Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Almost Done Now

Today I wrap up my thread on Asian horror, and I'm gonna keep this short today. No intros or segues, lets just get right into it.

The entertainment form that I've always been the most hesitant to share with my love of with people is anime. People tend to assume the worst when you tell them you like anime, because mainly the popular image of anime is either disgustingly mind-numbing stuff like Dragonball or Pokemon, or disgustingly perverse pseudo-pornography. A lot of people are completely unaware of the greater heights the genre reaches. I read an article sometime back that said animated entertainment outnumbers live action entertainment in Japan, a fact I'm willing to believe, based on what I've seen. If that's true, it stands to reason there's a lot of good stuff out there, but it also stands to reason there's a lot of crap. Don't hold it against the Japanese that the crap is what makes it over here. Now my particular taste for anime has diminished quite a bit over the past few years, to the point that it really does need to be something special for me to really care. Boogiepop Phantom, however silly it's name, is one of the special anime series.

In the near future Tokyo(actually, I'm only assuming it's near-future, the time line is never really explained), the sky is obscured by an odd form of Aurora Borealis, and the people are still haunted by a serial killer who was stalking the city 5 years earlier. There's also a bunch of mentions of some weird, supernatural event at the same time that seems to have created a lot of weird phenomenon. We never actually see this event, or get a full explanation, since each episode only gives us a piece of the puzzle. Through the 13 episodes we meet a collection of people struggling with some pretty bizarre supernatural problems. One high school student begins seeing spiders attached to people's hearts, and begins eating them to ease the negative emotions of those afflicted. Almost every episode is a complete story focusing on one person, and they're all connected. You'll see in one episode a character walk by a commotion on the street, and then 2 episodes later see the story leading to that commotion. The series really does require that you pay close attention, but it's also quite chilling if you can last.

If your still confused at the end of the anime series(and if you aren't you weren't really watching), then there's hope. A live action movie, Boogiepop and Friends, was released which fills in many of the blanks concerning that mysterious event from 5 years earlier. I say 'many' of the blanks, because the movie follows the same pattern of interconnected stories, telling a much larger epic through the point of view of people who really have nothing to do with it at all. The problem there is that you end up watching some slow moving high school drama with quick brushes with the supernatural. Still, the movie is well worth it if you liked the TV series.

Uzumaki(spiral) is a film based on comic book horror creator Junji Ito, who's really a big name when it comes to these things. The movie doesn't quite live up to either the atmosphere or the gore of Mr. It's comics, and it really isn't the greatest movie among my recommendations, but it is an odd little film that still holds a special place in my heart. It has a pretty strange setup- a town becoming obsessed with spirals- but ends up as kind of a Japanese, Lovecraftian story, with madness effecting the townspeople until it eventually changes many of them physically. An interesting little film, and well worth checking out.

By the same director, and even more worth your time(although unfortunately not readily available in America), is the short TV movie Long Dream. This is a genuinely spooky little short with all the subtlety that Uzumaki was lacking. Set entirely in a psychiatric hospital(one of those arty film hospitals with unhealthy green lighting and long shadows), the films follows a doctor as he tries to figure out how to treat a young man who complains of longer and longer dreams. He sleeps for 8 hours in the real world, but in his dreams he lives entire lifetimes, and the durations are getting longer. Eventually he can't remember people from his daily life because his dreams last hundreds of years and by the time he wakes up he's forgotten almost everything. The doctors are further stumped when he begins to change physically as well as mentally. This one I would suggest you try and hunt down. Like I said it isn't easily available in the US, but you can usually find a copy or two on Amazon for fairly cheap.

No comments: