Category Archives: podcast

Dead Cells horror anime podcast: Hell Girl

Hi there, this is typicallydia and I am here on Dead Cells, part of splatterpictures.net to talk about “Hell Girl”. This is a good, though pretty sleepy anime. You know how when watching “X Files”, you kinda get quiet, you kinda get melancholy. you kinda turn inward and dissect humanity under the microscope – or telescope – that the show provides. It never hurts when Scully poses her emo diary entry in soliloquy at the end. The feels. The actual thought provoking is maybe what you didn’t expect from a sunday night television – and it is not what i expected from this anime.

From the friendly neighbourhood wikipedia entry Hell Girl is “also known as Jigoku Shōjo: Girl from Hell, and is an anime series produced by Aniplex and Studio Deen. It focuses on the existence of a supernatural system that allows people to take revenge by having other people sent to Hell via the services of the mysterious titular character and her assistants who implement this system. Revenge, injustice, hatred, and the nature of human emotions are common themes throughout the series.”

That’s a really wordy explanation. Hell Girl is available through a website called the Hell Link, where you initiate a ‘hell correspondence’. You type int the name of someone you want sent to hell. Hell Girl will appear, explain to you the terms of the agreement. Meaning, they will go to hell but your soul will also go to hell once you die a natural death. She’ll hand you a straw doll and you can contemplate this while… hanging out with your straw doll? It has a red string around its neck. So once you are really sure, you pull that red string. Hell Girl will appear again, and sell that person’s soul to hell immediately.

This is one of the first anime I watched when I first discovered Crunchyroll streaming over WiFi the last time I was in college. It comes from Studio Deen who have brought us Pupa, Is This A Zombie?, and other harem, crime, romance and slice-of-life animes. All in all a rounded if not slightly cheesy company.

Themes in the first season seem to really focus on bullies. You know, it gets better, right. Well, no. You make it better. If you can’t make it better – and some people really try to – you just send you enemies to hell.

This is where you meet Ai Enma, her grandmother, and three helpers. Wanyudo is an elderly traditional Japanese man who transforms into the black straw doll. He also changes into her chariot sometimes that she takes to the mortal plane. He seems to be her moral compass.

Ren is her blue straw doll. A good looking younger man, he is also represented as an eye that looks down on humans under scrutiny. He observes their actions and tries to see what condemned them to hell or spurred them to use the hell correspondence. He was a sword in a former life! So he is against bloodshed and is maybe an aspect of Hell Girl’s humanity.

Hone is a beautiful woman who is represented with a red straw doll. In her former life she was forced into a brothel and remains very romantic yet jaded. Hone Onna is a form of a revenge spirit or yokai that allows her to show her form as a bone woman or decaying corpse, much to the dismay of those unfortunate to accompany her and Hell Girl on the ferry ride to hell.

Kikuri is an annoying and adorable little ragamuffin brat that kicks around both the human realm and the shores of hell. She mostly gets in the way and ruins things. A real imp. I like her.

Yamarawo is the yellow straw doll, but i haven’t watched season three yet, so i’ll do another segment when i have.

Now, the hell correspondence. The Hell Link. The web site plays a huge role as almost a character in and of itself. With all of the time we spend online it is a wonder that all we’ve come up with is how to send your enemy sparkles. We all know how that went. If you could send someone to hell would you? Who would you send? Would you be fine with your soul consigned to hell after the deed is done? its easy to sit and watch others do it. they are getting their comeuppance and the people being ferried to hell really deserve it. But, would you?

There are some really great aspects of society covered that usually get poked fun at in other anime but here can be boiled down to their basest elements. The loss of a child. A lover scorned. Sibling rivalry. these are the near everyday themes that are torn away at, layer by layer until you agree the wrongdoer should be held accountable. The victim is right. Someone needs to go to hell.

The last episodes of either season are certainly worth watching if you are looking for a story arch. Otherwise, the stories are an anthology series and somewhat repetitive. The beginnings have similar elements as you are introduced to the players for the episode. The endings are all similar as the person who was cursed by someone they knew is ferried to hell. But then, any fan of horror is used to repetition in some form. Slashers, revenge and possession films tend to veer into an ad lib script. And there is a beginning-middle-and-end formula to follow in most horror so we cant complain too much can we.

