Anime World Order Show # 150 – Clobbering Chuunibyou In the Name of Goodness

It’s a podcast. It’s a special podcast. It’s got super discussions about Code Geass, Berserk Season 2, Anime Weekend Atlanta 2016, and Gerald’s review of a Most Dangerous film from 1986, Ai City.

Introduction (0:00 – 58:28)
The emails ask the question that is either from or will summon That One Guy Who Always Comments Whenever We Mention Code Geass, since it’s about what we think about Code Geass aka “a show for which our thoughts on it have made people we know stop talking to us for years.” After about 17 or so minutes of that, the remainder of this introduction segment is dedicated to a convention report since Daryl and Gerald went to Anime Weekend Atlanta 2016 as Press. Actually, this ends up also becoming about Berserk Season 2, 91 Days, and the Takarazuka Revue’s production of Lupin the Third:

Promo: RightStuf Anime (58:28 – 1:04:45)
Normally, the promotion spot does not take over 6 minutes. But this time, we have to Get Our Shit In because Lupin the Third Part II Collection 1 is now available for preorder, and it features three episode-length commentary tracks by Daryl. The set ships on 12/20/16, just before Christmas, so preorder now to ensure your Christmas bounties are well, depleted because Lupin is a thief. On the subject of bounties and thieves, Daryl’s Twitch page with donations is here for those inclined to chip in now that he’s finally, FINALLY committing to the previous bounty incentive, Gundam 00.

Review: Ai City (1:04:45 – 1:54:34)
Gerald reviews this Most Dangerous anime from thirty years ago, in 1986. The article Daryl was referring to which he wrote is available to read on Anime News Network: Thirty Years Ago: The Best Anime of 1986 (note: Project EDEN should probably be considered a 1987 release, as I can’t find the proof that it premiered 4 months earlier ahead of the Japanese theatrical debut.) There was a follow-up as well, Twenty Years Ago: The Best Anime of 1996 (And Some Others Too). What is Ai City about? Let’s try to find out together. And don’t you jump in the comments to “correct” us after having read the Wikipedia entry for it either, because approximately 0% of that information is taken from what transpires in THIS movie.

12 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 150 – Clobbering Chuunibyou In the Name of Goodness”

  1. 1. I’ve listened to Gerald spew his hate-rhetoric against any number of beloved animated series, but I will NOT sit idly by while he besmirches the name of PUNKY BREWSTER

    2. Speaking of chuuni: I’m wondering if you guys have any thoughts on Steins;Gate….I’ve never seen the anime, but the game (er, visual novel…) is premised on chuunibyou-ism and says so explicitly, in a self-aware way.

    1. “1. I’ve listened to Gerald spew his hate-rhetoric against any number of beloved animated series, but I will NOT sit idly by while he besmirches the name of PUNKY BREWSTER”

      Of course I don’t recall an episode of the cartoon where Punky wanted to wear a bra!

  2. If this e-mail from Mr. Francisco came from the Holy See or an Italian/Argentinian ISP… chances are he may be the current vicar of Christ on Earth, simply revealing The Truth regarding our transpired lord & saviour. That he had a magically?endearing eye, and that Kyoto Ani’s working on a remake of the life & times of moe-Jesus.

    A good way to pigeonhole & label “Chuunibyo” in the name of 1-upping urbandictionary’s exacerbatingly long definition. “Chuunibyo” means Emo in American; like My Chemical Romance and Kanye’s wife, the Chuunibyo Hobbit. It just means Emo in American.

    Speaking of character tropes: Through my years of listening to AWO, I’ve managed to assign an archetype to all 3 hosts, including unofficial Oyabun Patrick Macias. Daryl is the unlikely chuunibyo – more apparent when he revealed his Clark Kent vision in the lost AWO episode, Gerald is naturally the tsundere, Clarissa is the bifauxnen – explaining her marriage to ex-Ninja Firm associate Ms. Finnegan years ago, and Patrick is of course the Yamato Nadeshiko character of the podcast. Baron Wildarms doesn’t exactly fit a particular trope, but it’d be nice if he makes a cameo in a future episode.

    Cave shooters are beautiful works of sprites, carrying the spirit of Toaplan & those old Genesis-gems of our childhood. Daifukatsu is probably up there in my top 10 shmups right next to Thunder Force VI for the PS2.

