The Perils of Making an AMV

Or… When a studio asks you to remove it. So one of the sharpest AMVs (through the link and at the very bottom) I have seen in like… ever, has been removed from YouTube. The studio (Shin-ei Animation) who created Hare+Guu exercised their right to protect their production from freeloaders who haven’t paid for the right to watch the animation. Fair enough.

It’s a move I don’t necessarily agree with.

Five minutes of anime goodness can act as a gateway to a world of fun. An AMV can embody the essence of an anime, it can demonstrate the spirit and uniqueness of the work and hook a viewer. What I’m trying to say is that an AMV can be an advertisement. Sure, you can consider it a spoiler reel as it takes the best bits out of context but I believe it’s the perfect hook. If I swing back to the Hare+Guu AMV from the first paragraph, that was an anime I had heard a lot about but little desire in tracking down. After viewing that AMV, I’m bumping it up on the purchasing list because when I watched that five-minute AMV, I liked what I saw.

AMV of the Week

This AMV captures the soul of the anime, yes the soul… something I keep harping about. I love Eve no Jikan (Time of Eve) and consider it one of the best anime of the decade. It is stuffed full of animated android yet has more humanity than a lot of media output. The music is called Hoppipolla and is by Sigur Ros and by itself, it’s beautiful but for anybody who has watched the anime, it’s the perfect accompaniment. I recommend this anime and this AMV.

Scary Manga for Christmas

Christmas is coming and along with the festive cheer it is also a time for ghost stories. At least in Britain it is. Usually this means short stories by Charles Dickens and M.R. James. This got me thinking… When was the last time you were scared by a short story… or more specifically, manga?

Me? Never. I tend to read manga for humour – Welcome to the NHK/Excel Saga – or sci-fi action – Pluto/King of Thorns. I have read a lot of supernatural manga such as Claymore, Buso Renkin and Tsukihime and found them bland (apologies to anyone offended) so I have come to dismiss the medium in terms of scares… which is why I have been caught off guard by two recent reads – Biomega and Zashiki Onna. I just have to recommend them.

Biomega – Tsutomu Nihei

The N5S virus has swept across the Earth turning people into Zombies. Zoichi Kanoe is a synthetic human and agent of Toa Heavy Industries looking for a girl with the power to alter the virus. He rides into the city of 9JO on a motorcycle with built in AI named Fuyu only to encounter zombies and rivals also looking for the girl.

A Picture from the Manga, Biomega.

This is a bleak look at the future. The city and its architecture are very disturbing and labyrinthine. There is a lack of symmetry in the buildings and the spaces are all cramped and dark, cluttered with detritus and shadows. When spaces do open up, when you can see into the distance, what you get are post-industrial Escher nightmares stretching off into infinity – humanity created a hellish modernity for itself before the zombies showed up.

Tsutomu Nihei uses dense and dark imagery that imbues the settings with a disturbing quality which reflects upon the zombies. These walkers are genuinely chilling to look at, the human form bearing enough history from their past lives to make them individual but the disease distorting them physically. Seeing them in groups is just as unsettling.

The plot doesn’t give much away until it’s ready. Like Zoichi, we are venturing into this hell and discovering things at his pace. I found it very atmospheric and chilling. Reading this at night by the light of a small lamp across the room I felt a chilling physical and emotional response.

Zashiki Onna – Minetaro Mochizuki

Picture from the manga Zashiki Onna

College kid Hiroshi is living a relatively normal life, working a part time job, romancing a high-school girl and living alone in an apartment. One night he hears somebody banging a neighbour’s door and shouting. The knocking continues for a while but the neighbour isn’t in and Hiroshi wants to get some sleep so he goes outside. What greets him is a thin, tall bedraggled woman with torn, dirty clothes, messy hair. Bottom line: she’s disturbing. She sees him. So starts their ‘relationship’.

The manga goes from normal to chilling to absolutely deranged. What at first seems like a very realistic portrayal of stalking goes seriously off the rails into the psychological horror alley and then into the realm of the urban legend.

Japanese horror films have long since me primed for suspicion whenever a girl with Zashiki Onnaloooong hair pops up but at points I felt sorry for the poor woman. I believed in the characters and even if their actions weren’t totally believable I still found myself gritting my teeth at the creepiness, grinning with glee at the lunacy and crying out: 



All without feeling the slightest bit of self-consciousness. Hell, I’m not embarrassed to admit it because I enjoyed the manga. Track it down if you can!

Wandering through the Moe Apocalypse

I got into another online “discussion” about moe. A lot of people consider the world of moe as the anime equivalent of Shangri-La populated with cute (read: useless) people we should feel protective over. Sora no Woto was a chance for me to re-evaluate my opinion. I still can’t stand the feeling/aesthetic. I find it emotionally backward and I don’t want to visit the land of Sora no Woto ever again. Ever.

A shot of Kanata from Sora no Woto

I’m probably missing the point about moe but then a lot of people don’t quite get the point of every nation on earth having nuclear weapons being a bad thing. Just because they exist and others have it, doesn’t mean they are good. Something anybody engaging in moe should keep in mind.

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The Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans

A film directed by Werner Herzog in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with Nicolas Cage as a corrupt detective. I was expecting an outbreak of madness on the level of Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo. The most notable thing was Nicolas Cage’s performance. Indeed, this is possibly Herzog’s most conventional film ever. No bad thing because Nicolas Cage shines. However, I would have liked more singing Iguanas.

An image from Bad Lieutenant

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A Very British Political Crisis Resolved: David Cameron is Prime Minister

How do you know this is a British political crisis? Because there are well-practiced procedures and precedents whilst discussions take place. Any other country and there would be angry protestors, violence and running gun-battles with troops on the street. Now, it is at an end and Gordon Brown has resigned.

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The Ghost

The Ghost is one of the best films of the year. This will resonate more with a British audience who were disappointed by Blair after he seemingly sold us out to the Americans for reasons the public are still split. Its politics are thuddingly preposterous but it still excels as a masterwork in the suspense-thriller genre.

The Ghost
Politicians Have Never Looked So Good

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