 

There isn’t much gore, though there are some pretty intense reveals and some twisted scenes when they head to hell – the series also deals with some pretty twisted thoughts. Just the way some of these revenge plots come about. Most of them are pretty sad. So yeah. If you wanna watch sad stories that are thought-provoking if not morose that always end with someone going to Hell, then Hell Girl is your thing.

The animation style is pretty plain, as is the music. For the opening theme there is a soft pop song that is catchy and upbeat and a brooding, slower closing song. Not grating at all but not particularly memorable. The show is more haunting than anything. That is maybe the best word I can think of to describe why I like it.

I love the look of Ai. at Fan Expo a few years ago there was a cosplayer dressed as sailor outfit Ai, complete with red scelera contacts and had cut her hair into a hime style with blunt cut varied length bangs, instead of using a wig. Ai wears a few outfits through each episode, another formula mirroring the beginning-middle-and-end. A sailor suit that she appears in on earth and while chillin out at home, contemplating her cursed life over blood red spider lilies reflected in the River Styx.  When she is finished bathing in said river she wears a white under kimono, then dons a psychedelic floral swirling technicolour thing that she wears to send souls to hell.

Lovely stuff.

Anyhow, those who like quiet, brooding horror and strange tales will like Hell Girl. Season two and three (Two Mirrors and Three Vessels) stream on cruchyroll, and the first season is widely available. Asking your local comic book shop to order a copy is likely the best idea.

some of the stuff I have my eye on is the upcoming season of Attack on Titan, which will be a while, the second season of Tokyo Ghoul which I’ll be in on soon, remaining Parasyte and its live action counterpart and some new vampire themed anime. Vampire Holmes piques my interest buuuuut I’m looking more forward to Kekkai Sensen, otherwise known as Blood Blockade Battlefront. a nice dark vampire occult story that will help balance my love of Blood Lad. while I do enjoy Blood Lad as much as I enjoyed Is This A Zombie I’m not sure how to approach them on Dead Cells. maybe a comedy episode? We shall see kids, we shall see. In the news is also an anime entitled ‘Horror News’ conveniently enough. It is on crunchyroll right now so once I’m done reading books for the upcoming dark side tour and watching films with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe for Dead Air and splatterpictures.net I’ll be settling into the time vampire that is horror anime.

 

Podcasts that I need to survive: horror and crime

The title may seem melodramatic, but it’s not far off. A few years ago, I went on record as disliking podcasts over 20 minutes in response to a post on the Rue Morgue Podcast’s site. They attempted an attitude adjustment by speeding up a portion of the response to my critique to save my precious fucking time and hilarity ensued. Mostly because Dark Mark hated it so much. A few years later, I switched jobs and dialed back a lot of my extra-curricular activities. Seemingly unrelated, but compare a ten minute commute to an hour on a city bus. Twice a day. And I can’t read books while in motion. Suddenly, the podcasts I had been into only casually became an almost daily routine on my ride. It’s easy to listen to an episode, or most of one, on the way in and the rest or another on the way home. I can listen aloud in the office after hours too, so I sometimes find an episode in between music.

The commute though, would be mind-numbing without them. After rifling through likely hundreds of crime, horror, writing and paranormal podcasts, I have a short list. Not only are these really fun and informative shows, I think they are incredibly important shows every horror fan should check out.

So. The 20 minute thing? I take it back.

I’d be a far more aggravated person on public transit without them, so I thank you. Therefore, the public at large thanks you. My twitter followers who don’t want to hear about Uggs, side-eyes, mouth-sounds, drunk people and creepers thanks you.

I know it is hard work. Thank you.