    The best way to describe Ai City, both visually and contextually is: If Akira went to Alaska after reading all of Kazuo Koike’s works, then ejaculated into an empty hull of Most Dangerous Tekkaman Blade armor, then spliced that secretion with more and more DNA from Great Leader Shocker of Kamen Rider Hongo fame. That’s what Ai City is – brilliance!

    So where do people get-off unofficially translingualating the title of Ai City into Love City? I’ve no clue, but this is Japan we’re talking about; there’s no profound or deeper meaning to the title of the film. There’s an Eye, and there’s a City… voila! Third Eye Blind, Tenshinhan, and the US dollar dollar bill y’allz – all exemplary examples of Love, Chuunibyo’s, and other delusions back in their day & age.

    Great show guys! Looking forward to eyepatch Larry & his doppelganger piloting giant sniper mech’s.

  3. Ai City? I had never seen nor heard of that title, other than purely in passing, but there seems to be some unexpected history behind it. Sometimes that can be more interesting than the product itself, which is why it’s always nice when the AWO crew talks about the original creators, production staff or voice cast connections behind older shows in these reviews. That said, I did enjoy your description of its insane contents. It might be worth tracking down purely for curiosity’s sake, even if it’s not the smartest move.

    Speaking honestly, the best/worst part of having a non-binary perspective on Code Geass is not feeling particularly represented by neither Francisco’s excessive (even innocent!) praise nor the more lopsided criticisms towards the anime.

    The series was within tolerable levels of “chuuni” for me because it contained enough awareness to mock or play around with the main character and how he could often screw up (ie: he sucks at physical activities, mostly fails at piloting robots, can’t catch cats or women wearing dresses, etc). He’s the most self-serious guy in a rather crazy universe and suffers for this. In short, it feels half-Schadenfreude and half-endearing rather than strictly a power fantasy. It also helps that the dude had enough flaws and emotional range to not only be a cold, calculating jerk all the time. Not to mention his fabulous fashion sense and poses while in Zero mode. End result: that makes him less of a “real” genius and more of a young trickster who just happens to be the protagonist in this context.

    All the stuff about him being “so dark” or “so cool” is definitely still there, but it’s not the one and only note the show was playing. There’s a curious balance at work. In that sense, Lelouch serves as both a blessing and a curse since the series is predicated on the audience being invested in him for whatever reasons may apply. If you aren’t interested in any of that, then Gerald’s reaction is entirely possible.

    Daryl made a valid point regarding how the series threw out a lot of twists in order to surprise the audience on a weekly basis, especially during the second season. Even so, there was some build-up in a fair number of earlier episodes and not everything was limited to providing shock value. Remove the infamous twist from late season one and you’d have a risky situation that was still going to explode, one way or another, because the story had set up plenty of other reasons for it. Foreshadowing wasn’t a priority and could be considered insufficient, yet it wasn’t totally absent either.

    I believe there was more of a deliberate method behind the use of madness from the creators than what was acknowledged here. It’s not craziness born out of being aimless per se, but out of wanting to head towards a specific goal in a highly entertaining manner which has room for spontaneous attractions and in-jokes. The staff has said as much in multiple sources. There are a couple of consistent themes at the core of the story too, even in its most basic reading. Realizing all of that prevents me from ever sharing Clarissa’s stance of only viewing the show as a wild ride and not giving it any real credit.

    Many folks tend to lose their tolerance for insanity when the pacing goes into overdrive and I don’t necessarily blame them. Somewhere around the middle of season two is the point where specific events feel the sloppiest and/or are of very limited consequence in the short term. R2 is the most chaotic part of the story and, by itself, that deserves to be criticized. However, the narrative eventually starts slowing down toward the end and various elements come together. Everything just clicks in order to reach what, in the eyes of the general public, was an appropriate resolution.

    There might have been missteps or detours along the way, but the conclusion was the intended follow-through of the whole show and reflected its high points. The spirals of craziness, rather than serving only for shock value like Daryl suggests, were used for the purpose of pushing characters past their limits and closing their arcs. After all they had experienced by then, it made sense for the characters to reach those decisions. All in all, it’s a valid thematic outcome. It was a gamble to use the ending as the final catharsis, literally speaking, by previously relying on the accumulation of chaos for both the cast and much of the audience before providing release. Ultimately, the record shows how many viewers came out of the series with a degree of genuine satisfaction rather than dread.

    How often does any anime with such amounts of plot twists manage to pull off that kind of turnabout effect? Valvrave didn’t do it. Neither did Guilty Crown. It’s insanity was the focus of the discussion on this podcast, but that’s patently not enough of an explanation.

