July 31, 2009
A few quick notes about this film, Stacy takes place in a Japan of the near future where all the girls aged 15-17 throughout the world begin to die and return as flesh eating zombies. As the girls approach their deaths the girls experience a period of overwhelming joy and bliss known as Near Death Happiness (NDH), and once they return from death their bodies attract a bluish powdery substance known as Butterfly Twinkle Powder (BTP). A Stacy can be killed by most standard zombie killing methods but it takes several hours for a Stacy to die if she’s not “Repeat Killed”; To repeat Kill a Stacy and end her existence at once, she must be hacked into 165 pieces. Under UN and Japanese law a Stacy may only be killed by her loved ones or killed by the Romero Repeat Kill Troops (a group of government soldiers who travel around taking care of Stacies who aren’t disposed of by their families or loved ones). A single undead girl zombie is called a “Stacy”, and the plural of a Stacy are called “Stacies”.
This film begins with a group of young boys placing flower on a young girl named Kana (age 16) and asking when she’ll wake up, and when a lady stops by to thank Kana for watching her kids Kana awakens as a “Stacy” and begins to chow down on the kids. As all this is happening another cute schoolgirl who is holding a wind chime watches from a distance. Just as the police pull up and proceed to gun down Kana the scene switches to a television show where a mad scientist type explains to the audience about NDH and BTP. The interviewer tries to get the scientist to explain the cause of the Stacy condition and he tells the doctor that many people say that the UN and other experts have no idea what’s going on. We also find out that if you hack the Stacie up they’ll die after a few hours but if you perform a “repeat kill” and hack the bodies into 165 pieces they’ll die right away. Soon, the interviewer and scientist get in a fight over whether the repeat kill method is moral or proper.
Then the scene switches to a puppet shop that contains three guys and a woman who might be their mother or some other friend are watching television reports of the growing Stacy problem, and how the government might soon have to start drafting citizens because they’re not getting enough volunteers for the Romero squads. As the guys get ready to head off to work, the woman comments over and over that this is the apocalypse, and the apocalypse is here. Back at the Kana scene, one of the older soldiers comments on how in just 10 short years all the men in the world are gloomy and depressed because the only beautiful things left in the world are girls who are about to suffer NDH and become Stacies, and in those 10 short years the world population has been cut in half and dropping rapidly.
Then we see the one of the men from the puppet shop walking down the street listening to a neighbor yell at a young man for disposing of Stacy trash on the wrong day and the guy going off on the woman calling her a bitch and saying “I just had to kill my girlfriend and I don’t care what day trash pickup is”. Also, people are grasping at straws tying to save their daughters, even resorting to using unproven drugs on their daughters to try and arrest puberty. Later, the man hears a wind chime and see the young girl from earlier looking at him, and when he turns his head to see if she’s looking at someone else she disappears.
When the young man returns to the puppet shop where he works, he finds it empty and soon the girl from earlier enters his shop and starts talking with him. Her name is Eiko (written as eternity) and she’s going to become a Stacy in about a week and she’s chosen him to repeat kill her. She looks at his puppets and says they’re just like her wind chime, beautiful but sad. The man introduces himself to Eiko as Shibukawa, and Eiko decides to call him Shibu-san. Eiko says she can tell that because he makes puppets because he’s never comfortably with someone sleeping next to him so if he agrees to repeat kill her she’ll make sure he’s comfortable with her next to him.
Then the scene switches to a television commercial advertising the Bruce Campbell Right Hand 2, a lighter, more efficient tool for taking care of your Stacy problems. Then we see the two other guys who were with Shibu-san (Matsui and Arita) at a recruiting office for one of the Romero squads, they don’t seem too sure of joining the group but they do so anyways. Matsui gets assigned to the medical team and Arita gets invited to become the female commander’s assistant.
Then the scene switches to three cute girls (around age 16) who are wanted by the police for committing illegal repeat kills, it seems that they’re trying to earn enough money to be able to pay someone who’s cute and famous to repeat kill them when the time comes. They earn money by intercepting after hours calls to the official Romero squads and doing the jobs for money.
As we see Matsui performing his duties with the medical disposal team (burning Stacies), and we find out that the last couple of soldiers assigned to this duty committed suicide, we see Arita performing more pleasurable duties for the commander. She asks him why he joined the Romero’s , he tells her that his only sibling (Kana) became a Stacy and killed some kids and had to be put down by the Romero’s. Upon hearing this, the commander starts laughing at him and Arita gets flashbacks of him and his sister and a girl (Momo) she sets him up with. A few months ago Arita and Momo became pen pals and more, and now we see that Momo is a Stacy being held for experimentation at the medical facility. When Arita matches a picture of Momo and her friends to a Stacy in the medical facility all he can to sit and hold his head.
Then the scene switches back to Eiko and Shibu-san who’s putting on a puppet show just for Eiko that deals with love, loss, and reunion. When the play reaches the reunion part we can clearly see that there’s more to the play but he stops because Eiko very emotional over the reunion and wants it to end on a happy note. We now switch to the group of Romero’s who had to kill Kana cleaning up another job and one of the soldiers snaps and threatens the others soldiers saying how can you kill these young girls. Just as violence is about to take place, Eiko shows up and thanks the Romero troops, she tells them that we love you, and we would like you to love us, and when Shibu-san shows up she wants him to hack her up like they would. The one soldier completely breaks down, and another one says so this is what NDH is like? Yes, Eiko tells them, because we’re not angry, we forgive you, and we want to be killed by the ones who love us the most. Then Eiko and Shibu-san are sitting in a park with Shibu-san writing a play based on Eiko words, when she asks about this, he tells her that since her name is written as eternity once he finishes this she really will live forever, as they’re walking away Shibu-san and Eiko’s steps are in sync.
