Archive for October 3, 2005

Visual Memory, Gainix, Anime, and Shakespeare hates cartoons

This has been sitting in my edit pile for a few days now
so I’m just publishing. It’s definitely not complete, but it’s something


No Need to Click Here – I’m just claiming my feed at Feedster

Recently I’ve begun downloading anime again. Mostly becuase, I don’t really have anything else to do. I stumbled upon Gainix’s latest series (a sequel to Gunbuster) and began to wonder what about Gainix’s work seems to hook us so much? Each series Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gunbuster, etc work around visual memory. While say Monster, the other series I’m watching, using a fairly complicated series of ethical delimmas to drive it’s murder-come-soap-opera plot along it’s actual characters seem remarkably dry and emotionless. It’s frequent characterizations just revolve around people mouthing off their motivations in a fairly pretentious style: the doctor’s fiance comments that some peoples’ lives are worth more than others (i.e. celebrities) and her german father (the series takes place in Germany where a virtousic Japanese Doctor ends up taking over a hospital) says that Doctors value academics over operating on people.

Monster has a rather neat sub-plot, basically despite how horrible the hospital director and his daughter might be their bad intentions would have led to one less serial killer in the world while the japanese doctor’s more benevolent intentions lead to accidentally saving a child who goes on to kill most of the hospital’s staff and returns 9 years to haunt him. The parqadox here is almost linguistic one can sense in monster that the moral confrontations aren’t perplexing visually they only perplex when considered as a logical problem in this cae do the means absolve you from the ends? The Doctor’s steadfast operation on a small boy while ignoring a less serious case involving a Mayor turns out to unleash a serious evil on the world, such paradoxes always come back in Monster, the boy’s sister tells the Doctor to kill the boy, he doesn’t, Tenma confesses that he wishes the Director and the other corrupt parts of the staff where dead, The Doctor won’t let the siblings near each other, but when the Director forces the siblings into the same room the boy finally awakens while his sister runs away screaming, the boy kills the staff Tenma wants dead. Hence who is the monster? The kid for killing the staff or Tenma for wishing it? Why then, despite such a perplexing moral underbelly is Monster ultimately fall so flat? Perhaps because Monster is to dependent on it’s textual tension, it never rises above being a so-so story or thriller to something that visually draws the viewer to it. It’s permenatly stuck in showing it’s characters in contrived situations with it’s only saving grace is an honest mysterty that might be worth solving if the playstation isn’t busy tonight. If anything though Gunbuster seems to belong to the opposing side of the spectrum.

Gunbuster 2 aka トップを?ら?2!

Gunbuster, the second series at least, is about the usual anime fare: a lot of really big robots, with a lot of girls, and some kinda feminite men thrown in for good measure.

install shakespeare qoute here

But the flash back is full of paradox, the story revolves around an emotional enigma that only comes out in the form of robots (and kinda erotic robots at that), and those few simple seconds are full of enough pull both forward and backward on the cycle of logic that we’re left a little stressed with what’s going on. Anno is a master of making such cliched dysfunctional hemmorages of the pysche into something that somehow bestows one with the ability to kick a lot of ass in a robot, and usually a girl too. My point being, his picture and graphics, his ability to bring the mental world into the forefront of plot’s structures represents a kinda complication uncommon in television today. While Steven Johnson might focus on the increasing enormity of subplots, I think science fiction and television have taken a grasp into our conciousness for reasons well beyond just utopian space fantasies, neural networks run-amock, or increasingly complex emotional ties and double dealings. It understands how we memorize things now, it understand the basic keys to bestowing meaning. While I could never tell you why, the agony of Rei Anamani will stay with me my entire life, I can remember her isolated and occasionally pitifull world as easily as some algerbiac equations and probably better than the alphabet, grammar, spelling, and quite a few other basic skills of life. It’s not that I think these are great texts, compared to Hamlet, I’d venture EVA might be able to compare in some aspects, the point is, the complicated grammatical concepts, double meanings, and ennui that Shakespeare so epitomized aren’t the most effecient means of translating and presenting information anymore: we can learn a great deal more by looking and even that era might soon be coming to an end.

never mind the large opened monsters that seem to attack from the bowels of an imingination and not by the rules of war. Anno’s animes are always anti-shakespearen, their drama isn’t even personal or the pitiful, they are dramatic, becuase the opened side of the imigination, that little bit of mysticism that keeps from art from just being for art’s sake is might be disturbed by a force more powerfull than an atomic holocaust. They draw us not only by visual clues, but by nodal points in the pysche of their worlds, we begin to know when Anno’s attacks will come becuase they obviously represent a point in our world of images, a tragectory on which one world meets another and not because they drive home a plot point. In a way they remind of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle, we watch becuase we know it’s not about us, but us worshipping us through another’s ego. The Cremaster films are open-ended and in that they become auto-biographical, becuase if there is no story where else will attention go but the self? The Busters attack the monsters not becuase their evil, but because there is nothing else to do. Anno’s animes have bleak moral points, there is no choice in fighting, the enemy is unknown, the only reason for his struggles is simply to continue to struggle. By muting the adversary he makes the infighting of the comrades all the more severe, in a way the series becomes just another form of autobiography but of an indentity more vague and other than what Barney imagines.

random image:


Eureka 7 aka 交響詩篇 エウレカセブ
Essentially an EVA clone, this isn’t that bad. Contains the usual mysterious woman from no where with spiritual connction to machine. It’s been argued the Shinto concept that all things have a spirit plays a role in Japan’s fascination with the robot (although that overlooks the American fascination with robots and space travel years back), and in the case of Eureka and other animes like Ghost in the Shell such a belief does seem to form a basis in the way the characters seem meld with technology. There’s something incredibly sexual about the whole process and the chararcters that are part of the morph have a tendency to be the subjects of over-zealous pining.
Eureka isn’t a bad little ditty, but then again I rather enjoy the Japanese other/or type of thing.

Speed Grapher aka スピードグラファー
I didn’t even watch this. Aside from it’s new wave intro it’s just not worth it.

FF7 Advent Children aka ファイナルファンタジーVII: アドベント?ルドレン
Combining a kinda pseduo-ecological southern baptist background to what was already an incredibly dense world of iconography, FF7 might very well drive home just how pervasive your memory systems tuck in the world’s of Japan’s creations. Think about it, Star Wars… don’t remember much, FF7 for some reason always rings a bell. Who knows, maybe I just got serious japan-o-philia.

October 3, 2005 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment


October 2005

Posts by Month

Posts by Category