×
  • remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

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


Goto page Previous    Next

Anime News Network Forum Index -> General -> Anime
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:04 pm Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl index
****

@ Alan45,

Funnily enough, I actually watched the New Files some six years ago - not long before this thread started. I don't remember any of the plot details. Watching the TV series I thought the Griffin arc - the only arc in the series - ended with several loose ends. I was tempted to list the lack of a complete resolution as a minus.

@ Beltane70,

Completely agree about Kanuka Clancy. Didn't you know that the New York Irish are noted for the shape of their eyes. Cool


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Feb 14, 2022 3:43 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3919
PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:09 pm Reply with quote
Until this most recent review was made, I had no idea that you are actually older than I am, Errinundra!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3919
PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2021 6:42 pm Reply with quote
Looks like I was imagining things when I said that Crunchyroll had Patlabor. Weird.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Alan45
Village Elder



Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9897
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2021 6:41 am Reply with quote
@Beltane70

Patlabor is most recently a Maiden Japan release. If it is streaming anywhere, it would be on Hidive.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:54 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls #120: Ruka and Rumi Kobayakawa,



Dark Sea, Moon Shadow
(Umi no Yami, Tsuki no Kage, ie Darkness of the Sea, Shadow of the Moon)

Synopsis: Identical twin sisters Ruka and Rumi - their classmates can't tell them apart - are both in love with Katsuyuki Touma, who, unhappily for Rumi, has declared himself to Ruka. The very next day the sisters find themselves the only survivors of a school excursion that goes horribly wrong when the students unknowingly expose a toxic burial site. In the aftermath they both develop psychic powers - likely caused by a viral infection - which manifest far more powerfully in Rumi, who sets out to eliminate her rival in love. Those she infects in turn - by luring them with a proffered kiss, then biting them - become her willing minions. Before you can say, "don't enter seaside caves under a full moon", an army of zombie slaves is out to kill Ruka.

Production details:
Release date: 14 October 1989
Director: Satoshi Dezaki (older brother of Osamu Dezaki, founder of Magic Bus studio and a prolific director)
Episode director: Yorifusa Yamaguchi
Studios: Movic, Visual '80
Original Work: 海の闇、月の影 by Chie Shinohara, published in Flower Comics from 26 May 1987 to 26 October 1991 (Shinohara's Purple Eyes in the Dark manga was adapted as an OAV in 1987)
Screenplay: Koichi Mizuide (eps 2-3) & Soji Yoshikawa (ep 1)
Storyboard: Setsuko Shibuichi (eps 2-3) & Tsuneo Tominaga (ep 1)
Music: Sohichiro Harada
Character design: Setsuko Shibuichi
Art director: Shinichi Tanimura
Animation director: Akio Sugino (ep 3) & Yukari Kobayashi (eps 1-2)

Comments: Following in the footsteps of Karura Mau and Yajikita Gakuen Dochuki, Dark Sea, Moon Shadow presents us with another shoujo horror tale involving a pair of young women confronted by supernatural irruptions into everyday life. Unlike the protagonists of those earlier OAVs, Ruka and Rumi aren't paranormal investigators or warriors; nor will they encounter summoned monsters or ninjas lurking in the shadows waiting to attack, and it's better for it. Rather, the plot bears considerable resemblance to Rumiko Takahashi's shounen The Laughing Target. So much so, I wonder if naming the villain Rumi is a shout out.


Top: Katsuyuki Touma (left) and a levitating Rumi (right).
Bottom: Ruka in the clutches of Doctor Kaibara.


The emerging yandere trope traceable in The Laughing Target is further developed: where Takahashi's Asuza Shiga was dourly relentless, Rumi Kobayakawa introduces the whacked-out smirk, bulging eyes and, in the third episode, a demented glee as she goes about her killing spree. To top it off, when she reasons that senpai Katsuyuki isn't about to come her way, she decides she'd better kill him as well. Each of these elements can be seen in a more recent and famous example of the type, Yuno Gasai from Future Diary, although Rumi lacks Yuno's moe appeal (admittedly I'm only familiar with the latter from YouTube clips).

The terror escalates over the three episodes. The first, and blandest, episode establishes the premise economically along with the roles the central characters will play: Ruka as our point of view and as victim; Rumi as demented villain; Katsuyuki as ideal hero and love interest for the shoujo audience; and everyone else as tools for Rumi to use against her sister. In the next episode Ruka finds herself stalked by her erstwhile school friends, then her family - her mother throws a carving knife that pins Ruka's hair to the kitchen door - and a local doctor. (All the while I'm asking myself why they consented to be kissed - each has a telltale cut on their lip.) In the last Rumi flips over the edge, venting her psychotic rage against anyone who might displease her, before a final confrontation with Ruka and Katsuyuki on a seaside breakwater under a full moon at midnight. (DSMS is typical of anime by depicting crescent and gibbous phases without any reference to reality. I can only conclude that Japanese animators are either too overworked to find time to scan at the night sky or that Tokyo has so much light pollution the moon and stars can't be seen.) Generally, because of its very artificiality anime struggles to portray horror convincingly. DSMS makes a reasonable fist of it by getting us on side with Ruka and then putting her in diabolical situations.

In the context of the survey the way sexuality is presented is interesting. To date, even magical girl shows have tended to present the female protagonists in a fetishised manner. That would work against the aims of this anime. Ruka is every-girl: reasonably intelligent most of the time, loyal to friends and family and attractive as any mid-adolescent girl might wish to be without standing out. I can imagine her, in her preferred outfit of mauve top, short pleated skirt in grey and black tights, looking in the mirror and being comfortable with what she sees. There is some nudity or partial nudity, but such scenes aren't framed to excite the viewer so much as accentuate Ruka's vulnerability and isolation. She is the point of view character, so the viewer should empathise with her, should feel her fear. The viewer's response to her ordeal as Rumi directs one of her mindless lackeys to rape her becomes one of horror rather than titillation. Mind you, it's rape as entertainment nonetheless. Katsuyuki is presented as an ideal love interest: school sporting champion, leader and heartthrob. He knows what he wants - Ruka - and isn't shy in letting her know. Always there when needed, he will hold Ruka through her darkest night without putting any moves on her. In short, he's the perfect knight in shining armour. Mind you, being hot-headed he yells at Ruka a lot, though he means well. He might prove to be wearing as a long term, live-in partner.


