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REVIEW: Sky Crawlers


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ikillchicken



Joined: 12 Feb 2007
Posts: 7272
Location: Vancouver
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:52 am Reply with quote
Hmm. I can certainly understand Oshii's feelings over the lack of originality or creativity in anime. I think largely though it's just the way things are in any industry. I'm rather disappointed though, from the review it sounds like he has once again he has opted for philosophy over entertainment. In that way, Oshii actually presents a similar but opposite problem to the one he brings up. He is the other end of the spectrum. Much of anime lacks any degree of originality, experimentation or depth, instead being nothing more than a duplicate cash in appealing to the lowest common denominator of entertainment. I wonder if Oshii doesn't take it too far the other way though and get so caught up in his attempt at artistic expression and deeper meaning and symbolism that he neglects the element of entertainment necessary. I'm not even referring to that lowest form of entertainment but rather presenting a coherent, compelling piece that does more than unsubtly explaining your view. It was the avoidance of this flaw and the ability to find a reasonable balance that made the original GitS such a masterpiece and his failure to do so that made Innocence a disappointment. I will certainly still see SC and maybe I'll still enjoy it but it sounds like it may be another example of this problem.
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Majic



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 9
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:14 am Reply with quote
"Who Watches The Watchers?"

I think it's an excellent review, and find much (though by no means all) of the criticism of it in this thread to be somewhat overreaching.

In particular, speculative ad hominem attacks directed at the reviewer, aside from being irrational, constitute pointless, self-indulgent distractions from an otherwise interesting discussion.

When I read an anime review, I'm looking for enough information about the show to make an informed decision about watching it. Whether it can be categorized into analysis, opinion, exposition, evaluation, interpretation, examination, estimation, explication, investigation or prognostication is irrelevant. I just want to know what someone who's seen the show has to say about it.

This review provides a well-considered assessment that I find quite edifying. That's all I need. Nothing more is required.

That said, I can't help but note some rather thick irony in all of the hubbub.

After all, it is no secret that the reactions of critics and the critics of critics often reveal more about themselves than the subject at hand. It certainly seems a few choice nerves have been struck in this case, and I can't help but wonder if Oshii-sensei might have intended for much of what is playing out here to occur.

Perhaps igniting controversy and self-examination was indeed the point of the exercise. If nothing else, the review and reactions to it suggest that The Sky Crawlers offers more than would otherwise meet the eye.

My curiosity about the movie is piqued and I'm now interested enough to plan on watching it. Many other potential viewers appear to be similarly engaged. If that doesn't constitute the outcome of a successful review, then perhaps the definition of what constitutes a successful review requires reconsideration.

My two yen. Your Mileage May Vary. Wink
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configspace



Joined: 16 Aug 2008
Posts: 3717
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:01 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

Just so I'm not taking more credit than I deserve, the idea of the film being a pointed, perhaps interventionist depiction of hikikomori and those stuck in a perpetual adolescence comes directly from the press kit, and from Oshii's notes. So while there is certainly some interpretation on my end in this review, its indirect subject matter is pretty much declared outright. Its being a more pointed analysis of the anime side of such matters is where my interpretation comes in.

The delineation between views that were expressed by Oshii and your own is not clear in the review; that is, what you interpret the idea of Kildren to be a metaphor of.

Quote:
While the film and its themes could be applied to anybody living in disconnected modern society, living their lives of quiet desperation, it's glaringly obvious to anybody with an intimate knowledge of anime and its surrounding culture that this film is about otaku. 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).

just curious, was that Oshii's intention?
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petran79



Joined: 10 Jun 2006
Posts: 122
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:46 pm Reply with quote
Veers wrote:


This is not a problem unique to anime. It may be a prevalent issue with anime at this time, but it's not unique to anime. Every creative medium runs into this kind of "problem"; music, anime, comic books, video games, novels, movies, etc. Or, rather, the real issue is that as the audience of these art forms become more and more knowledgeable about the form, the audience perceives what is natural (the limits of or seeming lack of creativity, emergence of patterns, predictability, references, etc.) as a problem. Look at hundreds of years of European and American literature--the reuse of basic storylines, character types, and settings is rampant, but people keep on writing and reading novels. (Note: I don't think comparing anime to literature is like oranges to oranges, but it's similar enough to make a point.)