Back with Arita and Matsui we see that Matsui is working with the mad doctor from the TV show, and we also see that Matsui completely lost it, he says he’s in hell now, this is a living hell. The sick doctor has been able to tell that the Stacies do still have some brainwaves working, but the most interesting thing is the BTP. When the doctor begins to perform an experiment on a new Stacy with Arita’s assistance her vital signs and her BTP begins to react when she see a picture of Momo and Arita together. Her reaction also affect the other nearby Stacies, and it stops when the picture leaves her sight. As a Stacy that’s gotten free is about to get the doctor the commander steps in and kills her, the doctor tells Arita that the commander joined the Romero’s to kill girls who are younger and prettier than her, and the commander requests Arita’s services after he’s done in the lab.
The next morning Shibu-san wakes up next to Eiko, and he quietly watches her but becomes worried that she’s dead. Eiko soon wakes up to see a worried Shibu-san looking down at her and she asks him what’s the matter, and Shibu-san says he thought he lost her. Eiko looks up and smiles at him and asks Shibu-san to go shopping with her. When Eiko return to Shibu-san she’s carrying a wrapped box, he asks Eiko what’s in the box, and she says you shouldn’t make a girl tell, it’s a present, but she does spell out B-r-u-c-e. Eiko asks Shibu-san to take her to the nearby botanical garden and they head off together only to find the gardens closed.
Back with the other groups, we see that the Romero Repeat Squad is on the trail of the three girl illegal repeat kill squad, and we also see that Matsui has totally lost it and is heading towards the Stacy holding room. He says that we’re just all puppets and god is the puppeteer, changing the girls into zombies to make us suffer. Matsui uses a pass key and unlocks the Stacies; they swarm him and eat him alive.
The Stacies soon begin to overwhelm the military facility, Arita and the commander are trapped in her bedroom fighting off the Stacies, and at that very moment the three girls from the illegal repeat kill team arrive on the scene, it seems that they were hired by Momo’s parents to kill her because they feel sorry for their daughter. As the repeat kill team makes its way through the center the other survivors are cornered in a hallway, Arita and the commander leave to retrieve more ammo but she tries to runoff. Arita wants to help Momo so he fights with the commander and he shots her but he’s wounded in the process. In the hallway one soldier tells the other soldier (the brother of the commander) that he’s knows that the other guy loves his sister (the commander) but he really loves him, the brother says that he embarrassed but he grabs the other guy’s hand as the Stacies breach the barrier.
Meanwhile, Arita hears Momo’s voice calling to him as a group of Stacies approach, one of the Stacies (Momo) begins to emit BTP when she see’s Arita. The commander is soon caught and eaten by the Stacies, and Arita grabs Momo’s hand and flees with her to the medical lab. Arita muzzles Momo and is about to runaway with her when the repeat kill squad catches them; they tell him to step aside but he refuses. One of the girls makes fun of him for trying to save a Stacy, and he tells her Stacy or not, she’s still Momo. This causes some dissention in the repeat squad with one of the girls still wanting to kill Momo and another girl saying why does it matter we’re all dead soon.
Just as the group is about to kill Momo, the leader of the real Romero squad catches up with them and tells them to drop their weapons. Next, the crazy doctor also steps in telling everyone to be quiet because they’re disturbing his important work, he’s almost got it. The illegal hit squad changes its mind and decides to protect Momo and Arita but are all mortality wounded by the leader of the real squad. When he asks Arita what the story with his Stacy, Arita hugs Momo tight and tells him that Momo is his lover and the leader shots both Arita and Momo down. The only remaining mortally wounded repeat kill squad girl says that she always wanted to be held that way when she was dying, and she takes her gun and shots the other leader.
The wounded leader sits down and lights a smoke and tells the dead girls, the serial killer story he’s been speaking about throughout the whole movie, and one of the dead girls speaks to him in Eiko’s voice saying you did it, didn’t you? You must have been lonely? Did you love them, or did you want to love them? It’s OK, nobody blames you, and those girls probably loved you. Then all the dead girls tell him that they love him, and he goes insane, screaming and crying.
At that moment, the doctor has managed to survive the carnage; he grabs some computer printouts and says that he now understands what brings the Stacies to life! It can’t be this, but it has to be true. The Stacies are brought back to life not because of a murderous intent but a craving for love, and they devour people because they crave their love. A few seconds later the Stacies break into the lab and eat the leader than they turn towards the doctor, and he tell them that he loves them, he calls them his lovers and his beloved daughters as they emit BTP before eating him alive. He dies laughing and seemingly in pleasure as they tear him apart.
Back with Eiko and Shibu-san, we see that they have broken into the gardens and Eiko says they can stay until tomorrow, she says she used to come here with her twin sister (the girl who always wanted to be held at death), who was kind and beautiful, but no one noticed or understood her, she lived in a society where you couldn’t share your feelings or pain with someone. Eiko tells Shibu-san that he understands, he has to understand. Shibu-san and Eiko dance in the garden then Shibu-san hugs Eiko and doesn’t want to let her go. A voiceover asks if society has intimated you (man), you need to tell them what you want, tell them how beautiful her soul is, Shibu-san is a missionary, and he needs to teach them to tell each other their true feelings. All this is going on as Shibu-san is finishing a sketch of Eiko, then the voice of Eiko’s dead sister and the other Stacies tell Eiko it’s OK to walk around the park until dawn because the loneliness has melted away.
Then we see a glowing image of Eiko standing over the carnage in the medical lab where she leads the dead girls in saying that right now I’m at my prettiest, all the dead girls repeat this as tears flow from their eyes.
