ReAnimeTion – S01E02 – Corpse Party

Hey there. This is the counterpart to my podcast segment, ReAnimeTion on the Dead As Hell horror podcast. Today we are going to talk about Corpse Party. Not party as in the spring break party in Piranha 3D with boobs and booze, but party like a group of people. Like the Donner Party, maybe. With maybe just a little boobs anyway.

This is a popular video game that I have not played since I have not had access to a PlayStation for, like, ever. I’m an Xbox girl, and I don’t game on a PC either – I write on a PC and layout magazines on a MAC. If I spent another minute at a computer I’d probably fucking die. Honestly. So yeah. Maybe someday I’ll play it because I absolutely LOVE this show.

Listen to this segment on soundcloud

This anime is a year old now, having come out in summer of 2013. It is short, at only 4 installments of 30 minutes each, making it easy to watch in one sitting as a film in four acts. In fact, It would be a lot easier to follow without any sort of gap from one episode to another.

Corpse Party is put out by Asread who have not done a load of work. They did create the 11 minute short, “Corpse Party: Missing Footage” in 2012, and most of their titles are light hearted series with the exception of “The Enchained Spirtual Beast Ga-Rei” which is a supernatural drama I hadn’t heard of, but now want to check out.

Before I get into the particular episodes and paw through the guts of this anime, there is a little news.

The Japanese Government has appealed to fans with a viral ‘Arigato’ video. While I strongly agree that all creators need to be compensated I also know through my own experience that many fans first dose of anime or manga comes in the form of pirated goods. Mine was a bunch of bootleg VHS tapes traded among friends. Not so much with manga, and high-fives to the public library systems that carry such amazing selections now, but the internet… damn you internet. Peer sharing makes it so easy that people don’t bother looking for legitimate sources of anime. So many don’t even know how inexpensive it really is to pay a subscription service if you can’t afford DVDs. Personally, I don’t collect plastic. I prefer a subscription service. But hey, If you really like a series, pay the artists however you can.

Also, in horror gaming news, Silent Hills. But, you already knew that.

ReAnime-E01S02-CorpsePartyCorpse Party: Tortured Souls. This starts in just the way I like my horror to start. A ghost story with a little superstition. Eight high school students are in an academy classroom telling a ghost story. Years ago, several children were murdered at the Heavenly Host Elementary school on those very grounds. Even before that, a teacher died in an accidental fall and the principal committed suicide! Telling ghost stories like this at school is apparently tradition in Japan, and while most stories are myth or superstition based, these kids in this story have a lot of material to work with considering the grim history of the building they are in. There are nine of them, including a teacher and one younger sister. One of the girls, Shinozaki, is transferring and moving away. The nine of them finish telling stories then decide to chant a charm that Shinozaki found researching the murders. The charm is meant to seal their friendship, but instead it traps them in a parallel dimension populated by the ghosts of dead children doomed to re-enact the day they died. Surrounded by killer ghosts, and driven half-insane, not all of these students make it out alive. Sounds Fun.

You can really feel the video game story line in the latter half of the series. The first two episodes are really a great atmospheric gorefest with guts spilling, torsos splattering, literal buckets of blood and guts. While all of these things persist through the last two episodes, there are more quest type plot devices that make me just want to play the game instead of doing what feels like watching someone else play it for me. If I hadn’t known this was a game, I’d just be wishing that it was. Not that this is necessarily bad, just distracting. I had the same feeling watching Uwe Boll’s Rampage and The Raid: Redemption.

So, within the first episode, you have hauntings, boob groping, entity-like sexual assault, maggot-ridden corpses, puking, a very heart-wrenching suicide, panty shots, and people just generally losing their shit. And most of this occurs between two of my favourite characters, Naomi and Seiko. Another character I hate to love is Morishege. Since I have been accused of spending too much time on my own cell phone, and have taken photos of road kill on many occasions, I have a special affinity with Morishege who basically does just that… but the road kill are his friends?! Tsk tsk tsk.

