AniMisc
Previous Next


Night of the Great Anime - Why Gatchaman is Superior to other Anime :)



Three weeks ago, I sat through an all-night anime viewing at Famicon(1), the Dutch fans' way to stay in touch with the world of anime in spite of our domestic importer, affectionately known as Mangle Video, watching what was probably a very representative slice of the anime pie and running over in my mind again

        Why Gatchaman is Superior to other Anime

The reasons will now be listed in random order:

1. Noses. These seem to come in three shapes: Takahashi-style snub noses, razor-sharp teaspoon-profile major-overbite noses and the Escaflowne nose, which has the tip chopped off. The Gatch characters generally have very human noses. What is more, they have nostrils. Except Jinpei, which must be why he always opens his mouth so wide.

2. Femmy clones. The Gatch characters, notably the women, don't all look as if they've been cloned in the same factory, injected with the same silicone (more on that later), subjected to the same anorexia-inducing dietary regimes and provided with the same catgut vocal chords (more on that later, too). Most important, they don't all look underage, except when they are underage; and their eyes fit very comfortably in their face, instead off spilling out over the cheekbones.

3. Plot. Some of these plots make me think the writers must have been desperate. You thought Gatch had mediocre plots at times? Check this out. The Mighty Birdy : alien hunts other aliens on Earth, accidentally kills Earth boy during chase, is now required by own laws to merge with the boy's spirit and continue his "normal" life on Earth while still hunting aliens. I didn't watch this one; instead I watched Maze: girl (who occasionally changes into boy) tries to help princess stop tyrannical king from building Tower of Babel, exhausting his people's resources; together, they have the magical power to create mechas out of nowhere, although Maze can also produce mechas together with her/his sister. By way of complication, her/his male form has caused Maze to be followed around by a devoted fan club of very identical-looking and most definitely underage female admirers, although a kid called Nuts, who is even younger, faints dead away at the sight of her breasts. And this is a comedy. I also saw a bit of super-deformed Devilman, but I didn't even try to make sense out of it.

4. Destiny. Cripes. And I thought Ken was bad. Just about every dramatic narrative has a sighing parent somewhere: "I should have told you before... I wanted you to have a normal life... Will you ever forgive me... Yadda yadda yadda." And then the hero(ine) is made aware of his/her demonic/divine ancestry and/or forced to face Destiny - usually after a house, village, country or planet has been annihilated first by way of gentle prodding. Inevitably, the simple village girl turns out to be a princess who must go NOW to fight the forces of Evil and save the world (and one look at such an invariably simpering brat dashes my hopes for the world). Oh, and they always have some convenient magic power or other talent which pops out at just the right moment. Ken had years of hard training behind him and knew exactly what to expect. Imagine him as the anime-hero-awaiting-discovery; little Ken is a devoted student at so-and-so hospital, training to become a male nurse, when one day the handsome young medical student called Nambu is transferred to his school, causing many hearts to flutter. But as always there is Evil to be fought, and it takes a person of pure heart to do it, so Nambu seals young Ken's destiny by giving him a magical nurse's cap which transforms him into... S.O.S. Nurse Angel Gatchaman.... (2)

5. Boobs. These are not your ordinary human breasts: these are mutant growths, and they're alive. Even five-year-olds have them, and those five-year-olds that don't feel deeply inferior and inadequate because of it. Lina Inverse, mightiest sorceress of the world, is forever trying to find ways to increase the volume of her, in her opinion, unacceptably flat chest. (She has normal-sized breasts, you see.) Despite the enormousness of these mutant growths, and the bra-lessness of their owners, they never sag, but bounce happily along with every step; it would seem there are air bladders somewhere inside. Some sort of gravity-defying mechanism is certainly required for the boob-acrobatics that some anime babes display (and that would have Jun blushing herself to a brain seizure). In Bakuretsu Hunters, the two leading females transform into black leather S&M wear when doing battle, one of them with nothing more to secure her top two than the braces that keep her trousers up; and when she wields that whip of hers, I swear, they rotate. In opposite directions.

6. Villains. Oh lord, I kneel at the throne of Egobossler and kiss Gel Sadra's feet. I welcome Katze into my house with feasting and cheer. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being less stupidly repetitive than the average anime villain! It all starts very predictably. Evil grins. Usually a gorilla or two for the menacing atmosphere. "Just hand that over now and you won't get in trouble." (The hero(ine) is so often underage, you see, that the villain starts by talking down to them.) This doesn't work, of course. Step 2: "Now you've made me ANGRY!" followed by "Now you've made me REALLY angry! NOW you've gone and done it!" Etc. This generally lasts as long as the villain's breath does, and then you get the "showdown". Villain doesn't make a dent in Hero's vehicle/ego/whatever. "Ha! That was only play! Now I'm going to get SERIOUS!" Hero completely trashes villain's mecha, villain's troops, villain's ego or villain. (Preferably in slow motion and filmed from three different angles.) "That was almost... impressive... but now it's my turn! And this time it's SERIOUS!" Never mind that the villain has been getting SERIOUS for the past fifteen minutes; villains don't seem to realize that the threat potential wears thin after a while. And when the hero(ine), predictably, escapes, I can practically count down to what comes next: "After him!/her!/it!/them!" It's never "Oh, I'm sick of this, let's go play tiddlywinks" although said villain can take it from me that said villain's mecha/attack/diabolical scheme isn't going to work anyway and that said villain had better start thinking of pension plans in preparation of retirement. And of course it is absolutely imperative that the villain unleashes a periodical bwaahahaha. But there, I'm afraid, the Gatch villains are no exception.

