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.

Dec 312010
 

Yep. Obligatory “Best of the Year” post. Hell, I churned out ten of these damn things last year so I could catch up on everything I hadn’t written about in the millions of years I spent not blogging, so I may as well churn out one for this year, right?

So yeah, Let’s Listage!

 

 

 

13. Heroman

I think I may be the only person that thinks Heroman is a legitimately good super hero story. It has an old school vibe to it, like the sort of stuff Marvel and DC used to churn out when they were marketing their shit mainly at kids. There’s an earnestness to it all that’s missing from most of today’s metatextual superhero stuff– modern stuff is superhero comics about superhero comics while Heroman is a superhero story. It isn’t quite as brilliant as Tiger and Bunny, but it’s definitely worthy of people’s attention. Y’know, so long as they don’t have some irrational bias against superhero shit.

12. Dance in the Vampire Bund

It was a mess. A ridiculously absurd mess that never really explained much of what was going on. And the whole “naked girl cavorting about while claiming she’s super-duper old” was kinda creepy. But damn, this series was a beautiful mess. I blame my digging of this series on my old World of Darkness fanboy tendencies, since Bund aped so many tropes from that RPG and other vampire shit. I also blame my love of plot hole ridden old school OAVs that forced you to fill in the holes with your own convoluted ideas. It’s trash, but it’s the sort of trash I like.

11. Shinryaku! Ika Musume!

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Working!!

The problem with anime comedies isn’t that they tend to take place in schools or focus around harems or shit like that. What’s wrong with them is that they’re usually pretty shitty. Squid Girl and Working take the usual formulas and remember that comedies are supposed to be funny. They acknowledge current trends without forgetting that the most important things are comedic timing and the way characters play off of each other. Working does it a little better, since it’s more character-driven and less gimmick-driven, but there isn’t much differentiating these two series besides that.

9. Trigun: Badlands Rumble

I didn’t see the Trigun movie until after I made this list, but I did write a post about it here. It accentuates everything that was good about the TV series and cuts down on all the stuff that annoyed me. It’s the ideal anime TV-to-movie transition– the sort of thing all such movies should strive to be like. Not unlike, say, the Cowboy Bebop movie.

 

 

8. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

Panty and Stocking is the bastard lovechild of Gainax’s hyperkinetic styling and 90’s western cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Ren & Stimpy. It didn’t always work, or else it’d likely be in one of the top two or three slots, but when it was working it was damn brilliant stuff. And fucking funny. Fatherfucking funny shit. And the Chuck to the Future shorts were some of the best post-Looney Tunes cartoon shorts I’ve ever seen.

 

7. Yet the Town Keeps Going

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is crazy. My kind of crazy. It starts off like your typical Shaft comedy– some quirky jokes and stylized camera angles. Then it starts to descend into speculative madness. The Soredemo world ain’t the same as any other high school comedy. Those worlds are either completely normal and banal in nature, or the abnormal and supernatural is normal in some way. Soredemo’s world is filled with dark, horrific secrets. No one but the main characters seem to be even remotely aware of this, and even then the main characters only have fleeting encounters with these oddities. Hotori runs into aliens and ghosts, but it’s always in an X-Files like manner. It’s there, but it’s all behind the scenes. And it’s all played for laughs. But Soredemo reaches its highest point in the final episode where Hotori dies, goes to heaven, and sees that it’s more like the afterlife from Beetlejuice than anything else. All of this from what most peeps labeled as yet another monotonous slice of life anime. It isn’t like Milky Holmes, though. It isn’t turning everything into a criticism of its genre. It’s just using the structure to do something completely different.

6. Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

It’s probably the weakest of the Black Lagoon stories to be animated, but Blood Trail is still a pretty awesome homage to when action movies were good. It takes Roberta’s character to its logical conclusion: a one-woman murdering machine bent on taking down an entire city and coming pretty damn close to doing so. Blood Trail also shows Rock managing to straddle the line between amoral monster and righteous do-gooder by calculating a convoluted scheme that might just take down all of the subhuman obstacles in his path while using the very same tricks they utilize. Those parts might be a little too “talky” for a series like Black Lagoon, but the idea behind it all is pretty damn awesome. Rock is a cool character in that regard. He has a lot of the same sensibilities as your typical generic anime lead character, but he’s fully capable of adapting to and taking advantage of his violent, alien surroundings. We need more fucking Black Lagoon.

5. The Legend of Koizumi

World leaders solve world issues through assassination and mahjong. It’s the most relevant political anime ever made. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

4. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

I stand by my assertion that Milky Holmes is the Evangelion of the moe genre. It takes all of the tropes and beloved aspects of the “cute girls doing cute things” genre and turns them into wholly negative traits. When the Milky Holmes girls do something that’d get absurd amounts of “daws” and “hnnnnnggggggggs” or whatever other unintelligible sounds from anime fans, it always turns against them. The Milky Holmes girls are failures just like how Shinji is a failure, and both highlight the failures of everyone involved and everyone watching. It’s great stuff.

3: The Tatami Galaxy

It’s a genuinely touching coming of age story about friendship and romance and quantum physics and parallel dimensions and youkai. I think that description alone should explain just how awesome it is.

 

 

2: Occult Academy

Take all of the criticism you’ve heard about this series, reverse it, and you get my feelings on Occult Academy. Nothing but filler? Nope. All those episodes were ways of exploring the world and the fucked up speculative shit that takes place. It’s called “world building,” not “filler,” and it’s a different way to tell a complete story.  The way the series dodged the so-called “main plot” was purely intentional, especially since the main villain outright admits to leading the main characters astray, trying to do her best to keep them from unraveling her plot. And then we find out that her plot wasn’t even the reason why the world ends, but it’s a completely different event that causes the alien invasion. The series didn’t waste its time on unnecessary things because the plot elements everyone focused upon were just a big, fat red herring to lead viewers astray. All of the craziness from the last three episodes didn’t turn me off in the least. In fact, I think Occult Academy has the single best climax to ever take place in an anime series. No exaggeration there. I fucking love this series.

1: Cobra the Animation

The franchise as a whole is my all-time favorite anime series. JET PIRANHAS! was my top moment of the year. I’ve been ranting and fanboying about this all year long. If you thought a different anime was gonna be on the top of my list, this must be your first visit to my blog.