Archive for Anime

Dead Cells – Wicked City!

Posted in Dead Cells, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2014 by splatterpictures

Typical Lydia kicks off Dead Cells. Her solo show about Horror and Anime!

Paranoia Agent (Scott’s Horror Corner!)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by splatterpictures

paranoia-agent-502d1773c0dd5If I were to use one word to describe Paranoia Agent, without a doubt, it would be ‘uncomfortable’. It reminded me of when I would go see a ‘kids’ movie. Beetlejuice is a good example. A movie with a lot of humour built in for kids, but has some imagery in it that probably haunts those same kids into adulthood; I still remember being creeped out when Alec Baldwin’s jaw falls off, among other things. As adults, we inherently are a bit harder to scare. It takes more work to move the brain around and loosen it up, and Satoshi Kon used most of his media-making career trying to make people shift in their seats.


Paranoia Agent was an anime that ran in 2004. The story revolves around Tsukiko, a girl under great duress. She successfully created a hit character named Maromi, a small pink dog, and her company is constantly looking to her for the next big hit. As pressure builds, she’s attacked one night on her way home. The assailant is a young man on rollerblades wielding a gold bat; ‘Shonen Bat’ he’s called. As Tsukiko is laid up in the hospital, an investigation is launched looking for her attacker. The legend of Shonen Bat grows, and suddenly more and more attacks are reported. Through Tsukiko’s attacker, we’re introduced to many colourful characters, each with their own stressful situation which he ‘helps’ them with.


The plot sounds rather straight-forward, but if you’ve ever seen a Satoshi Kon film, you know that nothing is that simple. The lines of reality are constantly being blurred. It’s not the uncertainty you feel upon viewing that is so unnerving about the series, it’s really how relatable and real the characters are before he tears them down in front of you. This is most evident in episodes such as “Double Lips” and “Fear of a Direct Hit”.


Kon mostly stuck to movies during his career, but regarding Paranoia Agent, he wanted to make something that’s mood was inconsistent. He felt that with his movies, he was maintaining one method and ‘feel’ throughout. He certainly succeeded in mixing things up. There are episodes like the above that are both chilling and a little heart breaking, but there are also episodes that are comical; albeit rather dark comedy. Then, there are also some that are downright weird. That episode would be “The Holy Warrior” which is an interrogation that takes place inside of a video game. Since I’m listing episodes, the one that encompasses all of those above emotions would be “Happy Family Planning”. As far as episodic media goes, it’s one of my favourite single episodes of any show.


If there’s any place it falters, it may be in the ending, but that is really up to individual tastes. Personally, I had a bit of an ‘Akira’ moment, wherein my eyebrow raised as I tried to figure out exactly what it was

that was happening. Of course, I suppose that would be a fitting conclusion to a show that is constantly trying to make you look at it funny. I mentioned in my review of ‘Monster’ a week or so back that a lot of anime suffers from episodic requirements and adaptation from manga. Paranoia Agent runs only 13 episodes and there is little to no filler or catching up in the series.


The first thing that drew my attention to the show was the opening. I had no idea what the hell was going on and obviously it stayed that way throughout the entire series.



Satoshi Kon unfortunately passed away in 2010 from cancer. Without a doubt he was one of the pioneers who tried to expand anime beyond the formulaic archetype of such shows, ie. Bleach, Naruto, One Piece. It’s refreshing to see things that aren’t built with the sole purpose of being a commercial success, or exploited as such later on. Kon has a lot of terrific movies such as Perfect Blue and Paprika that are in the same style as Paranoia Agent. It’s a shame that animation isn’t given a fair shake alongside live-action in North America, because this show and all of Kon’s work deserves more recognition than it gets. Thankfully, the full series is available on DVD, unthankfully, it’s apparently been out of print for some time and is ranging somewhere between 100 to 600 (?!) dollars. I suggest having a look around YouTube until they release a nice thin box-set.

Monster (Scott’s Horror Corner!)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , on December 5, 2012 by splatterpictures



I feel like I’ve got a nice pattern going, do a review, give a recommendation. So I thought I’d take a look at something else near and dear to my heart. There have been anime recommendations in this blog before, and I definitely think there’s some crossover between the horror fans and anime fans. Wes reviewed the show Another and so I thought I would throw another hat in the anime horror ring with the show Monster.