The third episode revisits the kind of relentless gore you see in the first episode, and takes it to a new level. By the time you get into the fourth act, most of your favourite people are dead. It all moves really fast with no time for deep character development, which is a shame, because the nine core students are all very different. Then you have the ghosts. There are a few student ghosts around their age, then the preschool ghosts, and a few others. Their stories are told just enough to keep the story rolling, but could have been fleshed out so much better with just a little more time.

Some of the scariest parts are when anyone is being advanced upon by the ghosts of the preschool children. If you back a mangy squirrel into a corner, make it three feet high and tape knives to its paws, teach it to say creepy shit, then turn the lights out—that’s how I feel about these kids. They are dangerous.

Corpse Party really has something for every horror fan, without being too watered down at all. If you like a dramatic mystery, it’s here. A wall to wall splatter-fest of guts and carnage. Yup. Moody and thought provoking psychological terror? For certain. Occult and paranormal manifestations in a very active site? Off the charts!

I really enjoyed the flashback stories as they were approached slightly differently each time. Weather it was a story, possession, a vision, they did a different technique to keep the pace consistent and interesting as there is a lot of back story to cover. Even if only half of the story gets to you, by the time the remaining survivors are rallying to leave, you are a little wrung out. By the time it’s wrapping up, you feel pretty hopeless that anything good could happen. It’s very dark. Very bleak. And after all the death and madness you have just witnessed… well, the end left me staring at the screen for a good five minutes digesting what I’d just watched. I haven’t been that stunned watching a horror movie in a hell of a long time. The last one was likely Descent or Alyce Kills.

The colours, sound and voice acting are all very muted, warm and realistic. No real exaggerated gestures or colours, save a few kills and some of the gore. A nice blend of Hostel and  Grave Encounters in story and tone, if you can picture that.

Now, the reason we all watch horror anime is the theme music, right? Well, it sounds like the theme to a Korean soap opera. Not memorable, but then, at only four episodes, you don’t run the risk of having it stuck in your head. This story does not rely heavily on sound or very splashy gore to set the atmosphere.

What works here is the fact that all the students were just about to bind themselves as friends forever are then get split up. They basically remain that way no matter how hard they search for one another. It’s tense, having them walking through those halls when within the first few minutes in the haunted school, you know what sort of fiends are around every corner. Also, the prospect that they could all be driven mad with each minute they spend in there. Even if they avoided all the ghosts, they would end up no better themselves given time.

I give Corpse Party 3  and 3/4 black stars out of four, since I wish it were longer by even just one episode. You can buy a region-free DVD on ebay, as they seem to be the same ones on the import sites for about 15 dollars. If you want a guaranteed purchase, ask if your local comic book shop can order it in for you. This title doesn’t appear to be available on-demand at the moment.

Next, I want to talk about Wallflower, which is an old favourite. While it isn’t horror proper, it explores horror fans from the outside, and is a highly entertaining anime. I’m still watching Tokyo Ghoul, have gotten a few episodes into Attack on Titan, and will start in on Elfen Lied soon.

The Demon Owen Garth asked if I considered Wicked City a horror anime since I mentioned it in brief last episode. I must say that yes, I do consider Wicked City a horror anime. The amount of very terrifying rape scenes notwithstanding, there are demons, spider women and tentacles galore, so I can’t think of another genre it rightly belongs in.

If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or tumblr, YouTube, wherever you hang out online. Leave a comment on the site at deadashellhp.com. This has been Re:Animation on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast.

 

 

 

 

ReAnimeTion – S01E01 – Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul Promotional Image
Tokyo Ghoul Promotional Image

This is the companion transcription to ReAnimeTion where I talk about horror anime on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast. Since this my flagship episode, I’ll say that we gotta appreciate animated manga for what it is, so there will be little to no talk on print manga. Also, my pronunciation is shit, and while I appreciate simple and plain corrections, let’s all be nice about it.

