Thursday, March 27, 2008

Take ir or leave it - Tetsuo The Iron Man

For some time, Mark has been insisting that I should watch "Tetsuo The Iron Man", and I finally found it for a very reasonable price in Play. I ordered it, and last night, we sat together to watch it.

Short little masterpiece, I would say (to start with). Think unglamorous, monochrome (entirely B&W), grainy and dark. And gory.

Subjacent theme is a sort of post-industrial grudge. A man obsessed with metal fetishism, is ran over by a car and dies (at least, I think he died). The car is driven by this salary man and his woman who, instead of helping, start having sex in front of the (dead or alive by then) body. They dump the body into a ravine and he suffers a mutation. Or to put into alchemical terms, a transmutation. At the same time, the salary man starts to hallucinate and sees himself changing in real life, culminating in his metamorphosis into a pile of retorted metal - or something to that effect. This realisation of the change and how to cope with it is memorable, but I won't give details here.

Soundtrack is brilliant and the film edition is amazing, I must say. From the metamorphose onwards, the story enters a frantic pace and things start to gradually make sense.

Visually, it reminded me of H. R. Giger's artwork and some 1920's expressionist films (makeup, facial expressions, body movements etc). I recall Wegener's "The Golem" for the dark atmosphere and the inhuman character of the protagonist(s), albeit in a totally distinct scenario of course. Also, "Metropolis" may come to mind for the post-industrial, man-machine relationship theme. The black and white footage and lack of dialogue lends it an air of silent movie almost, which greatly contributes to such associations, I guess.

I think it's brilliant because the story hardly needs any words to be understood (that is a merit, in my point-of-view), except perhaps with the flashback scene with the doctor, and the last scenes where the two main characters talk to each other and one of them says something like:

"Together we can rust this world. With our love we can destroy this world together", while entering a post-apocalyptical Tokyo scenario, empty streets, abandoned buildings and no other human beings, dead or alive, to be seen.

Homosexual metaphor. Metal mutation epidemics. Technopop hallucination. Cyberpunk fable. I think it's all these things together perhaps. And perhaps none of them at all.

Who is Tetsuo in the end? None of the two male characters is called Tetsuo. But the being resulting of the salary man and the fetishist's fusion. Almost like a homunculus born from a twisted alchemical process, a perverted "conjunctio". That is Tetsuo, or at least that's how I see it.

The film is directed, produced and starred by Shinya Tsukamoto - as the fetishist guy. We recently saw him as the main character in Takeshi Shimizu's "Marebito", which, truth to be told, failed to impress (not him as an actor, but the story itself). In the other hand, he directed a little gem of a film called "Vital", with Tadanobu Asano, one of my favourite J-Horror films (although I personally don't see it as "horror" at all). All that makes me think he must be no short of a genius.

(Thanks Mark, for introducing me to Tetsuo. Owe you one!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shopping Bags

We went to Tower Records yesterday and I bought myself this cute shopping bag. These are the front and back views:

It's really nice, spacious and cheap. I have now in my wish list a bag from these same makers that is kinda weird, but very funny: Looking Good For Jesus. Mark wonders if it would be safe for me to use one of these here in Ireland?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Favourite Anime - Jigoku Shoujo

Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl) is my new favourite anime series. I am collecting the manga as well, but I heard it was toned down for younger audiences. You can actually see that in the artwork, which tends to look "cute" most of the time, whereas the anime is surely more sinister and gloomier.

It tells the story of a website (Jigoku Tsushin, or "Hell Correspondence") where you enter at midnight (if lucky enough to be granted access) and transmit the name of a person against whom you have a grudge. The Hell Girl will then come and offer you a straw doll (normally the next day), which is the symbol of the pact you agree in making with her. Once you remove the string around the doll's neck, Hell Girl will immediately call upon your grudge and bring him/her to Hell. That's the idea permeating the episodes.

Fascinating. And it seems Hell is quite busy too, since it's not that easy to get connected. As for your grudge, it needs to be justifiable. Namely, you must take revenge upon an evil person, a real jerk for that matter. It's not just anyone (otherwise it would be too easy, no?)

At any rate, Hell Girl makes sure you understand that, by entering the covenant, your own soul will be the price to pay in the end - but this time, after you are dead.

It's basically a series of revenge tales, and so far, the people being punished are really evil, and seemingly deserving their fate, as I mentioned above. It also seems that Hell, in this case, is a concrete, physical location and not a mere metaphysical concept, since people literally disappear through its magical gates, brought in a boat by the innocent girl herself.

The girl is beautiful, has huge beady red eyes, wears a kimono and traditional clothes and, if anything, starts the episodes with a rather expressionless face. Striking, but empty. However, if you pay attention, you will note that she gradually changes. I am curious to know what is going to happen inside her as the series progresses. You mostly perceive that change through her eyes.

So far, I only watched 5 episodes, the last being "The Woman in The Tall Tower", and at this stage we still don't know much about Enma Ai (the girl). I believe she is atoning for something that happened in her past (past life, that is), but I still don't know what that is. I will wait for the DVD's to be released and the story to unfold by itself, little by little!

I also managed to get two soundtrack albums on eBay, and the music is gorgeous as one might certainly expect from such an eerie plot.

Meanwhile, I can recommend the fan site, containing beautiful wallpapers and extra information.

Have fun!

Friday, March 14, 2008

I am back, finally (and hopefully!)

Terrible, I am terrible. I know... Such a lazy lady... Well, more than 2 months without blogging. Christmas, New Year, Birthday - all these events came and went, and I was here. Either reading manga or reminiscing about our trip to Rio (where I stayed 2 months, by the way).

Then, why am I writing today, of all days? Simply because I have decided to get into the blogging activity again, as simple as that, and because I got something really cool on eBay! It is silly, I know, and people would just think why am I so bloody childish and so on... Especially now, since I just turned 45, so I should know more and be a real adult - once and for all, right? Well, not quite.

Still in love with Keroro, I scored this:

This is a miniature of the Hinata house kitchen, with Kero-chan performing all his daily duties (except vaccum-claning that is) and Tama-chan waiting for some snacks! Comes with saucepans, cleaning products, furniture, cutlery etc! Waaaaaahhhh, so cute! Just look at this detailed pic here:

He looks so proud, no? Showing all his cleaning gear, ah...

How could I not fall in love??? Next will be the miniature of his room (Chibic My Room), and also the Gourmet + Hobby set, which includes delicacies from Keron planet: