Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Ecstasy of Gold

So I just finished watching Blue Gender, which is a 26-episode Japanese animated series from around 2000-2001, and ... it was okay. I mean, I've seen a lot worse (most of it being the stereotypical "high school girl saves the world from invasive green tentacles" storyline), but this one just... okay, I'll break it down point by point, good versus bad:

First, at least it had a plot. FUNimation's biggest seller, the Dragon Ball series, basically equates to, "My kung-fu is better than your kung-fu; let's fight! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!" and then the speed-lines show up. Blue Gender suffers none of that, having an episodic plot that picks up at the end of the previous episode, essentially mandating the viewing of the entire series. It doesn't really at any point go about creating "filler episodes" which have nothing to do with the main story arc and do nothing more than fulfill a contractual obligation to do a certain number of episodes per season (this being my major issue with American prime-time dramas). -Good

Second, it starts out being about a whining little prick-bastard, sort of like every protagonist of nearly every Final Fantasy game ever made, as well as virtually every piece of Japanese animation that doesn't center around kung-fu, vampires, or high school girls who have to save the world from tentacles. Thankfully, he goes crazy after a while, which makes the show considerably less annoying. -Good and Bad

It's got giant robots. -Good!
They don't transform into anything. -Bad!

If you saw the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie (let me begin by saying I feel your pain), you understand what I'm talking about when I say that the Japanese have this thing for the notion that one day Earth is going to really fuck us over and kick us out. Unfortunately, Blue Gender ends up going that route by the end of the series, and it made me throw up a little in my mouth, just because of the similarity to the aforementioned Final Fantasy movie. -BAD!!!

It's got a catchy opening and closing theme song. -Good, because it's catchy; bad because I don't want anyone to know how much I like it.

People die and they don't come back. -Good!

It's not an ADV box set (buy me Gatchaman for Christmas!), so there aren't nearly as many nifty extras as I'd like. And, I'm sorry, but putting the voice-actors' profiles on each and every disc does not constitute having extras on every disc, because I only count those once. And the same goes for the textless opening/closing animation, which just confuses the shit out of me, anyway. -Bad.

It doesn't plumb the depths of the human condition like Evangelion did. That's not really something I can classify as bad, because it's like saying Brokeback Mountain won't be any good because it doesn't include any footage of the gay cowboys eating pudding. Actually, it's nothingn like that, but I just wanted to bring back a South Park joke that's gotta be five years old by now. Anyway, comparing everything to Evangelion tends to be a fast way to disappointment, just as some would say comparing everything to Voltron (either the lion or the vehicle version) would cause nothing but sorrow.

So, like I said, it falls somewhere in the middle. Overall, considering the price was around forty-five bucks, I'd say it was a pretty good deal; I spent a shade over three times that much buying the seven discs of the Platinum Edition of Evangelion until ADV made a box-set of it and released it for around fifty dollars. FUCK YOU, ADV!!! And then there was much the same story with Robotech, but they boxed that one up and included a few discs' worth of extras. FUCK YOU, ADV!!!

God, I hate being a slave to Nipponese animation. I end up paying out the nose for it, and why? Because they ask better questions than American filmmakers. American films are primarily made to turn a quick buck and entertain an audience, preferably having the audience leave the theater after the show with a warm, fuzzy feeling and possibly the urge to come back and see the movie again. However, at no point do American films ever make people question their existence, barring possibly the original Matrix film, which was largely inspired by Japanese films, notably Megazone 2-3.

Japanese films, and the animation even more so, have this thing about the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. If you can work a nuclear explosion into it and a dude in a rubber lizard-suit, so much the better. But the Japanese are a lot better at telling very internal stories, whereas American cinema is very external; we prefer to see the hero battling villains than battling inner demons (unless they are actually demons, whereas we'd like to watch that). And it's that kind of audience that keeps the vast majority of American cinema from ever even aspiring to be classified as art.

Seriously, how would you like it if you went to the local art-museum and all they had there were pictures of dragons holding crystal balls and dwarves holding axes; rejected covers from the latest series of Dragonlance modules? You'd fucking hate it. You'd say, "Where's the Warhol? The Picasso? The Monet?" and they'd say to you, "Americans don't want that shit; they don't like anything that requires interpretation. So we threw all of that out and now if you'll just step around that corner, we've got the new Dark Sun campaign on the walls."

Well, great. Now I've gotten on to a tangent, so I'm going to go now, before I start dissecting why it is that I like the last couple of episodes of Evangelion better than the End of Evangelion movie.

AIM: therbmcc71

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