Anime World Order Show # 111 – Carl Weathers Did NOT Beat Up Any Vietnamese

Another new year, another set of broken promises from us. No, we didn’t get a final recording out before the end of 2012. But we’re back, and this time Daryl reviews Kids on the Slope. To his surprise.

Due to new iTunes requirements (and by “new” we mean “six months old”), we’ve changed our iTunes logo to be one of the various high-res, NOT made in MS Paint logos we’ve got. Due to WordPress upgrades, we’ve had to switch the podcasting plugin we used for all these years. The older posts will display the player twice, but the player and download link should now display on EVERY post, regardless of if you are viewing a permalink or are looking via the frontpage. If you are still not seeing the download links, let us know. (Also, if you can make us a short looping motion graphic that we can use for our “post the audio reviews to Youtube” aspiration, because that still shot stuff is CLYDESVILLE and AWO is the podcast that SWINGS, baby.)

Introduction (0:00 – 23:30)

We’ve had a lot of guest appearances on other podcasts recently. Daryl was on the ANNCast along with Mike Toole to talk about…lots of anime stuff, then was on The Speakeasy podcast discussing the merits of watching anime weekly vs in marathon sessions / in groups vs alone, and then both Daryl and Gerald were on the Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast to discuss The FP.

Our replies to this episode’s emails probably aren’t what everyone who wrote in was hoping for. Those looking to professionally write about anime like we do…may not necessarily have as easy a time. On that note, check out the Otaku USA picks for “best anime of 2012” and expect some more ruminations on Getter Robo there real soon. The rest have us pondering our mortality as we direct listeners to previous episodes we recorded when they would have been in the third grade (specifically, this review of Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid), and contemplate whether anyone else who isn’t our age can actually give a crap about Macross: Do You Remember Love? given all that’s transpired since.

Review: Kids on the Slope (23:30 – 1:20:25)
First off: our mistake. Kids on the Slope isn’t actually out on home video in the US just yet. It’s still about four months out. For now, you can view the entire series free of charge, legally, via the streaming site Crunchyroll. It amazes us how many people still use bootleg streaming sites, but to their credit many anime fans still don’t know which sites are legit and which aren’t. Out of practice and without notes or preparation, Daryl found himself having to improvise free-form in doing this review. But maybe that’s okay considering this show is about improvisational jazz. Also, cranking up the Maybe They’re Gay beyond the level of “Awesome” straight to the josei-default level of “Internet.” Given the staff pedigree–one needn’t say more than “from the makers of Cowboy Bebop”–this was one of the most watched simulcasts of last year. But how’s it compare? Time to meet the Buddha.

While you’re waiting for the next episode to come out, check out The Golden Ani-Versary of Anime, as co-ordinated by the really interesting to stare at Geoff Tebbetts. He’s conscripted a team of bloggers, podcasters, and other anime luminaries to write posts dedicated entirely to one year of anime, starting with 1963 (the debut of Astro Boy TV) and culminating with 2013. So far, they’re up to 1970. In one month’s time, they’ll be on 1980…which is the year they convinced Daryl to write about. Given that he’s never actually done any anime blogging before, perhaps he should be writing that now instead of 3 weeks from now…

29 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 111 – Carl Weathers Did NOT Beat Up Any Vietnamese”

  1. Kids on the Slope wasn’t bad, but I agree it isn’t the masterpiece that some people were expecting. I wasn’t anticipating it to be great but I was pleasantly surprised. I love music though, and was impressed by all that jazz. I don’t know how bored you guys were at the school talent show, but that was pure enjoyment and one of the highlights of the series for me. [You don’t know?! I called it “the emotional climax of the series”! –Daryl]

    But overall it’s kinda just above average. Definitely never felt like dropping it. It was definitely gay though.