Ruka putting herself in harm's way yet again. Protective gear, anybody? That's Katsuyuki piloting.

Using identical twin Ruka as the viewer self-insert character enables the anime to explore people's choices and their culpability for those choices. The theme is only implied until the very last line of dialogue of the final episode, where Ruka says of Rumi, "...you are my other self, after all." They share the same DNA and have been brought up together without favouritism in the same loving, happy family. The sisters realise that the only difference between them is that on the day before their infection one had experienced the happiest day of her life and the other the blackest. Rumi's appalling behaviour might be put down to unfortunate circumstance. For all of us the line between our best and worst behaviours is a fine one.

The technical merits of DSMS rarely rises above or sinks below adequate. The soundtrack typifies the anime's limited technical ambitions. Restricted to keyboards / synthesisers, Sohichiro Harada provides a series of sounds and melodies that enhance the atmosphere without ever making the blood race. Harada avoids both dramatic crescendos or creepy "watch out behind you" tensions, opting instead for an ethereal mood that works reasonably well. The script is well thought out, but non sequiturs remain. Why would Ruka, having established that her sister is a psychopathic nutcase, be agreeable to visit a lonely bamboo grove with her? C'mon, show some genre awareness, girl!

Rating: decent. I won't give any pluses or minuses. Dark Sea Moon Shadow does nothing particularly well and nothing particularly badly. The subtexts on sexuality and culpability are mildly interesting and it presents a prototype yandere character.

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


Rumi up to her elbow in blood and wearing a classic yandere expression.

****

It may be a couple of weeks until my next review. I've still got 33 episodes to go (out of 124) in what is proving to be one of the unexpected gems of this survey.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:28 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 9:46 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #121: Yawara Inokuma,


"...possibly the most insanely likeable character ever devised..."

Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl

Synopsis: Yawara would be a regular high school girl if not for her genius for judo inherited from her absent father and domineering grandfather (both champions in their day), and honed by a strict daily training regime under the latter's supervision. With the Seoul Olympics recently completed his ambition is for Yawara to win the sport's inaugural gold medal for women at Barcelona in 1992. Truth be told, she isn't much interested in judo. She'd rather be shopping, socialising, pursuing the career of her own choice in the travel industry and finding a boyfriend. Her scheming grandfather sets about using friends, family, rivals, schools, and prospective boyfriends and employers to ensure that Yawara pursues her talents and his dream.

Production details:
Premiere: 16 October 1989
Director: HIroko Tokita (Touch, Miracle Girls, Tenshi Nanka ja Nai, Cho-chan's Story, Aqua Age, Ultra Nyan & Ultra Nyan 2, Nazca, Ultraman M78 Gekijō Love & Peace, Kaikan Phrase & Descendants of Darkness)
Studio: Madhouse
Source material: the manga Yawara! by Naoki Urasawa (most notable for - are you ready for this? - Master Keaton, Monster and 20th Century Boys among others) published in Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1993
Series composition: Toshiki Inoue
Screenplay: Hiroyuki Kawasaki (19 episodes), Toshiki Inoue (56 episodes). Yoshimasa Takahashi (6 episodes) & Yoshiyuki Suga (43 episodes)
Unit director: Morio Asaka (later directed the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise, Chobits, Gunslinger Girl & the Chihayafuru franchise among others)
Music: Hideharu Mori
Character design: Yoshinori Kanemori
Art director: Yūji Ikeda

Note 1: Isao Inokuma won a gold medal in the heavyweight division of judo at the 1964 Olympics.
Note 2: Jigoro Inokuma bears a resemblance to and shares a given name with Jigoro Kano, the inventor of judo.

Comments: Once again the grand survey has thrown up an anime I would never have seen otherwise, but which has turned out to be supremely watchable. The problem for me is the genre, sports anime, and, historically, I'm not alone in my prejudice. It has taken decades for the Anglophone world to warm to sports anime. It wasn't until the age of internet streaming that such anime as Haikyu!!, Free! and Yuri on Ice could find their audience and garner success. Yawara! (exclamation marks are clearly de rigueur) lucked out: Animeigo released the first forty episodes in America on DVD in 2008 as internet streaming was taking off. The other 84 episodes never followed.



Top: Yawara's ever supportive mother Tamao and her irascible grandfather, Jigoro.
Middle: rivals in love for Yawara - the good-hearted sports journalist Matsuda and the philandering Kazamatsuri.
Bottom left: Yawara and best friend Fujiko - the gloves are a Christmas gift from Matsuda.
Bottom right: Jigoro accidentally meets his missing son (and Yawara's father), Kojiro, at a crepe vendor.


Things were different in Japan, of course. The original manga won Naoki Urasawa's first of three Shogakukan Manga Awards (later followed by Monster and 20th Century Boys). One measure of the manga's success can be seen in the franchise that loves to pillory all things anime and manga - Project A-ko. Even before the anime version of Yawara! had been released, the 3rd instalment - Project A-ko: Cinderella Rhapsody - has Yawara and Jigoro appearing as customers (see bottom left) where A-ko works. (You can see A-ko's face and red mop of hair immediately above Jigoro's bald pate.) According to the ANN encyclopaedia page Yawara! was significantly more popular on television in Japan than Ranma ½. Madhouse and Nippon TV clearly believed their product had staying power: the first episodes ends with a declaration that the Barcelona Olympics were 1013 days away, with the countdown continuing every episode right through to the actual event. When the RL Japanese teenager (and Yawara lookalike) Ryoko Tamura won a silver medal at Barcelona she was known across Japan as Yawara-chan. (Tamura went on to win another silver at Atlanta in 1996, gold at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, bronze at Beijing in 2008 along with seven world championships. Upon retirement the International Judo Federation named her "best female judoka ever".)

The anime most assuredly deserves your attention. Don't be put off by it's sporting theme. Just as Patlabor is the mecha anime for those who don't care for mecha, Yawara!'s pre-occupations make it much more than a quest for Judo Olympic gold. Being based upon a manga by Naoki Urasawa promises two things from the get go: great character writing and gobs of suspense. The anime delivers on both. Add in director Hiroko Tokita's sympathetic direction (she had already helmed the highly regarded Touch and would later direct anime aimed at female audiences) and the result is a clever, layered, emotionally engaging, frequently suspenseful (both in the Judo matches and with the personal relationships) and reliably funny series with a broad appeal. Even at 124 episodes the series rarely flags. Multiple threads running both serially and in parallel ensure that it doesn't bog down.