  4. After listening to the episode, I had to track down this unseen miracle called Ai City. You magnificent bastards. You’ve done it again. You’ve introduced my brain to something it was never meant to see but was secretly yearning to behold. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I would buy a Blu-ray of Ai City on DAY ONE. Sadly, my headmeter only goes to 5.

  5. Strangely enough, when I watched Ai City for the first time I had the exact same reaction as the audience from the 1980s: nothing special. I mean, anime from this time period are supposed to have psychics, bunny girls and cartoon cats in them, right? I just love that the creators just crammed in whatever they thought was cool at the time. I just went along for the ride. So whatever you can say about this movie, at least I was thoroughly entertained.

    Or maybe I have consumed so much media from the 1980s that my brain has turned to mush and I’ll accept anything crazy as being reasonable. Nah.

  6. I’ve been listening to AWO for long enough (10+ years) to know when to follow your recommendations, so I immediately watched Ai City and loved it, unapologetically and unironically. It was a solid gold planet orbiting three solid gold suns so it’s permanently bathed in solid gold light, except for once in a thousand years when some ironic movie-watchers come along to smother this gift in smug ironic detachment.

    You know one minute in that this is ridiculous and needs to be taken in a more relaxed spirit of benign bafflement. When I see something this amazing from the 80’s or before I always wish that things this wonderfully crazy could still be made today, but they can’t. Self-awareness has permanently seeped into the worldwide media culture and truly deranged works like this can no longer happen and I think we’re poorer for it. Now we have Kung Fury, Sharknado and Space Cop? I’d rather have smallpox. Clarissa is absolutely right when she said that these things that are meant to pay tribute to 80’s mad excess don’t feel at all like actual 80’s movies.

    In Ninja III: The Domination, you don’t ask why a man walks into a cave and moves a perfectly constructed rock lid off a hidden cache of ninja weapons built into the cave and with its own light source. You just bloody go with it. He’s a ninja and that’s his stash of weapons. What more do you need? The same applies here. I don’t ask any questions of Ai City because not only are there no reasonable answers, I don’t even want there to be. Please, be crazy and weird and strange and refuse to make sense. Just don’t ever be BORING. And also try not to be so self-aware the way everything is now. ‘We know it’s shit and you know it’s shit so let’s all enjoy watching deliberate shit.’ Huh? Forgive me if I don’t participate in that particular circle jerk.

    This movie looks incredible. The colours are stunning. The stylisation is bold and unexpected and keeps it moving along very well. The pace is fine. I lean heavily on pacing because it’s something that so many 21st century movies fail at and every time I watch something from the 80’s or even the goddamn 90’s it’s incredible just how much better the editing is than in most moving picture entertainments made now.

    It’s easy to see that Ai City is by the same director as Project EDEN, just from the pacing of the action scenes and the laudable presence of dialogue-free sequences which show the insane happenings, rather than tell us of them. Project EDEN was full of moments like that. Although there is plenty of incredible dialogue in Ai City. “Self-cannibalisation…the ultimate form of evolution?!” If I had to pick one moment to exemplify the madness it would be the bit where the floating grinning heads start coming out of the ground to attack our heroes. That’s when I knew I was experiencing something truly wonderful.

  7. Objection!

    Chuunibyou mainly refers to adults who seriously believe they have special powers or some other brand of made-up secret and they haven’t outgrown their childhood delusions yet.

    I don’t want to argue too much over the semantics of the term but it’s a symptom of multiple psychological conditions that are crippling the youth of today’s Japan and other countries around the globe. Not something that refers to the specific contents of anime.

    You’re not automatically becoming chuunibyou through the act of watching anime where such abilities or situations are real. After all, that falls within willing suspension of disbelief and I would like to think most of us are capable of drawing a line between fiction and reality. Objectively speaking, the likes of Code Geass or the Fate series are no more inherently chuunibyou than Gundam, Jojo, ERASED or Higurashi.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go outside to call my stand Cosmic Babylon as we continue our wonderful journey to pierce the heavens with our drills and bring balance to the Force in the name of Lady Madokami.

  8. Thinking about Ai City again, I reminded myself of the little cards Right Stuf used to stick in their VHS tapes once up on a time that had a slightly grey-out pic of that cat behind the blanks you filled in. For years I wondered what was the deal with this cat, not knowing it came from this video. Oh well, I dodged the bullet in not wrapping my head around that moebius strip of a conclusion.

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