7. And on heroes/villains: the swooping, diving, gravity-defying (or should that be "denying"?) sword duels. No matter how medieval the anime setting is, the characters will likely as not have floating forts and hardsuits at their disposal; but no matter what technical advantages they have, they will if possible settle their differences by the blade. Endlessly. Filmed from three different angles. In a way that makes me think "FFFFF!!" (as in: fast-forward! fast-forward! fast-). Ken's blazing sword in Gatch F and his duel with the fake Egobossler robot - as if his running with the thing held before him wasn't already bad enough - now smacks of Anime Cliche to me, as do Ego's mechanical mega-thugs. Tsk tsk, Tatsunoko.

8. And, while we're talking technical advantages: animescience. This is probably a notch worse than Gatchascience. The Internet already has circulating copies of "The laws of anime physics". No doubt each of these copies contain a line on the unlikeliness of anime robots, androids and other mechanical imitations. Cyborg no Joe wasn't so bad: meet "Mary", a robot made by a computer-crazed high school boy in exact imitation of his tennis-playing dream girl. She goes shopping and cooks a meal on the very first day of her existence, is a crack tennis player and devotes herself from the very start to bringing her creator and his dream girl together - although she finds that she, too, has all sorts of complicated feelings about him. Which sometimes manifest themselves in a tear threading down her metal cheek. Huh, she has mechanical tear ducts? Such detail, and that while the boy in question made her in one day; took him all night to finish the job, but still, eat that, Rafael.

9. Comedy. Or lack thereof. Gatch has a fine streak of irony running through at least series I and II; and then of course anything that camp yanks my giggle chain :) Apart from the genuine comedy of satire and/or absurdity, "funny" seems largely contained in women's underwear: seeing it, being caught red-handed while trying to abstract it, putting it on one's head - and even funnier seems to be the woman without the underwear, as evidenced by Maze of whom I found it very hard to spot the comic element, but who was forever embarrassing him/herself by being in states of undress.

10. And while I'm there: hysteria. Did I mention yet that the Japanese get endless mileage out of troubled relationships and personal embarrassment? (Yet, who am I to talk? We have -shudder- Dallas, Dynasty and ER.) Taking as example City Hunter, Bakuretsu Hunter and My dear Mary, although it's a recurring joke: the men are hysterical virgins. Or hysterical sex maniacs. Or just hysterical. And they find it necessary to display their hysteria by jumping about and freezing in spastic poses, bugging their eyes out wide and squirting blood from their nostrils. Joe, while ever on the lookout for pretty girls, at least didn't bleed on the carpet when spotting one.

The women (make that: "girls") are just hysterical. They all seem to have the same voice. And the same inflection. (For those of you who wonder what I mean, think "Seiyi"(3).) To be used for all occasions, whether they scream at imminent rape-by-tentacles, express their displeasure at a cheating boyfriend or discover in horror that the colour of their socks doesn't match their ensemble - as a matter of fact, the unmatching socks are likely to provoke more and higher pitched screams than the tentacles. Did anyone think Jun's voice was irritating? There were three "rooms" at the con showing anime at the same time, and at times I could hear identical screeching from all three.

Now before I give the impression that I didn't enjoy myself at all :) here's some of the good stuff I saw: Doctor Slump and Akazukin Chacha - these two are genuinely funny. In the first, the well-known fairytale theme of the princess who wouldn't laugh is reversed when one of the characters does get her to laugh and it turns out her laugh is so destructive that they do everything to stop her from laughing before she destroys the whole palace - and, oh yes, part of the cast are Superman and a walking, talking turd. The second is about a young would-be witch, her powerful but kind (and, at times, rather exasperated) tutor and her friend, a young werewolf, who can change himself into a wolf cub but is so cute in that form that everyone picks him up and snuggles him while crying out "Kawaiiii!" - not good for a young werewolf's ego :) I didn't see Dirty Pair this time, but DP are funny, as are Slayers, to a lesser degree. The Violinist of Hamlin - now there's a series I would have liked to see more of, despite the incredibly bratty princess-who-grew-up-as-a-simple-village-girl. Like the clouds, like the wind is about a spunky village girl who sets off to become concubine to the emperor, because she has heard that the emperor's concubines get "three meals a day, and a nap". Of course she gets rather more than she bargained for, such as stiff competition, a revolution and an attack on the concubines' quarters, in the defence of which she plays a central role. This is an example of anime-without-Caucasians: the characters look Chinese or Mongolian, the emperor and his sister have pale and delicately modelled faces of the "geisha" type. No demons, no mechas, no gore to speak of. I liked this one a whole lot better than I thought I would. And then there's Nadia of Blue Water for having the cutest lion cub I ever saw, although, since when are lions grey? And, though I only saw the first part at the previous con, 6 months ago: Key the metal idol, the most convincing anime android I ever saw (not that I've seen all that many, I admit).


With thanks to Brechje for having originally introduced me to Famicon.



Footnotes:

1. Nope, I found this was "Nacht van de grote Anime" (Night of the great Anime) organized by a slightly different group of fans in 1997, between Famicon II in 1996 - my first ever animethon - and Famicon III, also in 1997. Hence the confusion. Both groups joined forces in 1999 and now organize yearly animethons.
2. The name of the series referred to was S.O.S. Nurse Angel Ririko, which is like Magical Princess Tutu, only much, much worse...

3. For the non-Gatchaman-initiated: Ryu's younger brother, whose voice adds a whole new dimension to the word "irritating".




Previous Top Next