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By lydia in horror, HWA, typicalbooks, writing

Those in the know, know that I help curate the new releases page on the HWA website. Sure it keeps our readers informed, but it is also my own favourite thing about books. Cover art. And it is about to get fun since we are one month away from the most wonderful time of the year ~ All Hallows Read. I cleaned up the submission hub to prepare for the onslaught of eerie eye-candy that will (dis)grace these walls soon enough.

For more on these authors, head to the HWA new release page, or if you are going to Toronto Fan Expo stop in at the HWA booth. Every year I half plan to go and volunteer, but it is just never in the cards. With luck and better planning I will be able to pitch in on an event next year.

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By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

The 1986 OVA ‘Fist of the North Star’ is based on a manga series that ran from 83 to 88, this anime is another one of those that got me hooked on the artform. Images of nuclear holocaust from the opening sequence have stuck with me from the first time I watched this, which was around 1995 or 96. Around that same time, I was watching Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Terminator, Nemesis 2 and other post-apocalypse sci-fi and action. So this fit, for sure. I was also very well acquainted with gory horror by that time, so the blood made for a nice blend of some of my favourite things.

After planning on covering a different show entirely, I had not intended to be stuck in the 80s like, oh, I dunno, some kind of 80s kid. I’ve been slack in my anime watching and thought I’d dip into the honey pot that is ‘Fist of the North Star’.

So, before I get into that, I have been watching ‘Ushio to Tora’, which will be on an upcoming Dead Cells, though not necessarily horror, it is a demonic martial arts drama, so it certainly works. Besides, it has been a pretty fun watch so far. At that rate, I may dip into the series ‘Durarara’ just to cover the popular supernatural dramas in simulcast this summer. ‘Kuriyama Santa’ is a new motion comic of some sort that is a demonic horror story. Thirteen little five-minute episodes are available which I will be checking out on my cell, as I’ve become a fan of short anime like this on mobile. There is a Devilman crossover that I won’t be watching, ‘Cyborg 009 vs Devilman’ which sounds entirely uninteresting to me at the moment, especially when there is a ‘Devilman’ remake coming just as soon. Heading into October, ‘Shieisha no Teikoku’ will begin, which is a Frankenstein’s monster influenced sci-fi mystery that looks particularly goth. Still waiting for more titles to be added to the Sentai Selects list, or more accurately, waiting for Ninja Scroll to be added since I don’t have that in my tiny collection anymore. Both live-action adaptations of Attack on Titan and Corpse Party premiered in Japanese Theatres this weekend – but Corpse Party will re-premiere in September in an ‘Unlimited Edition’ uncut version. Not entirely sure why they are actually returning to the cutting room floor to add more gore. This news hit several anime news sites the day after the release, so perhaps it is a crowd-sourced opinion that influenced the decision. There is a new trailer to accompany the announcement, so take a look on YouTube. In Hollywood anime news, the producer of Shutter Island and Black Swan, Mike Medavoy, has teamed up with Japanese studios to adapt the psychological horror manga ‘6000’. As I’ve never heard of the source material, I can only hope for something like The Abyss or an underwater version of Dead Space. Another development is the television network Chiller is set to begin a horror anime block featuring ‘Is This A Zombie?’, ‘Tokyo Majin’, “Devil May Cry’, and ‘Black Blood Brothers’. Now that’s a start, and a really cool idea, but if they want some suggestions for really horrific horror anime, maybe they should catch an episode of Dead Cells? While I enjoy those titles, and Black Blood Brothers will make it on an episode of Dead Cells eventually, the others are kind of on the fringe of the genre. Why not something creepier. Something scary.

fistNow, for something gory. ‘Fist of the North Star’. This is a Toei Animation studios work and production. likely the most prolific anime company of Japan, they have brought us many action and post apocalypse titles, and I’d say this is the closest to horror they have ever wandered.  from ‘Cutie Honey’ and ‘Sailor Moon’ to ‘Transformers’ and ‘Digimon’, if you’ve seen anything on television aired in syndication you’ve likely seen a Toei Animation. The latest and greatest from them would be ‘World Trigger’, so if you’re up on your new shows, you’re still watching Toei.

A summary from NihonReview.com reads “Earth is a wasteland. Shattered by a nuclear holocaust, only the strongest have survived and anarchy rules. When his girlfriend Yulia is kidnapped and he is left for dead, martial artist Kenshiro embarks on a bloody journey of retribution, meeting a formidable crowd of friends and foes along the way.”

Or, in my own words. Sibling rivalry at it’s finest. We meet our hero Ken, the Fist of the North Star as he battles his once closest friend, Shin who is the reigning Fist of the South. Soon we see how complex the battle is between these two when Ken’s jealous brothers Raoh and Jagi stand by to witness Ken’s defeat and leave him for dead in the desert. A year later, Ken returns, not only to reclaim his lover Yulia, but his rightful place as the true Fist of the North Star.

 

The first moments, as I said, cover the state of the planet. Nuclear holocaust has left us with roving bands of scoundrels, wandering nomadic survivors, and massive armies hellbent on controlling resources and slaughtering anyone in their way. We are plunged right into this world with the fight between Shin and Ken over domestic jealousy that pits the Fist of the North and South against one another, though they are never supposed to fight. We don’t get a lot of backstory here. It is very compressed, and I’m okay with that, lest it be a three or four hour hero’s journey, which I get pretty bored by. There are seven wounds Shin inflicts on Ken, then the imprint of his fingers as he plunges his hand into his chest – supposedly killing him. It was the exact five finger death punch I wanted from Kill Bill, except here it exists, and almost actually works.

