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Archive for May 20th, 2011

The story of Hideaki Anno’s tumultuous times with Gainax, the fan-created animation studio he helped found in the 80’s, is one that is usually dominated by continuing disappointments, the first of which being the box-office failure of their first feature, 1987’s Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Anno had plans to create a sequel to that film, and though those ideas and themes would later lay the foundations for his magnum opus in Neon Genesis Evangelion (as would his musings to create a spin-off from Miyazaki’s Nausicaa), at the time he was forced to accept a much more humble and profit-motivated project to stand as his directorial debut. At a first glance, there really shouldn’t be anything overly special about Gunbuster (also known in Japanese as Aim for the Top, a pun on the classic tennis manga/anime series Aim for the Ace), and indeed resembles nothing more than just another giant-mech OVA set in outer space with pretty girls piloting big robots in some kind of do-or-die conflict against an alien race bent on conquering and/or destroying mankind. The savvy viewer might spot echoes from anime of the 70’s and 60’s all throughout its early run, with special emphasis on the influence gleaned from the likes of Leiji Matsumoto’s Space Battleship Yamato (better known internationally as Star Blazers), as well as the tongue-in-cheek spoofing of various well-worn cliches prevalent throughout the mecha and shojo genres. Probably the closest thing most Western otaku will have to this in their experience would be Katsuhiko Nishijima’s Project A-ko, and if that kind of action-packed, fanservice-drenched schoolgirl adventure/satire were all that was amounted to here, there would already be plenty of reason to recommend it as an overlooked little gem from the yesteryear of 80’s anime. Something fun and funny, if not terribly important.

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1980 187m) DVD1/2

Violent Unknown Events

p  Peter Greenaway  d/w  Peter Greenaway  ph  Mike Coles, John Rosenberg  ed  Peter Greenaway  m  Michael Nyman, Brian Eno, John Hyde, Keith Pendlebury

Colin Cantile, Peter Westley, Aad Wirtz, Michael Murray, Lorna Poulter, Patricia Carr, Adam Leys,

Self-indulgent?  Overlong?  Very much so, yet also full of genius, Peter Greenaway’s mindbender is one of the forgotten great films of the 1980s.  But how on earth can one sum it up?  Essentially we are told there has been on earth what has been described as a VUE (Violent Unknown Event).  There are numerous theories, many of which centre around birds and flight obsession in general.  19,000,000 people have been affected by this event (which is never explained or referred to as anything other than as a VUE), and The Falls is a sort of mockumentary (shot in 92 languages, this is the English version) in which 92 people whose surname begins with the letters F, A, L and L (hence Falls), are discussed in detail.  Some of these discussions last only a few seconds, some over ten minutes, yet all are interrelated in theme and in some cases, by fate.  From Orchard Falla to Anthior Fallwaste, we are taken through them in rather punctilious detail.  (more…)

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