The next morning in the garden, Shibu-san looks down at a dead but stunningly beautiful Eiko, Eiko has cried tears of blood that sharply contrast with the white gown she’s wearing. Shibu-san is finally able to read the inscription the Eiko placed on the paper strip attached to the bottom of her wind chime, it says “thank you, I’m sorry, I love you”, earlier Eiko told Shibu-san that she wrote her wish on that paper.
Shibu-san carries Eiko out to the center of the park where he sits down and finishes penning in Eiko’s final words in the play he was working on. A few seconds later, Eiko begins to revive as a Stacy. Shibu-san opens Eiko’s gift, a Bruce Campbell right hand 2. Shibu-san tells Eiko that it was sad saying goodbye but they met again, he also tells Eiko “thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you”, and he keeps his promise to Eiko.
Then decades later we get an epilogue from Shibu-san saying that in the many decades since the Stacies first appeared, the Stacies stopped chasing people, and men learned to love the Stacies. The first children born of their union were unlike any children ever born to humans, and he tells us that this was maybe the final stage of human evolution, they took over the world. Now there’s this bible that has his and Eiko’s story mixed together with the original puppet story, it’s a guide to the future, a story of love. We now see that Shibu-san is a very old man and that a statue of Eiko as a puppet sits in the park, and from one of her hands dangle a bronze wind chime with her wish to the world written on it. Shibu-san now says that the world is bound by love. Well, that’s all for this movie.
On my blog I very seldom cover anything that’s not directly related to anime or anime culture. So with that being said, in this post I’ll be reviewing Stacy (2001), a Japanese schoolgirl zombie film where the social commentary packs more bite than schoolgirl zombies do.
Stacy is a Japanese horror film that was originally release back in 2001, it was directed by Naoyuki Tomomatsu (a Japanese AV film director who is known for having a stormy affair with one of his AV actresses who just happened to still be in high school at the time), and Stacy is based on a novel written by Kenji Otsuki (a former member of the band Kinniku Shojotai). Horror and science fiction films have always been known for taking shots at the problems and conditions in mainstream society that normal, more traditional media have been afraid to address or discuss. Examples of this are Night of the Living Dead (1968, racism), Dawn of the Dead (1978, consumerism), Them (1954, problems with atomic testing), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, fear of Red influence in the US), and now I’ll add Stacy to this list as a movie taking a shot at the whole Otaku mindset of Moe and all it implies.
When I first watched this film back in late 2001, the copy of the film I saw was of very poor quality and had a poor fan translation, but I was quite shocked at the brutal attack this film launched at the part of Japanese male culture that began to value and desire the image of pure innocence schoolgirls over the reality of actually trying to meet/talk with/date/ love the real thing.
What actually cemented this evaluation in my mind was when I read the liner notes to the 20003 DVD release of Stacy, they were written by Patrick Macias where he directly introduced the idea that the director was taking a shot at the whole concept of Moe and its followers.
So, here we go with the review of Stacy.
Stacy is set in a Japan of the near future where about 10 years prior to the start of the film all girls between the ages of 15-17 started suffering from a condition called Near Death Happiness (NDH), when a girl comes down with NDH she experiences overwhelming happiness and bliss that lasts for a period of up to one week. Once a girl reaches the peak of NDH, she quietly dies, and then after a short period of time she reawakens as a zombie (a Stacy) that craves the flesh of the nearest living creatures. Stacies like most other zombies in this type of genre can be killed by normal zombie slaying methods, but in order to dispatch a Stacy right away you must chop/slice/dice/shoot the poor girl into 165 pieces.
Needless to say, the events in Stacy have caused a sense of depression and impending doom to spread throughout the population. One character in the film expresses the thought that there’s no joy left in the world because the most beautiful things in life are about to die and become flesh eating zombies. The world population has already dropped by 50% in just 10 years due to falling birthrates and the killings caused by the Stacies. The Stacy problem has grown so large that military squads have been formed just to deal with the Stacies, and under Japanese and UN law a Stacy may only be killed by her loved ones (her family or lover) or the military squads.
While the special effects, cinematography, writing, and acting in Stacy maybe over the top, and extremely campy this film contains real social criticism of otaku/Moe culture. Moe and Moe culture as described by Patrick Macias is, “an obsessive love and devotion to imaginary characters and ideals that do not, and could not, ever possibly exist……fresh-faced sailor-suited school girls are merrily prancing through the streets. You want to talk to them, proclaim your undying love to them. But largely owing to the fact that you’ve become more accustomed to dealing with anime characters of late, you can’t do anything but stare” So, Stacy is the nightmare tale of how young women who are entering sexual maturity are perceived by a certain segment of the Japanese male population, and while Stacy is a gory, nilelistic, and depressing it does offer a hopeful path to the future through the relationships of Eiko/Shibukawa & Arita/Momo.
While most of the primary and secondary characters’ lives and stories are interlinked in one way or another the main thread is how Shibu-san (a man with mildly antisocial traits) learns to fall in love and accept the companionship of Eiko (a teenage girl entering the NDH phase of becoming a Stacy). The Shibu-san character in Stacy is a stand-in for male otaku society, a man who will socialize with other people, but, prefers the company of, and feels most comfortable in the presence of his puppets. Eiko represents all young Japanese girls who are leaving their childhoods behind and are becoming young women who desire love, companionship, and sex.
