Space Vampires Need Machine Guns

 My Blog  Comments Off on Space Vampires Need Machine Guns
Dec 302011
 

Vampire Wars was in the same boat as Kimera. It’d sit there on that video store shelf, looking up at me longingly, pleading with me to take it home. But I ignored its call and passed it up for the latest volume of Ranma or whatever. Maybe it was some lame attempt at “sophistication” or something. “Yeah, Vampire Wars, you’re beneath me with your vampires and your wars. I’m too mature for you now. Now begone with yourself as I watch such fine intellectual fair involving pandas and crossdressing martial artists.”

Then I realized that true maturity doesn’t have a stick up its ass and is capable of digging shit like this. And now that I’ve finally seen Vampire Wars I can say that it’s pretty damn awesome.

I was sold on this OVA from the get-go. We’re introduced to the main dude, Kuki. He shows off some killer moves, taking down some French secret service types with ease before being shot from behind with tranquilizers. That’s when we get the lowdown on this guy. He’s a KGB-trained Japanese revolutionary on the run from the powers that be. He worked with a radical group that wanted to bomb Japan for some vague, unstated. Probably because he’s a commie bastard or whatever. And that brief list of “credentials” makes him all the more awesome. Not only do we know that he can kick ass, but we also know that he’s this elite special ops sort of guy that’ll be able to handle anything that’s thrown at him. It’s the exact sort of set-up I was hoping to see when I ranted about the first episode of Fate/Zero. It’s the sort of spiel we get in classic action movies, and it sets the tone perfectly for everything to come.

The rest of the movie follows your typical 80s/90s action movie plot line. The guy’s coerced into taking on a mission by the French– framed for murder and everything– and he soon finds himself in far deeper shit that anticipated. Turns out that Lamia, the lady the main dude is trailing, isn’t only a target of the CIA, she’s also a target of terrorist vampires who blew up a NASA facility in the opening sequence. Now he’s head deep in a three-way conflict between the French, the CIA, and Space Vampires.

The guy could easily give up, turn the girl in, and walk away. But he isn’t that sort of cold-hearted bastard. I know Scamp didn’t quite buy into this romance, but this is classic action movie love. It always moves fast and is triggered by the threat of mutual death. The chicks he slept around with up to this point were there purely for pleasure. The prostitute at the beginning may have gotten beaten, but Kuki’s life wasn’t on the line during that fight. An action movie hero can only fall in love if his life is threatened at the same time as his potential love interest’s life. It’s that sort of morbid sharing that allows for their love to form. That’s just how this shit works. Don’t blame me, blame Schwarzenegger.

So Kuki can’t let Lamia go. He has to see to it that she doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and is willing to blow away anyone that gets in his way. The action scenes may not be beautifully animated or whatever, but they play off of the same routines you’d see in action movies from this era. The best one involves Kuki and his newfound vampire buddies raiding an airfield in order to intercept a CIA plane. Everyone rushes out of their vans, firing off machine guns and blood splattering everywhere. The CIA dudes even have a Gatling gun at their disposal. But the vampires have proverbial ace up their sleeves: Their leader pulls out a rocket launcher and takes out the CIA goons, allowing Kuki to board the plane. Seriously, the rocket launcher always wins. Anything else would ruin the flow of things.

So yeah, about those vampires. They’re Space Vampires, just like the ones in Kimera. Much like the aforementioned ones, the vampires in Vampire Wars come from an ancient alien empire that has made contact with Earth in the distant past. They’ve been at war with an unseen empire for who knows how long, but their king and a few of his loyal subjects have been trapped on Earth for 5000 years. They conveniently landed in Transylvania, and while the OVA never outright states it, it’s easy to assume that they’re the basis of all of our vampire myths in this world. The catch is that these vamps are good guys. While they apparently need blood to survive, their early years on Earth were devoted to trying to grant immortality to the people of the ancient continent of Mu. They even explain why Mu was destroyed, claiming that it was the evil empire’s doing, wiping out all of the good work of the hippie space vampires.

The vampires need Lamia because for whatever reason her blood is rich with the parasitic life form that grants the vampires’ immortality, and they need it to resurrect their sleeping King. They also took out that NASA facility because it was in contact with a radio signal sent out by the evil empire, and they want to protect Earth from being its next target.

