Sunday, April 26, 2015
SH126 - The Stench of Revulsion
video: a bunch of brutal late-Shouwa/early-Heisei hand-painted stuff
music: Master - What Kind of God
link: zippyshare [41.1 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: April 2015
An idea that kind of spontaneously selfsuggested itself in like 2013, this one survived a move and several intercontinental expeditions to the point where I finally had the training reacquired and the six weeks to put into working on it in early '15. Because this took a long friggin time in planning, cutting, and execution, I had the time to do some serious overthinking, as below:
So you thought that just because the current video is a pile of gore and relentless trigger-abusing blastbeats, you'd get away without a manifesto? Not a chance -- I overthink everything, and death metal is no exception.
In the process for this video, I watched basically everything in my collection that fit the profile -- brutal hand-drawn late-Shouwa/early-Heisei OVAs and movies -- and in addition to the ones that made it into the video, I ran across a couple others that did not get up to sufficient brutality levels, but had significant overlap with the ones that did. The real trigger was Utsu no Miko; the blend of exoteric Buddhist elements strongly recalls (and in a couple places repeats) Karura Mau, Judge, and Kujaku-oh, which did get into the source pool; this couldn't be simple coincidence.
Basically, what people of my generation and inclinations tend to think of as "real" anime is a historical accident, created by a confluence of forces on both sides of the Pacific, that is properly considered a weird evolutionary dead end of the late '80s and early '90s, the same period that Morbid Angel got signed to Giant. First, in Japan, there was for whatever reason in the late '80s and into the '90s, a significant revival of interest in exoteric Buddhist and Hindu practices, and in Chinese astrology. You can see traces of this in Fushigi Yuugi, at its most visible; it gets dropped in passing in Sword For Truth (in the source pool) and forms the plot backbone of Maryuu Senki (not in the source pool because SH073). The blooming home video market and the existing tentacle-porn tropes in Japan grew this into ero-grotesque; most of this stuff is at least tentatively ero-guro, which is why it's not around any more.
I'm talking, of course, about the Miyazaki case. Japan ran headfirst into a moral panic about this stuff in 1996, and while the major emphasis has been taught as revealing the existence of doujinshi to society, there wasn't any real censoring effect there. You can't, by nature, censor doujins, because they're self published, but what you can do is close down ero-guro video production. This is a continuing reminder that anime is not actually DIY -- this shit costs a LOT of money to put together, and that cost has to be 1) fronted and 2) recouped. If it's hard to do the first because your investors don't want to deal with the media hyperventilating and hard to do the second because your potential customers can't pick it up without getting reported to the police as a potential sex criminal, that product doesn't get made. The climate for ero-guro got a lot more constrained in the mid-90s, and the Aum Shinrikyo cult also took a lot of the shine off the whole "secretive Buddhist sect" idea.
Tangent: watching through what turned out to be a very large bunch of porn for additional titles further keyed this in. If you're not actually into watching girls get raped by tentacles and don't have to do it for source collection reasons, you can cut to the chase by watching Lesson of Darkness, maybe Twin Dolls (which is borderline-empowering for a tentacle rape hentai and thus probably the least bad of the bunch), and the criminally overlooked Call Me Tonight, which is not porn but underlines the tropes involved. From traditional religion you get the idea of the injuu, the sex beast, which in Lesson of Darkness as in folklore is capable of preying on humans without killing them. Why did this evolve? Pretty obviously, to elide rape victims naming names and stirring up village power structures, and also to give cover to infidelity/unchastity when both partners aren't caught simultaneously ("I was attacked by an injuu, but it took the form of X, so I let my guard down"). The problem with this, though, is not only that it gives the powerful free reign to rape the powerless (which would happen anyway, especially in a society where nobles were given dispensation to kill peasants to do quality control on swords), but that it makes rape a crime that is never committed by human beings, always by monsters.