Lightly carrying all those episodes is Yawara Inokuma herself, who will win your affiliation from the very beginning and keep it to the very end. There was never any question who I would barrack for in the matches, who I would support in her resistance to the demands of her grandfather and in her affairs of the heart. Here at ANN in the 2008 yearly round-up from Carl Kimlinger and Theron Martin (remember, the first 40 episodes were released in America on DVD that year) the former listed her as his character of the year with the comment, "The linchpin of her eponymous television series, Yawara is a giant sympathy sponge, possibly the most insanely likeable character ever devised—all the more so because she is as flawed, selfish and naive as any real adolescent girl." There are two key words in that description, "sympathy" and "real". Anime specialises in sympathy inducing characters - it's one of the bases of the moe phenomenon, after all - and Yawara earns it in spades. She's small, dare I say it cute, always the underdog despite her prodigious ability, deserted by her father when he realises her talent is on an altogether different plane from his, bullied by her grandfather, preyed upon by a womanising Kazamatsuri, envied by her many ambitious rivals, pursued by businesses and educational institutions seeking the prestige she would bestow, and rarely able to achieve an emotional rapport with the boy who treasures her - sports reporter Kosaku Matsuda. On the flip side, she is sustained by the support of her ever-patient mother and her friends, especially the wonderfully comic, beanpole ex-ballerina come judoka, Fujiko Ito (later Fujiko Hanazono). Yawara is convincingly real, much more than an amalgam of moe traits. A richly drawn character, the viewer gets to know her hopes, fears, motivations and faults. She is a reluctant champion, gracious in victory, loyal to her friends, true to her word and optimistic in her endeavours. Her naivete gets her into some diabolical situations - think Kazamatsuri, while the guilt she carries from her father's desertion destructively impedes her progress in judo. Most notably she withdraws from a tournament after he snubs her in a chance encounter on the street. (In an irony typical of the series, he's coaching Yawara's most aggrieved rival, Sayaka Honami.) Her naivete also makes her almost incapable of refusing requests for help, something Jigoro is all too willing to exploit. It also means that she can't see that Matsuda's attention is more than just a simple, selfish desire for a scoop. (In fairness to her he's conflicted by the same doubt.)

Yawara isn't the only great character. Her grandfather, Jigoro, is delightfully awful - set in his ways, self-important, bombastic, scheming, opportunistic and manipulative, he believes there's only one direction for Yawara and that's the one he's decided upon. He may sound entirely villainous, but his behaviour is tempered in several ways. For starters he's comically ridiculous, although not to the point of losing all credibility. He knows, as Yawara's father learned when she was just five years old, that Yawara has a miraculous talent. This unwavering belief in her ability is expressed as a tough love that she intuitively appreciates. It is worth noting that, other than the tournament Yawara withdraws from, Jigoro's machinations in getting her to compete always succeed. In contrast she ultimately gets her way in all other aspects of her life - her choice of friends and boyfriends, her schools and working career. Both have steel in their spines.


The maturing faces of Yawara. Top left is a flashback to the event - 5yo Yawara throwing her champion father - that sets off a major thread in the narrative.

Main rival, Sayaka is another delight. Like Jigoro she has an magnificent sense of her own worth, and, largely, that's justified. The charismatic, spoiled heiress to a vast business conglomerate (of course, Yawara will end up working for a rival company and, unwittingly, steal clients from her), she is highly capable in everything she does, knows it and wants to make sure everyone else does also. Until she meets Yawara no one has ever defeated her and, until she meets Yawara's father later, no one has ever bent her to their will. Champion and undefeated in multiple sports, she decides, after her encounter with Yawara, that judo will be her next field of conquest. Unhappily for her, highly capable is no match for true genius. Happily for the viewer, however, the pleasure obtained from the regular pricking of her gigantic ego doesn't dim, epitomised by a false tooth that comically pops out whenever Yawara bests her. To cap it off she cannot imagine that her nemesis may not view the world the way she does, so interprets Yawara's sincerity and humility as subtle taunts. She may be immensely talented but she's a loser nonetheless. Her fiancée, the same Kazamatsuri trying to bed Yawara, is sleeping with a roster of women and struggling with a choice between the freedom of a libertine and a life of luxury as Sayaka's submissive husband.

Wonder of wonders, there's a fourth great character. The series gets a boost in episode 38 when Yawara meets Fujiko Ito on her first day at college. Two metres tall and wearing a perpetual doleful expression, Fujiko is broken-hearted after being forced to abandon the number one love in her life - ballet. For all her talent she just kept growing upwards. Introduced to judo, her training from childhood as a ballerina gives her the strength, flexibility and poise to succeed at the new sport. Her signature move - thrusting her leg between her rival's legs then using her height to lift and flip the victim over her thigh and onto their back - is humorously labelled "The Nutcracker". A panic merchant and drama queen, just about any judo match she's in invariably descends into an absurd pas de deux. Somehow, yet somehow, she almost always manages to pull off a victory. Late in the series, in a surprise, and welcome, twist she falls pregnant to her boyfriend Hanazono, forcing her to withdraw from competition. After the birth she returns to judo, adding to the understated polemic that women ought to be able to aspire to anything, and earns a place in the Olympic team alongside Yawara.

As I found in Monster, every character has some quirk in either their design or behaviour, or both, that makes them instantly distinctive (though comic in this instance, rather than sinister). Jolly giant Jody Rockwell visits the Inokuma dojo simply to meet the, by then, legendary Yawara and, if she's truly fortunate, actually fight her. To Jigoro's glee, she opens Yawara's eyes to the joy to be found in a contest between elite sports people. Possessive Kuniko Kaga, rookie photographer at Matsuda's newspaper, does her best, whether brazen or sly, to get between Yawara and Matsuda. The results are both funny and awful, yet, like the other villains of the series, her extravagant, comic behaviour is endearing. All the same, there's no doubting: I'm rooting for Yawara every time. There's a pair of sports commentators who can only speak in superlatives. They are constantly confounded by interruptions from an uninvited Jigoro. One of my favourite minor characters is salaryman Hagoromo. When Yawara gets her first job at Tsurukame Travel, the company doesn't care if she does any work - they're just happy for the publicity she provides - so assign her to the least capable assistant manager they have, the aforementioned Hagoromo. A failure at work and unloved at home, his only joy in life is reading Matsuda's sports stories. Frustrated by his inactivity, Yawara crosses the street and touts business with, as it happens, one of Sakara Honami's company's biggest clients. Turns out their president is a judo fan so he promptly invites Yawara and Hagoromo on a golfing junket to discuss future business opportunities on the very weekend of the All Japan Judo Championship (for which Tsurukame have secured main sponsor rights). As the weekend unfolds, typically hilariously, and Yawara tries to meet her conflicting obligations, Hagoromo totters dizzyingly between abject despair and euphoria. (One thing Yawara learns from the weekend is how much the public regard for her is due to the enthusiasm expressed in Matsuda's newspaper articles.)


