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Sunday, January 29, 2006

A BRIEF NOTE ON GRAVITY'S RAINBOW'S POLITICS

Scott Eric Kaufman has a post on The Valve critiquing the New Left, in which the following passage appears:

"While the New Right hunkered down in positions of power, the New Left waged a public relations war against the idea of power in all its various guises: 'The System,' 'The Man,' 'Them.' Capitalize one letter of Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff‘s famous diatribe and you capture the attitude perfectly:

"I don’t know what They have to say
It makes no difference anyway
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I’m against it!

"Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood:
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it,
I’m against it!

"Like Dr. Wagstaff, the New Left favored performance over complicity in the system. (The resurgent popularity of the Marx Brothers in the ‘60s wasn’t an accident.)"

Whatever the accuracy of this as a characterization of the New Left as a whole (or of Horsefeathers), it captures the political perspective of Gravity's Rainbow to a T.

(For Dan Green's benefit, I'll hasten to add that the deficiencies of Gravity's Rainbow's politics have no bearing on its value as literature.)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

MANGA CORNER: PHEROMOMANIA SYNDROME

Pheromomania Syndrome [Feromomania Shindoroumu], by Ichiha, is another gender-bending shoujo romantic comedy, but an unusual one. Unlike all the others I've seen, it doesn't involve cross-dressing or magical or scientific gender-switching or body-swapping. It's just about a boyish girl and a girlish boy. Not that either of them wants to be of the opposite sex; it's just the way they are.

Hotori, the protagonist, is a tall (about 5'9") high school girl with masculine features and build. She also has a powerful libido, something that embarrasses her. Since their childhood, she has been the friend and protector of Keishi, the main male character, who only comes up to her shoulder and looks, and acts, somewhat feminine. Hotori is in love with Keishi, and frequently imagines him in seductive poses (often in female costume), producing explosive nosebleeds. (It's a convention of manga and anime that males get nosebleeds when they're aroused; occasionally females are shown getting nosebleeds when aroused too, but I don't recall another work where it happens so often as here.) At first Hotori can't imagine that Keishi reciprocates her feelings. When she discovers that he does, her problems aren't over. She treats him as a delicate flower not to be sullied by her base desires. In fact, he's anything but, and repeatedly attempts to provoke Hotori into acting on her feelings, leading to even more explosive nosebleeds. Keishi is also downright evil towards anyone whom he suspects of trying to get between him and Hotori. His most frequent targets are Yuna and Sunaka, Hotori's best (female) friends, particularly the latter, who has a crush on Hotori. These four, plus a childhood friend of Hotori and Keishi's who appears in vol. 3, are the principal characters so far.

While hardly deep (I've read the first three volumes so far, and they're almost pure comedy), Pheromomania Syndrome is original and funny. Gender-bending manga comedies are a dime a dozen, of course, but the characterization sets Pheromomania Syndrome apart. Hotori isn't the typical manga tomboy or cursing tough chick, but is genuinely embarrassed by her masculine appearance and demeanor. Nor is Keishi the typical androgynous bishie. Keishi's characterization in particular is a triumph, combining melt-in-the-mouth innocence and seductiveness towards Hotori with malevolence towards everyone else. The comedy is more physical than is typical of shoujo manga, e.g. Hotori's nosebleeds, which frequently splatter those around her. Ichiha is good at this. She's also good at visual characterization, exemplified by Hotori, whose masculine demeanor, while not exaggerated (as I said, no cursing) is depicted so convincingly that even though she always wears girl's clothes and is referred to as female, I have a hard time not thinking of her as "he."

The title refers to an imaginary "disease" of women with unusually strong sexual appetites, which Sunaka diagnoses Hotori with in the first chapter, based upon a quiz in a magazine. (Pheromones are chemicals emitted by animals whose scent affects other animals of that species. Some animals emit pheromones to sexually entice potential mates; whether humans do so is an open question, but in manga you sometimes see, for instance, the phrase "pheremone girl" used to describe a sexy girl.)

Pheromomania Syndrome is published by Hakusensha, and there are seven volumes out so far, all costing 390 yen (I think). The ISBNs are:
vol. 1: 4-592-17671-5
vol. 2: 4-592-17672-3
vol. 3: 4-592-17673-1
vol. 4: 4-592-17674-X
vol. 5: 4-592-17675-8
vol. 6: 4-592-18226-X
vol. 7: 4-592-18227-8

(If you want to buy this at a Japanese bookstore, note that "feromomania shindoroumu" is actually the "reading" of the title in furigana. Normally the kanji in the title would be read "joshi mousou shoukoumura," which would mean something like "woman's fantasy syndrome.")

