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As Halloween approaches and a new anime season begins, we offer some (very preliminary) thoughts on what we’ve seen so far, and Gerald reviews the sci-fi horror OVA Lily C.A.T., best known for being a thing that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel back when it was spelled that way.
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Introduction (0:00 – 41:40)
This episode came out relatively soon after the previous, so in lieu of emails we talk about our initial impressions of the current anime season. Guaranteed to make someone mad because we made an unfair snap judgment about a thing. That is where YOUR comments come in!
Promo: Right Stuf Anime (41:40 – 44:43)
The Dirty Pair TV English Dub Kickstarter has succeeded, but there are only THREE DAYS remaining and TWO stretch goals remain! Back now to make sure those remaining extras get on there, because those will affect the regular retail edition as well.
Review: Lily C.A.T. (41:43 – 1:40:29)
HEY, DO YOU REMEMBER ALIEN? DO YOU REMEMBER THE THING? That’s it, that’s the review.
11 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 203 – Look How Tough It Is For Japanese Guys to Hook Up With White Girls”
Been watching AMAIM myself. Best part to me has been not-Shadow the Hedgehog being part of the main group, with not-Graham Aker with Sherlock powers coming up second. Since I know the whole point of the project is training new 2D mecha animators, I don’t mind the weak writing as much as I did with Gundam Build Divers (the previous show by this same writer), but I definitely think the writing could be better.
Like, the barebones premise of other foreign powers moving in to protect their investments in Japan/deny other powers certain assets after cascade failure disrupts Japan’s government and economy makes historical and geopolitical sense. It’s everything after that that doesn’t make sense, because they don’t really show a massive foreign occupation or actual, verifiable war crimes happening in the present time. I’ve heard people watching the show speculate that there’s going to be a secret sixth faction that’s really behind it all, and I can believe it, because this writer thought that “weird loli with odd, spacey dialogue = an AI” was a huge twist in Build Divers (it wasn’t – everyone figured it out like 2-3 episodes in).
86 Season 2 is a big step up over season 1, simply because Lena isn’t there, aside from like 5 minutes in the first episode. However, I think the thing Gerald missed when he complained about season 1 is something masked by all the time skips back and forth that that season had: the director and screenwriters are AGGRESSIVELY chopping out everything they’re not interested in. It took me wiki diving to find out that Lena has literally always been a friendless loser, which radically changes her character from annoying, dumb idiot to tragically out of her depth girl flailing about as she tries to save people she thinks of as friends.
So far, the only emotionally affecting scenes are from dying/dead beings and a side character ranting. Not really sure why the people working on this anime don’t seem to get that viewers need more than just shots of the characters being sad to empathize with them, but I wonder if it’s just a symptom of anime screenwriters working on adaptations making really bad fundamental assumptions because the anime is just an ad for the books.
Digimon: Ghost Game is pretty good with big Tamers energy, but man, are the OP and ED pretty terrible in their own ways. Gammamon is a bit in the first two episodes, but he reminds me of early Guilmon. Biggest red flag for me is that one of the pairs is a guy with a female Digimon, and since all/most of the female Digimon digivolutions turn them into hot women, there’s going to be some awkward stuff later on. It’s got huge creepypasta/horror vibes, so it’s super great that it’s out now.
I watch anime in such small quantities per year that I don’t even bother to subscribe to a service and depend on “other methods” to watch the shows I do watch, so Disney Plus further fragmenting the market just makes me wonder when we’re going to get companies wailing about losing customers to piracy again.
In terms of horror, it’s not a thing I look for, but you can find bits and pieces of it all over the place, especially in scifi stuff. I think that it’s more useful as flavor, not really a sustained thing, although you can get more mileage out of being creepy vs scary.
Surprised you guys didn’t mention Ousama Ranking. It’s a solid production by Wit Studio that’s really charming.
Agreed! It’s the AOTS for me.
The only anime I’m keeping up with this season so far is The Heike Story, streaming on Funimation. I’ve become a big fan of Masaki Yuasa especially because of Devilman Crybaby and Keep Your Hands off Eizoken so I’m interested in whatever Science Saru puts out next. The Heike Story is certainly the artistic show of the season and I’m enjoying it a lot so far.
I’ve not yet watched but I have the intention to start the new Lupin on HiDive and the new Baki show on Netflix soon.. and I’ll probably cautiously proceed with AMAIM. I was definitely excited by the prospect of a new Sunrise robot show but the politics aspect is a turn off for now. I hope it turns out to be a good show though.