Top: unrelenting rival Sayaka Honami and (right) about to lose her false tooth yet again courtesy of Yawara.
Middle: international rivals Russian Anna Teleshikova, Canadian Jody Rockwell and Belgian Belkens. Jody will teach Yawara the joy of pitting one's skills against one's peers.
Bottom: coached by Yawara and Jigoro, the newly formed Mitsuba Girls' College judo team wins the national college title; that's Fujiko performing a jeté and Yawara leading the cheering.


Maintaining interest over 124 episodes is a big ask. I've concentrated on the individual characters in this review, but the various narrative threads - already hinted at and generated by the characters in any case - push the series along. There's the ongoing clash of wills between Yawara and Jigoro; Yawara's determination to have agency in her life; Kojiro's shame at Yawara's superior innate judo talent leading to his desertion of this family and Yawara's disdain for the sport; the love polygons involving Yawara, Matsuda, Kuniko, Sayaka, Kazamatsuri and his retinue of disappointed lovers; the arch-rivalry with Sayaka and, in parallel, with other judoka; the travails and successes of Yawara's high school team and her college team; her life as an employee and, of course, the succession of tournaments she enters on her way to Barcelona. There are engaging individual stories such as Fujiko's struggle to find satisfaction, Jody's struggle with injuries, Sayaka's battles with adversity, Hanazono's efforts to improve himself and Kojiro's rapprochement with Yawara's mother to name a few. All the threads are part comedy, part drama. Certainly, the series is more of a comedy than a sports anime. Even the fights have a tongue-in-cheek comic edge to them thanks to the deliberate and ironic melodrama, and the funny expressions and reactions. That many of the fights are won with stupendous throws in the last few seconds is just part of the exaggeration. You could describe it as a comic spoonful of sugar helping the sporting medicine go down.

The series isn't perfect. Yawara's talent is so immense that the series struggled at times to generate a sense of threat for her in the fights. Even the strategies devised by Kojiro and played out by Sayaka didn't entirely dispel he suspicion that, once Yawara steps onto the mat, she will win. Towards the end of the series I got the impression that the creators had given up trying: her bouts had become perfunctory. Not that it really mattered: the accompanying narrative journey contained most of the interest and, by then, Fujiko's fights had become more compelling (and fun). The misbehaviours of the main antagonists - Jigoro, Sayaka, Kazamatsuri and Kuniko - could get repetitive at times and, likewise, the ups and downs between Yawara and Matsuda became strained. Understandably the creators struggled occasionally to maintain tension in a series more than fifty hours long.

In my recent review of Patlabor on Television I noted how through the 80s anime had given us few TV female protagonists outside magical girls, romances and World Masterpiece Theatre. This is the first sporting series covered since Aim for the Ace! began on 05 October 1973, just over 16 years prior to Yawara! (Maris the Chojo and Wanna-Be's were OAVs). Will this be a catalyst for more?

Rating: excellent. Yawara! is a forgotten gem from the 80s. In terms of the survey, and with only three more titles to complete 1989, I would rate it the best TV series of the decade. (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind would be the best movie and Gunbuster the best OAV.)
+ at 124 episodes it's a surprisingly easy watch; memorable characters, especially Yawara; engaging, interwoven narrative with a comic approach to a sports story, but without neglecting its emotional aspects;
- 124 episodes is a big investment in time; Yawara perhaps too invincible; the antagonists' behaviour can be repetitive; Kojiro's reasons for deserting his family seem contrived; the series deliberately and infuriatingly ends as Yawara enters the arena at Barcelona - what a tease! (These faults pale into insignificance compared with the pluses.)

Resources:
ANN
Carl Kimlinger's review of the first 40 episodes
Anime in America: Carl and Theron's Best of 2008
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
Beautiful Fighting Girl, Tamaki Saito, trans J Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson, University of Minnesota Press



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:28 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2021 2:34 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #122: Yama Rikudo,



Demon Hunter
(Makaryudo)

Synopsis: Demon outrages are upsetting the natural balance in the human realm so Yama is sent from another dimension to clean up. She's agreeable simply because it's a welcome alternative to prison for her own previous misdeeds. Disguising herself as a Japanese high school student, as you would, she lands in the very same school in which a reincarnated former lover is enrolled, and where the school principal has sold her soul to a powerful demon in exchange for immortal life. When the demon instructs the principal to start exterminating the students Yama must intervene.

Production details:
Release date:8 November 1989
Director / series composition / script / storyboard: Yuko Okamoto (The Legend of the Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden, episode 4 of Armitage III and Armitage III: Poly-Matrix)
Studios: Studio Fantasia; C. Moon
Source material: the manga Makaryudo by Gen Keuke, published in the erotic Lollipop magazine some time from 1985. The pen name is derived from a hirsute creature known as keukegen, appearing in Toriyama Sekien's 18th century book Konjaku Hyakki Shūi. Keukegen is a play on words and can mean "an unusual thing which is rarely seen". Gen Keuke wasn't prolific, worked as a pharmacist and participated in doujin circles. He is married to mangaka Hiroka Matsuda.
Music: Nobuo Ito
Character design / animation director: Yuji Moriyama (directed Project A-ko 2: The Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group, Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody, Project A-Ko 4: Final, Madara, Exper Zenon, 801 TTS Airbats, The Adventures of Kotetsu, Jungle de Ikou!, Geobreeders, Shrine of the Morning Mist, Yawaraka Sangokushi Tsukisase!! and Ryofuko-chan along with an extensive career in character design and animation direction)
Art director: Yōji Nakaza (prolific background artist, including Grave of the Fireflies, Akira, Vampire Princess Miyu, Patlabor: The Movie, Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa along with much else)


Clockwise from top left: Yama either has a severe case of bed head or she's hiding a pair of horns;
he doesn't know it but Sho Kurogane is a reincarnated being from another dimension;
Rijityo, school principal and demon facilitator; and Kaoru, whose roles are to look cute and be a victim.