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

JAPANESE MANGA ANTHOLOGY CIRCULATIONS, 2004

This post on forums.animeondvd.com alerted me that Japanese magazine circulation figures for 2004 were online. I had translated and posted the 2003 figures for manga anthologies, so I thought I'd do the same with these.

The format is:
Title (Publisher), 2004 circulation (2003 circulation, when known)
As with the 2003 list, I've tried to give the titles in the form you're most likely to see them referred to, so I've translated the words meaning "weekly" and "monthly," and words which are clearly Japanese transliterations of English words I've converted back into English. I've put translations of other Japanese words in brackets where they first appear.

The disclaimers to my post of the 2003 list also apply here. I have no idea whether these figures represent average circulation for the year, or the circulation of the latest issue, or whatever. And while this list is far from complete, I have no idea what the criteria were for inclusion. (For an indication of how far from complete it is, check out the Manga Magazine Guide, which lists more manga anthologies -- and publishers -- than you've ever heard of.) Likewise, I don't know whether the titles that appeared on the 2004 list but not on the 2003 list began publishing in 2004 or were being published in 2003 but were left off the list for some reason, and conversely with those on the 2003 list but not the 2004 list.

SHOUNEN (BOY'S) MANGA
Weekly Shounen Jump (Shuueisha), 2,994,897 (3,240,000)
Weekly Shounen Magazine (Koudansha), 2,721,633 (3,190,000)
Corocoro Comic (Shogakukan), 1,198,333 (1,222,000)
Weekly Shounen Sunday (Shogakukan), 1,160,913 (1,311,000)
Monthly Shounen Magazine (Koudansha), 1,041,417 (1,140,000)
Weekly Shounen Champion (Akita Shoten), 500,000 (800,000)
Monthly Shounen Jump (Shuueisha), 446,666 (510,000)
Monthly Shounen Gan Gan (Square Enix), 287,650 (300,000)
Bessatsu [special volume] Corocoro Special (Shogakukan), 240,000 (263,000)
Monthly Dengeki [electric shock or blitzkrieg] Comic Gao! (Media Works), 200,000 (200,000)
Comic Bom Bom (Koudansha), 186,666 (200,000)
V Jump (Shuueisha), 149,833 (310,000)
Magazine Special (Koudansha), 107,083 (110,000)
Shounen Ace (Kadokawa Shoten), 59,167 (300,000)
Dragon Age (Kadokawa Shoten), 55,667 (200,000)
Shounen Sunday Chou (Super) (Shogakukan), 41,000 (65,000)*
Monthly Gan Gan Wing (Square Enix), 29,100 (70,000)
Monthly G Fantasy (Square Enix), 28,350 (70,000)

SEINEN (YOUNG MEN'S) MANGA
WeeklyYoung Jump (Shuueisha), 1,136,666 (1,275,000)
Young Magazine (Koudansha), 1,044,489 (1,220,000)
Big Comic Original (Shogakukan), 1,030,000 (1,184,000)
Big Comic (Shogakukan), 677,916 (741,000)
Morning (Koudansha), 584,167 (660,000)
Weekly Manga Times (Houbunsha), 500,000 (540,000)
Weekly Manga Goraku [entertainment] (Nihonbungeisha), 500,000 (500,000)
Big Comic Spirits (Shogakukan), 460,354 (556,000)
Business Jump (Shuueisha), 416,875 (440,000)
Big Comic Superior (Shogakukan), 370,400 (428,000)
Super Jump (Shuueisha), 370,000 (410,000)
Manga Time (Houbunsha), 320,000 (400,000)
Manga Time Original (Houbunsha), 300,000 (380,000)
Weekly Manga Sunday (Jitsugyounonihonsha), 300,000 (300,000)
Kairakuten [Pleasure heaven] (Wanimagajinsha), 300,000 (150,000)
Young King (Shounengahousha), 280,000 (300,000)
Evening (Koudansha), 266,250 (330,000)
Weekly Comic Punch (Shinchousha), 259,271 (450,000)
Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh (Media Works), 250,000 (250,000)
Young Sunday (Shogakukan), 245,417 (285,000)
Manga Action (Futabasha), 245,000 (220,000)
Gundam Ace (Kadokawa Shoten), 211,416 (300,000)
Young Animal (Hakusensha), 201,083 (240,000)
Comic Ran [disorder, riot] (Riidosha), 191,201 (200,000)
Young Champion (Akita Shoten), 180,000 (220,000)
Zoukan [special edition] Ran Twins Sengoku Bushou Retsuden [series of biographies of civil wars military commanders], (Riidosha), 180,000
Afternoon (Koudansha), 144,583 (140,000)
Comic Ran Twins (Riidosha), 134,571 (150,000)
Young Comic (Shounengahousha), 125,000 (145,000)
Monthly Comic Tokujou [special energetic] (Shuueisha), 99,166
Young King Ours (Shounengahousha), 95,000 (115,000)
Dengeki Moeoh [moe king] (Media Works), 90,000
Ultra Jump (Shuueisha), 72,000 (90,000)
Monthly Magazine Z (Koudansha), 46,041 (50,000)
Sunday Gene-X (Shogakukan), 39,167
Ikki (Shogakukan), 33,916 (75,000)

