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Buried Treasure Special Edition: Justin's Favorite Things

by Justin Sevakis,

This column seems like it's been happening pretty irregularly lately.

I'm indescribably burned out from working on the new licensed anime being launched on ANN (there's a lot more work behind that than you can imagine), so I'm looking forward to having some time off for the holidays. And just to demonstrate how burned out I am, I had prepared to write a great Buried Garbage article on Dog Soldier, completely forgetting that I'd just written about Dog Soldier in July.

So, forget it. It's the holidays. I recently started my third year writing this column. I've got a bottle of wine open, a box of Chinese takeout, and a shelf full of obscure little snippets that don't warrant a full column but are nonetheless fun and interesting. Think of me as a surly, male, half-white/half-Asian Oprah, and THESE ARE MY FAVORITE THINGS. Some of them are spectacularly bad, some of them are just spectacular.

Now scream, dammit.

Okay, okay... This... is one of my FAVORITE THIIIIINGS!

the Sushi TV Sizzle reel!

Sushi TV was an idea for a syndicated late-night TV show back in the mid 90s, made from edited-for-television versions of ultraviolent 80s OAVs and hosted by a sultry lady in a tight dress.

Now, I don't need to tell you that this is a cataclysmically bad idea. Apparently local TV programmers agreed, and the show was never put into production; all that exists is this short proof-of-concept video known as a "sizzle reel", which is a mini pilot that gives potential TV executives an idea of things they might want to buy, but probably won't want to watch.

What makes Sushi TV so spectacularly bad is how it's clearly the result of some executive being told that anime is the "big new thing" and then following that lead as to why exactly it was becoming popular. Suddenly, the sell was "cartoons with boobs and gore." (Well, that and the struggling actress trying oh, so hard to be sexy.) Ah, the 90s, how I don't miss thee.

For the record, the company that made this monstrosity, Summit Media Group, has clearly moved on to bigger and, uh, more popular things. In fact, they just produced a little movie called "Twilight."

GAGA Communications: Space Age Animation 1988 reel

GAGA Communications is a Japanese media company that most anime fans never really think much about: they're a distributor and a sales representative that used to be extremely involved in anime (and now mostly distributes American films and bad Japanese direct-to-video movies). Few realize just how instrumental the company was in the early days of anime in the States, as evidenced by this reel of shows they were actively soliciting for years before companies like AnimEigo and Central Park Media took the bait.

Included on the reel are clumsily edited promos for a ton of classic anime titles, from Project A-ko to Bubblegum Crisis... as well as a few pieces of unwatchable garbage like Crystal Triangle. Filled with cheesy 80s video effects and an amateur-sounding narration, the tape is notable for its creative renaming of the shows (A-ko and BGC became "Super Nova" and "Futurescape" respectively) as well as the shows that even in the bad old days nobody wanted US distribution rights for. Among the obscure old OAVs lie such titles as Scoopers (Monkey Punch does journalism) and the 1987 version of Maps.

FAVORITE THING #3 (the blatantly self-congratulatory item):
Always On The Edge 1.1 DVD

For several years Central Park Media would put out semi-regular catalogs on DVD, featuring all of the trailers we had ever made. These were cheap to make and often popped up in strange places, like the "Limited Edition" of the Utena movie, which featured a pink translucent case and... a trailer disc!

But few know that CPM also made trailer discs for their hentai division (Anime 18) and their bad direct-to-video Japanese movie division (Asia Pulp Cinema). Having edited a ton of trailers during my years at CPM, all of these discs are valuable, but the one that I show to people the most is the hentai disc, Always On The Edge 1.1. It's full of stuff I made during my tenure that are just so insane that nobody would believe they exist if I didn't show them.

Included are trailers for the perennial favorites La Blue Girl and Urotsukidoji, but my personal favorites are the ones that I can't believe I got away with. Like the "use video effects instead of animation" incest title Stepmother's Sin. My tagline: "Call her a slut. Call her a nympho. Call her MOM." (Also check out my extremely silly trailer of another incest anime, Mama Mia! It looks like it was animated in Windows Paint.)

Evident in this disc is the bizarre state of denial CPM was constantly in with their hentai, utterly refusing to refer to their product as porn. The disc emphasizes horror more than boobs, and divides the shows into two categories: Erotic Horror and Erotic Adventure.

...Well, I guess "adventure" is one way of putting it.

my home made DVD of Patlabor 2: The Movie

Sometimes being a video dork really has its advantages. For example, take my near incomprehensible love for the old Manga Entertainment dub of the second Patlabor Movie. It's got Peter Marinker in his best role ever, and enough droning expository dialogue with British sentence sturcture and American accents to lull anybody into a state of peaceful nerdiness.

Unfortunately, the gorgeous new deluxe DVD release from Bandai Visual didn't include this old English version for posterity. The Manga Video DVD looked like garbage. The solution? Yank out a few DVD ripping programs, realign the audio track in Final Cut Pro, and reauthor the whole thing onto a brand new custom DVD with my audio track of choice. (I even reproduced the subtitles, just to have freedom of language selection.)

So now I have the best possible video track with gorgeous remastered video and the old muffled dub I just can't leave behind. Sadly, I've done this with a growing list of shows I love. Yes, I am a gigantic loser. No, you can't have a copy.

And that's it! Have a merry Christmas, happy new year, and let's all get drunk and forget all the horribly depressing things in the world.

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