Raoh is the most epically Danzig looking bastard I ever did see. He stands by watching his brother get slaughtered from the top of a cliff with their other brother Jagi. Jagi is almost an Ygor looking character with a stooped posture, bandged head and a bulging eye. They witness their brother left for dead, clutching seeds given to him by his now usurped lover Yulia sprawled across the desert wasteland. Raoh walks away, and Jagi tosses Ken’s lifeless body from a cliff. To add to his seven wounds and five finger death punch injury, it’s quite a drop, then just to seal the deal, Jagi punches the overhanging rock face off, sending an avalanche along with him. I can see why they thought he’d not make it out alive.

Yulia and Ken had been hoarding these flower seeds with hopes they could make the earth green once again. She doesn’t really have much to say or do in the story except be bossed around by Shin, and wish she were being bossed around by Ken instead. It shows that paradigm shift from women reverting to property or chattel as they’d been in feudal times in our dystopian post-apocalypse world as imagined in the 80s. Now, we envision chicks being kick ass, equals and oft-times superior to men, especially when it comes down to survival in a horrific aftermath of global destruction. Perhaps this is an act of apology by way of overcompensation, and pretty soon this will all level out but for now, this would come across as a terribly misogynistic story. But hey, at least no one kills a dog. That I remember.

Now, is it just me or did those berserker type bandits eat the flesh of the first group they kill and pillage? They were rummaging dead people, then eating raw meat… or is it just me? Is that cannibalism, or am I just making an already deplorable situation worse? There are roving bandits much like there would be in Waterworld or Mad Max, though most seem to have allegiance to either Raoh or Shin. Now, as much as I love Raoh as a character, he’s got a real fake it till you make it rock star mentality. I mean, could he not feel his brother was still alive, it seems his sensai could. His other brother is also passing as a false Fist of the North Star, so I’m not sure why they are all trying to take his place when they just don’t have what it takes, and with all their supposed power, could they not detect that he was still alive?

Ken’s eventual reemergence from the desert, a year later comes with as much blood as he went out in. He is attacked by the cannibalistic bandits and we are treated to some of the most interesting head exploding goodness. If you ever feel like, gee, I could really go for some exploding heads right now, ‘Fist of the North Star’ has you covered. The small details count here. CSI style deep zoom into the brain that’s about to blow, the guy who tries to catch his own arms with the stumps he has left, the vivisectionist precision that would make the plasticizing Body Worlds artist proud, arterial sprays and veritable geysers of blood erupting from every wound. It *is* very gory, but more on that later.

Now, it is bad enough there is no honour between the two brothers, Raoh and Ken, but then, Jagi is the worst of the lot. You could almost do without Shin since watching the the brotherhood here is entertaining enough, though I suppose Shin being the Fist of the South Star does give them someone to fight other than each other. Jagi, though a secondary character really, is about my favourite for his look alone. He’s a conniving snake, and no doubt the middle child. His little man syndrome persists until the end, and what an end it is. His bandaged look was great, and only set me up to appreciate what was under those bandages. Of all the head exploding scenes, his is my favourite, and really the most climactic scene.

This is heralded as one of the most gory anime of all time. Well, yes and no. Spending what time I have with the dead cells of horror and gore from overseas, there are definitely more visceral and bloody scenes to be had in other series. However, as far as a prolonged assault of violent images, ‘Fist of the North Star’ does win. Not five minutes pass without some sort of extremely graphic death. If ‘Fist of the North Star’ were to dwell longer, as opposed to quick action sequences, I could see it winning the title, but I’m personally more taken with the more cinematic approach to gore. Linger. Let it seep in. Play with it. But then, this isn’t a horror story, is it? It’s action so this is what we get. Horrific gore. So, close if we are taking quantity, but no if we want quality. I can see why this was remade time and time again and expanded upon but toned down. what I’d like to see is a complete redo with today’s cg anime with, dare I say, even more gore.

Fans of the huge hit ‘Attack on Titan’ may enjoy the similarities here. Humanity under seige, a world changed, and some of the villains reach giant like proportions and behave for moments at least, not unlike the Titans. While the colour palette and style of anime is similar, I find ‘Fist of the North Star’ more detailed, although admittedly dated. I had watched the live action film when it came out and it just left me wanting to watch this. Some of the ‘ New Fist of the North Star’ made it across my screen, but I was never moved to watch them all, and again, they left me wanting this particular OVA.

Unfortunately the English dub reduces a lot of scenes to comedy. Typical, so I do as always recommend the original subtitled version. Over the years, I’ve watched both, and most recently the dub, but if you are going in wet behind the ears, I vote for the subtitled original.

The music is a cross between the worst funk rock and the soundtrack to 20-minute workout. There is some soft porn groove accompanying Ray, a guy that teams up with Ken as they are both searching for their girlfriends, and I’m not sure why. There is no sex to be had, and only one moment of nudity, so the porn groove doesn’t quite fit. The best song is the closing title sequence, where the story continues after the final fights.

If you have a hard time watching anime or even films from the 80s, you may have the same experience with ‘Fist of the North Star’. I highly recommend it for fans of gore, martial arts films, and of course dystopian post-apocalypse stories as like i said, it is gory as fuck. Not a super developed plot, but the cast is not so sprawling that it is easy to keep everything straight, and at 110 minutes, a nice feature-length entry into the classics of good old-fashioned blood spattered anime. While you can find this virtually anywhere on DVD, and even some streaming services, I do think it is best viewed in its natural habitat – a crummy third-gen VHS in someone’s poorly lit basement. Or youtube. Ladies choice.