Monster is an anime about, well, a monster. Dr. Tenma is a brilliant surgeon in Germany, just married to a wealthy wife. It becomes apparent quickly that the corruption of the hospital he is working at runs deep. As he preps for surgery on a Turkish man, he’s pulled just before to instead go work on a famous opera singer. The impoverished Turkish man dies, while the opera singer’s recovery is well documented on tv and in the papers. Tenma becomes very torn between the idea of acquiring wealth and status and doing what is right.


Over the course of the first two episodes Monster completes this parable by introducing a small family, a mother and father who adopted twins (brother and sister) and moved to Germany. Tenma is called in in the middle of the night as the family is massacred by an unknown assailant, the sister is alive but in shock, the brother has a bullet in his head. As he’s washing up to work on the young boy he’s again told to work on an important patient; the Mayor will be arriving shortly by helicopter and they want Tenma working on him. Not wanting to make another mistake, he works on the young boy and saves his life. Of course, doing the right thing doesn’t always work out the best for everyone.


As he sits beside the young boy, Johan, who is still in a coma, he talks about his situation. He no longer has the flourishing future he was promised after disobeying his superiors (and in effect letting the Mayor die) and his wife also wants nothing to do with him now. “They’d all be better off dead!” He says before calming down and leaving. The young girl seems terrified of Johan as she’s brought in for a photo op, she faints in terror. That night, two of Tenma’s superior’s were shot, one poisoned.


From there, Tenma realizes that he made the wrong choice. What he did out of compassion actually brought about something much more evil than he could’ve imagined. I suppose this review has a lot in common with my write up with Dr. Loomis, as Tenma gives off some of those same vibes. Tenma’s case is a bit more literal as he’s the only reason Johan is walking around still. It becomes his only duty to stop Johan, a task easier said than done. The show is a real page turner, or I guess now it might be called a mouse clicker. In fact, when I finished the show I watched the last 20 episodes consecutively; I wasn’t even in college at the time! It’s full of deep characters, (Inspector Runge for example who shows up in episode 3) plot twists and really just great storytelling.


If I had to find faults with it, I would say that the length of the series leaves it meandering at times. I think you could tighten up the show and still have it be just as good. That said, it stays true to the manga it comes from, but obviously there are episode number requirements for tv and it stretches itself a bit thin because of it. Another fault, and this one falls on distributors, is that it’s still not available in North America beyond episode 15. Viz Entertainment released a box set of the first 15 episodes and then promptly decided to just can the rest. It is apparently available online from retailers, but it would be nice to have a definitive box set for all 74 episodes.


If you have any passing interest in suspense/thriller/horror as an animated genre then watch this. I would say this is the apex of the genre(s) thus far. It’s not the goriest thing I’ve seen by a long shot, but it remains the creepiest anime I’ve watched. In fact, one of the central points of the anime is this book about a ‘monster’ which has a cameo in the end credits and it never failed to get under my skin paired with the haunting end theme. Monster is still near the very top of my best anime list (if I had such a thing). You really need to watch it.


Another (Who is Dead?)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , on June 22, 2012 by splatterpictures

If horror is one of the great loves in life, anime would be my secret mistress I cheat on horror with ever now and again. In fact it was anime that got me back in to horror after being generally uninterested in it for nearly a decade. It was anime and going to conventions for anime that introduced me to Sushi Typhoon and obscure J-horror titles that I never would have known about. One of the benefits of animation from Japan is not only the visual style that appeals to me but the twisted gore and hyper sexuality that more often than not goes hand in hand with the genre. For something a little different I’m not going to talk about a movie but rather a series; this series is called Another.

Another is based of a 2009 mystery horror novel written by Yukito Ayatsuji. It was later adapted into a Manga series (Japanese comic) and a 12 episode Anime that ran from January to march of 2012. This isn’t really a bizarre trend in Japan. Many series are developed from Manga or regular novels. In recent years thanks mostly to the internet it has become increasingly more accessible to anyone who has an interest in finding such materials. Japan has answered this massive worldwide interest in Anime by desperately adapting everything they can think of into various series. Honestly the amount out there now is staggering and grows year by year.

