Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Speaking of game-changing anime titles, Evangelion rocked my world when I first saw it back in 1999. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't totally consensual. If you have a heart, this show (and the theatrical films) will emotionally rape you. I remember watching this with my girlfriend at the time, being depressed for a week afterward, and loving every minute of it. This show made me a lifelong fan of it's production company, Gainax. Whatever they have up their sleeves, you can be sure I'll check it out.

A decade after mankind was nearly wiped out in a huge cataclysm, three teenagers, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, are chosen to pilot the Evas, giant robots that have been built to protect the Earth from monsters (nicknamed Angels) that fall from the sky. For unknown reasons, these Angels are bent on destroying NERV, a corporation run by Shinji's father, Gendo Ikari. Battle after battle ensue as the Angels become smarter and more adept in their attacks. It is up to Captain Misato Katsuragi to train these kids to fight but at what cost? With the world on the brink at every turn, these questions remain: What are these creatures exactly and what are their intentions? Is the destruction of the human race really their only mission? What horrible secrets are lurking in the bowels of the NERV corporation's giant underground fortress?

Sounds a little generic, right? Sounds like a thousand other giant robot shows? Well, let me tell you something, this ain't your ordinary mecha-melodrama. This show takes high octane, high stakes action and blends it (to be fair, not always seamlessly) with psychoanalysis and religion. Evangelion is really, really smart. It is also populated by well written characters that you actually care about. It is also a gory spectacle with lots of disturbing imagery and more than a few jaw-dropping surprises throughout its run.

Now when I recommend this one, I am not fucking around. You need to see all 26 episodes of the original series and both theatrical films: Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion. If you survive that then check out the newly revamped and retold Rebuild of Evangelion films which expands the story (but I feel like they don't really stand on their own; but I might be wrong, there are still 2 more full length films that haven't come out yet). So yeah, if you haven't seen this show, check it out. If you have and didn't like it, give it another go. Evangelion is a richly rewarding experience.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Directed by Junichi Watanabe
50 minutes

Dr. Kishida has developed a mecha named Ariel in order to combat aliens that are determined to take over the Earth. Unfortunately for Kishida, only his granddaughters can pilot Ariel and all three hate him. Well actually only two. Aya is a brainy brat who just wants to finish college. Mia is a willful tomboy that refuses to be a mecha pilot. Kazumi is the youngest and least mature but she at least is willing to do whatever her grandpa asks of her. Hey, you pervert. It's not like that. Trust me, there is nothing like that going on here.

The aliens are lead by Albert Houser, a droopy-eyed sort who is kind of a loser. He has grand scale plans for planet Earth but the accounting department is the biggest threat to a successful invasion. Houser is assisted by Simone, a real wet blanket who is more concerned with the bottom line than conquering the universe. Another alien, a badass named Ragnus takes over the invasion so that some shit will finally happen in this fucking anime. But he has to contend with not only Ariel but also a traitorous alien duder named Saber Starburst (I'm not making that up) who wants to stop his alien brethren for some dang reason.

I picked up Ariel real cheap on VHS and I'm glad it was cheap. Don't get me wrong, this isn't too bad. I dig the action (especially the giant monster designs) and the characters are okay. The score is abysmally generic and lame in a bad way. I love how the threat of an audit from the alien IRS is helping keep Earth safe. So yeah, this is a decent timewaster. I haven't gotten around to Ariel Deluxe yet so I don't know if that is an improvement on not.

With arms wide open!

I could be an uglier designed giant robot but I just don't know how.

Hi, we're monsters. We both think we're wasted here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mimsy - First

One of the things that brought Brad and I together (not like that!) was music. Even though he and I have some artists and genres in common, our musical tastes branch out way beyond what we can both agree on. Somehow this means that we can do some serious collaboration via email. Brad sent me some beats he made and I sent him some guitar recordings I did. So we sampled each other (ewwwww) and our mutual love of Mimsy Farmer was the reason for it all. This is the first collection of our tracks. Expect more. We hope you enjoy.

Here is the Bandcamp page.

