simultaneously intrigued and repulsed. Furthermore, Akira's enormous success both in Japan and overseas raises the question of how much influence it had on anime at the time. Despite my doubts voiced above about its current relevance, I'm not wanting to deny it any role it may have played subsequent to its release. Another motivating factor in this survey was to educate myself; to learn where the beautiful fighting girl came from and what moulded her development. I don't doubt Akira played its part, so I'll be bearing that in mind as I progress through the survey.

Akira innovates to varying degrees in three areas. The first is in the detail of the artwork and the animation, which is largely a product of the available budget. People often cite Otomo's perfectionism and the budget at his disposal - the largest to that date for an anime film - but to my 2020 eyes the multi-planing too often draws attention to itself, the jumps between scenes are awkward at times, and the character movements and action sequences occasionally sluggish. The two Hayao Miyazaki films that bracket Akira, Laputa: Castle in Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service, are both superior in these areas. (According to Wikipedia, Kiki had an even higher budget.) Don't get me wrong - it's way ahead of the many OAVs I've covered of late. Those areas where the film shines reflect Otomo's background as a mangaka: in the detailed imagery and the frame composition.

As a cyberpunk milestone it needs to be remembered that, in anime form at least, it follows Ai City, Black Magic M-66 and Appleseed, although Otomo's manga version precedes all three in that format. Cyberpunk elements can be traced in manga and anime at least as far back as Cyborg 009, Toei's Miracle Girl Limit-chan or Cutie Honey and even perhaps Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis from 1949 (if the 2001 film, as altered as it is, is anything to go by). Nonetheless, around the world Akira became the breakthrough cyberpunk anime and is rightly associated closely with the genre.

In terms of this survey, Akira brings a new tone and a new sensibility. With few exceptions all the anime treated so far have had a comic lilt to them. The few exceptions have been dramas, ie Nozomi in the Sun, Belladonna of Sadness, The Rose of Versailles or Yotoden to name four. Since the Daicon films and Super Dimension Fortress Macross in particular, the prevailing temperament has been breezy, self-aware and self-mocking. Akira will have nothing of this. It has a bitterness, a pessimism and a nastiness not encountered hitherto. The closest has been the Tomino trio of Mobile Suit Gundam, Space Runaway Ideon and Aura Battler Dunbine. Thanks to his likeable, well meaning but deluded characters Tomino's vision of irredeemable, intractable human violence comes across as high tragedy. With Otomo the underlying adolescent anger in his characters and their unpleasant personas renders his vision of irredeemable, intractable human violence as bitter farce (with apologies to Karl Marx). As the survey proceeds I'll be interested to see if there is any tonal shift that may be attributable to Akira.


Akira's female characters, clockwise from top left: Kei; Kaori; the gang's girlfriends; and Kiyoko the geriatric child ESPer.

In the muscular, violent, technological worlds of Katsuhiro Otomo, women are either entirely absent (The Order to Stop Construction), insignificant or secondary to the men (Cannon Fodder and Stink Bomb from Memories). When they do have prominent roles they can be monstrous (Magnetic Rose from Memories or Scarlet from Steam Boy). While I think women are poorly treated in his anime, I will grant that his male characters are just as likely to cop it in the neck under his sarcastic gaze. His vision is not so much misogynistic as misanthropic. Kei is one of his better female creations even if her role is largely narrative, rather than thematic. She is both the love interest for the point of view character, Kaneda, and the narrative link that enables his entry into the research facility. Once that is achieved her significance declines. Her initially likeable tomboyish and independent personality reveals itself to be a facade as the anime progresses, though she's not the only one to crumble under pressure. I would describe her character development unkindly as a transfer of her allegiance from Ryu, the alpha male of the terrorist cell, to Kaneda, the alpha male of the motorcyle gang. Full marks, however, to Otomo for allowing her to retain control of her sexuality - she not only makes her own choices, but her appearance is devoid of the fetish elements common in its anime contemporaries. (Indeed, I sometimes had difficulty telling Kei and Kaneda apart.)

More problematic is Kaori, the sweet, timid, empathetic girl who appears to be the only person who actually likes Tetsuo. Her role is to be violated. Twice. Firstly by being sexually assaulted by members of a rival motorcycle gang the Clowns in retaliation for their earlier defeat on the streets of Neo Tokyo, then later to be absorbed into the fleshy body horror that Tetsuo becomes. The earlier scene is so gratuitous and so nasty that it sets me against the rest of the film. Oddly enough I find her being dumped on her nose more disturbing that having her top ripped off. The motorcycle rumbles may be more violent and result in worse injuries, but the participants are willing and ready to face the risks.

