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ReAnimeTion – S01E03 – The Wallflower

Catch me on the latest Dead As Hell Horror Podcast Where I go on about a favourite horror anime, Another.

Join the conversation by leaving a note on facebook, twitter or call the voicemail at 513-580- HELL and leave your thoughts. As always, iTunes reviews are more than welcome~ email the show at deadashellhp@gmail.com

 

 

Today we are going to talk about The Wallflower. Some may consider it horror, some may not. It really is for horror fans by horror fans. And even more interestingly, it revolves around a female horror fan.  Now she’s no booth babe, quite the opposite. You’d be hard pressed to get her anywhere near a booth actually. She’s unkempt, she’s a loner, she’s even a little scary herself. And for the most part, she wants to stay that way. Those who know me could say that I like this because I’m a lot like her.

Listen to this segment on soundcloud

So, it’s more of a josei anime, it’s for girls. Male and female relationships are highlighted more often and the boys are illustrated in a way to appeal to the female gaze. I for one appreciate that. Having some nice looking guys–and more than one–in an anime is very welcome. The guys are similar in physique to the guys you would see in the anime ‘Swimming’, which I’ll never ever review on this show even if those boys bled out their ears and cracked their skulls open on a daily basis. I’ll also never cover Moonphase because even though it is about a vampire it is way to moe and way too girly. Not that I don’t put on my kitty cat ears, go paws-up and watch some Moonphase from time to time, I just won’t be talking about it on ReAnimeTion.

WallflowerFirst things first. I’ve been catching up on my Tokyo Ghoul. There were a few episodes where things were lagging, it wasn’t quite as bloody, and we are getting into the story line, relationships between the other ghouls and their histories and offspring. I was getting a little bit tired of the storyline already. And then episode 8 happened and turned that all around. The story was starting to take over from the gory excitement and horror aspect. That’s never bad if the story is compelling, for example, with Death Note. There is a lot of story line and background – there is not a lot of horror happening with action or gore – but it is extremely compelling with the mystery and characters. Tokyo Ghoul just hasn’t steeped with me yet, and the pacing changed. For the past two episodes, things were getting a little too quick and you weren’t getting as involved in the story they were kind of shoving down your throat.

In episode 8 Kaneki gets his mask, which is great because any time spent with Uta is time well spent in my point of view.   And we learn a little more about the quinque, the weapons used by the doves, which seem to be recycled kagune. Of course, aside from Kaneki donning his mask finally, and opening the mouth of his mask to feed, seeing him fight one of the doves is probably my favourite scene. Though it starts out a little weak,            it gets pretty brutal pretty quick. Another interesting thing with Tokyo Ghoul this time around, is the use of a musical piece that seems really closely based on Carmina Bruana, the O Fortuna movement. You’ll remember that in the opening episode, where Kaneki is talking to his friend Hide in the café, there is a song that is very similar to the title theme in Nekromantik. One Sick Puppy talked about this film on another episode of Dead As Hell, so if you missed that, take a pause, go back to the Nekromantik episode and take a listen because it is one of my favourites. I also reviewed this on The Mortuary forums for their House of Psychotic Women tie-in.

Now back to Wallflower. It is the story of four boys that live in a mansion alongside a girl named Sunako. Now, Sunako was pushed into their foursome living arrangement by her aunt who is their landlord. She has Sunako living there under the arrangement that the boys are going to turn her into a lady. If they fail their rent will triple. If they succeed in turning her into a lady, they get their rent for free. It’s a beautiful mansion so you can sort of understand how these four winsome, willful high school boys want to get rent for free in a mansion in the centre of Tokyo.

Sunako is a hard case though. Like I said, she is unkempt and watches horror movies. You have to see the first episode and I highly recommend watching it even if you don’t like the sound of this anime. It’s not blood spattering everywhere and it’s not horror proper, but I’d have to say if you aren’t hooked by the first episode it’s a highly entertaining watch weather you get through the whole season or not.