Comments: Once again the grand survey has thrown up an anime I would never have seen otherwise. Unlike Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl, however, Demon Hunter deserves its obscurity. Indeed, trying to find on-line information about Gen Keuke (a pen name), the original manga and the magazine in which it appeared proved to be more interesting than the anime itself. One specific detail I could find was that he was born 12 July, Showa year 39 (ie, 1964). With a day job as a pharmacist and his first manga, Magic Hunter, published in Comic Margarita in 1984 when he was twenty, I have an image in my mind of a university fan club of the type found in Otaku no Video. That Gen Keuke was president of a doujin circle named "Himerin Club" and, with a friend, held a stall at Comiket twice a year embellishes the image. The magazines in which he was published - Comic Margarita, Lollipop and Candy Time - all seem to be part of the Kasakura Publishing company and were, as far as I can tell, pornographic. I wouldn't call the anime pornographic - there's the occasional exposed nipple - but it is shlock.

Demon Hunter could be described as a mixture of the tentacle monsters of Dream Hunter Rem, the premise of an outcast demon bringing justice to other demons in Vampire Princess Miyu and the demon / god / human back story of Legend of the Overfiend. The problem is that, for all that ambition, it can't overcome several hurdles: a total run time of only 30 minutes, a modest budget and being set for the most part on Yama's first day at school. For what is meant to be a horror story of epic dimensions it amounts to little more than a passing diversion. With mediocre production values and hackneyed creative ideas, it doesn't match the memorable characters designs of either Rem or Miyu, the beguiling atmosphere of the latter or the outrageous provocations of Overfiend (though it does have a couple of icky moments).

With a perfunctory plot and simple characters, the anime needs to rely on other elements to succeed. The results are variable. The dark palette, grandiose and ominous music, simple but effective background artwork (Noji Nakaza was probably the most capable member of the project) and suitably nasty monsters combine to provide a consistently chilling tone. Too often things are brought undone by the character designs. I can see how the creators are trying to make the most important character, Yama herself, appear as both cute school girl and ineffable demon. They fail: her habitual sour expression when combined with her aloofness undermines her role as heroine. She's another unpleasant demon chopping up other, more recalcitrant, demons (with a scythe that sprouts from her hair). She never garnered my admiration. The school principle is even more sour looking, but at least she has the excuse of being evil. Indeed her character design screams villain the moment she appears. Who in there right mind would place children in her care? School friends Sho Kurogane and Kaoru Aono are bog standard 1980s character designs. As with everyone else the OAV doesn't have the space to flesh out their characters so he's little more than reliably kind-hearted while she's sweet and a little dim. Sho's seiyuu, Toshihiko Seki, shouts his lines as vociferously as he did as Matsuda in Yawara! and as Katsuyuki in Dark Sea, Moon Shadow. He must be annoying to live with. I experienced tonal whiplash hearing Matsuda in a horror anime. (And it's something of a coincidence getting the same seiyuu in the main male romantic role in three consecutive shows.)


Monsters (clockwise from top left): the tentacle monster has a cute face (except her eyes are fake - her real eyeballs are in her ears);
things change when she goes in for her bite attack; the demon lord's design doesn't make sense, but he looks cool; and
harpies keep the principal company.


The monsters are more successful. The demon lord's body plan is hard to figure out - he seems to have an extra, inverted skull growing from his chin and another from the side of his body. I suppose that's to be expected from anime demons of the era. Still, I like how his design incorporates a sad, aged feel into his otherwise threatening appearance. He reminds me of Christopher Lee's Saruman from The Lord of the Rings movies. I also liked the sweet, entreating visage of the tentacle monster - until she attacks at which point she's full-on vagina dentata. These guys are mostly threat: their dispatch is as summary as everything else in the 30 minutes viewing. A flock of harpies provides a more ongoing threat. While they succeed visually, on a mechanical level they're weird: their torsos aren't supported by their arms so must rest or drag along the ground when they aren't flying. Life as a harpy must be exceeding uncomfortable. Poor things.

Other production shortcomings are noticeable. Scene transitions are sometimes awkward, perhaps due to edits to get the run time down to 30 minutes. The lack of animation also draws attention to itself. Too often activity is nothing more than a static foreground cel moving relative to an equally inert background. Don't get me wrong: the production isn't incompetent; it lacks sufficient budget and run time. Of course, both those issues are intimately related.

Rating: weak.
+ (they're not big pluses) monster designs, creepy tone enhanced by simple, but effective background artwork and music
- ambitious scenario undone by run-time and budget constraints, character designs, jarring scene transitions, animation, rushed plot

Resources:
ANN
Japanese Wikipedia via Google translate
Le Blog de LVD: Makaryudo Demon Hunter
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle



The final word:

Le Blog de LVD wrote:
Et si vous voulez voir des monstres baveux a tentacules, ce n'est pas le choix qui manque Smile Ne perdez pas votre temps.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:31 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Redbeard 101
Oscar the Grouch
Forums Superstar


Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 16948
PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:31 pm Reply with quote
Is it just me or did a lot of the older 80's and early 90's anime with monster designs come off as more gritty and visceral than they do now? I don't mind the fancy and glossy animation we have now with fight scenes, explosions, action, etc. I find though that a lot of monster designs just seemed more ominous with earlier animation. Less slick and more gritty. Maybe it's just me. I mean I know nothing about this title, but those monster character designs garner my interest simply from those alone. Older shows certainly at least did body horror much better I think.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 5:50 am Reply with quote
I think that the market role of the OAV at the time was the main factor behind demons being depicted as more menacing and more baleful in the 80s and 90s. The format, along with the constraints on content for rival formats, meant that edginess was almost the OAV's raison d'etre. Certainly they were aiming at a niche market, whereas most anime today is trying to catch the attention of a larger audience.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:46 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #123: "the perfect crime-fighting super-idol" Maron Namikaze,



Assemble Insert

Synopsis

Episode 1: Led by the evil genius Kyouzaburou Demon, the Demon Seed Gang uses mecha to rob at will. The Special Operations Division set up to bring them to justice is so unsuccessful that the government has cut its budget to the bone. In a drunken fit squadron commander Hattori lodges a formal proposal to organise an idol contest as a recruiting tool. The winner will be wearing newly developed, form-hugging body armour (the Mark I version was way too bulky). Amazingly, the proposal is adopted - possibly because the Prime Minister wanted to be on the judging panel. When a reluctant contestant, 13 year-old Maron Namikaze, inadvertently reveals her super-powered strength she's instantly recruited. The Demon Seed Gang don't stand a chance.