This is Horror – Hosted by Michael Wilson (Owner and Managing Editor at This Is Horror) and Deputy Editor Dan Howarth, this is the premiere horror fiction podcast. I was into this early. Probably around the suggested episode. The one that really hooked me was a review of the Best in British Fantasy as their opinions were honest and at times damning. They both had a lot of questions about the state of the genre, the intentions of publishers and the future of authors in the hands of both. Since then, the podcast has focused on in-depth interviews, news and recently, short dark fiction read by authors. If you like dark fiction, noir and horror by authors like Joe Hill, Stephen Graham Jones, Jack Ketchum and David Moody, try this.

Suggested episode? Lords of Salem. Even though I had reviewed the book on typicalbooks, I have only watched the film recently, so I should give this one another spin.

(Honourable mention goes to The Wicked Library. My alma-mater in the realm of having my work read in a fiction podcast, and only fitting I would align these two. )

Faculty of Horror – Hosted by Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West I have been there for roll call since the first class. Since I had followed Rue Morgue and other mutual haunts, I saw links and such around the web early on. This is horror film review from steadfast horror fans who are both seasoned writers and academics. Coming from these backgrounds lends a slightly more serious tone to this well planned and intensely informative podcast. My horror-academia friends must have a listen. This means you, Amy Vosper, Derek Newman-Stille, Sean Moreland and Aalya Ahmad.

Suggested episode? I Thought There’d Be Stars (The Cabin in the Woods). This is their most recent, though they cover classics, cult picks and new releases so there is not one episode without an A+. Another runner-up was the Black Swan and Drag Me To Hell episode. Further, they have been recently named the (not official as I had thought) feature podcast on Rue Morgue~ very fitting, so congratulations!

Bind Torture Kast – Hosted by Chris Ligrest with co-hosts Luke Ramer and Steve Taiclet, this is my hands-down number one super best most favorite podcast of all time, amen. This entire blog is basically an excuse to make you go listen to it*. From NEKRomantik to Martyrs, Aftermath to High Tension, they have hit on so many underground or extreme horror titles it’s a veritable honey bucket of fucked up film fandom. Then, of course, are the steaming handfuls of films I’d have not heard of otherwise (Septic Man, Sleep Tight). Selected news, calendar releases and the best music selection I’ve ever heard on air; what’s not to love. I discovered this while I was working in housekeeping at a hotel and between trying to get the high score in a little game I called P5 (finding piss, puke, pubes, plasma, and poop and all in one room) I’d listen when I could. For atmosphere.

Suggested episode? This is an impossible decision. If you want a gentle introduction (well, as gentle as this gets…) Baxter. It’s also pretty recent, so you can scan back through a very impressive body of work, as it is basically a weekly gig with over 70 episodes to date. If you know my interests well, try their review of Lucifer Valentine’s documentary I need to see entitled Black Metal Veins and scan way back to episode four on NEKRomantik.  Follow Bind Torture Kast on fakebook. and stitcher and itunes too.

Last Podcast on the Left – Hosted by Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks don’t let the word comedy here fool you. Yes, it is a comedy podcast. A Very Dark (read: VERY DARK) comedy podcast about serial killers for the most part. And Hitler. And Axe Murder – which is the most straight up comedy one I’ve heard so far – and just about any twisted conspiracy theory or violent crime you can imagine. (Runner up goes to Darkness Radio, True Crime Tuesdays)

Suggested episode? Playing with the Dead. Necromancy, necrophilia and the connections between the two. Because we might as well get the deal-breaker out of the way, right? They are weekly as well, and have over 170 episodes to date. This one is pretty recent, as well as another favourite on Fred and Rosemary West.

BONUS ROUND – Two of these podcasts are very likely not suitable for mixed company or your place of employ. NSFW. Two are fairly benign. Try to guess which ones!

It’s not all about gore, kids. Each one of these is a darling of mine because of consistency, worlds of information, eclectic interests of mine, and of course dark and well-researched subject matter. The presentation, programming and personalities contained herein are honest and entertaining, which is all you can hope for. I suppose it would be weird to not mention my own (half of a) podcast Dead Air with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe, as we strive for the same kind of mandate. You’ve seen links here, fakebook, twitter and anywhere else I can post them, so no need for me to be redundant.

If there is anything out there you feel is on par with these, let me know, I think you may be hard pressed to find shows of this caliber or beyond.