Listen to this segment on soundcloud

I’ll cover new and old horror anime, what I’ve watched in the past and what I’m watching right now, so if you have a suggestion let me know and I’ll add it to the giant list of stuff I need to see.

Right now horror fans are very lucky in that Tokyo Ghoul is being simulcast via Funimation. Hulu subscribers can watch episodes there, and episodes are showing up and being taken down from YouTube. Starting the beginning of July 2014, this series should take us up to mid-September with 12 episodes before being released on DVD. This one is particularly bloody and I am interested to see what sort of censorship and time slot it gets if it brought to air in the US and Canada.

Before I get into my take on the first two episodes, the big anime news lately is the reboot of Sailor Moon. I’ve been watching Sailor Moon Crystal on crunchyroll. While not horror, if you have babybats around, eyeballing your copy of Wicked City, there are some decent baddies in Sailor Moon and it is a relatively safe anime if Dragonball Z just isn’t their thing. I’m excited to see all the sailor scouts transformations, let alone all the cool monsters in the series redrawn.

In more horror-ish related news, the fourth episode of Psycho Pass came under scrutiny when the producer pulled the episode due to a decapitation crime in Japan – the one currently all over the news – it bore apparently similarity to the episode. Funimation ran the episode as scheduled, and will air episode 5/6 back to back to catch up, as the network is skipping it all together. I support both decisions. By skipping the episode, the show runners display compassion, and by airing the episode, Funimation avoids black-market trade and pirating, let alone giving the episode instant cult status. Check animenewsnetwork and crunchyroll if you wanna hear more.

So Tokyo ghoul. The anime is brought to us by Studio Peirrot who did loads of work since 1980 and recently brought us Naruto and two Bleach OVAs, so the style is tight and clean. Bright colours and only slightly exaggerated action sequences.

The story is about high-school student Ken Kaneki, who is turned into a half-ghoul. Ghouls here are closer to the actual mythical description of a ghoul, being a sort of undead-ish vampire-like, flesh eater. These ghouls are more vampire-like so far.

Right off the top, before the intro, binge-eating ghoul Rize is shown killing someone, covered in blood then confronted a masked man, immediately letting you know she is A] a killer and B] hunted.
Now, we meet Kaneki and his pal Hide who are chatting about girls in a café. Stop and tune into the incidental music in the background of this scene. If that is not the theme for Nekromantik by Hermann Kopp, I will eat crow. Really. Sounds just like it.

Eventually Kaneki ends up on a date with Rize. A pretty girl who you nearly don’t recognize from the opening scene. Yup. He’s alone with a binge eating ghoul. Toka, the waitress from the café is the last person to see him take off with Rize down a dark alley. Within seconds, there blood everywhere, visceral tentacles called Kagune which is the ghouls primary weapon when provoked beyond using teeth, and Rize has great lines like “I’m going to gently scramble your insides now, okay?” Suddenly the building collapses, and just as suddenly, he is in hospital with half his organs transplanted from the dead Rize. The plot moved pretty quick but was easy to follow. So, suddenly he is half ghoul. With one red eye. Recall, he is one half binge eating and hunted ghoul, so we have an idea how messed up this can get.

Similar to vampires from many different vampire worlds, these ghouls have a social construct tucked within human society. He finds himself soon cared for by the same group that Toka is involved with. Friendship, family, camaraderie, knowledge are important themes in this anime, and those who enjoy that aspect of Full Metal Alchemist will enjoy this. One theme I particularly enjoy is the relationship to food these ghouls have. It may not strike the same chord in North American culture as the Japanese have a more intimate and rich relationship with food they prepare.

The plot thickens like hot gravy as another alleyway altercation happens between Toka, Kanenki and a ghoul named Nishki. – yes they spend a lot of hunting time in alleys apparently – all ghouls of varying types and strength levels. The twist is that Nishki is Hide’s teacher. Lovely.