This is Dead Cells, the weird velcro kid that hangs around the cool one, Dead Air podcast from splatterpictures.net. For more horror, go there. Wes and I cover horror films that get us talking. Huge thank you’s and hello to Bind Torture Kast. The best podcast in this greasy gory realm of horror which is my not so guilty pleasure, I can’t recommend them enough. sometimes I even get a mention which always means a lot since I’m a huge fan and they  really are very cool guys, so huge a thank you to Chris, and Luke, and Steve. Tomb Dragomir of TombTV has been curating Tomb’s Jukebox on RueMorgue.com and I’ve been enjoying that like mad. If terror tunes are truly your style, creep my pals Patron Saint of Plagues who do the intro music for Dead Air, or check out the new release from Black Claw, and their super dark dirges from the west coast.

Coming up, I will be talking about Ushio to Tora, Petshop of Horrors, and Ghost Hunt as promised. Should you know a scary anime you think I should watch, let me know at typicallydia on twitter, instragram, tumblr ~ wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, podcast

Today on Dead Cells we are talking about ‘Highschool of the Dead;. This is a 2010 anime released by Madhouse who has brought us some of my most favourite titles. Ninja Scroll, Death Note, Demon City Shinjuku, Wicked City and even one of the oldest titles I recall off the top, A Wind Named Amnesia, which was the first time I recall seeing really realistic landscapes and likely one of the most beautiful animes of it’s time. Now, realize, it has been over twenty years since I watched that one and have not seen it since. Something I will have to do since it would be great to compare to the modern CG and some of the more beautiful films and series out since. Highschool of the Dead, while not without it’s bouncy pouncy and zombie killin’ charm is not a beautiful anime. It is gritty, crazy, loud and sexy fun. With zombies!

But before we get into fun, I want to touch on zombies for a second. I’m not a huge zombie fan, but really wish there were more zombie anime. They lend themselves wonderfully to the genre and while there is an overabundance of zombie tv, film and literature, not many anime exist. I mean, Is This a Zombie? is too much of a harem comedy to fall under the Dead Cells umbrella of mainly horror, gore and darkness. There are a handful of zombie manga, but few have been adapted into anime. Not sure why. I have largely resisted the tide in my own writing since it’s just not for me.

There are numerous submission calls on a weekly basis for authors who wish to write all manner of zombie stories, and for those interested I have published one. There is another half written that needs a load of research to polish, but my only entry into the zombie genre remains Crocodile Rot. The inspiration for this came from abuse of the drug Krokodil which renders users into zombie in more ways than one. If interested, the print version can be obtained in Dark Moon Digest 10, you can listen to me read it on soundcloud, or if you drop me a line, I can send you a copy of Crocodile Rot.

There is no horror anime news this time around since I’ve been busy with a second draft edit of Nightface II, and watching films for Dead Air podcast part of splatterpictures.net which I co-host with my partner in grime Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe. My day job consists of writing the occasional article on television shows – usually of the dark or horror type – so I’ve been watching some stuff for that, but by and large, I have been deep into other podcasts.

Not only my most favourite of all, Bind Torture Kast, which is the number one super best lucky horror podcast in the universe, but a podcast that Chris, the host of BTK turned me on to which is Sword and Scale. Now I am a huge fan of true crime, and podcasts on the topic get me hooked pretty deep. Generation Why, Dark City, and Last Podcast on the Left have been swallowing my time, along with True Crime with Dan Zupansky and Darkness Radio with Darkness Dave which are my go-to’s but Sword and Scale really knocks it out of the park. So if you are into that, check it out. For anime podcasts, the only one I can really stick with is Anime Addicts Anonymous which cover anime, japanese culture and anime news in depth. Love that show. But for horror, it has to be BTK.

If you recall the last episode on Devilman being suggested by Chris, I watch a hell of a lot more suggestions that come from his show. Each episode can turn into a horror film rabbit hole since they not only cover news and upcoming releases, but during discussion they drop film titles like panties on a change room floor. Or panties in Highschool of the Dead for that matter, which we do see a hell of a lot of.
So yeah, Highschool of the Dead began as manga written by Daisuke Satō and illustrated by Shōji Satō from 2006 until going on indefinite hiatus in mid 2013. The anime was directed by Tetsuro Araki who worked with Madhouse previously on Death Note and recently with Wit studio for Attack on Titan. Anime News Network describes the story thus:

hotdIt’s the end of the world: a virus that turns people into the walking dead who feast on the flesh of the living has been unleashed and things are rapidly going to hell. The plague strikes Fujimi High School, where unlikely hero Takashi Komuro, genius Saya, estranged love interest Rei, sword-wielding Busujima, Hirano the gun otaku and a school nurse of below-average intelligence need to escape the school and head for the city, where their parents might still be alive. Thank you, Anime News Network.

I was lent a copy of this a few years ago by fellow (though far more serious)  journalist, anime fan and gamer James Culic. I loved it instantly even though he did in his chivalrous though not really caring manner warn me of the explicit nature of the series. Explicit it is, though I would not say it is outwardly pornographic. This is a common complaint. Somehow it seems some horror fans don’t like the illicit fusion of sex appeal and horror, which sounds odd to say, since so much of horror relies on sex to catch you off guard and really sell the money shot, or the head shot, as the case may be.

There is a LOT of tits in this show. Like, A LOT. More tits in this little series than in any horror film I’ve ever seen. They are encased for the most part, but jiggle, squish, bounce and are just in your face in nearly every scene. sorry you’ve been so used to having the dirty pillows all strapped in and contained ~ newsflash. boobs bounce. if you have anything over a B cup and don’t have them in a fabric, under wired and carefully padded fucking cage, its really is like two mad cats in a sack.

