Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne No Musume-tachi
OK I made a mistake. I didn’t listen to the little voice. The one in my head that said ‘I don’t think so’ when I first thought it looked interesting. The one that started ringing alarm bells when I read the Wikipedia article. I went ahead and watched the first episode anyway. Rin is an investigator in modern/near future. She is also immortal. I was hoping it would be a female James Bond sort of story, but it isn’t. It’s a very sexual, very violent work full of gratuitous naked bodies and sadomasochistic torture. Blood spills everywhere. This isn’t a story where violence has no consequences. It’s one that revels in the consequences, it lingers on every drip and spatter of the consequences. The story started with her looking for a lost cat, and the next thing I know Rin is tied naked to a frame getting knitting needles jammed into her. I bailed after the first episode. This isn’t what I signed on for AT ALL.
A mysterious medicine seller travels Japan eliminating Mononoke, evil spirits. The artwork is almost decadent, lush images, every inch filled with colour and movement. The paintings on the walls are reproductions of famous masterpieces, I even think I saw a Picasso. The visuals are also quite surreal, it reminded me of Yellow Submarine in spots. Fantastic creatures, fish with legs, a carp with spider eyes playing a Biwa. There’s one part where the principles in a crowd are people and everyone else are mannequins. Birds and insects will move in the pictures on the wall, forced and extended perspective adds to the nightmare quality. The writing is very black horror. Psychological mind game horror stories with surprise and often ambiguous endings. Most interestingly the artwork and story is performed like a play. Change scenes are marked with doors closing across the ‘stage’ and then opening to show the new act in a new scene. Actors change by donning and changing masks. The story that takes place onboard a ship especially looks like it was done with moving scenery pieces and painted backdrops. This only adds to the surreal ambiance. A masterpiece.
Monsters Incorporated (Movie)
(Pixar) Closet monsters scare children to harvest the power of screams which is used to run their world. A child accidentally comes through the closet into the Monster realm and the two monsters have to get it back home. Clever design, nice enough story if rather violent at times. An exciting chase scene. Not so subtle commentary on corporation "ethics". The emotional connection between the child and the monsters is actually quite touching.
Monsters vs Aliens (Movie)
On her wedding day a women is hit by a meteor. The strange energy turns her into a giant with super strength. She is picked up by the military and moved to a facility where other ‘monsters’ are kept. She is trying to adapt to this when all of them are called upon to save the earth from an alien invasion. A fun story. A little heavy on the message, but it is Disney after all. Not a great film but amusing.
Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku
(aka Bodacious Space Pirates and Miniskirt Space Pirates) One thing Anime can do well is to take an absurd premise and make a good story out of it. That’s the case with Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku. A High School girl discovers that her father was captain of the Bentenmaru a space pirate ship. He has passed away and as the captaincy is hereditary she is the new captain. From the concept of space pirates to the crew following this utterly inexperienced little girl’s orders to her being really good at it, the premise is just silly. That said the writing makes up for it. There’s intrigue, and humour, and strong characters, and plausible situations. The physics is reasonable and there are no obvious contradictions or anachronisms. The stories are a bit simplistic but the show just works and I enjoyed it a lot.
Somewhere along the line one of the Suits discovered that the fastest growing part of America are people of Hispanic heritage. To make a show to answer this need for a more “cultural” program, they put every racist Mexican stereotype they could think of on top of this otherwise forgettable show about kids as heroes. The result is nauseatingly racist and offensive.
Mushi are not animals or plants or even bacteria. They are a more fundamental form of life that only some people can see. Ginko is a Mushi Master (Mushishi) who travels Japan helping people with Mushi related problems. This is a superb series that shows a very different side of Anime. The animation is lush and beautiful. The writing is deep, subtle, and exquisite. Mushishi is calm in pace but with subtle, beautiful underlying themes. No monsters, robots, ninja, criminals, or violence, Mushishi is a series of wonderful and thought provoking stories. It is deep and I found myself returning over and over to particular situations that raised fascinating ethical questions. I found myself mulling them over and discovering deeper meanings. I simply love this series.
My Life as a Teenage Robot
A robot tries to fit in in Junior High School with humans, and save the world when needed, and deal with her ‘mother’ who keeps treating her as a creation not a person. It’s Robot Jones 40 years later, but the show is significantly better. The writing is reasonably clever and the stories have the occasional interesting twist and amusing reference. Not high art but amusing.
My Life Me
A 13 year old manga artist survives school friends etc. Not really a subject I find interesting but not badly done. Drawn in anime style and they seem to they rely on standard anime visual cliches a bit too much. It’s not bad though.
My Neighbors the Yamadas (Movie)
I liked this film WAY more than I expected to. Unlike many of Studio Ghibli productions it has no deep plot, no serious undertones, no meanings or messages. The artwork is flat, just lines and washes in a very schematic, Sunday comics style. At first it seemed just low budget but after a few minutes I realized that it fits the rest of the film. My Neighbors the Yamada`s is just a character study of an odd Japanese family. Everyone in the family pulls together when needed despite their scraps and arguments. They will say little digs at each other, sometimes maliciously, sometimes without meaning to. They make mistakes, they run into stupid problems, they are caring at times, surprisingly indifferent at times, they screw up, sometimes they just don`t feel like working hard. The film is a series of short stories connected by a voiceover of the title of each section and a classic Haiku at the end. I do wonder about the Motorcycle section about 2/3 of the way through. The artistic and writing style changes. It just feels out of place with the rest of the film. Overall though, My Neighbors the Yamadas is a really nice film that leaves you feeling good.
My Neighbor Totoro (Movie)
(Miyazaki)Two girls and their father move to the country and discover the changes of the seasons and magical creatures. “You can only see them when they want you to”. Delightfully simple, it avoids the routine clichés. I found myself expecting a standard, painfully obvious twist and was always pleasantly surprised. For all its simplicity though it is very enjoyable and moving.