This anime was a wild little find and one of those series that no one talks about but is definitely more original and interesting than most other series out there. The anime is inspired by the works of author Edogawa Ranpo and commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death in 1965.
It’s a murder mystery detective show with a lot of social commentary about the state of modern Japan mixed with horror elements. The show has great cases such as a serial killer making furniture out of women and does not shy away from some disturbing images, it is the very definition of aesthetic violence. They use a lot of very artistic but dark imagery which I really love. What’s awesome is that under the cases there is a feeling of dissatisfaction in Japanese society being reported on the TV, they story brings in ideas about the failing justice system and they rise of those who are not supported by modern Japanese values. If you liked Psycho Pass and want to see an anime tackle similar issues but in a different genre this anime does it very well.
The cast is a diverse mix of characters that all have some interesting personal quirks with the exception of Hashiba the voice of reason. Our main character is Kobayashi a boy bored by his life and a weird sense of what is attractive and interesting until he meets detective Akeshi a 17 year old detective. Kobayashi is suspected in a murder case but after working with Akeshi to solve the mystery he decides to become the detective’s assistant as it’s the first time he’s really had fun. Kobayashi’s best friend Hashiba tags along to be the voice of reason and keep him grounded (plus it’s rather obvious that he’s in love with Kobayashi). There are some very colourful characters but there are better off kept a surprise.
The show has a great art style using metaphor and staging to display various points and bring a great surrealism to it. I see flashes of Ikuhara (Utena, Mawaru PenguinDrum) but darker in this series and very much Danganronpa. The show looks great, has real emotion, dark and imaginative cases, quirky characters, unique set pieces, grittiness and great social commentary so was a real win for me.
Plus a bonus for a fugoshi some real slash/BL potential.
On the 21st of December the entire series of Anime Ben-To will be screening in Bath Spa
One day anime screening of the entire series of Ben-to.
Doors open at 10am but the screening will start at 11am.
It will be £10 on the door which will include food and drink.
Every day an epic struggle rages in grocery stores across Japan – the battle for half-priced bento boxes! Once the discount stickers go on, ravenous brawlers start throwing punches in a knockdown, drag-out war over who gets to take home the cheap eats. When a young, broke high school student named Sato joins the Half-Priced Food Lovers Club, he proves to be a rising talent in the world of insane food fights. But does he have what it takes to become the king of clearance cuisine? Welcome to the world of Ben-To, where chopsticks are lethal weapons, the supermarket is a battleground, and there’s nothing more delicious than a deep-fried win.
More details at the Bath Manga Society FaceBook page
BioMega: Read volume one of the amazing Biomega a cyberpunk action/thriller set in a post apocalyptic dystopia. This manga has a beautiful art style and feels very much like manga drawn in the 80’s. The wealth of detail in the backgrounds is such a welcomed contrast to some of the more clean looking modern manga. This is truly a magnificent piece of art the images are full of texture and detail with the most breathtakingly drawn backgrounds. The story is set around an apocalyptic earth and a plague creating a zombie like horde, our lead male is on a mission to seek out any remaining human life signs amongst a population of mutants, techno-organic life forms and artificial humans. This is a wonderful work and just such a brilliant style and exciting read!
Assassination Classroom: Read the brilliant first volume of Assassination Classroom. This is a bit of a genre hybrid and its no wonder it’s so popular in Japan with an anime on the go and a live action in the works. AC is funny and heart warming but also clever and different. The assassination attempts excite and amuse, Koro it both a monster and the greatest teacher these children could have. All the while showing a commentary on the current Japanese school system and the pressure on students, this manga acts as a perfect escape for them while giving a little insight into Japans difficult school life. Brilliant manga just brilliant it made me laugh, smile, gasp and think!!!