SHOUJO (GIRLS') COMICS
Ciao (Shogakukan), 1,065,000 (910,000)
Ribbon (Shuueisha), 729,167 (990,000)
Nakayoshi (Koudansha), 457,083 (520,000)
Bessatsu Margaret (Shuueisha), 378,333 (465,000)
Shoujo Comic (Shogakukan), 301,956 (265,000)
Hana to Yume [flower and dream] (Hakusensha), 300,416 (340,000)
Deluxe Margaret (Shuueisha), 218,333 (290,000)
The Margaret (Shuueisha), 216,666 (280,000)
Margaret (Shuueisha), 209,565 (260,000)
Cookie (Shuueisha), 203,333 (190,000)
Cheese! (Shogakukan), 174,833 (208,000)
LaLa (Hakusensha), 166,750 (200,000)
Petit Comic (Shogakukan), 121,250 (131,000)
Bessatsu Hana to Yume (Hakusensha), 106,166 (130,000)
Betsucomi (Shogakukan), 101,833 (110,000)
Ribbon Original (Shuueisha), 101,666
LaLa DX (Hakusensha), 71,833 (80,000)
Erutiin [All Teen?] (Kindaieigasha), 70,000 (70,000)
Petit Momo [peach] (Kindaieigasha), 70,000 (70,000)
Asuka (Kadokawa Shoten), 38,000 (200,000)
Ciel (Kadokawa Shoten), 23,417 (120,000)

JOSEI (Young Women's) COMICS
You (Shuueisha), 234,166 (270,000)
Dessert (Koudansha), 221,666 (220,000)
Be Love (Koudansha), 206,875 (240,000)
Bessatsu Friend (Koudansha), 203,333 (200,000)
Kiss (Koudansha), 202,583 (240,000)
The Dessert (Koudansha), 197,083 (210,000)
Young You (Shuueisha), 172,500 (190,000)
Elegance Eve (Akita Shoten), 160,000 (200,000)
Judy (Shogakukan), 156,833 (181,000)
Juliet (Koudansha), 153,333 (170,000)
Chorus (Shuueisha), 151,250 (180,000)
Office You (Shuueisha), 129,333 (140,000)
One More Kiss (Koudansha), 99,166 (130,000)
Silky (Hakusensha), 86,833 (100,000)
Feel Young (Shuueisha), 72,458 (80,000)
Flowers (Shogakukan), 58,000 (75,000)
Comic Aqua (Oukura Shuppan), 36,000

MRS. COMICS
For Mrs. (Akita Shoten), 160,000 (210,000)

*The 2003 figure is actually for a magazine called "Zoukan [Special edition] Shounen Sunday (Super)." I don't know whether these are the same magazine or not.

As you can see, 2004 was not a good year for manga anthologies. Of the 88 titles appearing both on the 2003 and 2004 lists, 74 declined in circulation, including all but one of the top ten titles in 2003 (Weekly Shounen Magazine dropped over 450,000), while only 8 gained circulation and 6 stayed the same. And none of the titles new to the 2004 list exactly tore up the charts: the circulation of the most successful one was only 180,000. Kadokawa Shoten, in particular, appears to have had a catastrophic year: four of the five titles of theirs which appear on both lists lost over 70% of their circulation. And now that I notice it, the titles which suffered the largest percentage declines seem to be disproportionately from smaller publishers (i.e. those other than Koudansha, Shuueisha or Shogakukan). Apart from this, my comments on the 2003 list still mainly apply, though there are now several titles on the list with circulations below 50,000, which there weren't on the 2003 list (though such titles were undoubtedly being published).

