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


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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1779
Location: South America
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 3:13 pm Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
Errinundra, you do realize that this is heresy, don't you. According to a very vocal minority of posters, the 1980s were the golden age of anime and that the anime from that period is all good. Wink Supposedly it has all been down hill since then, and nothing more than meh has been put out since.


Well, if you have to watch everything from a period then you are going to watch a huge amount of mediocre and bad stuff.

The 80s are a sort of golden age because it was the period when anime became more of a medium rather than just shounen and shojo TV show adaptations: you had 5 Ghibli movies which are all classics (Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, etc) you also have other Takahata movies, Akira, Wings of Honneamise, tons of OVAs, in particular Gunbuster and Legend of Galatic Heroes. Still anime by 1989 was still mostly childrens shows and science fiction aimed at young men. I guess it was only after Evangelion in 95-96 that anime really developed into a full medium: in the 10 years after Evangelion from 97 to 2007 there was more variety than ever before with lots of stuff from many genres.
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 8:27 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
There's a distinctive tone and style in 1980s anime


I agree, and I have no problem when they admit it is a matter of personal preference. It is when they start to proclaim that "old school" anime is objectively better than anything since that I start talking back to the computer. My own belief is that any given period has a few excellent shows, an awful lot of stuff in the middle that ranges from entertaining to time wasters and a handful of really dismal stuff. I suspect that if you plotted it out you would get a standard statistical bell curve. Now if we could just get people to agree on where each show falls on the plot. Wink

@Jose Cruz

There is an implication in calling something a "golden age" that it is some how better than what went before or has happened since. Because of this I don't like to use the term. Every period has its strengths and weaknesses. The 1980s were different but not better or worse than periods since then.

I certainly think that the 1980s were a pioneering period. According to what I have read and seen there was a lot of experimentation during that period. However, you can always tell the pioneers, they are the ones with arrows in their backs. For everyone who reaches the goal there are others who left their bones moldering by the trail.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:17 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl index
****

This replacement review was originally posted on 21 February 2021, but has been subsequently moved here so the Beautiful Fighting Girls survey can be read in the chronological order of the original released dates.

The review of MAPS that originally appeared in this post has been moved here so that it too appears in its correct chronological order.

Beautiful Fighting Girl #114: Lemnear,



Legend of Lemnear
(Kyokuguro no Tsubasa Barukisasu, ie Valquisas Wings of Absolute Black)

Synopsis: Lemnear is a warrior travelling the land seeking vengeance upon a wizard, Gardin, who killed her parents, along with the rest of her village, when she was a child. Her investigations lead her to a city ruled by a warlord named Vuan where she is captured and added to his harem. There she learns that she may be the legendary Champion of Silver who will save the world from Vuan and his master, Gardin. Escaping the harem and killing Vuan, Lemnear travels to the floating castle Valquisas and defeats Gardin, only to discover that he is just the (literal) right arm of the monstrous Champion of Gold, Barol. With the help of her trusty flying stead, Vakku, and the entrapped Champion of Bronze, Mesh, Lemnear must endure pain and suffering, release her dormant powers and learn Barol's one weakness.

Production details:
Release date: 25 July 1989
Studio: AIC
Original concept: Kinji Yoshimoto, Satoshi Urushihara & Toru Miura
Director, screenplay & storyboards: Kinji Yoshimoto (went on to direct Kekko Kamen, Plastic Little, End of Summer, Natural Obsessions 2, Another Lady Innocent, Night Shift Nurses: Experiment, Genshiken 2, Queen's Blade franchise, I couldn't become a hero, so I reluctantly decided to get a job, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, Seven Mortal Sins and Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest)
Music: Norimasa Yamanaka
Character design & animation director: Satoshi Urushihara
Art Director: Yoshinari Kinbako
Note: a subsequent manga, Kyokuguro no Tsubasa Barukisasu - written by Kinji Yoshimoto and illustrated by Satoshi Urushihara was published in Comic Nora from September 1991 to February 1993.