Episode 2: With their mecha trashed by Maron, and having earlier frittered away the proceeds of their crime sprees, the Demon Seed Gang lacks the resources to repair or replace them. Nevertheless, thanks to the incompetence of Hattori's squad, they remain at large. Likewise, Hattori and his team find themselves without the funds to continue the investigation and so turn to the only source of income open to them: managing Maron as a pop idol. She becomes an overnight sensation on her live TV debut when, overcome by stage fright, she unwittingly demolishes the studio. Operating full time as Maron's management team the special operations division draws the resentment of the original designer of the power suits who wants Maron to use hers in the pursuit of justice, not fame. When the Demon Seed Gang finds the entire supply of Mark I body armour suits on the front lawn of their headquarters Maron must choose between the life of an idol and her duties as a fighter for justice.

Production details:
Released dates: 21 Dec 1989 and 25 February 1990
Director: Ami Tomobuki (Kyukyoku Chojin R, Legend of Himiko, F-Zero: Falcon Legend)
Studios: Studio Core & Tohokushinsha Film
Source material: アッセンブル・インサート (Assenburu Insato) by Masami Yuki (most notable as part of the Headgear team that created the Patlabor franchise - he also created Birdy the Mighty) published in Aniparo Comics in 1985
Character Design: Masami Yuki
Script: Michiru Shimada (a long career working on the scripts of well known anime, among her notable recent works are the Little Busters and Little Witch Academia franchises)
Music: Kōhei Tanaka (prolific composer notable for his work on One Piece) & Kyoko Matsumiya
Art director: Toru Hishiyama (Grave of the Fireflies, Akira, Patlabor the Movie, A Wind Named Amnesia, Princess Arete, Mind Game, Vexille and Harmony, among others)
Animation director: Toyomi Sugiyama
Mechanical design: Hiroshi Debuchi
Mecha design: Sadami Morikawa & Yutaka Izubuchi (his resume includes, among much else besides, the Gundam franchise, Aura Battler Dunbine, the Patlabor franchise, Silent Möbius, the RahXephon franchise and the Evangelion movies)


Maron Namikaze.
Top: Maron battles the blue robots - how the Demon Seed Gang sees her.
2nd row: how the fans see her.
3rd row: how the Special Operations Division squad members see her.
4th row: the real Maron.


Comments: A few minutes into my first viewing of the second episode of Assemble Insert I got an uncontrollable attack of the giggles that lasted pretty much until the final credits ran. The attack wasn't brought upon by any one gag in particular; rather I was undone by an outrageously absurd premise - cops as idol singer managers - milked for all it was worth. While I didn't have the same sort of reaction second time around, I still found it an enjoyable watch. I shouldn't be surprised how well the anime works when I look at the team above that produced it. That's quite a mob for what at first blush may seem a throw away effort. To the seizure inducing premise you can add Maron's moe appeal, snappy script and direction, a couple of live action TV commercial send-ups ("Isn't there some rule about putting in a live-action sequence?" asks Hattori), and gleeful spoofing of idol and anime tropes. Look and you'll see Patlabor (there's a Noa Izumi clone in the OP who doesn't appear again), Macross, Project A-ko, and Bubblegum Crisis to name just four. Masami Yuki isn't only taking the Mickey out of anime titles: according to Clements and McCarthy he based several characters on colleagues (a practice I suspect is common in anime), including his manga editor, colleagues from the Macross and Patlabor projects, and himself as a drunken pervert.

Central to proceedings is Maron herself, the ever reluctant heroine. The Japanese dub has her at thirteen years of age; the overly cautious American dub has her as a senior high school student. While the fan service is mild, and generally sends up otaku behaviours, I can understand the localiser's discretion. The premise works better, however, at the younger age. Her timidity is not only the basis of her appeal but it is more typical of a pre-pubescent girl. She didn't sign up for the talent quest, is mortified by the power suit she must wear, and is equally petrified of combat and television cameras. She's a bit dim - which she admits to - doesn't have any stylish moves and wins her battles as much through accident as intention. Like the Dirty Pair or Maris the Chojo, she leaves destruction in her wake - none of it intentional, of course. Unlike those three bikini-clad heroines, Maron isn't out to titillate the viewer so much as earn our unconditional sympathy. Although the term had not yet come into usage, moe would be an apt descriptor.


Top: idol rivals Maron Namikaze and Kagiri Sonoba.
Middle: Commander Hattori and the Japanese Prime Minister at the idol audition; the Special Operations team.
Bottom: Kyouzaburou Demon and Ryouhei Shimokobe, the inventor of the power suits.


Most distinctive of the remaining characters is chain-smoking Commander Hattori, the stern-faced leader of Maron's team and the architect of the idol scheme. He may well be based upon Shonen Sunday editor Fukuda Takahashi, but he's also a seedier version of Patlabor's Kiichi Goto, and responsible for much of the narrative's impetus. His importance to the script is evidenced in the relative complexity of his facial features in an anime that relies upon mostly blank faces (see the special operations team in the image above). His subordinates have little purpose beyond their gag potential and hence the simple faces with their beady eyes and slit mouths. They have, by their standards, a cosy arrangement - situated above a video rental shop in the Ikebukuro - which allows them to spend their many idle hours at work indulging their otaku passions. The two hirsute antagonists - villain Kyouzaburou Demon and erratic inventor Ryouhei Shimokobe - have stereotypical, comic designs, though somewhat more detailed than Hattori's subordinates thanks to their greater role in the narrative. The one unequivocally attractive design belongs to Maron's idol rival Kagiri Sonoba who, in such a parodic anime, is treated surprising well. She's understandably jealous of the new upstart but things turn out very much in her favour.

The technical merits of Assemble Insert aren't high. Artwork and, as already mentioned, character designs are basic in the extreme. Nor is the animation anything special. This can be readily forgiven in an anime more intent on spoofing its targets than wowing the senses. More care has been taken with the four insert songs. My favourite is the rocker, "Love and Power" with its showy guitar playing. Somehow Warner Brothers Japan managed to create three albums from the one hour of anime running time. The most important elements - the script and direction - shine. The ridiculous premise is played perfectly, enhanced by the comic timing and restless pacing. The OAV format is perfectly suited to Assemble Insert's style of humour - sophomore and parodic. One hour is all the slight, but clever, premise needs; anything more would spoil it.