Ajin: Demi-Human: Just read Ajin Demi-human with was a very good read. A quite harsh modern horror in the vain of Deadman Wonderland and Tokyo Ghoul. I say this as its has the core plot of the manifestation of a dark and horrific power in a world that hunts, controls and experiments on people who manifest this power. In Ajin its the immortal Demi-Humans that cant be no matter how horrific a death is inflicted on them and the strange “otherself” they can summon. the summons are interesting, terrifying and unique. The first volume is fast paced hitting the ground running while setting up a web of interesting characters and the players in a bigger mystery/conspiracy. While violent and creepy at times it is a great read and an interesting premise that I look forward to continuing to read.
Diabolik lovers, proof that you can put 6 extremely hot vampire bishies into an anime and it still can be boring. I keep watching these damn Otome based animes and I keep just not getting on with them. These guys are always so hot but the main girl that you would play as in the game is always so dull.
This girl, Yui, is the sweet innocent, dull, vapid boring protagonist that just keeps walking into stupid situations. She pretty much is made these vamps play thing and I can’t see why any would fall for her. If you were forced to live in a mansion because your father is posted overseas and it supposedly belongs to family then found out the 6 vampire brothers live there, what would your do? Well you’re a young attractive girl maybe you would flirt with the brothers see which one you would pair off with. Sounds well and good but they are vampires and see you as food; they bite you and take your blood whenever they feel like. They hit you, push you about, mock and humiliate you, stating how your only food and shouldn’t act above your station as a lowly human blood bank. They threaten you with rape and to feed off you and no matter your struggles and protests no one comes to help you and you are devoured on a regular basis. Sounds romantic!!!! I mean hot vampire guys are great and who doesn’t like a bad boy but come on there is no way you want to romance cold hearted killers that use you for food, sport and pleasure.
Well Yui being the dim but innocent girl still seems to approach them. I know most of the games are based on the idea that you’re youthful and innocent feelings can bring forth love and by being so refreshingly pure that you can melt even the coldest hearts. But god this girl is not innocent and pure she is naïve and dumb. You’re treated like food so when you find a sleeping vampire you A) leave him alone or B) wake him up so he gets made molests and feeds off you tossing you to the floor when done. How about you hear a male voice singing and you A) go explore to find the singing vampire, who then teases you, abuses you, feeds off you and leaves you lying in the dirt or B) you ignore it and hurry to your room to stay under the radar. It goes on like this, instead of lying low and trying to avoid being played with Yui just goes up and makes causal conversation with Vampires and then gets upset when they attack her. God I wanted her to just hurry up and get eaten and the vampires kill her. Why can’t these Otome based animes have spunkier heroines is that too much to ask? I’m not asking for a full on Ryoko Matoi from Kill la Kill, she doesn’t need to be a completely strong fighter type that can beat down everyone around her but just a little more Miyaka from Fushigi Yuugi or even Kyoko from Skip Beat an amazingly entertaining and spunky female character.
Read my review of Skip Beat here:http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2010/04/skip-beat-%e2%80%93-a-lovely-easily-watchable-anime-with-a-female-protagonist-that-is-brilliant/
This anime suffers from having a completely none relatable female lead and maybe it still is a victim of the Japanese society and its education of women. It’s no secret that Japanese media is a male dominated industry and still makes decisions based on Japans ideals on a women’s place and the commercialisation of products for women in contemporary Japan. Since the very first girls comics in Japan in the Meji era that taught Japanese girls to act like proper young women this trend has continued in some aspects of the media. So the idea that ideal Japanese girls are pure and innocent still permeates through the media but it’s a shame that something as exciting as a Vampire anime can be so vapid. Even the plot can’t make up for it as it gives no real answers to the past of the vampire boys, their parents and why the resurrection of one mother is so bad.