A video:

Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01

Metal Skin Panic Madox-01
Directed by Shinji Aramaki
45 minutes

This weapon designer lady named Ellie designs a weapon called the Madox-01. It's a mechanized suit that allows the person riding in it to blow shit up and fly and jump and shit. She pilots it and during a test run, she pisses off a tank driver named Shitballs. Shitballs vows revenge on Ellie but really he has no real plan of action. I mean, what can he do? This is the military. There is no room for personal vendettas. Do you understand what I'm saying? While the Madox-01 is being transported through the city, a drunk driver causes an accident and the unit falls into the hands of Daydreamer. Daydreamer is a putz who lives with the sexually frustrated Potato Head, the freckle-faced jackoff bastard.

A couple years ago, Daydreamer broke up with his girlfriend because she wasn't paying enough attention to him or whatever. She's back in town and wants to meet up. Stuck inside the Madox-01, Daydreamer decides to keep their date at the top of the MacMillan Toy Company building. This fucking guy. What the fuck? Hilarity ensues when Ellie and Shitballs pursue Daydreamer so that they can reclaim the Madox-01.

Boy was I surprised when I started watching this garbage. Metal Skin Picnic is bafflingly shitty, totally generic, and boring to boot. There are good people behind this so maybe my expectations were a little high going into it. But holy shit, there is just no excuse for this. The action is okay-ish but the characters are very bland and the plot just isn't interesting. Don't waste your time.

Look, it's so EASY that even this GIRL can pilot it!

Potato Head and Daydreamer, now and forever. I wish these two would boff and be done with it.

What are you reading, you fucking sicko?

Obligatory mecha action screenshot.

We may be adults but we have teenage-sized problems.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Megazone 23 - Part II

Megazone 23 - Part II
Directed by Ichiro Itano
82 minutes

The humans aboard the spaceship Megazone 23 are still unaware that a) they're not on frickin' Earth and b) that they are at war with an alien race. Shogo (named Johnny Winters in the English version) is still a dang rebel rouser. He has been living underground since discovering the truth in the last movie. One day, he rides a motorcycle through a mall for some reason. Then he and his gang get into an all-out riot with some cops. He is reunited with Yui (AKA Suzy Sue in the English) and things are tense because they’re dumb. Eve tries to contact Shogo so he goes off to try and meet her.

The military intercepts Eve’s transmission and sets up a decoy to catch Shogo. He and his crew get ambushed by da gubbment but they escape on a Bahamut (a mecha-motorcycle thingie). Now Shogo’s gang is arming themselves with machine guns and Molotov cocktails to got to war with the cops. Shit just got real. After some intense fighting, the alien enemy interrupts with their tentacle fury and the surviving members of Shogo’s gang witness first hand that we ain't alone in da universe. 

The military duder meets up with Shogo and explains to him what the heck is going on. There is an alien race called the Gorik and they are dicks. To combat them, the moon was built into some kind of weapon to destroy them. Of course, anything that gets in the way is also destroyed and Megazone 23 is now in danger. So yeah, the human race is up shit creek. Have I mentioned that I’m watching the Harmony Gold translated version? It is fucking obtuse. I'm not even sure I'm explaining this correctly.

Shogo and Yui finally get to meet Eve and it’s just in time too. Yui got shot during the fight and of course a being like Eve (whatever she is) is able to heal her just in time. While that’s going on, Eve and Shogo shoot the shit. He bitches about how grownups are jerks or whatever. She tells him that 500 years ago, the ship took the remaining humans into space and tricked them into thinking they were still on Earth. Then she enacts a program called ADAM which will take the ship back to Earth. Whether or not this will mean the extinction of the human race, well Eve doesn’t know. This is a little damn confusing.

Well, Megazone 23 – Part II is pretty dang fun. The plot is kind of a head-scratcher but there's lots of space and mecha action. The motorcycle gang scenes are ultra-violent and very reminiscent of the ones in Akira. Part II also has an intriguing atmosphere that I can’t quite put my finger on. The animation is Very nice though it is a different style from Part I. That being said, I really don't like the character designs. They're kind of ugly. Okay, they are really fucking ugly. Shogo even has a sexy mullet. Director Itano would go on to direct the amazing Gantz anime series. The score is okay. It relies on too much heavy metal in the action sequences.

“Sorry Lightning, I’m just not in a party mood, I guess.”