Rating: good
+ visual and sonic spectacle - some of the set piece scenes are still astonishing 32 years on - my favourites are the motorcycle rumble, Tetsuo's experiences in the research facility and the hovercraft sequences; sound track; Kaneda's motorcycle; the sour yet arresting tone new to anime at the time
- misanthropic world view; comprehensively unpleasant characters; portrayal of the female characters; gratuitous violence; plot steadily becomes more ridiculous as it proceeds

Resources:
Akira, Madman
ANN
Anime: A History, Jonathon Clements, Palgrave MacMillan via Kindle
The font of all knowledge
Lawrence Eng, A Look at the Four Revolutions of Anime
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
Anime: A Critical Introduction, Rayna Denison, Bloomsbury Academic
Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle, Susan Napier, St Martin's Griffin
Otaku: Japan's Data Animals, Hiroki Azuma, trans Jonathon E Abel and Shion Kono, University of Minnesota Press


What the sign says: do shite.

The final word:
(I love this guy's prose style.)

Philip Brophy wrote:
Japanese sci-fi is a catalogue of how the present will be cultured into the future, and Akira is the first and most prescient form of this approach. Less speculative fiction and more extrapolated perspective, Akira's industrial design, urban planning and architectural manifestations resonate with a distinctively Japanese sense of grounded imagining: the images it projects are case studies of the present's capacity to live beyond itself. The future, therefore, is not what will be, but how things will end up.


- 101 Anime, British Film Industry Publishing
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Errinundra
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Posts: 6545
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:32 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #98: Miyu Yamano,



Vampire Princess Miyu

Synopsis: Miyu is the daughter of vampire mother and human father. From the moment of her awakening she needs human blood to sustain her, but otherwise retains her human mortality, her reflection, an immunity to religious iconography, the ability to survive in sunlight, and isn't affected by garlic. Considered an abomination, the shinma (demon gods) send one of their own, Larva, to kill her. Instead, she drinks his blood and the commingling of their blood creates a bond between them. Relenting, the shinma decree that Miyu won't age until she and Larva have sent all the many vagrant shinma that have entered the human world back to the darkness from whence they came. This she sets out to do using her immense vampyric powers. But how, in 1988, does a vampire with a school girl's body get her haemoglobin fix? Well, it turns out that quite a few people are willing to volunteer for the dreamy sort of immortality she offers.

Production details:
Release dates: 21 July 1988 to 21 April 1989 (four episodes)
Original creators & storyboards: Narumi Kakinouchi & Toshihiro (aka Toshiki) Hirano
Director: Toshihiro (aka Toshiki) Hirano (Don't Do It, Mako! Mako Sexy Symphony arc of Cream Lemon; Fight! Iczer-One, Iczer Reborn and Iczelion; Dangaioh and Great Dangaioh; the TV version of Vampire Princess Miyu; Rayearth and Magic Knight Rayearth; and Baki, among others)
Studio: AIC
Manga: 吸血姫 美夕 (Vampaia Miyu) written by Toshihiro (aka Toshiki) Hirano and illustrated by Narumi Kakinouchi, publised in Suspiria from 1988 to 2002.
Character design: Narumi Kakinouchi
Animation directors: Narumi Kakinouchi & Masanori Nishii
Music: Kenji Kawai & Kohei Tanaka
Screenplay: Noboru Aikawa
Art Director: Yōji Nakaza & Yooichi Nangoo
Note: Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano are married. That's quite the team.


Miyu and her shinma servant, Larva. With his razor sharp fingernails, he does her slicing and dicing.
Her emotional dependence on him is unsettling.


Comments: If you don't mind me spending a paragraph on myself, the Vampire Princess Miyu franchise is something of a waymarker in the survey. I first fell in love with anime in late 2007 after watching Paprika at the Melbourne International Film Festival. This was at a time when access to anime was more limited than today: internet streaming was restricted to a small number of obscure sites and fansubs themselves were, for the most part, actually subtitled by fans rather than being rips. It seemed my only options were to buy anime sight unseen, rent it from the then still numerous video stores, or find someone with a ready made collection. (How the market has changed in only 13 years!) The someone with his own library was my nephew Michael. Despite being 30 years my junior, you might say he belongs to an anime fandom one generation before mine, where fansubs were duplicated on hard format and snail-mailed between fans. He graciously lent me a large selection from his store of titles, among them the TV remake from 1997, which I duly got around to watching in late 2008. The quality was dismal - probably around 120p or 240p, but Miyu belongs to that wonder period in the early days of my fandom and forms part of my end to "anime prehistory" as per Jonathon Clements, as quoted in my previous post. There I gave one of the motivating factors for the survey (presenting an alternative to prevailing Anglophone histories of anime); another was to discover from where Miyu and other female protagonists evolved - to explore the then obscure prehistory of my own anime experience. To my neophyte eyes of 2008, the TV series was silly and twee, not helped at all by the vile quality of the fansub reproduction. A little later I managed to track down and watch a fansub of the more compelling OAV and, for this survey, got a hold of the AnimEigo release of the OAV along with the Maiden Japan release of the TV series (but more on that when the survey reaches 1997).

