Friday, 25 September 2009

Ai City

Pretty old as anime goes, and unfortunately it shows. Thematically, it's a forerunner to Akira, but where the former is genuinely mysterious and prophetic, Ai City comes off like a bad B-movie, scored by some seriously cheesy 80s J-Pop.

Sample dialogue (admittedly something may be lost in translation):

"Not to be presumptuous sir, but Lai-Lo Ching may be behind this."
"Lai-Lo Ching?! Are you certain of this?"
"83% certain sir"

Ai City's visual style is clunky and dated, especially by today's standards, using rudimentary paint tricks for special effects. Only good for a laugh really.

Dir. Kôichi Mashimo, 1986

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Bubblegum Crisis

This could be a spoof of dumb, puerile anime if it wasn't so painfully obvious that it's the epitome of dumb, puerile anime.

It's well-drawn, but that's pretty much a given. What you get is a finely drawn vomiting forth of bug-eyed bimbos, leading double lives as international pop idols and crime-fighting superbabes, generic anime mechs and a plot so thin it could give you a paper cut.

Save yourself the trouble of watching this and lose a pack of Hubba Bubba down the back of your sofa instead.

Dir. Various, 1987

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Street of Joy

A day in the life of a pleasure house on the eve of a law being passed to outlaw brothels in Japan.

Although it is usually classed as erotica, Street of Joy is largely character-driven, with some nice performances. It is a gently reflective, almost nostalgic film, showing the liaisons of prostitutes and clients with compassion. It holds back from judging the central characters and focuses instead on their individual drives and passions.

Kumashiro's camera work, which creates a voyeuristic feel to the film, placing the viewer in dark spaces with a keyhole view of the intimate scenes unfolding in the rooms of the brothel, gives a bit of an edge to the film, but it's ultimately quite slight.

赤線玉の井 ぬけられます

Dir. Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1974

The Assassination

Surprisingly nihilistic samurai film following the brief life of Hachiro Kiyokawa, a blade for hire, in a time of political upheaval in 19th Century Japan. The film charts the descent of honourable samurai to mercenary rōnin and assassins, for sale to the highest bidder.

Kiyokawa shifts between both factions - the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Emperor - to further his own ends. He embodies an amoral, mercenary attitude to life - mediating peace in the face of civil war only to realize his own ambitions of power.

Beautifully shot in black and white CinemaScope with a haunting, atmospheric score. Worth checking.

Dir. Masahiro Shinoda, 1964

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

964 Pinocchio

The confused friendship of a lobotomized cyborg sex slave and a criminally insane homeless girl on the run from The Man.

One long scream of a movie - the visuals scream, the soundtrack screams, all the characters scream. It sucks you in and spits you out, and consequently feels more like an endurance test than a film.

Not bad, as weird, low-budget cyberpunk splatterfests go but that's about as much as you can say. 2/5 for sheer adrenaline.

Dir. Shozin Fukui, 1991