If it isn’t boobies, it’s panties. Like woah. Or… not woah. It’s actually kind of nice to see bras and panties normalized to such a degree they become benign. It’s part of the female landscape in this series. Where most of the characters are women, only two males really take up any notable screen time. This series surpasses the laughable Bechdel test by having multiple female leads who barely talk about men and act with their own purpose throughout. Not to mention they are all startlingly unique personalities and most of them kick so much zombie ass it is insane.

As summed by the most relatable female, Takashi ’s childhood friend and true love interest Rei, when he deems her reasoning behind finally falling for him of being too raw she replies, “because women are raw.” and I like that. I like that a lot, and it sums up a lot of their reasoning through the series to that point.  It isn’t the echo-chamber of why women are often portrayed as as quote strong unquote-  because they are sensitive, have female intuition, are mothers, have some elevated sense of sisterhood, or because they are anything other than simply human – it is because they are raw. Normally, this is a trait attributed to men, and because these women are all boobs, panties and excited womanly noises as much as they are javelins, swords, guns, fists and smarts – it is because they are raw that they have made it this far at all.
Now raw is a great word to describe a lot of this. The animation is superb, though not highly detailed. and rather, well, raw. The angles, pallete and soundtrack all harken to action and street fight anime, while the story borrows a little from The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and your favourite upbeat harem anime.

Speaking of borrowing, soundtracks and 28 Days later – while almost all of the music in this is unique, and every episode has a different and appropriate closing theme – there is a song in the first episode that is used to great effect the moment that our hero, Takashi must dispatch his first human. It is the watershed moment. The decision to take a life by choice before he is forced to take it for survival. It is a decision made in nearly every zombie story. While this dreaded situation is playing out, and his old classmate advances, Takashi finally and reluctantly raises his weapon – it is a heartbreaking moment – and the driving instrumental score in the background In the House, In a Heartbeat by John Murphy – made absolutely famous as part of the 28 Days Later soundtrack. According to the wikipedia listing for this song, it’s appearance here is an unofficial arrangement, and I’d like to think some compensation was earned since it wasn’t a diegetic sound moment, and a very large portion of the song was used. I’ve noticed songs in other horror anime that reminded me very much of other music used in horror film, but this is the first time a song has been actually shared, so I’m curious about the decision to include it – not that it doesn’t work. It works wonders for a very sad and very intense moment.

The series’ opening theme song is “Highschool OF=f The Dead” by Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets. I enjoyed it very much and basically let the credits roll with each episode, something that is often skipped to save time when watching an entire series, but with this not only is the end theme unique to each episode and loosely part of the story, the title sequence and song is pretty cool too.

Now the rest of the series, as they escape the school and cope with finding transportation, ammo, fend off other survivors and deal constantly with slaughtering zombies – it is very well done. For an overused plot, it feels fresh. There is nothing new about using a variety of weapons to kill hordes of the undead – or THEM as they are called in Highschool of the Dead – and there is nothing new about sniping the groaning bastards from the rooftop – there is a lot to be said for the style and attitude of this show. Super sexy, without being sleazy, the action is quick and dirty. Now the gore is really front loaded. I found myself wishin’ and hopin’ by the last few episodes for a return to the horde and the brutality of the first few episodes which are really unrelenting with the panicked head smashing and brain killing. The gorehound in me felt there was a little bait and switch at play since there are way more skulls exploding to start and it kind of peters out. The further you go in the show, the more kills are hidden. Crafty cuts, undead being blasted off-screen, objects and scenery obscuring the view. Maybe this gets old to some people, but not to me, but then I suppose it was as fun for those who enjoyed the boobs and panty shots that they played peekaboo with and teased us with the kills just as much.

Again with the boobs. I must say, while the first few episodes are really full of all kinds of goodies for the gorehounds, episode six if full of fanservice. For a series accused of being wall-to-wall fan-service and nothing but naughty – i didn’t really get that feeling. It is a harem anime as much as it is a zombie horror anime, but the only really porn ridden and ridiculous episode is six. Top dead centre. So, forewarned is foreboobed in this case. In the way I often warn others of animal violence, I will warn that if you don’t like rampant shots of women in compromising positions, panties galore and magnificent malleable mounds of mammary madness: then you’re gonna have a bad time.

Granted, this particular bit of slippery sexiness happens when the group is by and large safe for the first time since the outbreak. It is a 0-day tale, and of course the first chance they get to relax, get bathed, and be human they take it. They are also high school students, so we roll with it. Also, the boys are basically absent. One is rescuing a little girl, and the other is busy covering his gutsy ass with a rifle, so there’s that. Chalk it up to women being raw. There is very little chance for them to relax, not until the last few episodes are they technically safe again for a short while, and of course, like any good zombie story, that is rife with societal expectations, grownups being dogmatic, the political and industrial infrastructure as we know it beginning to crumble, and our now beloved characters completing their very abrupt though actually very rich arcs of their own. As this is a really action packed 12 episode gauntlet, we have only learned about them on they fly with only very few expositional scenes. Highschool of the Dead is all about ‘show’ and not so much about ‘tell’ which chalks up to an extremely well wrought story time.

There is a 2011 OVA called ‘Drifters of the Dead’ which I have not watched but eventually will as I will be adding this to my small but select permanent collection and it comes bundled in the Highschool of the Dead : Drifters of the Dead edition which is available all over the internet and certainly at your favourite comic book shop. The series proper will run you about 300 minutes, and as each episode is under a half hour, and that includes intro outro and a little recap, it’s not all that time consuming and well worth it whether you are in it for the gams, the guts or the glory.