Monday, September 17, 2012


If one man encompasses what it means to be a master of anime then that man is Hayao Miyazaki. Here are my thoughts on the directorial efforts of his that I have seen.

The Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro is easily in my top 5 favorite animated features of all time. Very few films balance breathtaking adventure, slapstick comedy, and mystery as well as this one does. Even if you’re not familiar with Lupin and his buddies, you will very likely dig on this movie the moment it begins. This is also one of the best loved and most influential anime features of all time and it is easy to see why. Even on a pan and scan VHS, I loved the hell out of Castle. Ultra-highly recommended even for the casual viewer not well versed in the world of anime.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Wow. Just wow. Despite everything by Miyazaki I’ve seen, nothing compares to the sheer awesomeness of Nausicaa. This post-apocalyptic fantasy came to me by way of a bootleg VHS and my life has never been the same since. Nausicaa is haunting, sad, and very entertaining even in its heavier, Earth Day message-laden moments. This came out in 1984 but it feels much older somehow. The animation and direction are masterfully done. This is easily my favorite of Miyazaki’s films. Essential.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

I have seen Laputa two or three times now and it has barely managed to hold my attention with each viewing. I’m not sure what I’m missing. The action is good and the characters seem interesting but somehow this film never comes together for me. That being said, I will happily give it another shot, maybe it’ll click.

My Neighbor Totoro

If this wonderful children’s film doesn’t melt your heart, you ain’t got one, darn it. Totoro is one of the sweetest and strangest films targeted at kids that I’ve ever seen. While I’m not really in the mood for a film like this very often, I feel like I am a better person having seen it.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

And here is yet another kid’s film from Miyazaki. Kiki’s Delivery Service is an excellent rainy day movie to lift your spirits. I was very skeptical going into this film (especially with the lame opening song in the English dub) but it delivers on the fun and the surprising amount of tension in the silly magical goings on. Don’t eat so many pancakes.

Porco Rosso

This could very well be one of the most original animated films ever. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Porco Rosso is an adventure film of the highest order with lots of comedy and straight-faced weirdness. This one isn’t essential but it is definitely worth checking out if you are on a Miyazaki kick.

Princess Mononoke

If you were looking for a thematic follow-up to Nausicaa, then look no further. Princess Mononoke became my most anticipated film in 1999. My girlfriend at the time had acquired a bootleg of this film but I was so excited at the possibility of a US theatrical release that I refused to watch it. Luckily, this film did indeed get a theatrical release and I was there to see it on the big screen. Even with the so-so English dub (I have to go with the Japanese on this one), the experience was electrifying. Shit, just thinking about this film makes me want to watch it again.

Spirited Away

This kid’s film has a secret: it scares kids! I caught Spirited Away in theaters in 2002 and was instantly swept up in the supernatural oddness. Even with a less than rudimentary knowledge of Japanese superstitions and folklore, I was still caught completely off guard by how wacko this film is. I came out of the theater with a spring in my step and creepy spirits in the corners of my mind.

Howl’s Moving Castle

For some dumbass reason, I avoided Howl’s Moving Castle for as long as possible. The trailers just made it look like it was going to be really bad to me. And while it may never be one of my favorites, this film has grown on me. If you happen to be a fan of book (I’ve never read it), don’t be put off by how different HMC is from the source material because I think you’ll be in for a treat.


I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when Ponyo came to theaters in the summer of 2009. Obviously, it looked like a kid’s film and it most certainly is. However, there is so much magic and so much wonder in this freaky movie that anyone could dig on it if they gave it have a chance. Oh and drug users should watch this. Somewhere during all the underwater trippy insanity, I looked over at my wife and whispered, “This is such a good drug movie.” I have mentioned it before on this blog but the Ponyo rap song at the end of the English version made everyone run out of the theater before the credits had barely even started. Hilarious.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight

Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight
Directed by Takeshi Shirado, Eiichi Yamamoto, Toshio Masuda
Original version: 140 minutes
US version: 90 minutes

The year is 2099 and Earth is sending a new type of spaceship, the Starlight, out to explore the galaxy. The ship is like a ship with sails, a boatswain, a poop deck, a plank, I don’t know, the works. This big laser sends a beam out through space and the Starlight follows it. When the crew is about to do their big warp drive test, they pick up a distress signal from a ship called the Alfred. Next thing you know, some asshole named Akira starts dive-bombing the Starlight with his little space fighter. The crew is amused and decide to let him on board. When they test the warp drive, Akira ends up piloting the fucking ship.