  2. Great discussion on DYRL, guys. I’ve argued for a while now that the movie is overrated and fans interested in watching the best anime has to offer need to see the TV series. I agree with nearly all the points you raised about why the movie hasn’t aged well and probably wasn’t all that great in the first place. I can relate to how it came to be regarded as a classic, though, because there are lots of questionable romantic anime I adored in my late teens that have soured when I rewatch them in my late twenties after becoming a more sophisticated viewer of Japanese cartoons. The cliches and clueless sexism have become more obvious and harder to tolerate the older I get.

    In fact, I think a good parallel of DYRL for people about my age is Clannad: After Story, which is STILL the highest ranked anime on ANN. [It’s actually Steins;Gate now. But Clannad: After Story is number two, and the difference is only by a hair. –Daryl] The twist on its own fairly traditional school romance setting resonates when you’re in your late teens/early twenties, when you have your entire life ahead of you and can relate to the main character more. The novelty of telling what happens after the school romance ends resonates really well at that stage in life, and stuff like inlaws, your first job, marriage, childbirth and death was something almost no other anime currently really touched on. Folks who became anime fans in the late 2000’s because of Adult Swim and broadband making fansubs easily available and cheap, it seemed to hit at the perfect moment.

    I think DYRL had its own “perfect moment” that has passed now that most of its fandom is in their 30’s and 40’s, but if I had been exposed to DYRL in the 90’s, I could totally see myself going apeshit for it as well.

    In short: readers who want to watch the best anime have to offer can safely skip DYRL and Clannad After Story. But do watch the original Macross TV series- that one is still amazing.

    1. “I agree with nearly all the points you raised about why the movie hasn’t aged well and probably wasn’t all great in the first place”

      I can meet you halfway on “hasn’t aged well” since that Mikimoto hair could only exist at one point in time, but I don’t think any of us argued “probably wasn’t all that great in the first place.” The fundamental difference in outlook here is that you described Macross as a “romantic anime” for which its failings have become “harder to tolerate” (a step up from calling it “problematic”), whereas I described Macross as “action anime with some romance.” It’s a question of emphasis, and perhaps as a romance proper, it may very well be as you say. Is that romance not good? Is it inaccurate? I wouldn’t know.

      But the way I see it, the real attraction to Macross is jet planes that transform into robots which fly through space and fire a bunch of missiles that swarm about and leave smoke trails then explode. Any romance, character arcs, etc. are a means to this greater, timeless, and more noble end. The original Macross TV series is a shining torchbearer in this regard, but TV-quality animation only goes so far and the filler episodes at the end focus a bit too much on the (already resolved!) romance than on spin kicks and Santa Claus suicide bombers for my liking.

      The only things that come close to DYRL’s accomplishment are other Macross titles, for which it can be argued “well, they have the aid of digital paint and 3D CG, whereas DYRL did not.” Veefs, KaraokeNinjas, /m/ posters, and Japanese fans aside, few would think Macross 7 to out-do the original Macross TV in this regard despite it having the benefit of coming out years later, what with the higher episode count and budget allocation going more towards the music. So in the regard that actually matters, which is shit getting blown the fuck up as the occasional head is bloodily crushed and sheared, Macross: DYRL is indeed all that great in the first place because little if anything since has been able to exceed it at its own game. In fact, I’m not sure whether anyone who wasn’t around during Macross is even playing that game today.

      I can’t speak with authority regarding what Clannad: After Story is actually about (I’ll assume “same ol’ shit as everything else like it”), but I’m pretty sure in the decade since there has been no shortage of formidable competition in the “a bunch of Downy girls and a guy grow up together through joy and sorrow in Anime High School” department. Clannad: After Story came out when I was in MY mid-20s, and nothing you say regarding its resonant properties seems to hold true for me, so I don’t quite follow what you’re talking about as far as that. But I do hear it said a lot. How many who say it fall within the 23% is unknown at this time.

      1. Wow, Stein’s Gate? I had no idea. Thanks for catching that.

        “But the way I see it, the real attraction to Macross is jet planes that transform into robots which fly through space and fire a bunch of missiles that swarm about and leave smoke trails then explode”

        That’s fair. I can respect loving Do You Remember Love just for its animation. But if your measure of how great something can sometimes come down entirely to how good the violence is, then we’re going to have to get together to discuss why Blood-C is the most powerful cartoon of the last few years.

