Saturday, December 18, 2010

Erotic Grotesque Ultraviolent Japanimation (and a few others): a brief retrospective 1986-1998

These films and hence this retrospective = NSFW.  Additionally, if you dislike movies which might potentially make you physically or mentally ill I suggest avoiding them (except Akira but even that might freak you out).  These movies will warp your fragile little minds.

Once upon a time, before the American manga/anime boom in the early-mid aughts and upswell in wall scroll bedecked millenials clamoring for Avatar, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece and wretched "emo" Americanized yaoi, and when Japanime was still Japanime, you had hardcore violent, sexual deviant, perverted, bizarre, questionable (by Western standards) morals, BDSM, Nazis, demons, BDSM Nazi Demons, psychotic heroes, psychotic villians, and gore and nudity and gore and tentacles.  This ain't no Miyazaki touchy feely bullshit about earth spirits and healing nature or flying pigs (though Catbus in My Neighbour Totoro is really fuckin creepy).  This was splatterpunk, balls to the wall mental shit, and I loved it.  Here are some my personal favorites, in no particular order from the heyday of animated filth flarn filth.
  • Legend of the Overfiend (1988)  I still remember the first time I saw this in '95(?) at a friend's house.  None of us had seen it before and it had come as a recommendation from a video store clerk.  Let's just put it this way - none of us had seen tentacle rape before or even seen most of what was going on in the movie.  The level of violence and horrific sexual violence is beyond pornographic.  This is things you can't unsee shit.  AND WE LOVED IT.  That night we ended up watching it twice in a row.  I haven't seen it since after I moved to Austin and got obsessed with Japanese cinema and animation but I remember enjoying it but not as much as the first time. 
  • La Blue Girl (1992)  Hentai, plain and simple, with hot chick sex ninja demon hunters who bang demons to death.  Smut, filth, garbage, so awesome. 
  • Battle Angel Alita (1993)  Now Alita is a different story than the previous two entries because there no sex but some brilliant action, plot, setting, and characters.  It's also a very dark and in some respects bleak movie.  Out of this list, this film is the friendliest (non-tentacle rape-y that is) but the level of violence might freak out some faint hearts.
  • Ninja Scroll (1993) I LOVE NINJA SCROLL.  It is certainly in my top three faves on this list.  Ninja Scroll, man talk about a fucking epic classic.  It's got everything.  Ninjas, demons, an immortal bad guy, a snake chick, political intrigue, lots of violence, sex, violence, hordes of ninjas, and now I want to watch it right now.  I can't give away the plot or my favorite parts because if you haven't seen it - go pick up the DVD.
  • Wicked City (1987)  The movie I usually double feature with Ninja Scroll for similar characters and parallel themes.  Wicked City is creepier than Ninja Scroll, with a mean misogynistic lean (almost all of these movies are rife with misogynist themes and tones - except Battle Angel Alita), there's a spider woman with vagina dentata (who is actually frightening and awesome), and some really twisted concepts.  Wicked City is not the action cheerfest that Ninja Scroll is but is well deserving of being on this list.
  • Fist of the North Star (1986) and Doomed Megalopolis (1991) are "classic" anime from this era but I'm not a huge fan.  Initially, when I was building this list, I thought I liked them and then I remembered that I didn't enjoy them.  They are still must-see if you're serious about your Japanimation.
  • Akira (1988) Classic.  The remastered version with a new English dub sucks.  Japanese is the way to go but I recommend finding a copy of the original dub.  The English dub is actually really good.  Akira, yup nothing I can say about it that hasn't already been said.
  • 3x3 Eyes (1991) Demons.  Fan service.  "Yokomo they've got the statue!" 
  • Anything by Go Nagai from Violence Jack (1986) to New Cutey Honey (1994).  Go Nagai, man, there was a time I would watch anything with name Go Nagai slapped on it.  He's the perverted Japanese Russ Meyers.  I prefer Kekko Kamen (legendary panty mask) myself - a superheroine who wears her panties as a mask an stuns Nazis with her vagina.  No seriously, her glowing vagina stuns them and then Kekko Kamen breaks their necks with her thighs.
  • Plastic Little (1994) one of the funnier and more "traditional" space trader adventure with some bouncy bouncy thrown in for good measure.
Now these are just a few of the Japanese animated features I enjoy.  I only really rewatch Ninja Scroll and Wicked City and the films of Satoshi Kon.  My taste in anime shifted as the market shifted - I don't go out of my way to dig through endless episodes of series though I have some on my queue.  I keep my ear to the ground for feature films but haven't hear of anything grand.  Oh well, maybe I can revisit these twisted gems and view them from a new perspective.

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