After sitting through 6 eps of vampire jail bait and a recap on Yui’s feeling we finally see some story development. So it turns out that the 6 boys have one father and 3 different mothers. No real idea who the father really was and how he managed to simultaneously marry 3 vampires and father 6 sons while also being some kind of government official. It is never made clear if this politician is also a vampire. But one boy Subaru’s mother appears to be locked in a tower, don’t know why or why she asked him to stab her to death. The next two brothers mother is training one Shuu, to be the head of the house who clearly rather be off playing while ignoring the other son Reiji who enjoys studying and would make a better head. Then there are the triplets of one mother, these triplets Ayato, Leito and Kanata for some reason conspire to kill their mother who may be having an affair with her husband’s brother. Why they kill her I have no idea there was no reason, she may have been bad but not kill worthy bad I mean these boys are no princes. Two look like brothers one like the mother but he is clearly psychologically damaged in the fact he always looks half crazed and talks to a stuffed animal but again no background on his behaviour. But alas mother dies her lover steals her heart and in the end uses Yui to resurrect her. Well Yui is certainly more interesting for an episode but the Vampire boys reject the return of their mother band together to save Yui, kill their uncle and then each tell us how they hope you’re ready for a lifetime of pain and pleasure as their food and sexual object.
It’s all so stupid, plot makes no sense these boys have angst but never enough to redeem them or endure them to us. They are fantastically attractive and they look good all vampired up and covered in blood so visually it’s an erotic display but that its. This anime is all visual but nothing else and even my wildest vampire fantasy has me placed higher on the food chain then object, there is nothing erotic being told get ready for dinner hope you don’t mind living for me so I can eat you worthless but delicious girl. I mean this anime is even more disappointing then Shinsengumi vampire anime Hakuoki, I thought that was poor and after I realised it was an Otome game it made sense that the main girl in all her honest and pure innocence became the focus of the Shinsengumi’s interest but it least it had the decency of having a mutual love story and a plot but I digress.
Unless you hard core love Otome games or happy just to look at pretty boys regardless of plot then do watch it but I’d rather watch a silly but fun sports anime or just yaoi at least then I have nothing but buckets of pretty boys and no vapid good natured innocent flower slowing down my plot.
Please remember you can follow me @lonedreameryaoi
I am also on Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube as Let Zoe Spoil You
So these are just my fav’s and their are certainly a lot more out there and I may add more as I discover them. I do love a cross-dressing pretty boy!!!!
1. Rui Ninomiya - Gatchman Crowds, I like a pretty boy with a bucket of angst trying to do the right thing. Also one that has a bisexual alien villan molesting him. Plus Rui is smart real smart I love an intelligent boy, glasses are very attractive.
2.Yuuki Kei - Moyashimon. A Goth Loli pretty boy whose is smart and hard working and not afraid to play with gender stereotypes. Yuuki is just a smart and sexy young man.
3.Nuriko – Fushigi Yuugi. One of my first ever traps the lovely but short tempered and tough as they come Nuriko. A pretty boy that shared my love of Bishonen Emperor Hotohori. He is loyal and strong and the first trap in my anime discovery many years ago.
4.Mariya Shidou – Maria Holic. I love this boy why because he is a vindictive, manipulative little sadist who is so fun to watch. He may be a cruel tease and a bully but he does it with style and elegance. Sometimes its more fun to see a bit more of a bad boy trap then a blushing little thing.
5.Yuuta Sasaki – Cuticle Detective Inaba. Again don’t let a blushing innocent pretty face fool you. I love Yuuta cause he is crazy proper Yandare bunny boiler type. He has many fooled with his sweet charm and feminine ways but alas he is another fun off his head little sadist who isn’t afraid to knock of the completion to his Inaba’s attention.
6.Honjo Kamatari – Rurouni Kenshin. Poor boy fell in love with the wrong man and is now a villain but one hot deadly bad boy. Feminine and charming, tomboying and pretty he is also not someone you want to get into a fight with unless your one tough fighter. Who doesn’t love a bit of deadly power hidden behind such a pretty face.
7.Tieria Erde – Gundam 00. Gundam has always had that gay vibe I for one love to slash and yaoi it up and the pilots are getting more bishie. But Tieria is the best, all full of angst and I adore an angsting pretty boy who also pilots a Gundam. Plus this is one hot cross-dressing pilot he is very sexy in his red dress, even better when he has to pilot in his torn clothes looking all dishevelled and delectable.
