Writes ak of Mouretsu Pirates‘s first episode:
And of course the fact that Space Pirate Captain Harlock was referenced is good: the “password” that Ririka trades with her old friend is the very first line of the Harlock OP song.
This is indeed good, and, as he goes on to say, it would be almost ungrateful not to acknowledge Harlock in a space pirate anime. What interests me is that this isn’t just thrown in the background somewhere: it’s being used as a passphrase. In a show more po-faced than Mouretsu, a passphrase would be something inocuous and definitely not related to piracy. But that show would be boring. In this show the phrase is a bold identification.
Taking the opening words of SPCH‘s opening—which is I think fairly obviously a creed from Harlock himself—as the phrase the pirates use to identify themselves to one another suggests that what makes an anime pirate piratical is that they are in some way Harlockian. Or, more narrowly restricting this to the phrase itself, that they have the Harlockian attitude to space: not a threatening final frontier, but a manageable ocean, and moreover my ocean, for my yacht. Taken this way I think it functions as a nice tribute, intentional or not.
(And was that first episode as a whole any good? Goodness, I don’t know. Ask someone else.)
I don’t have an image from Dennou Coil, and I’ve chosen not to find one. Because I don’t have copies, legal or illegal, of any of its episodes.
Thing is, you see, I’ve been watching it at an anime club. I used to avoid those, but, having returned to university after graduating and working a desk job for a spell, I was feeling sociable and gave this one a try.
It’s true that these societies don’t have the practical function that they used to, allowing the efficient showing of rare VHS material. But it’s fun! Everyone I’ve met seems to be able to hold down a conversation. People make jokes I couldn’t have thought of myself, which I think is one of the most excellent, most gracious functions that humans perform for each other.
Speaking of humour, the club also solves one of my anime-watching problems: usually I only find comedies funny if I watch them with other people. And the club is also a useful device which makes me watch titles such as Dennou Coil. I’ve known it’s good for ages, but left on my own I’d never have managed to tear myself away from my solid diet of giant robots for long enough.
* * *
This is likely a short-term membership, because the wheels have been coming off my postgraduate career lately. I think I’ve become a bad investment, and I’ll probably be leaving again within the year. But I’m nevertheless glad I returned to university: I’ve learned I was wrong about a lot of things, and one of them was my judgement of social watching.
Freighting the smallest actions with importance, and making them take up lots of tense viewing time, is Kaiji‘s stock-in-trade. The second series started well with a willing surrender to excess, as Kaiji dug himself still further into debt in the Teiai Group’s underground labour camp. It was good to reconnect with our hero’s hapless side.
But Kaiji’s not a bungler when he’s in a nasty enough place, so the real payoff was his subsequent rise, uniting the debt-ridden lowest of the Teiai slave undersociety to beat Ootsuki at his own game. Those bloody dice narrowly edged out Cure Aqua’s lightsabre in the competition for my choice of Weapon of the Year!
One of the best bits of Redline was the bit during which it looked really good: if you have a copy to hand, that’s from about the first minute to around the ninety-eighth minute.
But it was also pretty witty. I don’t mean it was funny in the sense that one could gather some friends and laugh at all the ridiculousness—though it was—I mean, there are some neat little jokes, and some neat grand ones too, come to think of it. (The gradual disintegration of Roboworld’s plans into a maelstrom of self-inflicted disasters, for example…)
I particularly recall Machinehead’s restaurant entrance. Ooh, this Little Deyzuna guy is in trou- no, he’s oka- oh, crap. Oh crap.
(And in this post ak offers one possible reason, modified in the comments, for Machinehead’s presence in that restaurant in the first place…)
The Shamblo owned much of the latest episode of Gundam Unicorn.
I like good mobile armours, I think because they’re usually bestial, and it does the soul good to see a small humanoid figure (the Gundam) squaring off against something like that. And it’s a salutary reminder that Gundam is at least as much unstable psychics riding monsters as it is hard-bitten soldiers piloting war machines—you will note that the painting stuck in Banagher’s memory is not titled The Lady and the Ordnance QF 17-Pounder.
The original Pretty Cure is simple and repetitive in ways that even its successors aren’t. Years ago I argued that this kind of austerity might have its uses. I wouldn’t put it in those terms, now, because I’m too conscious of my ignorance and too scared of that kind of exegesis, now, but I still think along the same lines.
Apart from the stock-footage finishers combat is almost entirely physical, and the finishers themselves are pretty simple compared to successor titles. The cast is small and there are only two Cures. Even the Cures’ names are telling: other iterations give us thematic sets—Melody-Rhythm-Beat-Muse—but here we just have Cure Black and Cure White. That’s not random, but it’s pretty, well, you-know-what. (True, later on there’s Shiny Luminous, but she doesn’t count.) Meanwhile many of the players in the overarching plot are named in a wonderfully lazy way, so the villain is a couple of shades away from being called The Villain, for example, and he manifests as a dark humanoid… shape. Indeed, I’m going to risk saying that the overarching plot is tokenistic and that that’s not a bad thing. If I’m watching for my daily dose of Cure Black punching evil in the face, I’d much rather the story be a quiet background joke.
So, as something approaching a limit case, Pretty Cure reminded me that sometimes unshakeable courage and the occasional handy rebar are more important than narrative.