Comments: As the grand surveys draws toward the end of the 1980s I find myself continuing to wade through OAV sludge from the decade. In another forgettable AIC effort, we now get a riff on the bikini clad warrior girl introduced in anime like Cream Lemon and its fanservice laden successors - whether pornographic or otherwise - such as Leda - the Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, Dream Hunter Rem or Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora. What's more, if you cast your eye over Kinji Yoshimoto's resumé, or if you read Bamboo Dong's 2004 Shelf Life comments, you'd be forgiven for wondering if Legend of Lemnear is pornographic. I suppose you could rate it as soft porn: the harem scenes have copious amounts of exposed breasts and Lemnear's skin is featured frequently and prominently. The image below of her leaping across a table in the harem is about as explicit as the anime gets. Any likely visual offence is mitigated by artwork and animation that are surprisingly good for AIC (though, admittedly, the version I watched appears to a rip of the 1995 American release - or the 2004 re-issue - rather than a fansub). It's not the nudity that bothered me, but, rather, the viciousness in the sexual assaults and how the creators use a female protagonist, and her body, in their narrative. Beautiful fighting girls can be amazing or subversive at their best. They can also target our basest impulses or perpetuate dangerous notions about female roles and identity. This tension lies at the heart of the genre and is a theme central to this survey.


Lemnear images.
Top: Lemnear and Mesh fly into battle againts Barol; and leaping about in the harem.
Middle: Lakku, her dragon / giant bird steed.
Bottom: meeting a sticky end before the latent power within her erupts.


This post already has two shout outs (Kekko Kamen and Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora) to Go Nagai, the prolific manga artist and producer who introduced the manga and anime world to the erotically charged nature of shame and whose female characters are frequently treated vindictively. Cruelty as entertainment scythes its way through the history of anime from Go Nagai, via Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hideaki Anno. The success of Puella Magi Madoka Magica unleashed a flood of anime where sweet, young girls are treated brutally or put through the most hellish of ordeals. (I'm thinking of Made in Abyss as I write this.) The issue was raised on the very first page of this thread in my review of Noir. Does my satisfaction at the final triumph of the female protagonist atone for the quickening of my pulse as she is facing certain harm? What justification need there be to portray an assault on a female body? For sure, male bodies are often violently assaulted in anime - think just about every shounen anime ever made - but assaults on females have a sexual context as often as not. In the bottom left image in the group above, Lemnear's perfect body is repeatedly and bloodily pierced, spotlighted by the look of bewildered innocence as she expires. The most uncomfortable scene is an incipient rape (Lemnear intervenes in the nick of time), made all the worse by an added racist undercurrent when a large, dark-skinned man uses brute strength to ensure he has first dibs.

By raising these issues, which are germane to the survey, I've probably made the anime seem much worse than it merits. The thing hardly pauses to take breath. That's both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it's never dull; a curse in that it never has any depth beyond sensation. We never get to know Lemnear beyond her eye-candy body and positive outlook (positive, despite her revenge motivation). Hey! at least, for all the degradations she suffers, she never displays any Go Nagai shame. No blushing for this determined young woman.


Villains (clockwise): Gardin, Barol, Vuan, and one of the would-be rapists.

The visuals owe a debt to Jean Giraud (also known as Moebius - see my review of Dragon's Heaven) via Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, especially in the OP. People have also drawn a comparison between Lemnear and Taarna from the American animated film Heavy Metal. Makes sense, given that the Taarna segments adapted the Moebius story, Arzach. Being an anime fan, I much, much prefer Lemnear's design. Other designs are less appealing: Gardin looks like a beetle or giant cockroach, while Barol's various transformations are sufficiently over-the-top to undermine the horror they're meant to convey. And the naked bodies? They're all the same from the neck down, indicating a lack of variety in the imaginations of the OAV's creators. Clements and McCarthy sum up "the halfhearted plot and lovingly drawn cheesecake" nicely,

Clements and McCarthy wrote:
LoL suffers from an oversimplification of audience demands—realistically bouncing breasts and massive collateral damage will not make an anime work. They can add to its appeal (see Gunbuster), but more discerning fans demand plot and characterization. Urushihara and Yoshimoto are clearly masters of their craft, but masters to the extent that, when given control of a production, they ignore many important aspects in order to concentrate on their beloved designs.