        Yeah, I do think of Do You Remember Love is primarily a romance, and should be judged primarily on how effective the romance is. And I think, because of its name, that’s how most people are going to approach it, and they’re probably going to leave disappointed. And, personally, I can’t imagine enjoying a Macross without an effective love triangle. It’s as core to the appeal of the franchise as the cool robots.

  3. Back in high school, I watched DYRL (on AWO’s recommendation) without having seen Macross proper, and I loved it. For reference, this translates to sometime around 2007 or 2008. In fact, I wrote an article just last month about how much I love the ending of that film:

    Granted, I don’t consider myself a “typical” anime fan by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, in my college anime club I am an anomaly because I watch pre-Toonami anime. So I get that not everybody will like the movie, but I agree with the AWO crew that with the right mindset even a new fan can get really into something like DYRL.

  4. In the grand scheme of things…I’m slightly surprised I liked Macross DYRL even back when it was the only Macross I had ever seen and that was over a decade or so ago. It did feel like a compilation movie, which we know isn’t entirely correct since it’s all new animation and more of an alternate version, but that sensation only made me more curious about finding out what the original work was like. I really didn’t care that the film looked and sounded dated.

    Then again, I’m the sort of person who likes plenty of both new and old mecha series and yet, despite mostly starting out with reasonably old stuff back in the day, I still have a few significant holes in my collection (that I’m mostly gradually trying to address)…so my experience with DYRL might not be the most typical.

    As for Kids on the Slope…you know, even though the review ended up leaning towards the lukewarm side, you guys still managed to make this sound watchable, if nothing else, under the right conditions. I’m not opposed to the concept. Granted, like with many other series I ultimately skipped the show while it aired…but in retrospect, I think this series might be alright whenever I’m in the specific mindset for something with the sort of mood you described.

    I can handle several shows people seem to consider boring at one point or another and I’m definitely more generous/forgiving when it comes to interesting series with potential that they fail to meet than, say, a couple of you usually tend to be. Of course, we all don’t fully agree about what qualifies as interesting anyway, but that’s to be expected.

    Probably not what I want to check out right now though, since I’m already watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. That, to say the least, is more on the manly gay than romantic gay side of the fence (though one might wonder about that lately…), but it’s enough for me to have different priorities at this time.

  5. Hey, thanks for answering my question. I didn’t expect to get a response so soon, as I sent it pretty shortly after I listened to the last mailbag episode and you guys were talking about taking a long time to read emails out loud.

    My friend actually has seen a fair share of Macross/Robotech. Of the former he’s seen Frontier (which he liked) and Plus, and it’s been long enough since he saw the latter that he doesn’t remember it very well. I, on the other hand, have seen Plus, and a liiittle bit of Frontier. Apart from that, we are both pretty big Gundam fans, he is more of a Seed/00 fan and I am more of a UC fan. Oh, and we both love Turn A and Eureka Seven and putting together model kits and playing Japanese robot games and so on. I also, personally, consider myself a bit of a fan of older stuff (naturally, as I listen to this podcast) and quite enjoyed Gunbuster. Logically, it seems to me that at least one of us would be in the demographic that would like the movie.

    I’m still a bit confused why DYRL just didn’t work for us, but I’m willing to accept that our experience may be a bit of an outlier here. I can’t fully explain why my friend didn’t like it because I’m not him, though I believe he found the romance extremely boring and there wasn’t enough action that engaged him enough for him to overcome that. As for me, well, I don’t know. I’ll give the movie another shot sometime in the future, and then I’ll know if the movie isn’t just right for me or if I just wasn’t in the right state of mind at the time. I have to admit that I may have gone into the movie with preconceived notions, from the bad things I heard from my friend and the great things I heard from this and other podcasts.

    What I was, and still am a bit curious about, is how typical our experience is. I guess this may be a case where we lie with “average” fans more than mecha/sci-fi fans? This is probably something I’ll just keep wondering until I give it another shot.