Thank you for tuning in and I hope you get a charge out of Highschool of the Dead as I do. Next on Dead Cells, in no particular order, I’m going to get into Ghost Hunt since it has a really great paranormal angle I adore. Petshop of Horrors is a really compelling title though I’ve really been wanting to sink my teeth into yet another vampire anime. If there is something you think I should be watching, let me know here in the comments, on soundcloud, at typicallydia on instagram, tumblr, twitter, or wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

Hi there, today on Dead Cells we will be talking about Devilman. Based on the 1972 manga, and nearly concurrent anime series that ran at the time, this is the first anime i’m covering that was spawned before I was. In a way. Instead of the original run, I’m going to talk about Devilman: The Birth, Devilman: Demon Bird and Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman. The three popular hour long animated films that made rounds during my first stint in college and were certainly many kids first introduction to violent anime. It wasn’t until 2006 that I watched the three OVAs that I’ll be talking about tonight. I’ve never watched the original run, and may someday, although given the choice, I’d rather check out the upcoming fourth installation or the original manga.

First some anime news, There is a new ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodust’ anime on the way from Discotek Media. We have been treated the past few weeks to some of the principal photography from the upcoming Corpse Party live action film, and right on queue, a new 3DS Corpse Party game trailer was released. The next installment of Tokyo Ghoul entitled Tokyo Ghoul: Jack has some stills online and I’m still lukewarm on that series – save of course the first season, which blew my tiny weird little mind. A new “Death Note” TV Drama will be hitting the airwaves overseas, while we get all excited for the live-action remake on this side of the big blue pond. Some of the titles I have seen popping up of interest this summer are ‘Ajin: Demi-Human’ which looks deliciously evil and ‘Ushio and Tora’, equally evil with an opening theme by ‘Kinniku Shojo Tai’ which is a band close enough to my wish that Maximum the Hormone compose all anime themes. Please and thank you.  So, Devilman. This one was suggested to me by Chris, the host of Bind Torture Kast, as Devilman: The Birth, the first of the three, was one of the stand out titles he’d come across likely around the same time I was neglecting to watch it. He’d recently subjected himself to Death Note so if you want to hear a little bit on that and whole lot on underground, indie and extreme horror, go find BTK on facebook, itunes and Stitcher.

DevilmanOriginally airing in 1987, this 51 minute anime condenses a portion of the original series. Produced by Go Nagai the manga creators studio Dynamic Productions,  which is responsible for hundreds of anime as Nagai is the man behind hundreds of manga.

The synopsis from MyAnimeList reads: “Akira is just another normal kid in modern-day Tokyo, until an old friend of his, Ryo, shows up and turns his world upside down. Akira learns that there is an upcoming war of demons on humanity and he has just been enlisted for a major tour of duty. But the only way to fight a demon is with their power, so Akira and Ryo risk a dangerous ceremony in an attempt to create humanity’s only hope: the powerful Devilman.” Thank you, internet.

Oh, Akira, what have you done. Before he was our not-so-secret weapon against awakened demonkind, he was an orphan who had a crush on his adopted sister who also had a crush on him. He took care of bunnies in his spare time, but was for some reason bullied by local thugs. Then Ryou, (rYO) whisks him away. Akira soon learns his friend’s father had gone a little insane, killed his dog, then committed suicide in the most terrible way. Ryoh thinks it has something to do with the massive ancient Devil mask in his father’s office. Could it be? Would it be?

Once it is placed on Akira’s head, he has visions of the demon world. Instead of the vast nothing of fire and brimstone I’m used to, we are greeted by sandworms, pterodactyl and naked fairies. Of course there are vagina plants, sword armed land sharks, tentacled tree nymphs, all sorts of insane creatures and of course they are all at one another’s throats. The demon realm is one weird, wild party. Kinda reminds me of a Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. A very fitting and fairly graphic beginning that only leads to escalating violence.

It turns out the demons have been encased in ice, and since they were planning to invade us eventually, their rumblings help to wake these sleeping beasts. Ryoh blames a little of this on Dante’s Inferno and global warming, but just when I’m not buying it, they are attacked by some angry denizens of the underworld.

They fight back as best they can and escape, but it is made clear by Ryohs dead dad that the only way to fight back is to become one with the demons, and for that, they need someone pure of heart. Akira fits the bill. Ryoh had planned ahead and packed an underground club full of ravers to revel in illogical debauchery making it easier for the demons to take over their bodies. I guess all Akira is really armed with is a supposedly pure heart and the knowledge that he will be transformed. As the music blares, Ryoh starts cutting people up and starting a brawl to to generate blood and negative energy to attract demons, which it certainly does. transformations begin, and just like in the demons we have seen earlier there are so many types and just as many imaginative ways they attack.

This leads to Akira becoming possessed by Amon, a very powerful demon. Not moments from when the meek and reluctant Akira is heard saying “I hate violence and I despise blood!” his first transformation into Devilman takes hold. He believes that he has wrangled the heart and body of a demon, so starts a blood soaked rampage of destruction. Blood spatter, decapitations and demons torn limb from limb mark one of the earliest examples I can think of that spawned modern splatter anime. Every bit as much gore are you would find in Deadman Wonderland, Tokyo Ghoul, or that first scene in Elfen Lied, but borne of more feral hatred instead of revenge or survival instinct. It works very well as an origin story, and leaves open the possibility of delving deeper into the past of Akira and Amon respectively.