One might ask, “Where did the Stacies come from, or what’s causing the Stacy problem?” The Stacies are creatures that only exist in the mind of the otaku, and they’re born as a self-protection mechanism that only reinforces the okatu’s unnatural fear of rapidly maturing girls. Many times in the film the young girls express the thought that they’re becoming their prettiest as they approach the NDH phase of life, and at this point the young girls are shown expressing the desire to have boyfriends, be held, and be told that someone loves them. While these girls are leaving behind their childhood and beginning to feel the joy in their newly approaching womanhood, this is viewed by the male as NDH and the harbinger of doom for the girls. At moment when the girls switch over from the cherished innocent schoolgirl that the male watches from afar to a maturing young woman is the point where the girl dies in the males mind and awakens as a flesh craving Stacy.
The males in the film see the girls in NDH as a source of infinite sadness while the girls experience the condition as joyful. There’s a point in the film where Eiko comes upon a Stacy killing squad where many of the members are experiencing a almost PTSD reaction over their latest dispatch of a Stacy and she merrily prances around the group laughing and chatting away with them, and when one of the soldiers asks her if this is what NDH is like? Eiko responds with yes, we’re not angry (her and the Stacies), we’re happy, we love you, and we know that you really love us too or want to love us. Eiko answer confirms to the viewer that while a Stacy wants to love, and craves love, the males view the Stacies as horrible monsters. The reactions of the males to the Stacies is quite similar to the reaction that General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove has towards a woman’s sexuality, he feels that women are trying to rob him of his life essence, so he views women as life sucking monsters, OPE, POE.
There’s at least two points in the film where the director takes shots at the otaku habit of collecting and cherishing statues/figurines more than the real deal. The funniest one is when a television infomercial crew is pitching the Bruce Campbell Right Hand 2 chainsaw and one of the additional special bonus items is a free special edition figurine of the pitch girl holding the chainsaw and one of the pitch guys says that he’ll just take the figurine and the pitch girl gives him a dirty look that basically says you’d rather have the figurine over the real deal that’s standing next to you. The other shot the director takes at the figure culture is when Eiko sees Shibu-san’s puppets and makes the comment that she can tell that he’s more comfortable around the puppets than real people. Eiko then goes on to comment that she can tell that Shibu-san has never been comfortable with the thought of having someone (real) sleeping next to him.
While all this discussion of doom and gloom might discourage you from watching the film, don’t be totally depressed, the film does end on some hopeful notes. The film does show the males the way out of their self-created nightmare world. Firstly, Arita seemed to have cracked the riddle of the Stacies, when Arita first saw Momo as a Stacy he was repulsed by her appearance and Momo acted like a normal flesh eating zombie, but when Arita comes to the conclusion that he still loves and cherishes her, Momo is drawn to Arita and her TWP reacts to his love, it seems that Arita’s love for her has quelled her flesh craving. Arita also shows his love for Momo when he chooses to stand in the way of the military officer who wants to shoot her, he tells the officer that he doesn’t care if she’s a Stacy, she’s still Momo and he’s her lover, Arita and Momo die together in each other’s arms under a shower of bullets. A dying girl who’s in her NDH phase (Eiko’s sister) witnesses the couples’ death and comments that she always wished she could be held like that, in a lovers’ arms.
Also, males are shown the path out of the darkness by the relationship that Eiko and Shibu-san develops. Both Eiko and Shibu-san have needs that can only be filled by developing a relationship with each other, Eiko who’s in her NDH phase needs Shibu-san to love her, she needs to be repeat killed by a lover when she becomes a Stacy. Shibu-san as Eiko can recognize is more comfortable with puppets and he needs to learn to how love and enjoy real human contact with a woman. So, Eiko makes a deal with Shibu-san by getting him to agree that she’ll make him comfortable with having another human sleep next to him and he’ll do her the honor of being the loved one that’ll repeat kill her, thus begins their dance of life, love, death. At first, Shibu-san is put off and somewhat perplexed by the strange creature that’s now filling his life, and as Shibu-san begins to listen to Eiko’s hopes, dreams, feelings and joins her in conversation he gradually loses his fear of her. At this point Shibu-san still views Eiko as a creature beyond his reach, he’s always several steps behind her, more like an observer of a rare object than her lover. But, as times passes, Shibu-san and Eiko spend more and more time together and a strange thing happens Shibu-san is soon walking next to and in step Eiko. By the next morning we see that Eiko has kept her promise to Shibu-san, he awakens next a sleeping Eiko and she’s no longer an object of mystery but a beautiful young woman that he touches and caresses and doesn’t want to lose. Eiko in her short stay with Shibu-san has taught him that while human contact might be scary and uncertain it’s much better than being surrounded by puppets.
While things might be looking up for Shibu-san we can see that this isn’t going to end well, Eiko kept her promise to Shibu-san, and he’s going to have to keep his promise to her. But, this wasn’t a simple love story of boy meets girl, Eiko chose Shibu-san because he’s a puppeteer, a storyteller, she acts as Gabriel to Shibu-san’s Muhammad, she came to teach Shibu-san how man and the Stacies can coexist and save the future. She asks Shibu-san and society as a whole what happened to create this perverse system, has society intimated man? The answer is simple, tell them how beautiful their souls are, and tell them how you feel, tell them what you want, tell them that you want to love them, because they want to love and be loved. After Shibu-san keeps his promise to Eiko we see that he’s spread to word, man’s learned to love the Stacies, and the Stacies no longer chow down on people. The children born to the union of men and Stacies now are the dominate population; the circle of life goes on.
The main message in this film is when you see the real thing sitting there by herself don’t just stare and run back to your room and frap to the latest Moe anime, get some courage up and walk over and say hello, chat with her for awhile, because Stacies may be scary but they want to love, and be loved too.
Save the future by loving a Stacy.