    At the conclusion of Episode 50, Gerald said “I think every anime fan should watch Megazone 23. I think every anime fan must watch DYRL,” talked about how the movie is a love letter to your kind of passion for anime, and at the end of that said, “I think you have an obligation if you’re an anime fan to watch this.” I’m quite curious if this is something that you guys still agree with, or if anime fans have really changed and the target audience for that statement isn’t the same anymore. It seems to me that the latter is the case.

    I have a friend who has been watching a lot of Robotech and Zeta/Mobile Suit Gundam on Toonami Aftermath lately. I might try and see if he is interested in watching DYRL.

  6. New episode. Woo-hoo!

    The part where Daryl explained why Kids on the Slope is definitely, without even the slightest margin of error, positively gay. “A secret room underneath the music store, where we will make beautiful music together… just us dudes.” That’s gold.

    I liked the show quite a bit more than you did, but I’m more partial to both music and romance than Daryl and Gerald are. (I didn’t get a clear impression of what Clarissa really thought, except that she thought it was a little better than the guys were making it out to be.)

    I don’t know what people in general think, but I didn’t know dating a childhood friend was that strange or iffy. I dated one of my childhood friends when I was 14, and ended up more loosely romantically with another childhood friend about a year later. Neither ended up amounting to anything (it was my first actual girlfriend, after all), but I didn’t think anything of it. I figured it was a pretty common occurrence, what with all those teenage hormones striking and suddenly seeing someone you know in a different light. Maybe it is weird, I dunno.

  7. About the “High school being the pinnacle of your life in Japan”: considering this is the same culture that thinks “being seen naked=now I’ll never get married”…yeah.

    My friend recorded for our podcast a funny fake commercial for Kids on the Slope using “Gangster’s Paradise” because the name alone really sounded like a made for Lifetime movie title.

    Also other than Macross 2 (Shaddap I like it), Macross Plus, and a little of Robotech, I saw DYRL before the TV and crazy enjoyed it.

  8. I had always thought that all the emphasis in anime on school being a fun experience (surrounded by cute girls/guys, not too much worry over grades and tests) was precisely because the opposite was likely to be true for the average viewer–I don’t even mean the outcast, just the average viewer. It’s a romanticized or idealized version of school for people obliged to attend the every day reality even if it’s not all that much fun socially and there’s constant stress over grades and admissions. Such idealism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it can have a positive influence in real life. When I was in high school, I watched anime about high schoolers, and it definitely inspired me to have more fun in my actual school life (because sometimes you find that’s a decision that’s yours to make). What grabbed me about anime as a teenager–even if I couldn’t put it into words back then–was that it offered not only stories of distant times and places, but cooler versions of real life. It may seem weird, but for that very reason as an 80s teen, I would have rather been Shogo Yahagi than Hikaru Ichijo. I mean, either way, you had to wear the same haircut.

  9. About DYRL – I watched it when you reviewed it on your podcast. By that time the only Macross I had seen was Frontier. But I liked DYRL and can totally understand why it is still the favorite of many anime fans. I feel it is a good movie to show new anime fans.

    And “Kids on the Slope” – while I am not a big fan of this kind of love stories I still kept up with this when it was coming out and while some of the episodes were not to my liking I in general liked the series and think that the ending wrapped up pretty well.

  10. Like others who have commented, I was also in my late teens back in 07 when I first watched DYRL and thought it was swell. Have also come across people of that age who enjoyed it, so would say its about having the right mindset rather than a must watch for every fan.

    On motion graphic, if I wasn’t so lazy/busy at the moment Id take a wack at trying a mock up of The Outsiders intro but anime theme. too bad theres no footage of the AWO arrogantly laughing at a camera while wearing shades.

