December 30, 2012

Japanese Military Animation: Then And Now

A couple of years ago, I learned about an movie titled Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors.  It's considered the first Japanese feature-length animated film and it was released in 1945.  As you can imagine, it's obviously a propaganda piece, and all copies were seized and destroyed after the war... except for one.  That one copy was discovered in 1983 and rereleased the following year.  Ever since I found about about the film, I've desperately wanted to see it, but the only digital version extant was a poor quality copy with sound so muffled that it was impossible to understand (and subtitle).  Until recently, that is.  A copy has popped up at BakaBT, and while it's still not subtitled, it's also not exactly difficult to understand what's going on, as it was meant for children.  It celebrates the paratrooper attack on Celebes at the beginning of the war, and surprisingly got some of the important details correct... I learned about the action from a book with the poetic title of Blossoming Silk Against The Rising Sun.  I just finished watching the movie, and some little bit of insight struck me afterwards.  You see, earlier this week, I watched Strike Witches: The Movie.  Let's take a comparing look at the two of them:

Pilots then:

Pilots now:

I suspect that somewhere, Mitsuyo Seo, the director of Divine Sea Warriors who passed away in 2010, is either smiling... or whirling dervishly in his grave.  One of the two.  It's not impossible that he had actually seen the Strike Witches tv show.  I'd love to know what he thought.

Planes then:

Planes now:

While what is obviously meant to be an A6M2 Zero is seen briefly in Divine Sea Warriors, the plane we see the most is the Mitsubishi G3M "Nell", the twin-engine predecessor to the better-known G4M "Betty".  Meanwhile, in the Strike Witches movie,  the Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" is rather overshadowed by the magical girls of the movie's title. 

Really, the Divine Sea Warriors film is something of a perfect storm for me.  True historical anime and military history both?  Excellent!  It's not deep... heck, it really isn't all that good... but it's a classic, nevertheless. 

They both do anthropomorphificiation, to boot.

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December 17, 2012

Ben-To Ep04

So, hi!  I bet you thought there'd be another three-month break between writeups, didn't you?  Yeah, I bet you did.  To be fair, I can't blame you for that.     If you're already wondering just what's going on, and let's be blunt here, we are talking about one of my writeups, here's Ep03's writeup, just so you can refresh yourself on the subject matter.  Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the writeuping!  Are you not entertained?  Is this not why you are here?

Or are you here for the hungry prepackaged foodfighters beating each other up for mediocre meals?  We seem to have a new person on the battlefield today, someone intent on smashing everybody in the way of that lovely, lovely bento... bentos?  Bentii?  I'm two paragraphs into this post and I'm already confusing myself.

One with legs that appear to be six feet long, clad in Chuck Taylors... oh look, it's an American!  Probably blonde, too, right?

Yeah, no bonus points for that guess for a couple of reasons.  One, all Americans are blonde in anime, and two, I've seen the show already.  Of COURSE I know the details behind this new bento battler.  I'm pretending not to know what's going on so as to take you on a (simulated) voyage of discovery, so as to better connect with the reader.  It's a standard literary technique, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm not half-bad at it.  Oh sure, one could accuse me of blowing my own horn, but I know what I'm good at, and I'm good at being ignorant.  Did that come out right?

As our mystery babe makes her way out of the supermarket, hard-won dinner in tow, a sharp-chinned bishie watches her walk away, muttering under his breath "The Beauty Of The Lake."  She doesn't seem moistened, nor is she lobbing scimitars at the rightful King of England...

Whatever you decide to call her, she's apparently important enough for the production staff to change the entire OP to suit.  Not that I'm complaining, heavens no!  It just seems somewhat early to have her take over the show is all.  Oh well, what would you expect from a show as tightly crafted as Ben-To?

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December 12, 2012

Gashapon In The Post

There are days where I love blogging, and days that I hate it.  Then there are days like today, where I'm terribly, terribly conflicted about the whole thing.  Sometime last week, I got an e-mail from fellow blogginator Ben from the mysteriously monikered Midnight Tease, saying that he's got something to send me and asking for my shipping address.  Being the trusting duck I am, I provided it, and a few days later I got another e-mail saying that he'd sent me a package and that he was "sorry". 

As one can imagine, I was both perplexed and terrified by this, and when a small box at the Duck U Bookstore with my name on it, I contemplated calling the campus bomb squad.  Saner heads prevailed, however, as it was pointed out to me that Duck U doesn't actually have a bomb squad.  Resigned to a box full of spring-loaded custard pie, I retreated to my office and opened it.

What was inside was worse than I imagined.

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December 10, 2012

Ben-To Ep03

Well.  It HAS been a while, hasn't it?  Nearly three months since I did the last episode, I'm back with Ep03 of Ben-To!  For those of you who've forgotten just what this series is about, and I can hardly blame you considering how much time has passed, the first episode writeup is here, the Ep02 missive can be found at this link, and here's sixty pounds of bacon on a counter.  Now that you've gotten yourself caught up on our little martial-arts-meets-prepackaged-food series, let's get onto some new content: Episode 03!

As you may remember, in Ep02 Our Hero officially joined the Half-Pricers Club, learned the rules of bento battlin', and took home a miso-mackerel bento for his first victory.  Right, that's where we stand.  Let's see what wonders the show shall bring us next, shall we?

Oh, this can't be good.  The school incinerator, surrounded by police tape and guarded?  What, did Dale Sveum walk by and decide to end it all or something?  Yes, it's a Chicago Cubs reference, even though it's December.  At the time I wrote it, it was interesting and topical... or at least topical.

Oh god, no, it's worse than the Cubs' 2012 record.  Our hero comes charging out of the school dressed only in his skivvies for reasons we're... apparently not going to be let in on, because suddenly the credit sequence begins. 

Well.  Okay then.  If that's the way you want to play it, Ben-To, fine.  I'm game.  And while I'm at it, camouflage boxers?  What, are there Vietcong in your shorts?  Is that what kids are calling it these days?  "What were you and Jill doing, Bob?"  "I had Vietcong in my shorts."  So wacky, these kids.  Next you're going to tell me that somewhere there's a recipe for White Castle Sliders Stuffing... but I'm cheating, because I knew about that one already.  Maybe not as good as 60 pounds of bacon, but it still sounds pretty tasty.

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