Rating: Good: a clever premise executed well.
+ premise; spoofs; script; direction; sympathy inducing and comical main character
- low production standards; English language dub

Resources:
ANN
Justin Sevakis's Buried Treasure article
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
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design




Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:42 am; edited 5 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Alan45
Village Elder



Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9897
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:52 am Reply with quote
Wow, this is high on the list of titles I never thought I would see featured. I haven't watched this for years. In the US it is an early release from Right Stuf! from before they started using different company names for their localized anime.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3919
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:19 am Reply with quote
Wow, I totally forgot about this OVA! I guess that is reasonable since I've only seen a few scenes of it about thirty years ago!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2021 5:51 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #124: Sandy Newman et al,



Gall Force: Earth Chapter

The story so far: Humans (a hybrid species created from the DNA of two extinct interstellar civilisations) are at war with their own creations: the cyborg MME (Man Made Existence) whose hive mind takes material form in Gorn. His army of machines - directed from his citadel in the red centre of Australia - are hell bent on cleansing what they view as imperfect, hate-riven humans from the known universe. Although there is a thriving population of humans on Mars, the last remnants on a devastated earth eke out a precarious existence in the south-east of Australia, all the while depending on supplies from space.

Synopsis: Sandy is a soldier in the war on earth against the MME. The army makes a last desperate attack on the enemy citadel on the promise of reinforcements and materiel from Mars. The military leaders of the Martian colony, becoming aware that the MME are infiltrating their command and control systems, decide to use their ultimate weapon: the very same plasma canon that brought about the doom of humanity's forebears. This will destroy the cyborgs, but also all remaining life on earth, so Sandy and her friends must find another way to bring an end to the war. And, all the while, a familiar figure is working behind the scenes to bring to reality the vision of the renegade Solnoids and Paranoids from many millennia before.

Production details:
Release dates: 25 Dec 1989 to 01 December 1990
Director: Kitsuhito Akiyama (Thundercats, Bubblegum Crisis, Spirit Warrior, Sol Bianca, Bastard!!, Ai no Kusabi, Elementalors, El Hazard: the Wanderers, Magical Project S, Battle Athletes, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Armitage: Dual Matrix, Monkey Turn, Guyver: the Bioboosted Armour (TV), Pumpkin Scissors, Inazuma Eleven, Beyblade Burst)
Studios: AIC & Studio 88
Original creation: Star Front Gall Force by Hideki Kakinuma, a 3-D photo novel using plastic models, published by Model Graphix
Script: Hideki Kakinuma, Yoichi Tomioka & Yūichi Miyaoka
Music: Kaoru Mizutani & Takumi Kawai (under the pseudonym Howard Killy)
Original character design: Kenichi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis franchise, Wanna-Be's; Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; Otaku no Video; creator of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats)
Art Director: Kazuo Okada & Mitsuharu Miyamae
Chief Animation Director: Nobuyuki Kitajima


Clockwise from top left: Unlike earlier instalments of the franchise Sandy is unequivocally the main character;
although Catty only appears in glimpses until the second half of the last episode, she is thread that ties all the instalments together;
like Catty, Sally doesn't get a lot of screen time, but, also like Catty, she is crucial to Sandy gaining an insight into how the eternal conflict may be resolved; and
Score is Sandy's comrade who fights by her side to the very end - she believes that victory in battle is the only possible solution.


Comments: It's fitting that my last review of the 1980s looks once again at Gall Force, a franchise that's emblematic of the decade, especially in the aftermath of the release of the first ever OAV / OVA, Dallos, in December 1983. Beginning with the movie - Eternal Story - further instalments were released on a regular basis via the new medium through which it found a ready market among young adult males looking to be entertained by "cute babes with laser guns" (see quote below). Earth Chapter had been intended as part of a larger story that included the previous release, Rhea Gall Force, but in the interim Artmic and AIC fell out leading to protracted legal disputation. Artmic drifted into bankruptcy while AIC ended up with the intellectual property rights. Akiyama and colleagues picked up the pieces and re-branded the project as Earth Chapter. The continuity with Rhea is relatively smooth, unlike its truncated sister series from the same studios, Bubblegum Crisis.

Full props must be given to Gall Force as the first in a long lineage of anime girls who fight in numbers together, from Sailor Moon to Simoun to Puella Magi Madoka Magica to Azur Lane. One could go further even: the characters of K-ON! or Bakuon!! don't fight, but they share the same roots. Looking at the screen shots used in this post, not only is there a girl for most tastes, some of the basic design templates can still be found today, some thirty plus years later (allowing for the stylistic differences between the two eras). Kenichi Sonoda's influence on character design runs deep. Or, to put it another way, clichés have to start somewhere. For sure, earlier shows such as Super Dimension Fortress Macross or Yoshiyuki Tomino's epic tragedies had large female casts - the bridge crew of the Macross alone could be considered a squadron - but the main character was always male. The risk is that, by treating the characters as a sort of smorgasbord for the viewer to feast their eyes or indulge their fantasies - think Bakuon!! or Azur Lane - then the viewer, not the character, becomes the subject. That's hardly a step forward in the depiction of women in mass entertainment. I return to the quote I used in my review of Eternal Story.

Philip Brophy wrote:
Celebrated as an icon of 80s' otaku culture due to its iconisation of 'cute babes with laser guns', Gall Force - Eternal Story can be read in entirely different ways. What on the surface appears to be a condescending objectification of Woman is in fact a highly resonant encoding of how power can be visually and symbolically presented by foregrounding gender in the act of depiction. The open-ended illustrative possibilities of anime facilitate this with greater ease than live-action cinema, and anime explores the extremes to which these depictions of power and gender can be taken...


Admittedly, the four most powerful generals are men - Nelson, Dominov, McKenzie and Gorn - but the person pulling the strings in the background is female (Catty in version #3), while the central narrative belongs to Sandy. She is our point of view, the person we identify with and care about, and it is she who must see to the core of the problem and then resolve it. Her developmental journey, prompted by the "Geo Chris" nun Sally then pushed along further by Catty, will be central to that resolution. Gritty and undaunted, she's the hero of the story through and through. By comparison, Catty, who has a key role across the entire franchise, is underwhelming in Earth Chapter - in spite of the multiple teases of her working behind the scenes.