This is a vast and dark universe. Between the manga, the series, the spin off series Devilman Lady and the future installment, I figured I’d carry on with the just OVA series today. So, Next we have Devilman: Devil Bird’ from 1990 but I haven’t much to say on this installment as it is kind of all over the place. Each time I watch this one, I lose interest for some reason. By the time the final fight with Sirene, a bird like demon that is angered by the loss of Amon as her demonic gentleman friend, I’m just bored. Some of the deaths, specifically family members of Akira, are nice and gruesome, and they really feed the motivation for the next part of the series.

Which is finally, my pick of the bunch, ‘Amon: The Dark Side of Devilman’ or alternately ‘Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman’ from the year 2000. Ten years after the last installment came out, we get absolute brutality from the start. Devilman and demons are at war on the street and the terrorized populace of earth are are fighting back against demons that have been destroying them and Devilman alike. Right away we are greeted to subtle sexual violence and one of the most heartless and brutal attacks on a female devilman they had shown yet. There are new clips from the fight scene where Devilman was born in Devilman: The Birth, reminding us just how far he has come. It also serves to illustrate that if anything has changed in the years since the first one, it’s far more effective pacing. All the blood and insanity were there before, to be sure. But the storytelling in this one is exemplary.

Akira endures a bit of a crisis before facing Selos, leader of the Devil Army, in a glorious battle. The vast pools of red would make a vampire thirsty. I won’t describe it beyond beautiful red water so you can all revel in the artistry of these scenes as i did. Eventually, we get to see the demon that has been hiding inside our hero in all his underworldly glory. Amon himself is every bit the demon we want. cloven hooves, whip tailed, enormous and terrifying, he is the Satan of our nightmares, where in this anime, Satan when we see him, is actually pretty dreamy. Compared to the first one, you could say the violence and visceral insanity of this third part is over the top, but of course, in the progression of the story, it would only make sense that things have gotten just this bad.

Even the art is darker – while much cleaner and modern style, the palette is a lot less colourful than even Demon Bird. The score and incidental music is perfect as well. Dark, puncturing and atmospheric synth is a far cry from the orchestral jazzy stuff from the first one or the near hair metal rock themes of Demon Bird. While each of these are produced by the Go Nagai’s company, they are all co-produced with different studios, which explains the very different styles.  All in all, the differences in the style and production of each OVA reflect the progression of Akira from youth onward, from good to evil, and from weak to indestructible.

One of my favourite things in anime is the aftermath of destruction. planes and busses straight through buildings. The Amon and Selos fight starts out with some of the most striking ‘right through a building’ shot of it’s time. Where we have had Akiras humanity stripped away in previous episodes, this one really reminds us how human he still is. in fact they hide his transformation for the first half before we get a glimpse of the Devilman we know.

The end is everything I could have hoped, and is actually quite beautiful considering the amazing amount of violence we get to see directly beforehand. some of the imagery at the end should have the most devout Christian up in arms but hey, what did you expect from a series called Devilman? It seems that by description, the end here strikes a balance between the original manga, which is entirely devastating and nihilistic, and the original anime series which is much happier and ends in union of demon and human to a certain extent. This, however, leaves much to the imagination. If i were pressed to choose the most favourable and theatrical ending out of my research, this one seems to be the one I’d prefer.

Devilman: A Demon Awakens, will be coming 2015! There are versions of the Devilman OVAs on Youtube at the moment, but these staple entries into the library of horror anime should be readily available from better comic book shops and anywhere online you prefer to buy or stream.

Next, I’ll be taking a class with Highschool of the Dead, since I like the violence and haven’t hit a zombie anime yet. Be sure to check out the Fatherland to my kindercast, Dead Air podcast on splatterpictures.net. If you have something you want me to watch, let me know at nightface.ca or typicallydia on twitter, tumbler, and wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in events, horror, writing

Helper Bat will be helping, along with Weak and Weary while I hang out at the Span-O Ottawa Small Press Book Fair. It’s this Saturday, June 13th, so short notice but hey “the best plan is no plan,” my father always said.

This will mark something like my sixth session at the Jack Purcell Community Centre drinking coffee and talking horror with all the daywalkers.

Always great to see other dark fiction authors, and this time I get to share space with Kelly A. Taylor. A fine writer of dark and somewhat apocalyptic fiction from what I have read so far, I’ve known Kelly for a few years and can’t wait to see what she brings to the table – literally!

There will be copies of Pray Lied Eve, a few copies of a Single Tale entitled ‘Turnstile’ (not available anywhere since it’s really that terrible) and maybe some Crocodile Rot. I have a few copies of Postscripts to Darkness as well.

More on the author stuff, I have been wrangled into the holding pen over at The Wicked Library. I’m in good company, and though the floor is cold it is kept dry and the food is good – so long as I beat the others to the trough. Have a look and a listen ~ thanks!

By lydia in Dead Air, horror, podcast

In a fit of awesome, we decided to cover my guilty pleasure Wrong Turn 2. Why 2? Well, Wes asked that for you already, so listen in for the answer. Honestly, I have watched this at least six times, and after recording, I realized how I’ve neglected the first film so much. It reminded me of home far more than this, because this… well, it’s batshit insane. Home, not so much.

Follow us from the source at Splatter Pictures or the mothership at soundcloud. iTunes fans can listen in on our Dead Air Podcast there or on Stitcher if you please.

 

By lydia in Uncategorized

At first, this was a post to accompany my original ‘yay! I’m going to the Mayfair!” post on Facebook, but after writing so much words, here we are with a bona fide blog post. Also, this is barely a review. Listen to the linked review for that, or go see it yourself. Both are worth it.

