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REVIEW: Sky Crawlers, The (Blu-ray)


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Lemoncookies23



Joined: 02 Aug 2008
Posts: 355
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:51 am Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
So you don't think there's any room at all for social critique or analysis? Anything that examines a social movement with any sort of critical eye is bad or insulting? This seems like a convenient excuse to never have to examine yourself.


No, that's not what I'm saying at all. If you and Oshii were merely "critiquing" or "examining" the industry and its fans (which I wouldn't have a problem with), I wouldn't expect to read this:

Quote:
It's an intense and angry piece, quietly resentful of both a dead creative environment (the industry) and the people that mindlessly feed on the same decades-old garbage repackaged in different colors (the fans).


If you (as with Oshii) A) resent the current industry, B) think that it's dead creatively, and C) believe most anime fans are mindlessly feeding on garbage, then it should be no wonder or surprise why I'm crying foul! You're not "critiquing" or "examining" the industry and its fans, you're outright bashing them. You don't insult someone and call that "critiquing" their interests. If you want me to respect your opinions on anime, then you must be respectful. No, you're not entitled to like what I like. That's ridiculous. But you are expected not to be rude, threatening, or disrespectful. Quit acting like you're out for blood and then maybe people like me will stop badgering you. As with my previous example, I don't bash country music and its fans just because I dislike country music. If a fan of country music came up to me asking what my opinion was on said genre, I would simply state that I dislike it, not, "I think it's ruining the music industry, uncreative, and its fans are mindlessly feeding on rehashed garbage." Is he going to respect me if I said the latter? No. Should he respect me even if it's just my opinion? No. Should I deride him for disagreeing with me? No. Should I be surprised that he's disagreeing with me? No. So why don't you get this? If I told you that you were a mindless fool who watched uncreative, garbage cartoons, how would you react? Not positively, as should be obvious. So drop the holier-than-thou attitude (and let's hope Oshii does too).
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ikillchicken



Joined: 12 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:06 am Reply with quote
Proud wrote:
Whoa whoa, hold on, when did Oshii directly state that a critique of the anime industry was one of his intentions behind the film?

To the best of my knowledge, at the Venice Film Festival there was a short videotaped introduction before the premiere of the film in which Oshii commented on how developed societies have come to a position of developmental stagnancy, where the youth of these societies find little motivation to strive for something in their lives because of instant gratification or innate privileges.

Now, the idea that this film is also a critique of the anime industry is certainly plausible, but this is Justin's interpretation of the film, and not Oshii's explicit intention. Unless there is some more illuminating material in the interview on the Blu-ray release, I'm fairly certain that Oshii's primary intentions were directed more towards the japanese youth.


I should hope that is the case. I'm no fan of the stagnant and repetitive elements that have appeared in anime, or the lack of creativity and originality. However, the last time Oshii actually made something original or creative was the original Ghost in the Shell back in 95'. It's been nearly a decade and a half since then and all he's directed is one shitty sequel so yeah, it definitely strikes me as hypocritical, or at least rather silly to finally direct another movie and have it complain of how there nobody is doing anything original in the anime industry.

Nights1stStar wrote:
That would be a very profound and accurate critique...if the above quote defined what exactly is a contributing member of society.
[snip]
This is no excuse to become a recluse, or hikkomori. I'm well aware of the pathetic, pitiful state most hikkomori are in. (My brother is one.) Many people think of them as unhappy, semi-living zombies who have no life purpose except to see the next episode of their favorite anime. But then, I look at the modern workplace, and I still see unhappy, semi-living zombies who have no puporse in life except to see their next (shrinking) paycheck.
[snip]
If Sky-Crawlers is about empty cycles vs truly living, it should be interpreted as an allegory of human life worldwide. To narrow it down and exclusively attack the anime industry (not even media in general!), seems discriminatory and narrow-minded.


This is by far the smartest thing I've read thus far regarding this film and the hikkomori phenomenon in general. I haven't seen Sky Crawlers yet but based on the review and my own views, this makes a whole lot of sense.

Fronzel wrote:
TranceLimit174 wrote:
humans work in order to attain pleasure in some form. If I could live a life of pure pleasure without work I would in a heartbeat and I can't think of a person who wouldn't. What I'm saying is it's easy to present a problem but a challenge to come up with a solution. Without a counterpoint as to why the lifestyle is wrong the whole film sounds like a bore on the surface and pretentious fingerpointing at its heart.


But it isn't a life of pleasure. Suito is a suffering wreck the entire film, and none of the pilots seems particualarly enthused about anything at all. Even if they're doing things you might expect them to enjoy, they've really just fallen into mindless, empty habit. All things tarnish in time.


