Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The State Of The Kaijyu: Vengeance Of The Baytaku?

There are only so many excuses.

But I will go ahead and lament that while the holidays are near, and events at home have created an aura where it is perfectly fine to lay strewn across the bedroom floor in a daze. Even then, there has been much internal activity. It is merely the typing hands, and perhaps even a little misdirected drive that has been keeping me from updating as much as I should. And not merely here, but everywhere else. Which isn't to say that I haven't been paying attention to buzzings here and there. Especially in a November where a new Rebuild Of Evangelion has just graced Japanese screens to massive profits, and possibly even more massive bouts of WTF.

And why? Since I am likely months to years from actually getting the chance to see it, the Twitter/blog talk has declared the film most popularly titled Q, as something of a fan service free-for-all with little to no real grapple on sense, let alone the original continuity which the previous installment so spectacularly jettisoned. It's apparently unrepentant in how chaotic, and pander-heavy it is (even going so far as to aging several major characters, and resurrecting others). Many even went so far as to compare the 2 hour service-fest as something akin to a Michael Bay event film...Stop. Right. There.


Now. I didn't expect to get into this on these pages, let alone anywhere else like Anime Diet, but there has been something of a niggling little piece of rant-fuel that has been plaguing my mind on and off for several years. And I suppose it was more than time to go ahead and just express my concerns somewhere for posterity, so that perhaps one day I could look back at this one day and better have a grasp on matters.

Now Japan has long been famous/infamous for gravitating toward some of the more unusual ephemera emanating from the west. A long held myth along these lines (for older anime fans at least) is the one contending that Walter Hill's ill-fated rock n' roll fable, Streets Of Fire inspired many a popular series and feature. (perhaps most famously, the OVA classic, Megazone 23) Check out a decent amount of shows from 1984-on, and it's pretty hard to dispute as motorcycle toughs, 1950s fashion and iconography, and even poster parodies are to be found with a minimum of effort. Filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and the like have also see plenty of reverence in anime between the 1970s and early 1980s, and to be fair, anime can always be seen as a frugal alternative to live action filmmaking for the studios, and the leaps and bounds made by many a western pioneer can easily be considered an inspiration to animators of the day.

So when the decades pass, and technology and society changes in vast and unpredictable ways, it's still surprising to see that of all the internationally popular filmmakers/storytellers that could leave a deeply ingrained impression, one wonders what has happened when the ever-grating Michael Bay has become one of the most important global figures for the Japanese. A part of me has been listing these references over the last several years, and apparently this Eva thing just pushed me back into that corner once too many times.

A few that come to mind..


2007's anime TV series. Lucky Star.

It's a subtle, yet effective little gag taking place in Episode 12, where our main characters are preparing for a day's doujinshi shopping during the sprawling Comiket. Veteran otaku, Konata lays out well worn plans for where to shop and when, which includes instructions that very resemble battle plans. (even ending with her handing wallets and bottled tea as "ammunition") The tense, almost somber military music that plays in the background is very reminiscent of many Hans Zimmer/Trevor Rabin scores for Bay's films. Merely one small gag in a series famous for pop culture references.

2010's live action Uchu Senkan Yamato.

Right from the trailers, this Takeshi Yamazaki blockbuster touted multiple attempts to pay homage to the Bay by mimicking his almost fetishistic slow-motion montages of crew members, and pilots preparing for battle as inspiring music plays. The film even goes so far as getting Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to sing the major single for the film, "Love Lives". A song that almost completely clones his stylings for the Aerosmith ballad, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing", which graced Bay's asteroid epic, ARMAGEDDON.

 Apparently, Armageddon remains a large favorite in the east as it is the one film that receives the most nods. And on a scale level, one could understand as it is perhaps one of his more "cohesive", universal works. But the love for it is far beyond so many other iconic filmmakers, one has to wonder what else has been influenced by this man that I've yet to witness.

Here's a bonus...

                           Yes. Even a great film like Fish Story makes a grand nod.

Just something I have been noticing on and off for several years. Pretty sure, I'm forgetting many other instances. And understanding that Japan has largely been hankering for "pure escapism" for some time now, I guess it's not too far fetched. How about you? It doesn't have to be a Bay film. Prove that it isn't merely the Baymonster getting all this attention. Should there be others, please let me know. I'd love to hear of others getting mentions. Just the thought that it has too infected the minds behind one of anime's more independent evergreens just renders me kind of sad.

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