8.Anna Gram – Phi Brain. I love this delicate pretty boy he is a little fluffy and away with the fairies but still I have a soft spot for him. Maybe its because I’m also an artist and relax when I paint or the fact that this pretty boy is also very smart and cheerful.
9. Mariandale – Ixion Saga. I love him because of his spirit and vitality. He is fun to watch and also tough. Mariandale has a fun personality playing on his gender role and proud of who he is and the choice he has made to identify himself as a woman. As Ixion is a comedy anime he is used a lot for humour and I like the way he flirts or his voice suddenly drops when he means business.
10.Chihiro Fujisaki – Dangan Ronpa. Another sweet little thing who’s innocence and gentle nature is endearing. I like him because he didn’t quit because he tried to better himself and live how he wanted plus he is cute. Also another smarty a computer wiz who is essential to the lives of his friends and is a loyal person.
So I have taken it upon myself to watch every film in Terracotta’s back catalogue. How will I be a UK leading expert in South East Asian Cinema if I’m not totally up to date with what’s being released by the main distributor in the country. I want to nice and up to date for the start of my studies in September 2013.
First film up is Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack
The plot is pretty simple to start, 3 friends on holiday before graduation head to the coast and are plagued by a rotten fish smell at their summer home. They soon discover and small mutated fish with legs that they kill and throw out. Thinking this is the end of it turns out to be a mistake as a shark with legs is lurking and goes on the attack. They escape its attack only to discover legion after legion of legged fish are leaving the sea and their fight for survival has only just begun!
Things escalate pretty fast at first the fish being a curiosity to the public then a menace as they disrupt transport and infrastructure. The movie breaks into two storylines; Koari our brave and noble female lead takes the first flight back to Tokyo on a mission to save her Fiancé. Meanwhile back at the summer house slutty Erika is dealing with the mess in her own way by ignoring it favour of fooling around. In true horror staple don’t have sex, you meet a horrible end and Erika’s is truly awful. Turns out a scratch by the mutant fish spear like legs turns you into a rotting overinflated living corpse, swollen and grotesque, producing a vile smell described like human corpses and rotting fish. But then starts a conflict between Erika and friend Aki. Whose nerves have been shattered and feeling abandoned and betrayed has started to lose the plot culminating in a harsh character assassination on Erika before beating her in with an ashtray. But this isn’t the most horrific part as things begin to get truly horrific and out of control.
This is not a film for the faint hearted and the escalation of the grotesque is truly something. The movie is an adaptation of a Junji Ito manga and he is the man that brought us Uzumaki and Tomie. I have in fact many years ago seen these films and they are quite something. They merge the horrific and grotesque with the insane and unpredictable. You either love these films or hate them and since I enjoy a bit of horror, macabre and the aesthetics of the grotesque this work and his previous movies have appealed to me. Gyo however had me really thinking hard whether to turn away, its one thing to see a swollen mutating girl spew gas from her mouth and arse it’s another to see girl merge with fish carcass leg structure as weird tubes are forced into her mouth and anus. This is the worst kind of forced fellatio!!!!
The reason I did enjoy this movie is that it has a strong plot, there’s a reason to what’s happening and a natural evolution to the events of the film. I’ll try not to spoil the plot too much as it’s a clever and in depth one but I know I can get carried away when describing things. The basics are crazy scientists creates bacterial gas that can be used as a biological weapon. Experimentation takes place on a remote island then abandoned. Fish get infected but it’s not truly a mutation instead the gas, a rotten mixture that smells like corpses and may have developed a mind of its own, has used material found in the sea to make legged structures attaching itself to the fish. And there you have it walking fish; if only it stopped there this movie would be very different and if it had been an American film then the military would have saved us all. No such luck as the fish hosts decompose and explode the scaffolds are left behind so that the next thing infected can get strapped into them and power their crazy rampage.