regarding popular music, one of the leading theoriticians wrote an essay

http://libcom.org/library/on-pop-music-theodor-adorno-george-simpson

this is one of the interesting quotes

The previous discussion shows that the difference between popular and serious music can be grasped in more precise terms than those referring to musical levels such as "lowbrow and highbrow," "simple and complex," "naive and sophisticated." For example, the difference between the spheres cannot be adequately expressed in terms of complexity and simplicity. All works of the earlier Viennese classicism are, without exception, rhythmically simpler than stock arrangements of jazz. Melodically, the wide intervals of a good many hits such as "Deep Purple" or "Sunrise Serenade" are more diffficult to follow per se than most melodies of, for example, Haydn, which consist mainly of circumscriptions of tonic triads and second steps. Harmonically, the supply of chords of the so-called classics is invariably more limited than that of any current Tin Pan Alley composer who draws from Debussy, Ravel, and even later sources. Standardization and non standardization are the key contrasting terms for the difference.

Regarding literature, it is not a coincidence that "The Lord of The Rings" was one of the most popular books of the 60s and 70s. But in general there were works that wanted to make a social statement and there were other works that wanted to emphasize that despite the many problems, life has no meaning so as to seek change.
You can say that in these fields art and entertainment were combined.

But even in cases where there was escapism like in The Beatles, it helped in the emancipation of youths from the confining formalities and conventions of their elders. On the other hand if it werent for the classical music composers there would be no popular music today. Only in the fine arts was there a relative high culture, with movements such as pop art and abstract expressionism emerging. But if you exclude the worth of millions certain art works have, then I wonder whether that makes them truly art or just collector's items. So even in the fine arts you see a split.
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Veers



Joined: 31 Oct 2008
Posts: 1197
Location: Texas
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:25 pm Reply with quote
petran79 wrote:

regarding popular music, one of the leading theoriticians wrote an essay

http://libcom.org/library/on-pop-music-theodor-adorno-george-simpson

Fascinating read, thanks for the link.
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BrianRuh



Joined: 17 Dec 2003
Posts: 162
Location: West Lafayette, IN, USA
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:56 am Reply with quote
So I was just watching Ghost in the Shell (the new 2.0 version) and Kusanagi's comments on the need to not over-specialize reminded me of the discussions here about Sky Crawlers. Perhaps this is something that's been on Oshii's mind for a while now and why he has so many creative outlets other than anime.
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The Human Spider



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 334
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:59 am Reply with quote
DuelLadyS wrote:
I find it a bit ironic that this film is described as a parallel to the drugery of anime and its fans... becuase I've had the Pinky Street figures of the 2 main characters on pre order for awhile now.

Guess they don't hate the same ol' routine enough to avoid the same ol' merchandise opportunities. Laughing


I thought the title sounded really familiar, now I remember I first became aware of it when I saw the Pinky Street SKY CRAWLERS figures for pre-order on a website. I love how such cute otaku-centric merchandise can be made for for such an anti-otaku movie. I wonder if Nendoroid SKY CRAWLERS figures are next.
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chicogrande



Joined: 11 Jun 2004
Posts: 190
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 3:38 pm Reply with quote
I think the animation industry in Japan is stuck creatively. That is, looking at it from a US perspective. Anime, it seems, is simply a stream of risque school comedies, risque fantasy/sci fi adventures and risque slice of life dramas. This tantalizing cheap buffet of panty shots is lightly peppered with small instances of insightful concepts and creative animation. Some may argue that it is the same malady affecting the US animation industry where animation blockbusters feature an infernally long selection of smart-alecky animal characters without underwear. The Japanese, as the Americans, are pumping out what is making the most money.
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Uthred



Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 79
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:48 pm Reply with quote
I thought it was an interesting enough review but found the bit about american youth to be a little jingoistic.
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 15403
PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:51 am Reply with quote
Brian: Import?

chico: Anime is in a rut, but not as much so as American animation.
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vanfanel



Joined: 26 Dec 2008
Posts: 1251
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:51 am Reply with quote
Having both seen the movie and read the Hiroshi Mori novel, maybe I can add a little more to the discussion.

* There are several other books; the movie only covers the first one. Hiroshi Mori has described the series as something you could pick up and start reading at any point in any book.

* The movie is almost exactly the same as the first book of the series. There are incidental Oshii-isms added (basset hound, Polish dialogue scenes, etc), and some technical details omitted, but for the most part, it's scene-for-scene the same. I recognized a number of dialogue scenes as being copied verbatim from the book.