To expand: at first, because this was based around sex, I’d thought I wouldn’t want to see it. After ‘Teeth’ and, like, every other sex based horror film I disliked, I wasn’t about to willingly subject myself to another. Thankfully, that’s not it at all. The characters themselves (let alone their intercourse) are decidedly pedestrian (no pun intended) and utterly believable. And likeable. Though very plain, we all know kids/people just like this. I hesitate to say ‘kids’ because they all conduct themselves in a very mature and ageless manner. They drive cars without them being status symbols. They are in out of hospitals without defiance or supervision. They accept in a mostly non-judgmental manner that their absent parents are just that; absent.

They take on this force, ‘it’, alone and without bravado. Very mature.

Their settings are largely bland and lower-middle class which I can relate too. So many of the houses look plucked straight from my hometown. The only thing that left me wondering about their incomes and lifestyle is their cars always had gas. Maybe that’s a Motor City thing? Like Albertans always have gas and beef? It certainly would have broken the spell to see any of them spend money gassing up.

The spell, as it were, is they really have nothing to do. They are likely some of the first to really attempt to fight back at this thing as opposed to hide, spread it further, or simply give in.

Listening in to the Bind Torture Kast review, as I tend to revisit these when I do see a film they cover, reinforced something I thought while watching. Two things actually.

One, they are of a social class some people may typically attribute (in a short sighted and misinformed if not cruel way) to impulsive and reckless sexual behavior. They have nothing better to do. They are all incredibly close and talk openly about encounters, sex, and relationships, and they are young. They drink and have no parental guidance. They watch old sci fi and horror into the wee hours. Sex? Seems to be the last thing on their minds. ‘It’ has barked up the wrong tree, if it’s goal is to spread and kill. No one knows that though.

While watching, I thought of how I would avoid death if afflicted with this force. The only way is to have random sex? Well, I guess it’s best to find someone who is going to pass it on faster than it can walk, right? Dirty idea, but the only way out. Chris (host of BTK) pointed out how the first girl in the opening is of a higher income bracket. True. The boy who passes it to Jay is of a slightly lower income – evident in that he would have been embarrassed by the house he pretended he lived in, and that residing in the house he Actually lives in is his caring and very present mother. The girl he chose to pass this to, Jay, is slightly lower-income than himself.

In a later scene, Paul seems to be moved to spread this among sex-workers, but decides no to. It would have been the inevitable escape. To find an even lower ‘class’ group of people who may be lucky enough to spread this faster than it can walk. I can see why some liken this to STDs or AIDS but I just can’t. If I want to liken it to an epidemic, it’s the spread of apathy toward sex. Sex as recreation or a commodity becoming commonplace. Not that I have an opinion on that, and I don’t mean epidemic in a negative fashion. It is what it is.

Second, being able to see a damn fine horror film in a theatre.

image

We are blessed, those that have small repertory theatres at our disposal. Spoiled even. Had I been forced to attend a multiplex to see this, I’d have skipped it. No way would I want it marred with trailers and bullshit, let alone dude-bros praying for tits or hoping the sex would get their dates squirmy. Luckily, I got to see this at my favourite haunt (however I neglect the place too often) with a decent crowd who applauded at the end with actual appreciation. It’s something the review hinged on from start to finish, and I agree. Seeing anything in a multiplex these days is torture. It doesn’t have to be that way. Seeing wide-release horror is normally torture enough (formulaic plot, pretty rich annoying characters, stupid fucking nu-metal and folk rock soundtrack) but add in the plebs and mouthbreathers – a terrible evening for the handful who actually want to enjoy a film.

Apparently there is a sequel coming. Yes, it follows It Follows to it’s origin from what I’ve read. If only in a perfect world they could create the same lightening strike and have a creeping terror of a film, perfect sound, well written and spoken script and direction, with the same kind of organic release based on interest. A girl can hope.

By lydia in Dead Air, horror, podcast

A day early and a dollar spent, Wes is off the Anime North to do whatever it is he does at Anime North. In the meantime, we/you get a dose of Dead Air early. ‘Nightmare City’ is being remade! Exciting, I know. If like so many others you have waited for this day forever, you can check the funded+ indiegogo thinger ~ or, if like me you hadn’t a clue about this oddball film, listen in as we review the original.

You can subscribe on iTunes at Dead Air Podcast, stitcher and soundcloud or facebook and harass Wes on twitter.

“In this episode Wes and Lydia head to the Nightmare City. Secrets revealed about how much of a scaredy-cat Wes is and that Lydia is the woman without fear! Also, Wes gets on his high-horse about film-making!”

By lydia in horror, podcast, writing

The end is nigh! More accurately, it was nigh a few weeks ago with the season finale of The Wicked Library.

Nelson W. Pyles has gone on to greater things though he will keep a finger on the thrumming pulse that is this amazing horror resource.

I had the pleasure of listening in to a podcast where Dan had collected snippets of thanks and memories of those who had been on the show. When my first (of four!) stories was aired, my parents called after to tell me how much they loved it. When I sent them the link, they waited until evening, then queued up the episode, and sat together by candlelight listening to the chilling story told by the best voice in the business. They remarked how much it was like listening to old radio plays like they used to when they were kids. Many fiction shows try to hit that mark, and TWL does it with ease – and that was in the early years of the show! It has only become more immersive as their skill and gear improved.

Here is the Ninth Story podcast episode where Nelson and Dan wax poetic. For all the authors, listeners and future collaborators, it is a must hear.

I’ll be repeating myself a little here and there but, wow. Thank you. A thousand thanks. Even more, one thank you to the team that is TWL for every soul they collected by airing our stories.

Congratulations, welcome, and high fives to Dan Foytik ~ the new voice of discord and terror. I think this is a wonderful move!

Well Nelson, like all the other hacks you’ve let on your shelves, I owe you. What, I’m not sure. More words, probably. With luck we will meet up and swap a few.