Those who like to keep track of whether manga are shounen, seinen, shoujo, or josei should note that a few titles have different classifications on the 2003 and 2004 lists, though none crosses the gender divide. Monthly Magazine Z is shounen on the 2003 list but seinen on the 2004 list; Dessert, The Dessert, Bessatsu Friend, Juliet and Flowers are shoujo, and Silky is "for Mrs." on the 2003 list, but all of these are josei on the 2004 list.

(Edited 6/25/06 to fix an error: "Deluxe Margaret" was mistakenly transcribed as "Deluxe Magazine")

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Friday, January 13, 2006

FILM CORNER: THE PRODUCERS, 1968 VS. 2005

A few weeks ago, I saw the new film The Producers, the filmed version of the Broadway musical based on Mel Brooks's 1968 film The Producers. It wasn't an unpleasant time, thanks largely to the strength of Brooks's 1968 screenplay, much of which is carried over intact. But mainly, it made me want to watch the original film again. So I borrowed the DVD from the library, and watched it, which made me realize that the new film isn't just inferior to the original, but a travesty of it.

Leave aside that all the best things in the new film were done first, and better, in the original; that nearly all the changes made are for the worst (a few of the new gags are good); that the new songs are mediocre, in both words and music, and that when the numbers replace scenes in the original film, as most of them do, they're usually inferior to those scenes; that Lane and Broderick are no Mostel and Wilder, though they certainly try. (I once criticized Mostel's performance in the first fifteen minutes of the film Rhinoceros, but he was born to play Max Bialystock.)

Leaving, as I say, all that aside, the basic difference between the two films is this: the original film was small, quirky, and (though it may seem strange to apply this word to a film that was originally notorious for its bad taste) sweet. The new film is a big, loud machine: with big, loud, mechanical numbers, big, loud, mechanical jokes, and big, loud, mechanical characters.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

SOME NOTES ON NEVER LET ME GO BY KAZUO ISHIGURO

[First, a warning: don't read this if you haven't read Never Let Me Go and you intend to, or think that you may. This is a book that can be spoiled, and should not be. Go away. Now.

For those who are left, an explanation of why I say this. It's not that the big "reveal" on page 81 is a terrific surprise -- there had been enough clues earlier for alert readers to have guessed something like it -- but part of the experience Ishiguro intends is for you to be puzzled while reading the first eighty pages, to have the growing awareness that something about this seemingly mundane narrative doesn't quite fit. Likewise, the emotional impact of the ending will be substantially diminished if you know what it's going to be beforehand. (I could write a post about spoiler warnings in general, but now isn't the time.)]

1. This post has been a long time coming. I first read Never Let Me Go several months ago, and found it harrowing. I knew that I wanted to write about it. But to write about it meant reading it again, and I didn't want to put myself through that immediately. One of Ishiguro's other novels is called The Unconsoled, but Never Let Me Go really is a book which offers no consolation either to its characters or the reader. So I put the book aside temporarily, other things intervened, and it wasn't until a few days ago that I went back to it.

One thing in particular made the book's ending so emotionally devastating for me. I haven't read Ishiguro's first two novels, but the three books prior to this are all have narrator-protagonists whose reactions to the events in the book are in some way inappropriate. The main character of The Remains of the Day is so absorbed in being the perfect butler that he fails both to notice what is going on around him and to morally evaluate his employer's project which he is so proud to be a part of. (I read the book several years ago, so apologies if I've gotten something wrong). In The Unconsoled, the inappropriateness of the narrator's reactions goes much deeper. In fact, his reactions make no sense if one takes the book to be realistic. It's only when we realize the book follows the logic of a dream that we can understand his reactions and behavior. When We Were Orphans at first seems more straightforward, but various anomalies in the main character's reactions make us realize that this book, too, follows dream logic.