The only spooky anime I’ve seen this year was popping my blurays of Demon City Shinjuku and Wicked City. Wicked City in particular looks pretty incredible in high definition.
As for Lily Cat, I thought it was pretty shruggo when I saw it a few years ago. It’s fine but I don’t think I’d recommend it to just anyone. For some reason I bought the DVD anyways so.. ????
Two anime that would be great to review for Halloween: -The Curse of Kazuo Umezu 1990 -Box of Goblins 2008. Cheers!
I’m starting to watch Blue Period. Man, that’s some heavy shit. I’m loving it. Thanks for the recommendation.
I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention Mermaid’s Forest or Pet Shop of Horrors. Both are great. [I mentioned Mermaid’s Forest in my Thirty Years Ago panel this year since, well, it’s now 30 years old, but the reason it wasn’t brought up here is because it’s out of print. Pet Shop of Horrors is still streaming on HiDive and sold on Blu-Ray by Sentai Filmworks, though. –Daryl]
The only current anime I’m watching is Tropical Rouge Pretty Cure, thanks to brief comments by Clarissa and Gerald earlier this year. I’d heard you mention Pretty Cure on AWO before, so thought I’d give it a go. Five months later, I’ve now seen over 300 episodes and 15 of the movies. Yes indeed. It’s taken over my life, but in a good way. It’s a case of ‘Where has this wonderful blissfulness been all my life?!’
It now seems surreal that I hadn’t tried to watch it before, as it’s pretty much exactly what I want to see. But because it’s a show for girls and doesn’t stroke Western otaku’s egos it must remain unappreciated and unloved in the English-speaking world. Meanwhile, not only every shonen show, but every single motherfucking moe loli otaku-bait piece of shit show gets officially licensed and released on physical media. Ahhhhh well.
Speaking sincerely, I am grateful to you for prompting my discovery. An expired otaku, I was wandering in a desert, finding the occasional oasis (Kill La Kill, A Place Further than the Universe), but discovering Pretty Cure is like stumbling onto an entire continent with vast reserves of sweet beautiful magical girl goodness.
Daryl, on the topic of rip-offs, you remarked:
“Another thing that would fit that criteria was a thing from a guy named Ben Dunn; he released a comic called Ninja High School—you know, he’s still doing, like, various iterations of that, of whatever he can cash in on at the time. When it first started, his sort of claim to fame that entranced a bunch of people was, he was very shamelessly stealing stuff from Urusei Yatsura and things of that era that, just, people hadn’t seen, and so people were like thinking, ‘Wow, this Ninja High School is phenomenal! I love this thing! I’m obsessed with it,’ you know. And then, over the years, people realized, that this is like, the anime that he was cribbing from became more widely available, ‘Like, oh…! You’re just pulling this wholesale.’ And so what they kind of do is just change the things that they were pulling from, or whatever it was, but you know, that’s the sort of nefarious example—”
I would have to disagree with this assessment, and explain my own perspective. Ben Dunn sold the ashcan preview of Ninja High School #1 at BayCon ’86. This, of course, was the same BayCon ’86 with Toren Smith’s famous anime program, which included two TV episodes of Urusei Yatsura and the first four movies. I myself had first seen Urusei Yatsura at a gaming con in 1984; the C/FO Magazine had covered it, and by 1986 five volumes of Urusei Yatsura were available in English in some form (four in Shogakukan’s bilingual format, and one as the Miyako Graham/Toren Smith reader’s guide to vol. 1, which was distributed in cooperation with Books Nippan).
So I never got the impression Ben Dunn was attempting to find readers who didn’t know about Urusei Yatsura; on the contrary, he wanted to find readers who *did* know. And I was one of them, and that was why I responded positively to Ninja High School. I too was in high school at the time, and motivated to draw comics inspired by anime myself. I was also an active US comic book fan, and so I thought it was basically good rather than bad whenever Japanese influences showed up in them: “I understood that reference!” Moreover, although by 1986 ninja, samurai, and mecha were already established on the scene here, no one had adapted the anime high school comedy format into a regular US comics series before Ben Dunn (I was into tabletop RPGs as well, and a year later, in 1987, R. Talsorian—creators of the game that inspired Cyberpunk 2077, natch—put out Teenagers From Outer Space, which as you might expect also took inspiration from Urusei Yatsura).