July 26, 2009
This episode picks up with a much fuller version of the “kiss” in the library between Fumi and Yasuko which ends with Yasuko telling Fumi that she’s adorable and she wants to walk with her to school in the mornings. The next morning we see Fumi trying a different hairstyle, and we also see that her parents gave her a cellphone. Her mother says that she’ll have to tell her what her boyfriend texts her, Fumi says she has no boyfriend, and her mother says it’s only a matter of time. When Fumi makes it to the train platform she finds both Yasuko and Akira waiting for her, but neither Yasuko or Akira knew that the other was also waiting for Fumi.
During their train ride Yasuko and Akira seem to get along nicely but Fumi seems uncomfortable and quite, and after they say goodbye to Akira, Fumi asks if they can stop commuting together. Well, Yasuko guesses right that Fumi afraid to break a promise to commute with Akira and is afraid of losing contact with her, so Yasuko says the mornings can be for Akira but the ride home is all hers. When Akira gets to school Kyoko says that Kou liked her and that if she wants to she can see him again. Akira says she’s doesn’t know a thing about dating a grown up, but Kyoko says that Kou’s about as far from an adult as possible. While Akira doesn’t say it, she seems a little uncomfortable about, or not ready to date Kyoko’s “fiancee”.
After school, we see Akira doing some shopping for the drama club while the rest of the club is prepping for the play. Kagami (the advisor) stops by the club for a while, and Kyoko asks to speak with him as he’s walking away. She asks him if he knows Yasuko pretty well, and he asks her what makes her think so? She says she can just tell. We don’t hear her question, but he tells her he’s sorry because he doesn’t know. As Akira is leaving the school with Kyoko she spots Fumi waiting for her, and as Kyoko is walking off she overhears Fumi and Akira mention Yasuko’s name. We then see a flashback of Kyoko’s question to Kagami, “do you know why Yasuko left this school’, he didn’t know the reason or he won’t tell her.
Akira and Fumi head off to a cafe for a talk where Fumi tells Akira that she’ll commute with her in the mornings, Akira says why don’t all three of them commute together, and Fumi says “no”, she enjoys commuting with her. Then Fumi breaks down and tells Akira that she’s in love with Yasuko and they’re dating, she asks Akira not to find it gross and not to hate her.
On her train ride home, Akira thinks back over Fumi confession, and she understands why Fumi felt uncomfortable. Akira told Fumi that she didn’t think that girls loving girls was gross but she also thinks that she might just be too simpleminded. The next day, Akira talks with Kyoko, asking if supporting a girl who liked girls would be OK? Fumi also tells Yasuko that she came out about their relationship to Akira and now she’s afraid to face her, and Yasuko tells her that she thinks that she very brave for coming out of the closet. So, Yasuko takes Fumi and the girls from the other day for a visit to Akira’s school. When they arrive, Fumi sees a smiling Akira greeting her, and Yasuko asks where Kagami is?
While Yasuko pays a visit to Kagami’s office, Akira, Fumi, and the other girls stop by for a visit to the school’s cafe. Akira tells Fumi that she doesn’t know how to support her, Fumi tells her just to act normal, Akira says she never thought of that, and both girls get a good laugh out of that and the tension is broken, Fumi and Akira seem back to normal.
After Yasuko and Kagami finish their conversation we see some flashbacks of Yasuko’s days at the school, and we also see that Yasuko and Kagami might have had something more than a normal student-teacher relationship, or maybe Kagami wanted more than a regular relationship, or it could have been Yasuko who wanted more, it’s hard to tell since a lot is left to the imagination. As Yasuko and the drama club work on the play Fumi walks around the school trying to figure out why Yasuko left the school. Fumi questions some students about “the master of the library” (the story that Yasuko been telling Fumi about of a couple of episodes) and some students suggest maybe it referred to a forbidden relationship between a student and a teacher. Later, as everyone is heading home, Fumi tries to ask Yasuko who is “the master of the library’, but she can’t work up the courage to do so. Well, that’s all for this episode.
First of all, I have to say that I absolutely loved this episode, the range of human emotions and uncertainties displayed by both Fumi and Akira felt true to life and believable. Too often in anime when a main character finally reveals their real feeling it’s takes so long and is done in such an over the top manner that it stretches the limits of believability, but in Aoi Hana it felt true and right.
I felt that the scene where Fumi confesses to Akira that she a lesbian and is in love with Yasuko, and that she and Yasuko are dating was very powerful and poignant. Fumi who is a very sensitive and insecure girl placed a lot of trust and pressure on Akira at that moment. As Fumi said at the beginning of their conversation she really values her friendship with Akira and doesn’t want to ruin it. I could feel the tremendous emotional pressures building on Akira with her childhood friend not only confessing to her that she’s a lesbian but asking her not to find it and her gross, and please don’t hate her. You can see how this plays out with Akira by the thought that she places on this situation during her train ride home, while she told Fumi that she doesn’t have a problem with girls liking girls she also wonders if she’s too simple minded, and we also see her uncertainty playing out why she sort of asks Kyoko about this. I also felt that Fumi displayed a tremendous amount courage and vulnerability in this episode. Fumi displays a tremendous level of courage by telling Akira that she a lesbian but she also shows her vulnerability when she practically begs Akira to not find her gross and not to hate her.
This episode touched on very human desires of wanting to love, and be loved, and also the very human need to be accepted for who you are by your friends, and the toll that these desires can take on someone when the relationship falls outside or what mainstream society considers normal. When reviewing anime I’ve always believed in substance and story over style and flash and Aoi Hana has substance to spare this episode has been one of the finest episodes I’ve seen a while, and this series is one of the year’s best.
For another example of a great anime episode where two young characters come to terms with their new found feeling for each other in a belieavble manner please read the review of Naisho no Tsubomi 3.