So these space vampires aren’t baby-generating dicks like the ones in Kimera. They’re here to bring about enlightenment in the form of space bacteria that makes you drink blood and live forever. Sounds good to me. I’m glad Kuki and Lamia take down those bastard CIA dudes who wanted to contact the evil empire. Hopefully I’ll get to become a vampire and not become one’s lunch. Because you know that’s totally what’s gonna happen once all of this goes down. Lamia’s blood saves this King dude. The vampires reestablish their thing on Earth. They start to spread their awesome disease, but then they realize they need cattle. Not everyone can be the master, someone has to be the poor sap getting his blood drained to satiate the hunger of the elite.

Yeah, this is an awesome example of the old school OVA. It’s almost as brilliant as California Crisis, but not everything can be so sublime. Vampire Wars is a sufficient approximation of such awesomeness.

Also: My favorite moment was where the main vampire gets his neck broken by Kuki. The vampire rises back to his feet, his head at an awkward angle, and sticks his fingers into his neck. The fingers shuffle around for a bit until you hear a sickening snap and the vampire’s neck is back to normal. He seals it all with a smile. Beautiful.

Vampire Love is Better than Saving the World

 Anime, Kimera  Comments Off on Vampire Love is Better than Saving the World
Dec 292011
 

Kimera is one of those 90s OVAs that I never got around to. I’d pick up the VHS box, read the description, and say to myself “I’ll get it next time. If there isn’t anything else better to get.” That “next time” never happened, because there was always something seemingly more interesting right next to it.

Now that I’ve finally gotten around to watching it, I kinda wish I’d seen it back in the day. It isn’t the greatest sleazy 90s OVA, but it has enough craziness to it to make it worth watching.

Vampires are aliens. They’ve come to Earth before, but those nasty humans claimed they were demons and went around stabbing them with stakes and shit. So the alien vampires went back home, but they started to stagnate and stop reproducing. So they kidnap human women, turn them into Jenova from Final Fantasy, and use them to create vampire babies. Catch is, these vampire babies are genetic misfits. Apparently they either end up completely sexless, or they end up being hermaphrodites.

That’s where Kimera comes in. Kimera’s that very hermaphrodite. He/she/whatever isn’t too keen on being sliced up, hooked up to hoses, and turned into a mechanized womb. So she ditches Vampire World and runs off to Earth. Her eunuch brothers follow. One of them wants to kill her because being a vampire is terrible because it means you gotta eat meat and shit. The other one is evil because he’s ugly and also wants to perpetuate his race at the cost of every human being on Earth. Not much middle ground here. It’s either total vegan or genocide. Maybe they’re making some sort of anti-carnivore statement here.

Vampires run away to Earth. Kimera has a meet cute with a Japanese traveling cereal salesman who just happens to work in the USA. Their love knows no bounds, blahblah.  Although Kimera thinks Mr. Cereal here is her neutered brother, so there’s this whole incestuous thing going on. But it’s OK because she just thinks the dude’s her brother. The other vampires fight, they both die, and despite being told that having sex with Kimera will lead to the end of the world, Mr. Cereal runs off with her anyway. The End.

Pretty tame for this era of OVA. It has your standard sort of love story, your standard super-powered fighting, and your standard haphazard plot with plenty of holes to fill in. It even has plenty of hot tentacle action and awkwardly inserted sex scenes. But it has enough going for it to keep it from feeling repetitive. I liked how the lead character and his American buddy were cereal salesmen. It’s one of those quirky “where the hell did this idea come from” bits that keeps everything from feeling completely droll. This guy whose actions could define the fate of Earth shills mascot-laden breakfast shit. That’s cool. And I dug how it ended with the two of them driving off into the sunset on a deserted desert road after stopping off at one of those “last stop” gas stations. It’s the sort of closing moment that you only see in bad sci-fi movies from this era.

And any anime that ends with someone essentially saying “You know what? Fuck you. I love this pansexual alien and I don’t give a damn if it means everyone else on Earth is gonna die” can’t be all bad.

So yeah, nothing spectacular, but definitely worth watching if you dig this era of anime. It isn’t nearly as definitive as, say, California Crisis or Ninja Scroll, but it’s fun.

