originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/638398...
Hi friends! It’s the 24th of December, and you know what that means… it means it’s Thursday and time to watch some animation, where did you think I was going with this?
Tonight I’m well aware that a lot of you will have other obligations, and moreover unlike Hanukkah which has a nice juicy seven nights, there’s only one DAY_PRIOR_TO_WINTER_HOLIDAY. With that in mind, I’m going to try to avoid showing something that people will feel too bad if they miss out; and instead aim for an eclectic collection of things that’s relatively easy to drop in and out of. With that in mind, it’s time for a selection of 90s and 2000s 4°C and Madhouse short films and OVAs!
(which, you know, since I am pretty sure @mogsk is gonna be there I kind of picked stuff with her in mind :p)
With that in mind, and considering we’ve hardly watched any properly weird shit in a while, I’m going to throw back to the early days of Animation Night, where we’d watch package films by studios like Madhouse and 4°C.
So as far as 4°C goes - the studio part-founded by our early fave Koji Morimoto along with Eiko Tanaka. Tonight, I’ve managed to track down some of their earliest compilations like Sweat Punch and Digital Juice.
As we’ve seen, 4°C‘s work in package films like Genius Party is wildly varied and endlessly experimental, and drawing on a much wider range of influence than a lot of anime, notably the French comic scene. Sometimes this results in an absolute god tier hit like Tekkonkinkreet or Koji Morimoto’s shorts in Genius Party, other times it totally fails to land like (imo) Mind Game or, well, much of the rest of Genius Party. That’s OK though - trying to do something interesting always entails taking risks!
Still, I suspect Sweat Punch, also released as Deep Imagination, is going to be similarly varied. The general consensus seems to be that the strongest part is Kazuto Nakazawa’s film Comedy, a heavily stylised short about a swordsman in the Irish War of Independence. But there’s also intense real-robot action in Beyond, and some properly weird experimental stuff in the first two shorts which I hope will end up landing! All in all, Sweat Punch adds up to about an hour of ten minute films to bring back some vibes from the turn of the millenium…
Digital Juice, meanwhile, is at the short end of shorts: nothing really over three minutes, the whole thing packing into just 20 minutes of animation. Light on dialogue, it is a showcase of what was going on in the really early days of 4°C. Some of it is previews for other things we’ve seen, like Morimoto’s Tojin Kit, other parts are quite original music videos or short films. The only question is whether I can get an English-language version.
Last from 4°C, I have the extravagant 1997 short film Noiseman: Sound Insect, another project of Koji Morimoto, featuring the scientist character from his lavish Franken’s Gears segment of Robot Carnival. This time around, the scientists creates a kind of bizarre creature which starts ruling over a city as the scientist accidentally divides his soul from his body, or something like that? I’ve seen it described as…
Noiseman: Sound Insect is about as defiantly anti-mainstream as animation gets whilst still remaining watchable. Barely fifteen minutes long, more like twelve if you consider the ending credits last nearly three minutes, it crams in enough material for a feature length film with hardly a pause for breath and rarely if ever stops to explain a thing
which honestly sounds incredible. gonna shatter my temporal lobe.
Next up after 4°C, we have another one of those classic Madhouse OVAs. This time around, I figured I’d pull up their old adaptation of Gunnm, commonly translated as Battle Angel Alita, Yukiko Kishiro’s manga about an amnesiac robot girl in a decaying trash heap city.
Although Alita has attained infamy more recently when it received a very dubious CG adaptation directed by James Cameron, that was not the first time it was adapted to film - back in the 1993, Madhouse adapted the first two tankōbons of the manga into two half-hour OVAs. This necessitated compressing the story a bit, but a short runtime should also mean Madhouse had room to really polish up what they had. So, classic cyberpunk and cel animation… even if the story of the manga is compressed, this should be an aesthetic delight at least!
Also on the old-school Madhouse angle, we have classic ‘no trans subtext here’ OVA Birdy The Mighty/Tetsuwan Birdy, about a space cop who accidentally kills a boy, and decides that the only way she can save him is to kind of allow him to hitch a ride in her body, meaning the kid’s drawn into various sci-fi stuff in which he must occupy the body of a hot action girl (oh how zany! what is this ‘sub text’ of which you speak). Birdy is better known for its later TV series adaptation Decode, which was the debut of many now-famous webgen animators, so depending on mood and time it might be interesting to contrast how the two versions approach the story.
And, in case we find ourselves running short on time, I also have the short OVA Dragon’s Heaven (1988) by studios AIC and Artmic, which features a gorgeous style of linework that calls to mind Moebius more than any anime I’ve seen. It’s a bizarre little story about a girl who discovers a long-buried mecha, and joints its war against a cyberpunk hell nation confusingly named ‘Brazil’ (I don’t know why either) and its robot overlord, El Medine. Along with the fantastic art style and extremely strong cel animation, the OVA also has a very cool opening sequence involving a model kit of the main robot.
So! Eclectic selection, yes, but that should give us a pretty diverse selection of weird, stylish semi-oldschool anime to drop in on when your celebrations of WINTER_HOLIDAY permit, which we can naturally augment with anything that people missed on previous Animation Nights and would like a second chance to see.
Animation Night 33 will begin at 7pm UK time at twitch.tv/canmom as usual. Look forward to seeing you there!