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Pile of Shame

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Pile of Shame - Colorful

Justin takes a look at an understated art house drama anime from a few years ago, and finds a lot to admire. ― COLORFUL To paraphrase Hideaki Anno, people don't commit suicide because they're depressed, people commit suicide because they can no longer imagine happiness. That thought occurred to me again and again while I was watching Colorful, the remarkable feature film produced by Sunrise in 2010,...

Pile of Shame - SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next

A forgotten Bandai Visual USA release featuring cel shaded kids exploring Tokyo's underground. ― SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next Anime fans who were around back in 2007 might remember a company briefly appearing on the scene known as Bandai Visual USA. If they do remember, it's usually not a fond memory: BVUSA was the first attempt by a major Japanese anime producer to insert themselves into th...

Pile of Shame - Dead Heat & 3D Anime

Justin takes a look at the first (and one of the only) 3D anime ever made, for an obscure videodisc system only sold in Japan. ― Dead Heat Sometimes the reasons behind an anime getting made are more interesting than the show itself. That's definitely the case with Dead Heat, an obscure 1987 OAV from Sunrise that runs only a half hour. Back in the wild days of the nascent 80s home video market, there...

Pile of Shame - Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman

Justin revisits what was once considered the finest sentai parody in the land. Does it still hold up? ― Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman It's always a terrifying thing, going back to old shows you loved when you were younger and revisiting them. Many of them, comedies in particular, tend to age very poorly. They connect with us at the time, but humor is just so particular and fickle -- what made y...

Pile of Shame - Bite Me! Chameleon

This little-seen delinquent comedy, an early ADV release, made Justin want to hurt himself. ― Bite Me! Chameleon There are at least four genres of anime that, no matter what anybody does, always seem to completely fall on their face when released in the West: sports, realistic military, yakuza and yankee (juvenile delinquent) shows. These were discovered through a lot of trial and error in the early...

Pile of Shame - The Tibetan Dog

An underappreciated Madhouse feature from 2011 featuring a boy and his dog in the harsh terrain of Tibet. ― The Tibetan Dog Japanese/Chinese co-productions don't happen very often. The last one I can think of would be 1997's anime adaptation of Tsui Hark's Chinese Ghost Story, which was charming in appearance but kind of a plodding, pointless affair. In 2007 another one started production, after ani...

Pile of Shame - The Enemy's The Pirates!

Justin tries to return to an old 90s favorite that has become more famous for its obscure, awful dub. ― The Enemy's The Pirates! ~The Cat's Banquet~ There's a Japanese tradition of stand-up comedy duos known as "manzai (漫才)." Manzai routines are high-speed, rapid-fire conversations between one person, who's an idiot or a weirdo of some kind (boke), and a straight man (tsukkomi), who's constantly mut...

Pile of Shame - MARCO: 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother

Justin takes a look at a remake of Takahata's World Masterpiece Theater classic. Does it hold up? Ehh... ― MARCO: 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother We need to declare a new genre of anime, right here and now. There needs to be a separate category for the metric ton of overwrought family fare Japan makes, that aims to be Studio Ghibli in quality, but ends up succumbing to its maudlin sentimentality a...

Pile of Shame - Eiji

Hisashi Eguchi's boxing manga got a short movie treatment back in 1990, but does it hold up? ― Eiji Hisashi Eguchi is probably a guy that's better known among Japanese creatives than among American otaku. As an illustrator and manga artist, he's designed characters for such anime as Roujin Z and Spriggan, heavily influenced the look of Satoshi Kon's characters (Perfect Blue's final look was based on...

Pile of Shame - Mermaid's Scar

Rumiko Takahashi's macabre OAV still holds up, and is still creepy, but the dub is really weird sounding. ― Mermaid's Scar Mermaid's Scar is one of those early stocked-at-every-Blockbuster-Video-in-the-country hits of the VHS era that almost every fan that came of age in the mid-90s saw at one time or another. Colorful, violent, and hypnotic in its own way, it made a big impression on 13-year-old Ju...

Pile of Shame - ESPer Mami: Hoshizora no Dancing Doll

Justin discovers a once-loved series by the creator of Doraemon, and finds it to be pretty dull. ― ESPer Mami: Hoshizora no Dancing Doll Even though it's never been particularly popular among anime fans in the West, most people at least have heard of Doraemon, Fujiko F. Fujio's famous magical large blue cat character who's the star of over 2500 episodes of TV anime and 35 movies (not including short...