For most of Never Let Me Go, the book appears to be another study of a narrator whose reactions are inappropriate. Though Kathy is in a situation which any of us would regard as terrible, she appears not to be unhappy about it, but to take it for granted. We may even be seduced (as I was) into thinking that as long as Kathy herself isn't unhappy, maybe she her situation isn't that bad after all. In the latter portions of the book, there are hints that the acceptance Kathy seemingly displays isn't the whole story, particularly when we realize that Kathy really wants the deferral as much as Tommy, though she's less demonstrative about it. But it's only with the confrontation with Madame and Miss Emily near the end of the book that I realized that I'd been completely wrong. Kathy didn't take her situation for granted at all. She'd been keeping a stiff upper lip, but she'd been aware of the horror of her situation all along.

As I say, I found this realization emotionally devastating. And looking back onwhat had come before with this realization in mind, I myself recognized the full awfulness of the clones' adult lives as I hadn't before: forced, as "carers," to assist in the "harvesting" of their fellow clones, a job so emotionally draining that many seem actually to be relieved when they become "donors," which means that the rest of their brief lives will be spent recovering from their previous "donations," until the fourth "donation," which is certain death. (The ephemisms Ishiguro has invented for his society are horrible in just the right way.) Their pathetic dreams only underline the horror of their plight: "dream jobs" as office workers or truck drivers, or the hope, not even of escaping "donating," deferring it for three or four years. And after the confrontation with Miss Emily, Kathy's narration no longer obscures the horror.

2. Some reviewers have treated the book as a warning of the dangers of cloning. I don't believe this was Ishiguro's intention, but if it was, he failed. There's no likelihood of Britain, or anybody, cloning adult humans solely to harvest their organs, and if there was, we wouldn't need a novel to tell us it was bad. And if Ishiguro's point was that any experimentation with human cloning will put us on the slippery slope to the stiuation in Never Let Me Go, then he should have, and surely would have, provided at least some information on how this slippery slope had been descended. The fact that Ishiguro set his novel in the late 1990s rather than the future is further evidence that he didn't intend it as a warning.

Never Let Me Go is about the present, not the future. Nobody in the real world is bred to have their organs harvested, but there are millions of people regarded by those with power as disposable objects, and nearly all of us tolerate this state of affairs. Those people, though, live in the third world, and are culturally vastly different from the middle-class first worlders who are Ishiguro's likely readers. Cloning in Never Let Me Go is an estrangement device: it enables Ishiguro to depict a class of people who think like his readers and live within a first world society, but who are treated solely as objects. And the end-of-book confrontation with Miss Emily reveals the inadequacy of those efforts at compassion that are made. On the one hand, we learn of their political weakness, as Emily describes how Hailsham was swept away so quickly and easily. On the other hand, Emily unconsciously demonstrates how even at its best, Hailsham wasn't enough, though far better than the alternatives available to the clones. Even the guardians, the only non-clones who treated the clones as human, were unable to see them as fully human: "'We're all afraid of you. I myself had to fight back my dread of you all almost every day I was at Hailsham. There were times I'd look down at you all from my study window and I'd feel such revulsion . . .'" (p. 269; ellipsis Ishiguro's). And she's blind to the actual lives of her students. Urging Kathy and Tommy not to be too disappointed that there are no deferrals, she tells them "I hope you can appreciate how much we were able to secure for you. Look at you both now! You've had good lives, you're educated and cultured." (p. 261) They haven't had good lives. They've had wasted lives, as the reader knows.

3. One thing that struck me as odd when I first read the book was that the majority of its pages were devoted not to the "big issues" of cloning and organ harvesting but to the tangled relations between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. Moreover, much of this latter material seems trivial, especially in comparison to these "big issues." (It occurs to me as I write this that I had a similar reaction to Kafka's The Castle.) True, one can say that this reflects Kathy's own priorities; but then why did Ishiguro choose a protagonist like Kathy? It would be nice if I could present a full justification for this choice of Ishiguro's, but I don't have one. I can point out, though that the personal material is not as disconnected from the "big issues" as one might at first think. Kathy and Tommy's loss at the end of the book has a greater impact if what they lose -- their relationship -- has only been found after long delay and in the face of obstacles. And there are thematic links between the two "sides" of the book. The revelation of evil on a societal level is prepared for the the portrayal of personal evil in the form of Ruth, though she repents in the end. (In fact, when I reread the book, the part I most dreaded coming to was not the final confrontation with Miss Emily, or anything to do with the "donations," but the scene when Ruth betrays Tommy by telling him of Kathy's joining her in laughing at his animal pictures.) And the first Hailsham scene, where the boys humiliate Tommy by leading him to believe that he will be included in their football game and then excluding him, foreshadows the final confrontation with Miss Emily, where Kathy and Tommy learn that the guardians, the only non-clones who regarded them as fully human, really didn't. (And Tommy goes into a rage after both scenes.)