True and I think this is the problem with hikkomori. It's not the choice to just live with their parents forever and never really grow up. I can very much understand their choice in that way. If somebody told me I could just not work and spend the rest of my life living in my parents basement and doing as I please, watching anime, etc I'd be all over it. Living a meaningless childish existence like that beats the hell out of growing up and living a crappy, equally meaningless adult life. No, what I don't understand and what I think makes hikkomori's life horrible and empty is how they for some reason slip into this mindlessness in their habits. If you're going to spend the rest of your life watching anime, don't you want it to actually be good anime? Yet all otaku seem to want is to see the same old thing over and over. No wonder their lives become monotonous and empty.
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Lemoncookies23



Joined: 02 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:43 am Reply with quote
Sam Murai wrote:
I'll say this while walking on eggshells, as someone that has yet to see the film, but while Oshii has laid out his criticism of the anime industry and its fans both in Sky Crawlers and in the past, I would really like to see him actually make a work that breaks through all of those staid ideas and expectations and ascends above what has and is being done.

Though I'm nowhere near as pessimistic or damning has he has been, I can see where he is coming from, but at the same time, if he truly has a problem with everything, instead of solely complaining and going on diatribes about it, he should do something proactive about it and challenge the industry by example. Produce something that, in your mind, will introduce new narratives and be confident and bold with it. Show everyone how things should really be done. Even if it's not limited to one single series or movie, lead by example and show everyone the way.

I'll give him credit and his due for making an unflattering, critical piece like SC, but after that and numerous other times he's stated his displeasure, I think it's long overdue time for Oshii to truly put his money where his mouth is and create the "antithesis" of anime. He has the clout and resources--do something about it, not just merely say/write/make something about it.


Exactly. If his target audience is Japanese youth, and specifically anime fans within that demographic, he's turning them off to what he has to say. As if hikikomori will rush out and get jobs after seeing a film openly bashing them. He's deluded. He's solving no problems. He's offering nothing new and exciting. He's just sitting back and flipping the bird at anime and its fans. What's that phrase, "If you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk." Yeah, that about sums it up.
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Zac
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:10 am Reply with quote
JairStout wrote:

Exactly. If his target audience is Japanese youth, and specifically anime fans within that demographic, he's turning them off to what he has to say. As if hikikomori will rush out and get jobs after seeing a film openly bashing them. He's deluded. He's solving no problems. He's offering nothing new and exciting. He's just sitting back and flipping the bird at anime and its fans. What's that phrase, "If you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk." Yeah, that about sums it up.


You're telling an artist to shut his mouth because you don't like what he's saying.

That is what you're doing. You may not believe it - I'm sure you don't - but that is exactly what you're doing.
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Zin5ki
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:39 am Reply with quote
ikillchicken wrote:
It's been nearly a decade and a half since then and all he's directed is one shitty sequel so yeah, it definitely strikes me as hypocritical, or at least rather silly to finally direct another movie and have it complain of how there nobody is doing anything original in the anime industry.

Speaking for myself, I found the sequel to be quite a different beast from the original. Different ideas within the same general theme were presented, and the resulting narrative effectively compromised the abruptness of its predecessor's ending.

As for TSC, I'm starting to have my doubts. As original as it sounds, I remain sceptical as to whether I can derive much entertainment from an animated critique.
Then again, Oshii hasn't let me down in the past, provided I've been aware of what to expect of him. Perhaps these critical points of his will become obscured behind the screenplay, such that I pay little attention to them.
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The Human Spider



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 9:20 am Reply with quote
ikillchicken wrote:

This[Nights1stStar's analysis] is by far the smartest thing I've read thus far regarding this film and the hikkomori phenomenon in general. I haven't seen Sky Crawlers yet but based on the review and my own views, this makes a whole lot of sense.


I agree. Although I've yet to see SC from what I've read about it in this review and elsewhere Nights1stStar's analysis seems to make the most sense. Though there might be some bias since it coincides with opinions about work and life that I also have. Is the "quiet desperation" line in the review an allusion to the Pink Floyd song "Time"?("hanging on in quiet desperation..." the tone of the review really reminds me of that song.)
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Veers



Joined: 31 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 9:49 am Reply with quote
Fronzel wrote:
Veers wrote:
You can call this kind of film pretentious or obtuse or whatever you want and in some ways I can't really disagree, but the point is that like it or not, if you're bothering to discuss it then it's likely done its job in making you think.

But people like to look at train wrecks, too. Surely you’ve seen lengthy discussions on why some piece of fiction was awful?

Er, I'm not really sure what you're getting at, unless you're calling TSC a train wreck of a film, which it really isn't because it's far too coherent and deliberate to be.