Pile of Shame - Guyver: Out of Control

A mildly entertaining, but super-dated OAV incarnation of everyone's favorite superhero/grotesque monster/schoolboy. ― Guyver: Out of Control Guyver: Out of Control was one of the earliest anime VHS releases in the US, and being an alternate retelling of the same story that the same company, US Renditions, would later release in dubbed form, was one of the first titles to confuse the hell out of peo...

Pile of Shame - Full Moon O Sagashite

Justin takes a look back at the oddball Magical-Idol-Singer-With-Cancer Show from the early '00s. Because every little girl loves stories about dying tragically. ― Full Moon o Sagashite I often joke that I love shows about children suffering. I usually mean that as a joke: anime usually involves young protagonists, but too often their concerns are superficial: being the best at a game, or a sport, o...

Pile of Shame - 3x3 Eyes

Once a mainstay of anime club video rooms, 3x3 Eyes isn't brought up very often today. Does it stand up? Justin finds out. ― 3x3 EYES Yuzo Takada was never really a big name among American otaku, but back in the 90s his stuff ranked as some of the most popular anime of its day, including Blue Seed, Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, and this -- 3x3 EYES, a dark and gory adventure OAV that once adorned a good numbe...

Pile of Shame - Legend of the Dragon Kings

A highly mediocre adaptation of a best-selling book series that was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano and CLAMP. The anime looks nothing like that, of course. ― Legend of the Dragon Kings(A.K.A. Sohryuden, Legend of the Four Kings) When a much-loved book or manga series gets a TV anime adaptation, fans of the original work hold their breath. Some adaptations improve on the original work. Others take it...

Pile of Shame - Nitaboh

One of the few anime biographies, Nitaboh is surprisingly formulaic for being a true story. ― Nitaboh, The Shamisen Master Last year, an old friend of mine asked me to help a non-profit group of radio producers come up with a Kickstarter video for a public radio project called "Heavenly Sight," a multi-part audio documentary and web resource on blind African American blues and jazz musicians. It was...

Pile of Shame - Dark Warrior (Makyu Senjo)

A non-hentai show from hentai producers that somehow nobody remembers, despite getting two dubs. There's a reason. ― Dark Warrior (Makyu Senjo) It's pretty rare that an anime gets released in both the US and the UK, and with English dubs no less, and yet hardly anyone even remembers the show exists. Dark Warrior (AKA Makyu Senjo) is one of those, seemingly having made zero impact on fans upon its re...

Pile of Shame - Goddamn!!

A rally car racing OAV that, aside from the provocative name, doesn't make much of an impact. ― Goddamn!! Kaoru Shintani has never had much of an American fanbase. His most famous work, the fighter pilot drama series Area 88, landed in the US with a resounding thud in both of its anime adaptations as well as Viz's repeated attempts to publish the manga in English. I lay blame for that mostly in his ...

Pile of Shame - Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun

Isao Takahata's troubled first feature is easily the best anime of the 1960s. ― Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun It's the iron age, somewhere in Scandinavia, and a young boy warrior named Hols is just coming back home from a fierce battle with a pack of wolves. His father, on his deathbed, bids him to return to the Northern village they fled years ago, when an evil sorcerer named Grunwald devas...

Pile of Shame - Ai City

A sleeper sci-fi film from Koichi Mashimo that might break your brain, but will definitely dazzle your eyes while doing so. ― Ai City In the opening scenes of Ai City, we are dropped into the middle of a car chase in what is possibly New York City. In the back seat is a former cop, who was fired and is now a private investigator. He doesn't know why he's there, and neither do we. In the front seat a...

Pile of Shame - Natsuki Crisis

A fun two-part girls-fighting-in-high-school OAV that doesn't take itself too seriously... until it does. ― Natsuki Crisis When we first meet Kitsumi Natsuki, she's in her school dojo, gleefully trying to find a sparring partner. The rest of the team is all guys, but they don't stand a chance against the tomboy, and politely bow out. In addition to being fearfullly strong, Natsuki is also the protog...

Pile of Shame - Seven Cities Story

A two-part OAV that tries to transplant Legend of Galactic Heroes onto a sideways-rotated Earth, and succeeds only in being dull and confusing. ― Seven Cities Story One day, with no warning, the Earth's polar axis shifts 90 degrees, shaking up human civilization like an Etch-A-Sketch and killing everybody. Luckily by this time, humanity had a pretty decent settlement going on the moon, and once thin...

