Category Archives: ReAnimeTion

typicalfilm – Oct 27 – Ajin Demi Human

Ajin Demi Human (2016)

While many people are still flipping out over Stranger Things, I’ve been all about Ajin. From the first episode I was hooked, and though we didn’t finish the entire season, Chris let me strap him down to watch most of it for my second time and his first. So, I’m not crazy and it is a very good if not shockingly dark show. Why other people aren’t flipping out over it, I’ve no idea. Maybe it’s Netflix. Maybe it’s the CGI animation. Maybe everyone likes Bob’s Burgers a little too much? I’ve no idea. Perhaps billed as an action anime, this is firmly in horror territory with monsters, relentless killing, darkness of man and society and a wild twist on death, mortality and resurrection. Lovely stuff!

Dead cells horror anime podcast – Fist of the North Star

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.

Dead Cells horror anime podcast – Devilman

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.