So they get to the wreckage of the Alfred and they find a lone survivor, a girl with white hair named Sarah Cyanbaker. The crew of the Starlight also encounter a dickish alien race who begin a series of relentless attacks on their ship. When the alien spacecraft self-destructs, it causes the Starlight to fly through a space buttcrack which transports them even farther away from home. The aliens are related to Odin or whatever. Sarah can read the ancient alien language or Norwegian and they are searching for Odin or whatever. I fell asleep a lot during this stuff. Long story short, the Starlight goes against the alien threat in a huge battle.

The first thing you need to know about this movie is the heavy metal songs in the soundtrack. The famous Japanese metal band Loudness provides the score for some pretty hilarious scenes of the crew running toward their posts on the ship. Be sure to stick around for the epilogue of the film when Loudness themselves actually make an appearance. The rest of the score is made up of pleasing synthy bleeps and bloops.

The second thing you need to know about this movie is its length. This movie is way, way too long for its own good. I actually recommend the American version over the Japanese. It’s 50 minutes shorter and it keeps all the good stuff intact. If you choose to do the longer cut, just put it on mute, get high, and put on your Yes records or your Helloween records or whatever the fuck. I tried to do the Japanese version and passed the hell out. I went back and saw that I had slept through the climactic battle. It's worth staying awake for, I guess. Or not.

Let me tell a little story with these screenshots:

Thursday, September 13, 2012


AKA Genma Taisen
Directed by Rintaro
132 minutes

I was 16 years old when my mom sent me off to stay with our family friend in San Diego. I hit the local video store like a man possessed. I figured that video stores out in California would have huge selections of Japanese animation. Boy was I wrong (or maybe I was just at the wrong store). Anyway, they didn’t have crap. The only tape that wasn’t familiar to me was something called Harmagedon. It had Katsuhiro Otomo’s name all over it so I figured “Hey, this has got to be as good as Akira, right?” Boy was I wrong again. I triple hated the shit out of Harmagedon and haven’t watched it again… until now!

This fairly obnoxious doomsayer is running around Tokyo predicting terrible shit and then Princess Luna of Transylvania has a vision while flying in a big jumbo jet. A giant evil force named Genma is devouring the universe and it’s got a big (metaphoric) hard-on for Earth for some reason. The plane is destroyed by an asteroid and Luna becomes Psionic Warrior Luna, defender of the Earth. She is commanded by Floy, a benevolent supernatural force, to take Vega, a 2200 year old combat android, to save the dang world.

Luna and Vega’s first mission is to recruit Jo, an ordinary Japanese high school student (and jerkwad), and awaken his psionic powers. Jo freaks out and runs around misusing his powers. When he finally gets his shit together and faces his creepy sister-love complex, he agrees to join the fight against Genma. The slimy and weird looking monster generals that work for Genma go after Jo using the people he cares about like his bitchy girlfriend, his dorky friend, and of course, his sister Michiko. Ohhhh Michiko. Ohhhh, dear sweet, overprotective and smother MichikOH BABY BABY, OH BABY BABY!

So okay whatever, Luna gathers together her multinational team of psionic warriors to train Jo on the fly and get ready to battle Genma. New York City is destroyed and Tokyo just kind of dies in a sandstorm or something? Jo finally stops being a pussy and rises to become the strongest of the psionic duders and well, you can kind of guess the rest of the movie from there.

I am really glad I gave Harmagedon another chance. It didn't blow my mind or anything but it wasn't nearly as horrible as I remembered. Sure it is a little long in the tooth and there are a few cheese-stank maudlin moments (the scene where Jo leads the animals out of the burning forest like he was Animal Jesus!), but Harmagedon has some great scenes and even some dashes of horror that really worked for me. As for Katsuhiro Otomo's involvement, he did the character designs and some animation work. This really is Rinatro's beast.