This film can be interpreted a lot of ways. Yet a lot of people seem to be fixating on the whole "critique of anime industry and fans" interpretation (some of you without even having seen it!) which, considering the review that's sparked this discussion, is a reasonable topic for discussion, but I challenge you to try watching the film and look for something else, something more damning (or, if you're like my friend, maybe something more inspiring), because everyone and every entertainment medium has and will get in ruts.

The real question is, what are you going to do when you get there?Are you going to accept or deny this fact? And if you accept it, are you going to stay or go? And if you chose to go, in what way will you do so? And this applies to far more than just anime.
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vashfanatic



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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:32 pm Reply with quote
As someone who hasn't seen the movie (but wants to, I'm going to rent it/check it out from the library as soon as I can), I'm basically going to say what I said the first time this was reviewed:

1) I hope that Oshii's response to hikikomoris/NEETs isn't to "just get over it." Anyone who would actually cut themselves off from human society and never leave their home has serious issues and needs help from someone else. (For an interesting solution to this, see the most recent work from Kageyama Kenji, Eden of the East)

2) You can lay the same charges of buying the same thing repackaged a hundred times at the feet of not just anime fans but almost anybody. I mean, look at American sitcoms or reality shows, or your average romantic comedy, action, or princess-themed Disney movie. And personally I don't resent any of those so long as they're well done, any more than I resent long-running shounen fighting series, moe-driven melodramas, or run-of-the-mill mecha shows. What I do resent is when truly creative stuff gets more or less ignored - where people are only watching the ordinary conventional stuff and never giving experimental, ingenious shows a try. If that's what Oshii's trying to say, then I agree.
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Help_me_Im_a_n00b



Joined: 21 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:01 pm Reply with quote
I know it took some years to make this film, but the message couldn't have come out in a worse time, especially with the recession.

I am currently working at the best job I could have, and it's still shitty compared to others. I still keep it because if I leave I might not find another job, and I also have time for myself and anime of course.

My brother who's become hikikimori became that way because he realized he can save more money by staying indoors as opposed to having a very active social life.

As the breadwinner I would want to tell him to get off his ass and find a job so I wouldn't be the only one slaving away, then again I do envy the copious amount of time my brother has, think of all the videogames I could play.

Ideally we would go out and get higher paying jobs so we could get married to women who demand 6-figure incomes and so we can beget children who will be the future taxpayers. But you know what, I honestly don't think there will be any social security left by the time I'm ready to retire. So I live as if there won't be any retirement at all -- that's the reality I have come to belive in. And right now I sure as heck dislike the fact that I am helping shoulder the costs of the older generation who messed up society to begin with.

Give me an environment with stable family relationships and I will gladly slave away to support them.

But with ridiculous divorce rates and the threat of child support payments, and a lifetime of heavy taxation in the new socialist world, I have come to the conclusion that this society is not worth supporting, and if I can totally withdraw, I would.
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Lemoncookies23



Joined: 02 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:58 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
JairStout wrote:

Exactly. If his target audience is Japanese youth, and specifically anime fans within that demographic, he's turning them off to what he has to say. As if hikikomori will rush out and get jobs after seeing a film openly bashing them. He's deluded. He's solving no problems. He's offering nothing new and exciting. He's just sitting back and flipping the bird at anime and its fans. What's that phrase, "If you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk." Yeah, that about sums it up.


You're telling an artist to shut his mouth because you don't like what he's saying.

That is what you're doing. You may not believe it - I'm sure you don't - but that is exactly what you're doing.


No, I'm not saying he should shut his mouth. What I am saying is that I don't like what he's saying, which should've been obvious from the start. Am I breaking any laws or insulting your sense of artistic liberty by not liking what he has to say? I should hope not, because I do happen to think that what he has to say about anime is ineffective, illogical, prudish, and above all, arrogant. Those in the entertainment industry aren't running a dictatorship. Fans, or maybe you would prefer "peons," can disagree with them and *gasp* not like what they have to say. I don't like what Tom Cruise, as an artist, has to say. I think Scientology is a dangerous cult. Is this an advocation that I hate the man's guts or want him to stop acting? Heavens no! See, we're getting back to that word I've been tossing around: respect. It's something I have for Oshii, even though he himself is disrespectful. And because of this, what I am advocating is that he stop being so pompous and degrading (and by that, you as well). Or is this not allowable?


Last edited by Lemoncookies23 on Wed May 27, 2009 5:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nights1stStar



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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:10 pm Reply with quote
The Human Spider wrote:
ikillchicken wrote:

This[Nights1stStar's analysis] is by far the smartest thing I've read thus far regarding this film and the hikkomori phenomenon in general. I haven't seen Sky Crawlers yet but based on the review and my own views, this makes a whole lot of sense.


