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About 5 or 6 years ago, I attended a klezmer show presented by a campus Jewish organization which, among other comic skits, put God in the center of a divorce trial as an abusive and neglectful spouse. Since then the theological puzzle of the creator's relationship with its creation has been something of a philosophical sudoku of mine. It's something I find safe to indulge in now and then as I don't believe in a creator and have no vested interest in the outcome. But it's something that pops into my head in regards to Shane Acker's 9.

The story centers around nine sentient ragdolls and is an expansion of Acker's original 11-minute short that won him an Academy nomination. The dolls are survivors of an apocalypse, along with more malevolent mechanical monstrosities that hunt them down. The extended film starts as a mystery yarn as 9, the last to awaken, discovers his place in the universe, but becomes something more of a classic science fiction adventure story. But along the way it's a creation myth that evokes Genesis, Exodus, and the golem legend.

Although a lot of reviews criticize it for being a rehash of Terminator (and a dozen other stories of humanity threatened by science gone one step too far), but I really think that 9 explores the issue of philosophical responsibility of creator to created in a way that those stories do not. The conundrum in the Terminator stories centers on how do you avoid inventing what would replace us, where the moral conflict of 9 centers on how do you give your creations moral sensibility. And from the view of the ragdolls, how do you act as moral agents in a world where your gods are dead and were flawed to start with?  In the end, the protagonist 9 is a Moses figure who has his burning-bush moment and leads his people out of fear, but it's a considerably more complex presentation of that story compared to, as an example, Tron.

But the whole thing wouldn't work at all if it were not brilliantly realized on a technical level. The character animation and voice talent is brilliant and flawless, balanced against truly creepy monsters that are evocative of Jann Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay. The whole realization of the world the characters inhabit is incredibly detailed, and the choice to have an extended introduction without dialogue pulls you into the more horrifying aspects of the setting. It's a brilliant animated film, and a great science fiction film.
cbrachyrhynchos: (Default)
Evangelion: Monstrous robots cause ego death. Singularity!
Ghost in the Shell: Cybernetic technology causes ego death. Singularity!
Akira: Genetic mutants cause ego death. Singularity!
cbrachyrhynchos: (Default)

This one popped up to the top of the queue in the midst of a bit of Lost burnout.

Anyway, Requiem from the Darkness is my current anime love. Young writer Yamaoka Momosuke is searching for 100 ghost stories for his anthology. He becomes caught up in a gang of supernatural vigilantes who punish crimes of violence, taunting their targets with illusionary hauntings. In its self, the idea of punishing the wicked by exposing them to the specters of their crimes isn't a new idea. But what pulls this series off is the unique and stylized animation that comes with it. Hotel maids all seem to have the same wrinkled apple-doll eyes. A mob of lawmen are given anonymous cylindrical heads to emphasize their lack of individuality. The entire series is surreal with flashbacks merging with flashforwards. I'm eager to see the remaining episodes.

I also checked out Helsing and had to watch it in Japanese because the American voice cast did it with the worst English accents.

Lost has also sucked me in, but I feel like I need a break before plowing through season 2.

And in other news, I finally got my draft back, and finished the needed revisions. W00t!
cbrachyrhynchos: (blue baby)
Honestly, the anime that is really entertaining to me comes from the off-beat concepts. Yeah, the traditional formula of talk, talk, talk, repressed sexuality, talk, talk, GIANT ROBOTS FIGHTING GIANT MONSTERS, ironic ending, end credit, goes a long way. But now and then you have something different. Teen angels with dented halos. Or rubbish collectors in space. The latter is the premise of Planetes. The trailer:

Read more... )
cbrachyrhynchos: (Default)
In which, I take a look at Bee Train's supernatural political assassination thriller.

According to wikipedia, the head of Bee Train brainstorms plots with his directors under the influence of high quanitites of alcohol. Whether this explains the plot of MADLAX, I'm still trying to figure out.

possible spoilers )


cbrachyrhynchos: (Default)

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