July 24, 2009
This episode begins with all the remaining living people looking at the latest scene of carnage, George breaks down after seeing both his mother and father killed. Another strange envelope is found at the murder scene, and Natsuhi orders the room sealed until the police arrive. In the living room Battler and Jessica discuss the latest murders with Maria adding in her opinions in her weird girl mode. Battler has had enough with Maria’s strange mood swings and starts beaning her upside her head when she starts laughing about people being killed, and Jessica asks Battler if he thinks that Maria has met Beatrice?
Meanwhile, Kanon and Chiyo have headed to the furnace room to search for the source of a terrible smell. When they are about to enter the room, they overhear a noise and Kanon rushes ahead of Chiyo who has fallen to the ground. Inside the furnace room Kanon grabs a large machete like object and challenges Beatrice or whom ever is there to come forward. Kanon says that he’s so upset over Shannon’s death that he vows to change the game, and as Kanon is surrounded by golden butterflies a knife strikes him in the chest, falling him to the ground. The others arrive in the furnace room to find Kanon wounded but still alive, and they also discover the source of the foul smell. It seems that Kanon walked in on someone while they were trying to burn Kinzo’s body in the furnace. Battler sees an open door leading to the outside and he tries to give chase but finds no suspect outdoors.
When they get back upstairs, Jessica and the doctor are with Kanon, while the others discuss who could be doing this and how they have unfettered access to the house.We also learn from George that Jessica likes Kanon, but I think that’s all for not because it looks like Kanon either died or was murdered because the doctor bring Jessica into the room where she collapses. They assume that the culprit has either stolen Gouda’s or Shannon’s master key or has something similar, so Genji takes them to Kinzo’s study and says they should be safe here, and Maria says that the doorknob has a similar seal like the two she gave them earlier.
Once inside the room Genji tells them that there’s only two keys to this room, his, and the key that he took off of Kinzo’s corpse. Then they talk about the seal on the door, Natsuhi shows the charm that Jessica gave her and Maria says that’s why Beatrice couldn’t touch her. After they open the letter, all it says is “glorify my name”, does it mean Kinzo, or Beatrice, or both of them? Battler asks Genji if there really is a Beatrice, and Natsuhi asks if she was Kinzo’s lover? Genji says that when he started here he had heard that Beatrice was already dead, but the master dabbled in black magic in order to revive his true love Beatrice. George says that if he could use black magic to revive Shannon he would, and Jessica says she understands his feelings. Battler asks if Kinzo had a secret child with Beatrice? Genji says he never heard of one, but Jessica says that Kinzo did contribute large amounts of money to an orphanage, and there are rumors that he used some of the kids in his black arts.
This line of thought leads Battler and the rest of them to the inscription by the Beatrice painting, and it seem that the murders are unfolding according to the script with three more murders to follow, and when Beatrice revives, no one will be left alive. Then they ask themselves if Kinzo really intended that they all die as sacrifices to revive Beatrice? Maria chimes in with it would be alright if no one is left alive, but she says that if they can find the gold they will be given all the treasure and all their loved ones will be brought back to life. Then they notice another letter from Beatrice, Natsuhi point her gun at the three servants and Maria saying that one of them place the letter there when the rest of them were looking at the painting. Battler reads the letter, and Beatrice mocks them saying that either they win and live, or she wins and they all die, and their time is running out. Natsuhi says that if one of them doesn’t own up to placing the letter that means that they’re all in on the plot. Battler tries to calm her down but Natsuhi insists that the four of them leave the room, and Maria calls Battler a hypocrite because he only wants to believe in Beatrice because he doesn’t want to suspect one of them. As Natsuhi forces the four of them out, Battler tosses Maria the charm she gave him and says he lied because he wanted to contradict her, and she takes the charm and laughs.
After they leave the room, Natsuhi tells Jessica that she would become a monster or demon to protect her child and that they should be safe until the police arrive. Then Battler finds a second page to Beatrice’s note, and it has a symbol or glyph on it that matches something from the bible and it means to sow discord among the enemy and have them destroy themselves. So, this means that having them split up is what Beatrice wanted them to do. Just then a phone rings in the room, Natsuhi answers the phone to hear a girl’s voice singing into the phone, the four of them rush downstairs to find the three servants murdered, and Maria singing about the rape blossoms. Well, that’s all for this episode.
This was quite a interesting episode that had me filled with suspense the entire time, and I really enjoyed watching Battler trying to knock some sense into Maria’s head when she started making inappropriate comments. For a while I found myself thinking along the lines with Battler that maybe one or more of the bodies might be a fake with that person doing the killing. But, now I’m more in-line with the Beatrice/supernatural theory, most of the killings have been done with knives or other sharp objects, and that requires someone to get up close and personal and I don’t think that one normal person could have killed the doctor, Genji, and Chiyo together with just a knife, three adults fighting one person with a knife, it would be very messy but I’ll place my bets with the three adults. Also, I found the Jessica/Kanon & George/Shannon stuff interesting but not surprising, it’s only natural that George and Jessica would become attracted to/involved with the only two members of the opposite sex that are close to them in age that stay full time on the island. One thing that I found quite interesting was what Maria said about getting your loved ones brought back to life, and if that includes Kinzo does it also include Kinzo getting the love of his life, Beatrice, brought back to life too? So, I think that if Battler and the rest end up winning it just might be a win for Beatrice and Kinzo, they can rush off into the jungle and make mad love for the rest of their lives.
July 22, 2009
Well, the day of the big party arrives and Candy has no proper dress to wear, and with Dorothy’s encouragement Candy decides to go wearing her normal clothes. On the way to the party, Neil and Eliza make fun of Candy’s lack of proper dress. Eliza prays that Anthony will notice her, and Candy gets warned about grand aunt Elroy, she expects politeness and courtesy. As the car heads up the road, Candy remembers that this road leads to the rose gates where she met her prince.
