October 28th, 2008


Cultural adventures, neh?

Anime - Surreal High Theater of Two Dimensions in Three,
or Art Form from Planet Sideways?
     Because there are times I just sit and ask nanda hell, you know?
    Believe me, I adore a lot of anime. Just ask folks around me. I have for years. I love a lot of Japanese cinema, both high and low, and Japanese art,  too, but there's a special place in my heart for painted moving pictures from the mysterious and often-weird-to-my-stolidly-British-Canadian-cum-American-Midwestern eyes.
     I was delighted a couple of years ago when I talked one of my editors into letting me do a package of stories on anime (and manga, yes, I know manga started first, and I know its historical provenance, and I like reading Bleach almost as much as I like watching Ichigo and Inoue and Chad and Ishida kick massive butt in episodes 1 through 189 - uh, where was I?)
    Right. Anime. Quite simply, I love it.
    I love the diversity of artistic styles, I love the colors. I love the music (BB got all the Bleach opening and closing songs yesterday! W00t! Happy People!)
     I love all the iterations of the many near-archetypical and insanely stylized story lines, the equally archetypical and insanely stylized characters. I love mecha. I love Teenage Heroes. I love feudal Japan. I love impossible physics that allow gorgeously choreographed fights and the sublime beauty of strange imagery, whether it's wind, or birds, oceans, mountains, cherry blossoms, and moonlight.
     I love the trainwreck mashups of intense and surprisingly adult emotional stories, blood-drenched violence, bathroom humor, fanservice, and -- oh, everything. Flying battleships and heroes dying on crosses wound about with roses ... Buster Keaton as Lear on crystal meth, with Bluebottle, Jesus Christ, Faust and the Katzenjammer kids trying to find Sophia and Justice and freedom from the bomb in all the places the universe offers as stages.
    (And don't think there aren't women on stage. Don't mess with anime women: not the Babes, not the Madonnas, not the Assassins, not the Mothers, nor the Sisters, nor the Lovers, nor the Scientists, nor the Cyborg Cops, nor the Queens. Or the Insurance Adjusters. Don't ever mess with the Insurance Adjuster Women.)
    But sometimes ... sometimes, when I'm watching warring high schools with legions of toxically lethal 14-year-old warriors, with no adults in sight, with freshmen who turn into dragons when their glasses break, and casual talk of reincarnated war chiefs eating dogs in the basement ....
   Sometimes you just have to say WTF, y'all. You know?

*And, no, Miyazaki's stuff is not anime, not as such. It's brilliant, but it's not what's croggling me here. Just so you know.