* okay, not really. I had meant to post a follow-up to my “Why I Don’t Listen To Your Horror Podcast” article that was lost in the great server suicide of 2013 along with blog posts dating back to 2004 from my first blog, LiveJournal, MySpace, a defunct Tumblr, two incarnations of wordpress and a horror film review page I had on GeoCities in 1995. Sad, I know.

tl;dr? Thank you to the people who make these shows happen, and if you are looking for something to listen to, follow all the links in this post.

Dead Cells horror anime podcast: Deadman Wonderland

Today on Dead Cells we are going to talk about Deadman Wonderland.

This one is from from Manglobe, who also worked on Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, and Samurai Champloo. This was a one season, twelve episode anime aired in spring 2011. Right now, you can catch it on Netflix, Funimation and sometimes The Cartoon Network.

I loved the first episode and while I liked the season, it never quite lived up to that level of carnage. if you are just idly checking this out for the gore, the first episode is totally worth it. by the last two episodes it comes around again with a lot of really brutal kills and madness galore, but I felt I was wading through the storyline for the sake of characters that would be introduced just to be killed off which is essentially what happened –  though the lingering death scene in episode 9 was pretty cool.

A summary from the Deadman Wonderland wikia reads: “Deadman Wonderland is about Ganta Igarashi being sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. He is sent to the privately run prison Deadman Wonderland, where he meets his lost childhood friend, Shiro. He soon figures out he isn’t like any normal prisoner, but that he’s a Deadman, someone who has a Branch of Sin. This means he can control his blood freely. He is sent to G Ward and meets all the other Deadmen. They discover a plot set up by the Chief Warden Tamaki that has to do with the Red Man, the man who has framed Ganta into Deadman Wonderland.”

29 kills in the first episode alone. no wonder I fell for this off the bat. The Red Man is the mysterious antagonist that slaughters Gantas class before his very eyes. this is the crime he is framed for. during that first massacre, he is infected with a parasite that appeared during a devastating quake that produced the Red Hole, which is almost all that is left of Tokyo afterward. Ganta barely recalls the quake that killed his family, and it seems the families of most of his classmates and many of his future prisoner friends also perished in this tragedy.

It seems i liked nearly every character except the lead role. The simpering emo whining of Ganta drives me berserk. I get it. he’s human. he’s fifteen. he’s in jail and all of his friends and family are dead. sure. but wow. can it! if he doesn’t trip, fall down, whine, or doubt himself to hell in back every episode, it’s a miracle. Sometimes he is like the Caillou of anime.

Crow, or Senji, is pretty bad ass. The thirteenth bonus episode is devoted to his backstory, which just leads me to think he could have been expanded upon within the series proper, or adding to a second season. His relationship with Ganta eventually develops into what saves the storyline and Ganta entirely in my opinion, as teacher and student.

Ganta reminisces on how he knew Shiro when they were kids, and it is kind of touching and also introduces the Visco Elastic Soldier Aceman. This is a fictional show that Ganta was a fan of as a kid. I don’t know about you, but I certainly had a fixation on Gatchaman and maybe even HeMan when I was a kid, so chibi Gantas fixation on Aceman is totally relatable if not straight up adorable.

Shiro is another beast altogether. skin tight lycra outfit aside she is super fun and just a perma kid. since I have a huge amount of permakid wriggling inside me I really related to her. From what I read on wikipedia you can unlock her costume after playing through Lollipop Chainsaw, but even that doesn’t tempt me to play that game. i like her as a female character that is not yet hypersexualized and retains her childlike exuberance for adventure and sweets even though she can kick major ass and is pretty much immune to all the things going on around her precisely because of those two things.

Chang and en are fascinating and two of the three albinos in the story, Shiro being the other. They are the Directors bodyguards and though we see very little of them are quite striking in their look and limited backstory. These twins are in fact named after the famous and at one time longest living Siamese twins, Chang and Eng. being a fan of oddities, I noticed this hommage right away. always drawn to twins, I wish they’d played a larger role.