Another way to look at it is, again, to compare Never Let Me Go with Ishiguro's three previous books. In the earlier books, the protagonists all devote themselves primarily to public life (Stevens vicariously through his employer), they all believe that they've satisfactorily integrated their public and private lives, and they all turn out to be wrong in this. One might take from this the implication that they would have done better to concentrate on their private lives. (It's been a while since I read any of these, so I may be wrong here.) But Kathy, Ruth and Tommy do concern themselves solely with their private lives. And "public life" broadly speaking -- that is, what society has done and will do to them -- contaminates and poisons their private life. This is most obvious in Tommy's debilitated state when he and Kathy become lovers and switching carers when his fourth "donation" is impending. But the awareness that they're pariahs shadows the clones throughout. And we can, perhaps, theorize that Ruth's self-hatred as a clone, which bursts out in her "'We're modelled from trash'" speech (p. 166), is the cause of her determination to be the center of attention at all costs, which is the unifying thread running through most of Kathy's narrative of Hailsham and the Cottages.

4. The prose in Never Let Me Go generally doesn't call attention to itself, realistically so given that Kathy is supposed to have written it. One exception I noticed was Kathy's description of the dying Ruth in pain: "It was like she was willing her eyes to see right inside herself, so she could patrol and marshal all the better the separate areas of pain in her body--the way, maybe, an anxious carer might rush between three or four ailing donors in different parts of the country." (p. 236)

As is usual when writing about a work I think is excellent, I feel that what I've written here is pathetically inadequate. Certainly the power of the final confrontation with Miss Emily, for one, is not reducible to what I've said. But as I say, I've been sitting on the idea of this for several months, and I might as well put up what I have.

UPDATE: I have some more recent thoughts on Never Let Me Go here, here, andhere.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

MOVIE CORNER: EUREKA AND HOUSE

I was recently up in the Chicago area for a few days, and while there I was able, thanks to Odd Obsession Movies, to watch for a third time (I saw it twice on the big screen when it first came out) Shinji Aoyama's astonishing Eureka, which I regard as one of the greatest films ever made. It's about three and a half hours long, and when it was originally released some critics complained about its slow pace. But this slow pace focuses our attention on the passing of time and daily life, which is in a sense what the film is about. And I never felt bored. Every shot and camera angle seemed deliberate and meaningful: no scene was shot a certain way just because that was the way it was usually done. At the same time, the film was almost never pretentious or ponderous.

The three main characters are the sole survivors of a busjacking which left most of the passengers dead. They survived by chance, and they have to figure out how to continue living with the knowledge that their lives are purely contingent: hence the importance of showing daily life. They've also become social outsiders as a result of the busjacking's effects on them, and this exclusion is another thing the movie is "about." This theme is emphasized by a fourth character who lives with the three main characters for much of the movie. This character claims to have gone through a similar experience as the three, but remains an "insider," (as symbolized by scenes of him practicing golf, a quintessential insider's pastime in Japan) and views them from society's perspective. Even though the three main characters have little dialogue, Aoyama manages to suggest the psychological complexity of characters in a novel.

Eureka is a film that can't be summed up in words; it creates a world of its own. I've seen all or parts of a couple of the thrillers Aoyama made before Eureka, and these have their interest, but aren't a patch on Eureka.

While in Chicago, I also rented the film House, by Nobuhiko Obayashi. In Lost and Found Video Night vol. 6, there's a clip where a girl is eaten by, or sucked into, a lamp fixture hanging from the ceiling; her detached leg then falls out, and, after leaping around a bit, jumps into a drawer of a dresser, which promptly begins spewing blood. About midway through House, I realized this was where that clip had come from. There are some other weird scenes in the movie, including one where a girl is eaten by a piano, but none quite as bizarre as this. Obayashi also throws in a good deal of optical trickery to keep things interesting when nobody's being eaten. The DVD I watched was in Japanese with no subtitles, and I was only able to understand bits of the dialogue (my comprehension of spoken Japanese is much poorer than that of written Japanese), but as far as I can tell you can grasp the essentials without dialogue: namely, a group of Japanese schoolgirls are in a house that eats people. Here's a review of the film, which has more information about the plot. (Again, both House and Lost and Found Video Night vol. 6 are available from Odd Obsession.)

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