Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Face is Scarier Than the Mask

This is the most brilliant piece of anime I've seen in a long time. Go watch it now. It's designed to loop endlessly, which is why it's not on YouTube. Come back and read the rest of this entry if you like.

It should come as no surprise it's from Studio Khara, Hideaki Anno's new studio, and not just because of all the Evangelion references in the video. Also because it is, like Evangelion, simultaneously a wonderfully cruel satire of modern anime but also a celebration of the artform. It's the young man's obsession with women's bodies and a fear of confronting the humanity of women, while at the same time being a celebration of physical beauty and the instinctual compulsion to intimacy that seems fated for a cycle of disaster and loneliness. This eight minute video packs in a hell of a lot. It's both striking and hypnotic.

In a way, it feels like a follow up to the 1983 video Anno and his cohorts made for the Japanese Comic Convention Dai-Con which was a showcase of things popular in nerd culture at the time, featuring a scantily clad young woman fighting various battles with cameos from characters and ships from Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Godzilla, and Marvel and DC Comics.

The new video was created for Anime Expo in Japan and reflects how depictions and uses of sexuality in anime have changed. There was plenty of beautiful naked women coupled with strange alien violence in 1980s anime, but there's a sort of stifling tranquillisation about anime now. A desperate clinging to empty conversation in slice-of-life anime where women are as harmless as domesticated cats. Most modern anime seems to objectify women and lobotomise them of sexual desire. But Anno and his fellow former GAINAX artists have always insisted on celebrating fan service while simultaneously making women human.

To-day I also read the new Sirenia Digest which contains Caitlin's new story "THE GREEN ABYSS" which, in addition to being, as I told her, a demonstration of her "ability to convey a poetic, emotional intimacy with folded time," it also references male crabs being castrated by parasites in order to impregnate them so this has been a good day for depictions of weird, dangerous sex. And the story's really lovely, I should add.

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