As the car approaches the house, Candy marvels that it looks like a castle and how she doesn’t belong here. When the car stops, Stear and Archie greet Candy before greeting anyone else, Eliza runs off trying to find Anthony and they leave Candy behind. As Candy is about to be escorted inside by Stear and Archie, Candy spots her prince and they exchange glances, and Candy’s memories are stirred by the appearance of her prince.
Just as Candy finds out that her prince is named Anthony, she figures out that he’s the one that Eliza likes, and Anthony formally introduces himself to Candy as Anthony Brown. Eliza calls Candy her servant, Candy says she’s supposed to be her playmate, but Anthony says that since Candy was officially invited she gets treated the same as any other guest. Soon, everyone is called inside for the start of the party and Archie makes Candy laugh getting her in trouble with aunt Elroy, but Archie, Stear, and Anthony bail her out. As dinner begins, the three boys and Candy ditch the party to hangout together, and they tell Candy a ghost story about the house. Later, the three boys leave Candy because they want to talk in private, and we see that Neil and Eliza were spying on Candy.
Neil and Eliza don’t want Candy to be here but they can’t throw her out because she’s a guest of Stear and Archie so Eliza says she has a plan. In another room, Archie shows off a dress he bought for Candy to Stear and Anthony, he didn’t want Candy to look out of place at the party. Eliza unleashes her plan on Candy, she fakes that she’s feeling ill and asks Candy to ready a bed for her, and Neil tells her that the last room on the third floor will do, Candy rushes off to get the room ready. When Candy goes inside the room, Neil and Eliza lock the door behind Candy and tell her to beware of ghosts. Back with the boys, Stear also shows off a dress that he got for Candy, and just as they’re about to argue about dresses Anthony tells them to put the two dresses together while he tells Candy. Eliza tells Anthony not to worry about Candy but he tells her that Candy might have gotten lost and he has to find her.
Candy starts to freak out inside the locked room while Anthony searches for her, but soon Anthony heads down towards the dance and gets dragged to the dance floor by Eliza. Candy eventually manages to force the door open, and she runs into Anthony who she thinks is a ghost. After Anthony rescues Candy, he takes her to Archie and Stear who’ve have finished the dress for Candy.
Candy puts on the nice dress that the guys made for her, and Anthony lets Candy wear some of his mother’s jewelry. When Candy makes her appearance escorted by Archie, Stear, and Anthony it draws shocked stares from the crowd. Anthony grabs the first dance with Candy, then Stear and Archie get their turn dancing with Candy. When Candy and Anthony are dancing she asks him if he knows Pony home, and Anthony says he doesn’t. Eliza and Neil’s mother says that the crowd thinks that they were compassionate for bringing a servant to the party but her husband says that they really disapprove of the idea but Candy’s pure nature wins them over, and she thinks to herself that she can’t let this go on for much longer. Candy thinks to herself that while she enjoys dancing with Archie and Stear her dances with Anthony remind her of that gentle moment with her prince on the hill. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Well, Candy finally got to meet her prince on the hill or at least she thinks that he might be her prince, but I think that Anthony isn’t her first prince and I think that Candy realizes it too. Anthony does closely resemble Candy’s first prince from Pony home but I think that Anthony is too young to be Candy’s first prince. I think that Neil’s and Eliza’s father has it right about Candy, she’s a pure and honest girl and it shows, and while it might endear some people to her most of the rich older folks still don’t approve of her. I feel that Anthony, Archie, and Stear are attracted to Candy because they can see what girls like Eliza are all about and they just can’t compare to a girl like Candy. While Candy might think that things are looking up we can see the storm clouds gathering in the distance; Candy is too much of a threat to the natural order of the Leagan household and the mother will soon take action. What I don’t like is that the father knows what’s going on and he fails to take action, he knows that Neil and Eliza are spoiled brats and he knows that having Candy around should be good for them but he really lends her no support.
July 21, 2009
Here’s a few new anime & manga motivational posters for the week of 7/20/2009. Feel free to share and enjoy these posters, but please at least give me a link or track back if you’re going to post them to a board or forum, Click on the poster to view at full size, enjoy.
July 20, 2009
This episode begins right after Kyoko and Fumi share their glance, and Kyoko takes off running. Then Yasuko exits the room and she sees Fumi and she asks Fumi why she’s not with her friends? Fumi tells her that she needs to speak with her so Yasuko says she’ll have an outdoor chat with her. Fumi finally tells Yasuko about the misunderstanding about joining the Basketball club, and Yasuko tells her that’s it a shame that she’s leaving the basketball club because Yasuko feels that Fumi has a nice body. Fumi says that she’s only tall but not at all athletic, Yasuko says that she’s kind of disappointed because she felt that Fumi was her type.
Fumi tells Yasuko that she’s got to be kidding her, and Yasuko says she’s serious. Just as Fumi and Yasuko are getting into some serious talk the other girls stumble on to the scene, some of them want to leave Fumi and Yasuko alone to enjoy their romantic moment, but Yoko decides to interfere. Well, the girls all head back to Fumi’s school and Akira notices how friendly and casual Fumi and Yasuko are with each other.
The next morning we meet a boy named Kou, he stops by Kyoko’s house to walk with her to school. Kou and Kyoko seem to be long time friends or something more, but there seems to be an air of tension between them, Kou wants Kyoko to rely on him like she used to but she just sort of brushes him off. Before they part, it seems that they’re are planning some sort of get together with Kyoko bringing the girls and Kou bringing the guys. Later, at school, Kyoko invites Akira to a mixer, it seems that Kou and Kyoko were planning a boy/girl mixer, Kou will be bringing some of his college buddies and Kyoko will bring some of her girlfriends. Kyoko tells Akira that Kou is her fiancee, but that’s just a formality, and she tells Akira that she was dumped by the one she really liked.