  11. I can see how there is a “they might be gay” subtext going on in Kids on the Slope, but is that explicitly what is supposed to be happening? [No. Otherwise there would be no “forbidden” “we’re not supposed to be doing this” aspect to the fan derivative works, and that’s the most critical aspect. Being implicit, not explicit, is part of the design…explicitly! –Daryl] It seems to me that they have deliberately presented it in such a way that you can read that into it if you want or not if you don’t want. Also, from what I understand about the way the manga ends, it makes it clear that this is not what is going on. Am I wrong about this?

  12. As someone who’s kind of well become a lapsed anime fan, I was interested in Kids on the Slope because it didn’t look like what I stereotypical assume anime is these days. The staff seemed promising and I was open to a growing up story. Even in the first few previews you could tell this would have stuff that would make yaoi fans swoon. How could I not expect an anime about two males to not have some “gay” stuff? Whatever, I’m down with that. The thing is I also expected the show to mostly be about these two kids’ friendship and them growing up. What I got was a constant “he loves her, she doesn’t love him, but she loves the other guy, but he loves the other girl, oh but now she loves him, but he doesn’t love her” thing. The show became constantly focused on this love tug-of-war while the buddy angle kind of got underdeveloped. Now I can’t blame the show for being a romance anime. If that’s what they set out to make, so be it. But I can blame it for not meeting my taste. The show just kind of felt rushed. Maybe it needed more episodes. Time in the show would pass very fast and it seemed that important developments in the character’s lives were missed. We never really got to see the everyday life of the characters. We seemingly got the “greatest hits of their lives.” So the characters never really moved beyond the specific role they were meant to be in the story, never felt more alive. It’s a shame, because there was some decent groundwork for a nice heartfelt story about these two guys’ friendship, and, well, that’s what I wanted to see.

    Not a bad show, but not a great one. That’s the problem though, the material is nothing new and so for it to just be kind of OK hurts it more.

  13. While the original Macross and DYRL are full of that 80’s spirit, the goofy love triangle spoke to my 18-year-old self when I watched them for the first time two years ago. The TV series’ final part is actually somewhat relevant even today since it deals with problems of cultural assimilation and whatnot.

  14. [This post required heavy editing for spelling and grammar, and has been reconstructed to the best of my understanding. I’ll cut the author some slack as English may not be their first language based on their address. –Daryl]

    Kids on the Slope is, on its own, a good anime. The story is well built up and it has good animation. I think where most anime with bands fails is Japanese characters singing in English. Here, that is “awkward” to “really good.” Conclusion: I had hoped for more from this creator, but this is also the limit. You can’t get more out of it, because this anime is for the manga crowd out there.

    Perhaps if we think of this as an important timeline development in the Hellsing Ultimate universe, this would make for a more in-depth storyline in the early days of that. Say, if Alucard is in disguise as Kaoru, then this is the story of how he first met Sentaro, who later in his church career will become Alexander Anderson.

  15. I guess part of the issue with Kids on the Slope (as Daryl suggested) lies with what it isn’t, rather than what it is. I’ve gotten a lot out of school anime, but it seems there’s never any shortage of that–what anime seems short of is shows about people out in the world, grappling with it in one form or another.

    Watanabe had made a name for himself with anime of this type–Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo. He was making something that’s especially precious to foreign fans trying to get people into anime–works that have appeal beyond just otaku. He made shit that was cool–most anime is based on fan tastes or trends, but actually being cool is something else (FLCL was cool; Mahoromatic was based on fan tastes). Even the jazz focus of Kids on the Slope seems like something of a retread, as Bebop took considerable inspiration from it. To top it off, he’s not like Shinbo–Watanabe goes years between directing series, so one can’t say, “that wasn’t what I had hoped for, but maybe I’ll like what he does next season.”

    We might want our personal favorite directors to be the ones to represent anime, but perhaps the truth is that anime belongs to the directors who actually show up and make things on an everyday basis, whether they’re or not they’re our favorites (or the best). As EPMD reminds us, it’s like lotto: you have to be in it to win it.

    1. One of the things I’d really like to see in a school anime is more of an inter-generational focus. Not just “teachers have lives too!”, but the effect of POV on who a person is. As a freshman, the senior who befriends you may seem like an adult full-stop. She knows where she’s going, and she’s been in your shoes. A teacher looking at that same senior sees someone who still has a great deal of changing to do.