Top: spaceship commanders Varji & Lamidia McKenzie. Their stare down duel, with Australia at stake, is a highlight.
Middle: cry-baby Melody and warrior Fortin.
Bottom: cutie-pie Mitty and, in keeping with the franchise's theme of cyclical history, Amy & Spea lookalikes have a walk-on moment.
(They're not the only ones. Many of the characters channel predecessors from the Eternal Story arc.)


In the nearly 3½ years since its inception, the franchise has evolved in its presentation, becoming more serious, grittier (exemplified by both the protagonist and the ruined Australian landscape) and with more emphasis on action. The comic girlishness on display by several of the characters in the very first movie has been steadily downplayed. In the Destruction and Stardust War OAV sequels, only Amy indulged in regular juvenile behaviour. In the Rhea / Earth Chapter arc this role if filled by the scavenging Mitty. I think the anime would have been better if she'd been left out and replaced with dialogue expressing more wit. Mitty aside, they sure are an earnest lot. (Sounds like I want my cake and to eat it too.) The fanservice had diminished also. One prominent instance occurs when of Sandy is captured and pinioned to the chest of a giant MME cyborg so her consciousness can be connected to the hive mind. The depiction comes across as unnecessarily gratuitous. The anime makes up for it when, upon her rescue, she falls into the arms of her female friend, Score.

As an Australian I derived considerable amusement from the principal setting: a war-ravaged future Australia. Going by the frequent maps in view, the action takes place in an arc from the south-east of the continent, through Broken Hill to the Red Centre where Gorn plots in his hidden citadel. The smashed up city where much of the action takes place lacks any familiar landmark to enable identification. That makes sense given how far into the future the episodes are set and how complete the destruction is. I'll recycle another quote I used in an earlier review (Noozles), this time from Bill Bryson.

Quote:
...I'm suggesting nothing here, but I will say that if you were an intergalactic traveler who had broken down in our solar system, the obvious directions to rescuers would be: "Go to the third planet and fly around till you see the big red rock. You can't miss it." If ever on earth they dig up a 150,000-year-old rocket ship from the galaxy Zog, this is where it will be. I'm not saying I expect it to happen; not saying that at all. I'm just observing that if I were looking for an ancient starship this is where I would start digging.


While Uluru isn't ever depicted, it would seem that the ineffable Gorn and his hive-mind MME share Bryson's estimate of its significance. Certainly the centre of the continent is constant tug on the imagination of Australians. The journey that Sandy (the name itself is redolent of Australia) and her companions make from the periphery to the centre could be interpreted as a journey from confusion to understanding, but perhaps I'm layering an Australian cultural illusion onto a Japanese sci-fi story that chose the setting simply because it seemed cool at the time. Anyway, my alarm at the Martian military commanders ordering Australia be plasma'd from the face of Earth was subsequently mollified by a beautiful fighting anime girl pleading, "You can't destroy Australia". Beautiful Fighting Girls 1, Old Male Generals 0.


Top: Gorn. He's nonplussed by the appearance of Catty (as is Sandy). Whose side is she, an android, on?
Middle: mortal enemies. The Arnold Schwarzenegger inspired Norton and an MME cyborg.
Bottom left: General Nelson in his Combat Information Centre.
Bottom right: humans build their first plasma canon (known as the System Destroyer to our Solnoid and Paranoid ancestors).


Plot oddities continue to mar the franchise. The concern raised in my review of Rhea Gall Force about how the rebel forces equipped and fed themselves has been answered: the supplies come from Mars. New problems arise. When the humans plan a nuclear strike against the MME, Sandy and her team are sent to activate an abandoned missile silo. Upon arrival they discover that both the silo and control room have been completely buried with rubble by the "Geo Chris" nuns. Undeterred, and with the countdown under way, the soldiers set to with shovels, managing to clear the mess in time for the launch. Impressive, to say the least. I know Norton has been cyberised, but come on! Also unconvincing is the climax scene. Sandy presents Gorn with what is, when it comes down to it, a trusty old logic bomb, causing the hive mind to shut down. That's too easy a solution and, besides, Gorn is surely sophisticated enough to ignore it. It gets worse, however. In a perfect display of the illogic in Sandy's conundrum to Gorn, the humans proceed to annihilate the now defenceless MME. Just goes to show: the difference between machines and humans is that the latter don't let logic stop them from behaving appallingly. The hive mind was right along: we don't deserve our continued existence.

The three ending songs, along with the episode one insert song haven't aged well. More interesting is the incidental music, which for the most part doesn't make much impact. That is until it breaks into an ominous and thrilling metallic pulse. Artwork and animation are at the upper end of the Artmic / AIC spectrum, which isn't all that big a wrap. Sonoda's character designs, particularly Sandy, Varji, Lamidia and the MME more generally, are a feature of the franchise so long as you don't mind their 1980s provenance. Catty is a disappointment, with a new, more sinister, sulky looking design complete with darker hair, all of which doesn't sit with what she actually is - the awesome superstar guiding the human race in its moral evolution. (Perhaps I exaggerate a little.)

Rating: good. Earth Story, and Gall Force more generally, is a good example of what 1980s sci-fi anime was all about. If you partial to the genre and the era then it comes with a recommendation.
+ franchise premise; characters and their designs; setting; more action-oriented than the Eternal Story arc
- glitches in the plot; logic bombing of Gorn unconvincing; some of the characters (Mitty, Sally, Melody and Catty) don't work as well as they might

Resources
ANN
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
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
Down Under, Bill Bryson, Random House
TV Tropes



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 6:43 am; edited 4 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3919
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2021 8:44 am Reply with quote
I've seen the original Gall Force trilogy and Rhea multiple times, but Earth Chapter I only saw once back when it was originally released, so my memory of it is pretty non-existent. I definitely need to go back on watch it again some day.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Redbeard 101
Oscar the Grouch
Forums Superstar


Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 16948
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2021 5:28 pm Reply with quote
Beltane70 wrote:
I've seen the original Gall Force trilogy and Rhea multiple times, but Earth Chapter I only saw once back when it was originally released, so my memory of it is pretty non-existent. I definitely need to go back on watch it again some day.


I don't remember if I ever saw Earth Chapter myself. I honestly forget how much of Hall Force I saw back in the day on vhs. Probably means I need to re-watch it all now since it's been so bloody long.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> General -> Anime All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous    Next
Page 54 of 57

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group