From the get go Sunako will remind you of someone crawling out of the well in ‘Ring’. She’s all black hair, pale face, dark eyes, and she is coming at them through a bush looking like a monster herself. Within moments she is sequestered into her room with her horror films on repeat with the volume too loud, and horror memorabilia on the wall. She has a medical skeleton as one of her closest friends alongside two anatomy mannequins, that are her closest confidants that live in her room with her. And that is about all she does is spend time talking with her anatomical dummies and looking at her medical specimens in her dark, dark room. Of course there is a fair share of blood. She gets nosebleeds very often, especially when she is talking to the radiant creatures; which is what she calls the boys or any good looking boy that happens to be way too close to her. She has a lot of trouble around the radiant creatures. She is also a great cook and it is one of her skills that she does share with people around her although it is very bloody. If you can imagine this girl who looks like she crawled fresh form the well in her dark room with her medical dummies and specimens, and you hand her a knife and ask her to chop up fresh dead things. It’s maniacal, quite macabre, and a very entertaining scene. Especially for someone who might be mistaken for a girl just like Sunako. You’ll see a little of yourself in Sunako, especially when she has a vile grin and is covered in blood and chopping up meat. It is not without homage to the horror genre as far as the films she is watching. It has little goth throwbacks like her petting pumpkins and befriending spiders. Many episodes revolve around things like haunted houses. There’s Halloween episodes, a ghost pirate island episode, so there are horror elements within every single episode. So there is something there for horror fans in every single one.

You are able to commiserate with her wanting to be left alone not made into a lady, and just go watch horror films. One of the biggest insights to Sunako is that she was told that she was ugly two years before coming to live with the four radiant creatures by a boy that she liked, so she really believed that she is ugly. Because of the animation styles used in this anime it’s hard to tell what she really looks like. There are quite a few stills where she is made to be a very beautiful long haired fair skinned maiden, but most of the time you see her in a chibi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibi_(term)] form. Where it is impossible to tell what she looks like aside from a pouting or stomping kid, or a gleeful little kid that is dressed as a tiny grim reaper and petting a pumpkin or whatever.

Wallflower2

So it is hard to tell what she is supposed to look like. In the first episode though, you sort of see the different aspects of her. You see her in chibi form, you see her covered in flour where they think she is extremely beautiful than the flour is washed off – you have to see it to understand what I mean – and you see that he skin isn’t taken care of, and her hair is over her eyes and face so it’s hard to see what she looks like. She does walk with a stooped posture, so she doesn’t hold herself like a beautiful girl. Later on, you see that she is extremely beautiful. A very attractive girl with a very attractive soul, and is full of honour. The honour actually comes into play with a lot of the messages that are anti-bullying. Sunako was bullied and continues to be bullied, and rejects these bullies very violently. Violently to the point of unleashing her ninja sword skills. She does pull out a sword many times and she does kick ass with it. There is blood involved with some of these battles. It’s nice that it flip this on its head. She was bullied, she pushes society away, she is a horror fan so she has something to cling to. It is interesting that most of the sexual harassment is doled out on one of the guys she lives with. It isn’t a pivotal plot point, but it is pivotal to his character makeup. It really feeds a dynamic between him a Suanko. She is this bullied person who feels absolutely not sexual and projects absolutely not one ounce of sexual energy, where he is exxxtremely sexual to the point that it debilitates his lifestyle. They become very close friends as a very interesting aspect to the story line. Aside from little things like the hearts of pigs she keeps in her room and stuff that as horror fans we would find cool. Like the skeleton that she talks to.

There are a lot of girls stalking her roommets, which is kind of hilarious. It’s not guys fawning over hot anime girls this time its legions upon legions of normal looking anime girls fawning over these four poor unfortunate men. The ‘Goth Loli’ sisters are another aspect of the goth/horror culture (maybe) where they are creepy in their own way without being horrific. It’s kind of horrific the way they stalk these boys though. Her father seems to be almost demonic. Almost like satanic. He is so strict and so traditionally Japanese, but he is so afraid of what’s going on in her room. “Medical specimens, skeletons, spattered blood, horror movies, he hates it so much he faints,” Is how Sunako describes why her and her father don’t get along.

So, The Wallflower streams in it’s entirety on Funimation.  You can also order their Super Awesome Value Edition for about 24 bucks. One of my favourite horror type animes. Not horror in that it is based on a ghost story or a murder or killing and there isn’t blood spattering. There is blood every episode, but it is usually coming out of someone’s nose. Or out of a fish. Fairly innocent compared to some of the horror we are going to cover in upcoming episodes like the infectious body horror ‘Pupa’. Then of course I will come back and talk about Tokyo Ghoul as I catch up on it. That has to be one of the bloodiest and most fun fascinating anime I’ve seen in a long time. Next we will be talking about ‘Another’ which is a great series I’ve had the pleasure of catching up on. It was recommended to be several times by several people and two asked if I am covering it for the podcast; Yes, indeed. It is deliciously bloody and wonderfully haunted.

If you have any questions, input, or suggested anime to watch please leave a note here, and thanks for listening!

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.