So you've got this current idea of the sex monster, and you also have a sex-segregated society, one under severe repression to the point that (viz Call Me Tonight) sexual urges are seen as turning men, especially men, into animals and/or grotesque monsters. And you're selling videos pushing these ideas to a population of poorly-socialized young men, many of whom have problems expressing themselves and little experience of interacting with women of any age socially -- you can see why there would be a concern about a certain small number of them regularly getting caught up into "ore wa ningen de wa nai -- ore wa injuu da!", on the thesis that they were already monsters, and should follow their sex-monster nature and actually start raping, because there wasn't anything they could do about it, and it would happen anyway. If you think this is unrealistic, you don't know enough people with severe self-esteem problems, desperate to latch onto any power fantasy that can make them feel like they're in control.
And thus the injuu, as a plot element, passed into history. Weirdly, this has resulted in more rape, and more ickily realistic rape, in modern hentai, but it's more clear that the rapists are human beings with bad motives. It's also worth noting that as you get into the late '90s, you get the first flowering of expansive eroge on CD, where there was room to do a relatively deep story in a relatively DIY fashion: stuff like Tokimeki Memorial and Kanon, where you could be an eyeless milquetoast and still bang the crap out of everything that smiled vertically, provided you were willing to invest 60 hours of gameplay and spade the hell out of the b-tree of the storyline choices. This is not only cheaper, but less socially dangerous (even the ones where the protagonist is a teacher introducing middle schoolers to BDSM, somehow) and a hell of a lot easier for the shut-in audience to identify with.
The other set of factors was in the United States. The copy of Hanappe Bazooka that's in the pool is from commercial VHS, and it really shows what ADV was able to buy back when Hanappe Bazooka was something they'd consider releasing commercially. The trailers at the start cover Luna Varga -- a mostly-forgettable four-episode D&D crank-turner with a really weird hook -- and a bunch of other Go Nagai stuff: Kekko Kamen (not in the pool, because it is too garbage even for this video) and Shuten Doji, which did get in. So why is ADV buying mostly Go Nagai stuff back when they went by A. D. Vision? Mostly, because it was cheap: with short series, you can cut down the up-front cost of the license, and if you can get it onto one or two volumes, you can avoid getting stuck with the overage of print runs as people stop collecting somewhere between volumes 1 and 10. The ero-guro stuff was pretty much tailor-made for this market: short runs because these were limited OVAs to start with, and relatively cheap because they weren't that popular.
So what we got presented to us in the US as anime in the mid-1990s was heavily distorted by countervailing historical forces in the marketplace: we caught a very large fraction of an all-time high-water mark in brutality thanks to broke stateside distros and an inflection point in Japanese standards. Historically, most anime does not look like it has a place in this video: a quick look at ARR's inventory should be enough to demonstrate that. Thinking of high-prod-values, hand-drawn brutality as 'anime' doesn't really hold water historically -- and really, a lot of the nostalgia people have for this period is because so much of the anime that belongs to it is fucking garbage.
Seriously. Hanappe Bazooka must be the single worst and most pointless piece of vomit ever animated. Sword For Truth is straight-up terrible. Crimson Wolf is dumb even for a Maceck show. Shuten Doji in any other context would get called out as bad and unfinished. M.D. Geist is a nonsensical Mad Max ripoff saved only by a lunatic commitment to gore that has dudes excavating rifle ports in their human shields with bayonets. This is a source pool that has the unfocused Judge and an out-of-focus, deep-gen copy of Karura Mau as its actual good titles, and if I were to throw stuff I've used already in, it would not improve: Maryuu Senki is not notably better than Kujaku-oh, and Ninja Scroll is a series of video-game boss battles. What we want is for the mature storytelling of Otomo and Anno to make use of this sort of blood and nightmare. We want a landscape of moving Suffocation covers, and we don't get it, because the money to produce it isn't there, this shit being deeply unpopular.
What we can do is limited, but of immediate use: we can stop faffing around waiting for anime to go back to a way it never was, and we can conserve as best we can what remains of that golden age: when machine grotesque moved, even just for a little bit, and got published further because the demand for it was small. The blood will not flow again, but with the bones we can build a shrine.