I agree. Although I've yet to see SC from what I've read about it in this review and elsewhere Nights1stStar's analysis seems to make the most sense. Though there might be some bias since it coincides with opinions about work and life that I also have. Is the "quiet desperation" line in the review an allusion to the Pink Floyd song "Time"?("hanging on in quiet desperation..." the tone of the review really reminds me of that song.)

Cool I knew that my analysis had merit, but, wow...thanks, you two!

I'm glad that I managed to get my main point across: that you can be a Westerner who's never even heard of anime and still live a crappy life.

Office zombies aren't happy things to be, but they're socially expected, and perhaps even accepted or encouraged. Hikkomori, on the other hand, are pariahs. So when people criticize hikkomori while ignoring other groups, it makes me wonder if they aren't just happy to find someone to look down upon.

I've heard the term "quiet desperation" used from rock songs to Catholic preachers ( Exclamation ), so I can't say where it began. But it's definitely a nice expression. Fitting, yet not cliche.
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Nights1stStar



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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:23 pm Reply with quote
I think there's a main reason why there are some (a lot?) of people who don't think Sky Crawlers (or the review) is that revolutionary or insightful. For starters, Sky Crawlers isn't the first fantasy allegory we've seen. There are dozens of tv shows/films/books with the theme "Just Freakin' Grow Up Already!", and most of them aren't that great. Children's shows have that theme. Heck, even Naruto has that theme. For a fantasy allegory to be truly great, it should preferably present the concept uniquely, or reveal something about those phenomona not already overdone in the entertainment industry. Above all else, it has to capture the raw emotion of whatever social phenomona it's discussing. Most fantasy allegories, however, spend too much time window-dressing the special effects and hackneyed plots.

And Sky Crawlers might just be one of them. People living in virtual games/fake realities aren't new. Kids who don't want to grow up have been around since Peter Pan. If Sky Crawlers has observations on hikkomori or empty lives that haven't been said before, what are they? And does SC draw you into the raw, undiluted mind of a hikkomori like Welcome to the NHK? Now, tropes aren't always bad, and SC's definitely not a dumb or horrible film. Even if it attacks anime cliches by using a lot of cliches itself, it's still trying to get a message across, and that's more than I can say for most films. With it's status as an Ochii-film and it's semi-intelligence, it'll have its share of devoted defenders, but "a level of artistic expression far beyond the levels even the best anime strives towards"? Confused
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GATSU



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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:26 pm Reply with quote
Veers: I interpret SC as the work of a guy who feels out of touch with what's popular, but, unlike Anno, chose not to take the easy way out, by pandering to superficial people who easily swallow metaphysical bullshit. Unfortunately, Oshii went the opposite direction of Anno, and tried to be as blunt as possible with his approach, without giving us any sense of subtext.
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vashfanatic



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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 10:12 pm Reply with quote
Help_me_Im_a_n00b wrote:
But with ridiculous divorce rates and the threat of child support payments, and a lifetime of heavy taxation in the new socialist world, I have come to the conclusion that this society is not worth supporting, and if I can totally withdraw, I would.


I think you've got way too bleak a vision of the future, but setting that aside, if you really feel this way, you first might want to talk to someone about it - a therapist, a spiritual adviser, even just a friend. Get to the root of your problems and find a way of overcoming them.

And remember: it is not required that you get married, have 2.5 kids and join the rat race at work. There are other ways to live your life that can be meaningful that don't involve locking yourself in a room and playing video games. In America, there's the Peace Corps and Vista, or any number of government and non-government programs around the world who would love a full-time person who isn't tied down by a 9-5 job and a family. Or (and you're going to think I'm joking but I'm not) if you're religious and your religious tradition has a monastic tradition, maybe you might want to check that out. There's nothing wrong with alternative lifestyles, but don't cut yourself off from life entirely. Humans are meant to try to live together, in whatever way we can.

Quote:
I've heard the term "quiet desperation" used from rock songs to Catholic preachers ( Exclamation ), so I can't say where it began.


Henry David Thoreau, from Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." The ultimate example of a man trying to live outside the norm.
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ikillchicken



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 3:45 am Reply with quote
vashfanatic wrote:
Help_me_Im_a_n00b wrote:
But with ridiculous divorce rates and the threat of child support payments, and a lifetime of heavy taxation in the new socialist world, I have come to the conclusion that this society is not worth supporting, and if I can totally withdraw, I would.


I think you've got way too bleak a vision of the future, but setting that aside, if you really feel this way, you first might want to talk to someone about it - a therapist, a spiritual adviser, even just a friend. Get to the root of your problems and find a way of overcoming them.


I'm rather offended by this attitude. If someone has a bleak view of society's future they must have problems? That's bull. I mean, if you disagree with their view, that's fine. But what you're doing here is jumping to the conclusion that if anyone doesn't share your sunny optimistic view then the only explanation is that they have problems or something. It's extremely arrogant.
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