Oh yes this movie goes from gross to disturbing to just mind blowing oh god insanity. There should be some test on scientists so they’re not allowed to experiment with mutant gas that rots, mutates and sends people crazy. By the time the fish are dying there’s so many infected people that the scaffolds just uses their strange tubes to combine them hence the mouth and arse rape of hideous bloated people. Despite all, friends Aki and Erika’s disagreement comes to a head, Aki resents Erika for being slim and pretty and getting the boys even though Aki has too low self-esteem to overcome. As Erika suffers Aki feels a sense of superiority finally not the fattest one in the group, nothing like a tough situation to bring out the best in people and to learn who your friends really are. Aki sees her opportunity to get her revenge on Erika for feeling fat, left out and boring but doesn’t take the time to listen to Erika that despite her behaviour sometimes and Aki’s attitude about herself she wouldn’t have hung out with her if they weren’t friends. This is a test of friendship that fails as Aki soon finds herself in trouble and no matter how much she begs Erika has forsaken their friendship.
We are left with Kaori who has teamed up with a cameraman she met on the plane called Shirakawa. They fight their way through Tokyo escaping sharks and Giant squids only to discover crazy scientist has turned Kaori’s fiancée into a prototype walker powered by the gas, a more mechanical lab based version of the evolved scaffolds running lose in Tokyo. Kaori isn’t one to give up, convinced there must be some humanity left she chases after her mutated infected Fiancée Tadashi. Now you can tell this film was never going to have a happy ending, no miracle cure or military force strong enough. There’s no way you can fight against an evil cloud of disturbing gas that infects and destroys all in its path. This is pretty much one of those films where you can safely say it’s the end of the world. As the human scaffold corpses, rotting, abominations they are start to merge together its pretty much lights out for humanity. But only in a film so disturbing would it end with a view of the gas swirling into the sky making beautiful patterns and colours and when asked about the smell the reply “I’m already used to it”.
As I’ve said this film isn’t for the faint hearted but it’s also not to be mocked or ridiculed. It has its fair share of controversial material but I don’t feel anything was done just to shock and offend people. Everything seen was shown for a reason mostly to help us the viewer understand the mechanics of the scaffold and the workings of the gas. The film wanted us to see the horror of bio bacterial weaponry and how ill prepared humanity is. The film shows us the harsh realities of how people behave when in crisis and the harsher truth that people easily get used to things they shouldn’t and that something horrendous soon becomes the norm. I may not be eating fish for a little while which will be hard as I’m pescaterian so I’ll be sticking to foods that don’t mutate like vegetables. I will however recommend this film to anyone who does like a horror that not only disturbs you visually and mentally but also is so surreally engaging you are left wanting to find out more. I for one have more questions and want to see how the world copes with this epidemic. I do enjoy a bit of the deconstruction of people both physically and mentally and this film does this well.
Introduction to me – My name is Zoe Burgess and I am currently affiliated with Birkbeck Universities Japanese Cultural Department. I currently hold a Masters in Contemporary Film developments specializing in South Korean Cinema and did my dissertation of ‘Morbid sexuality and the love of taboo in Japanese cinema’. I am now working on my PhD Queering the fandom, a study of female fan culture and their appropriation of the yaoi genre. I am a film theorist who specialising in queer theory as well as gender and sexuality, social commentary and cinema as cultural identity. I am also very active in the fan community as an artist, video blogger, and conceptual cosplayer and designer. I recently survived criticism by Gok Wan when he announced on public TV that I was sad for like Anime, manga and john barrowman and was a depressed emo Goth I currently head a campaign to right that wrong and represent fangirl as the confident, creative and intelligent people we are.