Outside of niche pornographic releases - and it is worth noting that husband and wife team Kakinouchi and Hirano made significant contributions to Cream Lemon - the combination of supernatural horror and school girls hasn't featured heavily to date in the grand survey. There have been some - Call Me Tonight, The Laughing Target and Hirano's own Fight! Iczer One - but the survey has been dominated by comical sci-fi heroines and chirpy magical girls. A direct genealogical line can be seen from Cream Lemon to Vampire Princes Miyu (which, I must stress, isn't pornographic even allowing that Miyu and other female characters are highly fetishised). But Miyu is also a magical girl of sorts, transforming from her school uniform into her vampire form with her gold eyes, red sash and ribbon, missing sandal and split to the waist skirt all inviting the observer to eternal ecstasy. The design is simultaneously gorgeous and vaguely unsettling. It also brings to mind - thanks to the ribbon - both Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and her doppelganger Yuri Nakamura (Angel Beats!). Miyu is their link to the ancestral Toei girls via Studio Pierrot (albeit less genki and more sullen than Creamy Mami and her ilk).

As with Akira - released five days earlier - Miyu brings her own, fresh tone and sensibility to the survey. Partly due to the creative vision of Kakinouchi and Hirano, but also thanks to the limited means at their disposal, the OAV subsumes plot, character development, action and animation to mood, imagery, tempo and style. Profane beauty mixes with long, monochrome pans of cryptic images; Kenji Kawai's otherworldly melodies mix oddly with electronic sounds; the old city of Kyoto lies brooding before us rather than anime's more familiar highly developed and bustling Tokyo (particularly noticeable after watching Akira); boys can be as beautiful as girls and as much objects of desire; and Miyu herself intrigues with her contradictory roles of saviour and killer, of mundane school girl and ineffable vampire. That might sound something of a rap, but the OAV frequently descends into banality - mainly in its depiction of supernatural events and creatures. The anime is better at suggestion than it is in revelation; at portraying unease rather than horror; at expressing ambiguity rather than certainty.


Beauty is consistently presented off kilter.
Top left: spiritualist Himiko Se isn't the genuine thing.
Top right: a shinma victim.
Bottom: best, creepiest and most sympathetic villain, Ranka the shinma.


Ambiguity and deception are central themes. Miyu is human and vampire, protector and bloodsucker, powerful and fragile, a coquettish school girl with an irritating giggle yet who occasionally displays a wisdom attained from a long life. She is Larva's commander yet clings to him childishly. His Noh mask is both a symbol of his entrapment and a hint of his shinma power. The most memorable shinma - Ranka from episode two who vies with Miya for the affection of a classmate - is simultaneously arrestingly beautiful and creepy, both horrifying and sympathy inducing. The point of view character Himiko Se may be a spiritualist, but she's a charlatan and a cynic. She gleans the truth of her unimagined yet long connection with Miyu then has it promptly erased. Shinma pose as people and people keep secrets from one another. Everything is a facade and beneath the surface is... well, nothing really. Best to enjoy the sensations without pressing too hard for any significance.

Prime among those surface qualities are the OAV's fascination with beauty, unmatched so far in the survey, even if sometimes its ambitions are beyond its reach. I'm reminded of Akiyuko Shinbo's Le Portrait de Petit Cossette which similarly attempts to mix unworldly beauty with supernatural horror, and likewise trips up with the latter, where the other-dimensional bloodletting is forced, overstated and unconvincing. Interestingly, Shinbo would, far more effectively, explore the innately vampyric nature of the eternally young magical girl in Puella Magi Madoka Magica where his protagoinists are regenerated by killing witches who themselves get their power by bringing death and misery to humans. So, to an extent, Miyu is a pivotal character in the evolution of anime: inheritor of legacies from Sally the Witch to Magical Idol Pastel Yumi and equal parts from Cream Lemon, and forebear to many an atmospheric and stylish anime to come.

Rating: decent
+ character designs (mostly); atmosphere; ambiguity; imagery
- unconvincing depiction of supernatural elements, including Miyu's bloodsucking needs; the whole thing is mostly fluff - don't search for anything significant, just enjoy the images and the moods

Resources:
Vampire Princess Miyu Volumes One & Two, AnimEigo
ANN
The font of all knowledge
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design
Anime: A History, Jonathon Clements, Palgrave MacMillan via Kindle
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:33 am; edited 4 times in total
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9906
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
Quote:
It seemed my only options were to buy anime sight unseen, rent it from the then still numerous video stores, or find someone with a ready made collection. (How the market has changed in only 13 years!)