The chief warden makina is a super cool character that remains far too underdeveloped. its okay if you don’t relate to or get attached to anyone in the group of rebels she is fighting for that matter since they get wiped out almost as fast as you get used to them being around. She is around until the end, and though interesting her character remains very surface level.

It seemed so much storyline was wasted in this freedom fight thing :/ although it did introduce you to the gestapo style Undertakers, a breed of guard that is pitted against the deadmen when the prison is at a loss to control them.

One of the few showcased female Deadmen, Minatsuki aka hummingbird seems to be there as fan service. the psycho nymph type. with Shiro flaunting her lovely hair and perfect though fully clothed body, I suppose it is needed for some who come for the flesh to be sated. I found her boring and cliche, though a really good vehicle for brutal language and distressing adult themes.

Mockingbird however, is none of those things as a bisexual-ish and androgynous blood tasting type, he is the strongest deadman and can absorb powers not unlike the X-Men rogue. we only get to meet the coolest deadman, mockingbird, at the end and that is a real shame, though on the other hand, another point of redemption within the last four episodes. I probably like him best since not only is he super crazy strong, has a really cool way of coming about in the anime, but is also a male version of Shiro.

Throughout the series, their weapons get increasingly bloody, and that is what I stayed for. The Branch of Sin as it is called, is blood from the Deadmens bodies that has solidified and can be melded by their will. They were infected by the Nameless Worm during the Great Tokyo Earthquake where many lost their lives. Upon rebuilding, Deadman Wonderland was built at the epicentre as a massive prison reminiscent of The Running Man, the film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the novel by Stephen King. Those that enjoyed that movie and shows like The Hunger Games and Battle Royale will love the game show atmosphere. I sure did.  Then again, I am also a huge fan of horror anime and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge so you can see why I love this blend so much… or well, wanted to love it. it’s not without it’s faults for sure. what this falls prey to is late introduction of too many characters stealing stage from the three or four that have been developed and you actually care or wonder about.

There could have easily been two seasons with what material there is regarding Shiro, The Red Man, the Deadmen, the Branch of Sin… all of that is sort of dulled for the sake of some kind of military and political intrigue. I found a lot of the drama quite boring  – and that is not just the horror hound in me howling, it really was that boring. The game show atmosphere, the fights, the relationships between Ganta, the two girls and Crow were ten times more fascinating. This is one where it may do well to read the manga which is getting a North American release as we speak thanks to Viz media who have picked up the series..

The opening theme song is pretty brilliant. Typical japan-american-fusion-metal from Fade but for once the song actually has something to do with the story. Pretty catchy song and nice and heavy which fits the theme well. Within incidental music, I hear some twin peaks Laura’s theme and beautiful people by Marilyn Manson type riffs.

There were rumors of a second season and I really hope there will be one. it would be good timing as there is an extra boon to gory horror action anime since streaming and pay services have been popularized more and more with the great titles coming out and accessibility of these services.

I may sound like I’m on the fence and maybe I am. while I liked the basic story, I could have done without the embellishment of freedom fighting and delved more into the histories of the inmates and the warden, the promoter and the director, let alone all of the initial deadmen we meet. the end was a bit of a tease as the audience is privy to things ganta isn’t. had he not hinted in the last three minutes that he would continue his quest to have his questions about the death of his classmates answered, there would be no need for a second season really. it could have ended with one line… a line you will know when you hear it, right before the very last scene.

Also, for the lack of sex I don’t think anyone even kisses, don’t think it is without very brutal adult themes. some of the words that are used will be intensely offensive to some delicate little flowers out there. as will two scenes of animal violence. i wouldn’t say the animal deaths are gratuitous at all, and they are both intrinsic to the plot. I’m personally okay with their use here but some draw a hard line with that so be warned.

Next, I’d like to talk about Hell Girl. I’ve watched this off and on and since it isn’t entirely linear, and not a splatter horror i think it would be a nice break from all this blood. We can get into a little more psychological and social horror in the vein of Death Note with a little X Files and Final Destination. Thank you for listening and if you have anything that you think I need to watch for Dead Cells, let me know here splatterpictures.net, on twitter, tumblr, instagram or wherever you hang out online.