Later that evening, we see Fumi hanging out in her room and we see a flashback of the unheard part of Fumi and Yasuko’s conversation; Yasuko asked Fumi out on a date this Sunday, and Fumi accepted the offer. Then we see the next morning that it looks like Shinobu is trying to blackmail Akira into taking him to the mixer (or something like that) so he can meet girls. At Fumi’s house, Fumi’s father wonders where she is, and Fumi’s mother says that maybe she’s on a date. This news upsets him, but Fumi’s mother says that he should be more worried if nothing was going on.
Later, we see Akira meet up with Kyoko and Kou with her brother watching from a distance, and we see that Yasuko and Fumi have met up. We watch as Fumi and Yasuko have their little date, they make small talk, hold hands, check out some things, and Yasuko asks Fumi if they can go out again. As Akira is hanging out with Kou and Kyoko, Kou notices a strange guy following Akira, and Akira ends up getting very embarrassed over the whole thing, needless to say that Akira isn’t happy with her brother.
Later, Akira’s brother says that Kyoko is cute, but Akira says she’s got a fiancee, and Shinobu says that’s the whole point since Kyoko says it’s only a formality could Kou be angling for a shot at Akira or could Kyoko be trying to pawn off Kou on Akira? Once Fumi gets home she just lays in bed thinking about Yasuko’s offer of more dates. At Akira’s school the head of the drama club meets with one of the teacher where she tells him that Yasuko will be making a guest appearance in their play, the teacher and Yasuko seem to know one another in some way. At Fumi school she formally withdraws from the basketball club and joins the literary club, Yasuko whisks Fumi away for a visit to the library where they joke around, and where Fumi and Yasuko share their first kiss. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Overall, I found this episode to be very enjoyable and it had a few interesting plot points which I’ll discuss in greater detail. First of all, while Akira’s brother might be a little creepy and over protective of her but he’s damn sure right about the Kou and Kyoko situation. What Kyoko and Kou invited Akira to was not a mixer, every mixer I’ve ever attended had several guys and girls; I think that there was never another guy coming and all Kyoko was doing was finding a future replacement lay for Kou because she doesn’t have enough sack to break it off with Kou. Kyoko is a lesbian and she can tell that Akira isn’t, and Kou damn sure can’t tell that his girl is a lesbian. So, I think that Kyoko thinks that if she puts Akira and Kou close enough together that straight hormones will do for her what she can’t do for herself.
I also think that Fumi and Yasuko make a great couple if you give any weight to the theory of opposites attracting, and that a good couple fills each others voids. I think that Kyoko would have never worked for Yasuko because she too much like herself, Kyoko doesn’t understand this, but Yasuko does. Fumi and Yasuko fills each others voids, Fumi needs a strong confident and self assured lover, and Yasuko needs a quieter, more sensitive, more contemplative lover. So, I think that Fumi and Yasuko will make a great couple, with Kyoko’s distant yearning adding to the drama. All the other characters from Akira, her brother, Kou, and all the other girls will form a swirling sea of adolescent crushes with Fumi and Yasuko’s relationship taking center stage.
July 19, 2009
This episode begins with Marika and Madame Curie enjoying the warm relaxing waters of her onsen (hot spring), she tells Marika that the waters contain Radium, a radioactive isotope that she and her late husband discovered. Madame Curie than gives Marika a little lesson about radiation and radioactivity, and she explains to Marika the three basic types of radiation, alpha, beta, and gamma.
While Marika and Madame Curie are enjoying the onsen, Gali is up in his observatory making important observations like checking out Marika & Madame Curie, and trying to use Flemming to scam Archimedes out of his unpaid oden tab. While Marika & Madame Curie are sitting spa-side, Marika gets the feeling that they’re being watched, Madame Curie sees a glint coming from Gali’s observation area and she sends Pet alone with a cucumber power attack to punish him for peeping. The attack strikes Gali and destroys his telescope in the process, Madame Curie eventually tells Gali that she’s didn’t know he was using his telescope to cheat at chess, and when Archimedes finds out he doubles Gali’s tab.
Gali goes in to a depressed mode over his newly increased food tab until Marika and Madame Curie invite him to join them in the onsen. While they’re in the spa Marika asks Gali what she has to do to return home, and he tells her that she needs to grow to like science. All poor Marika can do is sigh, saying that she might be here forever, but Madame Curie tells her that this town was created to help children like science. She asks Marika what interests her? Marika says that Gali interests her because she can’s understand why a old man like him can be so famous. Madame Curie says that’s easy, all Marika needs to do is to start observing him, so today’s lesson is that science is the observation of things.
Well, Marie & Gali has has always been a pretty strange little series taking place in a weird European-like town that is inhabited by quirky versions of famous historical scientists and inventors. This series takes on a surreal and dreamlike quality when you consider that Marika hangs out with a living plush doll, and other than the people Marika directly interacts with are all drawn as some version of a cardboard cutout. But, when Marika finally asked Gali how she can get home we get some answers about her situation and the whole series. Gali tells Marika that the way she can get home is to grow to like science, and Madame Curie also says that this city is created for children who don’t like science to learn to like science. So, I’m assuming that the city and all the characters were created out of Marika’s mind because maybe our girl is failing or at least not doing well in her school’s science classes. Maybe this series should have been named “the city of lost scientifically challenged loligoth girls” , but either way, I’ll take Marika in her loligoth swimsuit over her Lolita look any-day.
Next Page »