Friends and readers, give a listen and get acquainted with The Librarian and the authors that have been lucky enough to know him.

Also… scariest story!? You still get email about Bad Shepherd?! That’s made my day/week/month/year!

Thank you, Nelson.

You Rock.

And why? BFY, that’s why.

By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, ReAnimeTion

Horror News is the “Motion Comic Series” offered from Tomotoon, part of Next Media Animation. It began streaming in April 2014. It is a motion comic/manga style story covering a handful of creepy tales, with the wraparound story being that of the mysterious publication the Horror News itself.

But first, some horror news because it has been a while. The winter here is harsh and cold, what can I say. Attack on Titan has people excited in advance since it won’t be out until 2016. Tokyo Ghoul 2 has come and gone. Psycho Pass and Diabolik Lovers have had an OVA each and there are three vampire series on right now that I’ll get into another time. Speaking of vampires I picked up the series Shiki, which may be up next if I don’t get around to new Tokyo Ghoul first. I’m half through Shiki right now, and it is pretty good.

Never did get around to covering my top hentai for Chris Excess. He had been on the Dead As Hell Horror podcast from time to time as well, and for that I do apologize. I just haven’t been in a hentai mood I guess, but I will leave you with this. Frantic, Frustrated and Female. FFF or F3, was one I had very shyly lent to me just after it came out in 1994 and was likely the most funny and cute hentai I had ever watched. It is basically about a girl who cannot achieve orgasm and resorts to all sorts of crazy antics to rectify this. She eventually becomes possessed by an incubus with ridiculous results. The best part is that ‘F’ is the sixth letter of the alphabet, making this one a little extra satanic.

I also had a request from a more different Chris, the host of Bind Torture Kast which just happens to be my most favourite horror podcast of all time. Devilman was one of his suggestions and now I have to decide if I want to watch the series from 70s or the OVA from 1987 or 2004 – it will likely be the first OVA since I’m sure that was the one that is on his mind and the first one I saw too – and I have to decide that before the remake gets released this Fall. Yes another remake, because that’s what the world needs is more Devilman.

So, Horror News. It was a fun watch and only crossed my desk because it had Horror in the title. I dont even remember how i came across it, but being a journalist, the news part caught my eye too.

The description on Crunchyroll reads…  “Rei Kigata is a boy, a first year middle schooler at Ishido Middle School. He is not a believer of any paranormal phenomena such as existence of ghosts or spirits of any kind, but one day at midnight, while he is asleep, a mysterious newspaper called ‘Horror News’ is delivered to his room. The newspaper tells a story in which one of his teachers at the school will get killed in a car accident the following morning and Kigata will be a witness of the accident. The story turns into a fact the following day and since then, the mysterious newspaper is delivered every night”

Sixteen short chapters run about 10 minutes each and makes a great story to watch on your mobile device – not something anyone would usually recommend for an anime, but that is what these shorts are perfectly designed for. You can watch them all in one run just as easlity as you can watch them one at a time.

The first two chapters introduce you to the mysterious Horror News publication that Rei receives at midnight.

Chapters are otherwise grouped together by color coded titles. And it is more confusing to explain than be subject to. Episode 16 and 12 are called Pages In Black, which are folk tales. Episode 4 and 13-15 are Pages In Red, which are bizarre tales. episode 1 to 3 and 11 to 12 are Pages In White, or ghost stories and some of my favourite. Episode 6 to 9, Pages in Blue are science fiction and in my opinion the most boring. Just not for me.

I’ve been told it is a chinese motion comic style, and a little like Speed Racer in tone, the characters are very one dimensional in more ways than one. if you liked Yamishibai, or Japanese Ghost Stories,  you may like this. Another fun one is ‘I Luv Halloween; from Tokyo Pop – I love Tokyo Pop and Halloween, so go figure.

The deaths are really pretty bloody just cartoony of course and there sure aren’t many. We get to see a lot of Rei’s best derp faces and him exclaim in shock, disbelief, fear, then mental anguish; usually in that order. And usually every episode because he is a jumpy kinda guy.

It has a dim, colorful and slightly dark color palate that uses a lot of blues and reds. something like an aged comic book look to it. For an interesting read, check their wikipedia entry under Next Media Animation and how they develop motion comic for newscasts, let alone their more colourful social media antics.

If there are negatives to this series – not including whether you like the style or not, they would be that the collection of tales go from creepy and personal, to traditional and terrifying to aliens and yeti then just kind of peters out on the curse of the pharaohs. There is no real related thread and the last episode doesn’t even follow the main character on any sort of adventure but is the audio equivalent of him reading to us a grade school essay on King Tut. The device of the actual Horror News newspaper is largely abandoned by the end. This is unfortunate since I really liked the Horror News newspaper as a character, which it had become.

On the plus side, they hit on ghosts, possession, vampires, doppelgangers, the yeti and just lots of random death and screaming. Quite a mix. In a lot of other applications, this tactic would be aggravating because they are really all over the map yet due to the short duration, they get away with it.

The entire series is available on crunchyroll and like I said best watched on a tablet or mobile. I tried finding it in the Tomotoon site but it wasn’t featured and I sadly only speak English. So I don’t know if there are more episodes coming, it doesn’t look like it, but who knows.

So this is Dead Cells, a horror anime podcast and symbiot to Dead Air. If you want more horror, Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe and I podcast bi-weekly and you can find us at Dead Air on soundcloud, stitcher, itunes, facebook, twitter and likely wherever you are listening to this right now. If there is anything you think I should watch, let me know in the comments, at typicallydia on twitter or facebook and wherever you hang out online.