Pile of Shame - After School Tinker Bell

This week, an OAV based on a light novel series about a romantic couple that solves mysteries around their school. ― After School Tinker Bell In the last few years there have been a ton of anime adapted from light novels: those small, pulpy, simply written and easy-to-read populist books that lie somewhere between young adult novels and manga. But light novels have been around for a very long time, ...

Pile of Shame - Handsome Girl

Justin revisits an old one-shot OAV by the creator of Marmalade Boy... and is a little underwhelmed. ― Handsome Girl When I was in high school, I loved the show Marmalade Boy. A lot. In fact, I wrote an article about it! A perfectly addictive confectionary of chaste teenaged yearning and romance, and undiluted raw crippling angst, I lost many an evening to the adventures of the lovelorn protagonists...

Pile of Shame - The Sensualist

This week, a unique erotic historical fiction film that has completely slipped through the cracks. ― The Sensualist (A.K.A. The Life of an Amorous Man) I first saw The Sensualist as a fuzzy VHS tape when I was a teenager. While it's ostensibly an adult work, it never seemed lurid or arousing to me. Rather, it held this strange transcendent beauty. It felt like a piece of another person's life, so fo...

Pile of Shame - Emblem Take 2

This week, a rare yakuza time travel comedy. Perhaps the ONLY yakuza time travel comedy. ― Emblem Take 2 Yakuza aren't a pleasant topic. Japan's fully-entrenched organized crime families and organizations, and their connections with everything from banking to entertainment to politics show us Japan at its most corrupt and embarrassing. Unless you go looking for trouble in Tokyo, it's unlikely that a...

Pile of Shame: Ai Monogatari: 9 Love Stories

Trying to watch this OAV like biting into a large wad of wet cotton: it's not offensive or unpleasant, but you want to end the experience as fast as humanly possible. ― Ai Monogatari: 9 Love Stories If there's anything that anime lacks, it's real, adult love stories. We have enough yearning, angsty teen romance to sink a battleship, but realistic love stories about people whose frontal lobes are fir...

Pile of Shame - Wanna-Be's

Did anyone say "I want more women's wrestling anime?" .... No? Didn't think so. ― Wanna-Be's Lately there's been a lot of chatter about the girls' wrestling TV series, Wanna Be The Strongest In The World. Given that virtually none of the chatter is positive, I'm not really making plans to check out the show for myself. But hearing about a mediocre girls' wresting anime did jog my memory about anothe...

Pile of Shame - Grandeek: The Alternative

An early digipaint OAV that has a lot of potential, but is so awkwardly made that the storytelling really suffers. ― Grandeek: The Alternative When visiting Japan, one of my favorite things to do is explore the DVD sections of every Book Off location I can find. Usually I can identify and easily dismiss pretty much everything on the shelf, but every once in a while I happen upon something that I hav...

Pile of Shame - Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman

It could've been offensive, bawdy, witty and hilarious. Instead, it's just sort of lazy and crappy. ― Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman One thing you can say about Butt Attack Girl Punisher Gautaman (and its sequel OAV, Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman R), you know pretty much exactly what you're getting: a cut-rate early-90s dirty comedy OAV about a girl that beats dudes down with her butt. It o...

Pile of Shame - Yagami-kun's Family Affairs

This week, a slapstick comedy OAV from 1990 that's all about incest. ― Yagami-kun's Family Affairs Remember when incest was shocking? I mean that honestly. There was a time not long ago, even in otaku circles, when the idea of incest was odd and outré enough to elicit giggles from the less mature parts of ourselves, and maybe even an "oh god." You can tell what we used to be like by going up to your...

Pile of Shame - Moshidora

Only Japan would attempt to take a business management textbook and turn it into a high school sports story. ― Moshidora When I first heard the premise behind Moshidora, which is short for a ridiculously long title that translates to, "What If the Girl Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker's 'Management?'" I believe I laughed and said, "Oh, Japan." Because really, what other response i...

Pile of Shame - Kenya Boy

Adjectives fail Justin has he tries to describe the absolute insanity contained in a 1984 feature film retelling of a popular 1950s manga series. ― One of the benefits to writing a column on obscure anime for so long is that occasionally friends hand you things that they think would inspire a good column. Maybe it says something about the company I keep that these recommendations are usually along th...

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