I got into anime in 1997 a decade before you. Yes, the market has really changed since then. At that time the format of choice was VHS tape. Fortunately, in the US at least, there was enough legal anime being offered that I never had to resort to fan subs. I'm not sure if I could have found a source for them even if I wanted to.

I didn't have access to anyone with a back log like your nephew so almost everything I bought was a blind buy. All I had to go on was the box art, the blurb and if I was lucky, a review or two from one of the magazines out then (most notably Animerica from Viz). In addition, everything available seemed to exist in the same time frame. There was no indication of this season's (or even this year's) anime. In fact, I first came to ANN to check the Encyclopedia since most companies would not indicate if a show was only two years old or was five or more years out in Japan. They were also careful to not tell you how many volumes of anime or manga you were signing up for when you bought volume 1.

The other thing is there was little enough anime available that it was all significant. Every new release got a write up from the magazines and earlier releases were still discussed as significant. Now we are drowning in new anime. Every season offers more new anime than were available in the first several years I was watching and collecting. Back then I bought and watched a lot of shows I wouldn't be attracted to now. Today I can pick and choose what I watch. I don't think the past was better, but it sure was different.
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Errinundra
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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:33 pm Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
...The other thing is there was little enough anime available that it was all significant. Every new release got a write up from the magazines and earlier releases were still discussed as significant. Now we are drowning in new anime. Every season offers more new anime than were available in the first several years I was watching and collecting. Back then I bought and watched a lot of shows I wouldn't be attracted to now. Today I can pick and choose what I watch. I don't think the past was better, but it sure was different.


Developing from that, I've noticed that the the timing around the peak chatter for anime titles has shifted since I became a fan. Ten years ago it peaked in the wake of the English language DVD release. Now it occurs during the simultaneous Japanese and English broadcasts. There is so much competition now for the fan's attention that many titles don't get the exposure they deserve.

It could be much worse. I find it hard to imagine now the world before video recording when we were dependent on the whims of the program selectors at our local television stations.
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:31 am Reply with quote
I remember those days. Prime time was dominated by three networks in the US. The local program selectors were limited to off peak hours. Most of that was old movies and cartoons intended for showing before the movies. Most drama shows were episodic since they would be shown once only. Miss an episode and you would have to hope it would be shown in reruns during the summer. Movies were just as bad once a show left the local theater it was gone unless you lived in a big enough city to have art houses (I didn't). Eventually movies would begin to show on TV after their initial run.

During that period we got almost nothing that was foreign. The first non US made shows I saw on TV were BBC productions shown on the Public Broadcasting Network. The first I ever saw a foreign movie was when I was in college.
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Blood-
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Joined: 07 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:37 am Reply with quote
I feel fortunate to have become a fan when I did, in January 2009. Yes, it was just before the streaming deluge, but on the physical side NA distribs were moving away from the singles model where a disc would only have about three episodes to half season and even full season collections. I can't imagine what it must have been like in the VHS days! I don't think there has ever been a better time to be an anime fan. Virtually everything gets a simul release and many of those go on to get phyiscal releases as well.
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:43 am Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
I feel fortunate to have become a fan when I did, in January 2009. Yes, it was just before the streaming deluge, but on the physical side NA distribs were moving away from the singles model where a disc would only have about three episodes to half season and even full season collections. I can't imagine what it must have been like in the VHS days! I don't think there has ever been a better time to be an anime fan. Virtually everything gets a simul release and many of those go on to get phyiscal releases as well.


I got into the anime scene in 1986 when, if you wanted to watch anime, you had to go to a science-fiction convention and hope to find people in the dealer's room that were selling anime bootleg tapes with no subtitles, where we tried to figure out the story just by what was going on onscreen! It wasn't until around '92 or '93 that you started to see subtitled anime being legitimately released on VHS. At that time, my friends and I also happened to find a Japanese supermarket that sold and rented tapes recorded from Japanese broadcasts. The quality was actually fairly good. As an added bonus, they also had the commercials intact! That's how we actually watched Evengelion when it first aired in Japan.
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Blood-
Bargain Hunter



Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 23927
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:52 pm Reply with quote
Oooo-eeee, Beltane70, I think those barriers would have been a little too steep for me to climb to have become a fan in that era. I feel positively spoiled!
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:30 pm Reply with quote
By the time I got into anime it became obvious that there was a long history and a well established fandom. Forums like that run by AnimEigo and various "circles" of websites made me feel not just new, but that I had come to the table after the meal was over and that I could never catch up. It took a long time for that to wear off. It still kinda weirds me out to realize just how long I've been doing this.

At the time, people were still mad about Robotech and other heavily localized shows. They were absolutely outraged at what had been done to create Robotech but many also admitted (sometimes in the same paragraph) that the show had been their gateway into anime. Rolling Eyes
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