I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.
Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his
The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.
friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.
Ballin’ disturbing images.
Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.
I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the
A feeling of unsettling fear…
whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.
I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.
You’ll never wanna guess what happens…
A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).
The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…
But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult
WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?
following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.
Here’s another (different use) anime that I watched extremely quickly! (I have some free time on my hands and this is how I spend it. Time well spent.) Another is an anime based on a novel of the same title written by Yukito Ayatsuji. It’s a creepy story about ghosts and, what’s worse, ball jointed dolls. A popular thing in Japan and popular among people who like Japanese culture here, it is the freakiest thing to come out of Japan. Those things bleed evil and look like the devil himself. And that’s why this anime scared me, because they kept doing flash images of those creepy dolls…
So that’s where this story/anime is coming from. Another is the story of a death that happened wayyyy back in 1972. A high school kid died in some strange way and it was tragic. But as life moved on, people in the class said that they could see the student was still there. Even the teacher went along with it. They took the desk to
Those creepy dolls… Ugh.
graduation, and the student even showed up in the final class picture. Creepy, right? It’s another year and it’s been 26 to be exact. With a new transfer student coming in to Yomiyama North from Toyko, Koichi Sakakibara is about to discover what true horror is. In true Final Destination fashion people start dropping like flies from what appears to be the Class 3 curse.
The freaky students of Class 3.
When a show/anime/movie is based on a book, you hope it can be just as good as the original. Never having seen an anime based on anything other than a manga, I don’t have any basis for grading this anime. But I thought it was rather well done. Based around a small town with a secret, the whole story is about finding skeletons in the closet. There are a few twists and a supernatural element that isn’t too over the top as to believe in a situation like this. The animation style is creepy enough with all the characters drawn like human ball jointed dolls. It has plenty of shocking deaths and blood, and everything in the show (probably due to the dolls) has a frail quality feeling to it.
The Eye, anyone?
This anime deals a lot with conversations that happen between characters, and what is said is what matters. There isn’t a whole lot of action until the end, but that was okay with me. It seemed like a new change of pace to watch a show that didn’t focus all around motion, but took it slower and dealt more with the dialogue than what people actually did. It has its creepy elements and would do just fine if it was adapted into a horror movie. But that is what’s surprising seeing this as an anime. It takes a cartoon medium and turns it into something more adult, more Victorian (it’s the only word coming to mind). If you wanna watch an anime without all the bells and whistles, this is probably the show for you. A creepy look into dolls and the dead, this show gets a 6.5 out of 10.
Thinking back to the days in which I spent less than a week watching Darker than Black, I only have fond memories. As it was with Basilisk (another anime I’ve reviewed about individuals with unique powers) so it was with Darker than Black. The idea of the Contractors and their Payments is really what sold me on the show. In a “post-apocalyptic world” in which the stars have forsaken us in place of demigods on Earth, a world of humans and the mythic becomes meshed into one. With its ridiculous beginning with two normal humans chasing down a Contractor. In an instant, with the breaking of some fingers, the Contractor goes flying off into the sky with his ability to defy gravity and control it to his will. Tell me that isn’t something badass-worthy.
Basic plot of the show: So this mysterious gate appears in Tokyo that appears to hold some mystical powers that alters the face of the earth. In South America, a team of changed human beings prepare to take out what is known as Heaven’s Gate, its twin in Tokyo known as Hell’s Gate. In a gigantic explosion with no known explanation, Heaven’s Gate is destroyed and the pasts of those involved become altered. It is up to Hei (Jason Liebrecht) to discover his past in
Hie and his ladies.
connection to the other Contractors around him.
It is these other Contractors that hold the key to exactly what it means to live in this new world of powers and new discoveries. The art of astrology has become relevant again as the Japanese government uses it in order to keep tabs on the Contractors of Japan. With the denotations of mere letters and numbers, the true names of the Contractors are not known, leaving the government at the mercy of the superhuman beings. Hie and his team consisting of Yin (Brina Palencia) a lifeless doll and tracking system, Huang (John Swasey) the team organizer, and Mao (Kent Williams) a former Contractor, now cat, travel the streets of Tokyo, performing missions given by The Syndicate. Through these missions, Hie and the others begin to discover their role in the Gates and what has been going on the last 10 years.
Yin, one of the more interesting characters.
The structure of the show is quite interesting. Although a continuous plot for Hie is not really put into effect until the last 10 episodes or so, the suggestion of a tying plot is frequently referenced to. Most of the beginning of the show flows between the Japanese government and its agents and a private investigator, intermingling Hie and his teams story. On the government side, Misaki Kirihara (Kate Oxley) is the head of an investigation team within the Public Security Bureau. Although she holds importance over the others, her subordinates Yusuke Saito (Chris Sabat) and Yukata Kano (Todd Haberkorn) provide support and comic relief in their roles. But the true comedy of the show comes from Gai Kurasawa (Brandon Potter) and Kiko Kayanuma (Brittney Karbowski). These two own their own private detective agency that comically coincides with just exactly what’s happening with Hie and the Contractors. Whether it’s looking for a cat or collecting stories on the true stars, Brandon Potter relentlessly blunders through as Gai and leaves a hilarious path of turmoil in his path.
And credit needs to be given to the Contractors of the show. November 11 (Troy Baker) is a ridiculously cool Contractor in league with MI6 and the British Intelligence Agency. With his ability to create ice from water spontaneously, November 11 comes across as a suave Bond character with the help from Troy
What a Bond you are, Nov. 11.