Children of Vampires

 Anime, Legend of Koizumi  Comments Off on Children of Vampires
Dec 272011
 

Legend of Duo has a terrible reputation? Really? I don’t see it, man. I kinda dug it.

I really liked the concept behind this little series. A literal wasting disease has struck humanity, causing people to suddenly wither away into dust at any given moment. It’s like a super pandemic, causing all of the angst and gloom that’d accompany this sort of all-reaching disease while also adding in the element of paranoia. It isn’t like you can attempt to quarantine people, because the disease seems to kill you almost instantaneously and as far as I can tell you don’t need to be near a victim to catch it. It’s like some sort of biblical plague being visited upon humanity– all divine punishment and shit.

It’s like a variation of the sort of stuff that went on in Children of Men. Instead of people being incapable of conceiving children, humanity is facing extinction through this “disease of death.” It creates a similar apocalyptic vibe. But instead of tossing in political elements and the like, the series opts to toss in vampires. Vampires have eternal life and are immune to this disease, and once word leaks that vampire blood can cure you of this disease, people turn into primal savages. So society is breaking down much like Children of Men, leading to people turning on each other in desperate attempts to retain some semblance of power despite there being little to no hope of survival.

All of this is pretty awesome from a purely conceptual level. You have vampires bickering amongst themselves, trying to find who pulled a Prometheus on their race. Then you have humans so desperate for survival that they’re willing to become more monstrous than the bloodsuckers they’re hunting.

The catch is that, yeah, it all plays out with the level of sophistication of an episode of The Funky Phantom. The animation is stilted. Action takes place with as few frames as possible. Half of the story consists of awkwardly placed flashbacks, most of which tell us nothing that we hadn’t already figured out on our own. There’s little sense of time or logic between scenes and episodes, with the script feeling like a bunch of post-it note scribbles arranged haphazardly.

And all of that comes off as charming rather than inept. It has the same sort of earnestness that Mars of Destruction possessed. Whoever made this shit loved it, and it shows. It’s the whole mythical Ed Wood factor, where the peeps making this shit have no idea that what they’re making is going to be mocked and derided, and that vibe comes through despite all of the crappiness.

It also leads to one moment of genuine brilliance. One of the flashbacks deals with a dog that gets needlessly killed by some vampire hunter dude. The dog’s owner cries at the loss of her pet, and the main vampire dude comes along and takes pity on the dead dog. He gives the dog some of his blood, bringing it back to life. The lady goes about her business until said vampire hunter sees that the dog is alive. Using his masterful logic, he assumes that this chick must be a vampire if she was able to bring the dog back to life. So he and his hunter buddies murder the woman, but leave her alive just enough so that her last vision is of the men eating her flesh in an attempt to gain immortality. It’s an awesomely horrific moment that’s spurned on by a seemingly stupid and illogical act. If it wasn’t for the series’ own lack of self-awareness, this sort of cool shit wouldn’t happen.

So yeah, man, I don’t get the hate for Legend of Duo. It has a snazzy premise and it manages to pull off some cool stuff despite itself. I genuinely wanted it to continue despite knowing that the final “to be continued” is a damn lie.

Revenge of the 12 Days – Day 1 – Apocalyptic Love

 Anime, Dororon Enma-Kun  Comments Off on Revenge of the 12 Days – Day 1 – Apocalyptic Love
Dec 252011
 

It isn’t hatred that tears us apart. It’s love. Dororn Enma-kun knows the truth and warns us of love’s destructive forces. If the world is united under the banner of love, all will be torn to shreds in the resulting orgy.

Embrace hatred. It’s our only hope against that loving blight.

Being a Single Vampire is Rough

 Anime  Comments Off on Being a Single Vampire is Rough
Dec 252011
 

I can see how being a vampire and a parent can be pretty rough. You get all of the usual parenting grief, but you also have to deal with the notion that your kid is gonna be a kid for several decades or centuries rather than years. Sure, it’s not like you’ll be aging or anything during that time period, so it isn’t like you’re wasting away your time when you could be out cavorting and shit, but it has to be pretty painful knowing that you’ll be spending several lifetimes supporting a little brat.