Introduction to topic – as a film student my belief is that film, TV and media is a direct reflection of the society of the time it was created and therefore a true reflection of the culture that bore it, it can stand up as historical testament to not only the technical advances of the time and factors such as camera techniques and editing but also social trends, fashion, language, changes in politics, law and the interests and passions of the audience. Film is Culture and therefore it makes sense that it will have a reverse in the form of counter culture. Counter culture is a term used when a form of media such as anime shows an alternate or inverted view of the culture that created it. Instead of showing the true reflections of society, history and culture counter cultures shows us what we either wish our society, history and culture is or how we can escape these things. For example for us in the Uk we have been in and out of recession and money has been tight while British cinema is famous for realism so films about the struggling working classes are abundant but we want to escape this and therefore a cinema of excess of fantastical adventures has proven more popular and commercially successful in the current climate. Anime is one of the best examples of counter culture as it enables for every interest, thought, desire and idea to get a visual representation counter to the actually trends of Japanese society. We all know that japan has stricter rules on social behaviour, roles of the adult and pressure on students to achieve higher grades, with all this social pressure its unsurprising they have an industry that caters for fleets of fantasy allowing a release from social and cultural norms. One of my favourite genres that is great for counter culture is the New wave mecha genre with animes such as Evangelion, fafner and Bokurano, there is so much pressure on youth to achieve something but also on adult failure and how they have been corrupted by society, wisdom of age, money and status and therefore the ones not corrupted and therefor able to judge society are children who have remained innocents against social pressures. This is why new wave mecha employs children as the ones to fight for society as they are seen as “pure” and don’t have ulterior motives influenced by adult problems. Anime can be a great tool for escapism as well as an inspiration for cultural movements and phenomenon such as cosplay. Counter culture has been appropriated by fan culture and anime fandom is very good for breakout views and expressionism. By having fans engage and appropriate their fandoms they then go on to express themselves using this fandom as a base and as source material. Fan communities become a culture counter to the perceived normal culture of modern society.
Anime has allowed for people to take that escapism and expressionism to another level by not only allowing their vision to escape from cultural norms but also their actual selves. Anime fandom has created off shoots such as cosplay, fanfiction, and fan art and video that has allowed individuals to further add to the realms of counter culture.
Cosplay - Many choose a cosplay based on the characters that they relate to, the ones they either wish to be more like or the ones they feel share the same identity. In normal society and within our culture we don’t have the opportunities to be heroes or villains, to be fantastical figures that lead lives unimaginable in our society so we have to create a place for these alter egos a place where we can reflect our own identities regardless if they a counter to the social acceptable norm. I like many Cosplay why do I do this, to become more than the person presented to modern society, to be a new and more alternate version of myself who can use art and vision to represent myself. I am what I have termed a conceptual cosplayer meaning that I don’t become characters I become a theme, a genre to myself. I cosplay to escape what is socially accepted, to escape from the realism and boring everyday world that is my job. I have my genres and inspiration and I choose to become a visual representation of the things that I enjoy. As such I have started making outfits based on iconography such as the Tardis dress I wore last year and at last this year my current cosplay of Shoujo Manga. I am a girl who reads manga, particularly from the dark shoujo genres with favourites such as Yami no Matsuei. I have broken social norms and even cosplay norms by becoming the genre that inspired me in the first place.
Body Modification – I also enjoy the ideals of body modification physically changing aspects of yourself so better represent your true self. I have then taken conceptual cosplaying to new extremes with my love of tattoos. My goal was always to be a walking manga, I believe that my skin is my canvas and therefor I can illustrate it. I choose all my tattoos (bar one) from Manga, finding iconography and themes that I enjoyed the most by artists I liked the most.
Fan Works – Fan culture by nature is a form of appropriating and celebrating counter culture. By taking the original material and celebrating it you are promoting non-mainstream areas such as fanfiction and doujinshi. Fan works are not something that exists in the mainstream, people don’t write fanfiction for events in the news but they do for areas such as anime. Anime lends itself more openly to fan interpretation, it allows for a culture of alternative opinions to be given voice. This is evident in areas such as slash AMV’s that combine images and video footage to prove a particular story or character development as seen by the fan. Fan works are not part of the original canon of the anime and therefor are an interpretation or inverted form of the anime and by that definition an example of counter culture. Fan works do not make up a true reflection of society and culture that bore it. Fan works act to back up the counter culture.
The Panel is up on Youtube to here the full thing with my Co-panelist Leah Holmes.