The struggle to come to terms with his new reality as a half ghoul troubles Kaneki and this is communicated wonderfully as he tries to get out a little, eat food, go to school and stuff like that. We’ve seen a similar discomfort in, say, Louis in Interview With a Vampire. This is done exceptionally well, with a lot of puking. Gotta like puking.
The big talking point comes in episode two. Kanekis first attack where his Kagune adopted from Rize comes out to fight. I’ts a fucking great fight sequence. Period. With all the rage of 1000 Devilman’s and the raining blood from 20 Fist of the North Stars, it delivers, hardcore. But, in reverse colour. Some say it is a censorship move, while I think it’s purely an artistic decision. There are prior and subsequent gory scenes that are not treated this way, but that remains to be seen as I’ve only seen up to episode 5 which ends on a cliffhanger fight. So, they solarized the colour but you can look on YouTube as many fans have corrected the colour and you can see the scene however you prefer. I prefer the original green blood and reverse colour because no matter how you slice it, it’s bloody as fuck. I suggest you watch the first two episodes before checking that out though, since while it’s a really cool scene, it’s a magical scene in context.

The music is good, with the opening theme “unravel” by Ling Tosite Sigure, reminding me of 30 Seconds to Mars – the closing theme ‘The Saints’ by People In The Box which reminds me of old Kasabain or Die Warzau. Fun Fun. Because that’s why we watch horror anime, right? For the music.
I highly recommend Tokyo Ghoul and give the first two episodes four out of four black stars for horror. Horray!

Up next, I’ll be watching this year’s body-horror release Pupa, 2013’s Blood Lad and re-watching Wallflower which aired around 2008. I’ll also be covering 2013’s Corpse Party. If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or tumblr, YouTube, wherever you hang out. This has been Re:Animation on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast.

 

 

ReAnimeTion – An Introduction

Starting next week, I will be featured bi-weekly on a horror podcast. Very exciting news! For the last few years I have tested the e-broadcast waters on Kettle Whistle Radio, participated in other ‘casts and been on the local radio station as well as recording my blogs and fiction to leave on my soundcloud page. All this was leading somewhere…

For the last while I have listened to what seems like a zillion horror podcasts. Over the last two years I have even developed some strict guidelines as to the podcasts I will subscribe to! There are so many; and so many levels of skill and so many different formats – no different than broadcast radio – it is hard to find a few I really grooved with.

Not only have I found a few ‘casts I just straight up adore, one had a call out for female talent with an open mind to programming. Lo and behold, my pilot episode of ReAnimeTion will air on the Dead as Hell Horror Podcast on August 8.

Dead As Hell is a well rounded horror show with movie reviews that have a tendency to cover the darker fare. There are book reviews too, which I am partial toward. I fill in the horror anime portion. You might think there is little to choose from, but woah, Nelly! There really is a lot of super dark anime. I’ll be watching it all so you don’t have to! Ever since Gatchaman in the late 70s I have been a fan of anime, but I tend to zero in on horror as I do with any entertainment media. Now, I’m no otaku. No expert. My pronunciation is shit and I probably only looked at the manga in the comic shoppe. What I want to do is simply share all the gory beasties, the chibi freaks, shadow-selves and tentacles. Yes, there will be tentacles.

Coming up on the pilot is Tokyo Ghoul, my current fascination. Soon after I will talk about Corpse Party, Wallflower, Ghost Hunt, Attack On Titan, Black Butler, Highschool Of The Dead, Pupa, Hell Girl, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Maybe even my beloved Death Note! Some may not be straight up horror titles, but it’s my job to highlight the genre-related bits and describe them in terms of our favorite horror films. Sounds like fun to me!

With each episode, I will upload the script here. Feel free to comment on that or on twitter, or wherever you feel at home online.

In the meantime, you can find Dead As Hell Horror Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, twitter and facebook – go to their site for episode roundups and see how else you can tune in!

I’ll see you soon, Dead As Hell!