Don Dracula deals with this very real social problem in a mature, intelligent manner. Call it Bunny Drop meets The Munsters or something.

Dracula isn’t a very good parent. He’s far more concerned with appearances and tradition than he is raising a daughter on his own and dealing with the different issues she has to encounter being a foreign girl in a Japanese night school. Hell, he doesn’t even want her to go to school to begin with. He doesn’t like it that she’s learning about Japanese history instead of Romanian history. He especially doesn’t care for the fact that Dr. Van Helsing, his long-time nemesis, is her Fine Arts teacher. He just can’t adapt to a changing society that allows for vampire hunters to also be teachers. Dracula really needs to get over his antiquated prejudices.

Yeah, this is a demented little kids anime. Dracula has a young daughter named Chocola. For whatever reason, they move to Japan with their manservant Igor. Chocola insists on pretending to be a normal schoolgirl, so she enrolls in an elementary school that inexplicably teaches at night. Dracula spends his nights trying to find hot chicks to seduce and drain dry while trying to avoid Van Helsing and his attempts to wipe out vampire kind.

And it’s all played as a very broad, crude comedy. Van Helsing suffers from chronic diarrhea, which strikes whenever it’s convenient for the plot. It’s the only thing that’s kept the dude from staking Drac and prematurely ending this TV series. At the same time, Dracula’s real nemesis is a portly woman by the name of Blonda. Dracula accidentally drank some of her blood when he first arrived in Japan, and now she wants him to drain her completely. She constantly barges into Drac’s house, proclaiming that her blood pressure is especially high today, because that’s apparently like saying “today’s meat is especially tender” or some shit.

Those stock jokes aren’t what makes this an amusing series, though. It’s all of the weird little touches that make it worth watching. One episode has Van Helsing filling blow up dolls with garlic powder. He plans to sell them to people all across Japan to use as bait. When Dracula or any other vampire barges in and bites into the blow up doll, the thing’ll explode, killing the vampire in a shower of garlic.

But that gag doesn’t stop there. After Van Helsing gets arrested for assumed kidnapping, a group of fishmen who look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon take the blow up dolls and wear them in an attempt to blend in with human society. They’ve been run out of southeast Asia and are looking for a place to live, and they feel their only chance is to wear these dolls and pretend to be hot Japanese women. Never mind that they sound like old men with gargling voices, but that’s their plan. Dracula finds out about this and tries to help them, but in a touch of political commentary he complains about how the foreign service offices are only open during very specific hours and how those hours are during the daytime when he can’t be outside. The fishmen’s plan to become legal immigrants is foiled by the government’s refusal to accommodate those with unique cultural needs, thus reinforcing Japan’s perception as a xenophobic nation. These monsters could very well become functioning members of Japanese society, but Japan’s own unwillingness to adapt culturally, much like Dracula’s own refusal, leads to the fishmen abandoning Japan in search of a more welcoming nation.

It’s weird shit like that which makes this a pretty cool series. There’s an episode where a rat becomes possessed by the collective angst of prep school boys. Another episode has Dracula joining a Dracula fan club. And yet another has Dracula being forced to donate blood for a dying woman whom Drac wanted to feast upon. Dracula dies twice during the series’ brief 8 episode run, and each time Chocola finds some convoluted way to resurrect him. Turns out that Sci Fi clubs in Japan teach you how to clone entire human beings from tiny scraps of flesh.

The bit that sold me on the series came in the first episode. Van Helsing is trying to find out which student in his classroom is Dracula’s child, so he busts out a crucifix and tells his class to draw it as an art project. Chocola avoids the power of the cross by putting on some snazzy sunglasses. Apparently it isn’t the faith that emanates from the cross, or the very sight of the cross itself, that repels vampires, or else dark shades would do jack shit in helping a vampire. It must be some inborn psychological disorder, and the sunglasses are an emotional crutch. See, this series not only tackles pertinent social issues, it also delves into the psyche of the vampire and reveals the truth of their superstitions.

So this was an amusing little series. It just comes down to a bunch of weird gimmicks being strung together, but it’s pretty short and doesn’t wear out its welcome. And I really hope those fishmen made it to the Amazon like Dracula suggested. They really need a good home where people understand their culture.