The story of Another revolves around a legend that says 26 years ago a popular high school student died. The entire class was grieving until one day a random student jumped up and said they could see their dead friend alive and well sitting at their desk. Slowly the rest of the class started to act like this student hadn’t died at all. They say that at the end of the year- during the class photo- they could even see the deathly image of the student smiling with their classmates. The following year something tragic happened and every since the class has been cursed.

We cut to the year 1998 and  a young man named Kōichi who transfers from the big city of Tokyo to the small town of Yomiyama. Before he is able to join the local high-school he has a sudden medical emergency when his lung collapses which forces him to miss the first three weeks of school. While there he meets a small group of classmates from room 3-3 which is where he is to be placed for the year. They act somewhat suspicious but never really allude to why. They ask him several questions like if he had ever been to the town before but after he explains that this is his first visit they leave.

On one of his last days in the hospital; Kōichi is in an elevator where he suddenly meets a small girl named Mei with an eye patch. Mei,is carrying a creepy ball jointed doll and is apparently going to visit the morgue. When Kōichi eventually makes it to class he is amazed to see that this strange girl is a fellow classmate but the odd thing is nobody seems to act like she exists.

One of the major benefits of this series is that it’s a mere twelve episodes to get the entire story. It’s long enough to really flesh out the characters and their motivations as well as really push the mystery surrounding this alleged curse on class 3-3. It’s defiantly a slow burn like a lot of Japanese horror but I think that’s what made it so effective. I went in to this series with no previous knowledge of the source material and the plot just kept me guessing right until the very end.

The kills are fantastic and wonderfully gory. I won’t give too much away but essentially imagine this series as kind of a final destination scenario. Students and their families are subjected to a random series of events that lead up to their grizzly deaths. I’ve always loved the Rube Gold Machine approach to killing off characters. The last few episodes are a friggin’ bloodbath.

Beyond the gory ends of the hapless students the story really focuses on how we connect with people. Bonds that seem unbreakable can easily be tested when your life or the lives of others are put at risk. It’s interesting to see how certain characters that you do grow to know would change after they become desperate.  It also shines a light on the strength it takes to make decisions that -on the one hand- would save lives but, on the other come at an immense personal cost.

Some of the problems with the series are not so much from the storyline but the fact that it’s an anime. There is a “beach” episode. Before I get in to the episode I’d like to explain first that the “beach” episode is a thing not exclusive to this series or even ten series. The thing that it is cannot really be explained. It’s like “the baseball episode” or the “volleyball” episode. These things exist in anime for a lot of reasons. Usually to break up the series with a light-hearted self contained story with ample amounts of fan service and or comedy. Why not just take all the main characters and put them in bathing suits. It usually serves no purpose and when I started watching the episode (I believe it was episode 9) I rolled my eyes pretty hard. I was pleasantly surprised however when the “beach” episode ended in a healthy dose of sadness that moves the plot forward.

Another thing that really bothered me was how the entire plot could have been unraveled if the students, or anyone in the town was just upfront about the circumstances of class 3-3 especially considering Kōichi missed the first three weeks due to illness. Again this is something that is uniquely Japanese. It’s very common when dealing with superstition or death that you simply “do not speak of it”. It can be frustrating as an audience to watch. Lastly, I don’t feel as though they went in to detail enough about the big plot twist at the end. I love a good mystery but part of the fun for me is trying to figure it out before the big reveal. While some evidence they present is purposefully misleading the last part I really feel was totally out in left field. Maybe there were more clues to it in the original source material.

For fans of J-horror or anime or any combination of the two;Another is a series that you just can’t miss. For new comers to Horror Anime in particular I think it’s an excellent series to get acquainted with. It has a lot of familiar elements prevalent in Japanese animation speckled in there with a little Whispering Corridors and a healthy dose of Final Destination. The series length of twelve episodes is also pretty painless and the plot will keep you wondering just who is dead?

The series isn’t available in the west yet or even on DVD but your old pal the internet has got you covered. I found it sub-titled in about 30 seconds on Google. Check it out.

ALSO Random Dance Sequence