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Divine Gate (2016)
an unfortunate melding
The premise of Divine Gate was to combine several different versions of "god tales" to produce an interlocking story of humans rising above the level of being merely human to become something else.
Unfortunately the attempt turns into a mess, contradictions abound, and sometimes you cannot tell if what seem to be errors in translation to create the subtitles are actually errors or if they are some some form of mocking the very story playing out on the screen. Somehow the story shows facets of being overly complicated at the same time it plays at being far, far too simplistic.
It is worth a watch because Divine Gate at least tries to go beyond the normal story level of most "gods versus man" anime. In that respect it shows writers what not to do, how not to gloss over holes in the plot, and why you need to know the how and why of the character's actions before you write their story, before you show their actions, before you try to reveal their inner thoughts.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (2013)
Look for the allegory--
The anime that is both a story and an allegory.
The story is what you see, the allegory is the parallel between Satan (of the story) and Japan (before and during WW2 versus afterward) where you see an acceptance of what is normally unspoken, that Japan did horrible things, things that are echoed by the things Satan does in the other world of Ente Isla.
The jump to our world is the break in behaviors after the end of the Second World War, when Japan had to start over, and changed its behavior, its attitudes, and seemed so disjointed it was difficult to draw the connecting lines between before and after versions of Japan.
The the killing of the hero's father and village and the rise of the Hero is a sly play on Japan's attack on what was the 17th largest military in the world on December 6th, smashing its fleet at Pearl Harbor, and the rise of the United States to become something that was overwhelming, an impossible hero born of the tragic.
The "good" Olba Meyer was drawn as the Soviet Union-- to be so powerful he could not be defeated, and Mitsuki Sarue being an unshaped force that represents good being bad, and a threat to bad becoming good. They spiral into the former enemies being united to preserve a new something, even though neither was really prepared for it.
It is amazingly well done for that purpose, the Chiho Sasaki character representing what Japan is becoming, and how it accepts how bad it was but is changing; but it really doesn't understand what it is doing, either.
Normally anime is just anime, but in this case, it is allegory in a manner and fashion that makes acceptance of the past a building block for the future.
It is history, fiction, parody, and allegory, all mixed and poured into the mold of light entertainment.
If you watch it twice you may see a different story the second time.
Or you can just watch it for the laughs.
The approach of humanizing weapons is an established Japanese method of enhancing the story, and in days long past to hold that a sword was alive and that the sword had a soul was a means of making the combination of the swordsman and sword a supernatural combination.
Upotte!! tried this approach, but somehow managed to link "military assault rifles" to young female teens. I had quite a bit of trouble with cute kids being deadly, and having been created as teens, never to age or change, just to be replaced, and the story simply did not make sense. That there was a deliberate sexual aspect assigned that flew in opposition to the independent aspect of behavior and the training, and it sometimes seemed like it was trying to parody the genre.
Those were stumbling blocks, but the huge stumbling block was the description and statements made about the weapons. Most of the information seemed to be copy and paste from sales brochures, and most of it was incorrect. Not somewhat incorrect, not a few tiny errors, but so wrong it boggled the mind.
A story that did not make sense layered onto incorrect basis of character construction is not likely to produce a strong series. It was interesting in the same way that a train wreck is interesting, and the less you know about human motivations, the weapons in question, and about warfare the more likely you are to be able to enjoy it.
It does have pretty good music, and there really is nothing like it, so it stands alone in its field. You may enjoy watching it in the same way that a deliberate train wreck was staged for audiences a bit over a hundred years ago, but at the end, it was still somehow lacking, at least to me.
Good luck with it.
Naughty Boy (2006)
This is presented as an Indian format satire, the acting deliberately bad, the songs and dance the main thrust, with the kiss being "adult" content in India. To most westerners this is not a very good movie, but if you look at the Mike Meyers "Austin Powers" movies you will see the same deliberately bad performance, just without the song and dance.
The actors are playing for laughs, the story is written and directed to be an outside of India satire and farce, and on that level, it performs.
It is good for a laugh if you can accept the satire premise, if not, avoid it.
The Black Dawn (2009)
An incredible waste of potential in the details
This is a basic "end of the world" type of story, and the main story works as it drives to a conclusion.
The problem is that the science is so badly botched and ill handled that it cripples the story, makes it nearly impossible to even accept the premise, and repeatedly takes the viewer out of the story.
