Saturday, August 30, 2008
Black Lagoon - Red Fraction - Mell and My Anime Lamentations
Funimation has finally started releasing all of the GENEON shit that they scooped up when them bought up all the SOJITZ shit that ADV somehow lost, and all the GENEON shit that was just lying around when they went tits up, making Funimation pretty much the Kings of Anime... the OTAKINGS of Anime, even. :B One of the things that I'm actually quite interested in and am relieved to see is BLACK LAGOON: THE SECOND BARRAGE, as I bought and enjoyed the first season of BLACK LAGOON and was pretty pissed that I'd probably never see the second season.
BLACK LAGOON is basically just action pornography, a handy little expression I got from an utterly BRUTAL review of BAD BOYS II I read in the STAR a few years ago. Action Pornography is basically excessive violence and absurdly over the top action scenes (EX: when John McClain kills a helicopter with a car). BLACK LAGOON is aaaaaaaall about the action pornography... and that's GREAT, because that's what anime is supposed to be about. At least... that's why I originally got into anime.
I sort of miss the days of oldschool anime; the days of VAMPIRE HUNTER D cutting guys in half, or Jubei Kibagami stabbing a guy with a fucking log and then leaving him to burn in a wave of melted gold while screaming, "GENMA! BURN IN YOUR GOLDEN HELL!" You just can't see that kind of crazy shit on Saturday morning! And EVERYTHING used to be like that... at least, everything I saw. AKIRA, VAMPIRE HUNTER D, NINJA SCROLL, GHOST IN THE SHELL, SPRIGGAN, DEMON CITY SHINJUKU, IRIA: ZEIRAM THE ANIMATION, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR... crazy, violent, sex filled, exploitive shit that you'd NEVER see over here. The kind of shit that would have made Uncle Walt's anti-semetic head roll back and melt as if he'd just looked into the Arc of the Covenant. I miss those the days when Cat-Sharks would die, and Hurricane Polymar would kill them.
I think that may be part of why I sort of find myself falling out of anime again. It happened when I first moved to Toronto back in 2000 as well, though that was mostly due to financial restraints, it was also because there was just nothing that interested me... and I find it happening again. I'm not really sure it's because my tastes have changed; I still like all the stuff that I liked back when I got into anime in the first place; but that the industry has changed over in Japan, leaning more toward Otaku pleasing, Moe-esque, material; teenage power trip fantasy wank material about having awkward relationships with pre-teen girls in a the fantasy Japan of the 1980's, were people still wear uniforms and dance around their emotions. Where's the GUTS that anime used to have? The take-no-prisoners attitude that wasn't afraid in get in there and fuck things up a bit? Where have the Gattsu's (BERSERK), Kenshiro's (FIST OF THE NORTH STAR), and Jotaro Joestar's (JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE), gone? The by the balls heroes of my young adulthood that would solve their problems definitively by cutting them in fucking half with a ridiculously huge sword, or make their heads explode by punching them a few hundred times?
That's not to say that there hasn't been shows that have met my expectations, or shown a little class; but those have either had an oldschool mentality (like THE THIRD: GIRL WITH THE THIRD BLUE EYE), or have been more contemporary and given a taste of the modern Japan, or shown a wider world view (COWBOY BEBOP, THE BIG O, GIANT ROBO, FLCL, GUNBUSTER II, GENERATOR GAWL, READ or DIE, ERGO PROXY, SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, etc etc) than "Japan, 1985." Fuck, even PRINCESS TUTU managed to be a psychologically deep and fascinatingly original show that took a dismally pedestrian and derivative manga and elevated it to as close to fine art as TV anime can get.
Anyways, at the very least, this lack of good shit to watch is saving me money in the long run. I just miss the magic is all.
That said, BLACK LAGOON is a series I enjoy... there are a lot of obvious homages to various actions movies (one of the secondary characters is obviously based on John Woo, and one storyarc is obviously based on Robert Rodriguez EL MARIACHE franchise) in it's content and the excessive gunplay, horror show violence, and filthy fucking language. There's also a bit of deeper characterization, which is nice, as one character is forced to deal with the fact that she doesn't like the person she's become, while another has to deal with the fact that the world is a much darker, sicker, place than he'd like to believe it is. There's an interesting dynamic as they both simultaneously try to change each other; Rock tries to get Revy to deal with the darkness inside her and open up to the idea that she is allowed to be happy, while Revy tries to get Rock to admit to the harsh realities of the situation and place that he is in, and that there isn't always a silver lining to every dark cloud. The series is both humanitarian and nihilistic at the same time, examining both the bright, and dark, sides of human existence.
Anyways, all of this was brought on by the fact that I am currently obsessed with the theme song from BLACK LAGOON which is called RED FRACTION by a singer named MELL. It's that perfect sort of crass J-Pop that manages to somehow not sound like it came from the 80's, and the awkward English lyrics add a sort of rawness to it. The AMV above is a pretty good example of both the song and the anime. ENJOY.