Baker. Maki (Maxey Whitehead) is a troubled little boy in league with, well, I’d rather you watch and find out (the plot comes in at this point), with the ability to create explosions with his hands, not unlike Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist (my favorite character, mind you and something I am currently re-watching). His troubled past leaves him struggling to be somebody among the wrong people. And a bit of an unspoken badass in the show, Wei Zhijun (Robert McCollum) pays with his own blood in order to lay waste to whatever it touches.
Ahhh, the power of blood.
Now these are only a few in a long string of Contractors that all have great backstories and well developed episodes. With about 2-3 episodes per character interaction, this eats up a good majority of a show. I had wished for a bit more of a straight-ahead plot the whole way through, but it didn’t detract from how good the show is. The voice acting is decent to good and really carries a lot of the show with the emotional scenes that creep up. What really captures me in this show is the excitement of a new Contractor and discovering their power and Payment. (I only capitalize because of those words’ importance.) The show, I guess, is really character driven and that’s the true charm of the show. The dark (hint hint) elements of the show don’t overburden the show or push it into the overdramatic, which really balances out the quality and amount of material the show covers. I really enjoyed myself while watching this and would suggest this to anyone who likes a good crime thriller action anime/film. Enjoy! 8.8 out of 10!
Ever since my girlfriend and her sister cosplayed the Thompson twins from Soul Eater, I had developed a growing
Liz and Patty. Yes.
interest in watching Soul Eater. I didn’t realize at the time what this show would hold in store for me. (Added bonus if Christopher Sabat does any voice in an anime.) As I began watching this 51 episode anime, I found myself falling in love with the characters and caring for what would happen to them (although I had the ending ruined for me by complete accident.) It didn’t detract from the pulse-pounding episodes of battle after battle that ensued, and I found a new love in this Halloween-type anime that sent chills down my spine and laughs throughout my body as I spent a week watching this amazing anime. I was enraptured.
This anime follows the story of three “Meisters” and their “Weapons.” These duos of weapon and wielder take on what are known as Kishins, the tainted souls of creatures that have become monsters and feed on other people’s souls. Once 99 Kishin souls are collected, and one witch’s soul, then the weapon is deemed worthy of being used by Lord Death. This grim reaper is the essential Headmaster of the DWMA, also known as the Death Weapon Meister Academy. He installed this school to battle Kishins, and it has done a good job up to this point.
The doom and gloom of Death City.
It is at this point that things begin to go downhill. The evil witch Medusa (Luci Christian) and others have made plans to bring down the DWMA, and it is up to three brave Meisters, Maka Albarn (Laura Bailey), Black Star (Brittney Karbowski), and Death the Kid (Todd Haberkorn) to defeat the evil plot of the witches and Kishins. Teamed up with their weapons, Soul Eater (Micah Solusod), Tsubaki (Monica Rial), and the Thompson twins Liz (Jamie Marchi) and Patty (Cherami Leigh).
So it may seem weird that Meisters, who are people, are fighting using weapons who are also people. But these people are born with the ability to change into weapons at will. These weapons are special as well. A Meister and its Weapon have a special bond known as Soul Resonance. This bond allows Meister and Weapon to combine into one soul and creates a higher power in which to defeat enemies. But these three are not on the level of the Professors or Lord Death himself at the DWMA. And it is the school’s purpose to train these Meisters and Weapons in order to make them formidable opponents against Kishins.
The one thing that stands out about this anime, to me, is the style in which the plot is set. The doom and gloom of death and souls is combined with the comedic
Soul Eater. With some pizazz.
drawings of the artists. This gives it an anime meets Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it. The grinning Sun and Moon with blood dripping from their teeth give it that comedic element, mixed with the morbid. The grim reapers and monster encountered, drawn in what appears to be Jack the Ripper Whitechapel area sets up one of the best environments I’ve ever encountered in an anime.
Black Star. Badass.
And there are some great english voice actors that are in this anime. It would take too long to give a whole list, so I’ll just highlight a few. I thought Micah Solusod gave a great performance as Soul Eater, Maka’s weapon scythe. His grave voice and determined attitude comes across great through Micah, although I’ve never heard of him before. Brittney Karbowski was amazing as the cocky Black Star, my all time favorite ninja child and all around badass. John Swasey was great as Lord Death. His goofy voice gave the anime a Jack Skellington element with his personality and outlook. Vic Mignogna was hilarious as Maka’s father and Death Scythe Spirit. His obsession with seeking his daughter’s approval was always worth a laugh. Chuck Huber was fantastic as the madness induced Professor Doctor Franken Stein. His tormented character fought back and forth, and this was amazingly done by Huber. Maxey Whitehead was great as the insecure, gender-bender Crona. The duo of Crona and Ragnarok against the world and the lack of acceptance was heart wrenching to say the least. And yes, Troy Baker was amazing as Excalibur, the useless, fool dueling weapon of legend and lore.
And that’s about it. To get too much into the story might ruin the anime with spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. If you’re looking for a light-hearted shonen with gore, guts (courage/bravery), and glorious fighting, this anime is for you. I give Soul Eater a 9 out of 10.
And here’s a taste of the show with a tribute to Death the Kid and the sexy Thompson Twins. Hooray.