      School stories are my crack, but I do find the tendency to treat the characters as fully formed people, rather than people in transition, is extremely irritating at times. Since my particular area of interest is shoujo, I feel this particularly with portrayals of high school romances as the discovery of soul mates who will spend the rest of their lives together. I just like a bit more contingency in my love stories. Back to the overall, since most school stories are aimed at teenagers, perhaps it would break the spell to include a POV in which the cool-ass role model character is also, seriously, just a kid.

  16. I’ve been putting off responding to this podcast until I watched episode 12 of Kids on the Slope, but I still haven’t watched it. I really enjoyed the series, and I would rank it as very good, but really I’ve got 25 minutes, and I haven’t watched episode 12. There are aspects of this series that I loved to bits. I loved Kaoru’s reunion with his mother. I also generally liked the portrayal of friendship with someone you’re a little bit in awe of. Aging tends to equalize friendships in my experience, but I definitely remember the feeling of being friends with someone who had personal qualities that I longed for and just generally had a very different personality. I enjoyed the portrayal of the gradual relaxation.

    The Jun story line was a bit frustrating because it gave little tastes of the upheaval of the 60’s without really addressing what the uproar was about. Similarly, Juria’s decision to run away with him seriously downplayed the fact that her other option was becoming a wealthy housewife. Romance with a bad boy is all very well and good, but in this case it’s also a way out of a stifling situation.

    So I guess my big issue with Kids on the Slope really comes down to it’s balance of internal and external. It’s not internal enough to feel like we’re getting Kaoru’s experience of what’s happening around him, but it’s not external enough to really live in its world. The show is narrow with feeling focused. Still liked it a lot, and someday I’ll watch episode 12.

    1. Kaoru reuniting with his mother sort of encapsulates the strengths and failings of this series. He misses her and she misses him. No reason is ever explicitly stated as to why they can’t actually stay with one another or visit once in a while given that Dad’s generally never around. That might just be some “Japan in the 1960s” societal thing viewers are assumed to understand based on the occupation she appears to have taken up. So he gives her a jazz record and wistfully departs from her, asking that she sing the song the next time they meet. It’s presented in the show as a build-up, a foreshadowing, a promise of events to come.

      She is then never seen, heard from, or acknowledged as existing EVER AGAIN. Not even in the finale.

      Part of this is just a matter of deviation from the then-incomplete source material. In the manga, he does at least hear the record and remember “oh yeah! That reminds me of this important thing!” which ends up leading him to where he needs to go. But this is something for which entire episodes of the show were devoted to. You’d think one person at some point might have said “um, shouldn’t we resolve this thing that we implied would be resolved fairly quickly in the first few episodes?” I suppose not.

      This is the part where fans of the show may want to throw out some mealy-mouthed junk analogy about life itself being like free-form jazz, things not always tying up perfectly, the differences between Eastern and Western storytelling, and all the other lies I told myself as a teenager to condone oversights in writing. Me? I can’t effectively counter-argue, as even though it’s only been a few weeks, the main thing I remember about Kids on the Slope is the dialogue spoken by the “Townsend Coleman Michelangelo”-sounding American soldier.

      1. Yup. Kids just never really ties things together. When I describe it as neither internal enough nor external enough, I wish it had committed fully to a limited POV to go along with Kaoru’s narration and let us live in his head, or that it opened it’s story up more and let the threads blend together more. The structure ended up giving us a number of discrete story packets some of which were serial.

        For my part, the Jun/Juria thing is what sticks in my mind. Mostly because I was yelling, “Girl, don’t run off with that rummy (junkie? don’t remember)! You can’t save him!”, and I switched to “Leave home by any means necessary!” when the story reveals that Juria’s parents are arranging a marriage for her after high school. Mostly because it irritates me. The dynamic of a smart, capable person expected to ignore her talents and desires because of societal expectations is much more interesting than the question of whether a good man gone wrong can be saved by love. The former approach actually makes use of the historical setting. The approach the story took could have happened three minutes ago.

