Tag Archives: tragic past

Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

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.

 

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Deadman Wonderland: This Ain’t Your Average Alice…

This show was ridiculous. Not exactly a fall through the rabbit hole, but this was a wonderland all its own. Ganta Igarashi is not your typical Alice and there’s no white rabbit to lead him along his way. With a endless repertoire of  metal instrumentals and scenes of excruciating death, this show comes almost as close as Metalocalypse does with its protagonists, Dethklok. In some ways it almost goes farther. Pretty scary, right?

This show is sparked all by one little middle school massacre. A mysterious Red Man (if you remember way back when in my reviews, kinda looks like Skull Man) comes bursting through the window of Ganta’s school and kills all of his classmates. And you know who gets blamed? Ganta. Put on a trial and given the death sentence, Ganta must attempt to survive the Hell on Earth that is Deadman Wonderland.

And I would venture to guess that Deadman Wonderland is worse than Hell. There are dog races in which any participating runners have to dodge death in all forms and only one can survive to win cast points. Cast points are the

The Deadman Wonderland Prison. Fun, huh?

currency in which an inmate can buy and survive in Deadman Wonderland. It is especially important to gain cast points (not magically nerdy, mind you) so you can buy Candy. Candy are capsules of disgusting sweets that counteract the poison in your metallic neck leash. So despite being on death row to be executed, Ganta has to attempt to survive, every day.

Are we all really just prisoners of life? (Joke)

Inmates, other than being subordinate to the guard staff, are given free reign to destroy each other. Ganta is constantly in fear for his life, being a scrawny middle school midget with quite a rap of offenses that would piss most guys off. And it’s not only that. The Red Man Ganta encountered bestowed some strange crystal upon his chest that allows Ganta to use what are later referred to as Branches of Sin. This use of the blood as a weapon become quite helpful with Ganta’s “body type,” but the fallback (as there always is) is that Ganta has to fight in Carnival of Corpses (pronounced by the Japanese as Cannibal Corpse. Coincidentally, songs similar to the huge body of work Cannibal Corpse has created play during these fights) which could kill him at any moment. It just looks so promising for Ganta doesn’t it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

The voices of some of the characters are fantastic. Romi Park, famous voice actor of the Japanese version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric, is a bit whiny, but gets the job done as Ganta. Tsunenaga Tamaki is wonderfully twisted and done by Junichi Suwabe. And finally, Senji, the badass, ripped Branches of Sin fighter Crow, is admirably done by Masayuki Katou. I was overall impressed.

Now let’s talk about that animation quality. It’s dark and bloody. Very

Pretty sick, right? Good old Red Man

reminiscent of  Metalocalypse. I guess that’s why I liked it so much (look for this review in the coming months). The fluidity of the blood coursed throughout the veins of this sadistic fighting sci-fi anime in every scene. With more swearing than I’ve ever read in any subbed anime, I gotta say it was ridiculous to hear bleeps in Japanese. With other problems that probably cut this show short to 12 episodes, its unfortunate that the show was cut so abruptly short. But it ended in a way I didn’t expect either.

The realest.

Azuma Genkaku (Toshiyuki Morikawa) was a fantastic way to end it. Tying the whole metal music themed anime together, Azuma wields an axed guitar that allows him to supersonically bend the Branches of Sin wielders to their knees. His tragic past is explored and brought to the forefront to end the show (an unfortunate end, both for the show and Azuma) although I found him to be one of the most compelling and interesting  characters in the show. With nothing certain and a future in Deadman Wonderland ahead, what will happen to little “Alice” Ganta? Check out this show, it’s definitely worth the horrific watch. A solid 9.7 out of 10.

What will happen "down the rabbit hole?"


Blassreiter: Emotionally Fueled Motorcycles

The title of my review says everything about this anime. I fell in love with the graphics, the 3-D battles, the back story. And I was taken away by the emotions behind the characters. The anguish of the foreigner in a land that doesn’t accept them for who they are. The man in love who cannot tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The orphan abandoned and left without a help in the world. This German set anime (talk about a country of hate and anguish) is tastefully portrayed with a religious background and a head full of steam. With every new character arc (from Gerd to Malek, Hermann to Amanda) you are lead by your heartstrings to the heartbreak you are meant to see, and some you are not.

The idea behind Blassreiter is one of mecha, with a sci-fi drama backdrop. The line between man’s science and God is

An Amalgam's go to vehicle. Can you feel the emotion?

blurred. No longer is it the struggle between machine and man, but a meshing of the two. Man’s ultimate goal. In futuristic Germany, a crack team of soldiers known as the XAT (Xenogenesis Assault Team) has been given the task for  the bast decades to find and eradicate as well as protect the citizens of Germany from what are known as Amalgams (Demoniacs to the public.). These Amalgams are humans who have been transferred using some scientific disease into machines capable of attaching themselves to electronics and vehicles.

It is only common for these Amalgams to be created from dead bodies. Until one day, after being involved in an Amalgam attack, Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat) is given the chance to regain his

legs and race again. But the price it pays is that he becomes a living Amalgam. And the fate of all Amalgams? Bloodlust, insanity, and death. It is up to the XAT to discover the cause of a living Amalgam and what this would mean for the furure of Germany and the rest of the world. But the Amalgams go deeper than a mere nuisance. And I’ve only covered the first 6 episodes. You have to watch the rest for yourself.

Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat)

As I said before, this anime has some pretty spectacular 3-D animated graphics that blew me away. Any scene with an Amalgam or vehicle is given a special touch of full-breadth motion and fluidity. Combine this with a 2-D background and characters and you have an interactive combo right there. What could be better than this you say? Well, the character creation is top notch. The characters (and there are quite a few) deal with so many different emotions and personalities. There are the soldiers of the XAT, dealing with betrayal, duty, and what it means to be a soldier. (A very German thing, the honor of fighting for one’s country.) The humans turned Amalgams and their struggle with their humanity. The original Amalgams and their struggle with their pasts and their duty to the furthering of humankind and its evolution. God’s role in this anime is huge. (Another attitude of a prominently Protestant country.)

And then there’s the skeletons in Germany’s closet. The race hatred. The problems with German old

The amazing graphics behind Blassreiter.

family citizens of a higher class and the lower class foreigners given a chance for a new life in Germany, but given the scraps of the other classes. The hatred, the xenophobia. It all plays out on a tasteful stage. But even as this issue fades out to a respectable end, Germans are given a nod of respect for the strides they’ve made since the blood of the past has begun to dry and flake on their hands. And I give a nod of respect to the Japanese for the nod to the Germans.

The premise is interesting for a mecha. In a world moving forward, what is the point in which humans must pull back and examine their humanity versus their

What is behind the Amalgams?

technological drive? Anti-sci-fi (?) in a mecha is an interesting approach, and I welcomed it, being a mecha anime fan myself. (If I haven’t covered this before, non-anime fans/fans to be, mecha is mechanized (?) anime, dealing with machines and robots, i.e. Gundam Wing.)

Joseph (Todd Haberkorn), a character of anguish.

There should also be some credit given to the voice strained voice actors who lent their emotion to this anime. Watching this dubbed, I was amazed with the power given to the characters purely through voice. Joseph Jobson (Todd Haberkorn). Almost unrecognizable, but gives that brooding hero voice with a disturbed and tragic past to perfection. Hermann Saltza (Travis Willingham). This guy swore and yelled more than any other voice actor I’ve ever heard. I give him credit for days at a time (probably) of a hoarse speaking voice. His emotions and pain came to the table and delivered. Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat). I give him credit because he is the amazing Christopher Sabat (as you know, I’m a big fan.). His voice of gruff torture and anguish spoke to me as usual, and kept me grippingly emotional. And Amanda Werner (Jamie Marchi). Her torrent of emotional confusion and desperation was quite excellent. And that’s only a few. But isn’t that enough to get you watching this anime? Get to it. 7.8 out of 10.


Fate/Stay Night: Battle Anime at its Finest

So I saw an amazing AMV for this anime at Anime Boston and I was hooked. ( To this and t.a.t.u.) This anime, based on a video game really caught my attention. Its plot and characters are really strong and its premise taken from the video game is also really interesting. Makes me really wanna find the game and play it. I’m not exactly sure what the title of the game/anime means, but it evokes images of the anime from now on in my mind.

This anime focuses around Shiro Emiya, the son of an adopted father that taught him the virtue of helping those less

Shiro. He just wants to help.

fortunate. When his father passes away, he leaves his entire estate to him, and Shiro continues his pursuit of justice and fairness and help for those who need it. And then one day everything changes. When Shiro witnesses a battle between what seems to be two warriors, he runs away and is stabbed by one. Rin, a fellow classmate saves him and it is at that point that Shiro summons a Servant, Saber. Rin and her Servant Archer team up with Shiro and Saber and these two discover exactly what is going on.

What is going on is that they are in the middle of a centuries old battle for the Holy Grail. There are seven Masters and seven Servants that are fighting each other for control of that Holy Grail in order to grant their wishes. The only way to eliminate competitors is to kill the Masters or kill the servants. From the beginning it appears that killing Masters is more effective, for the Servants will just disappear. But things drastically change this time around as the battles continue. With Shiro’s attitude and the relationship he develops with Saber, nothing will ever be the same for these magical warriors battling for their lives.

Those are some sexy Servants/Masters.

And that’s what I like about this anime. Though it focuses around the battles, not all 24 episodes contain violent action sequences. Most focus on Shiro’s attempts to quell the violence and find another way in which they can avoid confrontation and yet acquire the Holy Grail. (And I won’t even get into how complicated the Holy Grail itself is.) Shiro is constantly, and pretty much annoyingly, protecting Saber and preventing her from her primary function, fighting. But it grows on you as the anime progresses. And that’s where they social/relationship aspect of the show grows from. You begin to discover the pasts of the characters and really wish that not a single character would die. (Kind of the case… Hard to explain.)

But there are great characters in this anime. Shiro, of course, is a conflicted, troubled, angsty main character that really has to use the anime to work out his issues. Rin, his fellow student and collaborator helps Shiro as much as she can while trying to gain the upper hand over him. Illya is a little girl with a tragic past that only needs help from others, and yet at the same time is spine-tinglingly ruthless. Shinji Mato is a troubled boy who only wants to prove himself and meets challenges in his own way (I rather like him and his Servant.) And those are just the Masters to name a few. There’s Saber, Shiro’s Servant with a ruthless attitude that borders on heroically suicidal. Rider, Shinji’s Servant that is sexy and majestic at the same time. And Archer,

Archer. He destroys.

Rin’s Servant with a hard exterior and heart of gold complex. And all these characters are based on mythological/historically ancient warriors. It’s great.

These amazing characters set against a modern backdrop sets up what comes out to be an amazing anime. The battles are epic, the Noble Phantasms are great powers to have, and the mana, attacks, and spells come right out of the video game realm. I’ve never thought of how easily story driven video games can easily be turned into anime/cartoons, but they can, and they have. (Tales games, Final Fantasy, ect.) So please, check this out, it’s worth a watch.

Check out this AMV. It’s amazing.