And at the climax? Lemnear must awaken the power of the Champion of Bronze - a male - to defeat the big bad. She can't even do it on her own without a male helping her. So disappointing.

Rating: not really good.
+ Lemnear's character design, animation and artwork are better than normal for AIC
- nudity and gendered violence will bother some people, ends up being a pastiche of scenes and characters that never manages to get the viewer invested

Resources:
ANN
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
The font of all knowledge



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:10 am; edited 4 times in total
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2021 6:45 am Reply with quote
The review of Isabelle of Paris that originally appeared in this post has been moved here so that it appears in its correct chronological order.

****
It will be a couple of weeks until the next review. I've discovered another older anime I'd like to include - Tokimeki Tonight - that's 34 episodes long.


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Redbeard 101
Oscar the Grouch
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2021 9:23 pm Reply with quote
More and more I feel like this is becoming a sort of anime history thread. Which btw is is awesome. I just feel like anymore when I see there are new posts here I start thinking to myself, "I wonder what anime/animated title I am going to learn about today".
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:08 pm Reply with quote
Same for me. Each time I get to a new show in the list it's like I'm visiting somewhere for the first time. Funnily enough the more I explore anime the smaller the anime world seems to be becoming.

One curious thing is that having started watching anime in the 00s then later starting this project - which is now at the end of the 80s - the 90s are comparatively obscure to me.
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3908
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:42 pm Reply with quote
One of the things that I like about this project is the fact that what's obscure to you is old and familiar to me since I started watching anime regularly since 1985. Even with that, you still manage to find stuff from the 80s and 90s that I either never heard of, or have long forgotten about!
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Dayraven



Joined: 21 Jul 2021
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:13 am Reply with quote
Isabelle of Paris is one of those “nice opening sequence, why didn’t you make that show?” anime.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2021 7:04 am Reply with quote
That's an apt judgement. If the tone of the OP had been maintained, it would have made for a memorable anime.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2021 5:38 am Reply with quote
The review of Tokimeki Tonight that originally appeared in this post has been moved here so that it appears in its correct chronological order.

Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:26 am; edited 3 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2021 10:54 am Reply with quote
This certainly sounds like a fun series! Episode 20 sounds very reminiscent of episode 38 of Urusei Yatsura, "Steal Darling! The Copy Operation!!" where multiples of Ataru Moroboshi are created by a copy gun and wind up chasing just about every woman in Tomobiki.

I also find it neat that this series premiered in the same week of October that Super Dimension Fortress Macross did!
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:05 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #115: You "Angel" Mikawa,



Angel Cop

Synopsis: Angel is a member of the elite Special Security Force tasked with ensuring the secure handling of an extradited leader of the communist Red May organisation. To their dismay he is snatched from their grasp on his very public arrival in Tokyo. When Angel and rest of the team set out to track him down they find mangled corpses of Red May members that reveal the activities of a group of psychic "hunters" bent on wiping out the revolutionaries. The SSF will learn that the Red May group, the hunters and they themselves are all pawns in a vast conspiracy, aided and abetted by a faction of Japanese politicians, that aims to cripple Japan economically, reduce it to chaos and leave it ripe for use as a nuclear waste dump by an overseas cabal.

Production details:
Release date: 01 September 1989
Creator, director and screenplay: Ichiro Itano (directed Megazone 23 Part 2, Battle Royal High School, Violence Jack 2, Star Dust, Gantz and Blassreiter)
Studio: DAST Corporation; Studio 88
Music: Kan Ogasawara
Character design: Nobuteru Yuki
Mechanical design: Koichi Ohata, Masaharu Tomoda & Yasuhiro Moriki
Among the production staff can be found Yasuomi Umetsu (directed Presence from Robot Carnival, Kite, Mezzo Forte, Mezzo, Kite Liberator, Kiss and Cry, Dante's Inferno, Galilei Donna and Wizard Barristers)
A tie-in manga was released in Newtype magazine from June to September 1989, with story and art by Taku Kitazaki

Note: This review is based upon the unexpurgated subtitle version. I didn't have the stomach to watch it yet again via either the bowdlerised subtitle version or the profanity-laden dub.

