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

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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6547
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2022 9:56 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls index

Beautiful Fighting Girls #133: Mayumi Hashimoto & Noriko Tokada of the Eight Angels gang,

Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi

Synopsis: Mayumi runs away from home from to escape her predatory stepfather only to be abducted by members of a delinquent motorcycle gang. She's taken under the wing by a free-wheeling Noriko, who invites her to move into her apartment, finds her a job in a service station and introduces her to the world of motorcycling. The two set up their own all-female gang - Eight Angels - but soon discover that local male-dominated gangs are hostile to this intrusion on their turf.

Production details:
First release: 05 April 1990
Director: Satoshi Dezaki (founder of Magic Bus studio and a prolific director we've encountered in the survey via The Star of the Seine; A Time Slip of 10,000 Years: Prime Rose; Dark Sea, Moon Shadow and Carol)
Studio: Magic Bus
Source material: たいまんぶるうす (Taiman Burusu) by Yu Furusawa, published in in either Young Auto or Young King (Either the Japanese Wikipedia or Google Translate are confused about this - the latter seems more likely) in 1983.
Screenplay: Machiko Kondo
Storyboard: Setsuko Shibuichi
Music: Twiggy
Character design, art director & animation director: Yukari Kobayashi

Note: Only the first of the two episodes has been fansubbed. The second isn't hard to follow.

Comments: While trawling through the ANN encyclopaedia to compile my list of anime for this survey, I've noticed a few titles from the late 1980s on the theme of delinquent gangs. It seems it was a popular genre at the time. This is the first I've come across that involves a gang of somewhat lawless young women. It shouldn't surprise, therefore, that Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi is actually a sequel to 1987's Taiman Blues: Shimizu Naoto chapter with, apparently, new characters. Certainly, Shimizu Naoto doesn't appear in the sequel. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, the original manga was the first published work by Yu Furusawa, who is known for his Bosozoku (ie moto / auto gang) stories. Both episodes have codas with live photos of gang members, often squatting, along with their cars and bikes, their characteristic boiler-suit uniforms and their attitude. The well organised gangs were at one time a recruiting ground for yakuza. If the anime is anything to go by, the term "taiman" is a challenge to a fight, either one on one or between gangs. Noriko gets herself into several of them. Even homely Mayumi eventually joins in - with a metal pipe.

Motorcycle adventures in Osaka.

The anime makes only a limited attempt at social analysis of the phenomenon, being mostly content to tell its story and let the viewer draw their own conclusions. Don't watch this OAV to learn why the gangs exist, what motivates the members to join or how mainstream society reacts to them. The cynical part of me sees the equation of gang violence + cute girls + motorcycles = OAV sales. Therein lies the problem: the anime fails in its attempt at marrying the contradictory notion of young women who, deep down, are thoroughly wholesome (the first meeting of the Eight Angels turns into a cooking and sewing session) and the brawls the narrative pushes them into. The anime isn't afraid to let the male and female characters fight each other - from fists in the stomach or face up to running each other down with earth moving equipment, with much else in between. The equal opportunity brawls aren't the only arguably feminist element to the OAV: all the truly vicious characters are men. They include Mayumi's rapist stepfather and the leaders of the Red Shark and Big Bear gangs who treat their female members appallingly. Japan's worst patriarchal tendencies are made manifest in the gangs. Hence Noriko and Mayumi form their own gang so they can enjoy the wonder of motorcycling without the bullying.

Only two of the gang members get anything more than cursory attention. Most unlikely of them is the fifteen year old point of view character, Mayumi Hashimoto, who has run away from her rural home to Osaka after being assaulted by her stepfather. She's an innocent in an uncaring, vicious world. Trying to do her best, her naivete constantly leads her into trouble. She's a sort of Candide character, (although the anime doesn't have anything to match Voltaire's lampooning), reminding me also of Patlabor's Noa Izumi (though not as genki) and the eponymous Nayuta. She doesn't stay that way : by the end of the two episodes she grows sufficiently in stature to take over leadership of the Eight Angels, now seven after the departure of Noriko.

For her part Noriko is something of a novelty in the survey so far. From a well-to-do family, the implication is that she got into motorcycling as relief from the expectations of her family and the emotional limitations of her job. Her rebellious nature, however, hasn't smothered her innate kindliness. What makes her unusual is how she deals with the viciousness that surrounds her. In this she is in complete contrast to Mayumi. A realist, not a cynic, she understands that if you need to clean out the stables you have to be prepared to shovel shit. She lives and is prepared to suffer for that principle, though what she does isn't pretty. She becomes protector, mentor and angel to Mayumi and the other members of the gang.

Top left: Noriko takes Mayumi under her wing.
Top right & bottom left: the Eight Angles.
Bottom right: the self-titled Flowers of Naniwa.
(Naniwa being a centre of gang activity in Osaka.)

Satoshi Dezaki's direction is humdrum. He handles the dramatic beats of the anime well enough, so that I was fully engaged, even watching the second episode raw. Beyond that he's a straight ahead, workaday director, lacking his brother's ability (that's Osamu Dezaki - Ashita no Joe, Aim for the Ace!, Nobody's Boy Remi and the second, better half of The Rose of Versailles among others), to bring out the emotional and dramatic essence of a scene. More detached, he never reaches the delirious heights of his brother, who could make a virtue out of melodrama. The result is an anime that can't get the blend of innocence and viciousness right, as if the characters from two tonally different anime found themselves together, using lines that fit their own story, but seem out of place in the presence of the newcomers. Satoshi Dezaki does his job professionally and competently, but doesn't have a persuasive passion for his subject matter

The two episodes were clearly sourced from videotape, as evidenced by the distorted borders, the bleached colours and the blurring of movement on screen. These problems exaggerate the production shortcomings. With a small number of exceptions, the character designs are both prosaic and clichéd. Must every male delinquent in anime have a bodgie (aka rocker or greaser) hairstyle? Occasionally the anime captures the magic of motorcycling, but most of the time the representation is cheap and nasty. The anime successfully creates a sense of place, however, evoking an Osaka that is both urban yet different to Tokyo. Overall the artwork is simple - sometimes beautifully stark, but uninspired most of the time. Animation is limited. The retro (even for 1990) rock songs from Twiggy are a feature of the OAV, if you don't mind the style and era. The main theme features crisp drumming and guitar licks, while a big production ballad finishes of the the second episode.

Rating: so-so.
+ generally entertaining; Noriko; Mayumi's growth at the end is satisfying; as is the regular stitching up of the bad guys; music
- simplistic, clichéd and unconvincing presentation of the gangs, their members and their rivalry; tonally uneven; production standards

Japanese and English language Wikipedia
Cartoon Research, Forgotten Anime #58, Taiman Blues, Fred Patten
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle

It'll probably be a couple of weeks to the next review (Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water). I've still got over thirty episodes to watch.
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