The Otakusphere: Speculation, space trains and fezes are cool

Here we are again at the end of the latest week of coronavirus craziness. We should coin the term coronavirus cabin fever because alliteration is awesome.

Or cool at least. Kind of like fezes.

Talking about references from the early days of the last decade, I’ve found a whole bunch of anime adjacent things that I was interested in, and a few things that have something do with it. So let’s get some tunes going on and cruise The Otakusphere.

I think The Man in Black might make me give Akira Kurosawa another shot with his review of The Bad Sleep Well. A long time ago, I tried watching The Seven Samurai, and I nearly immediately turned it off. Everything was just too far over the top for me.

That said, this actually reminded me that Japanese cinema and film noir have deeper ties than people give them credit for. I watched a video once about Cowboy Beebop that has stuck in my metaphorical craw where they basically imagined the samurai films, hardboiled detective stories and westerns existed in some sort of magically separated world rather than having a real crossover with each other.

The analysis still drives me crazy to this day.

Onto other old things that are still pretty good, let’s talk about Leiji Matsumoto. For whatever reason, I’m in love with his character designs. They are so much of a time and place in anime history, but I’m still nostalgic for them.

When Matsumoto is unleashed, his stuff is very much about archetypal characters on a journey through worlds that make sense but don’t really obey the laws of physics.

My main complaint is he can get a bit repetitive, so while I’ve watched some of Galaxy Express 999, I’ve never finished it.

What I have finished is Galaxy Railways, which is a fun way to experience the strangeness that is Leiji Matsumoto in a pleasantly concise way. Leslie at Leslie’s Anime and Manga Corner put up a synopsis of it.

Go check it out.

On weird things that came out of a different time, Fiddletwix posted an episode review about Episode 2 of Wedding Peach, and all I can say is that it sounds great in the same way that Galaxy Express 999 is great. So in 999, the space train ran on coal, because it just did. There are frequent scenes where the main character has his head sticking out the window of the space train and his hair is being ruffled by the wind.

 

The_Otakusphere
Image courtesy Jon Spencer Reviews

 

Wedding Peach seems like the same thing, but just for magical girls. Why does she start in the full wedding dress, because that’s what she needs to do. I like that level of silliness.

One more old anime thing, Feez at Moon’s Cocoon, A Turn A Gundam Fansite, posted a profile of one of the Japanese voice actors in the show. I just thought it was neat, and I wanted to share it.

A few months ago, I learned about LeSean Thomas from watching Netflix’s Enter the Anime. I really wished they had taken some more time to explore what it’s like for an American trying to make it in Japan’s animation industry. I also want to know if he’s trying to make it in the industry or is he just absorbing the aesthetic while working on his own private productions.

Well, Rodzrd reported on a rumor that Thomas might be teaming up with Crunchyroll for a second time as part of Crunchyroll’s original programming.

What I really wanted to talk about is that anime really needs more of this kind of speculation reporting. One of the things that video game media does really well is talk about things that they don’t know anything about. I see a lot of straight announcements, but I rarely see anyone speculate about what might be coming from a particular studio, or what they should produce. Either I’m living in the wrong parts of the internet, or it just isn’t there.

On that same vein, apost from Sakuga Blog kind of gave me an idea for why that is. We don’t really obsessively follow creators in anime in the same way that we do video games or other media. Sure a few names might crop up, like Shinkai, Watanabe or Miyazaki. There are even some second-tier creators like Goro Taniguchi or Kenji Kamiyama that people are familiar with.

But we don’t follow studios or even particular animators the same way that we follow directors or stars in Hollywood.

I didn’t even know that different studios did the opening credits for certain anime. Even after all of this time, anime production still feels really opaque for me.

On a lighter note, Yomu posted pictures of his trip to Japan, and I am in love with the life-sized Gundam. It would be awesome if you could climb in and fly it around.

Finally, Pinkie posted about remakes in the wake of Resident Evil 3 remake and Final Fantasy 7 remake Part 1. Honestly, I think if the game is largely reinvented I have a hard time being upset at the studios reusing the old ideas. If more thought is put into the story and the gameplay, I’m OK with revisiting a world through a prettier lens.

But that’s just my take.

That’s all that I have for today. I’m hoping you are all doing well out there and staying healthy. I hear that here in the U.S. we’re on the backside of this. I don’t know how true that is, but let’s hope.

As always, thanks for reading.

8 thoughts on “The Otakusphere: Speculation, space trains and fezes are cool

  1. Was that the 2008 remake of The Seven Samurai or the original B&W?

    I rather enjoyed the original. But the Magnificent Seven, the US remake was far more accessible and worth listening to just for the Magnificent soundtrack. Elmer Bernstein really outdid himself. It is one of the 10 greatest westerns ever made.

    Watch the 1960 version – and avoid the 3 sequels at all costs. The 2016 remake was ok but didn’t come close to capturing the mythic nature of the take.

    1. It was the original black and white, and I definitely agree about The Magnificent Seven. I love that movie.

      My thing about Kurosawa is that I like the stuff based on his works. I’m just worried after trying Seven Samurai that I wouldn’t like them.

      1. Last Man Standing is another version of it. Yojimbo was heavily influenced by Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest according to my understanding.

        I will definitely give Fist Full of Dollars a shot.

      2. There is actually an anime adaptation of Yojimbo called Kaze no Yojimbo that is pretty good as well. The animation is horrible, but I’m a sucker for a good hard-boiled detective story.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! Shame you couldn’t get into Seven Samurai but as a long film it does require a bit of patience. Kurosawa does like to take his time setting up his longer films, which is something I personally found with Bad Sleep Well, although upon reflection, part of this was a case of the devil in the detail as it pertains to the story unfolding later.

    if you think Kurosawa’s longer films aren’t for you, try shorter ones like Rashomon or The Hidden Fortress (which influence Star Wars). Japanese cinema pre-1980’s was always a bit stiff in its delivery, but one gets used to it after a while, so stick with it and hopefully you’ll find something in it that is rewarding for you. 🙂

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