I don’t think the record supports the idea that Ninja High School attempted to conceal its Japanese references; on the contrary, Antarctic Press’s 1990 series guide, Ninja High School Perfect Memory, details the references specifically by NHS issue and panel, and what exactly it referenced (for example, Urusei Yatsura, Fist of the North Star, Macross [both original TV show and 1984 film], Future Boy Conan, Space Cruiser Yamato, Project A-Ko, The Castle of Cagliostro, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Captain Harlock, Speed Racer, Dynaman, Sun Vulcan, Kamen Rider, Ultra Seven, Laputa, Peppermint Comic, Crusher Joe, Sukeban Deka, Mr. Atomic, Mazinger Z, and My Neighbor Totoro—and that’s in the first twelve issues).
Ninja High School had fun with American and British pop culture as well; it also referenced (and acknowledged referencing) The Terminator, Rambo, Yellow Submarine, Dune, Dr. Who, the Corvette and the Dusenberg, Silver Surfer, Aliens, Archie, Waterloo [the 1970 film], Superman, Batman, Stan Lee, UPS, An American Tail, and Nick Fury (Ben Dunn, who immigrated with his family to the US as a baby and grew up here, notes that as a kid he read Kirby, Adams, Steranko, and Byrne; he didn’t get exposed to manga until later in the 1970s, as a young student paying a visit back to his birthplace in Taiwan).
Ninja High School had some storylines set in Japan, but it is basically an attempt to place the hi-jinks of a 1980s anime high school into a 1980s American high school (the show commented at one point that Jason Voorhees is not simply a ripoff of Michael Myers; I would say that NHS’s protagonist, Jeremy Feeple—for good or bad—isn’t very much like Ataru Moroboshi).
Ben Dunn, I should note, won one of the US comics industry’s top honors, the Inkpot Award, at San Diego Comic Con in 2016–twenty-two years after Rumiko Takahashi of course, who won the Inkpot in 1994. Ninja High School isn’t to be compared creatively with Urusei Yatsura, and I never confused what Ben Dunn was doing with what Rumiko Takahashi was doing. But in a sense its concept was meta-Urusei Yatsura; if the idea behind UY is that a Japanese high school gets its everyday life complicated by aliens, monsters, ghosts, ninja, etc., then the idea behind NHS is that an American high school gets its everyday life complicated by a life like that Japanese high school, importing its frame of mind. And that was a fun idea for me when I was an otaku teenager; enough for me to buy the comic book.
If you go back to the 1990s, the decade when multi-day anime cons began, you’ll find Ben Dunn and later Ninja High School artist Robert DeJesus as guests of honor at A-Kon, Katsucon, and Anime Central—sometimes alongside Japanese creator guests. The con organizers certainly were not ignorant of NHS’s influences, so I don’t think it was regarded as illegitimate, but rather an organic expression arising from contemporary American anime and fan culture (which is how I had seen it), much as Megatokyo from Rodney Caston and Fred Gallagher (who would also be invited as guests to several US anime cons) would later be.
Of course, whether one personally *likes* the style or expression of those comics (or any comic) is a separate matter, and that question would fairly apply to Ninja High School and Megatokyo as much as any others. I might look at NHS differently today as a reading experience. But again, I don’t think there was anything nefarious or underhanded about it, and I, as an Urusei Yatsura fan, nevertheless enjoyed it at the time.
It should also be noted (as Tim Eldred’s article does within Helen McCarthy’s recent collection Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend) that Ben Dunn, starting in 1989, wrote and drew authorized US comics adaptations of Matsumoto’s work (much as Toren Smith and Adam Warren would do with Dirty Pair and Bubblegum Crisis); in other words, it wasn’t like the Japanese industry saw what Ben Dunn was doing with Ninja High School and then rejected him as a poseur; indeed, Tim has a number of good things to say about Ben’s insights into Matsumoto’s style and his interpretative technique.
If it’s any consolation Clarissa, I immediately thought of Picasso when I heard “Blue Period,” not sanitary products commercials.
Sorry for the embarrassingly late response as I catch up on missed eps, maybe I should wait for next Halloween at this point, but my go-to recommendation for horror anime is 2007’s Mononoke:
It’s surreal, moody, and absolutely interested in creating the dread that’s necessary for that second, more strict definition of horror (it’s literally about ghosts and monsters so it qualifies under definition number 1 as well). It’s also gorgeous and comprised of 2-3 episode storylines that are otherwise standalone so it’s easy to pick up, put down, or force your friends to watch!