Comments: Angel Cop is notorious for its gratuitous violence, the anti-American and anti-Semitic posturing in the original Japanese version, an over-the-top dub and a scenario that doesn't bear critical scrutiny. Despite all that, it does one or two things passably well and, more importantly, in terms of the grand survey, the main character, Angel, is an important link in anime's development of one strand of beautiful fighting girl: deadly serious, adult and with a combat skill set at her disposal.



The good guys?
Top: Isamu "Raiden" Sakata before and after his cyberisation.
Middle: SSF leader Kaisho Taki might be an honest cop but he has no qualms torturing detainees (here Red May leader Tachihara).
Bottom left: cyberisation engineer / scientist Ichihara.
Bottom right: SSF operative Yuuji "Hacker" Fuse.


To this point in the survey there have been few others like Angel. Most of the heroines so far have been magical girls and their derivatives, or developed from the "splashes of crimson" in shows with male protagonists aimed at a male audience and, in both lineages, usually having a comedic bent. Here's the list (remember - protagonist, adult, serious, with fighting skills): Françoise Arnoul (Cyborg 009); Maetel (Galaxy Express 999); Oscar de Jarjayes (The Rose of Versailles); Remy Shimada (GoShogun: The Time Étranger, as opposed to the original TV version of her); Ayame Hayami (Yotoden); Deunan Knute (the Appleseed OAV, as opposed to the manga version) and Rainu Kizuki (Explorer Woman Ray). In the wake of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell in 1995 anime would enter a golden period of some twelve years with several memorable examples of the type and arguably culminating with Balsa from Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (this survey should elucidate Balsa's significance, if I get that far). More particularly, Angel is the link between Ayame Hayami and Motoko Kusanagi, with the supernatural adornments of the former and cyberpunk elements of the latter.

Indeed, each time I've watched Angel Cop I've had the powerful feeling that I'm in the presence of Ghost in the Shell's ugly sibling. Both franchises have a sexy and capable police officer as protagonist. They could even pass as sisters. Unlike Kusanagi, Angel is, as far I can tell, completely human, although apparently she is partly cyberised in the manga. Both women work covertly for a secret section of the police force unburdened by normal legal niceties. Each anime begins with a regular police action, albeit with cyberpunk intonations, but quickly acquires metaphysical overtones. Both sections have a leader (Kaisho Taki and Daisuke Aramaki) who is unwaveringly dedicated to his principles yet isn't averse to adopting unorthodox, violent or underhand methods to achieve his goals. Both men engage in subterranean warfare with their corrupt political superiors. Both departments will be face dismantling and the staff marked for execution. Angel Cop even has an SSF member - Yuuji "Hacker" Fuse - who is part Batou (and part Duke Togo from Golgo 13) and who's voiced by Batou's seiyu, Akio Ohtsuka. Catch is, Angel Cop pre-dates the first anime version of Ghost in the Shell by some six years. Coincidentally, both manga versions began serialisation in Newtype in May 1989, so who knows who's borrowing from whom? Perhaps they were both products of the zeitgeist.

On an important level, comparing Angel to Kusanagi is unhelpful. Where the latter is a fully drawn character, Angel is largely a cypher. She may as well be a cyborg for all the personality she displays. The viewer learns little to nothing of her personal life, habits, preferences or feelings about the other characters. Her dialogue is largely concerned with the action at hand, or it's expository or, worst of all, rhetorical at the most banal and superficial level. Early on she reveals that her commitment to her notion of justice is such that she would kill a child without remorse if it were necessary to stop a terrorist. (In fairness to her, that attitude may have softened by the end of the series.)