        The thing about free-form jazz is that unless the noodling and improvisation gel into a whole, it’s just a series of loosely connected nice moments. At which point, why bother with any serial storylines. Really mess with the structure. This is just a pretty good show that kind of falls apart under scrutiny, which applies to quite a bit of watchable anime. If this show were directed by a nobody, it would be a pleasant surprise, but, given the folks who worked on it, it’s hard not to see a bunch of missed opportunities.

  17. Yeah, Kids on the Slope felt really unsubstantial and simplistic considering the caliber of stuff Watanabe has worked on in the past. I expected a very realistic youth drama, but what I got was tired shoujo tropes. The characters really just felt like characters, and not like real people.

    I can’t talk about Japanese high school, but as someone who works in a Japanese junior high school, anime isn’t that far off. It is romanticized, but all Japanese schools do in fact have school festivals and stuff like that. Anime archetypes aren’t that far off from the real thing either, but it’s fiction so it’s played and cleaned up. And yeah, they wear sailor outfits and gakuran in my school.

    It’s really not that different from American movie versions of American schools.

    The school I work in was actually built about 10 years after Kids on the Slope is meant to take place, so I appreciate all the effort they put into making it appropriately old and crappy.

  18. There’s no doubt that Macross: Do You Remember Love was an iconic anime to many 1980s fans (as far as I know, it was the first anime ever fansubbed) but I think it’s possible to be a fan of 1980s anime, familiar with Robotech and Macross, like Mikimoto’s character designs, and yet still not be into the film–that was the way I personally felt about Macross: DYRL in the 1980s.

    I don’t know how much of this was Kawamori’s intent, but compared to the original series the movie felt, despite its visual grandeur, oddly claustrophobic and depressing. It was hard to put it into words at the time, but somehow its characters seemed more trapped in a virtual reality than did those of Megazone Two Three. After all, by the end of MZ23 the idol singer has been revealed to be just that–an idol, whose music is lovely and moving, but important to be understood as also something illusory and detached, a tool of control. By contrast, Misa’s research and Minmay’s singing ends up making the idol singer into someone with divine power in an apocalyptic battle. I don’t know if I could have phrased it so back then, but MZ23 felt human and DYRL felt inhuman.

    Having said that, there’s also a perfectly valid way to look at 1980s films, and that’s through the eyes of a different generation. I was really moved by A.W.O.’s show on Macross: Do You Remember Love, and it made me think that I should go back and watch the film again myself (it’s been more than twenty years since I last saw it) and look at it in retrospect.

    It’s like when people talk about Streets of Fire being a quintessentially 80s film. Today, people might look at it that way, but I don’t remember it being a very popular film among teens back then, the way, say, John Hughes’ movies were. When the camera pans up in Megazone Two Three to show that Shogo and his friends have just been watching it, our reaction (watching it during lunch recess in 1985) was more like, “Oh, they were watching that Streets of Fire movie–you know, that one that came out last year,” rather than they’d been watching something we’d seen personally.

    Even though Streets was an American live-action film and MZ23 Japanese animation, I related more to MZ23, for the same reason I related more to The Breakfast Club or Risky Business or Repo Man (Repo Man being the *actual* 80s version of Streets of Fire)–they were both based in the idea of being a teenager in the present day, but in situations that were cooler or more intense. Streets of Fire was by contrast too stylized, too much removed from the everyday. To use a term we didn’t use back then, the movie seemed more natural when mediated through cable TV, and you might have been more likely to experience Streets through its trailer on HBO, or on MTV through the music video for “I Can Dream About You” (it’s interesting that while this was the most popular song from the movie in America, it was the songs ostensibly by Diane Lane that caught the Japanese imagination. In a properly ordered universe, Priss Asagiri would have been black, and led a doo-wop group).

  19. Although it’s been months since this came out, I had to joke over thinking the title was “The Kids in the Hall”. Too bad it wasn’t that funny! 🙂

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