A bioweapon is deployed to render cities empty of life but undamaged. If everyone in a city were to just drop dead there would be incidental fires that would erupt, and without fire control units the cities would be engulfed in flames in less than ninety six hours, but that is ignored as LA keeps its lights on and nothing happens except for a black cloud that blocks the sun. If sunlight was blocked for a prolonged period of time the surface temperature would drop, too. That is ignored and the action takes place in an LA is just LA at night for over three weeks, the temperature never dipping because of the sunlight blockage average of a slightly over 1.5c per day reduction accumulating during the over three weeks of the story. What volume of particulate mass would be required to block sunlight over that large an area? Hint: It would be well over a one and a half million metric tons, and to have it not dissipate over a three week period means the mass needs to increase by a factor of over twenty. The bioweapon is a toxin, but they keep referencing it as a virus, and they speak gobbledygook more than anything else in dealing with the science aspects.
This bioweapon (toxin) would kill not only people, but most of the other animal life, too. If you only consider the people in LA and average their weight, children and adults, to nominalize at one hundred pounds (forty five kilograms) each that means over six hundred million pounds (over two hundred seventy two million kilograms) of rotting flesh from humans alone, and rats, dogs, cats, and other animals would easily double that amount. You would not be able to tolerate the environ of the LA area if that was taking place, but they didn't even notice a bad smell?
An interesting series, a bit abrupt, but gutted by so many absolutely basic details being mishandled it makes it painful. As a calling card for the actors, perhaps this is a good card, but the technical work is only so-so and the writing is painfully bad.
It is seven short episodes, and it is worth a watch if you can get past the idea of a totalitarian anarchist group using an impossible bioweapon with preposterously bad effects and behaviors by alleged college students that don't seem to think ahead at any point in the story.
Hwaiteu ballenta-in (1999)
different because of the culture from which it springs
White Valentine is strongly "cultural based storytelling" instead of canned and stale boy-girl meet/part/reconcile structure storytelling.
Many Americans only think of a romance or love story as having one format, one way of progressing, while the rest of the world might be very familiar with the "American" format, Americans tend to miss the nuances of other cultures.
In this case the lack of money-- not poverty, just a lack of money, the cross generational bonding and emotional ties, the way the characters need to balance their family ties with cultural norms as they try to move toward goals that they personally choose, this set of culture based guidelines makes the story more difficult to understand, and, on top of the simple cultural difference, the story is a story that is less romance that the personal journey story for the two leads as each heads toward their personal destination.
The question of what happens to "the two" is less important to the movie than the question of what happens "to each" of the characters. Not for everyone, be it in Korea, China, Japan, or the USA, this is a story of two personal tales, two personal stories, each bouncing off the other, each providing the other story the dynamic to stay in motion.
Voy a explotar (2008)
what starts out interesting--
In this case, what starts out as an interesting "outsider boy meets outsider girl and their inner selves bond" premise slowly gets lost as it repeatedly diverts from their story into trivia and returns to the "pair bonding story" before it finally concludes without a real resolution. leaving you wondering "and what happened THEN?"
There is semi-nudity and sexual activity, large dollops of "language" scattered throughout it, but the promise of the premise is washed out and lost before the ending, making the story ring hollow, neither fish nor fowl when the credits roll.
Most of the viewing audience liked it, they just could not fathom why it didn't "really" come to a conclusion of some kind.
Last Bullet (2008)
an interesting effort
This is an overall well done and pointed emotional story based in the middle of a combat situation, the effects and behavior done much better than many larger productions. It suffers from one major flaw-- the weapons (as shown) are incorrect for the period, apparently because those involved simply are too young to know the difference between an M16a1 and later models, or which models of the AK47 were used in that area at that time.
For people young enough not to have lived through it this is an excellent short. For those old enough it is an irritating quibble, and a shame.
an interesting take on pain
This is a doc that makes you squirm in pain at what you see happening on the screen-- no matter how you feel about the "Harvey" referenced repeatedly in the film, Troy Duffy manages to make you take Harvey's side. That, in itself, is a major accomplishment. There is no sugarcoating what you see on the screen, no Moore-ish distortions, just Duffy managing to show the viewers exactly what he is made of, and how he feels about himself, and everyone else to boot.
A great documentary, well worth watching-- and when available, buying on DVD to keep on your shelf in case you need to remind yourself about "staying humble."
An interesting take on pain-- emotional pain-- on giving it, receiving it, and living through it. .
the way it REALLY was
Here's a story we haven't been told repeatedly, a story of the way it really was "way back when."
"Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling" interviews the rather plain spoken, straightforward women who were the pioneers of women's wrestling, back when it was know as "the girl wrestlers." Anyone who wonders just how far the women's rights movement has actually come needs to watch this, and then be thankful that these 'tough broads' paved the way for women to be what they want, just like men-- and just like men, no matter how stupid the goal, it gets to be their choice.
I want this doc on DVD. Tough, brutal, plain, and worth every moment. .