* However, there is one big ol' change near the end; I can't talk about it without major spoilers, though. Seriously, if you plan to see the movie and haven't already, don't read this: In both the movie and the book, spoiler[there's a scene near the end where it looks like Kannami is going to shoot Kusanagi through the heart and kill her. In the book, he does so.] From that point forward in the movie, however, you're in new territory (assuming Oshii didn't borrow those events from later novels).

* Maybe this is my imagination, but when Oshii took off on his tangent, I strongly suspected that other people in the audience had also read the book, because I seemed to sense surprised reactions around me besides my own. And I was moved, to tell the truth, in a way that I never was by the book.

* My take on the book was that it showcased the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, being realized through an SF conceit. Otaku and hikikomori never once occured to me. Perhaps that's what Oshii got out of it, or what it reminded him of, but I'm highly skeptical of the idea that that's what the original story is about.

* I preferred the movie's ending, and don't feel the need to read more of the books.

Hope some of this is useful.
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 15403
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:15 am Reply with quote
van:
Quote:
Maybe this is my imagination, but when Oshii took off on his tangent, I strongly suspected that other people in the audience had also read the book, because I seemed to sense surprised reactions around me besides my own. And I was moved, to tell the truth, in a way that I never was by the book.


I guess the novel's more popular than expected.

Quote:
My take on the book was that it showcased the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, being realized through an SF conceit.


That was my original take on the movie, actually, until Oshii hammered the point home a few times too many.

Quote:
Otaku and hikikomori never once occured to me. Perhaps that's what Oshii got out of it, or what it reminded him of, but I'm highly skeptical of the idea that that's what the original story is about.


Maybe it was an excuse for Oshii to connect with contemporary Japanese audiences? Or maybe he was frustrated trying to understand them, and he deliberately chose to piss them off with something they'd have to actually pay attention to for once? Anyway, thanks for the info, as I doubt any one will publish this series here any time soon. I'm still waiting for the novels which inspired the Kon movies to get English editions.

Quote:
I preferred the movie's ending


It's not really an "ending", but I guess it can be called one, next to that of the Blood movie.
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Uthred



Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 79
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:29 pm Reply with quote
vanfanel wrote:
* My take on the book was that it showcased the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, being realized through an SF conceit. Otaku and hikikomori never once occured to me. Perhaps that's what Oshii got out of it, or what it reminded him of, but I'm highly skeptical of the idea that that's what the original story is about.


After watching the film Im not convinced that its what the films about either - I suppose thats the joy of such things that the audience interpret's the text based on their own existing belief system. To be honest while I know nothing about the reveiwer and dont want to assume anything the review did seem to have undertones of the kind of pretentious self conflict that often runs through reviews on this site - the need of reviewers to categorise all anime as "art" and interpret it as such as opposed to interpreting it as simple entertainment which is what it often is. There seems to be an unwillingness for people to simply accept the fact they like watching cartoons.
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vanfanel



Joined: 26 Dec 2008
Posts: 1251
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:27 am Reply with quote
All big thematic questions aside, I think it was also about...its story and its characters. It worked fine on that level, and what I enjoyed about Oshii's version was that at the very end it finally did make me care about these people in a way the book didn't. I even felt that the post-credit bit was more hopeful than cruel, though maybe that was because I went in knowing the other way things could go.
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azabaro
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Joined: 06 Jul 2007
Posts: 252
PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:26 pm Reply with quote
vanfanel wrote:

* My take on the book was that it showcased the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, being realized through an SF conceit. Otaku and hikikomori never once occured to me. Perhaps that's what Oshii got out of it, or what it reminded him of, but I'm highly skeptical of the idea that that's what the original story is about.


Ah! I've never read the books, but that was exactly the interpretation I came up with. I toyed with the idea that it was a commentary on otaku (children who never grow up lead repetitive, empty, meaningless lives), but by the end of the film I'd discarded that idea - even characters who try to find a way out (by dying) or try to grow (by killing the Teacher) are caught in the cycle - there's no hope for escape. But that doesn't mean there's no hope at all: the epilogue after the credits seems to show both Kusanagi and Kannami's new incarnation as basically happy. If I had to describe the film's message, I'd say it's that you should focus more on enjoying the life you have rather than wishing for a better one. Not as wonderful as Yotsuba's "enjoy everything" perhaps, but a lot more optimistic than what Justin got out of this.
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