The bad guys clockwise from top left: Lucifer - the near-unkillable leader of the "hunters";
Freya begs her victims to run away before incinerating them; evil mastermind Governor Maisaka; and rock star "hunter" Asura.
The names of most of the characters are taken from pantheons around world.


The other characters are little different: all marionettes to the narrative with simple, exaggerated traits, lacking any sort of internal life and without interest to the viewer. Every character is either vicious, cruel or remorseless, and, likely as not, a combination of the three. And like Angel, they have a predilection for spouting contradictory nonsense. One of the psychic hunters (who looks like a 1970s rock star - think Brian May or Jimmy Page in their pomp) is a gentle soul who believes in a peaceful transition to a more just world, except that he's going to achieve this by eviscerating the Red May members. He eventually rebels against his hunter leader's violent methods by trying to carve her up as well. Another example is the seemingly principled chief Kaisho Taki whose interrogation methods are unethical (to put it politely) and who, in episode six, spouts a stream of anti-American and anti-Jewish bullshit (to put in impolitely). It is so piss-weak, reeking of laziness every bit as much as it does racial hostility and wilful ignorance. But it's typical of an anime that seeks to be sensational rather than clever, with characters who are unpleasant without being interesting, and a plot that could have been an immersive tangle of schemes within schemes but ended up a sequence of ugly slayings without anyone questioning the underlying purpose, and all interspersed with increasingly tiresome exposition and increasingly daft philosophical posturing.

Among the better things going for the OAV are the consistency of its tone and the terrifyingly ugly nature of the world that Angel and the others inhabit. There's no humour to soften the mood and little camaraderie between allies. (The absence of wit leaves me hesitant to describe the anime as noir, in spite of cyberpunk's close relation to the genre.) All the character designs are deliberately ugly; their speech is devoid of warmth. The locations, like the rhetoric, are banal: streets, offices and power stations, and just as likely to bring extinction as provide utility. The music is repetitive but highly effective, setting a mood of unease where violence might erupt at any moment. Here I'll give a big plus to easily the best thing in the anime: the strange, also repetitive, and yet beguiling ending theme "Itami" (Pain) from Crayon-sha. Lead singer Yukie Yaginuma sings with a conviction and sincerity lacking elsewhere.

If you like gory anime with creepy characters, then Angel Cop delivers by the spadeful. The deliberately charged atmosphere leaves me wondering if the politics espoused by Taki and others were introduced by Itano merely because they fitted the overall degenerate tone. (That doesn't excuse them.) And, for all my criticism, Angel Cop isn't hard to watch - trashiness in full view can be compelling.

Rating: not really good. I won't give a + or - minus to the violence on display. Suffice to say there's plenty of it. I didn't care for it, but nor was I put off by it. Perhaps I've become desensitised to anime violence.
+ When considered in her historical context Angel is an important link in the development of the beautiful fighting girl; compellingly ugly scenario; ending theme
- Racism; unpleasant and uninteresting characters; incoherent scenario; ditto with the politics

Resources:
Angel Cop, Eastern Star / Discotek
ANN
Buried Garbage - Justin Sevakis
Shelf Life - Paul Jensen
The font of all knowledge
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 6:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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Redbeard 101
Oscar the Grouch
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2021 8:23 pm Reply with quote
I think for me part of why I didn't have the same reaction the plethora of gore and violence in Angel Cop as I have other titles, is that it's so over the top. It loses just enough believability to not phase me that much. The original dub and sub tracks though....yikes. I mean the original Japanese version was not subtle at all with it's messages. Like sledgehammer to your face not serious. The dub felt about as over the top with the VA work as the action in the show itself. So I guess it sort of fits?

I've never heard of it referred to as the ugly sibling of GITS, but I can see the similarities now that you mention it.
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:13 am Reply with quote
I remember Newtype magazine running a few chapters of the manga for this some thirty years ago.
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Alan45
Village Elder



Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9875
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:01 am Reply with quote
That last screen shot looks like it came right from Silent Mobius.
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